Venice Part II

...the saga continues

by empire |
Published on

It must be said, Day Two of the Venice Film Festival was not vintage. The big press screenings of the morning were both from Hollywood, with Jonathan Demme's The Manchurian Candidate winning hands down over Tony Scott's Man On Fire. Demme's press conference showed the first signs of life too. Though Denzel Washington was reticent throughout (A-list stars here tend to be studied with awe, like some strange creature from a crypto-zoo), Meryl Streep took centre stage and ran proceedings like a pro. When asked, "What do the words 'Made In Venice' mean to you?" she simply raised her handbag and more than a few laughs. Demme, though, bit the bullet and, when asked about his film's political content, voiced his concern over the inequalities in the current American system and added that he hoped this would be set right in the next election. It doesn't take a genius to work out where his vote will be going come November. Almost distracted by the size of John Travolta's thighs (think Saturday Night Fever, then add 25 years of post-club trips to the chip shop), Empire was not overly impressed by the day's selection. The Greek film Delivery offered pizza and philosophy but no actual point, while Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin prompted the first huffy walk-outs of the festival. "He makes Larry Clark look classy," said one observer of this outr gay love story, perhaps already making it seem better than it really is. Dylan Kidd's PS was a disappointment too, just too glib a romance from the writer of Roger Dodger. As for the Russian film Remote Access, don't get us started. A kind of po-faced feminist Girl 6, this was a dreadful, meandering mess, and when the obligatory random act of violence occurred, no-one was surprised and yet no-one could understand why it happened. An absolute shocker, and in the competition too. Which led many to wonder if this was why festival director Marco Mueller had sandbagged himself in with so many stars. Having a drink last night at the Hotel Des Bains, Empire spotted Demme on his way to his screening, Spike Lee and wife and - most unexpected of all - Alfonso Cuarón, who revealed that he was heading the jury for the Orrizonte sidebar. No, we don't know the difference between that and the competition either. Later than night we headed for the late Fernando Di Leo double bill, only to find the audience standing with their backs to the screen. This was because Tarantino was in the house, looking as pissed-off as you might imagine as grown men nudged their girlfriends and took pictures on the camera phones. Sadly, this was not a night to remember. After two incomprehensible TV documentaries about the man entirely in Italian (OK, we knew what "lesbianismo" meant), Empire was surprised to find no subtitles on the 1972 flick Milano Calibro 9. A trip to the front desk revealed that headphones were provided, through which a flat British voice could be heard translating, thus making the phrase "get in the car", as spoken to a gangster, sound like an invitation to a shopping trip at Whiteleys. Sorry, Quentin, even dubbing is better than that, so we made our excuses and headed to Francois Ozon's 5X2 party where this correspondent was mistaken for the "ratty" bad guy from The Manchurian Candidate. The only proper response, of course, was to get blinding drunk. But that's another story…

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