The American Academy in Rome celebrated filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci last night, awarding him the McKim Medal in honor of his contributions to cinema throughout his career. Addressing the audience, the "Last Tango in Paris" director spoke of his formative love for American movies: "I saw 'Stagecoach' and for me, John Ford became Homer. I was in front of a full-length mirror and what I was seeing at 12 wasn't me, it was John Wayne."
But according to Reuters, in an interview afterward the legendary filmmaker explained that these days, he found Hollywood product lacking and "sad," and preferred TV and select indies instead:
"My generation had an affair with American culture, there's no doubt about it. A street lamp and a fire hydrant made me sing in the rain. But the American films I like now do not come from Hollywood studios but from television series, like 'Mad Men,' 'Breaking Bad,' 'The Americans.'
"I like when they last 13 episodes but then there is a new series coming with another 13 episodes," he said, laughing, comparing them to novels printed in installments in 19th century newspapers. "Apart from a few independent productions, I think that everything that comes from Hollywood is generally sad. It makes me very sad."
Bertolucci is not the first to make the comparison between quality dramas and novels nor to point out that in the U.S., the small screen is addressing subjects and audiences that studio films generally aren't these days, but he's one of the higher profile names in cinema to do so.
The 73-year-old filmmaker made his first feature in nearly a decade with last year's "Me and You," which premiered out of competition at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival but which remains without a U.S. distributor. He'll head up the Venice Film Festival's international jury at the 70th edition of the event in last August/early September.