Archive for The Confrontation

A Gala Day Is Enough For Me

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by dcairns

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Rosey Grier and Ray Milland in THE THING WITH TWO HEADS.

Because I didn’t read to the end of David Robinson’s welcome note to guests at Pordenone, because I am an idiot sometimes, I was unaware that the closing gala was a ticketed event. I had been cheerily breezing into films all week, waving my pass, and suddenly discovered that wouldn’t work here. And it immediately became clear that I had not a squid’s chance in OLDBOY of getting a seat.

This is a blow since (1) Not only are they showing Harold Lloyd in THE FRESHMAN, which I’ve actually seen extracts from, but (2) they’re showing it with an orchestral score conducted by Carl Davis and (3) they’re prefacing it with a newly-discovered, extended alternate cut of Buster Keaton’s THE BLACKSMITH, with accompaniment by Neil Brand. Amazing. But I’ll never see any of this, unless a particularly ruthless miracle occurs.

I’m about to become an unsympathetic character in this story so bear with me.

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The people at the box office, who are not unsympathetic, say something about “It’s in your welcome pack,” which I don’t have with me, so I race back to my accommodation to rummage through it. It’s five minutes to curtain and the flat I’m in is five minutes away. I make it there in two, wheezing and sweating, and rifle my paperwork. Sure enough, there’s Robinson’s note warning me to buy my ticket well in advance. That would have been very helpful a few days ago.

I race back to the Teatro, now further behind in the queue/crowd waiting for return tickets than ever. My only hope now was to either throw my weight around, using my “status” as one of the few living filmmakers with a movie in the fest (I think there were about four of us), or collapse sobbing on the floor and hope they take pity on me. Also, I’m slightly inspired by a story the great animator Don Herzfeldt told about getting to see his heroes, the Monty Python team, perform live, just because he had the optimism to walk through an open door that should’ve been shut. Nothing ventured…

I see Mr. Robinson in the foyer. Breathless, I explain the situation. And at that moment a festival volunteer shows up with an envelope, obviously containing a ticket and marked “David.” David Robinson explains my problem to this guy, to see if anything can be done for me, there is a moment which may in hindsight have been confusion, and the guy offers me the envelope. An expressions flits across Mr. Robinson’s face which may, again in hindsight, have been horror. I take the ticket, thanking him profusely.

I go in, and find I’m sitting in something of a place of honour, next to 91-year-old Jean Darling, the festival’s most important guest, a co-star in the OUR GANG films from 1927-1929. Three separate people try to persuade me I’m in the wrong seat. I tell them Mr. Robinson gave me his ticket, but I’d be happy to sit somewhere else. David Robinson appears and introduces me to Jean Darling, who has already started chatting to me. I don’t perceive any subtext that he’d like me to stand up/get out — either he’s happy for me to have the seat, he’s too much of a gentleman to say he’d appreciate a seat at his own festival, or he’s giving me signals I’m too autistic to read. In this life, it’s not only survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the most crassly insensitive to social nuance.

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THE FRESHMAN begins, and I find myself identifying, with unusual intensity, with Harold’s struggle to find the his place in life.

“Comedy is tragedy,” observes Jean Darling.

***

Afterwards, I locate Mr. Robinson and anxiously ask if he found a seat at his own festival. A bit late, but it’s apparently my evening for being a bit late with things. He assures me he was fine. I tell him that when he was director of Edinburgh FIlm Festival he screened my first short (THE THREE HUNCHBACKS) and it got a special mention at the Chaplin Awards before the final screening. And I couldn’t afford a ticket so I wasn’t there to hear it. And so in a way, I feel like I have finally kept my appointment with that Closing Gala.

***

THE CONFRONTATION, the lesser of two Miklos Jancso films at Cannes ’68, is addressed by Scout Tafoya over at Apocalypse Now. A lesser Jancso is still a Jancso…

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Totally Illegal

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2013 by dcairns

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My film CRY FOR BOBO plays another film festival, more than eleven years after it was made. Feels good that I’m about to have another movie on the festival circuit…

The fest is this one, The Totally Illegal Film Festival, curated by Scout Tafoya, who has had the brilliant idea of not only programming my short, and Mark Cousins’ charming, personal flaneur-film WHAT IS THIS FILM CALLED LOVE?, and Dan Sallitt’s delight THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT, but of reassembling the programme of the 1968 Cannes Film Festival — the one which didn’t happen due to Les Evenements.

So residents of Pennsylvania and visitors to that great state can have the pleasure of seeing what the residents of 1968 missed. I gather Scout has scouted up practically everything, save for the Menahem Golan entry, which even Menahem Golan himself couldn’t supply a copy of.

(Interesting to think of young Golan in those days as a budding arthouse director, and interesting to speculate that the festival’s cancellation may have cut short this career, leading instead to his becoming an exploitation maven and short-lived movie mogul. When Golan was co-running Cannon films, he produced Jean-Luc Godard’s KING LEAR: FEAR AND LOATHING, with a deal memo signed on a restaurant napkin — perhaps he was grateful for JLG’s intervention sending him off in this direction.)

The ’68 festival would have included Richard Lester’s PETULIA, whose commercial prospects were dunted by the resulting damage to its release schedule, along with fascinating rarities like Frank Perry’s TRILOGY, Alain Resnais’s JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME, and Miklos Jancso’s THE CONFRONTATION, plus numerous movies that have fallen out of the collective critical consciousness altogether. Should make for a fascinating time capsule.