Mackerel in Milan

A blog post without illustrations is like a day without sunshine — like today, in fact. Yes, the rain it raineth, though when I arrived yesterday the sun was blazing and I texted home that I’d be brown as a nut by bedtime. Enjoyed a magic-hour bus ride from the airport with echoes of Fellini (TOBY DAMMIT, INTERVISTA) and enjoyed the strangeness (a street sign depicts a double bed, with the words “King Edward” alongside — turns out to signify a hotel).

Arrived at festival venue by subway (the automated Metro announcements sound like Sophia Loren, unlike in Vienna where they seemed to have hired Reggie Nalder, a mistake, I fear), got my free drink, went for a meal, and decided to head to the filmmaker’s house (the converted meat market). This meant missing some early Gilliam shorts, which was a shame. It also meant the start of Insomnia Watch, Night One. I’m now minus one-and-a-half night’s sleep, having slumbered only fitfully the night before my flight (I’m a certified Nervous Nelly of the Air, only calming down between take-off and landing because my nerves cannot physically stay taut for the duration of a journey). Took a sleeping pill, which acted like SPEED — I became instantly ALERT, and conscious of every sound (which in a disused meat market full of filmmakers is a lot to be conscious of). So we’ll see how this whole sleep thing goes.

Then I discovered one of the two differences in Milanese transport. One is that a green man on a traffic light, unlike in the UK, is actually a signal for drivers to kill pedestrians, but the other thing is that Milanese trams are actually a TRAP. You get on, and look for some way of buying a ticket. There isn’t any. The tram moves off. Then an entire squadron of conductors appear at the next stop and fine you 33 Euros. They travel in squadrons “to remove obstacles from the tracks,” like Henry Fonda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. Fortunately the receipt for the fine comes in the form of another ticket that allows you an hour’s immunity from other fines, so you can use it as a ticket. But as I had been pulled off the tram I had to wait for another one, and saw a girl getting the same treatment. “This is STUPID,” she protested, and the conductors led her away round a corner, and then, a minute later, came back without her… I was glad I paid my fine.

Today I hope to see some films, and Terry Gilliam, and if the rain lets up, see some more Milan. I remember bits from my last trip, but all the countries I visited when CRY FOR BOBO was doing he festival rounds sort of blur together to form a dream-conglomerate-city, so that around any street corner I expect to find Barcelona, or Marrakech, or Puchin.

6 Responses to “Mackerel in Milan”

  1. Have fun in Milan. Meanwhile in Dennis Cooper’s portion of cyberspace, it’s SONDHEIM DAY! (as devised by yours truly). Sadly I was unabel to find a suitable clip from Stavisky. . .

  2. Great film. I was discussing St Laurent with my costume designer friend, who expressed doubt about high fashion types designing for film. The pro movie costume designer is as much about making clothes look realistically weathered and broken down, etc. I suggested that Resnais being a smart guy, the idea was to purposely avoid that kind of realism. As Boyer’s character remininsces about the events, it’s a magical age of perfection (viewed with some irony by Resnais) so it’s natural that everything is impossibly immaculate.

  3. True. Especially for the story of a swindler whose chief concern is appearances.

    St. Laurent’s movie muse was of course Catherine Denueve for whom he did especially significant work on Belle de Jour. There are a couple of really nice documentaries on St. Laurent, made just as he was closing everything down to retire for good. In one Deneuve comes in for a fitting and it’s most amusing. In the other he looks at some of his favorite sketches and enthuses over the beauty of well-dressed women.

  4. One novel thing for a Brit in Milan is looking around and seeing nothing but people who know how to dress. Not a muffin-top in sight.

  5. really ? I once for my sins spent 2 hours every other sat in a silent vigil for peace on princes st. One of my fellow vigilers only made it through she confessed later by giving each passer by a make over. And we did see some truly horrendous outfits / assemblages.

  6. The British are pretty bad. The Italians know how to pull off an individual look. Even the old people are a little less conservative but still dignified.

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