This Summer We’re Channelling: Grace Kelly in “Rear Window”

 

One evening this summer, when a cool breeze was starting to push the heat from the earlier scorcher into more bearable a memory, we watched Rear Window in the garden. I have watched it on repeated times throughout the years, as with most of Hitchcock’s films, but each time on a tv screen, first on VHS, then on DVD, and, eventually and ever more reluctantly, on Blu-ray. The opportunity of watching it when it was screened at the festivals I have attended during all these years of cinephiles has somehow always escaped me. That evening, I finally experienced what it must feel like to watch a Hitchcock on a big screen, a timely and proper celebration for this year’s Rear Window and Hitchcock anniversaries (70 years and 125 years, respectively). Grace Kelly was more beautiful, identifying with James Stewart was more powerful, Thelma Ritter’s dialogue was spicier than ever before. The actors felt closer yet grander than ever before. Colour was used for dramatic purposes rather than pictorial ends, I came to realise. When Jeff and Lisa and Tom Doyle are having a heated discussion exchanging suggestive glances, eyebrows raised, glasses of brandy stirred relentlessly in their hands, I sensed the tension more than the humour in it for the very first time. And when the killer attacks James Stewart, that moment of contact at the very end, I was involved in the sense of the violence in a way I hadn’t been before. Hitchcock should only be watched on a big screen.

“There’s more pure film there, even though it’s static, than in many films I’ve made,” Hitchcock told Ian Cameron and V.F. Perkins in an interview in 1963. Hitchcock makes sure to use purely cinematic means from the very first shot. François Truffaut made Hitchcock the perfect resume in their interviews: “You open up with the perspiring face of James Stewart, you move on to his leg in a cast, and then, on a nearby table, there is the broken camera, a stack of magazines, and, on the wall, there are pictures of racing cars as they topple over on the track. Throughout that single opening camera movement we have learned where we are, who the principal character is, all about his work, and even how it caused his accident.”

 
 

”It was a possibility of doing a purely cinematic film.
You have an immobilized man looking out. That’s one part of the film.
The second part shows what he sees and the third part shows how
he reacts. This is actually the purest expression of a cinematic idea.”

Alfred Hitchcock

 

The thriller is at the forefront of Rear Window, but the film is really a love story between L.B. Jeffries, Jeff (James Stewart), a photojournalist, whose profession and travels mean everything to him and who is reluctant to commit himself to a relationship, and his high-spirited girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), who wants to marry him. Jeff is confined to a wheelchair at home with a broken leg and, from his window, he watches his neighbours from over the courtyard. As Truffaut observed in his book, Hitchcock Truffaut, it was this technical challenge that had Hitchcock’s interest in making the film, based on a Cornell Woolrich short story, “a whole film from the viewpoint of one man, and embodied in a single large set”. Another one of Hitchcock’s genius touches is that each of the neighbours Jeff is watching represents not only a permutation of the possible outcomes of the relationship between Jeff and Lisa, as Paul Duncan suggests in the book Alfred Hitchcoch: The Complete Films, but also an image of the world, mirroring, as Hitchcock told Truffaut, “every kind of human behavior”, “a small universe” (and “a display of human weaknesses and people in pursuit of happiness”, as the French filmmaker himself concurred).

 

Edith Head sketch for Grace Kelly’s costumes in “Rear Window”, 1954

 

 

In one of the most famous close-ups in film history, we are introduced to Lisa in a scene where a drowsy James Stewart awakes to a full close-up of Lisa coming towards him for a kiss. The neckline of the dress was kept very simple so that Grace’s face was framed by it for the close-up. When the camera pulled back, progressively revealing more of Lisa’s look as she turns on the light on all the lamps in the room, Hitchcock made sure that the public knew that Lisa was a woman who came from wealth. A dress “fresh from the Paris plane” is how Lisa describes it, with a fitted black bodice with an off the shoulder, deep “V” cut neckline and with cap sleeves, and a mid-calf full skirt, very New Look style, gathered and layered in chiffon tulle, with a spray bunch pattern on the hip area. A black patent leather belt, a white chiffon shoulder wrap, white elbow-length silk gloves, a single strand of pearls and black high heeled strapped sandals complete the look.

