WTF press release of the day: Stallone’s Venice ‘glory’

Posted by · 5:20 pm · August 12th, 2009

Sylvester Stallone in RamboI’m as guilty as the next man of laughing off Sylvester Stallone in the face of his largely catastrophic latter-day film career, but I’m still willing to defend the man on a few counts.

“Rocky” has become one of those unfortunate good films needlessly punished for beating great films to the punch on Oscar night, and “Cop Land” isn’t so distant a memory that we should entirely dismiss his onscreen ability. Hell, some people I know were making similar claims recently for “Rocky Balboa.” (No comment.)

Nonetheless, I think the organizers of the Venice Film Festival may have taken such revisionist charity a bit far by awarding him the “Jaeger-Le Coultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award,” which is given annually to “an artist” (ahem) “who has left his mark in contemporary cinema.” Previous recipents include Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano and Agnes Varda. I repeat: Kiarostami, Kitano, Varda … and Stallone.

If you think that’s bizarre, wait until you read the press release that delivered the news to my inbox this afternoon, excerpted after the cut.

This year, the prize intends to celebrate Sylvester Stallone’s stature as a filmmaker. Since the visionary race across the roofs on the opening credits of his first film as a screenwriter and director, Paradise Alley, Stallone has shown an original eye and an auteur’s determination. His is a cinema capable of tenderness even when dripping with blood. With the now legendary franchises of Rocky and Rambo (he wrote all the scripts), Stallone travelled through the light and the darkness of the American Dream – each of those films remarkably anchored in its own present time.

Through all of his movies – even the ones he has not directed or are considered “less important” – Stallone  has shaped his own character with much care, and reflected upon it, giving us an iconic exploration among the most coherent and lucid of contemporary America cinema.

Well, I’ll give them points for initiative, at least — no one else is putting the words “Stallone” and “visionary” together. But between this and nominating the Jonas Brothers movie for a festival award, aren’t the powers that be at Venice overcompensating a little with the populist gestures?

(The award presentation, by the way, will be accompanied by a screening of Stallone’s recently completed “Rambo: The Director’s Cut,” which I know you’ve all been clamoring to see.)

→ 20 Comments Tags: , , | Filed in: Daily

20 responses so far

  • 1 8-12-2009 at 5:28 pm

    Gustavo H.R. said...

    Oh, now ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN and TAXI DRIVER are ‘great’, not really great.

  • 2 8-12-2009 at 5:34 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    You misunderstand me, Gustavo. I meant ‘great’ quite sincerely — “Taxi Driver” is one of my favorite films of all time.

    The quotation marks were to indicate status awarded by popular consensus, but I’ve removed them to avoid confusion.

  • 3 8-12-2009 at 5:42 pm

    entertainmenttoday.. said...

    Rocky” has become one of those unfortunate good films needlessly punished for beating great films to the punch on Oscar night,

    How has Rocky been punished and in my mind its a great film. One of the great characters in movie history. I also believe that Rocky Balboa is very good.


  • 4 8-12-2009 at 6:10 pm

    Derek 8-Track said...

    I knew it would never happen but a part of me was upset he didn’t get an Oscar nod for acting in Rocky Balboa.

    I guess Rocky 2,3,4,5 and the pretty much the rest of his career are responsible for that.

  • 5 8-12-2009 at 6:15 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Rocky is amazing. Rocky Balboa is atrocious.

  • 6 8-12-2009 at 6:16 pm

    Mark Kratina said...


    Give Sly a little credit. Maybe he is not an “artist” or a “visionary,” but he wrote the Rocky script after watching the 1975 Chuck Wepner-Muhammed Ali fight and, laugh if you must, but Rocky is an American cinema icon. Rocky has brought inspiration to millions of athletes (not just boxers) around the world. While the series might have tailed off after 5 sequels, it is still his original creation.

    I think most people are less sentimental about Rambo, but again, his creation, his vision. He was able to craft a film career of action films in the 1980s based on his success of these two film franchises; otherwise, no one would know who he is and he would probably have been reduced to making porn films like, “The Italian Stallion” (What, you thought he created that nickname for Rocky?). : )

    I mean, I was born in the late 70s so I did not experience Burt Reynolds heyday, but I did experience Reynolds being parodied throughout the early 90s as well as today even. I get the feeling Guy that you view Stallone in the same vein as Reynolds. I think that is a mistake. Stallone carved out his own American characters that mattered to a lot of people. A legend? Probably not. But a noteworthy contribution to American cinema history just the same.

  • 7 8-12-2009 at 6:17 pm

    Mark Kratina said...

    @ Chad:

    I didn’t think Rocky Balboa was atrocious. I am in the minority that liked Rocky V, but “Balboa” was a better way to end the series.

    For me, Rocky III was the worst of the six. Thunderlips, anyone?

  • 8 8-12-2009 at 6:20 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Rocky III is junk for sure but it’s not trying to be poignant and epic failing like Rocky Balboa.

  • 9 8-12-2009 at 6:27 pm

    Derek 8-Track said...

    Clubber Lang might be my favorite fictional bad guy athlete of all time.

  • 10 8-12-2009 at 6:29 pm

    Mr. Harmonica said...

    Paradise Alley is a great movie.

  • 11 8-12-2009 at 7:05 pm

    Chris said...

    That last Rambo movie was really awful… isn’t he making some new action movie with Mickey Rourke right now?

  • 12 8-12-2009 at 7:51 pm

    Nudgoo said...

    I might be in the minority here, but I enjoyed Rocky a hell of a lot more than the other films nominated that year. I’m glad it won. Such a great film.

    Rocky Balboa is also great – obviously not as good, but much better than I thought it would be.

    I have a real soft spot for the last Rambo – how could you not love such an unapologetically violent film whose message seems to be that hey, sometimes it’s OK to kill people?

  • 13 8-12-2009 at 7:55 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Except it’s NEVER okay to kill people.

  • 14 8-13-2009 at 12:12 am

    BurmaShave said...

    Maybe Apollo Creed is running the Venice Film Festival? “We need… an Italian!”

  • 15 8-13-2009 at 5:00 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    What I admire about the recent Rambo and Rocky movies is how they simply captured the basics of the originals and went along with it without shame. They were harmless fun, but self-conscious fun.
    Especially Rambo is everything people claim G.I. Joe is.

  • 16 8-13-2009 at 6:19 am

    RichardA said...

    Stallone is really a great writer and storyteller. And he made a lot of money along the way.

  • 17 8-13-2009 at 6:32 am

    Mike_M said...

    Well unlike Chris I really enjoyed Rambo and will def rent the Director’s Cut – it was a classic 80s action movie, bloody, loud, fun, it was great.

    I am also looking forward to The Expendables, great cast and I expect it to be on par with Rambo (not a great movie, but a damn fun one).

  • 18 8-13-2009 at 7:07 am

    jess said...

    If only Stallone would star in a film directed by Agnes Varda, now that would be thought-provoking cinema

  • 19 8-13-2009 at 8:58 am

    RJNeb2 said...

    This is the same Sylvester Stallone who brought us “Staying Alive”, yes?

    Whose 7 released directorial efforts include only one that isn’t a sequel? (“Paradise Alley”.)

    Oh yes, give that man a special citation for sure.

    Who’s next? Uwe Boll?

  • 20 8-19-2009 at 2:46 am

    Markera said...

    Rambo is my favorite film when i was young. Sylvester Stallone is so cool!!!!!