Archive for Marie Epstein

The Sunday Intertitle: She’s not there

Posted in FILM with tags , , on August 21, 2016 by dcairns

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Our hero looks at the telephone (a gleaming, seductive thing of metallic curves).

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I like the mental leap: telephone = woman. Because he can use the phone to call her, obviously. Because women like telephones. Because women are like telephones?

This odd train of thought may be emerging because I’m half-asleep, or because Jean Epstein and his writer/sister Marie has just given us an eccentric scene where the hero shows his servants how he got a traffic ticket, by reconstructing the incident with upturned chairs and cutaways to jolting jalopies and a stern policeman. Unconventional film syntax is already upon us.

Then I realize that the hero was looking at the telephone because it was RINGING. And he thinks ELLE! because he’s been hoping/expecting a call from that special person. It’s a silent movie, so we don’t hear the ring, and I’m half-asleep so my brain doesn’t make the required leap when he suddenly looks at the telephone.

Although, when we eventually meet her… she does look a bit like a telephone.

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Oh, the film? SIX ET DEMI ONZE (1927).

 

The Sunday Intertitle: That Man

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , on July 17, 2016 by dcairns

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And on top of her work, Marie suffers the attentions of that man who inspires terror in her.

Thinking of a friend caught in an abusive relationship. I say “caught” — of course, the door is wide open, but she doesn’t see it.

Images from COEUR FIDELE, shown in Bologna as part of their Marie Epstein season — the multi-talented Marie co-wrote and co-stars in COEUR FIDELE for her brother Jean, which I wrote about at length here. But there’s more to be said about the Bologna experience.

The film was projected in the Piazzetta Pier Paolo Pasolini, on a carbon arc projector, making for an authentic silent movie screening experience. The thrills of this are manifold — you get the excitement of watching poisonous fumes billowing from the projector, all lit up like the steam from a locomotive in some version of ANNA KARENINA, only more toxic (so the screening must be outdoors — they just didn’t bother about things like poison gas in the old days). And the light from the carbon arc has a different quality — more silvery? And the DARK has a different quality too — more velvety.

Seeing Jean Epstein’s film projected enhances its striking modernity too — not just the Lynchian montages, all double exposure phantasie — but the big closeups. With a pristine print from the Cinematheque Francaise, every dancing grain feels uniquely PRESENT, and every pore on an actor’s face appears in relief. In a sense, it feels like the film was shot yesterday. In a sense it feels LIVE.

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It’s necessary to book seats in the Piazzetta, but you can gather on the outskirts without tickets. We had booked for STELLA DALLAS earlier in the festival and at the last minute collapsed from exhaustion and didn’t make it. At the last minute we decided to attend COEUR FIDELE, and THEN we collapsed from exhaustion. We started out sitting on the ground at the outskirts of the seated area. Then we would up LYING on the ground. Fiona propped her head up with her little silver rucksack. At some point, lulled by Epstein’s luminous imagery and Gabriel Thibaudeau’s piano accompaniment, she fell asleep. Nevertheless, she described the occasion as one of the greatest cinematic experiences of her life. Maybe after a week of sitting in sweltering cinemas, the sheer relief of watching in a completely relaxed position, with the occasional soothing breeze, accounted for some of her ecstasy. But let’s give the Epsteins and M. Thibaudeau some credit too.

The show began with the original Lumiere shorts programme, screened by yet another vintage projector, an actual Victorian one — a British R.W. Paul job, rather than an original Lumiere, but close enough. Curator Mariann Lewinsky held a microphone to the device to amplify its whirr, so that the piano could accompany THAT. The image flickered, as it would have for those restaurant patrons 121 years ago. Thibaudeau is really great — when the Lumiere baby is deciding whether or not to accept a spoonful of baby food, the suspense he created was quite something, and not something I had ever felt about that film before.

 

Alternative Universe Viewing Schedule

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2016 by dcairns

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Instead of writing about what I saw on Monday at Il Cinema Ritrovato, I *could* write about what I failed to see — Edward L. Cahn’s searing pre-code LAUGHTER IN HELL has been wowing them in the aisles, and I hope to catch it later in the fest — missed Arthur Penn’s THE CHASE, just as I have missed all the Brando so far — a program of Italian shorts from 1896 — a clip-show of classic Technicolor material including scenes from ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, RIO BRAVO and Cukor’s A STAR IS BORN — Mario Soldati’s MALOMBRA — Pierre Chenal’s film of Native Son, SANGRE NEGRA (American book filmed in Argentina by a Frenchman) — LA MORTE DE CYGNE, a film about ballet school by the great Marie Epstein and Jean Benoit-Levy — Jacques Becker’s RENDEZ-VOUS DE JUILLET and TOUCHEZ-PAS AU GRISBI (the latter is on again later, so maybe…) — Pola Negri in A WOMAN OF THE WORLD, which also screens a second time soon — the restored MCCABE AND MRS MILLER, apparently looking quite different — VALMONT, Milos Forman’s film of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, made shortly after the Stephen Frears version. Someone asked the producer if the film’s commercial failure imparted a lesson,. and he said, “Yes. Never make a film someone else has just made.” It’s a good movie though, now restored by Pathe.

Still, what I did see is a nice list, even if shorter — another episode of THE CLUTCHING FOOT and the last episode of Abel Gance’s daffy serial LES GAZ MORTELS (hero rides on horseback to save town from poison gas. He wears a gas mask and his horse wears what seems to be some kind of hygienic nosebag. Saving the town, he kisses his horse with passion) — KING OF JAZZ, the grotesque, bloated musical revue in two-strip Technicolor produced at Laemmle’s Universal in 1930, appalling yet wonderful — A JAZZ GIRL IS BORN, a 1957 teen musical from Japan, shot in a three-strip process called Konicolor, blindingly vivid (includes renditions of Blue Moon, Jambalaya and Come-On-a My House — really — I’m not making this up!) — and Carné and Prevert’s LES PORTES DE LA NUIT, which is a comparatively obscure masterpiece, another film I discovered via the Lindsay Anderson Archive.