Friday 16 December 2016

Digitisations and Restorations (16) - Lynch, Renoir, Brocka, Whale, Lubitsch, Thomas White, Olmi & Pagnol.

Associate Editor (Restorations and Revivals) Simon Taaffe has come across the following screenings and other information. Click on the links for times, more detail etc where indicated. Otherwise you can ponder and prioritise which of these will show at Cannes Classics or at Bologna or perhaps even the Sydney Film Festival.

Screening twice today December 17th, though the early session is sold out, a presumably new, possibly restored digital copy of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (USA, 1986). The question marks arise from the fact that the program noter only records “This glorious 30th-anniversary restoration of a film widely considered to be one of the greatest ever made, renders the images so vivid they’re almost tactile.” Yeah right. The sort of description that causes some to get agitated for not much of a reason.

Two screenings only at the BFI of Jean Renoir’s The River (France-UK-India-USA 1951) a film which has its defenders among whom certain among us such as moi do not include themselves.

Much better IMHO is this masterpiece by the great Lino Brocka Insiang. Screened at Bologna this year to widespread approval of the restoration done on behalf of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. The link is only to a piece about the film not any scheduled screenings.

The Library of Congress has restored James Whale’s 1937 adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel The Road Back and even if you live in Los Angeles you have just missed a screening of the film in a double bill with Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun (USA, 1971)
the Library of Congress in association with UCLA Film & Television Archive, Universal Another  restoration by the UCLA Film Archive is of Ernst Lubitsch’s Broken Lullaby (USA, 1932) which screened in a double bill with G W Pabst’s Westfront 1918 (Germany, 1930)

Who's Crazy, Thomas White
Belatedly we take notice of a report from early in 2016 by the dearly beloved J Hoberman in his column in the New York Times of a film made way, way back. Hoberman reported “…Thomas White, a 33-year-old American in Paris, produced a semi-improvised movie featuring members of the avant-garde Living Theater and a soundtrack by the free jazz exponent Ornette Coleman. A half-century after it was filmed on the bleak Belgian coast, that film, Who’s Crazy?, has its belated New York premiere, at Anthology Film Archive. Hoberman's NYT report can be found here.

Screening this very week at New York’s Film Forum is a new 4K restoration of Ermanno Olmi’s masterpiece The Tree of Wooden Clogs. The same venue will follow that with a season of a 4K restoration of Marcel Pagnol’s Marseille Trilogy.

Finally, an interesting young (!) person’s perspective on watching movies today in The Guardian. Long time cinephile Bruce Hodsdon has responded to the Guardian piece with this note published on Facebook. After reading Tom Lamont's revealing piece on "the brave new world of cinema going" I was left feeling, as an ageing cinephile, how kind of anachronistic - the member of a "dying breed" - I have become/ am becoming. This seems to have happened in less than two decades or maybe less than one. How many younger viewers are now inclined to read much more than a paragraph (if that) on a current release, even less so on a classic from twenty years ago let alone fifty? Or investigate films of those vintages as part of a classic / post classic cinema rather than a curiously singular anachronism, even novelty from the past. I am realising that implicit in my cinephilia has been the belief that I have been contributing to an ongoing critical process of writing and talking about cinema that more or less had its origins in the fifties and sixties. Is the constant stream of restorations creating 'a new context' that Simon Taffe is presaging, which, stuck in the past, I just haven't recognised? Is cinephilia as I have known it, now a branch of specialist media history?

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