Archive for Fellini

“I said to him, You’re full of shit, Federico.”

Posted in FILM with tags , on April 21, 2022 by dcairns

One of the more memorable lines from today’s interview, which was a joy. We got four hours of great material — a (long) feature film shot in a day.

Now to edit it!

(I should make clear that my interviewee is a huge admirer of Fellini, despite the above.)

9) Palermo – Bolognini

Posted in FILM, Painting with tags , , , , on April 6, 2022 by dcairns

There are only so many strategies for filming and talking about cities, I guess, so it’s not too surprising that Mauro Bolognini’s profile of Palermo for 12 REGISTI A 12 CITTA’ repeats a few tropes, notably the opera music and helicopter shots we’ve just heard and seen in Francesco Rosi’s episode. However, these are joined by a voice-over which does what I’d been wishing the earlier narrations had done — it brings a poetic sensibility, or at least an emotional approach, to the recitation of facts —

There’s immediately a refreshing sense that our response to the voice-over man’s musings will not be “Right, uh-huh, okay,” but “What? Oh? Really?” We are stirred out of our passive tourist consumption of information. I use the Royal Pauline We here, and I must stop myself.

Helicopter shots are a little hard to edit, since they don’t have natural starts and finishes. Some of Bolognini’s cuts are a little ragged. The best thing you can do is keep the momentum of one shot going in the next — this little movie, like Antonioni’s installment, kind of resembles MARIENBAD in the way it does this — and I note that Alain Resnais made his masterpiece off the back of short documentaries like this one which often profiled particular locations. So it’s easyish to cut from one chopper view to another, but how do you get out of that cycle? Assuming you don’t want the whole film to be whirlybird stuff.

“The bell tower of Martorana, the Saracen domes, reminds us of the great conquests of a forgotten Sicily.” Now Bolognini’s narration is using the “we” too. An easy and manipulative trap to fall into. In the talk of torture chambers and the auto-da-fe, the VO does seem to echo Resnais’ conjuring of past horrors with unoccupied location shots in NIGHT AND FOG.

Some of the Steadicam glides through colonnades here are extremely beautiful. The Steadicam is a bit like the helicopter except you can bring it to a halt, so long as you cut away fast before it starts floating up and down…

Unlike his predecessors, Bolognini references the cinema in his VO — the locations have found their way into Visconti’s THE LEOPARD, and have thus acquired an additional, shadow existence, a narrative significance unintended by their architects. Fellini said he was often surprised that the Trevi Fountain continued to exist after fulfilling its role in LA DOLCE VITA. He expected it to be torn down like his other sets at Cinecitta.

Like Rosi, Bolognini gets some nifty effects from juxtaposing art and life, showing how the city’s activities, which inspired the work of painters from the renaissance to the twentieth century’s Renato Guttuso (who had just died back in 1987), are still going on today, with the soundtrack of market cries blending art and life together.

But Bolognini, like Antonioni, seems happier in the past (and avoiding the football), so the thread he follows takes him back to magnificent architecture.

7) Milano – Olmi

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , on March 24, 2022 by dcairns

So far, with 12 REGISTI A 12 CITTA’, I’ve been fairly familiar with the filmmakers concerned, though in one case, Lattuada’s, I’ve kind of seen the wrong films. I could stand seeing more Antonioni and Wertmuller too, if I’m honest (which you shouldn’t expect). But Ermanno Olmi is essentially a stranger to me. I remember THE LEGEND OF THE HOLY DRINKER coming out. I have heard of THE TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS. I have seen nothing.

On the other hand, I’ve been to Milan a couple of times. The Milano Film Festival was kind enough to show my short CRY FOR BOBO I think *three* times over three different years. One of those screenings was the best I ever attended. And I walked around the city a fair bit.

Gentle plashing. Fade up: a barge travelling down a canal, foliage pressing in on all sides. A sense of heat.

A crenellated fort suddenly looms. Music! (Verdi.) Halberds! Armour! (Including horse armour, the best kind.) All filmed with gliding tracking shots as if the barge had somehow sailed into this feudal hall and we were passing the various exhibits, our prow cutting smoothly through the flagstones as though they were water. An idea borrowed, I think, from Fellini’s magical use of the train at the end of I VITELLONI.

Etchings are mixed in too — the opera will be a framing device, returning at the end of the film. The etchings give the history of the city. One particularly nice dissolve permits a drawing of a boat to traverse a real canal.

Like Antonioni, Olmi has decided that camera movement is a good way to approach a city. You have a sculptural object that’s not on a human scale. You want to show it in three dimensions. Moving the camera through it or by it is the way to go.

The one time I made it to Milan Cathedral it was covered in plastic, I seem to recall. Bloody Christo, he gets everywhere.

Olmi then motivates further camera movement by focussing on a bride being driven to her weddings, and her POV showing necking couples in the park. La Traviata as accompaniment. I well remember that big fort. A female filmmaker told me she was warned that if you walked there in the evening, men would approach and ask for oral sex, but if you told them you didn’t understand they would go away. I didn’t have that problem, but would definitely not have understood anyway.

I remember the spectacular galleria too. Olmi shoots it with an impressive low angle tracking shot, two cops providing scale.

Olmi’s phantom ride sweeps through restaurants (the chandeliers lighting up as we pass) and art galleries, pitching up in the late nineteenth century or very early twentieth century (the past: so much more comfortable than the future). It’s continuously mysterious, this series: how some filmmakers got such lavish production values into their shorts, while others just shot documentary type coverage. Maybe period costumes are much cheaper in Italy, so that Zeffirelli and Olmi could hire in great shipments just by foregoing the pleasure of a helicopter view. Olmi’s view of the past is very lively and light. You do want to go there.

We end, naturally enough, in the opera house, credits rising over a closed curtain. Rather lovely — I ought to see some more Olmi, obviously.