Sunday 25 September 2016

Journey to Pordenone 2016 - Barrie Pattison in Paris

Paris when it sizzles is a new game now. There are still more films than any one person can hope to watch, with specialist cinemas doing children's films, political films and nostalgia as well as the extraordinary spread of  commercial releases. 

I did catch Bertrand Bonello's Nocturama (France, 2016), a Paris terrorist piece which raises more questions that it answers - the terrorists are the good guys. The opening is pretty much non-verbal as the mainly young agents go about picking up parcels from motor bike saddle lockers and parking spaces indicated on the mobile 'phones they sling in the garbage bins before the outrages. The second half is them spending their last night in a grand magasin that they have taken over. It's unsatisfying but has some great images - the steadicam following one of the team on parallel Metro escalators, the group in the bubble at the front of a driverless Metro as it comes out of the tunnel heading for the La Defence arch or the gilded statue blazing away in close up. I don't think it can be considered a success but it is interesting as an opening shot in what will almost certainly be a cycle of these.

I found a disc of L'Attentat (Yves Boisset, France, 1972) which I consider the gold standard on this subject but I pondered who there was would watch it with French sub-titles in Australia and left it where it was

My other cinema release movie to date is a chance to catch the (one) late night screening of Little Big Man (Arthur Penn, USA, 1970) in a so so digital reconstruction. As it always was, it is a daring piece which remains a key piece of the seventies. Curiously, though it confirmed Dustin Hoffman's star status, it's Chief Dan George's "old Lodge Skins" and his monologues which drive the thing. It's a pleasure to find it's still so enjoyable though mixing western, polemic, comedy and hypothetical is a big ask. This one reflects well on everyone concerned and is clearly the jumping off point for Dances with Wolves.

The only time I tried the Cinematheque, the Naruse Older Brother, Younger Sister (Japan, 1953) filled up and I couldn't get in - to my surprise! It's encouraging to find there is still some life in the movie cause at it's heart.

The game has changed however. Rene Chateau who had a lock on putting out old French movies on VHS and DVD, through a deal with the Cinematheque that he came out of better than they did, seems to be in decline. The market is flooded with his fair quality no sub-titles discs ranging from 17 Euros at the Cinematheque Librairie to two at Clignancourt market. 

The way to catch up with Frogfilm is to stock up. I was a bit disconcerted that I had to spell Harry Baur, like a Fritz Lang character, to the helpful clerk in the video store where I invested a hundred bucks but I walked away with Erich Von Stroheim, Michel Simon, Henri Garat, Michele Morgan and Danielle Darrieux from their great days. I scored Paquebot Tenacite, my missing Duvivier, among the Albert Prejean's. 

My guess is that we are witnessing the twilight of DVD and and Chateau lot are milking it before streaming wipes them out.

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