Does anyone else fend themselves regressing to the comforts of childhood at this time? After a day of marking, I could have re-seen the Clouzot films on MUBI that I love — Le corbeau (1943)and Qaui des orfèvres (1947) — but I just couldn´t think anymore and found myself subscribing to the Universal channel, where I saw Stanley Donen´s Arabesque (1966), with Sofia Loren and a stiff Gregory Peck. The film´s a bit leaden but charming and as evocative of sixties glamour as anything I´ve seen, Sofia wearing Dior throughout, and Donen filming everything in an imaginative and colourful way, with a pop sensibility one associates with Swinging Sixties. Each shot is playful if not exactly meaningful. A film that doesn´t quite work but that remains a lot of fun.
I also saw Operation Petticoat (Blake Edwards, 1959) which made me understand the whispers around Blake Edward´s sexuality — all those half-naked sailers on the submarine and, despite all the talk, such a subdued look at the nurses –and where Tony Curtis is so good he outshines Cary Grant (yes, it´s possible). I ended the evening with The Black Shield of Falsworth (Rudolph Maté, 1954), where Curtis is not good. You can see he does many of his own stunts but without the grace of movement someone like Lancaster would have brought to them — every move´s an effort for Tony. but Janet Leigh is at her most beautiful, Herbert Marshall is recognisable only by his voice but that´s enough, and the whole thing is a lighthearted silly medieval adventure that looks quite good. These are films that were on rotation on tv channels when I was young and I found a certain comfort in the re-visit.
Julia Scrive-Loyer is a young filmmaker, publisher and critic from Bordeaux who graduated from the EICTV film school in Cuba and currently resides in the Dominican Republic. I´ve been wanting to talk to Julia ever since I saw her beautiful new magazine, Simulacro. Its first issues is entirely devoted to the recently deceased Stanley Donen and it´s a joy to behold. Those of you who can´t speak Spanish won´t be able to read it, though its visual beauty will be evident to all. You can see it here.
If you understand English, however, you will be able to follow this conversation, which ranges from an earlier zine she published called Les oranges bleues, to ways that a younger generation is struggling to articulate and express the intersection of individual and social concerns; to the tensions inherent in balancing originality and sincerity. We do talk about Donen´s work: how Charade (1963) has a perfect script, how Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) couldn´t be made today; the infinite number of delights Funny Face (1957) offers, and the generosity inherent in those who focus their energies on transparently conveying what utopia would feel like and inciting joy.
Like with the very best conversations, one is surprised by the unexpected and memorable anecdote — here relating to a workshop with Abbas Kiorastami — and one also learns: in talking about her love of cowboys and westerns, Julia tells me how a cowboy is constantly moving through landscape and how that movement is an emotional one. Nostalgia also comes from movement: if you don´t leave somewhere, even mentally, there´s no nostalgia and there´s no longing. A cowboy is movement in every way. A cowboy´s companions are the wind and the horse. I´ve been teaching for a long time, and Julia expresses this better and with more feeling than I´m able to muster. The podcast can be listed to here:
The first of a series of conversations with young artists and intellectuals from Cuba and the Dominican Republic.