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Monday, 29 April 2019

Adam Bowen's Talkie Talk #57 - New movies, film music on 2MBS and films by Weir, Cimino King and Lean on TV

IN CINEMAS THIS WEEK








And

Top End Wedding – Aussie comedy directed by Wayne Blair, starring Miranda Tapsell and Gwilym Lee.


RocKabul (2018) – doco about an Aussie who helped create the first heavy metal band in war-torn Afghanistan.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir (2018) – a street magician searches for his biological dad, and has an eternal adventure. Barrie Pattison's review from the French Film Festival screenings is here

Long Shot– Seth Rogen meets his very first crush (Charlize Theron). She’s running for President of the USA. He becomes her speech writer.


Peppa Pig Festival of Fun – animated hi-jinks as Peppa and her pals dance in the mud and Vote Tony Out.

Eerie (2018) – Horror at a Catholic boarding school for girls (in other words, business as usual)

The Spanish Film Festival is screening now!  Check sessions at the festival website 


MOVIE MUSIC on 102.5 also streaming on finemusicfm.com

Saturday 19.00:  A Fistful of Dollars (1964); Juliet of the Spirits (1965); For a Few Dollars More (1965); Shoot Loud…Louder…I Don’t Understand(1966); The Battle of Algiers (1966); The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966); The Taming of the Shrew (1967). (Much by Ennio Morricone, left)


ON THE TELLY

Monday 1.45pm Fox Classics: Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – the director’s cut. In 1900, some boarding schoolgirls, all dressed in white, disappear while on an outing. Hypnotic, mystic mystery; an Australian classic, directed by Peter Weir; cinematography: Russell Boyd.  Not to be confused with a dire TV mini-series.

Watch the trailer here and a short interview with Peter Weir here



Monday 8.30pm & Tuesday Noon Fox ClassicsThe Deer Hunter (1978) – lengthy, slightly plodding but sincere portrait of the effect of the Vietnam war on a Pennsylvania steel-worker community. Robert de Niro, John Cazale, Meryl Streep.

This is a link to a terrific review published last year on the Film Alert 101 blog written by Eddie Cockrell Click here to read it.

Tuesday 10.35pm & Wednesday 2pm Fox ClassicsThe Gunfighter (1950) - plain, unflashy story of a retired gunman (Gregory Peck), who can’t escape his past. Setting, direction (Henry King) and monochrome photography (Arthur Miller) are spot on.


Wednesday 10.35pm & Thursday 2pm Fox Classics: The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974) Gripping, non-nonsense thriller, mostly set on the NYC subway. Stars Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. Directed by Joseph Sargent; music by David Shire.  Not to be confused with the limp re-make (2009).

Saturday 7pm 9 Gem: Lawrence of Arabia (1962); despite the small screen (and multiple commercial breaks), a handsome epic with lots to admire, although Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) comes across as a hero rather than a flesh and blood character.

CINEMA REBORN - Short notes and links to the selection (10) - YOL - THE FULL VERSION (Yilmaz Güney/Şerif Gören, Turkey)

Yılmaz Güney made this film from a prison cell. His  experiences are embedded within it.
Six prisoners are given leave and the film contemplates the tragedy of distances. When the film was made in 1982 it had to be severely cut for it to be accepted for the main competition at Cannes. Despite this it won the Palme d’Or.  Güney’s original intentions can at last be seen in this comprehensive restoration. 
“The film’s poetry, its combination of sound and image especially, has an unconscious innocence no longer available to most European and American narratives, and it is inspired by an enormous compassion for the suffering people endure at each other’s hands in a world where the strong pick upon the weak, the weak upon the weaker.” Chris Petit, Time Out Film Guide
4K Restoration
To read Jane Mills comprehensive Program Notes Click on this link
Click on this link to the Ritz website to Book tickets to this Palme d’Or winner from 1982

Sunday, 28 April 2019

CINEMA REBORN - Short notes and links to the 2019 selection (9) - NEAPOLITAN CAROUSEL


