Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boudu sauvé des eaux (2010 restoration)

22.00 Piazza Maggiore
Boudu salvato dalle acque. FR 1932. PC: Les Films Sirius / Michel Simon Productions. P: Michel Simon. D: Jean Renoir. Starring Michel Simon. 84 min
A restored version that includes scenes that were cut in the original. Pathé (2010) in association with L'Immagine Ritrovata and Digimage.
Digital projection from a 2K digital intermediate from the camera negative.
Presenta Jean Douchet.

I watched only the beginning from the last row on the piazza, already getting tired. From the distance the image looked bright and sharp, but a friend who had seen it from a closer distance commented on the video-like quality with the vibration missing from Jean Renoir's plein air comedy. - Another friend who had seen this in Paris applauded the nitrate look of the experience. - Yet another friend commented that the image had an unconvincing nitrate imitation look.

In the catalogue the duration of this film is announced to be 84 min but the version released in Finland in 1971 was 86 min. But maybe the catalogue information was not accurate, and the new restored version is longer.

Il ruscello di Ripasottile

22.00 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 30 June 2010.
The Brook of Ripasottile. IT 1941. PC Excelsior-SACI. R.: Roberto Rossellini. 8 min (frammento). Electronic subtitles in English by Sub-Ti.
Restored at L'Immagine Ritrovata (2010) from fragments found by Domenico Murdaca in the cinema Cilea of Palmi (Calabria). Plot reconstructed from synopses. The badly damaged film was scanned in 2K and digitally restored and reconstructed.

An amazing discovery, the last of Rossellini's early shorts, believed lost. A nature story, a mixture of fairy-tale and documentary, told for children, featuring perches, trout, crows, frogs, and so on.

Cento anni fà: I colori del 1910: Colorando realtà e fantasia

16.00 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 30 June 2010
I colori del 1910 Colorando realtà e fantasia / The Colours of 1910: Colouring Reality and Fantasy

COIFFURES ET TYPES DE HOLLANDE (Francia/1910). Prod.: Pathé. From: Cineteca di Bologna (2010). - Beautiful pochoir colour.
DIDONE ABBANDONATA (Italia/1910) PC: Ambrosio. R.: Luigi Maggi. From: Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Cineteca di Bologna (2010). - Incomplete. - Historical epic of the classical age after the war against Troy: Dido the queen of Carthage falls in love with Aeneas. - In histrionic style.
FABRICATION DE L'ACIER (Francia/1910) Prod.: Gaumont. - From: Lobster. - A documentary on a steel mill. The red glow is powerful.
[deleted from the show: THE COMET ([USA/GB]/1910)]
LA RÉCOLTE DU RIZ AU JAPON (Francia/1910). Prod.: Pathé. From: Eye Film Institute (Amsterdam). - A refined documentary with sophisticated stencil colour.

L'apice del pochoir: drammi italiani 1912-1914 dal National Film Center Tokyo / The Peak of Pochoir Stencil Colour: Italian Drama 1912-1914 from the National Film Center (Tokyo)
LA FIGLIA DEL CIECO (Italia/1912) R.: Ugo Falena. - The powerful colour leads the narrative.
IL RE FANTASMA / A King in Name Only (Italia/1914) R.: Ugo Falena. 650 m /18 fps/ 31 min. - The story about the Kingdom of Nirvania has an affinity with Kagemusha. - The colour is so strong that even this half-an-hour drama feels colour-driven.

La bellezza della rovina: I colori della decomposizione / New Colours: Post-Production by Decay
LA LÉGENDE DU FANTÔME (Francia/1908) R.: Segundo de Chomon. Pochoir. From: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv. - The programme note: "The colour effects of decomposition make the images even more fantastic. Julienne Matthieu experiences a dance of death, pays a visit to hell, and brings a black pearl from the bottom of the sea. A bonus: a salamander ballet." - True enough, due to decomposition this film has become an unintentional psychedelic experience.

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Antonio Coppola

Another case of great inspiration in early cinema programming.

Airmail

14.30 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 30 June 2010
AIRMAIL / Erämaan lentäjät (L'aeroporto del deserto, USA/1932). PC: Universal. R.: John Ford. SC: Frank W. Wead, Dale Van Every. DP: Karl Freund. With: Pat O'Brien (Duke Talbot), Ralph Bellamy (Mike Miller), Gloria Stuart (Ruth Barnes), Lillian Bond (Irene Wilkins), Russell Hopton (Dizzy Wilkins), Slim Summerville (Slim McCune). 85 min. From: LoC - preserved in 1980 from original nitrate negatives in the AFI (Universal Collection).
E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

It is interesting to witness the John Ford touch in a story that might as well have been filmed by William Wellman (who directed 11 aviation pictures, including An Island in the Sky which has a similar major situation) or Howard Hawks (who directed four aviation films, of which Only Angels Have Wings has affinities with Airmail).

"Two Flew Together": Pat O'Brien plays the seemingly cynical daredevil and Ralph Bellamy the earnest and responsible chief of pilots. Yet the daredevil makes the greatest sacrifice to save the chief.

Great cinematography by Karl Freund, fine print.

Cento anni fà: Programme 4: Gaumont 1910 - A Flooded, Athletic, Mythological and Holy Year

10.00 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 30 June 2010
Cento anni fà: Gaumont 1910 - anno inondato, sportivo, mitologico e santo

Non-fiction:
INONDATIONS A PARIS EN 29 JANVIER 1910. FRANCE (Francia/1910) - qf. Une histoire d'eau.
PARIS (Francia/1910)
TOUR DE FRANCE EN 1910 (Francia/1910)
VUES DU CARREAU DES HALLES (Francia/1910)
DESTRUCTION D'UN PONT DE CHEMIN DE FER (Francia/1910)
CIRCULATION A PARIS (Francia/1910)
GROS PLAN SUR DES VAGUES (Francia/1910)

Fiction:
LES DOUZE TRAVAUX D'HERCULE (Francia/1910) - Emile Cohl - an important silhouette animation discovery from Cohl's best period, inspired by classical vases, compared by Païni and Gailleurd with Dufy and Picasso - l'hydre de Lerne - la biche de Cerynie - le sanglier d'Erymanthie...
LA NATIVITÉ (Francia/1910) - Louis Feuillade - painted backdrops inspired by Luc-Olivier Merson - naive Biblical tableaux

Presentano Martine Offroy, Manuela Padoan, Céline Gailleurd e Dominique Païni
Accompagnamento al piano di Antonio Coppola

These films were presented on Beta SP, alas.

The Black Watch (the beginning)

09.15 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 30 June 2010
THE BLACK WATCH
La guardia nera. US (c) 1929 Fox Film Corporation. R.: John Ford. 92'
Lingua originale con sottotitoli italiani
From and restored by: MoMA.

Last Saturday I saw the last 30 minutes of this strange film. Now I saw the first 40 minutes.

The film takes place in 1914, as Britain is sending its troops to fight in Flanders in WWI. But Captain King (Victor McLaglen) of The Black Watch is not allowed to join his comrades in Flanders. Instead, the native speaker of North Indian languages is sent to Peshawar.

Captain King meets the Princess (Myrna Loy) of the Pakistani-Afghan mountain rebels who have declared a Holy War against the West. "Your mission is the prevent the Holy War".

This is not a great film, but it is interesting to observe John Ford's work as a director in his first all-talking movie. There is a lot of music and singing. The main communities of the story are introduced by their music: the Scots by their bagpipe music and songs, and the North Indian Muslims by the muezzin in Peshawar.

The first 40 minutes are dedicated to the disappointment, demoralization and degradation of Captain King. In Peshawar he becomes known as a drunken swine. In an officers' canteen he even accidentally kills an annoying fellow officer.

On the other hand, Captain King, born in India, is genuinely fond of the Indian people whereas his fellow officers display racist attitudes.

Myrna Loy looks wonderful but she is made to speak her dialogue in a mannered way.

The Black Watch is not a successful film but it is interesting to compare it with the simultaneous Der weisse Teufel, another film about the Holy War against the West.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Soirée Lumière (2009 compilation)

22.00 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 29 June 2010
SOIRÉE LUMIÈRE
Thierry Frémaux, direttore dell'Institut Lumière, accompagna la visione dei film restaurati, con un finale incredibile, uno dei film Lumière in 3D! - The show was shown without music, but with a witty running commentary by Thierry Frémaux. The artistic vision in the selection was great. The show was on digital video, which was fine for the Piazza open-air circumstances.

Lumière! è una selezione tematica di film girati da Louis Lumière e dai suoi operatori a partire dal 1895 in Francia e in tutto il mondo, scelti tra i 1425 film del catalogo Lumière. Questo montaggio permette di (ri)scoprire le primissime immagini in movimento proiettate su uno schermo fin dal 22 marzo 1895, i film degli operatori Lumière che a partire dal 1896 furono mostrati in tutto il mondo ma anche le pellicole a colori ottenute con l'autocromia e i film in rilievo realizzati da Louis Lumière a metà degli anni Trenta. Nella selezione saranno presenti i film della prima proiezione pubblica a pagamento del Cinématographe, che si svolse il 28 dicembre 1895 al Grand Café di Parigi. Quel giorno trentatré spettatori scoprirono i primi attori: gli operai delle officine Lumière (Sortie d'usine), un monello che innaffia un giardiniere, oggi il più celebre del mondo (L'Arroseur arrosé), Auguste Lumière in persona, con la moglie e la figlia Andrée (Repas de bébé). E poi Lione nel 1895, città natale del Cinématographe, i suoi luoghi più famosi (Bellecour o Cordeliers), le strade animate (Concours de boules), e la ferrovia (La gare de Perrache); i figli di Louis e Auguste Lumière filmati dal padre (o dallo zio!), attento a ogni minimo movimento, sguardo, gesto (La petite fille et son chat, Enfants jouant aux billes); la Francia che si diverte o che lavora, alla riscoperta delle tradizioni passate o dei vecchi mestieri (Saut à la couverture, Défournage du coke). E i paesi stranieri: da Mosca a Washington, dal Messico a Londra, da Roma a Tokyo, questi film fecero scoprire per la prima volta nella storia dell'umanità "il mondo al mondo". Nel 1897 la società Lumière aveva già organizzato ottocentomila spettacoli.
I film Lumière contengono già le gag e le situazioni comiche che presto ritroveremo in Georges Méliès e Max Linder. E questo è ciò che resterà della primissima estetica cinematografica, le immagini indimenticabili e gli sguardi dei primi operatori sul mondo del XIX secolo: una traccia lasciata da Lumière per tutti i loro figli, i milioni di registi dilettanti o professionisti che hanno fatto la storia del cinema (Vue prise d'une baleinière en marche, Panorama pris d'une chaise à porteur). Questo montaggio è stato realizzato dall'Institut Lumière. I film sono stati restaurati dagli Archives Françaises du Film e dalla Cineteca di Bologna. (Institut Lumière, Lione)


Lumière! (c) 2009 Association Lumière
I
1. Sortie d'usine 1
2. Sortie d'usine 2
3. Sortie d'usine 3
4. Neuville-sur-Saône: Débarquement du congrès des photographes à Lyon (1895)
5. Repas de bébé (1895)
6. L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat (1896)
7. Forgerons
8. L'Arroseur arrosé *
9. Partie d'écarté
10. Demolition d'un mur

II Lyon
11. [A long ride in Lyon]
12. Arrivée d'un train à Perrache (1896)
13. [Lyon flood] *
14. [Phantom ride in Lyon]
15. [Horses and horsemen take a swim]
16. [A ball game in Lyon]*