Edith Head, the costume designer, had previously worked with Grace and they had become good friends. Their relationship grew even closer when Hitchcock chose them both for Rear Window. Lisa works in the high fashion New York trade and her interest in clothes – so obviously put on a show here – is in high contrast to Jeff’s. “Lisa, it’s perfect – it’s always perfect,” he answers unenthusiastically when she asks what she thinks of her dress. Beauty, or this kind of beauty, emphasised through the most glamorous clothes, is of no importance to Jeff as long as their interests lie in opposite directions. Costume is used to establish identity – feminine perfection in this case – but it also quickly gives us the exact idea where the relationship between the two protagonists stands.
 

Edith Head sketch for Grace Kelly’s costumes in “Rear Window”, 1954

 


 
The simple black silk organza dress, with translucent cap sleeves, appears, darkly, at the pivotal point in the film, when Lisa starts to believe Jeff, and that the man they are watching is a murderer. Jeff, too, starts to see her with different eyes.
 

Edith Head sketch for Grace Kelly’s costumes in “Rear Window”, 1954

 


 
When Lisa arrives to spend the night at Jeff’s, she is wearing the famous eau de nil suit: a midi-length jacket with stand-up collar and rounded shoulders, a style reminiscent of the designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga. Underneath, she wears a white silk halterneck, beautifully gathered at the waist (see above) with a wrapover front that sits atop a ’50s style midi skirt, but in a tubular cut this time, nipped in at the waist. The ensemble is further accessorised with a white pillbox hat with half veil, a single strand of pearls, stud earrings with glass cameo, and a multi-stringed pearl bracelet with hanging gold ornate lockets. The bracelet is by far the most spectacular piece of costume Lisa is wearing, reestablishing her image as the personification of idealised femininity reflected in the way she dresses.
 


 
From inside her Mark Cross overnight case, Lisa produces a nightgown which she calls “a preview of coming attractions.” The dialogue is incredibly witty and entertaining in Rear Window, as it usually is in Hitchcock’s movies.

“I wish I was more creative,” Lisa tells Jeff. “But, sweetheart, you are. You have a great talent for creating difficult situations,” he says, referring to her decision of spending the night over, “I do?,” Lisa answers, smiling satisfyingly.
 


 
Grace wears a print dress towards the end of the film. Edith was more liberal in her designs in the 1930s, as David Chierichetti, film historian and costumer, remarked. In the 50s and 60s, she simply didn’t use prints, because she was worried that the picture could be delayed and the prints would look dated. “She uses a print dress here, because it serves a certain dramatic purpose.” It’s a beautiful, very feminine dress, and Lisa has high heels on. “This look makes her more vulnerable, more natural, more foolhearty.” I think it is when Jeff realises how much he loves Lisa.
 


 
The casual outfit Lisa wears at the end of the movie was Hitchcock’s way to suggest she could be the sporty type, Jeff’s type, after all. Edith dressed Grace in slim indigo jeans and a pink casual men’s shirt with button-down collar and rolled-up sleeves, and dark brown loafers.

Grace Kelly’s costumes in Rear Window are the perfect example of the stylish and elegant fifties. But, most importantly, they are an essential part of building-up character and just by watching Lisa’s changing outfits and wealth of details of her clothes, you become aware of the layers of the story and of the character.
 

Photos: movie stills, Classiq Journal. Credit: Paramount Pictures

Editorial sources: “Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer”, by Jay Jorgensen; “Alfred Hitchcock: The Complete Films”, by Paul Duncan; “Alfred Hitchcock Interviews”, edited by Sidney Gottlieb

Posted by classiq in Film, Film costume | | 5 Comments

July Newsletter: So Cal, ‘Round Midnight, and Timeless Pagnol

 
 

Photos: Classiq Journal

 
 

“It’s like life really; you start out with a rough
overall design for it, but the dream is always changing,
evolving and you have to be open and adaptive to the unexpected.
I think from the outside I can vine seen as a bit of a drifter,
but I think it’s more like tracking a boat: you have a destination
in mind but it’s not that simple, you have to make a lot of seemingly
wayward manoeuvres to get there. And in these detours lies the magic.”

