An erotic thriller by “Scarface” director Brian De Palma and a Spike Lee documentary about the making of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” album are to get red-carpet rollouts at the Venice Film Festival, which starts tomorrow.
De Palma’s “Passion” (a remake of a French movie titled “Love Crime” and starring Kristin Scott Thomas) casts Rachel McAdams as a domineering executive. She robs an idea from underling Noomi Rapace (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) and suffers lethal consequences. It’s one of 18 movies competing for the Golden Lion trophy at the world’s oldest film festival.
Lee’s out-of-competition “Bad 25” premieres on Aug. 31. That’s 25 years to the day after the 1987 release of the “Bad” album, which instantly surged to the No. 1 spot in world charts. The CD is also being re-released in a deluxe edition next month.
“I’m more than just a huge fan of Michael Jackson,” Lee said in a news release, “and having had the chance to actually know him and work with him, I deeply care about his legacy.”
This year’s nine-person jury is steered by “Heat” director Michael Mann. Fellow jurors include performance artist Marina Abramovic, actresses Samantha Morton and Laetitia Casta, and “Gomorrah” director Matteo Garrone.
Another U.S. contender for the Golden Lion is “To the Wonder” by Terrence Malick, whose “The Tree of Life” clinched the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. It’s about a man who hooks up with a woman from his Oklahoma hometown after his marriage to a European breaks down. The movie stars Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and McAdams, in her second Venice role.
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are the leads in “The Master” by Paul Thomas Anderson, whose “There Will Be Blood” won two Academy Awards. His new film is the story of a Navy veteran who gets drawn into a cult around a man known to his followers as The Master.
Robert Redford directs and stars in another thriller: out-of-competition “The Company You Keep,” co-starring Shia LaBeouf and Julie Christie. It’s about a former activist from the revolutionary Weather Underground movement whose identity is uncovered by a reporter.
The festival’s opening movie is Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” with Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson and Kiefer Sutherland.
Venice this year ends with a title starring Gerard Depardieu: “L’Homme Qui Rit” (“The Man Who Laughs”), directed by Jean-Pierre Ameris.
Actors Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid star in the in-competition title “At Any Price,” directed by Iranian-American Ramin Bahrani.
The Venice Festival was started in August 1932 by Mussolini on Lido island -- where the festival still takes place -- and dubbed the First Exposition of Cinematic Art. Two years later, Mussolini transformed it into a permanent event.
Muse highlights include Amanda Gordon’s Scene Last Night and Jeremy Gerard on theater.