III Enfances
17. [The child and the cat] *
18. Premier pas de bébé
19. [The child and the goldfish]
20. [Dancing children]
21. [Three children enjoying breakfast]

IV France qui travaille
22. [Asphalt]
23. [Mining industry]
24. [At the harbour: a giant engine lid]
25. [Washerwomen]
26. [The harbour: dockers]
27. [Farmers raking in a row]
28. [Oxen dragging a plough with eyes covered]
29. [The mounted fire brigade of Paris]
30. [Horses dragging carts with street stones]

V La France qui s'amuse
31. [Horsemen's tricks]
32. [Lyon: swimming boys]
33. [Bicycle racing a few years before la Tour de France started]
34. [French army: throwing a man in the air]
35. [The boat venturing into heavy waters and returning]
36. [Chamonix: alpinisme]
37. [Bag jumping]
38. [Heavy traffic at the Champs-Elysées crowded with horse-driven cars]
39. [The Cremaux family of acrobats]
40. [Dangerous acrobatic stunts]

VI Le monde, tout proche
41. [Switzerland: cows]
42. [Spain: matadors]
43. [Spain: dancing soldiers]
44. [Venice, Italy]
45. [London: Big Ben]
46. [Liverpool]
47. [Berlin, Friedrichstrasse, Panopticum]
48. [The fire brigade of Dublin]
49. [The firemen of Dublin and their great ladder]
50. [Istanbul]
51. [Egypt: the sphinx]
52. [A caravan]
53. [The Bey of Tunis]
54. [New York] *
55. [Chicago police, almost all with a moustache]
56. [Mexico: a wild horse]
57. [Vietnam / French Indochina: the colonial ladies throw food on the ground for the children]
58. [The cows being hauled aboard a ship]
59. [The swordsmen of Japan]
60. [Africans dancing in Lyon]

VII De la comédie!
61. [Transformation of the hat]
62. [Military comedy: the nurse and the soldier]
63. [The French army dancing]
64. [The modern Romeo kissing the modern Julia on the rope ladder lands into a sack]
65. [The exploding boat]
66. [The French army climbing the wall]
67. [The musician who saws wood as he plays the trumpet]
68. [The dancing lady who overdoes her performance]
69. [Charcuterie mécanique]

VIII Un siècle nouveau
70. [The Eiffel tower]
71. [The moving sidewalk of the Paris World Exposition]
72. [Baku: oil wells]
73. [The air ship of Augusto Santos-Dumont on the ground]
74. [The air ship flying]

IX Déjà le cinéma
75. [Rowing men in a very expressive medium shot]
76. [Car Accident: The man broken into pieces is assembled in Méliès style, and he becomes a clochard like Boudu]
77. [French army in their snow shoes. The diagonal composition]
78. [The French army in the snow. Composition in long shot like Stiller, Lang, Eisenstein]
79. [Slaves to the opium: the dimension of time] *
80. [The duel. Death in the cinema, staged, of course]
81. [The camera in the air balloon: the shaking, authentic feeling]

X 3-D
82. [The train arrives]
83. [The man on the bridge]
84. [The boats]
85. [The square] *
86. [The men in the harbour] *
87. [The man with the long pipe]

XI A bientôt...
88. [The skeleton dance]
89. [The snow fight]
90. [The ship is launched]
91. [The camera in Asia on a bicycle: the little girl's face]
92. [COLOUR: The Arch of Triumph]
92. [COLOUR: parades]
93. [COLOUR: three women in a boat]
94. [COLOUR: three women have breakfast and make themselves up] *
95. [COLOUR: sailors]
96. [Entrée du cinématographe (1896)]
97. [Mesdames et Messieurs, mes remerciements, written backwards and upside down]

In the end, the whole show was repeated ultra-rapidly backwards in one minute.

These films have been digitized and were shown on digital video. This programme had been shown only once before, in Lyon. Many of the films looked magnificent on the giant screen of Piazza Maggiore. There were many that I don't remember having seen before.

Undoubtedly one of the great Lumière shows.

Lumière! (liste officielle des titres)

LUMIERE!

Générique

Au commencement
Sortie d’usine (pas de chevaux) (91,3)
Sortie d’usine (un cheval) (91,2)
Sortie d’usine (deux chevaux)(91,1)
Débarquement du congrès de photographes à Lyon (HC)
Repas de bébé (88)
Arrivée du train en gare de La Ciotat (653)
Forgerons (51)
Arroseur Arrosé (99)
Partie d’écarté (73)
Démolition d’un mur (à l’endroit) (40)
Démolition d’un mur (à l’envers) (40)

Lyon, ville des Lumière
Panorama de l’arrivée en gare de Perrache pris du train (130)
Arrivée d’un train à Perrache (127)
Quai de l’Archevêché (158)
Place du Pont (1126)
Dragons traversant la Saône à la nage (186)
Concours de boules (27)

Enfances
La petite fille et son chat (1100)
Premiers pas de bébé (HC)
Pêche aux poissons rouges (69)
Petit frère et petite sœur (658)
Le goûter des bébés (654)

La France qui travaille
Ouvriers réparant un trottoir en bitume (833)
Carmaux : Défournage du Coke (122)
Chaudière (20)
Laveuses sur la rivière (626)
Déchargement d’un navire (34)
Faneurs (635)
Labourage (59)
Les pompiers, I : passage des pompes (778)
Attelage d’un camion (627)

La France qui s’amuse
Voltige (194)
Bains sur la Saône (562)
Départ de cyclistes (33)
Saut à la couverture (192)
Mauvais temps au port (1096)
Chamonix, la mer de glace : Descente (1207)
La course en sac (109)
Le retour. Aux Champs-Elysées (1020)
Les Kremo : Pyramide (1044)
Les Kremo : Sauts périlleux (1040)

Le Monde, tout proche
Suisse : Rentrée à l’étable (313)
Arrivée des toréadors (259)
Madrid : Danse au bivouac (266)
Venise : Panorama du Grand Canal pris d’un bateau (295)
Londres : Pont de Westminster (254)
Liverpool : Panorama pris du chemin de fer électrique IV (707)
Berllin – Friedrichstrasse (219)
Dublin : Pompiers - Un incendie, II (711)
Belfast, exercices de sauvetage (724)
Turquie : Constantinople : Panorama de la Corne d’Or (416)
Egypte : Les Pyramides (381)
Turquie d’Asie : Caravane de chameaux (407)
Tunisie : Le Bey de Tunis descend l’escalier du bardo (1374)
Boston : Market Street (332)
Chicago : Défilé de policemen (336)
Mexique : Cavalier sur un cheval rétif (356)
Indochine : Enfants annamites ramassant des sapèques devant la pagode des dames (1274)
Indochine : Embarquement d’un bœuf (1286)
Japon : Lutteurs japonais (925)
Danse de jeunes filles (443)

De la comédie !
Chapeaux à transformation (105)
Bonne d’enfant et soldat (103)
Chasseurs alpins : leçon de boxe (1396)
L'amoureux dans le sac (885)
Explosion en mer (829) (jusqu'à la fin de l’explosion et le remettre en entier)
Explosion en mer (829)
Chasseurs alpins : assaut d’un mur (177)
Le scieur de bois mélomane (880)
Danseuse de ballets (648)
Charcuterie mécanique (107)

Un siècle nouveau
Panorama des rives de la Seine, IV (687)
Exposition Universelle : Vue prise d’une plate-forme mobile I (1155)
Puits de pétrole à Bakou : Vue de près (1035)
Expérience au ballon dirigeable de S. Dumont, I Sortie (1121)
Expérience au ballon dirigeable de S. Dumont, II Le ballon (1122)

Déjà, le cinéma
Vue prise d’une baleinière en marche (1241)
Accident d’automobile (2021)
Mont-Blanc : en file indienne avec les raquettes (1255)
Mont-Blanc : en file indienne dans la montagne (1253)
Fumerie d’opium (1270)
Mexique : Duel au pistolet (35)
Panorama pris d’un ballon captif (997)
Essais de films en Relief (HC – Sans titre) (port de lunettes anaglyphes)

A bientôt Lumière
Le squelette joyeux (831)
La bataille de neige (101)
Lancement d’un navire (57)
Le village de Namo : panorama pris d’une chaise à porteurs (1296)
Centenaire de l’Arc de Triomphe (HC – Autochrome)
Jeunes filles prenant le thé (HC – Autochromes)
A bord du torpilleur « La Poursuivante » (HC – Autochrome)
Colleurs d’affiches (677)
Ecriture à l’envers (42)

Reverse du montage

La sortie des cinéastes

Générique de fin

...
Merci: Maëlle Arnaud, Institut Lumière

Albert Capellani 3: Capellani's Thrillers: Point of View, Framing and Empathy

14.45 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 29 June 2010
Albert Capellani, Programma 3: I gialli di Alberto Capellani: empatia e sguardo


SAMSON (Francia/1908) R.: Albert Capellani. 275 m /16 fps/ 15 min. A Komiya Collection pochoir print. Impressive early-cinema tableaux: - Samson is born - removing the gates of Gaza - meeting Delilah - going blind - grinding the millstone - recovering his strength - the fall of the temple.

L'HOMME AU GANTS BLANCS (Francia/1908) R.: Albert Capellani. 177 m /16 fps/ 9 min. The first part seen in fine La Cinémathèque francaise footage, the second part in inferior Pathé Kok footage. Much more impressive cinematic storytelling than in Samson. The double crime tragedy of the lady who is the victim of a gentleman crook (who robs her necklace) and a tramp crook (who unintentionally kills her). The white gloves mark the gentleman crook as the murderer.

L'ÉPOUVANTE / Der Schrecken (Francia/1911) R.: Albert Capellani. 208 m /18 fps/ 10 min. Eye Film Institute, Amsterdam. Starring Mistinguett. A big step forward in storytelling from L'Homme au gants blancs. The scene where the lady sees the hand under the bed. The police is summoned, there is a chase on the roof. The lady saves the poor criminal from falling to his death, and the crook returns the loot.

PAUVRE MÈRE (Francia/1906) R.: Albert Capellani. 115 m /16 fps/ 6 min. Gestione commericale Gaumont Pathé Archives. The little girl falls to her death. The mother loses her mind and dies, too. Powerful images such as the mother being stoned by children in the park. The shot of the little coffin being transported.

L'INTRIGANTE (Francia/1910-11) R.: Albert Capellani. 162 m /18 fps/ 8 min. Eye Film Institute, Amsterdam.

LA MARIÉE DU CHÂTEAU MAUDIT (Francia/1910) R.: Albert Capellani. 221 m /16 fps/ 12 min. Kinematek, Brussels (from Montevideo).

CENDRILLON OU LA PANTOUFLE MERVEILLEUSE (Francia/1907) R.: Albert Capellani. 295 m /16 fps/ 16 min. AFF/CNC.

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Donald Sosin

Kong Fuzi / Confucius

11.00 Cinema Arlecchino
Kong Fuzi / CONFUCIUS [not released in Finland] (Cina/1940) R.: Fei Mu. D.: 96'
Presenta Lorenzo Codelli
Mandarin version with Chinese and English subtitles on the print, e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.
Restored from the negatives and from some recovered fragments. Parts of the soundtrack are missing.
From: Hong Kong Film Archive.

Screened in the Movietone ratio. The fine quality of the cinematography could be appreciated in part of the footage, but the technical condition of the source material is highly variable.

