“Being infamous is not fun. It becomes a weird occupation in and of itself.” Michael Cimino spoke those words at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday as he introduced a digitally remastered version of Heaven’s Gate. One of the most notorious box office flops of all time, the film is credited with contributing to the demise of United Artists and halting the auteur movement of 70s Hollywood. Cimino was coming off Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for The Deer Hunter when Heaven’s Gate came out in 1980 and cratered his career. On the Lido Thursday to accept a life achievement award along with debuting the updated pic, he said he at first didn’t want to revisit it, “I’ve had enough rejection for 33 years.” Cimino oversaw the digital remastering and said technology had advanced enough that seeing it now was like seeing a new movie. It’s also a longer movie. The new version runs 216 minutes.
Meanwhile, a lot of heat surrounded Ariel Vroman’s out of competition title, The Iceman. Michael Shannon has drawn great notices for his take on real-life contract killer/family man Richard Kuklinski. Reaction was also positive for strong performances by Winona Ryder and Ray Liotta. Ryder, who’ll next be seen in Gary Fleder’s Homefront, said she’s scaling back on work in general. “I want to have a good life and so a film has to be pretty great to make me want to leave my life. I’m not in a place where I want to keep working just to work,” she said.
Venice’s first full day Thursday also marked the opening of the competition with the official screening of Xavier Giannoli’s Superstar. The comedy/muse on celebrity is about a regular guy who awakens one day to find he’s being dogged by the paparazzi for no apparent reason. Reception was mezzo-mezzo.