Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tom Ford - A Single Man of Substance

(Venice, Italy) "Fashion design is a wonderful thing, but it is fleeting," said Tom Ford, who is credited with reviving the fashion houses of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, during the press conference for A Single Man, his riveting directorial debut.

I always admire people who have the guts and depth of character to metamorphize after a receiving a personal shock -- in fact, I write about jumping from one stream to another in my novels -- and it appears that after a suicide in his family, Tom Ford has done exactly that and made the leap from style to substance.

From the press kit:

"Ford put an autobiographical imprint on A SINGLE MAN. The suicide that George constructs in the film is a replica of a suicide in Ford's family. More importantly, Ford went though his own difficult juncture, like George, a few years ago. "There is much of me in my version of George. A kind of spiritual crisis at mid life comes to many people. I achieved much in the material world at a very early age: financial security, fame, professional success, more material possessions than I knew what to do with. I had a full personal life, a wonderful life partner of 23 years, two great dogs, and lots of friends but somehow lost my way a bit. As a fashion designer, one spends one's life living in the future designing collections several years ahead of when they will actually be in stores. Our culture encourages a belief that all of our problems can be solved with material things. I had completely neglected the spiritual side of my life."

At the press conference, Ford spoke about the brief adrenaline rush when a model first appears on the runway -- flash, flash, flash -- and then after six months the clothes end up in the back of the closet. He said that most people come to the point in their life where they realize that maybe everything they had been working toward isn't ultimately making them happy.

Colin Firth spoke about how fortunate he was to have this role -- in fact, he later won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (I predict he will be nominated for an Academy Award, he is so brilliant). Plus, he speaks fluent Italian! And any movie with Julianne Moore (who was my neighbor for a time on West 11th Street in New York City) will always get my attention because I respect her work so much.

Like Lebanon (see http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/2009/09/and-winner-of-66th-venice-international.html), I attended the press conference for A Single Man before I actually saw the film. In fact, I was so impressed by Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore that I got up early (remember I have no home and am living all over the place, lugging what little clothes I have in a backpack, together with my legal documents slung over one arm and all the press materials over the other arm -- right now I am writing this blog in the library as my computer is still locked in my apartment) and went to the last screening at 8:15 in the morning on the last day of the film festival at the farthest away theater, the PalaBiennale. So, I made a great effort to see the movie, and I was rewarded by experiencing a poignant, moving love story -- an amazing directorial debut.

Even though the characters are gay, Tom Ford insisted A Single Man was not a gay film, and I agree. It is a film about a great love, an adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood. The film takes place all in one day (I can relate to that, too, as Harley's Ninth is set all in one day -- it's a difficult structure to work with), and is set in Los Angeles in 1962 during the height of the Cuban missile crisis.

From the production notes:

It is 1962, and nuclear warfare looms imminently. Fear pervades the world. Societal values are represented in over-simplistic black and white terms, but the complexities of human relationships remain just as convoluted as they are today.

Those of us who grew up during that time period will remember how obsessed everyone was with building bomb shelters and stock piling canned goods. I remember air raid drills instead of fire drills when the entire school trooped downstairs into the hallway, crouched against the wall and tucked our little heads between our legs -- as if that was going to save us from a nuclear bomb!

Harvey Weinstein has already snatched up the rights to A Single Man for 2.5 million dollars, and I think he got it cheap:) Another prediction: people who thought they would never accept that two men could love each other as deeply as a heterosexual couple (and I am one of them) might just change their minds.

Here is an excerpt from the press conference:



Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And the Winner of the 66th Venice International Film Festival is: LEBANON

(Venice, Italy) "On June 6, 1982, at 6:15 AM, I killed a man..."

Thus begins Samuel Maoz's
Director's Statement for the Israeli film, Lebanon, winner of the Leone d'Oro, or Golden Lion, the top prize of the Venice International Film Festival, il Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica di Venezia -- the oldest film festival in the world.

I went to the press conference on September 8th before I saw the movie -- usually it's the other way around -- and was impressed by Maoz's directness and raw honesty when answering questions. After Roderick Conway Morris told me he thought Lebanon could win the Golden Lion (click here to read Rod's review in the New York Times: review:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/arts/11iht-venfest11.html), I made an effort to attend the next screening, which happened to be at the Sala Grande. That meant that I watched the film together with the filmmakers -- the director, actors, production people, etc. -- and was present at the end of the movie when the entire audience stood up and applauded Samuel Maoz and his companions. We applauded and applauded and applauded; I was weeping a bit; it was really one of the few times I participated in a standing ovation with all my heart, not just out of politeness. We recognized courage and we applauded it. Maoz had performed an act of alchemy, transforming the trauma he had experienced into a work of art.