I caught about half an hour from the end of this film. Many had been disappointed and left the cinema. But I was in an early cinema mode anyway, having seen Cento anni fà and Capellani shows, and I appreciated the strange tableau style of this film, the stern anti-realism, the assured mise-en-scène, the theatrical arrangement. There are interesting transitions, epic images, and theatrical recitations in this fascinating portrait of the great thinker. The famous Silver Rule is included: "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself".This is a story of great self-discipline against terrible adversity, understandably topical during the Japanese occupation. Bamboo stripes record crimes committed during 200 years of history. The old, exhausted Confucius meets his students as ghosts, teaching righteousness, harmony, tranquillity, and integrity, the lesson of sacrifice to serve humanity. As long as a noble spirit lingers, the Master's teaching will prevail through the ages. - Seeing this in Bologna, in a strange way I also thought about John Ford, his theme of sacrifice, and Young Mr. Lincoln made the year before, also with a sense of urgency about the human condition.

I am very grateful for this film, which I look forward to see in its entirety.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Le grand amour (2010 restoration)

17.45 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 28 June 2010.
LE GRAND AMOUR / Hassu haaveilija
FR 1969. D: Pierre Étaix. 87'. V. francese con sottotitoli inglesi, italiani.
[Pierre Etaix not present.]

Pierre Etaix's fourth feature film and first colour film. The original materials have been damaged, and now the film has been photochemically and digitally restored. - The print is not bad but with a slightly digital look, the colour a bit off, and with a sense of not seeing the full fine detail of the image.

I had never seen Le grand amour before. I watched half an hour and would have liked to see the film to the end, but I had already seen five programmes today and could not digest more.

The first half an hour starts at the wedding ceremony at the church. There are funny observations of the members of the wedding ceremony during a long tracking shot from the altar to the entrance at the back of the church. During the ceremony the fiancé sees his romantic life and courtship as flashbacks. With his fiancée he also marries the family business, a tannery, and has to give up his dreams of becoming a musician.

I hope the see the whole film one day, as it seems to be a witty and original comedy.

Jubal

16.00 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 28 June 2010
JUBAL / Peloton mies / Främlingen från vidderna (Vento di terre lontane). USA (c) 1956 Columbia Pictures Corporation. D: Delmer Daves. SC: Russell S. Hughes, Delmer Daves. DP: Charles Lawton, Jr. - CinemaScope 2,55:1. M: David Raksin. With Glenn Ford (Jubal Troop), Ernest Borgnine (Shep Horgan), Rod Steiger (Pinky Pinkum), Valerie French (Mae Horgan), Felicia Farr (Naomi Hoktor), Charles Bronson (Reb Haisplipp), Jack Elam (McCoy, Bar 8 Rider). 101 min
From: Sony Columbia - restored in 4K in the original 2,55:1 aspect ratio - digital intermediate from difficult source materials
Presenta Grover Crisp (Sony Columbia)
E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti

Delmer Daves was a Hollywood veteran who started to direct Westerns in the 1950s and made a remarkable series of eight Westerns during that decade. I was very grateful for Jubal which I had never seen before.

A cattle farm tragedy. Jubal (Glenn Ford) is a wanderer who for the first time in his life gets appreciation - from Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine) who becomes like a surrogate father to him. Jubal meets Naomi of the Mormon wagon train and defends their peaceful camping on Horgan's land. But Mrs. Mae Horgan has set her eyes on the virile Jubal, and "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned"... Pinky (Rod Steiger) has been Mae's lover, and now Jubal has replaced him as the favourite of both Shep and Mae. Perhaps this is not a Western Othello, but Pinky acts like Iago in invoking Shep's jealousy, which leads to tragedy: Jubal kills his best friend in self-defense, and the jealous Pinky rapes Mae hurting her lethally. This being a Hollywood movie, after the tragedy there is yet the happy end. The characters are convincing, the cattle farm atmosphere is realistic, and Delmer Daves has a strong grip on the drama.

The restoration has been made by top talent from difficult sources, and although the restoration has taken place in 4K, there is a digital intermediate look (but I have never seen this on film).

Salute

14.30 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 28 June 2010
SALUTE [the film was not released in Finland] (Grande sfida, USA/1929) PC: Fox Film Corporation. D: John Ford. DP: Joseph H. August - Movietone. With: George O'Brien (John Randall), Helen Chandler (Nancy Wayne), Stepin Fetchit (Smoke Screen), Ward Bond, John Wayne. 86 min
From: GEH. E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

A mainly beautiful print from good source material. A boom mike was visible in the Movietone ratio presentation.

A big step forward for Ford as a director of a sound film. The Black Watch was a clumsy transitional film, but Salute is already an assured work.

The Annapolis story of two rivalling brothers is boring. Ward Bond gets his debut role and John Wayne his first speaking part, both as Navy bullies.

The Last Outlaw, A Gun Fightin' Gentleman, North of Hudson Bay

11.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 28 June 2010

THE LAST OUTLAW (L'ultimo fuorilegge, USA/1919) PC: Universal. D: John Ford (come Jack Ford). With: Ed "King Fisher" Jones. 270 m /18 fps 13 min (frammento). From: BFINA. - John Ford at his best in the silent era - an end of the West story that can be compared with The Gunfighter, Ride the High Country and The Shootist.

A GUN FIGHTIN' GENTLEMAN (Pistola contro gentiluomo, USA/1919) PC: Universal. D: John Ford (come Jack Ford). With Harry Carey. 706 m /22 fps/ 28 min (frammento). Did. olandesi, earphone translation in Italian and English. From: Cinémathèque de Luxembourg. - Cheyenne Harry meets meatpacking tycoon in Chicago, foils his scheme and robs his daughter.

NORTH OF HUDSON BAY [not released in Finland] (La legge del nord, USA/1923) PC: Fox Film Corporation. D: John Ford. SC: Jules Furthman. With Tom Mix, Eugene Pallette. D.: 46'. Did. ceche, earphone translation in Italian and English. From Narodny Filmovy Archiv (Prague). - I believe I have seen this material in 1981 in Munich, but now I saw it for the first time with a translation in English. - This is the only surviving material with Ford directing Tom Mix. - Flaherty had just shot Nanook of the North in the real milieu north of Hudson Bay. - There is a lot of action, superficial excitement and a devilish trap where sun rays discharge a rifle. There is a long snowbound chase in the wilderness, a wolf pack and a dangerous rapid-shooting sequence on a canoe; John Ford, himself, did stunts for the rapid-shooting.

Presenta Joseph McBride
Accompagnamento al piano di Antonio Coppola

Joseph McBride gave an extended and informative introduction - on John Ford and Harry Carey - on John Ford and Francis Ford - on John Ford's theatre connections - on his little, unpretetious films - on his Irish roots - on sex: The Brat, and 7 Women - how the encounter with Murnau made him a more conscious artist.

Cento anni fà: Programme 3: 1910: Landscapes and Narrative

10.00 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 28 June 2010
Cento anni fa: Programma 3: 1910: Paesaggio e narrazione

According to Mariann Lewinsky, in 1910 the landscape started to have a more central role in narrative cinema.

LES PYRÉNÉES PITTORESQUES / Een autotocht in de Pyreneën (Francia/1910) Prod.: Pathé. 278 m /18 fps/ 13 min. Dutch intertitles. From: Eye Film Institute (Amsterdam). Pathé actors visit the Pyrenees. Ok print from used source with pochoir colour.
LE GARDIAN DE CAMARGUE (Francia/1910) PC: Gaumont. R.: Léonce Perret. 290 m /16 fps/ 16 min. From: Cin. fr. (2003) - Tragedy of the actress and the cowboy. - Good print, slightly duped look.
MARINES (Francia/1910). Prod.: Gaumont. 100 m /18 fps/ 5 min. Colour. From: Cinematek (Brussels). - Sunsets with colour effects.
LE REFLET DU VOL (Francia/1910) PC: Pathé. R.: Georges Monca. With Charlotte Barbier, Gina Barbieri. 103 m /18 fps/ 5 min. From: Eye Film Institute (Amsterdam). - The poor woman steals from her employer but returns the purse.
* LES DEUX PETITS JÉSUS (Francia/1910) PC: S.C.A.G.L. / S.A.P.F. R.: Georges Denola. 308 m /16 fps/ 17 min. From: Cinematek (Brussels). - Sans argent, sans pain, sans espérance. The poor woman abandons her baby to the chapel of a convent in the crib of the Nativity scene. - The best film of this programme.
RIGADIN A L'ÂME SENSIBLE (Francia/1910) PC: S.C.A.G.L. R.: Georges Monca. With Charles Prince. 161 m /16 fps/ 9 min. From: Cinematek (Brussels). - Rigadin is over-empathic (qf. Jerry Lewis in Disorderly Orderly) and cries out loud reading in the newspaper about 12 chicken that have been run over. This comedy is a hyperbole of altruism.
DANS LES RUINES DE CARTHAGE (Francia/1910) PC: Eclair. R.: Victorin Jasset. 228 m /16 fps/ 13 min. From: Cin. fr. (2000), tinted and toned. - Beautiful print, beautiful cinematography on location in Tunisia.
EULALIA IM BADE (Germania/1910). 65 m /16 fps/ 4 min. From: Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv. - Beautiful print. - Comedy: the angry old woman chases away loving couples on the beach, until she is courted, herself.

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Donald Sosin
Earphone translation in Italian and English.

Seas Beneath

09.15 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 28 June 2010
SEAS BENEATH / Kummituslaiva (Dominatori del mare, USA/1931) PC: Fox Film Corporation. D: John Ford. SC: Dudley Nichols. DP: Joseph H. August. With: George O'Brien, Marion Lessing, Warren Hymer, William Collier, Sr., John Loder, Mona Maris. 99 min. From: Twentieth Century Fox.
E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

The setting of John Ford's third Navy film is WWI. An American Q Boat is disguised as a merchant schooner to fool the German submarine, but in the harbour in the Canary Islands the Germans send female spies to lure the Americans to give away their secrets. - The cinematography by Joseph H. August is brilliant, and the atmosphere feels strong and real. - George O'Brien is relaxed in the location footage but the actors lack charisma. - The pictorial quality of the print is variable, often good. - I saw the first 45 minutes.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

3 Bad Men (Cinema Concert - world premiere of the Timothy Brock score - with the Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna)

22.00 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 27 June 2010.
3 BAD MEN / Kolme huonoa miestä (I tre birbanti, USA/1926) R.: John Ford. /24 fps/ 85'. Print: Twentieth Century Fox.
Prima mondiale della partitura scritta e diretta da Timothy Brock, eseguita dall'Orchestra del Teatro Comunale di Bologna
Lingua originale con sottotitoli italiani (Sub-Ti).

A magnificent cinema concert with the Bologna City Opera Orchestra playing Timothy Brock's new score to John Ford's best silent film. I sat on the third row with a good view at the orchestra, yet able to follow the giant image of the open-air screening.

The best possible experience of 3 Bad Men. Apparently no brilliant prints exist, as even this one looked like a blow-up from 16 mm. One could appreciate the composition of Ford and George Schneidermann but there was a loss of detail.

This is a John Ford western where (like in Fort Apache, The Searchers, Two Rode Together, Cheyenne Autumn) the Indian is not the villain. The villain is us, and we need to conquer the villain inside.

