Archive for Hotel Excelsior

One of scores of winged lions stationed around the Lido; this one is at the vaporetto stop, on meet-and-greet duty.

It would appear that there is always a film festival going on somewhere in the world — 308 at last count, but no doubt the list is growing. That’s practically one a day.

And each one awards a (usually) golden trophy, The most famous give out lions, bears, and palm fronds but let us not disparage the Golden Crow Pheasant, Golden Pyramid, Golden Conch, Golden Frogs, Golden Space Needle, and even (I am not making this up), the Golden Calf, from the Netherlands.  Did they do that on purpose?

Special buses start in the morning to take people from the vaporetto to the movies. As part of the multi-purpose art extravaganza known as the Biennale, the film festival is correctly known as the 'Exhibition of Cinema," as if the movies were hung on a wall.

Until September 10, here we’re focusing on the lion, naturally.  For a thousand years the winged lion of San Marco stood for power, wealth, and glory, and struck fear, admiration and envy in the hearts of countless thousands.  For ten days in Venice, it stands for movie tickets, daily updates on assorted stars and tiny asteroids, a constant drip of complaints and criticism of what there is and what there isn’t, and parties where countless thousands stand around and talk about how they’re going to make some more money, which essentially brings us back to the aforementioned power, wealth, and glory.  Or maybe they don’t care about the glory.

The Venice Film Festival — 68 years old and still going strong, I guess — was the first of its kind in the world.

Back in 1932, the Lido must have seemed the perfect place to hold this innovative little event, seeing that in those days the Lido (well, Venice, but let’s be kind) indeed evoked some form of glamour.  It’s a little hard to imagine now, because there was basically just an airport, a church, a few luxury hotels, and miles of artichoke fields.  The people who came were mostly rich and did rich-people things, like spend a lot of money to drink, eat, and look at each other.

Reporters going to work, checking the paper for news on what they did yesterday, or what they have to do today. These are staying in Venice because there's no more room on the Lido. The symbolic winged animal on their bags looks like a GummiLion.

Now the masses on the Lido have almost no (actually, no) glamour, the artichoke fields are gone, and at least one of the luxury hotels is closed for semi-permanent restoration (Hotel Des Bains).

But the winged lions are posted all around the main streets, the phalanxes of photographers are in maneuvers, and, as usual, the vaporettos and busses are so full they’re practically shrink-wrapped.

Opening Day was George Clooney Day; his new film, “The Ides of March,” launched the ten-day marathon, and received a standing ovation.

Yesterday it was Madonna’s turn, here to promote her new film “W.E.”  As I understand it, her goal is to “rehabilitate” the image of Wallis Simpson, and best of British luck with that. The Guardian’s report observes: “It takes a twisted creative genius to produce a compellingly bad film….and that is why Madonna, try as she might, will never make one of the worst films ever made.  She just hasn’t got the talent. ”

The lions stand on pedestals which are four-sided billboards for beer, restaurants, and assorted Lido businesses. Wouldn't it have made more sense for some producer to have bought a batch to advertise the name of his/her movie? As in: Lion plus My Movie = Award me the top prize. But what do I know.

She reserved rooms in five hotels, to throw reporters off the track.  This is something I wish somebody would explain to me. You come here because you want to be seen and talked about, then you put on this pantomime of craving solitude?  Isn’t that why they invented Bhutan?  Anyway, she ended up staying in Venice, not even on the Lido.  Take that, Hotel Excelsior.

Now she’s probably gone, and so, day by day, the reporters too will shimmer away, leaving only the few hard-core journalists who actually write about movies, as opposed to people and what they’re wearing.  By the time the Golden Lion spreads his wings, he almost seems to be an afterthought.

Then the film world will turn its attention to whatever golden creatures are next being shoved into the starting gate.  Or at least who’s there and what they’re wearing.



Yachts are excellent places to give parties, and every year a batch of them tie up along the Riva Sette Martiri for exactly that purpose. Expensive but sort of generic, not unlike the people who rent them.

The launch belonging to one of those yachts. Lino says it reminds him of a funeral boat. It doesn't cry "Party! Party!" to me, either.



But where there are films (or yachts), there are likely to be girls. These were seriously waiting for something, or somebody.

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