VENICE – Our intrepid Studio Exec has braved the screening rooms of the Darsena, the Sala Grande and even the dreaded plastic cavern that is the Palabiennale and now is here to give you his critical opinion.

I’ve realised I’ve not been the best correspondent, but Jesus Christ it is difficult when you have to balance drinking with work responsibilities like finding cocaine. I realise that I have left many of you bewildered by my lack of film reviews, so I’ve decided to round up the films I’ve seen so far and give you the lessons I have learned.

Here goes:

Everest: Donnie Darko and John Connor go up a mountain. They do not come down.

Neon Bull: if someone ask you to help them steal horse semen, say no. Brazilian.

Beasts of No Nation: children are horrible. Idris Elba is brilliant and horrible. Africa is beautiful and horrible. It would be nice if we could stop having films set ‘in a fictional African nation’. Smacks of racist laziness.

Looking for Grace: always look before you cross the road. Set in a fictional country in Australia.

The Endless River: has nothing to do with the Pink Floyd album, but is just as dull.

Francofonia: apparently there’s some art in the Louvre.

Black Mass: Johnny Depp’s spin off from Alice in Wonderland sees the Madhatter get into some serious shit. Boston is full of gangsters.

Spotlight: Birdman and the Hulk bring down pedophiles. Boston is full of rapist priests.

Equals: Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult live in a future uniquely suited to Kristen Stewart’s acting abilities. I wish I was in Boston.

Venice continues despite my best efforts.


LONDON – Showing at the London Film Festival, the winner of the Golden Lion at Venice is Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA, which is without doubt THE best documentary about a Roman ring road that I have ever seen.

And you have my permission to put that on the poster. 

It makes all the other documentaries about Roman ring roads look pedestrian by comparison, obliterates them in fact. To find a comparison worthy of it, we’d have to look to Jean Luc Godard’s 1965 classic Autoroute du Soliel or Reiner Werner Fassbinder’s Rosenfelder Ring. Rosi’s film even dares to be mentioned in the same breath of David Lean’s magnificent epic The A595 to Barrow in Furness

Collecting stories from a variety of Italian odd-bods – from an eel fisherman to a roadside prostitute, an ambulance worker to a cigar chomping nobleman – the film tells tales of the margins, the periphery that is usually only glimpsed as the cars roar by. Keenly observed and with a nice ear for the ludicrous in ordinary conversation, Rosi’s film offers a view of Roman life far from the familiar picture postcard settings.  


VENICE – Of course any major film festival is plagued by so many parties to go to that it can sometimes feel like the films themselves are only there to give a body something to sleep through the morning after the night before.

There are far too many to attend – and that’s if you get an invite – so here’s my look back on the best:

The Daniel Radscliffe Disaronno Bash: A wonderfully fun evening had by all. This party featured Karaoke at the express request of the wizard boy himself and to the intense annoyance of everyone else except the sub-X-Factor wannabes who murdered songs all night. The free bar only served disaronno mixed in four different ways and each one tasting basically like wedding cake. Everyone got their wallets out and went to the other bar. You know the expression, you can’t give it away…

The Vanity Fair Party: Not as many might think affiliated with the magazine of the same name. This party involves drinking port and sitting down to read long sections of the William Makepeace Thackery novel. Surprisingly jolly. 

The Ciak Party: The leading film magazine has a big presence of the Lido and their parties are often distinguished by loud music and a lot of Italian film stars pretending not to know each other. The finger food is made from real human fingers, this year imported from Mexico where life is particularly cheap.

The James Franco Party: James Franco’s one man party is the highlight of the festival. Franco himself is on the door with the list, checking your invitation, at the bar mixing cocktails, DJing music made entirely of Franco’s own compositions. Very hard to get in though as only James Franco is invited.


VENICE – There are some very simple rules that one must follow when you go to a festival and here they are:

  1. Never bring dead animals to screenings. They smell and it can surely serve no good purpose.
  2. Always find the most comfortable screening room for your afternoon snooze. In Venice it is the Sala Perla. And you can also enjoy listening to Bernardo Bertolucci snore through the proceedings. 
  3. When telling someone your opinion of a film immediately after the screening, do it loudly so that at least ten other people can hear. Don’t be secretive let it out.
  4. Booing is encouraged by festival organizers. In the case of Philippe Garrel you can also throw eggs and small baskets of worms.
  5. When spotting a celebrity, the new cool thing to do is point at them and shout their name e.g. ‘JESUS CHRIST, it’s NICHOLAS CAGE!’

Follow me on Twitter @studioexec1


VENICE – The 70th Venice Film Festival is due to begin in less than a month and the director of the festival Alberto Barbera spoke exclusively to Studio Exec about the line up and prospects of the world’s oldest festival. 

So Sig. Barbera, what can we expect from this year’s edition?

Pffff. I don’t know. George Clooney’s coming again. We try and keep him away, but he manages to sneak in almost every year. And then we’ve got James Franco again. Kim Ki-Duk again, Myazaki again, Philippe Garrel again, oh and Kelly Reichardt again.

It doesn’t sound like you’ve put much work into it.

We can’t be bothered. I mean 70 festivals. And we had a war in the middle. We’re tired. We just phone the same people. If they say yes, great, if they say, no we go on to someone else. Look at the poster for this year. It’s basically last year’s but we drew something on the foreground in crayon.

So what are you personally looking forward to in the line up?

Me? I’m going to Toronto. Toronto is where the big films are going. And now we’ve got Rome trying to get in on the act as well. Ma va fanculo! I’m going to pretend be ill and then I’m taking the plane to Toronto. It’s going to be great. Though Canadian food isn’t exactly up to much.

The Studio Exec will be covering the Venice Film Festival which is from the 28th of August to the 7th of September, 2013.