Albert Capellani 1: Director of Stars. Autour de Notre-Dame de Paris

16.15 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 27 June 2010.
Albert Capellani 1: Regista di vedettes. Autour de Notre-Dame de Paris

DANS L'HELLADE (Francia/1909) R.: Charles Decroix. Int: Stacia Napierkowska. 120 m /16 fps/ 7 min. No intertitles. B&w and pochoir. From: Cineteca di Bologna (digitally restored by L'Immagine Ritrovata, 2010). - A beautiful, visionary dance film. The wind, the movement. The colour is subdued, the movement is natural.
LE PAIN DES PETITS OISEAUX (Francia/1911) R.: Albert Capellani. Int: Stacia Napierkowska. 240 m /16 fps/ 13 min. From: La Cinémathèque francaise (restored 2010). - A brilliant and beautiful print. - The man who fed the birds gets to protect a starving girl. Inspired by his wife, the girl becomes a world class dance star. In the conclusion, it is her turn to save the starving old man from the park bench.
LA FILLE DU SONNEUR (Francia/1906) R.: Albert Capellani. Int: Gabriel Moreau, Renée Coge. 197 m /16 fps/ 11 min. From: Lobster Films. - A print from a deteriorating source, can still be watched. - The young husband loses all in the gambling table, the heart-broken wife abandons their baby to her father, dix ans après: the father forgives her daughter, now reduced to a beggar.
NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS (Francia/1911) R.: Albert Capellani Int: Stacia Napierkowska. 735 m /18 fps/ 35 min. From: AFF / CNC. - Print quality: there are some brilliant passages. - A digest of highlights from Victor Hugo's epic historical romance, the main movement being how the encounter with Esmeralda's kindness changes Quasimodo's soul.
CLÉOPÂTRE (Francia/1910) R.: Ferdinand Zecca, Henry Andréani. Int: Madeleine Roch. [16 min announced] /16 fps/ 28 min. AFF / CNC (restored from a safety positive and an intermediate). - The original visual beauty can be sensed in this print produced from a tinted and toned source - A digest of some highlights from the Cleopatra story after the death of Julius Caesar: the fights of Marcus Antonius and Octavianus. The battle scenes are not impressive but the splendour of Cleopatra's court is. Stacia Napierkowska plays the messenger poisoned by Cleopatra, and we see her over-the-top dance of death.

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Maud Nelissen

The Brat

14.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Scorsese, Bologna, 27 June 2010
THE BRAT [not released in Finland] (La trovatella, USA/1931) PC: Fox Film Corporation. D: John Ford. SC: Sonya Levien, S.N. Behrman, Maude Fulton - based on the comedy by Maude Fulton. DP: Joseph H. August. With: Sally O'Neil, Alan Dinehart, Frank Albertson, Virginia Cherrill, J. Farrell MacDonald. 65 min. From: MoMA.
E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

John Ford in pre-Code mode and in George Cukor territory in the modern comedy that has affinities with G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion. A wealthy, pompous writer takes a brash chorus girl into his custody in New York. Ford surprises with his funny touch and his moving camera. Sally O'Neil is spirited in the leading role.

By Indian Post

11.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 27 June 2010.
BY INDIAN POST (Posta indiana, USA/1919) PC: Universal. D: John Ford (come Jack Ford). With Peter Morrison, Duke Lee, Magda Lane, Ed Jones, Hoot Gibson. 13 min (frammento). Digibeta, alas. From: Lobster Films.
Accompagnamento al piano di Neil Brand

A Western comedy of a ranch foreman who weds his boss's daughter in an instant wedding on horseback, and the thrill of the story is a last minute consecration by the priest.

Cento anni fà: 1910: Programme 2: The Future of Short Films: News, Science, Laughter

10.00 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni
Cento anni fa: Film europei del 1910. Programma 2: Il futuro del corto - Attualità, Scienza, Comicità

LE POULET DE MLLE PIPELARD (Francia/1910) Prod.: Pathé. 84 m /16 fps/ 5 min. Source: 28 mm. From: Deutsche Kinemathek. - Comedy, cross-dressing: man flirting another man dressed as a female cook. - High contrast.
PROCÉDÉ VERSICOLOR: ESSAIS COULEURS (Francia/1910). 17 m /16 fps/ 1 min. From: AFF/CNC. - Catalogue: "probably an early test for Dufaycolor". - The grid is visible.
PARADE DER GARNISON MÜNCHEN ANLÄSSLICH DES GEBURTSTAGES SR. KGL. HOHEIT DES PRINZREGENTEN (Germania/ca 1910) Prod.: Welt-Kinematograph. 170 m /16 fps/ 9 min. From: NFTVA. - Military parade. - Good definition of light.
RIGADIN AMOREUX D'UNE ÉTOILE (Francia/1910) PC: S.C.A.G.L. R.: Georges Monca. With Charles Prince as Rigadin. 150 m /16 fps/ 8 min. From: AFF/CNC. - Rigadin as virago dismisses his rival. Not very funny. - Pretty good print.
* LES DEUX RENDEZ-VOUS (Francia/1910) Prod.: Pathé. 150 m /18 fps/ 7 min. From: Cinemathek (Brussels). -A bedroom farce that is rather a bathroom farce. Man and wife both thinking they are alone at home have a rendez-vous with their lovers at home and hide their companions in the two bathtubs. - Madame is the active one with her timid lover, and Monsieur is the active partner with his shy lady companion. - Clothes get exchanged, and there is a tremendous crescendo of revelations.
DIATOMÉES (Francia/1910) PC: Pathé. D: Jean Comandon. 152 m /16 fps/ 8 min. From: AFF/CNC. - Scène de la vulgarisation scientifique. - Following the catalogue: The Cinématographie des infiniment petits was unveiled by Pathé Frères in 1910 in a special catalogue called Cinématographie ultramicroscopique shot under the scientific direction of M. le Docteur Jean Comandon. The films did not only address universities but all levels of education.
FUNÉRAILLES D'EDOUARD VII ROI D'ANGLETERRE 20 MAI 1910 / Begrafenis Eduard VII (Francia/1910) Prod.: Gaumont. 208 m /18 fps/ 10 min. - Following the catalogue: the state funeral as military parade.
LA MALLE DE LA NOURRICE (Francia/1910) Prod.: Éclair. 141 m /16 fps/ 7 min. From: AFF/CNC. - Comedy. - Following the catalogue: out of the nursemaid's trunk steps her larcenous friend and accomplice, and together they pack her employers into it. - Good print.

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Gabriel Thibaudeau

not shown: [WENN DER VATER MIT DEM SOHNE - Fonoscena dall'operetta Die keusche Susanne (Jean Gilbert, 1910) (Germania/1911)]

Anni difficili: French Cinema 1945-1952: Programme 2: The Post-War Period, Reconstruction, Hope, Peace

09.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Scorsese, Bologna, 27 June 2010
Anni difficili - Il cinema francese 1945-1952: Programma 2: Il dopo-guerra, la ricostruzione, la speranza, la pace
A cura di Eric Le Roy

ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE (Francia/1945) R.: Pierre Céria. D.: 10'
CAEN RELÈVE DE SES RUINES (Francia/1952) R.: Raymond Bisch. D.: 9'
THE PEOPLES' CHARTER (USA/1948) R.: Jean Benoit-Lévy. D.: 16'
NOUS SOMMES DÉJÀ 150 MILLIONS (Francia/1952) R.: Jacques Letellier. D.: 12'
LA PETITE RÉPUBLIQUE (Francia/1947) R.: Victor Vicas. D.: 18'
DÉFENSE DU CINÉMA FRANÇAIS (Francia/1950) D.: 22'

Presenta Eric Le Roy (CNC- Archives françaises du Film)

Of Bologna's remarkable Anni difficili series I saw hardly anything, trying to focus on the Cento anni fà, Albert Capellani and John Ford themes. I listened to Eric Le Roy's introduction and saw the beginning of the show before Cento anni fà started.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Il gattopardo (2010 restoration)

22.00 Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, 26 June 2010.
IL GATTOPARDO / Tiikerikissa / The Leopard (Italia/1963) R.: Luchino Visconti. D.: 185'
Projected in 35 mm according to the progamme book.
Restauro promosso da Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata, Titanus, The Film Foundation, Pathé, Fondation Jérôme Seydoux, Twentieth Century Fox e CSC-Cineteca Nazionale, con il sostegno di Gucci e Film Foundation.
Alla presenza di Piero Tosi, costumista del film. [Enrico Medioli was not present.]

The film restoration of the year, although I have always been seeing good prints of Il gattopardo and did not realize there was a need to make a new restoration.

Following Schawn Belston's introduction in the programme book: Il gattopardo was shot on Technirama, in which images were captured on 35 mm film horizontally, and the resulting anamorphic image, twice the size of the standard 35 mm frame, is remarkably sharp and full of detail. Since 1963, the camera negative has faded and has scratches and dirt (horizontally across the frame because it's Technirama). For this new restoration the original Technirama camera negatives were scanned at 8K. A 35 mm protection interpositive was also scanned for sections needed to replace material not present in the original camera negatives. After scanning all files were converted to 4K, and the balance of picture restoration was performed entirely digitally at this resolution. The restoration is presented both in 4K DCP and in 35 mm.

I had woken up at 4.00 am and it was now 22.30 Italian time (23.30 Finnish time). I was too tired to stay, but I watched the beginning, about half an hour (until the scene where the prince meets his mistress) from the back of the Piazza. The film and the image looked gorgeous, and the total experience was magnificent.

I believe Schawn Belston and his colleagues are on the right track taking the 8K starting point for a film like Il gattopardo.

Two for the Road

18.00 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 26 June 2010
TWO FOR THE ROAD / Peukalokyydillä vihille / Två på vift (Due per la strada, GB 1967) PC: Stanley Donen Films. P+D: Stanley Donen. SC: Frederick Raphael. DP: Christopher Challis. M: Henry Mancini. With Audrey Hepburn (Joanna Wallace), Albert Finney (Mark Wallace). 111 min. From: Twentieth Century Fox.
Presenta Stanley Donen
E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti

Two for the Road is a cult movie in the true sense of the word. I had never seen it before, but I can understand very well that there is a cult. This is a one-of-a-kind film full of invention. It is a comedy of modern relationships, a road movie like Rossellini's Voyage to Italy but in comedy mode. Audrey Hepburn is delightful but I don't care about Albert Finney's character. - In a good comedy there is in my opinion always also a perspective of profound sorrow (qf. It's Always Fair Weather) but I found none in this film. To my taste Stanley Donen also tries here too hard to be clever. Less would be more. - But this was the first impression, and I look forward to see Two for the Road again soon. - The print was ok, the quality of the image variable.

Cento anni fà: 1910: Programme 1: Overture

16.30 Cinema Lumière - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Bologna, 26 June 2010
Cento anni fa. 1910: Programma 1: Ouverture.

Tempo: futuro, presente, passato / Time: Future, Present, Past
BUON ANNO! (Italia/1909) PC: Ambrosio. R.: Ernesto Vaser. 104 m /18 fps/ 5 min. Dutch intertitles. From: Museo Nazionale del Cinema Torino. - Funny comedy and animation announcing the year 1910. - Good definition of light.
LA VIE INTENSE / Tommy's Race Through Life (Francia/1910) Prod.: Lux. 124 m /18 fps/ 6 min. From: BFINA. - Specialty: a whole life in accelerated motion, from the baby to the corpse.
L'ENVOL DES CHATS (Francia/1910) Prod.: Pathé. 50 m /16 fps/ 3 min. Source: 28 mm. From: AFF/CNC. - Non-fiction about cats.
SEMIRAMIS (Francia/1910) PC: Pathé. R.: Camille de Morlhon. With: Yvonne Mirval. 284 m /16 fps/ 15 min. From: National Film Center, Tokyo (Komiya Collection). - Historical tableaux, histrionic style. - Fine pochoir colour. - The drama of Babylon.

