Were it not for George Clooney, the Venice Film Festival would have sunk faster than the city itself.
While other film makers transferred to the Toronto festival, (so much cheaper to fly from Hollywood) Clooney chooses Venice (so much cheaper to drive to from Lake Como).
Why he persists in coming is anyone's guess - as his annual Venetian press conference becomes a free for all for any Italian chancer with accreditation to ask for his hand in marriage. At last count, it was two women and a man and during these occasions, one sees Clooney's exterior - smooth and dark, like the coffee he advertises - simmering furiously.
Today, those hoping a wronged Elisabetta Canalis would propel herself out of the audience were doomed to disappointment.
Clooney is directing and starring in a political bloodbath called 'The Ides of March.'
He plays Democratic presidential candidate Mike Morris - which meant the stupid questions were all about politics rather than matrimony.
"Would I run for President?" George mused. Inevitable, that he'd be asked.
"Listen, there's a guy in the White House who's more intelligent than most of us, who's more compassionate than most of us, and he still can't get it right. It's a hard time to govern. I've got a good job.
'Why would I want to change it?'
As the Shakespearian title suggests, the film deals with the lengths people are prepared to go to for power - "and the fact they have been doing this over and over again since the time of Julius Caesar hoping for a different outcome is my definition of insanity," adds Clooney.
Ryan Gosling gives a straight-to-A-list performance as campaign co-ordinator Stephen Meyer, with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti in supporting roles.
But this isn't a nobody-will-watch-apart-from-the-inhabitants-of-Georgetown offering .
Co-written by 'Goodnight and Good Luck' screenwriter Grant Heslov, this is a modern morality tale, which should again propel Clooney and his writing partner on the road to awards season.
It draws on a real life monumental Presidential mistake with Meyer telling Morris that as President, "you can take us to war and bankrupt the country. But you never, ever f*** the interns."
Clooney admits they shelved the movie during the Obama presidential campaign "because everyone was too cheerful, no-one would want to watch it", but now says the level of cynicism in American society is, depressingly, high enough to appreciate it - especially with a 2012 election to come.
Journalists, of course, are always cynical, and immediately made the connection between the lies which trip off politicians' tongues on screen in the movie, and the lines Hollywood stars deliver in real life . Things like, "I'm not in it for the award," "They were all the first people I called for the part" and even "I wouldn't want to be President."
With that in mind, look out for Clooney and Matt Damon fighting it out for the Democratic candidacy in 2016...
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