Ettore Giannini’s sole feature film.
A joyous celebration, in brilliant restored colour, of the history of Naples told via a series of musical vignettes worthy of Vincente Minnelli or Powell & Pressburger at their peak. Choreography by the great Leonide Massine (who also stars in a number of sequences) and featuring an array of popular Italian actors, most notably the young Sophia Loren and the voice of the great tenor Beniamino Gigli. 
After its restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna supported by the World Film Foundation Neapolitan Carousel in 2018 was a hit at Cannes, Il Cinema Ritrovato and the New York Film Festival. Cinema Reborn presents the Australian premiere of this remarkable restoration.
 4K restoration by the Cineteca di Bologna supported by the Film Foundation
Go to the Ritz website to Book tickets for this film
To read Peter Hourigan’s comprehensive program notes Click on this link

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Spanish Film Festival (6) - Barrie Pattison loses HOPEFULLY DEVOUT (Marta Díaz de Lope Díaz ) in translation but unravels ROJO (Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina)

In the Spanish Film Festival, Marta Díaz de Lope Díaz  Mi querida cofradía/Hopelessly Devout  looked as if it was going to be funny - assured cast and technicians, a plot that sends up the stuffy Spanish rural religious scene. Unfortunately, these qualities get lost in translation. The Spanish speakers were falling about while I sat there waiting for the gags.

It’s the festival of the Virgin in the little Spanish town. The affairs of the Brotherhood of the Lady Christ of Liberty and Hope (I think) have been managed by matronly Gloria Muñoz (Bola) who the Mantillas, the women’s auxiliary of the association, defer to. Aha, she’s going to get her comeuppance - but no! It’s that other scenario. Despite her stalwart service she is being passed over for the position of President in favour of Juan Gea who never attends meetings and services - because he’s a man. 

Brothers take a dim view of flighty ways like cleavage, wearing lipstick and having their black skirts hemmed above the knee for their procession of the statue of the virgin through the town.

Muñoz takes it stoically but when Gea turns up at her home to rub salt in the wounds, telling her that her sex permanently disqualifies her, she slips what she thinks are laxatives into his (cheap cooking) brandy and they turn out to be downers which put him out for the day where his absence means Muñoz gets the spot.

She has the problem of what to do with his doped out body and has to call on a neighbour who is having trouble making French Toast (ho ho) and her daughter and grand-daughter. It all ends the way it should sending the audience away happy with the procession.

The best element is the occasional outbreak of ritual - the robing session, raising and carrying the religious float from the church. My attention wandered.

Benjamín Naishtat’s Rojo is in the Spanish Film Festival but is actually Argentinian, and it’s a challenge. Each new scene has no obvious connection to the one before, introducing new characters or plot threads. Some threads re-occur - the “Vaqueros Americanos” who don’t make it to the Rodeo that lead Dario Grandinetti attends - without having any significance to the film’s final shape.

It’s 1975 and people are emerging from a suburban house carrying items of furniture. Dario Grandinetti ( from Almodovar’sHable con ella/Talk to her) is a prosperous, attorney who is threatened into giving up a restaurant table where his wife is to join him. Disturbed customer Diego Cremonesi objects to waiting. Grandinetti psyches the man out by standing against the wall behind him and, when challenged, doing a reasoned and restrained speech (not unlike his nice final scene in El peso de la ley on which this film could be seen as a comment). This humiliates and provokes the stranger, getting him thrown out by the dinner witnesses when he retaliates. Grandinetti resumes his table and begins his meal with his wife.

The man will re-appear with a gun. Then there’s the client-associate who has a plan to take over an abandoned house which needs a straw man signatory and Grandinetti plays tennis in a club where one of the members is fiddling with a rifle in the dressing room. Grandinetti’s teenage daughter (played by Grandinetti’s teen aged daughter) is participating in a ballet presentation while fending off her jealous squeeze with stories about a messy period. One time Chilean cop Rafael Federman who  has become a star playing a TV detective has been called in to investigate a missing former hippie returned to the parental home. He’s big on Catholicism so much so that he’d rather pray than investigate a disappearance that the victim’s mother can’t bestir the authorities to consider. His approach is Cartesian - black and white - no shading.

