Zanzibar [at the Venice Film Festa]

In Pat Black on September 12, 2010 at 11:58 am

*Let’s catch up with all the red carpet gossip at the Venice Film Festival, with the King of Snark himself, Lance Zanzibar…
Terrible business, all told. Here I am, in a suit you can’t afford, drinking champagne you’ll never taste, sinking my feet into a carpet which will never burn your knees, cocking a snook at strumpets whose asses you’ll never slap, knowing things you’ll absolutely never know, and still I can’t work out if this Joaquin Phoenix shit is for real or not.

Yes, it’s been a trying time for your humble correspondent, exposed to only the finest food and drink shrieking little businessmen can throw at me for free, easing my way up and down the canals in my private gondola and banging star-struck work experience hacks two and sometimes three at a time. I’m engaging in the kind of clichés you can only dream about – the ones you and the guys snort beer over when you discuss that trip to Vegas you will absolutely never take. It’s called La Dolce Vita, baby. Deal with it.

Marco, my own little stripy-shirted gondolier, has been helping me search this entire town for the choicest gossip regarding I’m Still Here, Casey Affleck’s real-life study of how Phoenix apparently went off the rails and reinvented himself as some kind of half-assed gangsta rapper. All I’ve managed to find out is that Phoenix has managed to have a shave and gotten himself into his Johnny Cash suit since filming wrapped. Is it for real? Is it a hoax? Did someone really crap on his head? Is that actually coke he snorted off some groupie’s pillowy breasts? Do you think they cared, at all? Do you think that halfway through they realised that it was a really tortured, strained joke all along, and that it probably wasn’t going to excite, entertain or interest anyone?

Joaquin, if you’re listening, my harelipped hero, I think you need to peg things down a little. Go back to the tin-foil hat look you sported in Signs – that’s the kind of crazy people can hang their derision on.

At the presser for I’m Still Here, I couldn’t help but notice a little red-coated figure running around the edges of the press pack. For a moment I thought it was a girl I hooked up with at one of Freddie Mercury’s parties back in the day, but she keeps running out on me every time I turn to get a proper look… how strange.

Speaking of sexy little pixie bitches, the lovely Natalie Portman’s also been in town promoting Black Swan, the dark and dirty story of a ballerina being all tippy-toed, pouty and haughty as many high-arched, pump-footed ballet people are. It’s dark, complex and densely cerebral material, to be sure – so of course, the film’s been heavily trailed with a soft-core make-out scene between Ms Portman and another chick. Pause… Sigh… Light cigarette. As my dear mother used to say to me: “So many internet video clips, not enough spunk.”

Black Swan is a film by Darren “What the fuck was going on in The Fountain, mate?” Aronofsky, the man who might have directed the Batman movies before they gave it to another Tefal-head in Chris Nolan, and who at one time was in talks over a bid to fuck with perfection, viz, a totally unnecessary remake of Robocop. I mean, seriously – how could that film be improved upon? Forgive my blasphemy, but I’d even tolerate a remake of Jaws before someone gave us another Robocop. Never mind, I’m sure Ratner or that WS Anderson thing will get the call before long.

The little chick in the red coat was prominent at the screening of Black Swan incidentally – and sat not too far from the principals, too. Intriguing – but when the lights came up and I got the chance to french Natalie Portman in front of her boyfriend, the little red bugger up and vanished. Interesting. If not mildly exciting.

The 67th Venice Film Festival – after the 62nd I stopped counting – is presided over by Quentin Tarantino, a man who it is said could film a plate of biscuits in freeze-frame and make it interesting and exciting. As I listened to him in press conference I couldn’t help but wonder: how is it such a gifted writer of the spoken word can be such an unlistenable douchebag in real life? A flavour: “It’s like, y’know, how the guys talk, hyuk hyuk, and then he pulls a piece and goes booommm, pa-pa-paow! And then there’s like this great fucking poster, man, Biker Girls From Venus, alright, and Marianne Faithfull’s got a fucking switchblade, hyuk hyuk, and I’m gonna rehash all these 1970s tropes and I’ll even say nigger in my scripts, hyuk hyuk. Yeah. And the feet, man, the feet. Feet! Feet. Fuck, feet, yeah.”

As I listened to QT’s press conference – being gobbled under the table at the time from one of the press officers – this passage marked the only time I flinched.

It was doubly irritating that I couldn’t get up out of my seat at this point, as the little red-coated figure was waving at me from the sidelines. By the time I zipped myself up – imperious if slightly bored-looking as I always am post-fellatio – the little creature had vanished. Hmmm.

There’s been a wealth of movies from Italy, the far east and elsewhere, made by people with the deepest commitment to artistic integrity while still managing to entertain and inform people. But that’s not what I like best about Venezia – for me, I just love having the Brits come over and patronise the shit out of everyone about the business of acting. My God, is there anything more calculated to turn Americans into Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda than seeing British people swan around being so effortlessly elegant and polite? It almost makes you want to mingle your genes with the aristocracy. Almost. We’ve had so much Vanessa Redgrave this week that I quite simply want to take my shoes off and throw a Victorian faint. It’s been lovely, darlings, simply divine. Tea and cakes with Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton, and as much home baking as you could politely nibble at and enthuse over.

Sophia Coppola was back with another “Look into my eyes, my eyes, one two three click fingers FORGET ABOUT GODFATHER PART III” effort, Somewhere, featuring some bored-looking truculent bitches learning about life and stuff while reading challenging literature in foreign locations. But but but, this one features Stephen Dorff. That’s right, the guy from Blade. Now you must ask yourself the question: would any movie at all be improved by the presence of Stephen Dorff, or Wesley Snipes? Surely Wesley’s worth calling, even if he is in prison for tax evasion.

In the absence of George Clooney, the artist increasingly known as Casey’s Brother, Ben Affleck, has considerably raised the chinnage quotient with the out-of-competition screening of The Town. Although we need a little more chin to go around Venice – Matt Damon would be great, wouldn’t you say, Ben? – Mr Affleck’s Baaaston-set crime caper at least has the virtue of putting bums on seats. How do you shave that thing, Ben? Do you hire pimply teenagers to run a motorised lawn mower over it every coupla weeks in the summer? Still, it’ll go a long way if it wants to pick up the Holy Grail of Chinnage – that first poster for Ocean’s Eleven. How much chinnage do we have, here? Forty feet? Fifty? Even counting dearly departed Bernie Mac’s doubler, that is an intimidating amount of chin.

Also popping up – Vincent Gallo’s cock. It’s swinging around somewhere inside his trousers, and thankfully not attached to Chloe Sevigny’s mouth any more, but he’s still making waves at Venice with Promises Written In Water. The title probably says it all about this mysterious, romantic, soul-searching romantic drama… ugh, to hell with it. When’s Machete coming on?

So we’re just about to wrap up here – who will win the Golden Lion? I’ll be on the scene with all the news, just as soon as I catch a hold of this little red-jacketed fucker… Here she is now, standing in the corner of this old church which I have made my residence… A bit Blair Witch, all told… Right, come here you fucker…

Oh my God… it’s not a girl… It’s Mel Gibson! And he’s got a set of sharpened rosary beads! No… NO!

  1. And the lion goes to Coppola. Not sure if Dorff got any gold though…

    The Phoenix thing is a stunt. He’ll be slumming it in some superhero flick next summer or the one after…

    Black Swan is supposed to be blinding.

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