This article appeared in the April 1989 issue of The Independent (vol. 12, no. 3); slightly tweaked in late January, 2010. –J.R.
Having attended the San Sebastian Film Festival on two separate occasions 16 years apart — in 1972 and 1988 — I find it surprising how little the basic ambience of the event has changed.. Apart from the fact that the festival has grown, the major differences that I noticed are those between Franco and post-Franco Spain. One no longers buys a copy of the International Herald Tribune on the Avenida de la Libertad only to find that a state censor has neatly clipped out an article or two from every copy. Even more noticeable, to the eyes as well as ears, is Basque, a language that was rigorously outlawed under Franco. One now sees it on street signs and hears it on TV. One of the many sidebars of the 36th International Film Festival at San Sebastian was even devoted to Basque films.
Sidebars, in fact, have for a long time been the festival’s strength. In 1972 there was a Howard Hawks retrospective, with Hawks himself attending as a jury member for the films in competition. Back then, the festival was held in July, and was still small enough to offer excursions for all the guests” a bus ride to Pamplona to attend the bullfight encouraged Hawks to divulge some of his favorite Hemingway stories.… Read more »
Written for the Mexican magazine La Tempestad (No. 85), which published it in Spanish translation in late 2012. It was published online in February 2013. — J.R.
I’m very fortunate in having had a prolonged and comprehensive exposure to cinema both as mainstream entertainment and as an art form. But my experience has been somewhat atypical insofar as these two forms of exposure have been in different places and at different stages in my life, with relatively little interaction between them.
Born in Alabama in 1943, I grew up as the son and grandson of small-town film exhibitors, giving me a virtually unlimited access to popular cinema for practically all of the 1950s. This was followed by my discovery of film as an art form during much of the 1960s and 1970s, chiefly in New York, Paris, and London, and even though this entailed in certain cases some rediscoveries and reassessments of films I had seen earlier in Alabama, the discontinuities were usually more striking than the continuities because my family, although very much interested and invested in the arts in general (especially music, literature, and architecture), saw cinema almost exclusively in terms of business and light entertainment — which of course was and is the way most people everywhere in the world tend to see it.… Read more »
From the Chicago Reader (January 28, 1994). — J.R.
** THE ACCOMPANIST
Directed by Claude Miller
Written by Miller and Luc Beraud
With Richard Bohringer, Elena Safonova, Romane Bohringer, Samuel Labarthe, Julien Rassam, Nelly Borgeaud, and Claude Rich.
“About six years before the disappearance of Ambrose Small, Ambrose Bierce had disappeared. Newspapers all over the world had made much of the mystery of Ambrose Bierce. But what could the disappearance of one Ambrose, in Texas, have to do with the disappearance of another Ambrose, in Canada? Was somebody collecting Ambroses? There was in these questions an appearance of childishness that attracted my respectful attention.” — Charles Fort, Wild Talents (1932)
The Accompanist can be viewed as a producer’s film, as a writer-director’s film, and as a quintessentially French film. As a producer’s film, it is the latest in a recent cycle of French art movies involving classical musicians and including extended stretches of classical music — in other words, as a spin-off of Tout les matins du monde and Un coeur en hiver, both huge commercial successes, especially in France. As all three films have the same producer, Jean-Louis Livi, they can be regarded as “Livi films” rather than as the discrete expressions of three directors.… Read more »