More from the Director's Statement, in Maoz's own words, which describes the writing process so eloquently:

Director's Statement

"Twenty-five years after that miserable morning that opened the Lebanon War, I wrote the script for the film Lebanon. I had had some previous experience with the content, but whenever I began writing, the smell of charred human flesh returned to my nostrils and I could not continue. I knew that the smell would evoke indistinct scenes that I had buried deep within my mind. After years of passive trauma and violent anger attacks, I learned to identify the ominous moment and escape it in time. Better to live in denial than not to live at all.

The year 2006 was particularly difficult. Five years had passed since my last project and I felt that I was burned out. Here and there, I produced a short commercial or promo film, but other than that, nothing. Once again, I suffered financial pressure, passivity and a maddening lack of responsibility. Once someone asked me: "What about post battle trauma? Do you experience nightmares when you remember the war?" I wish it were as simple as that, I thought to myself.

When a person feels he has nothing to lose, he takes chances. That's how I felt in early 2007 when I started to write the script for Lebanon. I had hit rock bottom and decided to go all the way. This time, I would not run away from the smell that came first, as usual, but would let it take me to the blurry scenes. I would put them in focus, dive right in and cope with it all!

Suddenly, I felt an uplift, a weird sense of euphoria. I'm not lost yet! I've still got fighting spirit. I went to bed early, got up in the morning and started to write. I was careful. I didn't tackle the topic directly but rather wrote around it. An introduction, feelers ... I waited for the smell but it did not arrive. I found myself exerting gradual efforts to restore it to my memory, but it was not there any more. The scenes were gone as well. All that remained was a dim progression of difficult, horrendous and particularly distant events.

After about a week, I realized that I had become emotionally detached. The boy of my memory was no longer myself. I felt pain for him, but it was a dull pain, the pain of a scriptwriter attached to a character he writes about. It did not matter to me whether I had been cured or was simply breaking a world record for denial. I was flooded with adrenalin and felt like a quivering missile on the launching pad a moment before liftoff. I had spit out the first draft within three weeks."

Lebanon
is Samuel Maoz's first feature film. The technique he uses as a director is unique, submerging us in the claustrophobia of an army tank, its periscope our only view of the outside world. He is such a beautiful writer, let's listen to him describe his process, again, in his own words:

Shooting Lebanon

"I wrote Lebanon straight from my gut. No intellectual cognition charted my path. My memory of the events themselves had become dim and blurred. Scripting conventions such as introductions, character backgrounds and dramatic structure did not concern me. What remained fresh and bleeding was the emotional memory. I wrote what I felt.

I wanted to talk about emotional wounds, to tell the story of a slaughtered soul, a story that was not to be found in the body of the plot but derived from deep within it. How the hell could I put that on film? I realized I would have to shatter some basic principles and bend several rigid cinematic fixtures, creating a total experience instead of building a plot.

The decision to make an experiential movie gave rise to the cinematic concept. My basic principle called for the presentation of a personal, subjective point of view. The audience would not watch the plot unfolding before it but experience it together with the actors. Viewers would not be given any additional information, but would remain stuck with the cast inside the tank, having the same limited view of the war and hearing it only as the actors heard it. We would try to make sure that they could smell it and taste it as well, using the visuals and sound track not only to tell a story but to impart an experience. I realized that I would have to create a total experience to achieve complete emotional comprehension."

So... we spent the entire movie inside the tank with the boys, a wrenching experience. We watched the film in Hebrew with Italian and English subtitles. Here is the trailer, which is only in Hebrew:



Ciao from Venice,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Can Sly Stallone Save Our World?

(Venice, Italy) I just came from Sylvester Stallone's press conference where a journalist from Buenos Aires asked him:

"You are a hero. Are you able to save our world?"

And I thought -- there's the answer! Where is Rambo? Where are all the real-life heroes???? All we have these days are video games and celluloid heroes. Sure, Sly and Arnold and Bruce will be together on screen for The Expendables next year, but we need real help right here right now!

Sly took a beat and then laughed after he heard the question. He said, "No, it's going to take more than someone like me to save the world." He said that a hero is someone who conquers his fear and tries to do the deed, even if he dies. That you give your life for something greater than yourself.

