Friday, May 25, 2007

Woke up, and my left foot felt like lead. Great. This cold is lingering, and now gout? I can't take it. It's like i'm falling apart.

Anyway, did wake up and get out and got to the Walter Reade in time to see "Caravaggio". So i did make it to two out of the five press s creenings for the New Italian Cinema series. About "Caravaggio": what's the Italian word for kitsch? And it makes me long for Derek Jarman's version of "Caravaggio". The director of this Italian biopic is Angelo Longoni; the writers are James Carrington and Andrea Purgatori. About the last, it's taking all my willpower to resist making a joke. And the lead performance by Alessio Boni... it's one of those "energetic" performances that soon becomes exhausting.

I have to say, i was really disappointed. The only compensation seems to have been that the print was supposed to be 150 minutes long, but it seems to have ended ten minutes early: was this the cut print? According to the Film Society of Lincoln Center press release: "Caravaggio is a major European co-production that will be released in theaters at a reduced length. We are proud to premiere this longer version at this year's Open Roads." What exactly made it so bad? This movie had the burnished look of importanec (Vittorio Storaro was the cinematographer), the score kept blasting in a sub-Morricone way (composer of record: Luis Enriques Bacalov)... but it was the fact that the main character was always "volatile", always brawling, always so overwhelming... when does he have time to paint, when he's always bouncing around?

It made me a little (though only a little) nostalgic for the biopics that Ken Russell used to concoct.

But with "Billo" and "Caravaggio", that made two out of the five press screenings for the Open Roads series, but i'm feeling so sick....

However, i did see the entire Mick Travis trilogy. An interesting experience. Of course, "If...." is an embedded experience: it's one of those films which, once you've seen it, it stays in your memory (at least, mine). "O Lucky Man!" was a little overextended... somewhere in the second hour, the film lost me, and before i knew it, the last hour of the film was at hand. But it has some terrific bits, the score by Alan Price is really marvellous, and it's a considerable achievement. Though the Mick Travis of "O Lucky Man!" isn't quite the same Mick Travis in "If..." It's rather like the evolution of Antoine Doinel: the fiercely independent little boy of "The 400 Blows" never seemed to be the same character as the rather befuddled aspiring bourgeoise in "Bed and Board". And by the time of "Britannia Hospital", Malcolm McDowell's Mick is merely a subsidiary character.

On the Advocate website ( Michael Giltz has a blog from the Cannes Film Festival. It's quite entertaining and really informative. In addition to writing about the movies (which seem to have been a very strong group this year, thank goodness, or the 60th Anniversary celebration would have been a fizzle), there are some amusing comments on social events (such as the AmFar benefit auction) and on meeting people (interviewing Angelina Jolie, running into Cheryl Dunye, interviewing Julianne Moore and Tom Kalin). Of course, it's so odd: Cheryl and Tom being old friends, so it's funny to read about them.

Of course, there's been a lot of controversy about "Savage Grace", with a lot of the critics feeling the film was the material is distasteful (what with incest and murder and so on) and the handling is so blase. Well, hadn't any of these people seen "Swoon"? Hasn't that always been Tom Kalin's modus operandi?


Anyway, there was a documentary about Lindsay Anderson which Michael Giltz saw in Cannes; it's (evidently) not really that good, and certainly not really illuminating, but if Michael wants more information on Lindsay Anderson, i would suggest that he read Gavin Lambert's book "Mainly About Lindsay Anderson", in which Anderson's sexuality is discussed.

I'm starting to get tired but i did have a lot of thoughts after seeing the Mick Travis trilogy. One thing: in "O Lucky Man!" there's the startling scene where Rachel Roberts plays the suicidal mother, who's cleaning her apartment so that it'll look nice when people find her dead. In Gavin Lambert's book, her life is touched upon, and it's so sad. She was such a strong actress, but she fell in love (and married) Rex Harrison. She was the fourth Mrs. Harrison: his two previous wives had been Lilli Palmer and Kay Kendall. For someone who was insecure (as Rachel Roberts was), it must have been traumatic for her. Lilli Palmer and Kay Kendall were known as great beauties, which is certainly not true of Rachel Roberts. Roberts was a "chaarcter actress", and also an actress who came up with the working class boys of the North (Tom Courtney, Alan Bates, Albert Finney, etc.). In reading "Mainly About Lindsay Anderson", i hadn't realized how revolutionary it had been for these working class people to be in the theater, and that, of course, has been one of the fundamental changes in the British theater since the 1950s. (The reason so many of the women of that generation - Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Rigg, Helen Mirren - seem to be "classier" than the men is because they were: they were from a different class. But a few of the actresses - Glenda Jackson, Rachel Roberts - were also working class.)

I have to say that it took me a long time to really start to like Glenda Jackson. Initially, in so many of her performances, she seemed almost deliberately abrasive, and unlikeable. But in "Return of the Soldier", she was so... comforting. And so wonderfully instinctual and warm. And i loved "Stevie" (which is a movie i wish were on DVD).

But she's someone who really believes that if she wants to make a difference, she had to actually do something. So now she's in politics, and has retired from acting. It's rather the opposite of Nile Rodgers....


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