Cities of the Night

I’m doing something very un-Scottish — skipping out on a film festival I don’t have to pay for (Edinburgh) to attend a festival I do have to pay for (Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna). Though the latter is astonishingly good value. And I’m addicted to it. Means I have to somehow earn enough to attend it annually for the rest of my life. I wish there was any remote prospect of doing the same for Telluride.

I don’t even have a program for Bologna, but it’s sure to be good. Not that Edinburgh isn’t, with some juicy retrospectives and masterclasses, my favourite stuff since I’m less besotted with new movies than old (there, I finally admitted it! Feels good… feels CLEAN.)

Cannes was late this year, it’s just been explained to me by fest director Mark Adams, which has pushed a lot of fests back, including Edinburgh, resulting in a big overlap with Bologna, which has stayed put. Although, if they were to move it to a slightly less sizzling time of year, I wouldn’t be against that. The air conditioning in those cinemas really can’t cope with a standing-room-only audience, so you get people falling asleep, numbed by the heat, during movies they’ve waited all their lives to see. And since I never sleep very well away from home, that’s likely to be my fate. During my first visit to Cinema Ritrovato, I sat down to enjoy an early Japanese talkie, blinked, and when my eyes opened, it was the end credits.

Last year, the heat was so intense Fiona literally melted into a puddle on arrival, and was only reconstituted by the hotel air conditioning. This year my hotel doesn’t even have air con, as I’m saving money, and Fiona’s not coming. Last year I got something resembling trench foot, brought on by the sweltering conditions. My foot looked like Baron Harkonnen. And not the TV version.

So Fiona’s getting left behind. Keep an eye on her, and if she’s lonely, take her to a movie, you and Barbara.


The deal was, she gets a tablet and a new cat (Momo, pictured) and I get to go to Bologna. Not sure what’ll happen next year.

So… the original, silent version of PRIX DE BEAUTE, in an Augusto Gennino retrospective. RIVER OF NO RETURN on the big screen ought to be pretty overwhelming. STEAMBOAT BILL JNR (co-starring Edinburgh man Ernest Torrence). Marion Davies in THE PATSY, which I missed this year at Bo’ness. JOHNNY GUITAR. More treasures from the Universal vaults (the Laemmle years). Sjostrom, Stiller, Borzage, Gance, Protazanov, Wiene, all from 100 years ago.

Update! The program is OUT!

And I had totally forgotten that heartbreaking feeling of two screenings being on opposite each other…

12 Responses to “Cities of the Night”

  1. Two screenings? I already have triple-clashes in my schedule and that’s only because some of the films are still obscure to me. Hoping the catalogue PDF is released soon, although I too am currently trying to earn enough to pay for the trip so don’t need distractions! See you in the piazzas.

  2. See you in a few days, then, caffeined to the eyeballs and ready to roll. I try and keep it below 12 shots of espresso on a busy day of silents, and avoid alcohol until after the last screening of the day. I may be gibbering, but nothing new there…. :)

  3. Have fun–and stay awake!

    –Jealous in America

  4. Yes, I’m finding triple clashes too. Maybe the rule has to be “see the Universals and then whatever else you can…”?

  5. expect boos for the title sequence of RIVER OF NO RETURN … I had a good laugh with Stanley Rubin about that.

  6. Ooh… now I’m intrigued… a restoration cock-up?

  7. “See the Universals and then whatever else you can … ” Yes, that will guarantee joy, but the more i look the more I lean towards the harder-to-see stuff. No one said it would be easy …

  8. jwarthen Says:

    By all means, if you’ve never seen Kautner’s UNDER THE BRIDGES, I think you’ll want to. Its very existence is a provocation– I’d love to read your commentary.

  9. I second the recommendation of UNDER THE BRIDGES. A lovely film.

  10. Those Universals are all super-hard-to-see! Even bootleg…

    I was very keen on under the Bridges but it clashes with several other things… and I do have a video copy of it… we’ll see… in the event I’ll probably be asleep…

  11. Oh, no secret, and not technical. Mitchum (I think it’s him) commits a crime against the Sierra Club … Fells a big tree, and then just walks away from his gratuitous ‘crime.’

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