Sunday, June 14, 2009

55th Annual Taormina Film Festival Opens

NEWS FROM THE EURO BOWL SEMI-FINALS: Matt and Jason's Swarco Raiders carved up the Porvoo Butchers 31-13 last night to advance to the Euro Bowl finals against the Paris Flash on July 11th at a site to be determined. WAY TO GO!!!

Our plan Saturday was to hang out around Malibu during the day before driving up to Taormina for the opening night of the 55th Annual Taormina Film Festival.

We opted for a little exercise (Now who would have bet on THAT in Las Vegas?) and took a stroll into Aci Castello.

Sailing Ship Near Malibu

Too bad they were using their motor instead of full sail.

Aci Castello was a fun place
to be a wind surfer.

The Castle's Water

The view from Aci Castello
towards Aci Trezza.

Interesting Rock Formation

GREAT Sicilian Summer Station Wagon

Pay for a lido or lay out for free on the rocks?

NEITHER! This guy was just flat out too tired to even get down to the rocks.

Taormina is a favorite place for Sicilians to get married.

It is SO beautiful here that I have to agree with any couple that can find a church, there are many, to perform the service in Taormina.

This girl believes in advertising!

Click on the picture and read the back of her top.

I know purple is the IN color but PLEASE!

The crowds ariving for the Film Festival

Taormina's Teatro Greco
The Scene of the Film Festival

When Laurie and I were first dating in 1965, we enjoyed frequent summer dates at the Greek Theater in the Griffith Park/Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to attend performances by various artists.

My favorite was probably the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert in ca. 1968 although the incredibly high energy Neil Diamond concert in ca. 1971 was right up there. L.A.'s Greek theater was built in 1929 and is thus celebrating it's 80th anniversary this summer.

Taormina's Greek Theater is a little older than it's American cousin, checking in at over 2,300 years old this summer. In Sicily, when you say you are going to the Greek Theater, you are REALLY going to the Greek Theater!

The Grand Hotel Timeo

If money is no object, check into this amazing hotel right next to the entrance to the Greek Theater. Security was high with only guests and Film Festival personnel with special passes were allowed in while we waited for the gates to open.

We're In!

Buying tickets was easy, with only two choices possible, 10 Euros for assigned seating or 5 Euros to sit on the ancient stone seats on a first come basis.

Of course, I wanted to impress my date so I popped for the 10 Euro ducats!

At the ticket booth, which we reached at 7:30, they gave us information about the opening of the gates and the start of the movie. We had time to grab a wine and a granite before the gates opened and do some high end people watching at the same time.

"The gates would open at 8:30 SHARP!"

They opened at 8:40.

Row S, Seats 64 and 65

"The films will start at 9:00 SHARP!"

The Opening Ceremonies started at 9:30 with the films following at 10:20.

How many different types of performances has this archway seen in 2,300 years?

Self Portrait - "Me and My Date"

The Opening Ceremonies

As usual in these affairs, lots of back-slapping and self congratulating. One highlight for me was an award given to an Italian comedian named Ezio Greggio who is a riot on the Italian TV show "Striscia la Notizia" a spoof of current Italian news items.

His award was for his role in an out-of-character dramatic role in the film "Il Papá di Giovanna" set in Italy at the end of World War II. The clips they showed definitely made me want to see this highly acclaimed film.

Rosario Fiorello, a.k.a. simply, Fiorello

The first order of the night after the long Opening Ceremony was the viewing of the 40 minute documentary "Taormina 55" by Antonello Sarno which highligted the history of the Film Festival. It was very good and even though it was done all in Italian as you would expect, I understood a lot of it.

The guy who stole the documentary was Fiorello. He is an Italian comedian who kept coming in and out of the film with comments about going to Taormina and the Film Festival as a youth with his family.

Fiorello's piece at the end of the film about razor thin, calorie starved actresses and models coming to Taormina and discovering the joys of eating granite and brioche like locusts through a wheat field may have been the funniest thing I've ever seen because it is SO true!

"The Proposal"

This Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds film followed the documentary and was the Festival's first foreign film showing.

A cross between "The Devil Wears Prada" and "While You were Sleeping" it is a romantic comedy. The plot's end is predictable but the film's pace and word play were delightfully not.

It is a GREAT summer date movie and if you'll recall, I HAD A DATE!

We finally left the Greek Theater a litle after 1:00 a.m. thoroughly entertained and thinking about going back again next Saturday for a new version of 1985's "Revolution Revisited" with Al Pacino, Donald Sutherland and Nastassja Kinski.

In the wee hours near the Wünderbar

The Wünderbar

The wall of Taormina'd Duomo

It was now about 1:20 a.m. and hundreds of people were just arriving to enjoy Taormina's nightlife. When we left the parking structure, there was still a line of about ten cars waiting to get in!

If you want to do some SERIOUS people watching, go to Taormina on a warm summer Saturday night.


DPLassen said...

I'm curious: Was "The Proposal" in English with subtitles, or dubbed in Italian?

George said...

"The Proposal" was in English with Italian subtitiles.

"Taormina 55" was in Italian with no subtitles.

J TWICE said...

As always, I have a related story -- just weeks before coming over to Europe this season, I visited a friend in LA who works in the movie business. The film he was currently working on - The Proposal. He brought me onto "The Lot" in Hollywood, and showed me how the studio had to spend $1 Million to reshoot the ending of the film... turns out the original version didn't end with Sandra and Ryan together! The test audiences couldn't handle it (being a summer date movie and all) so they had to rebuild the Boston office set in LA to get the ending that the fans wanted. Just thought you should know that what you were watching in Taormina, I'd visited just after seeing you guys in LA! Weird!

George said...

The feel good ending was a little strange in terms of the office staff she was brutal towards now feeling all fuzzy inside for her at the end.

A good diversion nonetheless.