Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Blowup

GB/IT (c) 1966 Bridge Films. For Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. P: Carlo Ponti. D: Michelangelo Antonioni. SC: Antonioni, Tonino Guerra - based on the short story "Final del juego" by Julio Cortázar (1964). DP: Carlo Di Palma. M: Herbie Hancock. ED: Frank Clarke.
    Starring David Hemmings (Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave (Jane), Sarah Miles (Patricia), Veruschka, Jane Birkin (models), The Yardbirds. 110'.
    A print check viewing of a new 2005 print from Technicolor Hollywood / Warner Bros. / Hollywood Classics. At Orion, Helsinki, 29 June 2005.

The 1960s classic still fascinates, also as a Zeitgeist piece. The sad news is that there are now no good prints of BLOWUP. Its brilliant cinematography can not be appreciated in cheapo prints which are far removed from the original. It's ironic that a classic called BLOWUP must be seen in prints which lack in detail and in depth. Colour is very important in this film, especially green, but now also the definition of colour is poor. All this because of no good internegatives and light and colour settings. We were about to buy this print but decided to send it back for review at Hollywood Classics.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

La teta i la lluna

La teta y la luna / Tissi ja kuu / The Tit and the Moon. ES (c) 1994 Lolafilms. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Bigas Luna. SC: Bigas Luna, Cuca Canals. DP: José Luis Alcaine - Eastmancolor - Panavision anamorphic scope. PD: Irene Montcada. M: Nicola Piovani. ED: Carmen Frías. Starring: Biel Durán (Tete), Mathilda May (Estrellita), Gérard Darmon (Maurice), Miguel Poveda (Miquel). This print 91'. A beautiful vintage all-photochemical print without subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 16 June 2005. The last entry in Bigas Luna's "sex trilogy", this time from a young boy's viewpoint, a personal journey into fantasy memoirs like the ones of which Fellini was famous. The framing story is about climbing the human tower in a fiesta. The son's place in the family has being toppled by a newborn baby, but he still desire's the mother's breast. One need not be a detective to suspect that an obsession like this has its origins in the director's fantasy life. There is a circus couple with an ageing motorcyclist who is a latterday Petomane and his young, sensual wife. There is also a young singing lover to compete for her affections. Bigas Luna milks everything from the subject. The story is beyond taste, but the film is again gorgeously shot. Alcaine the cinematographer and Piovani the composer bring a lot to all the films of the trilogy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Huevos de oro

Kultaiset munat / Golden Balls. ES (c) 1993 Lolafilms. EX: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Bigas Luna. SC: Bigas Luna, Cuca Canals. DP: José Luis Alcaine - Eastmancolor - Panavision anamorphic scope. PD: Irene Montcada. COST: Neus Olivella. M: Nicola Piovani. ED: Carmen Frías. Starring: Javier Bardem (Benito González), Maria de Medeiros (Marta), Maribel Verdú (Claudia), Elisa Tovati (Rita), Raquel Bianca (Ana), Benicio Del Toro (Bob, the friend from Miami). This print 93'. An exquisite vintage used all-photochemical print without subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 15 June 2005. The second film in Bigas Luna's signature absurd sex drama "trilogy". This is the story of machismo, the male protagonist whose life is directed by his sex organ. It is also an allegory of the high life and boom economy of the 1980's: the hero is an unscrupulous building contractor, and this is his rise-and-fall story. He betrays everybody, including his sweet wife (Medeiros), before falling to the bottom. There is a karaoke motif ("Only You" / "Por el amor de una mujer") and a Dali motif: Bigas Luna has the nerve to parody Dali in a dream sequence. The cinematography is breathtaking.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jamón, jamón

Kinkkua, kinkkua. ES (c) 1992 Lolafilms. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Bigas Luna. SC: Bigas Luna, Cuca Canals, Quim Monzó. DP: José Luis Alcaine. PD: Gloria Martí-Palanqúes, Pep Olive. M: Nicola Piovani. ED: Teresa Font. Starring: Stefania Sandrelli (Conchita), Anna Galiena (Carmen), Juan Diego (Manuel), Penélope Cruz (Silvia), Javier Bardem (Raul), Jordi Mollà (Jose Luis). This print 95'. A beautiful used vintage all-photochemical print without subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 13 June 2005. In this film Bigas Luna found his style of absurd, comic sex drama. Silvia is dating Jose Luis the nerdy inheritor of an underwear company. His love-starved mother sends Raul the underwear model to woo Silvia but falls herself to his charms while Jose Luis frequents the bordello owned by Silvia's mother. It ends with a mortal duel with dried hams. Full of outrageously sexual images, oozing with sensuality, very beautifully photographed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