Anno di star e registi / A Year of Stars and Directors
LES FICELLES DE LÉONTINE (Francia/1910). Prod.: Pathé. 135 m /18 fps/ 7 min. From: Eye Film Institute (Amsterdam). - A chase comedy: Léontine outwits everybody with string. - Print ok.
L'ÉVADÉ DES TUILERIES (Francia/1910) PC: S.C.A.G.L. R.: Albert Capellani. 252 m /16 fps/ 14 min. - Historical drama, tableaux, in the days of the Revolution, 1793, Grace Elliott saves Champcenetz from the scaffold. - Ok print, slightly soft.
LES TIMIDITÉS DE RIGADIN / A Shy Youth (Francia/1910) PC: S.C.A.G.L. D: Georges Monca. With: Mistinguett, Charles Prince. 160 m /17 fps/ 8 min. From: National Film Center, Tokyo (Komiya Collection). - Comedy: the staff of a wealthy house throws a party. The daughter of the house (Mistinguett) dresses Rigadin in a suit of armor and gets him to sing Wagner's Lohengrin. - Ok print, tinted.

[Mediometraggi danesi/ Danish Medium-Length Films
DEN HVIDE SLAVEHANDEL (Danimarca/1910 ) R.: August Blom - this film belonged to the programme but I did not stay to see it this time]

Presenta Mariann Lewinsky
Accompagnamento al piano di Eunice Martins

The Black Watch (the ending)

14.30 Cinema Arlecchino, Bologna, 26 June 2010
THE BLACK WATCH / Suezin itäpuolella (La guardia nera, USA/1929) R.: John Ford. b.o. King of the Khyber Rifles by Talbot Mundy. DP: Joseph H. August. Cast: Victor McLaglen, Myrna Loy, Roy D'Arcy. 92' Print: MoMA. E-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti.

As my plane was two hours late I caught but the last half an hour of this screening of Ford's first all-talking film which I had never seen before. I would not have recognized John Ford as the director in this heavily expressionistic and exotic film. Ford is taking baby steps in learning to direct dialogue. A weird experience!

The legendary Khyber Pass has crucial strategic value in today's Afghanistan War. It is the main NATO supply route which the Taleban is avidly trying to choke.

Postscript: later I read from the programme notes and from Joseph McBride's book that the dialogue scenes were not directed by John Ford but by Lumsden Hare and that Ford said he felt like vomiting when he saw them. No wonder they seemed unrecognizable!

See entry 30 June 2010 for the beginning of the film.

Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 26 June - 3 July 2010

I'm on my way to the annual Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, waiting at the Munich airport. The airplane I was supposed to embark is broken, and thus I'll miss the first film, John Ford's The Black Watch. Instead I keep reading Joseph McBride's excellent book Searching for John Ford, almost 850 pages in the paperback edition I have been carrying with me during the last weeks. Today is Midsummer Holiday in Finland, and it feels unnatural to be abroad, but the Bologna festival is irresistible for serious film lovers.

IL CINEMA RITROVATO (BOLOGNA) THEMES OF 2010
1. Il primo John Ford
2. Singin' in Hollywood: incontro con Stanley Donen
3. Ritrovati & Restaurati
4. Cento anni fà: film europei del 1910
5. Alla ricerca del colore dei film
6. Senza paura, senza paragone: le donne avventurose nel cinema muto
7. Anni difficili in Italia e in Europa
8. Fellini. Dall'Italia alla luna
9. Jean-Luc Godard, compositore di cinema
10. Il progetto Napoli/Italia e il cinema dell'emigrazione
11. Albert Capellani: un cinema di grandeur
12. Progetto Chaplin: dossier Florey
13. Dossier La televisione di Alessandro Blasetti
14. Dossier Cinefilia: Omaggi a Jean Douchet, André S. Labarthe e Michel Ciment

Sunday, June 20, 2010

David Robinson (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

The Sodankylä School, 20 June 2010.

The first film you saw? Say It With Song with Al Jolson. But the first film that made a mark was Alice in Wonderland (1933) when I was 3 years old. - My brother bought the book based on the illustrations. I still have the book. W.C. Fields was great as Humpty Dumpty.

Cinemagoing in the 1930s? - You stood in line for a long time. No shows on Sunday. On Friday and Saturday the lines were long. It was a family affair. - Snow White was a huge event. Bambi influenced me most. - It was very formative. I kept a notebook, where I wrote the story.

Wartime? - The cinemas were fuller than ever - it was a wartime repertory. We loved the propaganda films. The Ministry of Information recruited good documentary directors and prepared good brochures. I collected a pile of these. It was the beginning of my collection.

You were a collector first. - I collect everything.

Your studies? - There was no such thing as film studies. There were four books such as Rotha and Lindgren. Ernest Lindgren was a strange man, a remarkable man, the founder of the science fo archiving and conservation. His doctrine is still relevant. He was very meticulous and bureaucratic with the NFT. - In FIAF, Ernest's pedantry was the opposite of Langlois' craziness. - In a strange way, FIAF never had such unified strength as then. - Otherwise I studied English literature at Cambridge. I read law.

Your first film reviews? - At Cambridge I don't remember writing very much. My very first film writing was on Chaplin for Cambridge Film Society. My father had been crazy about Chaplin since 1914, "Dummy" they called him. - I met Basil Wright, president of the Documentary Film Society. - I met Gavin Lambert, editor of Sight & Sound, and then Lindsay Anderson and Karel Reisz. The deputy editor was Penelope Houston. - From that time on I was solidly writing reviews. - I worked with Reisz programming the NFT.

Financial Times was more civilized than The Times. I couldn't review weekly now, see the six films and write about them. It would be easier to review washing machines.

Reviewing and film-making? - I was very lucky as I was in the center. There was not much space, and the two offices - Sight & Sound and the NFT were adjoining. Karel Reisz spoke the most beautiful, eloquent English. Lindsay Anderson was making commercials, shouted a great deal, "never be fair". Tony Richardson was always there. Derek Prowse. The two boys who skipped the Swiss army: Claude Goretta and Alain Tanner were filing books in the library and participating in short films. Lindsay Anderson was a tremendous activist putting the film programmes together. Free Cinema grew eventually to five programs. Tony Richardson was wonderfully pushy. It was a very good little period.

A keyword was commitment? - John Russell Taylor was speaking about taking cinema seriously. - Lindsay Anderson: Stand up! stand up! -

There was the exhibition 60 years of cinema on Trafalgar Square. Henri Langlois did a marvellous job in Paris, 1955. I was made responsible in 1956 in GB, and it was a peculiar battle. Decor by Lotte Reiniger, treasures of the Cinémathèque. Lindsay's article took this as a symbol of a useless approach to cinema.

French wave / British wave? - We all adored the films, the first program was Les Mistons and Le beau Serge. I saw them in Cannes, they were shown in Free Cinema 5. We adored the films, but we didn't care much for the writing in Cahiers du Cinéma.

The summing up of the old school - the top ten of 1952. The first top ten has permanent value. - I have participated in all of those. For my own use I've put all those together. Looking at the silent films, it hasn't changed much. They get 5% of the votes now, but the titles remain much the same.

In Pordenone we are now doing The Canon Revisited. There is a difference of meaning of the word "revisited" in English and in Italian. Some expect to see films they know. There is a sense of obligation to show the obvious.

You are a well-known critic and author of books. - The first book was Hollywood in the Twenties - then, Buster Keaton - at that time, films were lost, preserved in wrong order, wrongly identified, the book was full of mistakes - but it was the first book on his films - there was the annual Keaton congress - I edited the MK2 dvd series - and revised the book. - I have created the first Keaton gagography, but nobody will publish it.

Pars pro toto: mistakes are human. You are alert in the midst of the search.

The reviewer's job? - In the London circumstances when I started it was wonderful. It was an incredible period, and it lasted a good deal of my writing term. The editors gave me complete freedom. I put Antonioni first and Hollywood stuff at the bottom.

The newspapers wanted to tell readers things they didn't know. Now they want to confirm what people think. I loved to be different. It could be something screened at a suburb cinema.

Now they need to reflect the biggest advertisers. There is panic if your films are not in the same order as the others.

Then it was a wonderful time.

The essay? - Discussing the relevance of Keaton and Pee-Wee, or an intelligent small budget film and a big budget nothing. - You never say whether a film is good or bad. Few films are good or bad. - I couldn't go back. I couldn't do it.

The vanishing race: the film critics. - Life is not all bad. Cinema lives again. The audience -  I never encounter such an audience as here. - Monsieur Verdoux got the in Sodankylä. - Although they can't control their bottles.

Music for silents in Pordenone. - The best show in town is the masterclasses.

[I had to leave in the middle, after one hour, as the bus to the Rovaniemi airport was about to leave.]

Later I heard that David's desert islands films are: Stagecoach, and Tokyo Story.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Charles Chaplin Mutual Cinema Concert (piano: Maud Nelissen)

The Sodankylä Big Tent, 19 June 2010. Introduced by David Robinson. Grand piano: Maud Nelissen.

PC: Lone Star Corporation, for Mutual Film. D+SC: Charles Chaplin, DP: Roland Totheroh, starring Charles Chaplin, Edna Purviance, Eric Campbell.

Easy Street / Hiljainen katu. US 1917. CC opus 59.
The Cure / Luonnonparantolassa. US 1917. CC opus 60.
The Rink / Rullaluistimilla. US 1916. CC opus 58.

These films, made during "the happiest time of my life" (Chaplin), are at their best seen with a full audience - and with a good audience like that in Sodankylä. There are now good prints of these films; these prints were of used 1950s sonorized versions, and the projection light was somewhat too bright. The speed 18 fps was correct yet seemed fast, but that was probably the original idea. No matter. The reaction was great to the films and to Maud's inspired music.

Juventud em Marcha

Ossos

Bones.  PF/FR/DK 1997. PC: Madragoa Filmes / Gemini Films / Zentropa Productions / IPACA / RTP / Eurimages. P: Paolo Branco. D+SC: Pedro Costa. DP: Emmanuel Machuel. PD: Zé Branco. Cost: Isabel Favila. S: Henri Maïoff, Gérard Rousseau. ED: Jackie Bastide. CAST: Vanda Duarte, Nuno Vaz, Mariya Lipkina, Isabel Ruth, Ines de Medeiros, Miguel Sermão, Berta Susana Teixeira. 94 min. A Cinemateca Portuguesa print with English subtitles, in the presence of Pedro Costa, viewed at the Sodankylä School (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 19 June 2010.

An excellent all-photochemical print.

Pedro Costa introduced the first film of his Fontainhas cycle: "this one is easy", "it's still a film film", "it's a metaphorical film, elliptical, yet there is still too much poetry in this film, too much about myself".

A view of despair among young outsiders in the Fontainhas slum district of Lisbon. No narrative, no exposition, no psychology. Just pure, charged images. Costa, himself, stressed the importance of Emmanuel Machuel, Bresson's cinematographer. I watched 45 minutes of the film, which has to be revisited with a full presence of mind. Today, The Merry Widow music as played by Maud Nelissen's orchestra yesterday kept swelling in my mind.

