Thursday 23 July 2015

Bringing back the past - Bologna and Catherine Deneuve

Deneuve at Cannes in 2014
When you come through the week at Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato you start to have dreams of only attending festivals of films made long ago, that have as they say, stood the test of time and now warrant a new place in the sun via new prints or, even better, digital restorations performed by geniuses like Sony/Columbia’s Grover Crisp. Theirs is the work that brings movies back to that moment of their premiere screening. You cant watch a film like Charles Vidor’s Cover Girl (USA, 1944), starring a pre-MGM Gene Kelly  and the scrumptious, luminous Rita Hayworth without the additional modern day awe at the skills employed by Grover and his team. One critic has even gone so far as to suggest that the cinema might be a better place if all new movie-making ceased for a decade and we all had a breathing space simply to catch up on the 100+ years of what’s already gone. At Bologna this seemed like a very good idea.

Expanding way beyond privileged access at Bologna and elsewhere in the new digital world, where you can see wondrous things you never thought you would ever see or see again, things are changing rapidly. Making restoration copies is now all the go. Cable TV stations and companies like Netflix have insatiable desires for more and more movies (though you might not sense that if you are a subscriber to the Foxtel movie package) from more and more sources and the digital age enables all the work to be done – restoration followed by circulation.

That ‘circulation’, access if you like, is the key word. 

And, just as an example of what might happen more and more, there is one thing interesting happening via the major distributor Studio Canal. In conjunction with the Alliance francaise, they have selected a half dozen films featuring Catherine Deneuve and will be presenting them at GU’s Event Cinema in George Street and the Cremorne Orpheum over a weekend in September.  I assume its going round the nation as well. Not a bad selection either -  The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Belle de Jour, Un Flic, Young Girls of Rochefort, Indochine and Potiche. Two, maybe more, masterpieces there. I’m not listing years and directors  but close to fifty years of the great lady’s career is covered. (I’m happy to hear from anybody who might like to suggest another four to make it up to ten. My choices would be Vadim’s Vice and Virtue, Varda’s Les Creatures, Truffaut’s Mississipi Mermaid  and another Demy, Peau d’Ane . That leaves 111 films to choose alternate titles To get help if your memory needs a jog you can go here.) 

So as I despair at the selection that makes up the Alliance francaise's annual festival of new films, endlessly veering away from quality towards mediocre comedies and routine dramas, almost entirely ignoring the works of major film-makers year after year, suddenly the Alliance pops up with this event. Its thanks to the new digital technologies that it can happen of course. The ease of sending round DCPs around the world makes sure of that. And we are prmised that this is to be annual event - Bardot, Gabin, Moreau, Delon, Belmondo, Marcel Dalio, Julien Carette, ....that list is endless too to say nothing of Ophuls, Renoir, Gremillon, Clement, and Duvivier, all of whom have had major films restored in recent times. Endless, endless...a vista leading to our own Cinema Ritrovato sometime somewhere,maybe even starting small just like this bit of outreach.   

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