domenica 12 aprile 2015

Antonioni - Aux origines du Pop

The Cinémathèque Française in Paris feels like home, to me. 
Especially these last months, since they have consecrated to two of my favourite film-makers of all time their biggest exhibitions. Truffaut in the Fall/Winter season and now Michelangelo Antonioni in the Springtime/Summer season (April 9-July 19).
Life is beautiful!
Lucky enough to be invited to the vernissage of the exhibition last Wednesday night, I have enjoyed every minute of it and I was very curious to see what the friends at the Cinémathèque were able to do: a great job, as usual!
The space at the 5th floor, very often divided into different corners, have been left completely open, giving the exhibition a particularly free and energetic look (it is not by coincidence that the exposition has been called The Origins of Pop):
The life and the career of Antonioni are followed chronologically in a circular itinerary that suavely run along the Cinémathèque walls.
Everything is there: from his first steps as cinema critic at the Corriere Padano to the first movies written for Rossellini and Fellini, to letters, books, pictures, records, paintings, original screenplays, all the passions of the Ferrara film-maker are shown in the exhibition.
With some surprises too!
I didn't know Antonioni had a huge collection of cinema postcards... and that he used to "store" them in very big books (great idea, now I know where I could collect mine!):
I really loved the niche consecrated to my favourite Antonioni's movie (and my favourite Italian movie tout court), La Notte, part of the famous "Trilogia dell'incomunicabilità" together with L'Avventura e L'Eclisse:
Lidia (Jeanne Moreau)
Antonioni sul set di La Notte, a Milano
Foto dal set con J. Moreau, M. Mastroianni, Antonioni e M. Vitti
Antonioni e la Vitti discutono sul set di La Notte
Antonioni's movies with Monica Vitti are so special that after seeing these pictures I just wanted to watch them all over again...
Vittoria (M. Vitti) e Piero (A. Delon) - L'Eclisse
Aggiungi didascalia
The two sections dedicated to Deserto Rosso and Blow up were painted in bright and vivid red and green colors, which was a pretty simple but very beautiful idea:
Antonioni e Vanessa Redgrave sul set di Blow Up
The exhibition also displays a number of letters that important film-makers and artists wrote to Antonioni about his movies, showing how much love and respect his cinema was able to generate. In particular, there is a letter by Fellini where the director sketches a short but powerful description of Antonioni and talks about his melancholic way of being, that I found really moving (and God knows if these two were very different kind of artists!).
Very moving was also seeing his cameras and the prizes he won for different movies (the Golden Bear for La Notte, the Palme D'Or for Blow Up, the Golden Lion for Deserto Rosso and a honorary Oscar for his entire career):
If you are an Antonioni's fan, this is an unmissable exhibition, and even if you don't like his movies, this is still a great exhibition about a film-maker who really changed cinema history with his modern vision of contemporary solitude.
If I were you, I would run to the Cinémathèque to be taken away by Antonioni's world... and watch all his movies that are going to be screened between now and the end of May.
The incomunicabilità has never been so communicative!  

giovedì 9 aprile 2015

The End of an Era

Domenica scorsa è andato in onda il primo episodio della settima (ed ultima) stagione di Mad Men
Dal momento che sono una fanatica di questa serie, ho seguito sui vari social network tutta la campagna pubblicitaria che aveva il compito di far crescere l’attesa e far salire le aspettative. Riuscendoci.
Hanno sempre fatto un ottimo lavoro, quelli di AMC, ma in questo caso hanno superato loro stessi.
Il fatto è che siamo quasi giunti al termine, e chi segue la serie “sente” che le cose, comunque andranno a finire, andranno a finire male.
Se non altro per il protagonista, Don Draper.
Ieri sera ho visto il primo episodio, e posso confermare che aleggia un’aria di disperazione su tutto e tutti. 

Don Draper, a mio avviso uno dei più complessi e intensamente umani personaggi della storia delle serie TV, ha qualcosa di davvero tragico nella sua natura, qualcosa che di stagione in stagione si è andato intensificando. Lentamente ma inesorabilmente. Adoro il modo in cui Don è invecchiato. Lo scarto è impercettibile: una sfumatura bianca nei capelli, un leggero ispessimento nel fisico, niente di eclatante, ma abbastanza per marcare lo scorrere inesorabile del tempo.
Questa stagione è impregnata di nostalgia, quella universale, quella che proviamo tutti noi che un tempo abbiamo avuto vent’anni e ora ne abbiamo almeno il doppio.
Nella campagna pubblicitaria, è proprio a questa nostalgia che si fa riferimento.
A questo mondo che ci è diventato familiare, e che stiamo per perdere. Per sempre.
Con una grafica deliziosamente rétro e terribilmente Mad Men, ci vengono ricordati i “fondamentali”, quegli oggetti che sono un simbolo, che rappresentano il linguaggio comune, l’appartenenza al circolo vizioso dei fans della serie.