All the while people are talking about The Intervention and The Coup that is expected.

Grandinetti takes the family off to the beach where there’s an eclipse while his wife is relieving herself in the bushes. However, when he comes back, Federman appears in his office demanding to be driven into the featureless desert. Their scene (“Don’t stumble over the same rock twice”) brings all the fuzzy connections into focus and is a set piece climax. 

Probably the most surprising of the film’s unexpected edits is that to the end title. This is one of those films (Maury Dexter’s The Day Mars Invaded Earth  which is evenbetter than the Haneke Caché ) where the real ending occurs after the film, as the audience puts it all together. 

Naishtat is still in the early stages of his film making and could persist into an imposing career. His oblique comment on Argentina of the Seventies is more disturbing than some of the more explicit efforts we’ve seen.

Cast and filming are assured and sometime more than that. Grandinetti is now a major actor/star.

On Blu-ray - David Hare uncovers the first 3-strip Technicolor movie, BECKY SHARP, and the last, FOX FIRE

The US Blu-ray label Kino Lorber has been running all over the competition in the last couple of years for sheer volume and quality. It must surely claim some prize for sheer output of great missing chasms of "interesting" to great American cinema from the 30s to 50s with literally dozens, if not hundreds of titles which the majors (who, own them) have not bothered to release. 
Sometimes K-L involves itself with new 4K scans of partially restored titles which they finish off to some low cost spec, like Hitchcock's Under Capricorn, an invaluable exercise in film rescue, whatever you think of the movie (I personally love it.) 
Amongst several dozen K-L releases over the last two months are the very first and the very last feature length films made in the three strip Technicolor process in the USA. First, in 1935. Becky Sharp shot by Ray Rennahan and directed with some vigor, if not much individual inspiration by journeyman Rouben Mamoulian. 
The film really is a tribute to Selznick as producer to be the first cab off the rank, like Disney for his short animations from 1932, when the process first became available. And for Selznick to then sign a long term contract with Herbert Kalmus' Technicolor company which had just invented and perfected the technology, the cameras and the complicated matrice based dye submersion printing lines to make those incomparable saturated, lush prints. We owe Selznick for this and many other things, if not for his control freakery as a sometimes meddling producer.
Kino Lorber had also released some weeks earlier the very last film to be photographed in the USA in the three strip camera process, Fox Fire, in 1955 for Universal, directed by a spirited Joe Pevney and shot by Bill Daniels, starring Universal's alternative to Rock as 50s hunk du jour, Jeff Chandler. Plus Jane Russell, in a budget busting wardrobe with as many as three costume changes per scene, playing a suitably fiery white woman who impulsively marries Jeff's highly Egyptian- dusk yellowface "apache half-breed". Jeff’s culturally estranged mother, “Princess Saba” is a native Apache and is played in a small part by Celia Lovsky, a very white Czech born actress who's given an even heavier layer of Max Factor Dusk. 
The latter movie is a king hitter for Pevney fans, if not quite at the celestial level of his Joanie “woman in danger" Noir masterpiece, Female on the Beach. That one again has menacing rough trade gigolo and potential assassin, Chandler, from 1954,  and was also released by Kino Lorber in a superb B&W transfer in February. Fox Fire can I think be forgiven for the yellowface of the two actors for the simple fact that it openly treats the commercialization of the tourist trap reductionism of the Apache camps as ethnographic geekery, and the trivialization of Native American culture, with the surrounding prejudice as a live subject. I really like Russell in this a lot, and she seems to be giving over a lot of the scenery and the cues to Chandler, a far weaker technical actor whose woodenness is legendary. Just as Joanie seems to need Chandler to bounce off her range of neurasthenics in Female on the Beach, one can enjoy watching Russell taking the back seat to leave Chandler space and air in the widescreen frame to move and feel his way into a very difficult and moving part. 
The transfers are interesting. Becky Sharp was taken from an absolutely sterling restoration which was only finally completed in 2017 after an iniital UCLA exercise by Archivist Bob Gitt in 1994. While the last reel is clearly salvaged from a murky dupe positive element, the first 80 minutes of the film is absolutely spectacular, and reflects the high grain quality of the original 35mm nitrate neg filming and the earliest registration process from YCM matrices that was required to make these literally artisanal prints. It is a complete joy to watch for anyone who has previously luxuriated in viewings of other IB Tech original run prints at Bologna, and elsewhere as a matter of infrequent but delirious pleasure.  
Universal's source for Fox Fire supplied to K-L is, I would guess, a good quality Eastman recomb and it rarely falls foul of registration issues. The color saturation and balance is gorgeous. But as is so often the case with slightly older Universal HD scans someone there has hit a preset button on the fucking de-graining panel, and you end up with both slight waxiness in faces, and a kind of bee swarm flurry of grain in less tightly encoded shots. The worst example of this bad tech by Universal is its total and complete fuckup of Marnie for the Hitchcock Masterpiece boxset. As far as I know they have never revisited this abomination to correct the problem.
The screens from Becky Sharp have Frances Dee (top), as the "nice girl", and with Miriam Hopkins (second picture) as Thackeray's "bad girl", in a blue and a yellow outfit. The two screens from Fox Fire  are first of Jane Russell with Jeff Chandler and competing love interest Dan Duryea!! And Jane again in another costume change while she smashes into Jeff's Pandora's box of Ancestral memories.