Ed, I Love the Seaside

 

 

Viewing

‘Round Midnight, 1986
Bertrand Tavernier

Bertrand Tavernier had an affinity for music and a love for cinema. In no other film of his was that probably more evident than in ‘Round Midnight, his elegy to jazz that captures the very essence of jazz music and the jazz musicians’ lives like no other. Actually, the film reminded me of Geoff Dyer’s book, But Beautiful. Dyer writes beautifully in such a way that you can not tell where reality ends and where fiction begins. It takes imagination and ardor and improvisation and spontaneity to write like this and the portraits of the musicians he evokes – Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Thelonius Monk, Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Art Pepper – are alive, intimate, lyrical, heartbreaking, and capture the spirit of jazz better than any other writing. And so is Bertrand Tavernier’s portrayal of his character, Dexter Gordon/Dale Turner.

Tavernier wanted to base his film on the friendship between the pianist “Bud” Powell and Francis Paudras, a Parisian lover of American jazz, who wrote a book about it, Dance of the Infidels: A Portrait of Bud Powell. Saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who had a long career playing with some of the great American bands in the 1940s and ‘50s played Dale Turner – Tavernier and producer Irwin Winkler wanted to get musicians, not actors for the leading roles and they put together a group of great names led by Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Billy Higgings, Ron Carter, Freddie Hubbard and Chet Baker. François Cluzet played the French friend.

Dexter Gordon is Dale Turner, and commands the screen with an instinctive naturalness. As Irwin Winkler writes in his auto biography, Dexter’s “dialogue was not from the script; it was improvised, like the notes on his saxophone, delivered in a voice damaged by years of cigarette smoke and drugs – too unique for an actor to imitate. He had not only played jazz, he talked jazz. He not only played drunk, he was drunk.” François Cluzet, short and slender was shot by Bertrand Tavernier so that he was always looking up to his idol, but no sequence is more moving than that of him staying outside the Blue Note nightclub where Dale Turner is playing, crouched, listening transfixed by the vent, because he doesn’t have enough money to get inside to see his idol play. Another unforgettable scene is when singer Lonette McKee joins Dexter on the scene. Her voice and Turner’s saxophone transport you to another time and place, difficult to describe in words.

 

Morocco, 1930
Josef von Sternberg

I would often watch it just for the costumes. The top hat, tuxedo and white bow-tie Marlene Dietrich wore for her first performance in her first American film became her signature look. By deciding to put her in trousers in the first important act, Josef von Sternberg not only built up the anticipation of the audiences, who were anxious to see Marlene’s legs revealed as they had been made famous in The Blue Angel (1930), also directed by von Sternberg, but this smart move would always link her image to that of an enigmatic persona, who, unlike many other stars, would use subtext to enhance the femme fatale perception of her. The director had seen her wearing a man’s suit and a top hat at a party in Berlin, and it inspired him to use it as a dramatic look for her first musical number in an American film. The result still tantalizes the viewers, more than nine decades later. Wearing men’s attire suited Marlene like a charm, but whether in a man’s suit or a glamorous gown, she exuded sex appeal all her life, never lacking tastefulness.

 

Point Break (1991)
Kathryn Bigelow

This is a film that takes my mind to rebellious summers and endless beach days as a way of life. It’s a perfect blend of fearlessness, atmospheric scenery and thriller action (mainly thanks to the two leading men, Keanu Reeves, as rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah, and Patrick Swayze, as the leader of a gang of surfers who moonlight as bank robbers) that pulls you in and lingers with you long after the ending credits. But there is also a philosophical side to the characters and that’s one of the most interesting parts of the movie, allowing you to be part of it and make your own version of it. It is also the film that introduced me to Kathryn Bigelow’s work years ago, and what a fine job she does here!

And I have to mention another favourite Bigelow film: Strange Days, from 1995. It paints a Los Angeles of the year 1999 at the confluence of futuristic landscape and 1940s noir, of science-fiction and crime thriller. We live in the digital age, in the age of virtual reality, but it still feels unsettling to watch the prospect of computer-generated reality as imagined almost thirty years in advance. It just shows how creepy the world would become; it shows how creepy the world has become almost thirty years on. “Jacking in” means attaching a “squid” to your skull – a brain wave transmitter that creates the impression that you are having someone else’s experiences. And don’t we today want to constantly watch other people’s lives, to have their experiences? And some of the technology we can use, like social media, seems so much more gentile and harmless that you don’t even realise the danger and audacity of our new reality. The mood, the noir-inspired hero (the morally ambiguous hero alienated from society, charismatic yet flawed, harking back in the past, played by a fantastic Ralph Fiennes), the relentless and suspenseful pacing, the cinematography, Bigelow’s skill to make you live the characters’ experiences – this is one great piece of cinema making.

