You know, I was trying to write some lines on Word's blank page. I needed to channel my enthusiasm, to choose the right words, the perfect ones to report what happened on that beautiful day. But Chiara anticipated me. I opened her e-mail, it moved me and I decided that her Venetian account would be also mine, because we've lived that experience together and there is nothing else to add. Read about our day in Venice and Spring Breakers review below.
The Franco Chronicles
Last year, when I came back from Venice, I was happy, proud and satisfied. It's in the same state of mind that I'm writing today, to share with you all the tale of an extraordinary day. The place and the occasion are the same: Venice, Lido; Mostra del Cinema. The protagonist is the same too: James Franco – who else? This year, though, I had two fellow travelers who made the experience even more pleasant: Sonny, who's been running this blog for almost two years now and the super nice Isabella. But let’s proceed one step at the time.
Nobody had expected that James Franco would have attended to the Venice Film Festival for the second year in a row, nor that the film premiered would have been the crazy Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine, quite as crazy. You can easily imagine how excited I was. The première was scheduled for September 5th, near the end of the Festival, which had made my excitement even higher. I already knew that this year would have been different from last year, for many reasons: having just one film to present, James would have stayed in Venice for only one day; he hasn't directed the film and shares the screen with some teen idols such as Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez, so he would have also shared the attention with other people. That's why I thought it would have been much harder to meet him this time. Fortunately the facts proved me wrong.
I arrived at Lido at 8 a.m. with my sister, in order to take place in front of the red carpet, which, anyway, I wouldn’t have watched that night because I had to chose: either seeing the film during the gala première or watching the red carpet. I chose the first option. Only three hours later, the spot we were at was already full of people. Mostly fifteen-year-old girls. They were all there for Selena. They weren't even sure why she would have been there that night or what film she was promoting. But they didn't care. All they wanted was her autograph or just to catch a glimpse of their idol. "But you do know that James Franco will be there as well, right?" "Who? Who is James Franco?" I smiled amused. Then I turned my head… and saw him. That is James Franco!! He was walking unnoticed in front of us, colored, all smiles. Pink shirt, grey jeans, big green sunglasses – Gucci, of course, horrible hat. Some guys and I walked towards him. Nice as always, he stopped to take the first pictures with some of them, but then he decided that he didn't want to stay still any more. He would have taken the next pictures walking. Well, I was next. I don't know how, but I suddenly found myself walking with his arm around my neck, my arm around his waist. And my sister took the picture. I didn't even had the time to realize what had just happened, because in those minutes I had talked to Sonny. He and Isabella had just arrived and I had to go and pick them up. Awful timing for them.
However, the game wasn't over yet. Spring Breakers cast's arrival to press-conference was scheduled for 1 p.m. We went to the entrance of the Palazzo del Casinò with our copies of Palo Alto: Stories in our hands. Of course we weren’t by ourselves. The Selenators were there too. Frenzy. A security guy told us that we were there for nothing, because there would have been no press conference, the cast wasn't awaited there at that time. Unfortunately he wasn't entirely wrong. When the cast arrived, they went directly into the Palazzo and didn't pass by the public at all. I had a badge that allowed me to enter the Palazzo, so I ran upstairs and waited for them at the Press Conference Room entrance. The director and the girls went straight in the room. When James arrived, there were some people waiting for him. He saw me with his book in my hands, walked towards me, smiling, and signed on the first page. I was happy, but there was something missing, because, again, Sonny and Isabella hadn't have the chance of meeting him.
Almost one hour later, from the stairs in front of the Hotel Excelsior, we saw some cars heading to a platform where there was the RAI (Italian television) stand. Behind them, a procession of teenagers. There was no doubt. In those cars there was the cast of Spring Breakers. How to get there as fast as possible? Through a special access in the Hotel Excelsior. Thanks to my badge I could easily enter the hotel without being watched with suspect, so I told Sonny and Isabella to stay close to me and follow my steps. We walked into the hall, went down the stairs which lead to the pier and made our way to the RAI platform. The cast was inside of the stand, doing some interviews. Outside, the road was occupied. The return of the Selenators. They were yelling Selena's name, singing out her songs, climbing on the trees to catch a glimpse of her from the outside. They were even risking death for her. The security guys started panicking. Sonny, Isabella and I assisted to this hysteria speechless. Then it looked like the interviews had finished. The first one to come out of the stand was Ashley Benson. The situation was relatively calm. But then Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez arrived, surrounded by the bodyguards. They immediately got in the car and a sad scene took place under our eyes. All that mass of teenagers literally threw themselves onto the car, they slammed their hands against the car windows, all at once. The car hardly moved, hold by the grip of the crazy fans. It was dreadful. When they were gone, of all that crowd, only two people and the three of us were left. We were waiting for James to come out, always with Palo Alto in our hands. Then he appeared, followed by Harmony and Rachel Korine. He came towards us, looked at the books and smiled. He told Harmony: "Look, that's my book. It's the Italian version! It's a good feature, right?!" Korine saw the boy on the skateboard on the Italian cover and asked him: "Is this you?". James giggled: "Nooo!". First he signed his autograph to Isabella. Not content with it, he signed her another one. Then he autographed Sonny's book and lastly, mine. I know, again. But since I was there…! While he was writing, I told him that we loved the book. He raised his head and stared at me for what it looked like five entire seconds, with his biggest smile on his face. I hardly managed to stare back at him. He had done with my book, so I took it, but he pulled it back with strength. "James, you already signed it!"… but no, he wanted to add a little heart next to his autograph. Because I told him that we loved the book. Let's have some seconds to meditate on how sweet this man is. After that, we told him that we were from the Italian fansite and we asked for a picture all together. They were waiting for him, it was clear that he had to go, he had already spent a lot of time with us, but he glanced at his agent and then to us: "Ok, hurry." We flung ourselves under his arms and took the first picture. I don't know how, but he realized that Sonny wasn't in the picture and said: "Wait, let's take another with him!". We took other two photos. We thanked him for his kindness and saw him disappearing in the car, heading to the Excelsior. Since we needed to go in the same direction, we followed the car and saw him filming everything with his I-phone. I wouldn't be surprised to see ourselves in one of his next whosay videos. We were walking on air, we spent the following hours talking about what had just happened.