Friday, 26 April 2019

CINEMA REBORN - A reminder of the full schedule with links to advance purchases of tickets

Spread the word as Cinema Reborn looms in less than a week. 
Just a reminder of the complete timetable for Cinema Reborn.
Join us this May at Sydney's Art Deco palace the Ritz Cinema to celebrate Cinema's rich history and the worldwide practice of film restoration.
From the 2nd to the 6th of May we will be screening 11 stunning new restorations of classic cinema, showcasing some of the treasures that exist in the world's film archives.
Jacques Rivette, Chantal Akerman, Powell & Pressburger, Nicholas Ray, Barbara Loden, Jacques Becker, Şerif Gören and more.

Tickets will be available at the door from the Ritz box office  for every session at regular Ritz prices ($17 for individual sessions, $10 Seniors, credit cards accepted, no surcharge) or you can book in advance by clicking on the link provided for each film.

THURSDAY 2ND MAY 6:30PM
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Dir: Michael POWELL and Emeric PRESSBURGER | UK | 1946 | 94 mins | 4K DCP (orig. 35mm) | PG. Introduction by Peter Thompson
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2uP78oJ




FRI 3 MAY 4:15PM
LUCKY TO BE A WOMAN

La fortuna di essere donna, aka What a
Woman! | Dir: Alessandro BLASETTI | Italy |
1956 | 92 mins | B&W | Italian with Eng. subs. |
2k DCP (orig. 35mm) | U/C15+. Introduction by Jason Di Rosso
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2G1Tu84









FRI 3 MAY 6:30PM
WANDA

Dir, Scr: Barbara LODEN | USA | 1970 | 102 mins |Colour | English | 2K DCP (orig. 35mm) | U/C15+. Introduction by Margot Nash
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2CZx9Gl



SAT 4 MAY 10.15AM
LE TROU

aka Night Watch, The Hole | Dir: Jacques
BECKER | France | 1960 | 131 mins | B&W | Fr.
with Eng. subs. | 2K DCP (orig. 35mm) | U/C15+. Introduction by Mark Pierce
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2D0jfUG


SAT 4 MAY 1:40PM
SONS OF MATTHEW
aka The Rugged O’Riordans | Dir: Charles
CHAUVEL | Australia | 1949 | 101 mins | B&W |
English | 2K DCP (orig. 35mm) | G. Introduction by Quentin Turnour
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2YWdyQC



