Sunday, February 01, 2009

Water: No

If you only see one film in your life, it should be Sharks in Venice.

Oh wait, did I say that? What I meant was, if "The Godfather" and "Jaws" and "The da Vinci Code" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" got really drunk at a party and went a little crazy and one of them got knocked up and had a baby, and she* kept drinking heavily throughout pregnancy (well, wouldn't you?), the end result would be "Sharks in Venice."

"What," I inquired - innocently enough, I think - "is the movie about?"

See, I didn't realize. It's not about drug dealers, or jewel thieves, or some European black market underworld, or the seamy side of the tourism industry. No, it's about sharks. Sharks swimming around in the canals of Venice, eating Italians and tourists. Yes.

Not, mind you, that there's all there is. Oh good heavens no. There's also the Mafia, a double-crossing blonde Italian police lieutenant, the ancient hidden treasure of the de' Medicis (that means "of the doctor family," by the way), some mirrored sunglasses, drama, conspiracy, Bulgarians trying to sound Italian, Stephen Baldwin in a SMedium T-shirt, and the worst acting you'll ever see as long as you live. And this isn't a "Snakes on a Plane" thing here, either. That was an excellent film, totally kick-ass in its "what, you think this is a silly movie? Well, a cobra's gonna bite your dick, beeYOTCH!" kind of way. No, this one takes itself seriously.

There's lots of lovely National Geographic stock footage of sharks swimming around in the open ocean, which suddenly become the murky waters of Venice at little to no notice. There's a grand shot - my favorite - of a shark arching itself in particularly dolphin-esque fashion out of the water in order to land on a gondola, snapping the boat in two and gnoshing on a surprised gondolier. But what turns out - I suppose this could be construed as a spoiler, incidentally - is that the bad guy (he's the one with the mirrored sunglasses) actually stocked the canals with sharks in order to discourage divers who might go after the fabled de' Medici treasure, although the only divers ever actually to have tried are the ones he has hired, who have all gotten eaten up before they could find it for him, so this is a slight flaw in his plan.

But of course you know, the moment you see Stephen Baldwin, that he'll save the day - find the treasure, defeat the bad guy, AND marry his lady-love and live happily ever after, and hopefully make enough money in the process to pay for acting lessons. This takes place despite a lengthy sequence early in the movie when he gets attacked by a shark, the action conveniently hidden by fast-motion shots and plenty of murky Venetian blood-fog in the water, at the end of which we see a single severed leg drifting down towards the bottom.

It turns out he was only dreaming, but they never made it clear quite when the dream sequence began. I think it might consist of the entire movie and we're all in on it, but when I look it up on IMDB, there it is.

IMDB may also be a figment of our collective imagination. We'll sort it all out eventually, assuming we aren't eaten by sharks. In Florence, next time. Let's remake "Room with a View." Don't go near the Arno!!

*I'm leaving it as an exercise for the reader to determine which one of these movies is the girl.

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