 

 

Reading

The most authentic, laidback and cool travel and surf guide, and so much more than that. I Love the Seaside: The Surf & Travel Guide to Southwest Europe gathers intel from across the coastlines of Portugal, Spain and France into a beautiful book that is a world in itself. Backdrop stories about the surf culture in the region, short interviews with interesting local people, knowledge about local food, culture, makers and menders, little gems found on site, true and tried over the years. Places that may not be picture-perfect or where they may not speak English, but where you will experience something real. And having it on paper offers you an enhanced sense of place, awaiting for notes to be penned on the side and revisited as time passes, its pages a little more creased after each time we open it.

 

Burma Sahib, by Paul Theroux. He writes about George Orwell before he was George Orwell, but a 19-year-old policeman in Burma. They say those five years were the years that made him. “Drawing on all his powers of observation and imagination, Theroux brings Orwell’s Burma tears to radiant life, tracing the developments of the young man’s consciousness as he confronts both the social, racial and class politics of his colonial colleagues, and the reality of the Burma beyond, which he yearns to grasp.”

 

Les Classiques de Lire Magazine dedicated to Marcel Pagnol in its entirety. “My grandfather is timeless,” says Nicolas Pagnol. So is this special number of Lire magazine.

 

Sylvie Simmons on Tom Waits in Mojo magazine (the print edition): “The Heart of Saturday Night, released 50 years ago, lit a path for Tom Waits’ next decade of music-making. Beat poetry and noir jazz entwined and his roots in rough-and-tumble San Diego showed through in his first truly Waitsian oeuvre. All the elements were there, ready to be drawn out.”

 

Listening

The Podcast: Wild, Wild Podcast and its episode on Il Cinema Ritrovato as we get to follow Adrian Smith around, watching movies, attending the festival’s phenomenal book fair, buying film posters and casually talking about films and Bologna. To any friend of cinema, this sounds mighty good.

 

The soundtrack: ‘Round Midnight

 

The album: Unforgettable Fire, U2

 

 

Making

Ciel Glue is a French artist based in Portugal, whose influences come from his love of surfing and the ocean and his collages are one of the best things to bring home from a trip. His art plays on the idea of timelessness using vintage imagery to add an element of not only fun but an understanding that surf will never age.

“I take great pleasure in finding these images of vintage surfers, their lives destined to the closed pages of a dusty magazine at the back of a library and rescuing them from their dark, eternal fate. Bringing them back to the ocean and placing them on the waves of their life. Giving back to them that feeling of the first drop in. My line of creation resides around the sentence: ‘To read the wave.’”

 

Mojak makes hats, inspired by the sea, timeless and handcrafted, for a lifetime of adventure. It was early summer 2016 when Bodensee-born Emanuel Mauthe set off on the 1280 km journey to the French Atlantic coast.

“The two most beautiful things are the home from which we come and the home to which we wander.” – Heinrich Jung-Stilling

He did his work in pouring rain, thunderstorms and, by French standards, unbridled cold. He had set out to deliver surf equipment. To protect himself from the constant rain, he pulled out his old hat, which he had inherited from his grandfather years ago. Looking back, this moment was the birth of Mojak. Constant rain was followed by sunshine and heat. One evening he met the musician and surf instructor Jules Ahoi. Over a glass of red wine and good music, they talked about their passion for travelling and, as the story suggests, their shared passion for hats.

 

 

Exploring

The surf culture and the hiking trails along the coast of Portugal, on the cliffs above as praias, a stunner of a hike that will leave the walker spoilt for view. There is something about surf culture that never stops short to fascinate – the surf culture of Portugal in particular, a country that somehow feels personal enough yet exotic enough. Surfing, just like mountaineering, and the people at its core imply passion, improvisation, rhythm and tempo, a love for challenges and a motivation that is stronger than our fears. Surfers, wherever they ride, have a local demeanor that’s only derived from the proximity of the sea and their love for it. Even if you don’t surf, when you find yourself around them you almost feel the need to always be with a step in the ocean. Stop for lunch at a restaurant-café with a Californian vibe and bohemian atmosphere on the brim of the beach cliff, watch the surfers wax their boards outside their private cabins, and step inside one of the many welcoming surf shops that seem set up for ocean lovers and have all surf essentials but also lifestyle clothing and accessories, art and books… Yes, it looks a lot like summer.

