Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Live! From the 2008 Venice Film Festival! - Venice, Italy

(VENICE, ITALY) I am writing to you from inside the Palace of the Casino on the Lido after having first gone to the press conference for Burn After Reading, and then screening the film. Right now, I am in a large room full of journalists sitting behind laptops, everyone typing frantically. The woman next to me, Paixao Redmont, a Portugese journalist living in Rome, just asked me how I liked the movie. I said, "I LOVED it!" She said, "I adored it." We both think it's going to be a hit.

It is chaos as usual here at the film festival. We are not allowed to take photos; the ones from the press conference this morning are apparently not available yet, and I have only limited pickings from the movie stills.

THE PRESS CONFERENCE (from my quick notes:)

The panel from my point of view, sitting in the third row on the left (use your imaginations:) was:



George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, and Brad Pitt, moderated by the director/screenwriter, Claudio Masenza





Question to Frances McDormand: Are the roles your husband (Joel Coen) gives you like love letters?

FM: Did you see the movie? You call that a love letter?

Then she said that the Coen brothers always give her great roles, and hopes that when she is 65 they will continue to come up with great roles.

Question to the Coen Brothers: Where did you get the concept for the movie?

The Coen Brothers tend to speak together, so I am not sure which one said what, but they said they specifically wrote the movie for these specific actors. (John Malkovich and Richard Jenkins aren't here.) They made a spy movie because they had never made one before. They could have just easily made a dog movie.

Question to George Clooney and Brad Pitt: Why did you make the movie?

George Clooney: Well, now that they say they wrote the roles specifically for us, it makes me wonder what they think of us. We made the movie because we were the cheapest actors they could find.

Brad Pitt: I've been trying to get into a Coen Brothers movie for years. Now I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted.

Tilda Swinton spoke about how she liked how random things happened in the film because that was true in life -- how random things are always happening and getting tied together. She said she liked playing a woman who was always angry the entire film.

None of the actors had seen the film except for Frances McDormand.

Question to Brad Pitt: You had four children. Now you have six. Do you have plans for any more children?

Question to George Clooney: Do you have any plans to get married and have children?

George Clooney: Why, I have never been asked that question before! Never! In fact, I am getting married and having children today!

Brad Pitt: Until he does, I am sharing my children with him.

Question to Brad Pitt: How are the twins?

Answered by George Clooney: The twins are fine.

Question to George Clooney and Brad Pitt: How do you two like working together?

Answered by George Clooney: Actually, there is a restraining order. That is why we're sitting far apart.

Brad Pitt: We only had one scene together. One important scene.

Question to George Clooney & Brad Pitt: Would you rather win the Academy Award or fall in love with a beautiful Italian woman?

Answered by Frances McDormand: I would prefer to fall in love with a beautiful Italian woman. I haven't done that yet.

Then I, Cat, asked George Clooney a question. I said, "I used to live in Hollywood, but now I live in Venice, so I'm a little out of the loop. But I heard that your influence helped resolve the writer's strike. Is that true?"

George Clooney said, "Nope. And I live in Italy, too, so I'm out of the loop myself. But I did have something to do with the talks about the actors strike."

George Clooney and Brad Pitt were both asked whether they would rather be in Colorado right now, and whether they were optimistic or pessimistic about the future.

George Clooney: Venice is one of my favorite places in the entire world, so I am very happy to be right here right now. I am optimistic and pessimistic. But mostly optimistic.

Brad Pitt: I'm optimistic.

Hopefully I will be able to add some photos for you in the future -- the couple I've added have caused all sorts of formatting havoc.

Next, it was onto the movie. It's very difficult to make a black comedy and have it work. Actually, the production notes call the film a "comedy thriller," but I think it's more like a black comedy -- a genre that I love. I'm sure you all have seen previews and whatnot, so I don't have to tell you what it's about. The actors were absolutely brilliant. Brad Pitt would have stolen the movie had he not been surrounded by such heavyweights, so he couldn't steal it completely, but he was amazing in the role of a Harbodies gym employee. From the production notes:

Brad Pitt: "I didn't think the guy would be a dumbbell, a gum-chewing, Gatorade-swilling, iPod-addicted bubble-brain. I said to Joel and Ethan, 'He's such an idiot...' But, he does have a good heart.

Frances McDormand: "In the first scene for my character in the script, the description said, 'Close Up On A Woman's Ass. Pale. Bare. Middle-Aged.' Why should one even read on? Why should one even consider the job?"


And John Malkovich! He devoured the part of a terminated CIA agent with a drinking problem. Actually, the Croatian Sisters here in Venice wanted me to give him a message, but he was not here. The message was, "We love that you are a big fan of Croatia!"


John Malkovich: "When they called and told me they'd written a role for me, well, I was delighted. The whole script centers on people's quests to change themselves. Ozzie is a sarcastic man, and an unbelievable lush. When he gets canned, it throws him into a tizzy, and he writes his memoirs -- very badly."

Frances McDormand: "What's interesting about this movie is that it is all about middle-aged losers. George Clooney and Brad Pitt as losers, that's novel."

The movie was funny then dark, funny then dark, with all the random happenings tied together -- as Tilda Swinton said -- just like life. By the end we were all laughing so hard (and remember, this is a screening for the press and film people) that when the final credits starting rolling, we burst into spontaneous applause.

Ciao from the 65th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

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