Sly is here because he is receiving the Jaeger-Lecoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award, which he said is a privilege and has given him a new vitality. He's also showing a trailer of The Expendables and screening the Director's Cut of Rambo.

Someone said that Mickey Rourke (who is also in The Expendables) said last year when he was here in Venice that he "owed" Stallone, and Sly said, "Everybody owes somebody something. He doesn't owe me anything. In Hollywood, the definition of a friend is someone who stabs you in the chest, not in the back." He said he and Bruce and Arnold have known each other for twenty-five years and that they have a long history together.

A question was asked about how he felt about sequels, and he said that if it weren't for Rambo and Rocky he would not be here today. Rocky and Rambo are part of the collective image. A male journalist said he used to pretend he was Rambo when he was a boy. Sly said that he used to pretend he was Robin Hood. He said that young males need a masculine image and need to do heroic deeds.

I agree. Men are different than women, and, by nature, men need to do heroic deeds. So, here is a question for the guys: WHY AREN'T MEN, AS A GROUP, RISKING THEIR LIVES TO STOP THE FORCES OF EVIL FROM TAKING OVER OUR PLANET? Why does this sweet journalist from Buenes Aires ask in all earnestness if Sylvester Stallone can save our world? Right now, the only male I see who is risking his life to get a message across is Michael Moore, and, to me, he gets away with it because he is overweight. What has happened to all the men? I see women becoming more aggressive to make up for this imbalance, and I think it is not the right way to go.

Anyway, Sly believes that the days of the big budget blockbusters are numbered, and that young independent filmmakers like Scorsese, de Palma, Lucas, Coppola, etc. will make a comeback. He said that if a movie costs 200-300 million dollars to make and it doesn't work, the studio is gone.

Like me, Sly believes that it is the Divine Comedy, NOT the Divine Tragedy, only he quoted Shakespeare, not Dante, but I didn't write down the quote. Then he said, "If I didn't have a sense of humor, I would have jumped off a building long ago."

So, Dear Men, we beg you to please find your sense of humor once again, gather up your Jedi swords and save our Dear World from the forces of Darkness and Evil before it's too late!!!


Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Capitalism at Lincoln Center and Sony's Grand Equinox

(Venice, Italy) As I get my thoughts together for the next blog, here's some good news from Variety:

Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" will screen at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall on Sept. 21. Distrib Overture will roll out the pic nationwide Oct. 2.
Following the screening, Moore will hold an aud Q&A moderated by Daily Beast editor-in-chief
Tina Brown.

Michael Moore goes from the Venice Film Festival to Lincoln Center! How cool is that!

Also, since I am very fond of celebrating solstices and equinoxes, I am very pleased to learn there are contemporary companies who support such ancient, ongoing rituals. Yay, Sony! Here's some info sent over by the UK PR agency, immediate future, about what Sony is doing for the autumn equinox on September 22nd:

I thought your readers might be interested to hear about Sony’s latest campaign, which will be taking place on the date of the equinox: September 22nd

The campaign is called ‘Twilight Football’ and will see seven games of football played, and captured on camera, in seven stunning locations across the globe as the hour of twilight settles over each country. Each location has been chosen for its unique character and includes remote places such as Argentina’s Iguazu Falls and the Australian Pinnacle Desert, and the timeless locations of Venice and Antequera in Spain. We’re expecting some truly stunning photography from the events.

Photography enthusiasts from across the globe have won places to photograph the locations and footballing action. In addition, world renowned photographer, Delly Carr, who has written a guide to twilight photography, will also be photographing the football.

The campaign is designed to demonstrate the low light shooting capability of Sony’s new EXMOR CMOS Sensor, found in its new range of Alpha, CyberShot and HandyCam cameras.

Here is a link to some recent coverage of the campaign which also includes an example of the stunning photography we expect to see from each game. I have also included some pre-existing twilight photography. http://www.ephotozine.com/article/Sony-Twilight-competition-winners-announced-12061

So, all you soccer/Sony/equinox/photography fans, check that out.

Finally, I just caught the last sentence of Peter Greenaway's press conference, which was:

"Most people are visually illiterate. We need to put that right."

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,

Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Attention all Jedis! Call to Action! George Clooney in THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS

(Venice, Italy) I've always suspected that George Clooney was a Jedi. Now I am sure that he is. If you are a Jedi, too, you will understand.