Monsieur Verdoux (David Robinson Masterclass)

Pedro Costa (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

Pedro Costa in Sodankylä, 19 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen

The Sodankylä School, 19 June 2010. Pedro Costa spoke in fluent and eloquent English. He gave a brilliant and intelligent talk, making Peter's task exceptionally easy.

The first film you saw? - tom thumb, with Russ Tamblyn.
    Your childhood home? - I come from an urban, normal family of tailors, and as a child, I spent hours in my grandfather's shop.
    The neighbourhood of your childhood? - Everybody knew each other, everything you needed was there, and there I lived until I was 13-14. When my parents divorced I moved to live alone in small apartments, having small jobs.
     When I was 12, there was the revolution, and the age of dictatorship, a kind of fascism, came to an end. In 1974-1977 there was complete anarchy, it was great, and during that time I discovered the cinema. The fundamental figure for me in literature and in cinema was Jõao Benard da Costa. The streets were alive with banners, with discussion. I discovered the cinema, the music, and punk rock, everything at once. I loved John Ford (he was always a very progressive influence) and The Sex Pistols at the same time. I wanted to play the guitar. There were the wonderful films Jõao Benard was showing in 1978-1979. In the early 1980s it was still possible to see a good movie in a regular cinema. I chose film over music. I was lucky for the revolution to put things together.
    The films of your childhood? - I never went to film school, I just attended to those classes of Jõao Benard da Costa. Theory was not for us. I was an assistant in films for 7-8 years, and I progressed from 3. assistant to the 1. assistant to the director. I even participated in Hollywood productions such as The Boys from Brazil, which was shot in Portugal. I was the chauffeur to Gregory Peck. Everybody hated him. There was a crew of 400.
     My first film was O Sangue / Blood. I wrote it for years, and got financing from the television, for this story of two brothers without a family and a kidnapping. Shot in black and white, this was the film where I got rid of all my favourites, Nicholas Ray, Jacques Tourneur, Fritz Lang, The Night of the Hunter, Flannery O'Connor. But something terrible happened. The shooting was not very happy, because the collaboration with the producers didn't work at all.
    How do you feel about the name-dropping of the critics? - I'm not irritated, this is a "family film", one should name the names... including the music of Stravinsky. It was necessary to get rid of the influences, to put them aside, to find my own voice. I had to find my field of action. Sometimes it takes 30-40 films to achieve that. But for me, after this film, every film was connected in a supernatural way. Each film gives the clue, the key to open the next one.
    The next film, Casa de lava, sent me very far from home, to Cape Verde, which are islands on the coast of Africa. I needed to be completely unprotected, more afraid. I needed confrontation with reality.
    These islands represent the Portuguese subconscious. They have a very mixed population, and there has always been some sort of a Creole population.
    Portugal was a big empire. We had India. Some people still think we have Brazil. After the 1752 earthquake we lost everything. We stare at the ocean and wait for the end. We have nothing to do.
    In Africa, the Portuguese started slavery in the industrial way. We brought Christianity and guns to the colonies. We were the ones to bring guns to Japan. There are still Portuguese words in the Japanese.
    At Cape Verde I visited the place where the first model of a concentration camp existed. There were even spaces that resembled gas chambers. There was no gas, but they got so hot that people choked to death one by one. Only the strongest survived.
    These islands were uninhabited, and they were situated along the route from Senegal to Florida. It took years to cross the ocean. There were 5-10 ships in the armadas, complete with missionaries, soldiers, aristocrats, and their wives. The wifes were left at Cape Verde. Asia and Africa were considered too much for the women. Three years later the men returned.
    There were slaves from Guinea, destined to Lisbon, to Spain. The slaves were left with the womenfolk of the aristocrats. A creole nation was born, black guys with blonde hair and green eyes. They had not only Portuguese but also French ancestors.
    In a small village in Cape Verde everybody has the same name, Montrond. The village is a family. No one could figure out who his real father was. A friend told me he has 35 children. The people in the village also look like each other.
    They speak their own Creole language and they play their own Creole music. The music they play I'd never heard before.
    From then on, a lot of things happened. I brought a souvenir from Cape Verde to Lisbon and thus I discovered the Fontainhas neighbourhood where Cape Verde immigrants live. I had no reason to go outside. Now the neighbourhood no longer exists, it's been demolished, and the people are relocated into apartments and projects.
    They lose more and more, houses, tradition, themselves.
    I was forced to make cheaper films. Fontainhas became my studio: the ghetto, the slum, complete with "the studio gate" where the drug dealer on call said "good morning" to me. One could take a tour of the studio, and the actors were always dressed for the part.
   Here I learned lessons. In a very poor place money has no value. In a drug milieu there is a black market and things have strange values: one can get a gold watch for one euro.
    Fear has a lot to do with film, being afraid, being courageous, confronting things, doing the right thing.
    I couldn't bring the sophistication of cinema to that place, where people are exploited, unemployed, watched by the police, facing the crisis.
    In a ghetto everything is secret, everything is public. One must consider what one can show, from the inside, from the outside. Sometimes the rooms are more public than the streets.
    You learn about space, time, narrative.
    I'm not a person who could write a script at home. I do have to write an outline, though, to secure the funding.
    Now I'm in the middle of the shooting of a film, helped by other people. During my first film I was surrounded by 30 guys, all of whom thought "I always knew this guy is a fake". Now we have a joint responsibility, a very small structure.
    The Fontainhas of Ossos and No Quarto da Vanda took three years to demolish, and by 2005 the demolition was complete. Because of the current crisis there are more poor people than ever. Slums have been destroyed, but the existing slums are growing.
    During the first film we carried a lot of lighting equiment. I had a good friend, Emmanuel Machuel, who had worked a lot with Bresson, in L'Argent, Mouchette, Au hasard Balthazar. We brought the professional trucks, generators, and cables to the slum. It was like a big studio at night. The majority of the inhabitants were people such as construction workers and cleaning ladies, who had to go to work early in the morning, at four or five. We did a lot of night shooting, and a guy came out and said that he cannot sleep with our 10 kW floodlights. Normally, we could have paid the guy.
    But I had already felt there was something wrong. We had a quasi-military operation going on, and I already had a vague feeling that I didn't want to get out of Fontainhas.
    I told Emmanuel: "turn off the light". Emmanuel warned me against it, but we just adapted ourselves, there were no more complaints, and Emmanuel won his first award in Venice. From then on, I have used only available light, also at night.
    I have a double task: make a film and reinvent film production as we try to make films in a different way. To make a film is ridiculous, pathetic. When the film-makers take themselves seriously, it is even more pathetic.
    In the photographs of directors they are always pointing, pointing up.
    Nobody will ever again ask me "What do you want?", "Where do you want the camera?". It's a collective thing.
    It may look like a documentary, but nothing could be further.
    What is real? The elements of reality are dependent on routine. Jean-Pierre Gorin has made the film Routine Pleasures.
    Finally Emmanuel said: "You don't really need me".
    A film production is a mirror of the corruption of society. It is very close to a military operation. It is certainly very violent, a political thing.
    Eric Rohmer never visited festivals. For him, cinema was the art of realism. If you go beyond a certain point it's not cinema anymore. It's good to have this kind of limitation. If we go beyond a certain point we lose. In Juventude em Marcha we have a boy, a girl, a room, things to say, a certain light, a certain sound. They write their own dialogue.
    Film is always a revenge, that's what I think Chaplin said.
    We should have filmed in a hospital, but that was unthinkable, and the limitation opened a lot of possibilities. Qf. Mack Sennett filming in the backyard.
    Roberto Rossellini is probably the one who started the concept of inventing a chaotic situation in a stable frame. He did chaotic, irrational things. Rossellini also gave up realism and started to film philosophy, ideas.
    To make a film you have to be a bit stupid. Believing in something for five weeks is too much. We are a weak generation. The only guy I know who is really strong is Jean-Marie Straub. I don't have this power of believing. The only fantasy for me would be actually in believing in something. No one has the answer.
    I admire Aki Kaurismäki a lot. There are two tracks in his films: the world you live in - and the world you would like to live in. Aki still believes films can be made in the old way. It is not fascinating to me, but you need fascination. Erich von Stroheim [The Merry Widow was screened last night] is amazingly fascinating.
    I lost it.
    Do you have a dialogue with Nicholas Ray? Now it's more secret. When I was younger he was really here. I have a feeling our world will forget Ray, Lang, Ophuls, Ulmer.
    You do that alone in your room.
     With them, I lilke to go into the detail, read all the interviews with Allan Dwan, Raoul Walsh. Now I'm the very small things.
    Which film would you take with you to the desert island? City Lights.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Porttikoski Midnight Dance

Porttikoski 18 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen
Kari Sinisalo, Irina Krohn, AA (friends since the Solaris Film Society in Tampere in the 1970s) at Porttikoski, 18 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen

The Merry Widow (Erich von Stroheim) (film concert conducted by Maud Nelissen)

The Merry Widow (Stroheim) film concert (Maud Nelissen, Orchestra da Camera Oscura), 18 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen

The Sodankylä Tent, 18 June 2010.

Revisited Erich von Stroheim's The Merry Widow presented with music arranged and composed by Maud Nelissen based on Franz Lehár's operetta, conducted by Maud Nelissen, and performed by Orchestra da Camera Oscura.

Maud Nelissen, conductor, piano
Emma Breedveld, 1. violin
Asdis Valdismarsdottir, viola
Marc Jasper Sornsen, double bass
Merima Kljuco, accordion
Esther Kávy, 2. violin
Rebecca Smit, cello
Daphne Balvers, soprano saxophone
Louis Lanzing, trumpet
Rombout Stoffers, percussions and bells

I enjoyed Maud Nelissen's The Merry Widow cinema concert very much in Pordenone last year, and now it was even better, performed by an orchestra selected by Maud Nelissen, herself. The music is 60% Lehár, 40% Nelissen, the blend is perfect, and there is a wonderful variety of moods in the score.

The film itself gets better with repeat viewings. The basic approach is caricature, satire, grotesque, with the exception of Prince Danilo, whose character begins as a caricature, too, but gets deeper with his experiences of disappointment, loss, and sadness, very well interpreted by John Gilbert.

Although this film is an exception of light entertainment in Stroheim's career as a director, it gains in impact with such moments of gravity.

Truffaut said that Hitchcock films love scenes like murder scenes and murder scenes like love scenes. One could say that Stroheim films sex scenes as holy scenes. Even in this film, sex scenes are not profane, and even with Sally O'Hara and Baron Sadoja, the intertitle announces "Wedding night, holy night" (with irony, certainly). The chambre séparée in which Prince Danilo has invited Sally is dominated by a large crucifix, and Sally, too, the Irishwoman, wears one (the final image is a close-up of the lock...). At Maxim's the lady of the night whom Danilo meets is dressed like a nun, and the talk is serious, not frivolous (but then the lady produces a cigar...).

The music keeps playing in my mind a day afterwards, and during the Pedro Costa screenings I keep hearing the waltz rhythm... Which means I need to watch the Pedro Costa films again later in tranquillity.

35 rhums

35 Shots of Rum. FR/DE 2008. PC: Soudaine Compagnie etc. P: Karl  Baumgartner, Bruno Pésery. D: Claire Denis. SC: Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau. DP: Agnès Godard. PD: Arnaud de Moleron. S: Josefina Rodríguez, Christophe Winding. ED: Guy Lecome. CAST: Alex Descas (Lionel) Mati Diop (Joséphine), Nicole Dogue (Gabrielle), Grégoire Colin (Noé). 100 min. An Elle Driver print with English subtitles viewed at The Little Tent of Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 18 June 2010.