SAT 4 MAY 4:10PM
MEMORIES OF
UNDERDEVELOPMENT

Memorias del Subdesarrollo | Dir: Tomás Gutiérrez
ALEA | Cuba | 1968 | 97 mins | B&W |Spanish with
English subs. | 2K DCP (orig. 35mm) | U/C15+.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2KcXJlD




SAT 4 MAY 6:30PM
IN A LONELY PLACE

Dir: Nicholas RAY | USA | 1950 | 94 mins | B&W
| English | 4K DCP (orig. 35mm) | PG.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2IgLJgk







SUN 5 MAY 1:15PM
LA RELIGIEUSE (THE NUN)

Suzanne Simonin, La religieuse de Denis
Diderot | Dir: Jacques RIVETTE | France | 1966
| 140 mins | Colour | French with English subs. |
4K DCP (orig. 35mm) | U/C15+.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2UiojOQ



SUN 5 MAY 4:10PM
GOLDEN EIGHTIES

Dir: Chantal AKERMAN | France, Belgium,
Switzerland | 1986 | 96 mins | Colour | 2k DCP
(orig. 35mm) | French with Eng. subs. | PG.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2G3dQhf





SUN 5 MAY 6:30PM
YOL - THE FULL VERSION

Dir: Serif GÖREN, (Yilmaz GÜNEY) | Turkey,
France, Switz. | 1982, 2017 | 112 mins | Colour |
Turkish, Kurdish with Eng. subs. | 2K DCP | U/C15+.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2UHhF49



MON 6 MAY 6:30PM
NEAPOLITAN CAROUSEL

Carosello Napoletano | Dir: Ettore GIANNINI |
Italy | 1954 | 129 mins | Colour | 2K DCP (orig.
35mm) | Italian with English subs. | U/C15+.
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2YU3BDm

Thursday, 25 April 2019

CINEMA REBORN - Short notes and links to the 2019 selection (8) - MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT


Memories of Underdevelopment  (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Cuba, 1968) is generally recognised as Cuba’s greatest film and one of the best films of the 1960s.
A bourgeois property owner struggles to accept Castro’s revolution. The events of the film are bookended by the 1961 failed CIA plot to overthrow the government and the threat of nuclear war in the missile crisis of 1962.
Clearly a masterpiece” (Newsweek)
“…a more complex portrait of Cubans than the rest of the world was able to imagine”(Julia Levin)
4K Restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, 2016
Go the Ritz website and Book tickets for this film
Read Rod Bishop’s comprehensive program note by clicking here

Spanish Film Festival (5) - Barrie Pattison is unenthused by THE UNCOVERING (Nacho Ruipérez)

My luck ran out at the Spanish Film Fesitival with Nacho Ruipérez’ El desentierro/The Uncovering which is protracted, hard to follow and nasty. This is a pity because it belongs to a nice cycle of moody regional Spanish thrillers of which La isla minima/Marshland is the best known. 

Hopes rise with the opening drone shot of police cars racing along the empty road below to the body laid out in front of the deserted crossroads farm house among the rice farming terraces, shot presumably as part of the Mario Fernandez Alonso and Carlos Perez Gasco second unit work which places the place in the forlorn flatlands that give the piece atmosphere.

It’s another one of these coming back from Argentina pieces whereby probing events of the characters’ childhood disturbs dark half-forgotten intrigues.

Back from being packed off with the religious teachers, Michel Noher returns for the funeral of his Valencian politician uncle Jordi Rebellón. He picks up his friendship with his cousin Jan Cornet (The Skin I Live In) and sinister events proliferate. An Albanian woman shows up at the funeral. Nohler’s hospitalised mother has her oxygen supply turned off. The dead man’s home is burgled and the Pilota trainer from the local health center offers the young men his assistance in what he assures them is a dangerous state of affairs. An old Walkman tape has been leaked to the press and the police are interested.

Flashbacks trace the involvement of Noher’s father Leonardo Sbaraglia (Intacto) with a girl from the now derelict cabaret and a visit to a bordello means a menacing confrontation with the whoremongers there. Shots are fired. Old secrets uncovered and bodies exhumed.