Based on a true story by Jon Ronson, who was here at the press conference, The Men Who Stare at Goats is about the American military's top-secret program to harnass pyschic powers to create a New Earth Army. Originally formed with the best of intentions to prevent wars, like many things on this planet, something beautiful was perverted by the darkness.
From the synopsis:

In this quirky dark comedy inspired by a real life story you will hardly believe is actually true, astonishing revelations about a top-secret wing of the U.S. military come to light when a reporter encounters an enigmatic Special Forces operator on a mind-boggling mission. ...A legion of "Warrior Monks" with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy's thoughts, pass through solid walls, and even kill a goat simply by staring at it.

In real life, journalist Jon Ronson tumbled down the rabbit hole into this bizarre military world, which feels a lot like the rabbit hole I find myself in. If you think I am relating too much on a personal level to the films we are screening, you have to understand the genius of the people in charge -- Marco Mueller, the Artistic Director of the Venice Film Festival (and another Jedi:), in particular. We are screening these particular films because the Venice Film Festival THINKS THEY STAND OUT, WANTS YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEM AND THINKS YOU SHOULD MAKE AN EFFORT TO SEE THEM. Going to the festival is like an intensive catch-up on current world events from a Jedi point-of-view.

Venice has always been a kind of Jedi Headquarters, with all sorts of magical people practicing their arts throughout the centuries. (That image is the Palazzo Ducale, the most fanciful palace in the world.) On Sunday, George Lucas (Emperor of the Jedis:) himself was here to present the Golden Lion to John Lasseter and the directors from Disney-Pixar (nothing but Jedis over there). In addition, I had the good fortune to participate in the Pixar's Master Class on Monday morning where they revealed their secrets. At Pixar, the artists have the most power, and the producers have the least. There are no politics. They say they live in fairyland, which, as you know if you are a regular reader of this blog, is exactly where I want to live, and was living before the military and other dark forces decided to try to take over our sweet town and force me out on the street with an illegal eviction.

I have always been very vocal about expressing my belief that Venice has the real possibility of becoming the Magic Kingdom, and now that I have seen The Men Who Stare at Goats, I understand better the dark force that keeps trying to prevent this.

What is a Jedi? This from Wikipedia:


The Jedi are an ancient monastic peacekeeping organization in the fictional Star Wars universe. They are connected with the Force.[1] They specifically use the "light side" of the force and reject the "dark side" of the Force, as well as the Dark Side's adherents, the Sith.

While various sources and ideas have been brought forth as the initial inspiration for the idea of a fictional "Jedi" order, the most apparent are the current and past chivalric orders that exist in Europe.

To read the entire article, please click here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedi

Andrew Stanton, who directed Finding Nemo, shared a Walt Disney (one of the greatest Jedis ever born:) quote during Pixar's Master Class:

"Fun and wonder are the important elements, in addition to quality in production and performance, which are most responsible for the success of Disney productions. Fun in the sense of cheerful reaction - the appeal to love of laughter. Wonder in that we appeal to the constant wonder in men's minds, which is stimulated by imagination."

I had planned on making this blog much longer, but they have managed to find a way to block me, even here at the Film Festival; thanks to the help of a techie, we just hacked our way back in. One quick note: I just came from a conference here entitled Cinema and Human Rights. One of the speakers, Mohsen Namjoo, the "Iranian Bob Dylan," made a comment that struck home. He said, "Even if you are not concerned about politics, it is politics that becomes concerned with you." I feel the same way. The real irony is that I am a citizen of the United States of America, the country that is supposed to be setting the example for democracy and freedom of speech. How can we condemn other countries if I can't write about the movies?

To read more about Namjoo, please click here (or cut & paste):

http://www.twentyfourbit.com/post/141841224/leaked-song-causes-conviction-of-iranian-bob-dylan

JEFF BRIDGES HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER!!!!!!!!!!!

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 6, 2009

PEASANTS UNITE! Michael Moore's Newest Film CAPITALISM - A LOVE STORY

(Venice, Italy) Apparently Michael Moore has arrived at the same conclusion that I have: right in front of our eyes, the United States of America has become the victim of a coup d'etat.

From Wikipedia:

Typically, a coup d’état uses the extant government’s power to assume political control of the country. In Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, military historian Edward Luttwak says: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder”

After you see CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY, you will realize the dramatic personal experiences I have been describing to you are really happening to me. (Right now I am covered with bruises inflicted by my landlady and some strange woman who attacked me outside my apartment after the police said I could sleep on my doorstep to make a protest.) You will see families being forcibly evicted from homes they have owned for generations. You will see a for-profit, private juvenile center with crooked judges and teens being convicted simply for behaving like teens. You will see airline pilots who now earn so little money that they donate blood just to get by.