The print had been made via a digital intermediate but it had a lively photochemical look.

35 rhums comes highly recommended. It performed strongly on the ten best lists of the first decade, and it has been called Claire Denis' best film. It is a compact, intimate ensemble piece about the father Lionel (an African-French train conductor), his daughter Joséphine (a college student), Lionel's ex-girlfriend Gabrielle (a taxi driver), and Joséphine's admirer Noé (a drifter). The film has a fresh touch, it is lively and unexpected, and the relationships of the characters grow in depth. 35 rhums is reportedly an homage to Yasujiro Ozu's Late Spring. Lionel and Gabrielle live in Ozu-like comfortable circumstances in the 18th arrondissement of Paris.

The turning point is on an evening when the car of the protagonists is broken and they seek shelter in a Caribbean bar. The "Night Shift" dancing sequence has become justly famous.

Lionel's colleague René retires, gets depressed, and in a shocking scene, Lionel finds his corpse on the underground tracks.

The 35 shots of rum is what Lionel feels he needs to drink at his daughter's wedding with Noé.

Deux de la vague

Two in the Wave. FR (c) 2010 Films à Trois. P+D: Emmanuel Laurent. DP: Etienne de Grammont, Nick de Pencier. S: Jean Dubreuil. ED: Marie-France Cuénot. A documentary film with Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, and many of their colleagues such as Anne Wiazemsky. 91 min. Digibeta from Wide Management with English subtitles. Viewed at The Little Tent, Sodankylä, 18 June 2010.

A top documentary on the great story of la Nouvelle Vague through two of its protagonists, Godard and Truffaut, friends who became adversaries in 1973.

Terence Davies (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

Terence Davies at the Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh, 18 June 2010. Foto Laila Alanen

The Sodankylä School, 18 June 2010. Terence Davies was born in 1945.

Which was the first film you saw? - Singin' in the Rain.
Early days - I was the youngest of ten, an atmosphere of terror surrounded my father who died. After that there were happy years in a warm, loving family. - After WWII the country was bankrupt. - Ours were among the worst slums in Europe. There was often literally no money. - Charity was truly awful. - But there was a sense of community. - We had been an imperial power, and we still think we are one. - The radio was wonderful. They spoke beautiful, mesmerizing English. It was almost erotic. The weather forecasts were exotic. - I got beaten up for four years. No one had told me I had an accent. - I was lucky enough to discover Dylan Thomas and Under Milk Wood.
British comedy - Margaret Rutherford did a lot of comedies. - British comedies were the main pictures. - Victoria Wood. - Comedy is the most difficult to export. In translation, the first casualty is humour. - Joan Greenwood. - Alec Guinness, based on inexpressiveness, he can also be very dull (A Passage to India).
Music - For me it was popular music for most of the time. - Sammy Davis, Jr, - Cole Porter was still alive - then came the dreadful pop singers, The Beatles was awful - classical music was a revelation.
Your road to film - I visited the drama school, and applied to the film school, which saved my life - I knew that this is what I want to do. - Alexander Mackendrick came and saw a rough cut of Madonna and Child - He taught a class on The Third Man - you'd seen it but never looked - the eyelines - crossing the lines - the invisible line.
The Long Day Closes (the beginning screened) - Roses slowly decay: from T.S. Eliot - the banal Boccherini menuet is from The Ladykillers - The Robe: 20th Century Fox fanfare - Alec Guinness - Margaret Rutherford - Stardust - echoes of the people that lived there
People greeting us - there is melancholy, remembering I loved that street - a child's eyes at the age of ten - Dante: there is nothing more terrible than the recollection of happiness in tranquillity - I am now more aware of mortality - my mother died 13 years ago - musical allusions: Stardust, Firebird, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee "I only miss him when I think of him / and I think of him all the time"
Distant Voices. Still Lives - was made with a very small amount of money - bleaching out silver nitrate - warm up with sepia filter - to catch a certain texture - the wallpaper with the little rosebuds - took me back to my childhood instantly - after The Long Day Closes I never had final cut - it was exhausting to fight for the cut, to fight for the poster
Painting - Vermeer - Liverpool Art Gallery - I don't know academic painting - I do look all the time - abroad I love to listen to people - Distant Voices. Still Lives was a succees - made no difference at all in Hollywood - the phone never rang
The House of Mirth - there was a play based on Edith Wharton's novel - Americans want tragedy with a happy ending - "why has she got to die" - "it's really complex" - Americans don't eat properly, they are not allowed to drink coffee - depressing with the awful lunches
Distant Voices - T.S. Eliot: children laughing in the shrubbery
Still Lives - don't act - if you be it's much more interesting - words that are meant stop being manneristic - I can detect mannerism with my eyes closed
Victim - Dirk Bogarde - when homosexuality was against the law
Carrie - Laurence Olivier's suicide scene - when Olivier underplays he's very good - The Entertainer is wonderful
Distant Voices. Still Lives: private moments intensified - the poetry of the ordinary, as in Chekhov - people sang in those days - be truthful to what you remember - we did a lot of tests for that bleached bi-pack process
The Long Day Closes: we had 46 items of music
My private life is dull. I don't go out much.
The colour of the furniture from the 1920: dark, polished mahogany - depressing, awful - awful furniture - it had to last - rooms almost Victorian - suffocating - generally dark
You present moments that are trivial and sublime at the same time, high moments in everyday life - Small things are big - the rhythm of life was slower - it could be measured with the cycle of the curtains, as there was only one set of them, and Wednesday was the washing day -
Cinema is wonderful - British comedies - Love Is a Many Splendored Thing: everyone was crying - All That Heaven Allows, Magnificent Obsession: I believed it was absolutely true, very profound - cinema was like religion, we were much more naive then - Doris Day in Young at Heart: everything was beautiful, the kitchens were very big - Jay Robinson in The Robe - now they have no idea how to frame, no close-ups
What about Sibelius - The symphonies, the songs, the two part documentary on Sibelius - the last five beats of the 5. Symphony - Salonen, Saraste - Colin Davis: couldn't listen to it - Sibelius is a giant - I couldn't live without Bruckner, Sibelius, Shostakovich
Excerpt of Of Time and the City - in 8 years I just couldn't get any work - it is embarrasing to see a British actor with a gun
Poetry - it gives me solace - I don't like being gay, it's ruining my life - poetry, music and work keep me going - I couldn't live without The Four Quartets (T.S. Eliot), Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare: they are balm to my soul - John Beechman's Love Song
You are not easy to classify - the problem is always money
Do you have soulmates? - no, never, I was always an outsider - I look like an accountant - I don't like sex - I don't like rock, or drugs - what's left?
How about the older generation? - Robert Hamer: It Always Rains on Sunday - Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen - Kurosawa, Ozu: always one or two films - Hitchcock's Psycho is not frightening, it's disquieting: when Vera Miles goes to Bates' room: an object can be terrifying
Which film would you take to the desert island? - Kind Hearts and Coronets

Thursday, June 17, 2010

No Quarto da Vanda

The General (Five Corners Quintet Cinema Concert)

For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

US (c) 2008 AG Films. P: Sharon Brooks, Amy Geller. D+SC: Gerald Peary. DP: Craig Chivers, Amy Geller, Nick Kurzon, Ed Slattery. M: Bobby B. Keyes. S: Jason O'Neill. ED: Aleksandar Sasha Lekic, Sabrina Zanella-Foresi. Narrator: Patricia Clarkson. With: Jami Bernard, the voice of Vincent Canby, Richard Corliss, David D'Arcy, Roger Ebert, Otis Ferguson, Owen Gleiberman, Molly Haskell, J. Hoberman, Harlan Jacobson, Stanley Kauffmann, Stuart Klawans, Harry Jay Knowles, Karina Longworth, Leonard Maltin, Janet Maslin, Elvis Mitchell, Wesley Morris, Lisa Nesselson, John Powers, Rex Reed, B. Ruby Rich, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Andrew Sarris, Richard Schickel, Lisa Schwarzbaum, A.O. Scott, David Sterritt, Mike Szymanski, Kenneth Turan, Scott Weinberg, Michael Wilmington. Digibeta from Gerald Peary. Viewed on 17 June 2010 at the Little Tent, Sodankylä.

An outstanding documentary film on American film criticism. It is a rise-and-fall story.

1. The Dawn of Film Criticism
2. 1930-1953 Cult Critics and Crowther
3. 1954-1974 Auteurism and After
4. 1968-1980 When Criticism Mattered
5. 1975-1995 TV, Fans, and Videotape
6. The Present

Recognizing the emergence of the cinema as a key moment in the history of human consciousness (Vachel Lindsay). Robert Sherwood was the first film critic to enjoy fame and glory. The early intellectuals in film criticism included Harry Alan Potamkin, Otis Ferguson, Manny Farber, James Agee. In the 1960s Andrew Sarris wrote "The Book" and Pauline Kael put the sting back into the writing. 1968-1980 were the golden years. The biggest change has taken place since the 1990s, as we have entered the age of do-it-yourself criticism in the internet. We are experiencing the downfall of the print media, and the great critics are getting fired.

Of Time and the City

GB 2008.

The Big Heat (Bernard Eisenschitz Masterclass)

Sodankylä ikuisesti

Pojat

Vesa-Matti Loiri (Sodankylä Morning Discussion with Peter von Bagh)

The Sodankylä School, 17 June 2010. Vesa-Matti Loiri (born 1945) is a beloved Finnish actor, singer, flautist, sportsman, and comedian. There was standing room only at the school hall. Loiri performed with a hundred per cent presence.