It sounds better than it is - something like La Quietud- but instead it’s muddled and uninvolving. Even so it’s nice to see Ana Torrent still looking good in a brief appearance.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

CINEMA REBORN - A Day Out In Black and White - Saturday 4 May at the Randwick Ritz from 10.15 a.m.

It seemed like fate when we added Jacques Becker’s LE TROU (above) as a near last-minute additon to the Cinema Reborn 2019 selection. 
Then, as we assembled the program trying to get a balance between long and short, light and dark, humorous and dramatic, known and unknown, it suddenly dawned that the way things had panned out we had a day of black and white movies on our roster. 
From 10.15 am on Saturday 4 May right through to 8.30 pm. That meant our patrons can see the riveting prison escape drama LE TROU first thing in the morning and allows for an hour to have lunch somewhere round The Spot before heading back for an afternoon of classics from Australia (SONS OF MATTHEW, Charles Chauvel, 1949, above), Cuba (MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT, Tomas Gutierrez Alea, 1968, below) and the USA (IN A LONELY PLACE, Nicholas Ray, 1950, bottom). 
Renowned Directors of Photography will have their work on display in this most unique compilation of films that show off the art of film restoration to the max. Ghislain Cloquet, Carl Kayser & Bert Nicholas, Ramon F Suarez and Burnett Guffey have all had their special art brought back to astonishing new life.
Tickets to all sessions via the Ritz website

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Spanish Film Festival (4) - Barrie Pattison is underwhelmed by the domestic hit CHAMPIONS (Javier Fesser)

Javier Fesser’s Campeones/ Champions is a massive hit in Spain. It opened the Spanish Film Festival here and the audience I saw it with gave it spontaneous applause - how often does that happen? Took me a while to understand why I was uncomfortable with it.

The plot has the admirable Javier Gutiérrez (La Isla minima, Plan de fuga) second coach to a Spanish ACB's champion basketball team. During the match he gets into a shoving match with chief coach Daniel Freire (Sex and Lucía) and is sent off. His marriage to the winning Athenea Mata is on the rocks and his mother is impatient about him occupying her spare bed so Gutiérrez empties the bottle in a bar and, when pulled over, he rear ends the police car. In the cells, a lawyer he’s never seen shows up, not to to have him released but to handle his appearance before the lady judge he doesn’t know how to address. He’s given a driving ban and three months either in the slammer or community service. 

Gutiérrez thinks he’s hard done by but the lawyer tells him to shut up and accept his court appointed punishment which turns out to be coaching “Los Amigos,” a mentally impaired basketball team from a rundown Cultural Service operated by elderly Juan Margallo, whose career goes back to Spirit of the Beehive. He turns out to be the nephew of the judge.

Confronting the result of child birth accidents taps into Gutiérrez’ own fears about becoming a father but a visit to the judge lets him know he’s getting off lightly. Comic scenes of them not getting the idea that they have to wear team colours or run in a line. This is increasingly the way as with the bus that they are thrown off after complaints by the other passengers. The audience was falling about while I became uncomfortable with the use of genuine cases being put up as ridiculous if heartwarming.

The formulaic body of the film has the players (his mum slaps Gutiérrez for saying “retards”) turn out to be winning and funny and he somewhat implausibly shapes them into a unit he takes to the Paralympic national league's competition finals. The cast actually do basketball stunts.

Of course Gutiérrez’ marital and personality problems are solved by his contact with the team. The finale does ring. He hasn’t realised that he achieved his aim until he sees the evidence all around him among slow mo of falling paper guns. However even structurally I find the piece flawed. Roberto Chinchilla, the player from the Paralympics who lost his medal in a cheating scandal has a more interesting story than our hero. Maybe that’s why his part is so fragmentary. The film is otherwise generally technically accomplished.

Projects like this need careful judgement. Think the Stanley Kramer/John Cassavetes’ A Child is Waiting. Playing it for cheap shot comedy is suspect to say the least. Can’t blame the cast who seem to have enjoyed themselves in their first contact with the movies.