Wednesday, November 4, 2009

wed November 5th, 2009-Halloween

Wed November 5th:

Saturday was Halloween and I include photos of the magnificent and ridiculous costumes we all wore. The march around the cortile was marvelous—mostly the hysteria of the sound of the children. Three of us went as paintings: john the Baptist (Stefano), Caravaggio’s Bacchus (Elena) and Domenichino’s Sibilla (yours truly). The other fantastic ones included our friend Barry the architect as an anarchist (?), parrot heads by Anna, and various witches and ghosts. We cooked at night together as the next evening we were off to lo Scarpone again as guests of Heather (lo scarpone was not as good that evening to our mild sorrow; the night was fine). I have made a new friend with Rosie, an aspiring and definitely–to-be art curator completing her doctorate.

At lunch this weekend I watch sparrows who have made grand groupings of their fellows circling in the wind on the Rome horizon. They are a forbidding form resembling oncoming locusts but at the same time, miraculous fast moving shivering clouds—an impermanent unexpected installation. I wished I had my camera but couldn’t move. Sometimes it seems too much—to film all this beauty. You want to breathe and let it pass by, through you, purely. But that word has its own problematic. All is impure. Unlegislated. So I let it go by and remember here.

Monday night we make off in the rain—that has begun the fall season —to go to the German Academy for Antonioni’s L’Eclisse. A taxi, then a walk up a line of Mediterranean junipers (?) cedars (?), magnificent entrance to a building completed round same time as ours: 1914, German Jewish industrialist funds for the arts. The Germans have 3 academies, this one for artists—only 8 or 9 in residence. Two other academies house respectively the art historians and the ethnographers. Here in a small room off the entrance the dvd is projected. It is wonderful, touching, a women’s film in a way---Monica Vitti bored by here older communist lover and repulsed by the gorgeous youthful wall street guy (played by a very young and pretty alain delon). Monica Vitti is amazing and the walking woman theme here playful: running after a lost poodle, stopping to hear the metal poles of the sport palace make music in the night winds. Chilling, childish, touching. The bourse (money market) scenes modeled after fra angelica’s war paintings—magnificent contrapuntal movement of shapes and faces and sound. References to neo-colonialism throughout: thrilling and jarring play by three women—without men—going wild, playing at being negro. Elegant, painful. We all sat there thinking of loves that could not be. The men as well as the women, the gay as well as the straight. Antonioni’s referencing of racism is pointed and subtle, his closure an avant movie, with sound peeled up and off, enlarged and reframed. No action , only emotion. Now there’s a recipe for a movie…..
Filled my nights’ dreams.

Tuesday I do a presentation for Cornell architecture students. Only 6 affiliated and one regular Fellow come along for the morning ride. It is fine. The films look quite good—elegant complicated—draw many questions and compliments. The students though have trouble with them, think they are “too fast”. I think as does Barry—did they never do drugs?
Strange but at same time, the students are open and hopefully I have shocked them from lethargy and habituation. How can films 20 years old still be ahead of their time? How? They are. That is the fact.

Then today the schedule does not stop. I am up early, direct my intern to Kodak and I head out to Keats/Shelley house to meet the director. She is tough honest Brit, allowing me to film there without “kits” and then bring on my characters a second day. She will vouch for me at the cemetery which required 4000E for the shoot! Mind you that’s a quarter of my year’s income this year so it’s a definite no go. We shall see. The place itself has a nice feel, smaller than I thought. The director gets the third floor apt. very very nice and there is really only one floor of the museum. It will work though to film the dust motes, have my characters walk through it. It is not authentic from the period anymore, however. After Keat’s death there, the entire furnishings needed to be destroyed by Italian law. Which is not such a bad thing as consumption is infectious—even if they did not know that then.

Speaking of which we will all have flu shots soon. I never do this back home but here I will. There is so much illness being passed back and forth forth and back.

We have begun once again our Italian lessons this week and plan a lunch table where we only speak in Italiano. It is so wonderful to try, to catch the lilt, speed, to learn they have a word specifically for “shopping for food”—fare spesa—different from shopping for anything else. And in the book we use here there are cultural pages every so often, which our teachers completely ignore but one popped out at me yesterday as I was studying—“the importance of wine in Italian culture” !! absolutely.

Last weekend, drinks after dinner at Carmela’s the director, in her fantastic craft style house with tile patterned floors and futurist wood planks across the thresholds. Beautiful and simple with a great garden!

Tomorrow the Asian festival and party after at one of the directors’ house. I am excited to see more film. It was very inspiring the Antonioni. We shall see if same can be said about contemporary Indian films for the morrow.

Buona notte
un abbraccio
a mis amici

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