Evicted from Venice, Scorsese finds goodfellas in S Korea

Art October 06, 2015 01:00

By The Nation

DEEMED "TOO COMMERCIAL" for the Venice Film Festival, the latest effort from Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese wound up on Saturday having its world premiere at a cinema in the back of a South Korean shopping mall



DEEMED “TOO COMMERCIAL” for the Venice Film Festival, the latest effort from Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese wound up on Saturday having its world premiere at a cinema in the back of a South Korean shopping mall.

Organisers of the Busan International Film Festival decided, okay, “The Audition” is a 16-minute piece of fluff promoting some rich guys’ resort casinos, but, hey, it’s got Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt in it, so what’s left to decide?

And they ended up stuffing paying customers into the cinema at 10 in the morning like commuters on the Seoul subway at rush hour.

Australian playboy billionaire James Packer and his business partner, Lawrence Ho, hired Scorsese – the guy who made “Taxi Driver”, “Goodfellas” and, yes, “Casino” – to shoot a glorified TV ad for Studio City, the Hollywood-inspired casino they’re building in Macau, and City of Dreams, a similar project in Manila.

Agence France-Presse reports that, with its lingering shots of the attractions on offer, the mini-movie doesn’t shy away from cheesy commercialism. To their credit (if indeed they deserve any), the cast, including Scorsese, play exaggerated versions of themselves as they vie for the same coveted role in an imagined new production. “Keenly self-aware” is how the Hollywood Reporter quaintly describes the flick.

Packer and Ho’s people deny blowing $70 million on the production or paying each actor $13 million, as reported in US media.

Wisely kept under wraps since plans were announced last year, “The Audition” had been scheduled to screen in Venice and was hotly anticipated, but it was pulled at the last minute due what the Italians called “technical problems”.

The festival’s director had earlier defended showing such a commercial production – “The casino paid for the film, but it’s not in the film at all.” Obviously he had a change of heart when he finally saw the thing.

In Busan, organiser Pak Dosin has no such qualms – nor regrets. “I liked it very much!” he says.

Your “Daily” dose of Noah

South African comedian Trevor Noah – the latest new player in American television’s game of late-night musical chairs – is getting solid reviews following his debut hosting Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”. He’s got huge shoes to fill replacing Jon Stewart, who bowed out in August after a 16-year run, but promises to preserve the show’s outsize cultural relevance for a new generation.

Noah tells USA Today that, while he plans some format tweaks, the biggest change will come in “the way we look at stories or even how I present the stories”.

Noah grew up as a poor, mixed-race kid during apartheid, when his parents’ marriage was illegal, and he had no real connection to American politics. Stewart, 52, was raised Jewish in an upper-middle-class New Jersey suburb.

And while Stewart was vocal about subjects including the Middle East (“Mess-o-potamia”), Noah says he’ll “have to find my running passion – what becomes the thing that really connects with me on the show”.

The stand-up comedian says he might experiment with – well, standing – and make more frequent use of the show’s fake-news correspondents, bolstered by three newcomers. He used to be one himself. “It’s not my job to say everything, which is really cool.”

But Noah is proceeding cautiously. “I wouldn't want to rush in and dismantle and destroy the show just because people are going, ‘You’d better make it different!’ Jon Stewart made an amazing show – he created something fantastic. I’m not going to be an idiot who goes and smashes it down.”