FIAF CONGRESS IN LJUBLJANA, 7-12 JUNE 2005

The 61th Congress of Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF) took place in Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana, 5-11 June, 2005. I arrived by the evening of Tuesday, 7 June after an all day journey and returned home in Helsinki in the first hour of Monday, 13 June. I was there as the deputy head of the Commission for Programming and Access to Collections, chairman of the Electronic Subtitling Workshop, and speaker in the Technical Commission Workshop on the digital future from the programming and access viewpoint.
A highlight of the Congress was the launching of Torkell Saetervadet's Advanced Projection Manual, circulating as a fully set model copy, to be published soon as a book.
The digital future, and our profession's existential question "what is film" were discussed in the technical commission's workshop. Mr. Saetervadet analysed some reasons why we still desire film projection:
1. The resolution is generally higher
2. The contrast ratio is better
3. Absolute black levels
4. Better rendering of detail in dark areas
5. Better colour reproduction (colour gamut, colour resolution)
6. No compression artefacts
7. No pixel artefacts
8. Film remains the most universal standard
In my own speech I continued from Torkell: film is the only standard, as there are no video and digital standards so far, in the strong sense of the word as ISO standards of preservation. The current 2K resolution is not good enough for cinema programming. 4K might be enough; 6-8K for CinemaScope, and 10K for 70mm. But digital rights management (DRM) may cause a stop to higher resolution scanning, as digital files are easy prey to piracy.
Erlend Jonassen (Oslo) presented the ambitious video-on-demand service of the Norwegian Film Institute. The FIAF electronic subtitling network keeps expanding, counting now 20 members.

SECOND CENTURY FORUM
The theme was websites interesting for film professionals.
TECHNICAL SITES
1. American Wide Screen Museum
www.widescreenmuseum.com
2. Film Formats
www.xs4allnt.com
3. Kodak
www.kodak.com
4. Film Preservation Society
www.filmpres.org
CONSERVATION
5. National Film Preservation Foundation
www.filmpreservation.org
6. Conservation online
www.palimpsest.standford.edu
CATALOGING
7. MIC
www.loc.gov
8. IMAP
www.imappreserve.org
RESEARCH
9. BIFI
www.bifi.fr/doc_site/francais/index.html
10. CineFiles
www.mip.berkeley.edu
11. BUFVC
www.bufvc.ac.uk/databases/newsreels
12. Library of Congress
www.loc.gov
FILMOGRAPHIES
13. Film Portal
www.filmportal.de
14. International Movie Database
www.imdb.com
ARCHIVE ACTIVIST GROUPS
15. Archive Forum
www.afiresearch.rmit.edu.au
16. Center for Home Movies
www.homemovieday.com
On Thursday, 9 June, there was a bus excursion to Dolenjska in the south-eastern Slovenia. We visited the Dolenjska Museum in Novo Mesto and the Kapitelj Church with their Tintoretto painting. After a drive through the valley of the river Krka we reached the Cistercian Monastery of Pleterje and visited the Dolenjske Toplice Health Resort.
The farewell dinner on 11 June was served in the Ljubljana Castle, hosted by the Ljubljana mayor, Ms. Danica Simsic.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Matador

Matador / Matador. ES (c) 1986 Compañía Iberoamericana de TV / Televisión Española. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Pedro Almodóvar. SC: Almodóvar, Jesús Ferrero. DP: Angel Luis Fernández. ED: José Salcedo. Starring: Assumpta Serna (María Cardenal), Antonio Banderas (Angel), Nacho Martínez (Diego), Eva Cobo (Eva), Julieta Serrano (Berta), Chus Lampreave (Pilar), Carmen Maura (Julia), Eusebio Poncela (inspector), Bibí Andersen (flower girl). This print 108'. A vintage used all-photochemical print with delicious colour, no subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 6 June 2005. Almodóvar's fifth film, an ode to mad love where María the counsellor, the serial killer of matadors, meets Diego the matador who has turned his target from bulls to humans. The story is between myth and pulp fiction with references to Duel in the Sun etc., itself a model for Basic Instinct. Banderas plays a shy boy with a sense of guilt who confesses crimes he didn't commit. Handsome and clever, but not compelling.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Las edades de Lulú

Lulu. ES © 1990 Iberoamericana Films. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Bigas Luna. SC: Bigas Luna and Almudena Grandes - from the novel of Grandes. DP: Fernando Arribas. PD: Miguel Chicharro. COST: Antonio Alvarado. ED: Pablo González del Amo. Sound: Daniel Goldstein, Ricardo Steimberg. Starring Francesca Neri (Lulú), Oscar Ladoire (Pablo), María Barranco (Ely), Fernando Guillén Cuervo (Marcelo), Javier Bardem (Jimmy). Long version 101'. An used print with good definition of colour without subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 3 June 2005. A woman's sexual odyssey from the first experiences of the shy girl to the dangerous adventures of the grown-up woman. A veritable anthology of sexual experience in the modern world, done as explicitly as possible this side of hard-core pornography. Francesca Neri is very good as the title character of this daring film. In the end she gets to experiment with groups of gay men, and is caught in a trap to be tied up and raped in front of paying gangsters (?). This end is too predictable; why do all art films that deal sex themes honestly have to lead to tragedy? Dumb porn is closer to reality with its happy endings. Yet this is an interesting vision of a tornado of desire. The Wedekind reference is deserved.

¡Ay, Carmela!

