Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Let's Talk About Stars - Venice Film Festival

(Venice, Italy) Natalie Portman made her directorial debut yesterday with a short film entitled, Eve, starring Lauren Bacall and Ben Gazzara as an elderly couple out on a boozy first date, granddaughter in tow. Although no longer young, Bacall still radiates beauty, warmth and charm. When Bacall takes off all her makeup at the end and looks at herself in the mirror, I thought, how brave she is!

When Natalie Portman arrived in the theatre, girls cheered and cameras flashed, and I started thinking about the power of a star. There are only five American films this year at the festival, and no British films at all. But when an American star shows up, everyone goes wild.

Let's be honest: AMERICA CREATES THE BEST STARS! Even if the star is from another country, once they are in an American film, they become a Shining Star. And what is a film festival without stars? I think it is a curious thing that human beings make movies to begin with, and that other human beings pay money to watch them. Well, it's something we all do, project our images. How imaginative is your projection? How beautiful are your protagonists? When people ask me what the point of life is, I reply, "To live as if people are paying good money to watch your movie." I am quite sure that many people will not agree with that:) In fact, I would venture that the majority prefer to watch.

There are plenty of movies here with no stars at all. I saw one yesterday called Birdwatchers - The Land of the Red Men (Italy-Brazil) directed by Marco Bechis, which is a haunting, beautifully constructed story about endangered Indians in Brazil. I quite liked it because I thought it was provocative, and I loved the shaman character. Some Italians I spoke to thought it dragged; I disagree completely. Perhaps it is because I am American and concerned about our own Indians -- and our own Venetians. I ran into Roderick Conway Morris on the bus, and we both agreed we wouldn't mind if it won the Golden Lion. To read Rod's review for the International Herald Tribune, go here:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/03/arts/venice3.php

Then there was a movie called Vegas: Based on a True Story directed by Amir Naderi, who is Iranian based in America. I almost walked out of that one because I thought it was too boring to watch working-class people rip up their lawn for two hours, hunting for buried treasure. Although, perhaps, if you are working-class dreaming about buried treasure, you might like it.

I saw a French film called L'autre, or The Other, directed by Patrick Mario Bernard/Pierre Trividic, which began with the actress, Dominique Blanc, slugging herself in the head with a hammer while gazing at her image in the mirror. It was not a comedy. Hhhhmmmm... Now, if you are going to hit yourself in the head with a hammer so hard that you end up in the hosptial, you'd better have a damn good reason besides that the guy you left has started seeing someone else. It could have been a good film, I think, if it had dug deeper into why this woman became so insanely jealous. Dominique Blanc's performance was excellent, but the script had gaping holes. It's based on Annie Ernaux’s novel; perhaps the answer lies there.

The point I am attempting to make is how subjective movies and their stories can be. Perhaps if I were a jealously obsessed French woman, I would have loved L'autre. Anyway, I've still got my money on The Burning Plain, which comes complete with a great story, great stars, great writing and great directing.

I'm focusing on the American films because... well... I'm American! I've become surprisingly patriotic. Jonathan Demme is coming with Rachel Getting Married, Kathryn Bigelow with Hurt Locker, and then we've got Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.

Ciao from Venice,
Cat
Home: http:venetiancat.blogspot.com

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