Le giornate del cinema muto 2020: Ballettens Datter (DK, 1913)

Ballettens Datter is a star vehicle for Rita Sacchetto, a very important avant garde ballet dancer of the early 20th century.

As far as movies go, this is silly but very watchable, especially for a 1913 feature, and worth it for the excellent cinematography and for Rita Sacchetto. I wouldn’t call her the greatest actress, but she has an extremely compelling and charismatic screen presence, and it’s easy to imagine her holding a whole theatre spellbound.

Spoilers for a 107 year old movie.

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Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2020: Where Lights Are Low (USA, 1921)

This year Le Giornate del Cinema Muto is entirely digital, which is great because it means I can actually go! It’s super cheap, too.

On top of that it has a special gift for us nerds in the form of a new Sessue Hayakawa film.

The National Film Archive of Japan has restored this from a print in Belgrade. I can’t compare prints (obviously), but the restoration looked great. It was wonderfully scored by Philip Carli.

This movie is very silly, but I loved it.

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Aankhen (India, 1993)

When a Govinda movie is very popular with the general public, you know you have to brace yourself, so I put off watching Aankhen for the longest time. But I knew I was in for it eventually.

Govinda fans are kind of lukewarm about this movie, and they are always right. I hated the first half, the second half was okay. On the Govinda scale, it’s a “Govinda is the only bearable thing in the movie” even though honestly he doesn’t deserve it. He only acts a little in the second half, the rest of the time he is definitely not trying.

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Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (India, 2020)

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is the movie that happens when someone reads an announcement for an academic talk about how 70s masala films are kind of gay, and then is like: “Interesting idea. What if I make this into one of those mid-level local films that are popular now?”

Let me preface this by saying of course it’s great this movie got made and it did well. It’s better than about 95% of Hindi films right now, which I don’t even do the honour of watching. But I have a bone to pick with it, because it’s a gay mainstream Bollywood movie that references the homoeroticism of all my gay faves from the 70s, and IT BORED ME.

But how?

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Malaal (India, 2019)

I have a love-hate relationship with Bhansali, because I hate the stories and the morality of his films and love his aesthetics and how campy he is. Depending on the balance between each, I end up loving some of his stuff and hating the rest. He only produced this and didn’t direct it, which is probably why I loved it. Thanks to Angie for telling me about it.

Malaal is a remake of a Tamil film I have not seen, but more obvious to me is the influence of Titanic, a film I like in theory and hate in practice. It’s set in the year Titanic came out, but there is really no attempt at any kind of period setting except a few film posters, a few men’s vintage shirts, and the lack of computers and mobile phones. The lack of phones really is the reason for the period setting, I think, because it makes the plot make more sense.

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Rosita (USA, 1923)

I first watched this colour restored version of Rosita at Il Cinema Ritrovato last year, but didn’t have time to review it then, so I rewatched it recently and am reviewing it now.

Rosita reminded me of a good modern Bollywood movie, because it is so very mainstream, but it’s not simple. It’s a heroine movie like a big Bollywood actress would make at the top of her career, or the female flipside of say, a Fairbanks adventure movie.

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Simon, king of the witches (USA, 1971)

Simon, king of the witches is a parody of sorts of Manson/cult/occult-sploitation movies.

The titular Simon (Andrew Prine) is a megalomaniac quack who lives in a storm drain with a rentboy he befriends. He can either actually do magic or is convinced he can do magic. Some bored and stoned rich people invite him to perform at a party, but they laugh at his weird and unspectacular magic act and the organiser further mocks him by forging his payment check.

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