Così, a cinque giorni dall'inizio della fine, ecco comparire l'old fashioned, il cocktail preferito di Don Draper:
A quattro, fanno la loro comparsa le sigarette, l'oggetto che tutti, senza sosta, sembrano tenere in mano dalla prima all'ultima puntata:
A tre, si passa al drink che ha irrigato tutti i pranzi di lavoro di Don e dei suoi colleghi: il Martini Cocktail...
A due, ecco apparire l'oggetto indispensabile per le donne della serie:
Ad un solo giorno, il colpo al cuore. Entra in scena un Fedora, il cappello di Don Draper:
Ed infine, il giorno della messa in onda del primo episodio, quelli di Mad Men affondano il coltello nella piaga, regalandoci un'ultima immagine, quella definitiva:

Come vada a finire Mad Men, nessuno lo sa, ma in tanti, ne sono certa, hanno in testa l'immagine qui sopra, quella della sigla: un uomo vestito come Don Draper (Draper stesso, I presume?) che cade dall'alto di un grattacielo di New York.
In ogni caso, c'è un solo modo per saperlo: guardare settimana dopo settimana i sette episodi che ci separano dalla Fine di un'Era. 
Che cosa ci sia dopo, io proprio non so e non riesco ad immaginarlo.
Per il momento, mi accontento di sapere che la fine di un'era... comincia adesso:
E speriamo che il ghiaccio, nel nostro ultimo Old fashioned, si sciolga il più lentamente e il più deliziosamente possibile...

venerdì 27 marzo 2015

Obvious Child

As you know, I like writing in this blog about great movies made by women (and you don’t come across them every day, because - let’s face it - cinema is a very male profession). 
The other night, I finally watched in DVD a movie that I was sorry to have missed in cinemas: Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre
The movie's plot intrigued me a lot, as well as the actress playing the main character (Jenny Slate) and, well, I have to say my cinematographic sixth sense was right.
What a brilliant movie is this! 

Donna Stern is a twenty-something living in Brooklyn.
She has kind of a job (she works in a local bookstore that is about to close) but her real passion is being a stand-up comedian in a Williamsburg club. Freshly dumped by her boyfriend (the fact that she is making jokes in public about their sex-life maybe didn’t help!), Donna has a one night stand with a complete (even if cute) stranger and she incidentally got pregnant (put the blame on the booze). 

No job, no boyfriend, no money: she knows this is not exactly the best moment in her life to have a baby, and so she decided to have an abortion. Unexpectedly, the stranger comes back looking for her. He quite liked her and he would like to have a proper date. Confused by the events in her life, Donna tries her best to be the independent woman she always claimed to be. It won’t be easy but she will manage!
It is SO refreshing to see movies with complex, funny, smart, weird, real female characters. 
What a relief to realize that they exist, they’re out there, not only in the world but also on the screen. Donna is not one of those stereotyped women the cinema is plenty of: she is not perfect, she is so far away from being perfect, she is messy, she's funny in a very particular way (her monologues at the club are hilarious as much as sacrilegious) and this is exactly why we like her so much. Donna is one of us. She is not stunningly gorgeous but she has a lot of personality and she sees the world in her own way. 
But by far, the most interesting thing of this movie, is the way the theme of the abortion is treated. 
I sincerely don't remember to have seen something like this before on screen.
Donna is of course devastated by the idea of making an abortion, but she goes through the whole experience simply being herself (read: with a lot of humour). She knows she got pregnant in a very stupid way (but, hey, shit happens in life) and she also knows that to keep the child is not an option for her, so she does what she thinks is the right thing to do for her, without being apologetically about it. And I have appreciated that immensely, because there is always a moment when a moral judgment pops up in movies, but not in this one.
To give you an idea of the "tone", the day before the abortion Donna is about to go on stage and her best friend (the great "Transparent" Gaby Hoffman) tells her: 
I'm sure you're going to kill it out there! 
And Donna replies: I actually have an appointment to do that tomorrow morning.
After Stella Gibson from The Fall, Donna Stern is my new idol.
I hope there will be an army of this kind of women ready to invade our screens.
It would be about time, don't you agree?