“I love the sea, because it teaches me, as writer Pablo Neruda said. We always search for perfection, and waves are the best metaphor for life. The perfection depends on how willing you are to catch waves. If you go out often, no matter how the waves are, you will find some perfect days, because you did the preparation in ‘bad’ days, on the other hand, if you are only looking for those perfect days of surfing, maybe when you’re out there, you won’t appreciate it. We need the bad experiences to give significance to the good ones.” – artist Lisa Marques, I Love the Seaside

 

On an end note

With a medieval castle, an old cathedral and white washed winding streets, Silves is the most charming little town in the South of Portugal. Found inland, off the beaten path (which is why we love it), this Moorish historic town along the Arade River has one more little gem tucked within one of its quaint cobbled squares: Café DaRosa. Opened 50 years ago, it sells traditional pastries as well as coffee and the best berries lemonade. But it’s not just the tradition, it’s the location, the friendly yet elevated atmosphere and the intricate interior decor with its marvelous blue-tiled walls that make Café DaRosa a luxurious treat and worth the half an hour or an even longer detour from the coastline. In an age when so many new ventures pop up over night and this return to traditions can sometimes feel condescending more than it is authentic, it feels good to spend time in a place that has been slowly writing its own story for half a century.

 

 
 

The regulars: The interviews, newsletters and podcasts I turn to every week and/or every month because they are that good. Craig Mod’s newsletters: Roden and Ridgeline. Soundtracking, with Edith Bowman. Alicia Kennedy’s newsletter. Racquet’s Rennae Stubbs tennis podcast. Gone to Timbuktu with Sophy Roberts. Wachstumsversuche, with Sarah Schill. Sirene Journal, Racquet, and Waves & Woods in print.

 
 

“And if you find a bumpy dirt-track leading to a remote surf spot,
think twice before you share you ‘secret discovery’ online.”

I Love the Seaside

 

Posted by classiq in Books, Culture, Film, Newsletter | | Comments Off on July Newsletter: So Cal, ‘Round Midnight, and Timeless Pagnol

Read Instead…in Print

 

“Silence is very powerful.
Just not saying anything is already a powerful statement.”

 

Read instead…in print #33

 

Harry Dean Stanton: Hollywood’s Zen Rebel is a soulful approach to the life and career of one of Hollywood’s most fascinating actors. Not a star, but the actor by métier who hated labels and was very gifted with dialogue and words yet often spoke more with his eyes and utilised the power of silence in both his acting and his life. Author Joseph B. Atkins has the ability to capture in his writing that naturalness and innocence that defined Harry Dean, according to David Lynch, that sense of wonder that shaped his reality, never losing sight of his authentic self, forever young even when his whole life showed on his face in the twilight of his life.

 

“If he doesn’t talk, convert that into melody.
With Harry Dean, it’s all in his face.”

Ry Cooder

 

Read instead… in print is about a good book about cinema or filmmakers. No discursive, pretentious analyses, no verbose scrutiny. Because the idea is to invite you to read the book, not read about it here. But instead of using social media, I use my journal. Back to basics. Take it as a wish to break free of over-reliance on social media (even if it’s just for posting a photo of a good book) for presenting my work, cultural finds and interests. These are things to be enjoyed as stand-alone pieces in a more substantial and meaningful way than showing them in the black hole of Instagram thronged with an audience with a short attention span. This is also a look through my voluminous collection of books about film that I use as research in my adamant decision to rely less and less on the online and more on more on print materials.
 
 

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A Summer Manifesto

Photo: Classiq Journal

 

A good surfer…

Shares wax
Doesn’t geotag lesser-known waves
Knows there’s more to life than beers, barrels and BBQs
May also enjoy beers, barrels and BBQs
Is a respectful traveler
Has a towel
Remembers when they started surfing
Borrows wax
Borrows towels
Knows when to speak up
Takes care of their waste and coastline
Is a benefit to their community
Helps grins get waves (but not too many)
Ain’t that grump out the back
Gives good lineup advice
Remembers this is fun
Takes care of their community
Doesn’t care for lists like these
Acknowledges their fellow humans
Aren’t a danger
Knows the rules
Can repair dings
Can appreciate all surf craft
Supports their local shaper
Picks up trash
May track sand into your car
Surfs as much as time allows
%*$*ing loves surfing

 

As seen in Waves & Woods. It’s an independent magazine about travel and culture, the sea and the culture of surfing. Whether you are a surfer or not, it’s a nourishing reading for a well-cultured and well lived life, from dawn till dusk. It’s about a mindset and free spirit, a way of living, intentional and very present. It’s about people, about movers, about travellers, about artists, each in their own way. It’s about using your own creativity, your own sense of freedom. It’s about life stories. They just live them.