The première time was approaching. We had a walk around the Lido and on the Excelsior terrace and then we joined the line outside of the Sala Grande. We found out that the public who arrives early has to walk the red carpet to enter the theatre. Like Isabella said: "We didn't watch the red carpet, we walked it." Ok, we weren't hit by the flashes of the photographers, but let me tell you, we had our own moment of glory. Once in the hall, we saw the cast on the red carpet from the inside. We saw James arriving, elegant in a three piece Gucci suit, which, if it had been his own size and didn't fit so tight, would have been perfect. But it doesn't matter after all. He signed lots of autographs to the public. Yes, even to those who, that very morning, didn't even know who he was. He was interviewed and took the pictures with the cast. Then they all entered the theatre. The girls first - accompanied by the familiar cry: "SELENAAAAAAAAA!!" - and then James followed. Who was there for him? The three of us of course. We timidly called him: "Jaaames! Hi!" And he clearly recognized us, because he winked at us and addressed us one of his famous smiles.
We got into the cinema, waited for the cast to arrive and to be presented. Then we took our seats. Spring Breakers started. I won't say much about it, you can read Sonny's review translated in English right after this article, which I totally agree with. I'll just say that I loved the film, that it's already a cult, that all the arguments about it depress me, because it's a much more complex film than some critics wants us to believe and that James Franco's performance, one of the best of his career, has already gone down in history. In many cult scenes he's the protagonist. You must have heard of a singular performance of Britney Spears' "Everytime", during which the public inside got crazy and we saw James laughing in his seat. But let's make things clear: it is not a comedy. It's much more than that and than any possible categorization. Apparently the public in Venice agreed, because the final applause lasted at least three minutes. It's was a very touching moment. We saw the cast moved, hugging and congratulating each-other. Sonny, Isabella and I looked at each-other delighted. We kissed goodbye. We were happy, proud and satisfied. Precisely. The perfect conclusion for a perfect day.
REVIEW: Spring Breakers
I remember Gummo. Jacob Reynolds' troubled profile on the cover of a nineties rented vhs. The silence surrounding me during the watching and the feeling of being hit in my face (and in my stomach) by a moviemaking that was doomed to last. In the end. I've often suggested to watch Gummo and obtained several comments, some were horrified, some enthusiastic. But those who divide deserve attention. All the time. 15 years after Gummo, Harmony Korine’s cinema has changed, still remaining faithful to its freaks. Spring Breakers is not that different from Gummo. At the time he dealt with the after-effect of a tornado in Xenia, Ohio, which had carried along destruction and the annihilation of a dying adolescence on the edge of the streets. Today the flattening comes from the media. Teenagers no longer talk and they fall into the silence of their own rooms. The amoral girls in Spring Breakers make a robbery in order to make some money and go to Florida, where their spring break gets flavored with sex, alcohol, drug and loud music. Thus they don't feel themselves. Ever. Like a bad reality show on MTV. They meet Alien (James Franco), a rapper/gangster who's living is own special American dream, made of loaded "shit" and "stuff" and matched oversized clothing to be exhibited like a trophy. A jumped-up pimp hitting off Tony Montana. He and the girls, paradoxically alike since they identify themselves with nothing, with the mass who has fun in a bulimic way and who is fan of easy money. Individuals are canceled, their identity is the Group.
Spring Breakers was born from a Korine's suggestion: four girls in bikini and ski masks. In the movie that scene has a key role; after that, the smash. But before, Korine builds an imaginative world that is perfectly in keeping with the story he's telling. He casts four apparently normal girls (two of which come from the Disney successes) and puts on a pop massacre by the rule book. The result is amazing in every feature: the elliptic editing which either moves up the events or repeat them in an exasperating loop, showing the characters' paradoxes and contradictions; the use of sound and music which mixes up Skrillex's "Scary Monster and Nice Sprites" dub-step Britney Spears, an icon who was born into the generation described by Korine; the actors, supported by a dry screenplay which brings them back nitty-gritty in a series of cult sequences, in criminal incursions, blinding fluo colors and with their naked bodies shamelessly displayed. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson e Rachel Korine completely abandon themselves to Korine's visions. Brave and ready to let down the fan armies who've been following them for years.
The tones here are desperate and they're supported by James Franco who leaves his mark with one the best roles of his career: extreme, ironic and disturbing. Spring Breakers is not afraid of being violent, fun, sexy, detached, hypnotic and - why not? – wierdly touching. 15 years after Gummo, I'll now suggest to see Spring Breakers, ready to welcome back both horrified and enthusiastic comments.