Venice and James Bond

Just saw "Casino Royale" last night. Very interesting idea of James Bond as an anti-hero.

Upon searching for a bit more information on the film, I found out from trivia on the Internet Movie Database that...
  • "The barrel roll stunt in the Aston Martin DBS broke the world record for the most barrel rolls assisted by a cannon. Originally, the racing specifications of the DBS meant that a standard ramp would not be sufficient to get the car to roll, so the special effects team were called in to install a air-powered cannon behind the drivers seat. This allowed the car to complete seven full rolls."
  • Surprised like I was about the Ford? "The 2007 Ford Mondeo sport model used in the beginning of the film is a special, one-off hand-built prototype vehicle, constructed by hand at Ford of Europe's Design Studio in Cologne, Germany, in January, 2006 and shipped to the Bahamas in secrecy for shooting. Actual production is not due to start until the second quarter of 2007.
  • Authorities in Venice granted producers permission to sail James Bond's yacht, called Spirit 54, along the Grand Canal between the Accademia and Rialto bridges. No-one can remember exactly the last time a pleasure yacht sailed in the Grand Canal, but it's believed to have been several centuries ago.
  • The set interior of the sinking house in Venice measured 45 ft by 40 ft and was 45 ft high. It was built around the existing indoor tank at Pinewood Studios which was increased to 20 ft so the whole set could sink 16 ft."

My good friend Tom's been monitoring the creation of "Casino Royale" for a while now, including the Venice set's destruction by fire!

"The Day After Tomorrow" in Venice?

Just saw "An Inconvenient Truth" a couple of nights ago. It certainly gives one pause... especially if you just happen to live sometimes in Venice, Italy!

What kind of catastrophe awaits the island city if some of the worse global warming threats come true? Take a look (you can even zoom in!) at Alex Tingle's flood map of Venice... (My neighborhood seems to keep its head above water until sea levels rise 4 meters, although I've seen my own alleyway flood if a high tide runs even just 40 centimeters above normal, so I really wouldn't hold my breath! On second thought, maybe I'd better practice doing just that unless we do what little things we can to help stop global warming!!)

You don't have to believe everything you see in "An Inconvenient Truth," but you owe it to yourself (and your descendents!) to watch it with an open mind and make whatever changes to your lifestyle you deem for the best!!

Newsflash: "Precious Tintorettos leaving Venice for Madrid's Prado for rare exhibit"

My initial reaction to Tintoretto was, sad to say, along the lines of a Black Velvet Elvis... He plays so much with light (and the lack thereof!) that he can seem kind of dowdy next to the great Venetian colorists. But I've since developed a soft spot for Tintoretto and his vast work. As they say in this article, you can't beat Venice to get the full breath and depth of his work, but if a trip to Venice or Madrid isn't in your immediate future, maybe one of these museums is in your neighborhood instead... Enjoy!!

Precious Tintorettos leaving Venice for Madrid's Prado for rare exhibit

By Frances D'Emilio, Canadian Press
Saturday, December 02, 2006

VENICE, Italy (AP) - With some apprehension, Venice is letting several of its precious Tintorettos travel to Madrid for a rare retrospective of one of its most prolific painters, celebrated for his virtuosity in brush stroke and inventive use of perspective.

Three churches and the Academy painting gallery, which holds the most important collection of Venetian painting, have agreed to loan a total of six works of the 16th Century artist to be key pieces in an ambitious exhibit at the Madrid's Prado museum Jan. 29-May 13.

Venice's show in 1937 was the last major exhibit of works by Jacopo Tintoretto, whose long life - 76 years - allowed him leave a large handprint on Venetian painting.

The generally enormous physical dimensions of the artist's works - many are more than four metres wide - and where he painted them - often on ceilings or walls of palaces or chapels - can be intimidating for those dreaming of a retrospective.

"There was almost considered to be a curse" of Tintoretto for those wanting to do a major show of his work, said Gabriele Finaldi, deputy director at the Prado for collections and research.

Finaldi and other Prado officials felt first hand some of the anxiety and reluctance of Venetian art caretakers as they toured some of the churches lending paintings.

The pastor of San Marcuola church, where Tintorettos cover two side walls in the altar area, said he decided he would only let the "Last Supper" leave on loan if the Prado would pitch in financially toward the upkeep of the church.

"The parishioners agree with me because they have to shell out of their pockets" to help pay for a US$250,000 roof repair, said the Rev. Federico Niero.
"We didn't put a price on the loan, but we want some help" the priest said. If the Prado was going to show off the church's star Tintoretto, the museum should contribute toward protecting the church's artistic treasures from dampness, said the priest, who worried that the painting might be damaged when removed.

The show's curator, Miguel Falomir, told journalists last week at another church that the Prado would make a contribution "as a way to show our gratitude." He didn't cite a figure.

The San Trovaso Church's "Last Supper," one of the more striking examples of how Tintoretto dramatically experimented with perspective, is also going to the Prado. In the painting, the table comes at the viewer diagonally. The arm of a diner, one of the apostles, seems to almost reach out of the painting as he grabs for a jug.

Both churches now hold copies of other Tintoretto masterpieces which left Venice centuries ago and made their way through various monarchs' collections before ending up in foreign museums.

San Trovaso's "Last Supper" is paired with a copy of the "Washing of the Feet" scene. The original is in London's National Gallery.

"If we lose this one, too," said the church's pastor, Rev. Silvano Brusamento, his voice trailing off anxiously as Falomir lectured to a group of Spanish journalists about the ingenious perspective in the "Last Supper."

"I wasn't in agreement" about the loan, said Brusamento. "There is always a risk . . . I'm worried."

The National Gallery's "Washing of the Feet" won't be travelling to Madrid for the show but another Tintoretto depiction of the Holy Thursday scene of Jesus and his apostles, originally in San Marcuola church, will be displayed because the Prado owns it, Finaldi said.

Among others loaning some of the 50 paintings and 20 drawings for the Prado show are the British Museum, the Chicago Art Institute, New York's Metropolitan and the Edinburgh National Gallery.

With Venice virtually a permanent exhibition of Tintoretto's talents, the question arises: why bother to group so many of them in a retrospective when visitors to the lagoon city can make their own leisurely exploration of the artist?
"It is true, to see Tintoretto properly, you have to go to Venice," said a Venetian painting school specialist, David Rosand, a Columbia University art history professor now on leave.

But exhibits let visitors study artworks close up and often in better lighting than in museums or churches. That is particularly vital with Tintoretto, whose works "you need binoculars to get close to," said Rosand in a telephone interview from his home in New York.

With Tintoretto, "the brush work is so much a part of the painting," said the professor, and close-up viewing helps this appreciation.

Curator Falomir said it long has been difficult to identify all the works done by Tintoretto and those done by his children - three of them became painters - or by his "bottega" or workshop.

"The sheer variety of hands" that worked on the paintings is daunting for scholars, said Rosand. Tintoretto, Titian, Veronese and Rubens had "industrial" production sized workshops, said the professor.

But while Tintoretto's workshop helped in executing works commissioned for palaces of the rich and noble, the artist was believed to have mainly executed his paintings in churches himself.