 

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June Newsletter: Riddle of Fire, Il Cinema Ritrovato and Fisherman’s Blues

 
 

Photos: Classiq Journal

 
 

”I wanted to make it the ultimate kids movie
where these kid characters have everything that you
would want as a kid––like dirt bikes, paintball guns,
the freedom, beautiful woods to adventure and explore.
They’re sort of the masters of their own world.”

Weston Razooli, The Film Stage

 
 

Left: “Buena Vista Social Club”, 1999, directed by Wim Wenders

 

Viewing

Riddle of Fire, 2023
Weston Razooli

Three kids in the modern day embark on an old-fashion adventure. They have smart phones and play video games but technology co-exists with a world of outdoor play and wonder. It’s enchanting, freeing, up-lifting, the kind of film every generation should grow up with, the kind of film that fosters a sense of curiosity for nature and everything that surrounds us and is beyond us. “I’m showing a very stylised world and a world of fantasy with weird humor and weird characters,” writer/director Weston Razooli said about his debut feature in an interview with The Film Stage. “And for me to pull that off, shooting on film is the glue, the magic butter that holds it all together and allows you to accept the world as stylized. I personally don’t like sci-fi or fantasy or period film shot digitally. I can’t really give into the suspension of disbelief. I hope to capture this elemental spirit that surrounds nature and humans and relationships, everything.”

 

La parapluies de Cherbourg The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964
Jacques Demy

Interestingly enough, Jacques Demy wanted to pay his own tribute to the classic Hollywood musical (the title alone is alluding to Singin’ in the Rain). Decidedly tied to, but not traditionally French New Wave, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is restrained and wistful, it has a tragic undertone, going deeper than the surface of an effusive romantic story, embracing the more complicated emotions of love and life. What makes The Umbrellas of Cherbourg one of a kind is that the story is told entirely in song, with its characters singing every single line of their dialogue. Demy said that what bothered him at a classical musical was that the song and dance numbers were disrupting the unity of the story and he dreamed of making something seamless. And everything fell in perfect harmony with composer Michel Legrand’s lyrical melodies (it took him six months for them to finally start coming to him). “No one believed in it”, said Legrand about the film.

Another unusual thing was to make a musical against a realistic setting like Cherbourg. As Catherine Deneuve was saying in an interview at The National Film Theatre in London, “a musical was very unusual”, a long way from a traditional French film. Though it was shot on an actual location, Demy remained loyal to his idea of paying tribute to the Old Hollywood through stylised decors and bright and cheery colours (the citizens of Cherbourg allowed Demy to paint their homes). “The film used colour like a singing Matisse”, said the director. Indeed, the film displays a glorious use of colour. Demy and cinematographer Jean Rabier worked hard to make this a non-artificial world, anchoring the film’s pure visual poetry to the specifics of urban reality.

 

Buena Vista Social Club, 1999
Wim Wenders

“I thought, I’ll shoot a documentary,” Wenders said, “and here we were, about to witness a fairy tale that no one could have imagined in this form.” A documentary road film through the music of Cuba, from the streets of Havana to the stage of Carnegie Hall to world recognition for an almost forgotten generation of Cuban musicians. Music is above class, social and political context. It’s heart-warming.

 

Reading

Hand-selected books are available in the shop. Rare, under-the-radar or special editions. Among them, Wim Wenders’ favourite book, Einmal: Bilder und Geschichten. “Once upon a time“ is how fairy tales begin. Wim Wenders’ picture stories are made of stories with photos – or photos with stories. “Once…“ is how these forty-four autobiographical sketches all start. Written like pop lyrics in a laconic, rythmic prose, they capture experiences significant and insignificant during his trips around the word on the search for and on the way to the locations of his movies. The stories are visually complemented by photographs taken on the road that evoked – sometimes many years later – memories of people, situations, glimpses. Travel and photo diary in one, Wenders’ picture stories relate the encounters, views, and impressions of a filmmaker inspired by the poetry of the eye and the melody of the speech.