ES / IT © 1990 Iberoamericana Films. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Carlos Saura. SC: Rafael Azcona, Saura – based on the play by José Sanchís Sinisterra. DP: José Luis Alcaine – Eastmancolor. AD: Rafael Palmero. COST: Humberto Cornejo, Mercedes Sánchez. M: Alejandro Massó. Theme "¡Ay, Carmela!" (= "Rumbala..."). Several song numbers. ED: Pablo González del Amo. Sound: Alfonso Pino. Starring Carmen Maura (Carmela), Andrés Pajares (Paulino), Gabino Diego (Gustavete), Maurizio De Razza (Lt. Ripamonte). 102'. An used print with good definition of colour without subtitles. Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 3 June 2005. Carmela and Paulino with their mute assistant are a touring variety act on their way away from the Spanish Civil War 1938 to Valencia. First they perform to the Republicans, but they get caught by the Nationalists, and as an alternative to the firing squad, they have the option to present a Franco-minded act for their troops. A good story, and Carmen Maura is good in the title role as the all-singing, all-dancing earth spirit caught on both sides of the lines, but this is not Saura at his best. Despite the comic plot there is a deep sense of melancholy and despair about the Civil War.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Kultainen kynttilänjalka / [The Golden Candlestick] (in the presence of Rauha Puntti)


Kultainen kynttilänjalka. Mirjami Kuosmanen (Erna), Edvin Laine (Markus Mäntylä / Markus Hormi).

Den gyllene ljusstaken. FI 1946. PC: Fenno-Filmi. EX: Yrjö Norta. P: Emil Viljanen. D: Edvin Laine. SC: Laine, Erkki Uotila from a treatment by Toivo Kauppinen. DP: Esko Töyri. PD: Karl Fager.
    M: Heikki Aaltoila. Schubert: "Ständchen" (sung twice in Finnish). Mozart: "Voi che sapete" from Le nozze di Figaro. Mendelssohn: "Hochzeitmarsch". Liszt: "Liebestraum".
    ED: Yrjö Norta. Sound. Emil Häkkänen.
    Starring Edvin Laine (Markus Mäntylä = Markus Hormi), Mirjam Novero (Asta Kataja), Rauha Puntti (Ulla Karpela), Esko Saha (Lauri Takala), Jalmari Rinne (banker Kataja), Matti Aulos (O. Takala), Emma Vänänen (Mrs. Takala), Mirjami Kuosmanen (Erna), Paavo Jännes (Reverend Karpela), Enni Rekola (Fanny). 110 min
    A vintage nitrate print with a deep silver glow even in the many dark scenes. Swedish subtitles.
    In the presence of Ms. Rauha Puntti, the sole survivor of the production.
    Viewed in Orion, Helsinki, 1 June 2005.

An expressionistic crime melodrama so heavily overdone, the production year might be 50 years earlier. It's the story of a criminal (Laine) who leads a double life and wants to get established in high society. He has become an influential financier and finds a wife (Novero, his real-life spouse) who is fascinated by his reputation as a ladies' man. There is even a sinister maid (Rekola) whose task it is to drug the wife while the man is away. Subtle it ain't, but there are some fascinating sequences. The best one is the second "Ständchen" scene, where there is a brilliantly caricatured montage of expressions and reactions. The second story is about the young musicians-lovers (Puntti, Saha) who get caught in the criminal's web. They get to walk together towards the light in the end. The story of the golden candlestick is reminiscent of Les Misérables: it becomes the voice of conscience.

Son de mar / Sound of the Sea



ES © 2001 Lolafilms. P: Andrés Vicente Gómez. D: Bigas Luna. SC: Rafael Azcona – based on the novel by Manuel Vicent (1999). Excerpt from Virgil's Aeneid. DP (Eastmancolor) : José Luis Alcaine. AD: Pierre-Louis Thévenet; set dec: Iñigo Navarro. COST: Macarena Soto. M: Glen Johnson. "Gangsta's Paradise" perf. Coolio; "It's Not Unusual", perf. Tom Jones. Sound: Ricard Casals (Dolby Digital). ED: Ernest Blasi.
    Starring: Jordi Mollà (Ulises), Leonor Watling (Martina), Eduard Fernández (Sierra). In Spanish.
    2811 m / 102 min     A beautiful 35 mm print without subtitles. Gorgeous all-photochemical look.
    Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 1 June 2005.

An erotic romance in a small town by the Bay of Valencia of the Balearian Sea. Bigas Luna's love hymn to the fascination of the Mediterranean Sea, the fatal surge of life and death, with references to classical legends from the ages of Homer and Virgil. The young teacher Ulises comes to town and falls in love with they young Martina who has been dating the construction executive Sierra. There's a wedding, and a baby son. Ulises disappears in the boat named Martina which is found wrecked. But he returns after some years to find Martina married to Sierra. They start their love affair in secret, more torridly than ever. They leave in the yacht Son de mar, but it's a trap. Alcaine's cinematography is excellent. The film is an object of beauty. It glorifies the female charms with a special interest in the naked breasts. And oranges, tuna fish, the sea. Leonor Watling is scintillating. After a while, crocodile? The story is nonsense, it's about the vision and the sound (of the sea).