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Wild in Bologna

Greetings from Bologna, Italy, where the Cineteca di Bologna’s annual festival of archival films, Il Cinema Ritrovato, is about halfway through. I’ve helped to program a selection of rarely seen Raoul Walsh films, and today had the pleasure of presenting the first public screening of MOMA’s newly restored print of Walsh’s 1932 comic western “Wild Girl.” There are a lot of other interesting series going on here, including a Lois Weber retrospective, a survey of the work of a stylistically accomplished but unabashedly Stalinist Soviet-era director named Ivan Py’rev (curated by Olaf Moeller), films related to the stock market collapse of 1929, a survey of the films of 1912, some rareties from Jean Gremillon, and too much else to mention. It’s really a remarkable event — an opportunity to see some of the latest preservation work from around the world, as well as to pass time with a warm community of journalists, scholars, archivists, distributors and filmmakers. If you ever have a chance to attend, don’t pass it by.

This week’s New York Times column takes the home video release of “The Artist” as an opportunity to encourage readers to see some genuine silent films, with Criterion’s recent release of Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush” serving as a convenient example of same. Here in Bologna, where an open air screening of the 1930 Louise Brooks film “Prix de beaute” can fill the medieval town square, it’s hard to believe that the whole world doesn’t revolve around black and white films. I suspect it would be a nicer place if it did.

169 comments to Wild in Bologna

  • “Three Godless Years” is a terrific O’Hara film about the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. I haven’t seen it since a screening at the Asia Society in the mid-1980s, but I remember carefully composed shots, richly evocative period detail, and an objective portrayal of the Japanese occupiers.

    The late Mario O’Hara deserves a retrospective. Maybe someone at the Asia Society is working on it now, and maybe it will come to Los Angeles.

  • Jim Gerow

    I would love to see more Mario O’Hara-directed films, especially THREE YEARS WITHOUT GOD that has been praised so highly. Netflix does carry WOMAN OF THE BREAKWATER (listed as BABAE SA BREAKWATER). It’s a powerful film. He also wrote two of Lino Brocka’s greatest films, INSIANG and TINIMBANG KA NGUNIT KULANG (the latter also starring O’Hara) which are both on Netflix streaming. I also had a chance to see a very rare screening of Brocka’s DIPPED IN GOLD with a wonderful early performance by O’Hara as a hunky chauffeur secretly sleeping with the boss.

    Also sorry to hear about Dolphy’s death. The only film of his I’ve seen is Brocka’s ANG TATAY KONG NANAY, which I want to watch again soon. He is quite moving in it. Noel Vera has fine remembrances of both Dolphy and Mario O’Hara on his website.

    I’ve heard buzz that Anthology Film Archives is planning a Filipino film series this fall which would be most welcome. Besides the classic cinema, much of which is lost or unavailable, there is an exciting new wave of Filipino cinema in the last decade led by Lav Diaz, Raya Martin, Khavn de la Cruz, Brillante Mendoza and Auraeus Solito, among others. Diaz’s epic A CENTURY OF BIRTHING, recently shown at Anthology, was extraordinary.

  • Tony Williams

    Junko, I admire Hara Setsuko in many ways. But I read somewhere that she was a keen supporter of Hirohito and right wing politics in the post-war era. If I’m correct do you think this may be one reason why she does not give interviews?

  • Peter Henne

    It is sad about Isuzu Yamada, the definition of recalcitrant if ever there were such a thing. (The dictionary identifies synonyms for “recalcitrant” to be “insubordinate,” refractory,” “disobedient.” Yes, that’s her.) Even in her elderly parts (e.g., TOKYO TWILIGHT, THE LOWER DEPTHS), there was a sense of resisting “going easily into the night.” There was something naturally and heroically noncompliant about her, which Mizoguchi deeply shared, not only in the 1936 pair but also two films from the previous year, THE DOWNFALL OF OSEN and OYUKI THE MADONNA. Though she might be most famous for her “feminist activism” in OSAKA ELEGY and especially SISTERS OF THE GION, even when her character plays a socially submissive part in life, she is admirably conniving and gloriously insolent. The nonchalance and protest at her core are what make her riveting. I admire the elemental resistance she brought to her roles. Like Mizoguchi, she charged her films with defiance to the very order of things.

  • Stephen Dwoskin (1939-2012), one of the grand old men of experimental cinema, is gone.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘I read somewhere that she was a keen supporter of Hirohito and right wing politics in the post-war era. If I’m correct do you think this may be one reason why she does not give interviews?’

    Hara Setsuko was not so enthusiastic rightist, but favoring LDP. Since retirement in 1962 she did not want to be public anymore, only sometimes making statement when Ryu Chishu died in 1993. I do not know her true reason, but I do not think it is political.

  • Junko — What did Hara (or more properly Aida-san) say about Chishu Ryu? (I never read about this).

    I always just believed Hara meant what she said back when she quit — that she never really enjoyed being an actress and only did this because her family needed the money — and now that she and her family were financially secure, she didn’t need to act anymore and wanted (absolutely) to have nothing else to do with movies. (More or less what I recall reading).

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘What did Hara (or more properly Aida-san) say about Chishu Ryu?’

    From TV, read by news reader. Also in newspaper. One or two sentence of condolence.

  • Noel Vera

    That’s a pity about Dwoskin.

    Thanks, Jim, Mike, x–may that rumor about the Anthology Film Archives come true. I know someone’s pushing for Netpac to do one.

    And to ride on what Barry was saying, Mario once speculated that he was possibly related to Maureen–that the O’Haras are a small, closely knitted clan. Even thinks John O’Hara could be a relative. Don’t know the veracity of this claim.

    Maureenos doesn’t sound like any Asian language I know (ours is a mix of Malay and Spanish). An American snack chip, perhaps?

  • jbryant

    I don’t know about “Maureeno,” but the Harvard Lampoon used to give out a “Merino Award” (named after a breed of sheep) as part of its annual “Movie Worsts.” I believe “Merino Hara” won it more than once.

  • Barry Putterman

    Unfortunately for both Mario and the Lampoon, her actual birth name was FitzSimons. Which possibly is something you would eat with a side of Maureenos.

  • Noel Vera

    It would be nice to know if that John O’Hara connection is true, writing in their blood and all.

  • Noel Vera

    And the capacity to drink copious amounts of beer. With a bowl of Maureenos.

  • Tom Brueggemann

    Word comes of the hospitalization of Manoel de Oliveira for a respiratory infections. Doctors are optimistic that he is responding to treatment, but because of his age (103) he is listed as in serious (though stable) condition. He is alert enough to be quoted as saying he wants to get out as quickly as possible, because “there is still much work to be done.”

  • Brian Dauth

    Addie Ross has left us.

  • Noel Vera

    ““there is still much work to be done.””

    Spoken like a true termite. Great man, that.

    “Addie Ross”

    That sounds like advanced info, Brian–couldn’t find any word on the net.

  • Brian Dauth

    Sorry Noel. Celeste Holm died and her performance as Mrs. Addie Ross in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES is one of my favorite vocal performances in film. She was good in HIGH SOCIETY and ALL ABOUT EVE as well, but Addie Ross is my favorite.

  • Noel Vera

    Was going to say “my bad,” and correct what I wrote but the edit function won’t work past five minutes. Any idiotic remark made stays for all time.

    I really remember her in All About Eve.

  • Oliver_C

    Three thespians, all born in 1917, passing within a few days of each other. Should Herbert Lom and Joan Fontaine be worried? 🙁