 

Il dolce far niente: The Italian Way of Summer, by photographer Lucy Laucht. Her photography is like that, it doesn’t just capture an image, but life and stories that reveal but most importantly leave a mystery behind and leave us wandering.

 

In a world that’s filled with photographers around every corner, there are a few that stand out. On Artifact Uprising, they share their tips in short interviews. Lucy Laucht, Alex Strohl and Kara Mercer are my favourites.

 

Author Ivan Carrozzi investigates: Federico Fellini: The American.

 

Listening

The soundtrack: Riddle of Fire

 

The album: Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys

 

 

Making

A few years back I decided not to take photos with my phone anymore, especially on trips, special occasions or even a spontaneous moment around the house, and I started using my camera regularly. And because I use it so often and didn’t want to look like I was always on vacation, I wanted to swap the unappealing standard logo-strap for a classic, simple, elegant leather strap, one that just gets better with age and tells the story of your journeys, places and people. And these leather camera straps are some of the best options there are.

 

Exploring

The wonderful endlessness of cinema in Bologna, at Il Cinema Ritrovato, the understated film festival that illuminates the city with the magic of storytelling for eight intense days at the end of June. Summer couldn’t start any better for a film lover. A memorable journey of rediscovering the history of cinema and a celebration of the irreplaceable experience of collective film-viewing. The festival is at its thirty-eighth edition, from June 22 to June 30. This year, the festival will host nearly five hundred films, from restored masterpieces to hidden gems of every era.

This year, the festival will also pay homage to many names of the world cinema, from Catherine Deneuve (who graces this’s year’s official poster in a film still from Jacques Demy’s Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) to Marlene Dietrich to Pietro Germi, a central figure in some decisive moments of the Italian cinema, from neorealism to commedia dell’arte.

Il Cinema Ritrovato is also one of the great international festivals of silent cinema. Rediscovering silent cinema, bringing it to new life, also means rediscovering, reconstructing, improvising and composing the music that accompanies it. The world’s best musicians of silent cinema and their personal search for that magical harmony or the perfect tension between image and music are some of the reasons that make every viewing at Il Cinema Ritrovato a unique and special one.

The educational department of the Cineteca di Bologna, Schermi e Lavagne, will present a rich programme of screenings, workshops and events aimed at young audiences, and Il Cinema Ritrovato Book Fair offers a selection of the most important and prestigious international books, Blu-Rays, DVDs, film music records and vintage posters.

And last but not least, the festival is aiming to encourage and give visibility to quality home entertainment Dvd and Blu-Rays of critically acclaimed films made before 1994. I love that. Movies should be watched in cinemas and re-watched at home only on DVDs and Blu-Rays.

For the love of cinema.

 

On an end note

Founded in Rome in 1959, CAM Sugar has provided the music for some of the most outstanding, award-winning Italian and French films. Its archive, with over 2,000 titles and music by the likes of Ennio Morricone, Luis Bacalov, Piero Piccioni, Armando Trovajoli, Nino Rota, Riz Ortolani, Nora Orlandi, Philippe Sarde, and many more, is arguably the largest and most representative catalogue of Italian original soundtracks, with an artwork to match them. Their journal approaches the themes of arts, culture, and society through the looking glass of cinema and film music.

 

My kind of dream place for the summer. Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2023

 
 

The regulars: The interviews, newsletters and podcasts I turn to every week and/or every month because they are that good. Craig Mod’s newsletters: Roden and Ridgeline. Soundtracking, with Edith Bowman. Alicia Kennedy’s newsletter. Racquet’s Rennae Stubbs tennis podcast. Gone to Timbuktu, Sophy Robert’s podcast on the art of travel. Wachstumsversuche, with Sarah Schill. Sirene and Racquet, in print.

 
 

”We all look at Nature too much and live with her too little.”

Oscar Wilde, Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast

 
 

Posted by classiq in Books, Culture, Film, Newsletter | | Comments Off on June Newsletter: Riddle of Fire, Il Cinema Ritrovato and Fisherman’s Blues