giovedì 19 marzo 2015

Dilemmi Cinematografici 2

E' da ieri sera che ripenso alla stessa scena.
Sono sul métro linea 4, alla fermata Chateau D'eau, in piedi davanti alla porta perché sto per uscire (la mia fermata è quella successiva). Davanti a me, che cammina calma sul binario leggendo una rivista, vedo la regista e sceneggiatrice francese Pascale Ferran.
Ho un attimo di esitazione.
Che faccio, scendo? Scendo e le parlo? Scendo, la disturbo e le dico delle cose?
Ma l'attimo è fuggito, le porte si sono chiuse e la vedo allontanarsi irrimediabilmente sul binario.
Peccato, penso.
Mi dico che in effetti i minuti erano contati perché avevo un appuntamento a cui non potevo arrivare tardi, ma la verità è che mi dispiace.
Avrei voluto dirle che ho amato il suo cinema fin dal primo film, con quel titolo talmente bello: Petits arrangements avec les morts (Piccoli Arrangiamenti con i morti), che non a caso aveva vinto la Caméra D'Or à Cannes nel 1994.
Che la sua versione di Lady Chatterley è magnifica, così erotica e sensuale, così vera, con una splendida direzione di attori. E avrei voluto chiederle se anche lei pensa, come me, che le donne al cinema filmano il sesso molto meglio degli uomini.
E poi volevo farle sapere che adesso, tutte le volte che vado all'aereoporto Charles De Gaulle, non posso evitare di guardare le terrazze degli hotel lì intorno e immaginarmi che uno degli uccellini che vedo svolazzare sia in realtà una ragazza che fa la cameriera ma ha una vita interiore intensa ed interessante.
Insomma avrei voluto dirle che Bird People è un film bizzarro, spiazzante e bellissimo, a cui ho ripensato a lungo, e sempre con grande piacere (quella scena di rottura di una coppia via skype: lui a Parigi e lei a NY, è una delle cose più potenti che ho visto negli ultimi anni).
Invece non le ho detto nulla di tutto questo. Mi è venuto in mente che ha scritto un film diretto da quel regista/attore che mi ha mandata a stendere un po' di tempo fa (Dilemmi Cinematografici 1), e non me la sono sentita di rischiare.
Anche se, alla peggio, avrei potuto trasformarmi in un uccellino e volare via...

martedì 17 marzo 2015

Matthew Weiner's Mad Men Exhibition

Last week-end, at the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria, New York, has opened a new exhibition entirely dedicated to the series Mad Men.
I have read about this few weeks ago, basically at the same time I found out about a trip I should have taken for my job in New York City. Great... if only the exhibition wouldn't started the day after my return to Europe! Very sad at first, my only consolation was that I knew I will be back in town in April (and the exhibition is on until June 14!).
But, still, the idea that I was there and I couldn't see anything, was driving me nuts.
To the point that I had the nerve of asking anybody I knew even vaguely related to the museum if, by any chance, I could sneak a peak of the exhibition before it was opened to the public. 
Well, since fortune favors the adventurous, I have actually found somebody that knew somebody and there I was, the day before the official opening, walking through the still-to-be-finished exhibition about Mad Men with Tomoko Kawamoto, the Public Information Manager of the museum (Santa Subito! Thank you so much!!!).
The exhibition features some incredible things for any fan of the series (I'm telling you, if you love Mad Men, you should buy a ticket to New York NOW!). These are some of the the gems that are on display: more than 25 iconic costumes (!!!), hundreds of props, advertising art, video clips, and personal notes and research material from his creator. Not to mention original interviews with Weiner and an installation of elements from the “writers’ room” where he and his team crafted story ideas and scripts for the series and, last but not least, large-scale sets of Don Draper’s office and the Drapers Kitchen!!! Have a look...
The Writers Room 
The Drapers Kitchen in Ossining, NY 
Don Draper's SC&P Office on Madison Avenue
I was so excited by what I was looking at, that my head couldn't stop spinning.
When we arrived to the "Dress Section" I almost had an heart attack...
This was the section dedicated to Betty Draper dresses:
And this, I'm sure you'll recognize it at the very first sight, is the famous "Zou Bisou Bisou" dress weared by Megan at Don's birthday party:
And in case you don't remember:

For those lucky ones who live in NY or are passing by this week, on Friday March 20 Matthew Weiner will be in conversation at the Museum for an "Inside Mad Men" session:
Furthermore, from March 14 until April 26, the Museum is programming "Required Viewing: Mad Men’s Movie Influences", a ten-film series featuring movies (among others: The Apartment by Billy Wilder, Les Bonnes Femmes by Claude Chabrol, The Americanization of Emily by Arthur Hiller but also Blue Velvet by David Lynch) that inspired the series. 
On March 20, Weiner himself will introduce The Apartment!
These days in New York, it was just impossible to escape Mad Men. The advertisement for the last season (that is approaching) was everywhere: on the walls, at the entrance of the underground, even on buses...
And I don't know about you, but I am personally drinking my tea at the office with a mug by Sterling, Cooper & Partners, just to be the most Mad Men girl around:
To tell you the truth, while we were touring the exhibition, Tomoko told me that this will be a non-photo exhibition. Pictures - sadly enough for all the fans - will not be allowed (the decision has not been made by the Museum but by the Mad Men's production). The pictures I have published here are part of the material for the Press, except for a couple that I was allowed to put on line.
Thus said, when I found myself in the Drapers Kitchen, I couldn't resist, and I ask Tomoko to take a picture of me there... what can I tell you? I simply felt at home!
The series’ final seven episodes will air on AMC beginning Sunday, April 5.
The End of an era, apparently, but not of our love for this bunch of adorable Mad Men.
Long live the Old Fashioned!
I'd like to thank Jeff Levine at the Whitney Museum and Jennifer Essen and Philippa Polskin at Ruder Finn for introducing me to Tomoko and making my visit possible! 
Thank you guys!!!
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