More shockingly, you will learn that major corporations like Bank of America, Winn Dixie, Nestles and Wal-Mart, etc. are taking out life insurance policies on ordinary employees for profit -- not CEOs, but average workers -- called "dead peasant" policies without the employees' knowledge or approval. (That is an image of Peasant Family in an Interior by Louis Le Nain.) The companies are gambling that, statistically, a certain amount of their employees will die, and the profit they will make on a few deaths is greater than the cost of buying a bunch of life insurance policies. In other words, the companies want their employees to die. I gasped out loud.

"Dead Peasant" policies. Such arrogance!

This small group, which consists of 1% of the population, actually considers itself the "new aristocracy" simply because they have accumulated masses of material objects and money. The methods they use are barbaric and sadistic, not aristocratic: cruelty, lies, intimidation, blocks, manipulation, violence, force, etc. They lust for creativity and talent, but are lacking. Their value system is warped. Century after century this artificial aristocracy cannot seem to learn a simple lesson, which is:

True nobility comes from the heart.

This is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to John Adams dated October 28, 1813 about what to do with the "artificial aristocracy" (I am adding the emphasis):

"For I agree with
you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of
this are virtue and talents. Formerly bodily powers gave place among
the aristoi. But since the invention of gunpowder has armed the weak as well as the strong with missile death, bodily strength, like
beauty, good humor, politeness and other accomplishments, has become
but an auxiliary ground of distinction.

There is also an artificial
aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or
talents; for with these it would belong to the first class.

The
natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature
for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And
indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man
for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom
enough to manage the concerns of the society.

May we not even say
that that form of government is the best which provides the most
effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the
offices of government?

The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous
ingredient in government, and provision should be made to prevent
it's ascendancy
."

Jefferson then outlines what he thinks is the best solution to the problem, which differs from Adams, and then he says:

"These laws, drawn by myself, laid the axe to
the root of Pseudo-aristocracy. And had another which I prepared
been adopted by the legislature, our work would have been compleat.

It was a Bill for the more general diffusion of learning. This
proposed to divide every county into wards of 5. or 6. miles square,
like your townships; to establish in each ward a free school for
reading, writing and common arithmetic; to provide for the annual
selection of the best subjects from these schools who might receive
at the public expence a higher degree of education at a district
school; and from these district schools to select a certain number of
the most promising subjects to be compleated at an University, where
all the useful sciences should be taught.

Worth and genius would
thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and
compleatly prepared by education for defeating the competition of
wealth and birth for public trusts
."

To read the letter in its entirety, please click here:

http://www.tncrimlaw.com/civil_bible/natural_aristocracy.htm

I'm not fond of the title, Capitalism: A Love Story because I don't think capitalism is to blame. And I am much more center and less of a socialist than Michael Moore. All those political labels exist to push your emotional buttons. For example, Venice is a town run by Communists, but they are the most funky Communists you will ever meet. It is surrounded by Fascists, but they, too, are distinct. When they asked me about the title, I told German television that I am a humanist -- I believe human beings are entitled to certain rights just by the fact that they are on the planet, and are more productive, healthier and happier when you treat them with dignity instead of abuse. I believe in compassion, creativity, hope and imagination. I believe in independent thinking. If your product is really better than mine, then let the people buy your product, but don't go around bad-mouthing mine. I believe in winning by playing fair, and this game ain't fair.


We don't want to believe the things Michael Moore speaks about are really happening. I most certainly do not want to believe it is really happening, but reality is that all my earthly possessions -- my clothes, my computer, my desk, my paintings, my jewelery, my rugs, my shoes, my documents, my silverware, my linens, my 300 library editions of Harley, Like a Person and Harley's Ninth, my American passport, etc., etc., etc. are locked inside my apartment and I do not have the key -- actually, now, they are claiming everything is thrown inside the storage area on the ground floor. The eviction is not legal. It is based on lies and deceipt. When the landlord was here I got him to admit that I paid the rent. I called him a liar to his face outside in the calle so everyone could hear, and told him to denounce me for slander so I could go to court and prove he was liar.

