Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What's the matter with tourists and VARIETY LIGHTS (81)

I beg the question: why are tourists so goddamn moronic?

I work at a job that deals pretty extensively with tourists at a locale wildly overhyped by the various guide books I imagine a certain type of ilk pay attention to. Thus, on a daily basis, I stand behind a bar and peer down the long shambling line of blotchy faced tourists, both national and from further abroad. They bitch and they complain and they make shitty jokes and they treat me like a speck of dust. And I wonder, where do these people come from? Why are they like this? And most terrifyingly, why are they so damn mobile?

I always assumed that if you were a blob of asshole that frequent my workplace, that you'd spend the majority of your time at home, watching local news, licking grease from your fingers, and petting your neurotic cat Mitzy. But, no, this is not true. For whatever reasons, the majority of tourists in America, from what I can tell, are these types of people. These pink SF hat and sweatshirt buying, fanny-pack wearing, peering over the tops of their glasses at you folk are the main stays in terms of the tourist contingent and I'm absolutely baffled.

Baffled and sad that America, and maybe everywhere (I've seen some poor examples of Dutch tourists in my day), are represented by these types who wander the Saturday Farmer's Market, greasy hands clutching bags of Boudin bread and Ghiradelli chocolate. It's no wonder that our country has such a poor image in the outside world. It's not just George W. Bush's lasting legacy, oh no, it's the stream of jackasses we pump in the more and more disgusting tourist locales of countries all over the world. I'd hate us too, hell I kind of do hate us in some ways, all of which are represented in the small minds and stingy wallets of the people I get to spend four days a week catering too.

Mark this one up as a rant, because I've got no solution and no end-point, just vitrolic rage.
Which does not translate over to Variety Lights (81). This is the Italian master of cinema Federico Fellini's very first film (though co-directed) and it was impressive to see the very beginnings of an artist who would grow to become one of the great filmmakers of all time. I came in to the film, the story of a dopey theatre troupe director and his obsession with an attractive ingenue, not knowing where this fell in the Fellini filmography and, at first, I was a bit disappointed.

I'm not trying to sound like Mr. Movie Man, but I've seen a bunch of Fellini, and a decent amount of Italian cinema in general and I like my Italian neo-realism slashed through with a healthy dose of surrealism, as only the man, Fellini, can do. Variety Lights (82) is certainly a good film, a strong, comic, sort of sad look at what we try and do to achieve the things we want in life, and how in doing so we miss out on what we already have, but a fairly simple one. The symbolism and imagery so vibrant in films like Amarcord (4) (a giant talking marriage wreath) or Nights of Cabiria (49) (the misty swirl of the camera around Cabiria's last walk) is missing. Instead we have a good, solid film that doesn't stand out above most films from the 1940s and 1950s. It reminded me of classic Hollywood in a way I didn't ever really associate with Fellini - Simple scenarios, strong sort of dated-acting, and a very smooth, but non-complex camera.

It felt like Fellini-light and though it wasn't my favorite film of his, it's amazing to see where a director of his stature now came from. And hell, maybe you folk who've never seen a Fellini film, but are daunted by his persona, can start here, and just figure out if a jaunt through Fellini-town is worth your while.

Sorry for the lack of posting these last three days, friends were in town, things were to be dealt with and I just had to put it off for a bit. I haven't forgotten you beautiful people though, oh no, not a bit.

Thursday: Hamlet (82)

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