yearzerowriters

8 Ozon

In Marc Horne on September 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm

So, if I worked for Lawnmowers Monthly, I would not be going to Venice. But the little machine that I write about… she is called The Camera. And she is magical. So I am going to Venice.

Mireille is still asleep, down in the blue. Good. I don’t want to talk. What are you going to say? Some shit about socks, yeah?

I am flying on EasyJet from Charles de Gaulle. So that means you can’t even relax and enjoy your coffee. Because I am outside the little cattle pen where you rush for your seat. But then again all the seats are pretty shitty. There are likely to be no more than 5 attractive women on the flight, so unless you are one of the first ten guys on the plane, then so what. Ok, the cappuccino is good now. The Arab girl who made it for me is looking at me strangely, though.

“No, I’m not Tom Cruise,” I say to her and she laughs. I didn’t notice that she is young and cute before. Now I do. God, my ego is weak. She’s probably a hag with a face like a camel’s ass but I literally can’t see it because she laughed at my joke. I am hoping that the Film Festa will have some adventures so I can kid myself I am still young for another 3 or 4 months. Then I can start looking forward to Cannes.

I am hoisted practically into space. Above me is the unblinking blue eye of god. Below me the source of all meaning. Naturally, I sleep and when I wake I read about biscuits and how much they cost.

I split a speedboat taxi with a guy called René who takes photos for us quite often. He doesn’t care that we are in a place where people wear suits or harlequin costumes: he is going to dress like it is Indochina anyway. And he is going to sweat like it is Indochina. We come round into the Grand Canal and his sweat has me convinced that it is the Mekong Delta. He has so much metal hardware hanging from his khaki vest that part of me wants to push him in the water and have some fun. Ten years ago I would have done it. Now I wonder where all those urges are going. They don’t just fade away. I kind of feel them being put in a pocket in my soul. My soul has as many pockets as that fucking vest,

I turn on the fan in my hotel room. My habit since childhood. If there is a fan in a hotel, I turn it on. Then I watch it. But it is cold outside and huge black clouds are gathering over the Lido. I read an email from my boss. He really wants me to write something about the new François Ozon film, because it has Deneuve, Depardieu and Luchini in it. So make sure I see it, make sure I have a good chat with Ozon.

Ozon! Merde! Espèce de pédé.

I have nothing against gays… nothing. But this guy. I can never forget how carelessly he handled the breasts of Ludivine Sagnier in Swimming Pool. It was like watching a butcher throwing around livers. That’s how he sees them.

And of course, he pulls the old ambiguous ending. How much was fantasy, how much reality, oooooh? Look, when it is all filmed like that I hope it is neither fantasy, nor reality. I need some third thing. Banality.

And what was that one… 8 Femmes. Why 8? What the fuck is 8. And that whole film: like a fucking drag party at his house and he happened to have his iPhone camera running.

But hey. I work for a camera magazine. He has a camera. I’ll write about his fucking camera. The boss is obviously in love with him so whatever. He better be at a good party.

I get dressed sharp. I look good, like a wolf. Then I put on my hipster glasses. Well, they are not too hipster: a touch 50s Sartre. The wolf is in his cage. René is waiting for me in the lobby. He pretends it is chance but I know he has been waiting because he is so poised. “Oh, Stéphane!” he says, in the manner of Cary Grant.

We walk by beautiful canals. It’s raining. What else can I say? I need a cigarette, how about that. But this wind steals that joy from me. My tie flaps in René’s direction. He says “Are you going to go nuts tonight, my old friend?” I look back at him. “Unless tonight’s champagne is piss – literally yellow fizzy piss from a urethra – then I don’t understand your question.”

We get to a palace. I never knew that Elton John had built a palace in the Middle Ages in Venice. He is so versatile.

I start drinking with Romain Duris. He gets my fucking testosterone going, despite his lispy voice. He is mad for it. He is only making three films a year now, he says. The two crap ones and he is trying to make sure that he makes one good one. He will grow his hair to fit that one good one and the way it looks will be the way it looks in those other trashy films and they can suck it if he is in the navy with an Afro.

I lose ¼ of my mind and it is only 8pm. I sit down on a staircase made from swans and read a text message. “Got back from you know where. Making dinner. Call me tomorrow.”

A couple of years after we got married, when cocaine was suddenly in fashion, I rudely told Mireille that I never – ever – wanted to hear anything about gynecologists. So I get these messages now, all the time recently, with a big hole in the middle. Or she comes in the house and turns on the TV and I have to talk about work or something. If she has cancer, I’ll need to wait before it metastasizes before I hear about it.

I could talk to her now. But, I am old. Nearly old. I think it would be easier to build a time machine and go back to fix this.

I see Bernardo Bertolucci and I wonder if he will ever make a good film again. From the way he is walking, he’ll never make a film again. He looks like they cut something out of his pelvis, under the illusion that he could live without it.

So then I am face to face with Ozon. Of course, I am holding an almost empty champagne bottle.

“Monsieur O-Zen,” I say, “You are always so serene.”

He gives me the Buddha smile. I know I am not the drunkest man in the room, so why is he giving me shit. Wait, is he not drinking. I bet that it is it.

“So tell, me about Potiche please, maestro.”

“Well it’s the 70s. It’s about labels. About the way we present ourselves. About society and her tight constraints. A comedy. The bourgeois. Based on the play.”

And what happens next I am not sure. It’s like I am a Manchurian Candidate and he has said my key phrase. I think maybe there is a part of my brain that has heard these words so many times, it’s like dead grass. Thoughts walk across the grass, but it’s already flat, you know.”

Here are a few things that do stay in my memory from our conversation.

I tell him that yes, she is an old old woman and almost dead, but she is not dead yet and she is Catherine Deneuve so why would you dress her like that. She doesn’t look like a woman. She doesn’t look like a man, though. So neither of us are happy.

I say something about Depardieu. I ask why a young man like him would be content to let take that old dog for a walk around the park that he has pissed in so long that they are going to name it The Park of the Piss of Gerard Depardieu if He Was a Dog. When he dies.

He says something to me about how much he loves my camera magazine. I tell him that he should start filming in digital because his scripts smell like word processor.

And I remember him fondly taking me by the arm and leading me into the screening room.

I wake up in the front row with vomit down my shirt and credits going up. That I am not the only one… this comforts me a little. I clap of course.

Outside the rain is like the end of the world. Venice is in the sky. I find a mad gondolier and give him 120 Euros to take me home. The rain is coming down in fists. The canals have craters that we roll around.  ‘Fantasy and reality are all presented on a single plane,’ as the maestro said.

The press kit is rolled up in my pocket. So I can write my review from that plus some trivialities that will sweat out of my memories in the morning. The canal is so close to eating us. If my wife dies before these fuckers… before me…

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  1. I’ve never seen an Ozon, but there are so many great fucking lines in this it’s incredible.

    The Catherine Deneuve one is the peak.

    And the hate for Ozon really shines through, ha.

    Oli

  2. Or the Gerard Depardieu line.

  3. […] Story: An Angry Venice FIlm Festival !GUPTER PUNCHER magazine! has published a short story of mine about a French Film Journalist who can’t stand French […]

  4. I copied this into my notebook ‘…I hope it is neither fantasy, nor reality. I need some third thing. Banality.’

  5. […] [This is reposted from !GUPTER PUNCHER […]

  6. […] pushed me the idea of writing about the Venice film festival for Gupter Puncher. Ok, so I sat down and did that with another character I was thinking about for […]

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