Well if you know what this movie is then I know what your thinking. How the fuck does a motherfucker like ol’ Vern end up watching a picture like Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty. Well the answer is the Bravo network. Ever since I saw The Getaway on Bravo a week or two ago I started watching this channel pretty regular. I think you know about inside the actors studio so I won’t mention it except to say, at the end, he always asks them what their favorite curse word is, and they either say fuck or more often motherfucker, and the audience always laughs like it was completely unexpected. Kind of like how everybody always laughed when arnold said “Whatyou talkin about Mr. Drummond?” even though for fuck’s sake we all knew the joke was coming, jesus let’s not pretend it snuck up behind us fer cryin out loud.
So anyway, Stealing Beauty is a picture about gorgeous 19 year old Lucy who comes to an equally gorgeous Italian villa where all the artists work and what not. This is like the prettiest god damn place you ever seen. The houses are huge and old fashioned, there are perfectly clean streams to swim in, plenty of nature and olive groves and beautiful wooden statues everywhere. I mean it’s like going camping, only in the garden of eden. Everyone there loves a laidback lifestyle, they appreciate the arts and the nature and beauty more than anything. It seems like none of them ever go to work, but they have huge houses and property and big parties with candles everywhere and yet they don’t come off like a bunch of soulless rich fucks. It takes place in the modern day but it wouldn’t have to. People ride bicycles and read books. Nobody watches TV and the only connection to the media or the outside world is an occasional call on the cell phone or a CD that Lucy plays.
This is about the direct opposite of any place I have ever lived, and ordinarily I wouldn’t say it was my kind of place. I mean I generally like to have concrete under my feet at all times. I like the sense of community you get from crowded sidewalks late at night, I like the friendliness of the hookers you walk past (or whatever, don’t wanna be judgmental). Now that I’m settled down sometimes I even like the sound of the distant siren or police helicopter, knowing that some other poor motherfucker is being chased and not me. Or when I’m living in a suburban community I at least like the hum of the powerlines and the smell of the streets when it rains.
That said, Stealing Beauty does make a PRETTY fucking convincing argument for the sunny Italian villa lifestyle. First of all, the photographing techniques here is stupendous. Having everything bathed in a glimmering golden light grows on a motherfucker after a while. But more importantly, in this town, EVERYBODY is an artist – you got a chainsaw sculptor, a Writer, some poets, dancers, and even one dude who is never said to be a Writer but you at least know that he wrote a pretty outstanding love letter when he was younger. Lucy doesn’t consider herself an artist I don’t think, but she jots down little phrases like poetry and near the end of the picture, finally graduates to writing one that rhymes. Good job Luce, welcome to real poetry.
Anyway this is a community I might like to be a part of. Now I’m not entirely convinced I would fit in right away, I mean everybody is gentle and soft spoken, most of them have accents and most of the men are real pretty and kind of vacuous. And everybody sits around outside drinking wine and passing joints every night which might be a bit tempting to me but we shall see. Cause hell man it would be worth the trouble, partly because ALL of the women in this villa are fucking knockouts.
You see these motherfuckers have what you call a muse and Lucy is maybe the best one. She poses for artists, even shows the titties and what not. Pretty much every guy wants to nail her or draw her and that is kind of what the whole “stealing beauty” title is about in my opinion. They want to use her beauty to bring happiness to their lives or life to their art. Some of them even lust after her in a hands off type of approach, where just looking at her beauty is good for their health. Now I don’t want to sound like a pathetic old fart but I wouldn’t mind one of them muses right now, I am stuck on one of my short stories, and the sad truth is it’s a true story about my life! I know exactly what happened but I don’t know where to go next and THAT is when you need to look at a pretty young gal and, if I understand this correctly, it makes your brain more artistic? Not sure but hell I’d try looking at a pretty gal, no problem.
All the beauty in this movie might be too much to take for some dudes with weak hearts, I mean this is the second movie I have seen this month that gave me flashbacks of the time I watched Fly Away Home on shrooms. But I still followed the story and it is about how Lucy searches to discover who her biological father is as well as find the right dude to, you know, pop her cherry or whatever the sensitive way to say it is. (make a woman out of her.) You know it is one of these coming of age stories about a young gal, and how the beauty of nature and of people helps to inspire people’s art and people’s lives and holy shit, the more I think about it the more I should mention that if any of my old crew are reading this, or anybody I knew in the joint or whatever, anyone from the old days – well, just kidding bud, I never even SEEN this movie, hell you know me. I would NEVER watch this kind of crap and even if I did it would only be to make fun of it… i mean hell i am not that type of dude, no fucking way. But I mean if you think about it in a way, I mean I can understand how a dude would appreciate a movie like that, if he was a little more cultured and what not, I mean not anybody I know, DEFINITELY not anyone I know, but still, I mean, I’m just sayin. for sake of argument, you know.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.