On top of that, the United States of America has an antagonistic attitude toward me for no reason whatsoever -- except, perhaps, that I keep pointing these things out -- and that, my friends, is outrageous, and that is reality. It is a very dark energy. It feels evil and it is not going to stop unless we all get off our butts and do something about it. There really was/is a financial crisis.

At a press conference over at the Excelsior Hotel helmed by Peter Bart, the editor of Variety -- which, by the way, is providing our daily news for the first time -- a journalist asked Michael Moore if he felt isolated, and if it was taking a toll. He said, yes, he did feel isolated, and that yes, it was taking its toll. I feel the same way.

Go see the movie. Here's a review from Xan Brooks of the Guardian in the UK:

"America, enthuses a leaked Citibank report, is now a modern-day "plutonomy" where the top 1% of the population control 95% of the wealth. Does Barack Obama's election spell an end to all this? The director has his doubts, pointing out that Goldman Sachs – depicted here as the principal agent of wickedness – was the largest private contributor to the Obama campaign."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/sep/06/capitalism-love-story-review

Here is the trailer:


CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY: Movie Trailer - Watch the best video clips here


Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,

Cat

Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Live! From the 66th International Venice Film Festival! MY SON MY SON WHAT HAVE YE DONE

(Venice, Italy) It is a bit difficult to work when 99.9% of one's earthly possessions -- including one's computer -- have been locked inside one's apartment since June 10th by unknown entities who keep changing the locks, but let's give it a go, starting with the world premiere of Werner Herzog's film MY SON MY SON WHAT HAVE YE DONE, inspired by a true story. That was the Surprise Movie yesterday -- we had no idea what we were seeing until the film started, and as soon as "David Lynch Presents a Werner Herzog Film" rolled up on the screen, the industry audience burst into applause. This is the second film by Werner Herzog at the festival, the other being Bad Lieutenant, Port of Call New Orleans (which I really wanted to see but missed with all these apartment shenanigans) so Herzog is competing against himself.

At the press conference Herzog said that when Marco Mueller, the Artistic Director of the Venice Film Festival, insisted he had to have My Son My Son at the film festival as well as Bad Lieutenant, Herzog said, "If you are going to go so wild, then go ahead and take them both." Herzog said that film festivals get to be so bureaucratic after time, and then here, in Venice, you realize "all of a sudden there is this wild life out there."

So, if you are wondering why I, personally, stay and suffer through all this absolute insanity it is because despite the many and repeated efforts to impose a rigid structure upon Venice, it is not possible. They can use force, manipulation, intimidation, violence and obstruction, but Venice will never fit into a mold -- nor will she reveal her core to the undeserving. With like-minded people like Marco Mueller and Werner Herzog wandering around Venice on a regular basis, as well as the enlightened phantoms of the past, to me, it really feels like home.

From the production notes:

Inspired by true events, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is a story of ancient myth and modern madness. An aspiring actor performing in a Greek tragedy, Brad Macallam commits in reality the crime he is to enact in the play: he kills his mother.

I won't get into details about the film except to say that I thought it was wacky, wonderful and weird. I don't know Werner Herzog's work, so it reminded me a lot of David Lynch, whom I adore. According to Herzog, Lynch did not have much to do with the film except that he read the script and loved it, saying it was "really tight," and that if he were executive producer "you can probably sell the film more easily to France."

To read what is up on Wikipedia, please click here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Son,_My_Son,_What_Have_Ye_Done

FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE

When asked if he were afraid of being typecast for playing characters with mental disorders, Michael Shannon, who stars in the film, said he was talking about the notion of sanity at dinner last night. He said you cannot prove what is sane or insane, but that we need to make a construction that allows us to share the world together. He likes to play characters that exist outside of normalcy because "normalcy is a prison." (I can relate to that:) Werner Herzog paid Shannon a huge compliment and said he has a phenomenal gift.

Herzog made a surprise announcement that he was starting his own film school starting today called, "Rogue Film School," and that he loved the name so much he was in the process of patenting it; I love it, too, being a great fan of rogues myself:)

When a journalist said that Herzog was the only one who had been able to work with Klaus Kinski, Herzog said that he did not consider Kinski a madman. Then Herzog said: "I am the only one in Venice right now who is clinically sane."

After the press conference I went up to Herzog and said, "I have lived in Venice for eleven years, and I have a medical document that states that I am clinically sane. That makes two of us:)"

More about that in the future.

Ciao from the 66th International Venice Film Festival,
Cat

Venetian Cat - Venice Blog
http://venetiancat.blogspot.com