Which was the first film you saw? - Early influences include Kaunis Veera with Assi Nortia, Gunga Din, Harold Lloyd - later Ansiktet and Shichinin no samurai.
Early days - After the war it was a time when everything was scarce. I loved the sports, all kinds of them, running, football, in the winter hockey, but football was the main sport. - A favourite book of my youth was a collection of Eino Leino's poems, Smiling Apollo.
The theater school. - It was deemed that my "voice is all rotten". Aatto Sonninen the voice specialist taught me the yoga breathing technique.
Pojat (The Boys, 1962). - Telepathically, I had already read the novel and dreamed about being able to play in that story. - Mikko Niskanen was worried that the film won't succeed if he doesn't find the proper Jake.
How was Mikko Niskanen? - Mikko was boss, the team was great, we had an almost onomatopoietic mutual respect - we sometimes didn't even use real words but something barely resembling words.
You are a team player. - I never set to become a star. In the theater, in films, in sports, in music, I am a team player, a band player. - Spede (Pertti Pasanen) stole me for himself. - It was bitter that my collaboration with Mikko didn't continue. The reason was my greed.
Lapualaisooppera (The Lapua Opera, 1966), directed by Kalle Holmberg, with Loiri as Kosola. - We worked together a lot with Kalle, crossed thresholds of shyness. The team spirit was incredible. - In Sweden at the Dramaten people like Jarl Kulle were scared because of our force. - In The Seven Brothers the question was to reinvent the freshness. You can get stuck (leipääntyä) in some phase of your evolution. - Theatre in Sweden, including Ingmar Bergman's, was at the time light boulevard comedy.
There was a rupture - you found the comedian inside you. - I grew first in the army, 14 cm in 3 months. - On television, at Jatkoaika, and at Mainostelevisio with Pekka Parikka, I got to act comedy. I got bit parts with Spede, but I managed to magnify them. With a couple of exceptions Spede was ambitious before the Uuno Turhapuro films.
Models? - I had two: Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton.
Uuno Turhapuro. - Was born out of a tv sketch about a couple quarreling about a lotto prize which hasn't even been won yet. - At best it was a hell of a good team, like Paul Jyrälä, Kari Sohlberg. It was fun to do. - With Spede, he wanted to be the hero. With me, Spede withdrew. I sensed that he would have liked to play Uuno, himself. - Uuno was like a radio transmitter which receives signals.
Turku City Theatre, four years. - We played The Seven Brothers 60 times.
There was no schitzophrenia with playing Uuno and the classics during the same years.
A good comedian knows tragedy, but it is not the other way round. - You can compare that with a talent of music. - The actor must stand behind his role. - It was tough with Brecht, Kosola: I wanted to create characters you can understand. - The comedian sees the sore spot.
Ere Kokkonen. - Ere got me to do comedy, really going, starting with Noin 7 veljestä. - Jussi Pussi: Ere also wanted to do another kind of movie. - Ere was inspiring, jovial, wonderful. - Ere was avid for contests but a bad loser. - The Uuno gear is a variation on Finnish sports and army wear, all run down. - Uuno Turhapuro This Is My Life was based on the insight of Ere, the continuity and the emphases, inherited from the world of Tarkas.
Jaakko Pakkasvirta and Pedon merkki. - Jaska is a remarkable director, I digged him a lot.
You are assigned the scenes of fragility, of facing death. - Jaska had trust. He saw the sensitivity in the same way as Mikko. The shamanism. - Films have been made with low budgets here.
Jon cannot be shown because of the rights trouble. - One of my very dearest film roles. He could be Jake who has grown up.
Rakastunut rampa. - Was a disappointment.
Ulvova mylläri - Arto Paasilinna is quite a guy.
Rauta-aika. - I met Paavo Haavikko quite often. I played Ilmari the blacksmith. The text was difficult: the main sentence terms (in Finnish subjekti, predikaatti) were missing, the dialogue was ultra-laconic, but when we got it, we went on with it even during the breaks. Had nothing to do with the Kalevala. Haavikko was a hell of a bright guy.
You have a unique live lift in your concerts. - It is shamanism. - Light is important, it must not be too bright: I want to see the audience, exactly like this. - I keep waging a small fight about the lighting. - I got to speak for the Finnish hockey team when Curt Lindström was the coach, about exposing yourself, what you prefer to do best, you have been selected to a small team, facing a unique audience, each situation, each time is different. - Once during a concert I realized I started to glance at the watch, think what I'm going to have for dinner and count how many songs are left. Then I decided that if that ever happens again I have no right to go on doing this. If I'm not totally involved, seeing the uniqueness, when the audience has come just to see me.
Exposure. - Making a film, it's a jigsaw puzzle, you need to withhold a certain trait. - The actor needs to be active. You need to know what the camera distance is. I create the spectator on both sides of the camera. I think I know quite a lot about how the shot must be concluded. Kari Sohlberg realizes this. - It would be terrible if there would be no live audience. - I have been incredibly lucky. - About a hundred guys auditioned for Pojat.
Which Finnish folk song does the audience evoke in you? - Tääll' yksinäni laulelen [Here I sing alone].
Which film would you take to the desert island? - Rashomon.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lebanon

IL/FR/GB (c) 2009 Ariel Films [total six production companies]. P: Anat Bikel etc. D+SC: Samuel Maoz. DP: Giora Bejach - shot on Super 16 mm (Kodak Vision2 200T 7217) and Redcode RAW - camera: Arriflex 16 SR3 Evolution, Zeiss Ultra Prime Lenses, Red One Camera, Zeiss Ultra Prime Lenses - source format Redcode RAW (4K) - master format: Digital Intermediate (2K) - laboratory: CinePostproduction Geyer Berlin, Germany - printed film format 35 mm (Kodak Vision 2383) - 1,85:1. M: Nicolas Becker, Benoît Delbecq. S: Alex Claude, David Lis, Oded Ringerl. ED: Arik Leibovitch. CAST: Yoav Donat (Shmulik), Michael Moshonov (Yigal), Oshri Cohen (Herzl), Itay Taran (Assi). 94 min. An Atlantic Film print with English subtitles by Joanna Maoz. In the presence of Samuel Maoz. Viewed in Cinema Lapinsuu, Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 16 June 2010.

Digital look, which is not annoying except in the opening and closing images of sunflowers, which look like plastic.

Samuel Maoz tells his personal story as a tank soldier in the Lebanon War of 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon to stop PLO attacks from that country. The concept is strong: we only see inside the tank or from the tank. This gives the film a unique visuality from the soldier's perspective: the chaos, the madness, the fragmentation, the shocking details. This is a film based on close-ups, extreme close-ups and the limited information of the gunsight. Bolder than Samuel Fuller's films like The Steel Helmet and similar in approach to Wolfgang Petersen's Das Boot. Like in Petersen's film, the sound design is excellent, conveying powerfully the circumstances that remain invisible.

In the discussion, Samuel Maoz stated that this film is true, only the actual war was worse. Although co-financed by Israeli funds there was no political pressure, as Israel is a free country. Maoz commented on the generational differences in Israel: the immigrant generations had no hesitations about the Lebanon War, but younger generations thought differently.

Midnight Sun Film Festival Opening Ceremony

Peter von Bagh introduced
- Anssi Mänttäri, father of the idea of founding an international film festival in Sodankylä in November 1985 - the first festival took place in June 1986.
- Terence Davies, present for the opening film of the festival, Distant Voices, Still Lives.
- Finnish guests: Vesa-Matti Loiri, Kari Väänänen, Ville Virtanen, Saara Cantell, Mika Hotakainen, Asko Vaarala...
- for the masterclasses: Bernard Eisenschitz, David Robinson

Copie conforme

Certified Copy / Iltapäivä Toscanassa. FR/IT/IR 2010 (c) 2009 MK2 Productions, Abbas Kiarostami Productions, BiBi Film, etc. P: Abbas Kiarostami, Marin Karmitz, etc. D+SC: Abbas Kiarostami. DP: Luca Bigazzi - shot on digital RED 4K. S: Dominique Vieillard. ED: Bahman Kiarostami. LOC: Tuscany (Italy). CAST: Juliette Binoche (Elle), William Shimell (James Miller). 106 min. In English, French, and Italian. A MK2 35mm print with English subtitles by Massoumeh Lahidji. Viewed at Cinema Lapinsuu at Sodankylä (Midnight Sun Film Festival), 16 June 2010.

Digital video look.

A major Abbas Kiarostami road movie set in Italy. A man promoting his new book called Certified Copy meets a woman in Tuscany, they take a ride in her car to the idyllic town of Lucignano, and gradually we realize that they are husband and wife, who have been married for 15 years, and the destination is their honeymoon room, but the man has been seriously estranged from the woman played by Juliette Binoche. This is a play for two human beings, constantly on the move, with intelligent conversation on the authenticity of art, and with a succession of reflections both in the literal and in the metaphoric sense. The screenplay would be worth reading, and the film will reward repeat viewings.

The visual composition of the film is excellent, but I deplore the loss of the quality of light and richness of colour because of the digital video origins. Kiarostami is a champion of the digital video, but how much finer this celebration of Tuscany beauty would be if it had been photographed on 35 mm film.

P.S.: Copie conforme was much discussed in Sodankylä, and most felt that the man and the woman were strangers who were playing an odd game with one another. But Yrjö and Pirjo Pulkkinen who saw the film twice in Sodankylä found in the second screening more clues that indicated that they were or had been married.

P.S. 7 Aug 2010: in the Sight and Sound, September 2010 issue there is a lot of material on Copie conforme, including interviews and a (pretty negative) review. There is a reality basis to Copie conforme, an experience of Kiarostami, himself: they are strangers who play a game. But Kiarostami, himself, accepts that the film can be interpreted in two ways.

P.S. 22 May 2011: I just read the review by Kari Salminen "A Work of Art Is an Authentic Copy" (Turun Sanomat, 18 March 2011), an excellent crystallization of the Kiarostami mystery. The opening half-an-hour lecture is the exposition of the theme, and the rest of the film is a playful dramatization of relationships in the Rossellini-Antonioni tradition. The man and the woman play their roles so well that they are about to believe in them. Everything in the movie is a copy, but it is a certified copy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Helsinki Samba Carnaval 20th Anniversary (pageant)

Today is Helsinki Day, and one of the main events is the Helsinki Samba Carneval, now celebrating its 20th Anniversary. It may sound strange that there is such a thing, but it really is a high profile event with elaborate and extravagant dresses and well rehearsed music and dance performances. It's like a moving musical with a variety of Brazilian music and dance styles and "production numbers". Tango became a vital part of Finnish popular culture a hundred years ago, there is now a serious Finnish flamenco culture... why not the samba? There were a thousand dancers in the pageant, with several samba schools on display.

The Helsinki Samba Carneval is like an explosion of colour and vitality, and it is located between two of our ancient pagan holidays, the First of May ("the spring awakening"), and the Midsummer Holiday ("the midnight sun"). In our country we have a long dull early spring and a long dull late autumn, and maybe we deserve to party more.

I ordered a café au lait and a piece of rhubarb pie and sat down at an outdoor table at the Café Esplanade and managed to read a bit of Joseph McBride's magnificent John Ford biography before the pageant started to appear. What a gorgeous show! I find it exciting to contemplate that these proud and daring showgirls of all ages do this for fun besides their serious and demanding responsibilities at their jobs and their homes. Some of the outfits leave practically nothing to the imagination, and the women were all smile, happy and self-confident about who they are. Yes, there are equal numbers of men in the pageant, but the women are the stars without any doubt.

Yesterday it started to rain, and by noon there was a strong wind. It was a "blustery day" like in the Winnie the Pooh story (15 meters per second, I heard later). I felt sorry for the samba folks in advance, but they didn't seem to freeze, on the contrary! Even the sun started to shine during the pageant as if a sun dance had been successfully performed. After the show the clouds and the rain returned.

My favourite was the candomblé company. The rhythm section (all men) had a powerful touch, drilled by a merciless conductor. The women wore bright red and orange colours, the wind hit their feathers hard, and as the rhythm section built speed, the women shook their hips faster. They wore flimsy tangas. This ensemble represented "the united colours of Brazil", and probably several of them were native Brazilians.

There are several good films about Brazilian music, including The Black Orpheus (Orfeu do Carnaval / Orfeu negro), and Mika Kaurismäki's documentary trilogy Moro no Brasil, Brasileirinho, and Sonic Mirror. I don't remember now if I have heard in any of them the candomblé rhythm. It's primordial, atavistic, like a shot of pure spirit. Since I heard it for the first time, it has been impossible for me to forget it. It comes probably from Africa, and for me, it has become "the call of Africa". In the cinema, I have seen one performer with a similar spirit, not from the world of samba: Carmen Amaya, the queen of the flamenco.

One more samba association has to do with Barack Obama. In his excellent book Dreams from My Father he gives an account of one of the most embarrassing moments in his life: when he went to see his mother's favourite film - The Black Orpheus - he realized that this was the film that had inspired his white mother to fall in love with a black man. There is also another film connection in his book. Barack Obama reports that the movie he took Michelle to see on their first date was Do the Right Thing.