Venice film festival - anticipation
Venice starts again on Tuesday. Wednesday is the first official day but there will be some pre-festival screenings on Tuesday so I'll like as not be down for those. A glance at the program is promising, much more than recent years perhaps. But then again some of the best films of the last few festivals have been unexpected: The Wrestler probably the most. This year, we don't have that many big names. Polanski is the biggest. Freidkin caught the same disease Coppola has of being great only in a decade with the letter s-e-v-e-n-t-i-e-s in the name. Madonna, Al Pacino, James Franco and Clooney all add their star power, but only Clooney has proven himself as undeniably a director to watch. There are a lot of youngish film makers who promise great things. Let the Right One In director, Tomas Alfredson returns with his eagerly awaited LeCarre adaptation. Likewise, arriving with a literary adaptation is Andrea Arnold with her version of Wuthering Heights.
Soderburgh and Cronenburg are also present with new films, both of which bode well. And Michael Fassbender stars in the latter's and will also be starring in Steve McQueen's Shame. There's a Johnnie To film and a Jet Li martial arts epic.
So fingers crossed and I'll keep you updated.
The success of Captain America leaves me feeling strangely ambivalent. On one hand, thank god that at last, after numerous disappointments, there has been a good comic book film that wasn't directed by Christopher Nolan. Thor wasn't awful, wasn't totally awful. Green Lantern by all accounts was. Iron Man was over-rated, buoyed up by Downey Jr's performance, but dragged down by a stultifyingly dull finale. Watchmen was a flatulent mess. So Captain America being actually quite good is perhaps cause for celebration.
The problem for me is I can't help but be increasingly bored by this wave of kidulthood geek friendly comic book fluff. And a good one is the proverbial good Nazi that mitigates all those bad ones and ensures they continue. By the way there is a weird bit of nonsense in having the villains outdoing the Nazis at their own game: two-fisted salutes instead of those girly one handed seigs.
The point is moot anyway. Spiderman, Superman, Batman all have new films in the pipeline and The Avengers will be out next summer. The glut shows no sign of stopping. Maybe we should all sing the theme to Mad Max III in protest. Or maybe we shouldn't. I don't know.
I was watching Patriot Games, the Philip Noyce directed, Tom Clancy authored, Harrison Ford grimaced thriller. And at the end, (SPOILER) Sean Bean, the madcap Irish terrorist who has apparently forgotten all about his noble terrorist cause and is now hellbent on making Harrison Ford unhappy, is killed by the sharp one two of falling on something spiky and being impaled from behind and then as he breathes his last dying gasp being blown up. It was only what he deserved. But this set me thinking about how many villains receive the stab in the back. Ming in Mike Hodges' Flash Gordon gets the pole of the space ship through the back and Saruman in Lord of the Rings. I'm sure there's got to be more than one Bond villain who goes that way. There's an obvious reason why this might be a popular endgame for the baddie of any film: it is a classic cinematic reveal. Either, something we can see coming but they can't, or something that happens, the eyes widen in disbelief and then the camera pans down to reveal protruding spear etc. The captain of the boat in Apocalypse Now though he obviously isn't a baddie as such. You can see I'm flailing for examples here so I'd appreciate as many as possible. There could be an article in this. I know that it would be easy to imagine this as some repressed gay fantasy. So that's exactly what I'm going to do. Macho Hollywood showing its hand when it comes to back door demises. Could be a title.
John Bleasdale is a writer. His work has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, Il Manifesto, as well as CineVue.Com and theStudioExec.com. He has also written a number of plays, screenplays and novels.