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Despite the fact that half the films in competition for the Golden Lion last year came from the U.S. or the U.K., including two eventual best picture Oscar nominees — “Atonement” and “Michael Clayton” — this year there are only five American movies out of 21.
Led by Jonathan Demme’s comedic drama “Rachel Getting Married,” from Sony Pictures Classics, the American entries, including Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” Amir Naderi’s “Vegas: Based on a True Story” and Guillermo Arriaga’s “The Burning Plain,” are all indies.
Demme, who won his Oscar for directing 1992’s best picture winner, “The Silence of the Lambs,” says he sees some of the same Oscar-caliber qualities in the star of his current movie, Anne Hathaway, that he saw in “Lambs” star Jodie Foster. “She’s got that generosity of spirit that a Jodie Foster brings to her work,” Demme says of Hathaway, who plays a former addict coming home for her sister’s wedding.
Demme has also lured back to the screen his neighbor in New York’s Hudson River Valley, three-time Oscar nominee Debra Winger, as the bride’s mother. Winger has put her career on the back burner in recent years while she raised a family.
This is Demme’s first feature since his ill-fated 2004 remake of “The Manchurian Candidate.” Since then, he’s kept busy making documentaries, including “Jimmy Carter Man From Plains,” which premiered at Venice last year. With “Rachel,” Demme says he wanted to apply the raw, in-the-moment aesthetic of a docu to screenwriter Jenny Lumet’s poignant look at familial dysfunction. “We did not have rehearsals,” says Demme of the relatively modest $13 million picture. “We barely did blocking rehearsals.”
Demme adds that his “little joke” with cinematographer Declan Quinn was to “try to make the most beautiful home movie ever made.”
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