Monday 26 June 2017

A Bologna Diary (2) - David Hare discovers Vigo out-takes, TROUBLE IN PARADISE, SCARFACE, and EL COMPADRE MENDOZA, ....and swelters

Five days into Bologna and a late start this morning with William K Howard’s Transatlantic at 11.45.
The relentless heat was given a short reprieve yesterday with a couple of welcome showers during the day that saw couples with toddlers and folks with dogs in equal numbers out in the shade of lovely local parks like the September 4, which sits felicitously behind the Cineteca complex just down from our apartment and the other main cinemas. It was here yesterday that we saw the 90 odd minute mega reel of outtakes for Vigo’s sublime L’Atalante curated and narrated in French by Bernard Eisenschitz. The material is compelling and life affirming to those of us who regard the movie as something so unique in the history of cinema. Most of the outtake footage is without sound, but dame fortune left the audio intact for four single complete takes, each shot from a different angle and POV without any cutting of the young street peddler with his enchanting junk wares who sings Maurice Jaubert’s crazy Little “Peddler’s Complaint”. It’s seeing material like this with a near packed house that makes the whole Bologna enterprise worthwhile, notwithstanding the cruel late June heat, which one is tempted to call Le chaleur qui ne Passe jamais, with deference to Nounes, L’Atalante’s producer.
Ernst Lubitsch
If it’s heat you’ re seeking nothing could be clammier than an also jam packed house with people literally lining the walls for the once only screening of a 35mm print of Lubitsch’s masterpiece, Trouble in Paradise at the devastatingly fiery Arlecchino cinema, which does redeem itself every time with the best projection for both DCP and 35 I’ve seen in years. The new print was introduced with the usual UCLA resto credit with extensions to George Lucas and the Film Foundation. While this is the first time I have seen the title in 35mm and in such good shape this print struck me as very much a first pass on an eventually finer end product. The current print retains a lot of surface tramline scratches and nicks through the first few minutes of reel one as well as a quite few dupey opticals, (no AB rollings) as well as cigarette burns for the reel changes. While these things are of no great concern to me, I would figure they will be dealt with along with stabilisation and further grading and sharpness issues before the movie goes into a deeply hoped for reissue in 4k. The overwhelming applause at the end for the picture from a crowd who in large part had probably just seen it for the first time was one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had in the cinema.
Several other movies of moment. A real doozey of a new 4k DCP of Hawk’s Scarface from Universal. And the chronological first of several Mexican 30s pictures from a cycle of pre Independence era subjects, from Fernando de Fuentes, El Compadre Mendoza from 1932. Here’s a fully realized work of both narrative certainty and highly sophisticated mise en scene with intricatlely framed and lit two shots which take the weight of unspoken narrative transitions with purely visual cadencing. Fuentes is a major find for me. 
Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Scarface
Much more to report later, and also the good meterological news that things will cool down during the week. Meanwhile I also look forward to more than fleeting glances and all too brief respites meeting friends and comrades on the passing crossroads, and I hope for a few big slap ups at week’s end.

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