|Lobby card provided at the screening|
The technical details deserve special mention. The presentation was a joint restoration by the Film Foundation and Gucci, and it looked GORGEOUS - the FF does not mess around. Even better was the fact that we were sitting fairly close and the screen was huge, so we were positively enveloped in the shimmery silvery goodness. Since the film (at least for me) was mostly an aesthetic experience, the nature of the viewing really made a difference. There was trouble in paradise, however - just before the famous fountain scene, the sound cut out! It turned out to be a problem with something on the projector called the "exciter" (Mankiewicz: "I can't believe there's something called the exciter"), but they fixed it, rewound it, and all was right with the world again.
As for the film itself...well...
Going back to what Mankiewicz said, perhaps the film would have been better off without dialogue. To me, it just reads as a serious of vignettes in a short span of one man's life, but you keep expecting that with a three-hour running time it's going to add up to something. It doesn't, really. I'm okay with that type of film in theory, but I guess that for the amount of time invested, I wanted to know more about the character of Marcello; he seemed like more of a vehicle to take us through the events. There are certainly some indelible images and great scenes, but perhaps I just don't have the stamina for whatever brilliance lies within.
I hadn't planned on attending anything on Sunday, but then I received word that two of the films I had regrettably missed were getting encore showings. Thus, I headed on down to the craziness that calls itself Hollywood Blvd and got in line for This Is The Night. The film has been nearly impossible to see for decades, and although I hadn't heard of it prior to its inclusion in the festival, the promise of screwball misunderstandings and a young Cary Grant was all I needed to hear. The crowd received a warm introduction to the film by film scholar Foster Hirsch, who provided some historical background and said of its sauciness, "if you think 'wait, did I just hear them say that?' - you really did."
|Three men and a javelin|
Speaking of Dietrich, I returned to the theater that evening to see MoMA's restoration of the final Josef von Sternberg / Dietrich collaboration, The Devil Is A Woman. Minutes before it started, my boyfriend told me the news about bin Laden (he has an iPhone), and it was strange to possess that knowledge in a room full of classic film fans who didn't. I put that aside to mentally process later, and settled in for some von Sternberg lusciousness. The print looked beautiful, as did Marlene, of course. The character of Concha is in some ways the quintessential Dietrich character - seductive, alluring, destroyer of men - but she's also borderline sociopathic. I don't mean that as a criticism of the character or the film; rather, it's the simplest way to convey Concha's proclivity for toying with human lives for pure amusement. Typically the Dietrich character's soft spots and desires are revealed throughout a film, but here she doesn't appear to have any.
|No words necessary.|