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Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, XXVII Edizione - Day 2: Gary Cooper's 'Distant Drums,' 'Kalpana,' 'Point Blank,' Ruspoli & More

Thompson on Hollywood By Meredith Brody | Thompson on Hollywood June 26, 2012 at 1:17PM

Meredith Brody follows a sleepless night in Bologna with a series of unplanned screenings, delicious sounding food and an accidental nap during a breezy outdoor screening of "Point Blank" at the Piazza Maggiore...
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Mario Ruspoli on the set of "Les inconnus de la terre"
Mario Ruspoli on the set of "Les inconnus de la terre"

I duck into a screening right across the hall, thinking that Mario Ruspoli’s “Les inconnus de la terre” is just about to begin, and luckily catch the last twenty minutes of a q-and-a session with the typically loquacious and lucid Agnes Varda, after the screening of her 1962 “Documenteur.”  A question from UCLA’s Janet Bergstrom about Varda’s history with Delphine Seyrig unexpectedly elucidates a haunting story about running into Seyrig with Sami Frey in the elevator of the Paris hospital where Jacques Demy was also being treated during his final illness, the four of them spending Christmas together, and Varda catching Frey’s eye and the two of them silently shating the knowledge that Seyrig and Demy would not be with them for Christmas the next year.  “And they died within two weeks of each other in October.”

Jackie and Steve join me for the Ruspoli, shot in the 60s in a southeast corner of France that might as well have been in medieval times. It makes me eager to see more of his work. Along with the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Scott Foundas, we stick around for a brisk hour’s passionate discussion of contemporary cinephilia between Thierry Frémaux of Cannes and the Festival Lumiere of Lyon and his gentle interlocutor, Bologna’s Gian Luca Farinelli. I think Farinelli asks Frémaux only three questions, prompting reams of beautifully-composed, thoughtful response (“He’s spoken for half-an-hour without drawing a breath!,” I marvel to Scott.)

We head out into the happily-cooler night (yes, Bologna is hot and humid in late June), where an organic farmer’s market is in full swing in the film center’s courtyard.  Inflamed by the beautiful displays of cheeses, salumi, bread, and vegetables, we head off towards a Sicilian restaurant Steve and Jackie know, Sikelia, Via Riva de Renzo 39.  I can’t believe it!  Two restaurant meals in one day at a film festival!  Unheard-of. (But then the Festival thoughtfully doesn’t program anything between 8 p.m. and the big free outdoor screening at 10.)

We sit outside. I wash down a very good spaghetti vongole with two glasses of thin but perfumed white wine, a decision I rue when I take a half-hour nap sitting in the breezy night air of the Piazza Maggiore right in the middle of John Boorman’s “Point Blank.”  

I remind myself that I have seen “Point Blank” many, many times, most recently in January during the Noir City festival in San Francisco, where Eddie Muller interviewed a feisty and flirty Angie Dickinson onstage.  And I did get to see and hear John Boorman introduce it with his reminiscences of the feisty, not particularly flirty, Lee Marvin, who generously ceded his casting and script approval to Boorman.  I am happy that I woke up before my favorite scene, well, one of my favorite scenes, when Angie Dickinson, clad in a chic bright orange minidress, attempts to beat the hell out of a stolid, unfazed Marvin, and slides exhausted to the floor.

“You’re a very bad man, Walker!” resounds in my head as I walk back to the hotel and hope to fall asleep quickly. Once I’ve written this. More quickly, anyway.  I’m going to try to see another Alma Reville-penned screenplay for “After the Verdict” at 9 a.m.  
 

This article is related to: Guest Blogger, Festivals, Classics, Genres, 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.