Archive for For a Few Dollars More

Giovedi 27

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2019 by dcairns

So, yesterday, as I mentioned yesterday, I got up late and saw INDISCREET — it was a close-run thing, though. One gets used to being able to squeeze into any screening, even nabbing the last seats in the house (we haven’t been forced to stand this year, and in the current heatwave it’s doubtful we could pull it off). But there was a big crowd gathered outside the Arlecchino and it seemed all to possible that the audience for MOULIN ROUGE, the previous screening, might all stay in their seats rather than brave the solar barrage. But it was OK.

The movie was slow going at first — what seemed like an hour of expository set-up of the “After all, you’re a famous actress!” variety, a rather stodgy play opened out, rendering it stodgier. But then the plot kicks in and the laughs start coming thick and fast, and anyway, we have Cary and Ingrid to look at. Cary’s entrance is a good bit of “female gaze” filmmaking, with the camera simply feasting its eyes on him while the music soars. And we get Maurice Binder titles, too, though without the customary nude silhouettes cavorting.

We once asked the great Bond film production designer about Binder. “Maurice Binder was a very nice man, who liked, very much, to photograph naked women in silhouette,” he said.

On to THE BRAVADOS, in an incredibly pristine Cinemascope print — it started and I thought it was a DCP, and then the projectionist had to adjust the framing. A vivid blue Technicolor day-for-night sky with a silhouetted Gregory Peckory riding against it and slashed red titles superimposed.

Fantastic Mexican locations and you can see where Leone nicked some of his ideas for FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (also playing in Bologna) — Lee Van Cleef even plays a major-ish role. Peck is good early on, his natural stoicism turned into a more interesting noirish intransigence. At the end, having taken a revenge which didn’t satisfy and left him morally compromised, he visits the spiritual laundromat — a nice big Mexican church, and emerges SMILING, an appalling choice by Peck which confirms his tendency — demonstrated also in PORK CHOP HILL — to screw up endings with banal, platitudinous decisions. A well-poisoner.

We stayed in our seats — the sweltering heat was such we’d have had trouble leaving them — and saw COLLEGE, beautifully accompanied by Neil Brand on the piano, the only thing in the room capable of being upright. Fiona thought she’d never seen it before, and relished all the footage of Buster in shorts.

Then we ate and dragged our sodden carcasses to the Piazza Maggiore to see THE CIRCUS, which I don’t believe I’d ever seen from beginning to end, and certainly not in such a magnificent restoration — watch for a Blu-ray soon — in such a setting, under the stars. Timothy Brock conducted Chaplin’s score, and afterwards we all discussed our favourite bits over ice-cream. It wasn’t elevated film criticism, it was just “The monkeys!” and “The piglets!” and “The lion — and the little dog!”

A better film than I’d expected, even as a Chaplin fan — I’d been too influenced by Walter Kerr, who objected to the premise of the accidental clown. I think perhaps the true significance of the tramp’s success in the ring is that he’s only funny when his clowning HAS NARRATIVE CONTEXT.

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Best-Laid Plans

Posted in FILM with tags , , on June 21, 2019 by dcairns

Bologna!

The only thing I managed to take in today, except for some excellent lasagna, pizza and affogato, was SEGRETARIE – UNA VITA PER IL CINEMA, a zippy, light and charming documentary portrait of six secretary/PAs in the heady world of Italian sixties cinema. Working for men like De Laurentiis and Fellini, they survived in a sexist business and kept their integrity.

But, having stayed up all night to catch a very early flight, I was nodding off so had to skip out on UN FRANCAIS NOMME GABIN and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. This festival is full of such regrets, but immortal moments abound also.

Tomorrow I have to make a tough choice between PEPE LE MOKO and Franju’s NOTRE DAME, CATHEDRAL DE PARIS, but after that my choices are practically written for me. More on how this plays out, later…

The Plan

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on June 20, 2019 by dcairns

So, Edinburgh International Film Festival is just starting but we cannot attend! Today, critic and lady novelist Anne Billson arrives from the continent to flat-sit, cat-sit and attend on our behalf — interested parties can see and hear her in The Science of Scary panel discussion.

We jet off for Bologna first thing, or slightly before first thing, tomorrow morning. The fest there, Il Cinema Ritrovato, does not get started properly until Saturday, but on the Friday we have the opportunity to see a new documentary about Jean Gabin, and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, newly restored. I’m hoping it’ll have the correct poster-paint blue skies and the mismatched dusk shots at the end will be lovingly preserved.

But I’m also tempted by a documentary about six P.A.’s from the glory days of Italian cinema — already this festival is offering tantalising choices!