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Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, XXVI Edizione - Day Four: Walsh, Pyr’ev, Warhol, Ghatak & 'The Grand Illusion'

Thompson on Hollywood By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood June 28, 2012 at 11:48AM

Paradise for cinephiles: Max Ophul’s “Komedie on Geld” (1936), followed by Raoul Walsh's “Kindred of the Dust,” Ritwik Ghatak’s “The Cloud-Capped Star,” a to-die-for meal and an impeccably restored "Grand Illusion"...
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'The Cloud-Capped Star' 1960
'The Cloud-Capped Star' 1960

Paradise for cinephiles: Max Ophul’s “Komedie on Geld” (1936), part of the Cinema and the 1929 Crisis series, at 9:30 a.m., set in the corrupt and currently apposite banking and real estate development world of Amsterdam. Typically fluid, in the restless Ophuls style, and with several Brechtian interludes of a “Cabaret”-style nightclub emcee or carnival barker introducing and commenting on the action that made one think of “Lola Montez,” so many years later. Pure pleasure.

At 11:30 a.m., an early Raoul Walsh melodrama, “Kindred of the Dust” (1922) starring his then-wife Miriam Cooper as an unwed mother whose childhood sweetheart persists in his affections despite the disapproval of his wealthy family. With stylish, realistic sets designed by William Cameron Menzies (later, and more typically, to design “The Thief of Bagdad” for Walsh).  Piano accompaniment by the gifted Donald Sosin, based on the U.S. east coast (who had contributed imaginative interpretive mosquito singing night before last while playing for a Winsor McKay short, “How a Mosquito Operates” (1912), before “Point Blank”).

Lunch al fresco in an outdoor café set in the courtyard of the Cineteca Bologna, in a setting more charming than the food, with editor/director Jackie Raynal, now based in Paris, programming for a festival in Trieste, among other places, after decades of running two repertory art houses in New York, and London-based Iranian film critic/blogger Ehsan Khoshbakht.

At 2:30, standing at the back of the Sala Mastroianni, to catch the first short of one of the 13 programs devoted to films of 1912, a 4-minute effort by Louis Feuillade entitled “Bébé juge,” in which much chocolate is consumed.  This serves as a curtain raiser for the 2:45 screening of “Skazanie O Zemle Sibirskoj” (“La canzone della terra siberienne”), by Ivan Pyr’ev, “enigma of Mosfilm.”  This time I’m indeed seeing a color musical of sorts, in which the blonde machine-gun-wielding lady soldier of yesterday’s fast-paced WW II story is a singer who reconnects with a lover of her youth after WW II, embittered because he’s injured his left hand and no longer feels the need to compose and perform music. A return to his homeland of Siberia, where people seem to sing folk songs all the live long day, perks him up again, and she decides to forsake Moscow to join him in Siberia, which looks a lot warmer and more picturesque than we’ve been led to believe. Again the simultaneous translation is annoying (if essential); I don’t think I feel the need to see much more of Ivan Pyr’ev.

This article is related to: Festivals, Guest Blogger, Classics, Foreign


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.