Bernardo Bertolucci says TV shows better than Hollywood now

'Io e Te' Rome Photocall

When he was 12, Bernardo Bertolucci looked in a mirror and imagined himself as John Wayne. Now, at 73, he is confined to a wheelchair but is still a towering figure of Italian cinema.

Today, the Oscar-winning director is disappointed with the Hollywood that once inspired him and prefers television series such as “Mad Men”, saying they are better casted and better directed than big screen productions.

Bertolucci discussed his love affair with American culture — and his disdain for what Hollywood is producing today — on Monday night when he was honored by the American Academy in Rome.

“Jazz was the first music I heard in my life and jazz for me meant America,” Bertolucci told the crowd at the gala benefit to fund grants for artists.

The Academy, the oldest American overseas center for independent study of the arts and humanities, honored Bertolucci with the prestigious McKim award, whose previous recipients include conductor Riccardo Muti, composer Ennio Morricone, director Franco Zeffirelli and writer Umberto Eco.

“I saw ‘Stagecoach’ and for me (director) John Ford became Homer,” he said of the classic American Western film made in 1939, a year before he was born in the northern Italian city of Parma.

“I was in front of a full-length mirror and what I was seeing at 12 wasn’t me, it was John Wayne.”

But today, the director who made “Last Tango in Paris”, “The Last Emperor” and “Novecento”, says the Hollywood that once excited him now depresses him.

“My generation had an affair with American culture, there’s no doubt about it. A street lamp and a fire hydrant made me sing in the rain.”

“But the American films I like now do not come from Hollywood studios but from television series, like ‘Mad Men’, ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘The Americans’,” he said in interview after acceptance speech.

“I like when they last 13 episodes but then there is a new series coming with another 13 episodes,” he said, laughing, comparing them to novels printed in installments in 19th century newspapers.

“Apart from a few independent productions, I think that everything that comes from Hollywood is generally sad. It makes me very sad”.

Last year Bertolucci made his first feature film in nearly a decade with “Me and You,” about an introverted 14-year-old teenager who tells his mother he is going on a ski trip but spends a week in the family basement with his drug addicted half-sister.

Like “Last Tango in Paris”, which caused a scandal in Italy and beyond in 1972 for its sex scenes with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, “Me and You,” was shot mostly indoors.

Bertolucci has spent a lot of time indoors since a back injury about 10 years ago confined him to a wheelchair, which he referred to at Monday night’s event only as “the recent time of my life.”

Still, despite physical and emotional difficulties resulting from the wheelchair confinement, Bertolucci says he wants to do what he can to promote culture between countries.

“Exchange of culture is the salvation of the world,” he said, recalling how his father set him off on a quest for new experiences when he gave him a copy of “Moby Dick” as a young boy.

While he was still too young to read it, he said he knew that “somewhere there was a big landscape and a huge sky”.

This year, Venice will be the backdrop for Bertolucci’s vision when he serves as head of the international jury at the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival, which runs from August 28 to September 7 in the lagoon city.

“I am going to nurture myself with cinema. To be the president of the jury will give me a great joy. I will be able to see beautiful experimental films,” he said.

As for his own creative plans, Bertolucci is holding his cards close to his chest.

“I have some ideas but they are still amorphous, still at the germination stage,” he said.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…