Pordenone diary – day three

October 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

A hurried post today. I saw the same program as The Bioscope did, but stayed on for Paris en Cinq Jours (1925), a harmless enough little comedy about American tourists in Paris which features, notably, a hurried 15-minute rush by the tourists through Le Louvre (a gag Godard, in Bande à part, was to renew, though Jacques Feyder had also used it in his Hollywood-made 1929 The Kiss). Isn’t it bad business to go about showing your main customers as boobs ? In the magnificent festival catalog, Lenny Borger comes down hard on the film, and on star-director Nicolas Rimsky:

The film’s central weakness is Rismky himself — his bumbling and grimacing are mostly uninspired mimicry of American models. Still, Rimsky enjoyed popularity among French cinema aurdiences of the 1920s.

I dunno…I thought the film breezed right along (not like that plodding Triplepatte which Lenny Borger seems to have liked…thought for another day!), and I actually enjoyed the pastiche element in that film: it took me a little while to figure out that this was indeed a French film (once the tourists hit Paris then it’s impossible to doubt anymore: hand-held, jerky, out-of-focus shots, long pans on crowds and streets, nervous editing of out-of-balance shots, those would seem to have been de rigueur in all French films seen during this week). But the American segment is, aesthetically, a good copy of an American film c. 1919:  the sets are, notably, American. Dark, velvety, textured, with camera in frontal position, the ubiquitous large desk in front. Is there a good study out there of French pastiches of American silent films ?

But now my main Pordenone complaint. I too went to the Collegium. While I imagine this opportunity given to students to hobnob with the best in international scholarly erudition can only be fantastic (witness for one instance the link Phil Carli just dropped during that session: the University of California Santa Barbara has digitized, in its Sound Collection, 1890-1900 cylinders of theatre or early film music), and while I think it’s a great idea to open said sessions to the public, I wish the sessions were, well, really open. Not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but it sounds jarring to hand out a bibliography “only to Collegians”. This is 2008, information should not, cannot, be proprietary.

Got to be a pretty cool festival if that’s the only bummer of the week. And it is. Check out day four ! I have tons of notes on day four in my little notebook — hopefully there’ll be time this weekend to upload it all here.

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