A great finish to both the day and (alas) my experience of Il Cinema Ritrovato, which still has two densely-packed days to go, is “The First Born” (1928), by the prolific, perverse, fascinating Miles Mander, written by Alma Reville. It’s been moved from the huge outdoor screen indoors to the Arlecchino, because Italy is playing Germany in the soccer semifinals, and the Festival wants to avoid any competition for Stephen Horne’s specially-commissioned score. Walking the deserted streets to the screening, I’m accompanied by the sporadic sounds of wild cheering. In the bar across the street where I down a quick espresso, the TV is on and ranks of serried seats are all turned it its directions, crowded with neighborhood regulars. It’s festive!
The soapy “First Born” is thoroughly enjoyable, as is Horne, playing the flute and the accordion as well as the piano.
Afterwards I linger on the Piazza Maggiore, having a drink with Ehsan Khoshbakt, as around us bonfires are lit (Italy won!) and policemen stroll in pairs, keeping an eye on the celebrants. Larry Gross wanders by and joins us. He’s here with his wife Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the New York Film Society, and their son Julian, who I’ve been seeing at festivals since he was probably four years old. Larry as usual has an intriguing book under his arm, by a woman philosopher I’ve never heard of, and somehow our conversation turns to Hume (it’s a long story), and then Nietszche, who I like less since I’ve been reading about his life through the eyes of Harry Kessler. (Not that I was ever exactly a fan.) Larry heads off into the warm night.
Just as the café is shutting up shop, international man of film Gabe Klinger shows up with three pals, and Ehsan leads us to another bar, which of course, in Bologna in the year of our lord 2012, turns out to be an Irish pub. The legend of the Café de la Paix (sit there long enough and everybody in the world that you know will pass by) apparently has nothing on the Piazza Maggiore during Il Cinema Ritrovato.
It’s heading towards 2 a.m.. My taxi is arriving at 4:15 a.m., to take me towards the next whisky bar, in Karlovy Vary, where another film festival awaits. Going to sleep seems pointless. But I do, after all, have to pack. I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE! I want to live in this state of exalted, passionate cinephilia, with pasta on the side, forever. Il Cinema Ritrovato, where have you been all my life?