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Le amiche (The girlfriends)

Film/Video

Blow Up images courtesy of Warner Bros.
Le amiche (The girlfriends)
Michelangelo Antonioni, 1955

Blow-Up

Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966
Thu, Aug 12, 2010 7 PM
This double bill offers two seminal features from one of the cinema's most definitively visual filmmakers.

Rarely shown in this country, Le amiche is "a gem" that contains "all of the great artist's concerns embodied in his later, better known works," according to the San Francisco International Film Festival, which premiered a restored print of the film in 2009. Among the emblematic Antonioni characteristics evident is his sympathetic interest in the inner lives of his female characters.

In Le amiche, Clelia (Eleonara Rossi Drago), a professional woman of working-class origins, travels from Rome to Turin to help set up a fashion boutique. Once there, she befriends Rosetta (Madeleine Fischer), a young women distraught over a failed relationship, and becomes entangled with the lives and romances of Rosetta's socialite friends. The rich complexities of the director's visual storytelling echo and communicate the intricacies of the characters' social and emotional relationships. (104 mins., 35mm)

Perhaps the definitive film on London's "mod" scene of the 1960s, Blowup follows a fashion photographer (David Hemmings) who inadvertently captures a murder on film during a photo shoot. Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, Jane Birkin, and the model Verushka are on hand as well, along with the Yardbirds, who perform in a club and enact The Who's guitar-smashing routine, and music by Herbie Hancock.

The film captured the imagination of its moment, receiving accolades from cineastes and mainstream movie critics alike. It won the Grand Pix at Cannes, was nominated for Best Director and Original Screenplay honors in the Academy Awards, and is widely credited with launching a new era of sexual and stylistic freedom in movie making. How does it hold up? Here's a report from critic David Ehrenstein on his own years' later return to the film: "If you’ve never seen Blow-Up before, prepare yourself for one of the cinema's most unique experiences. If you have seen it before, prepare as well for rediscovering—much like the film's hero—something you only thought you knew" (Criterion Collection's Online Cinematheque). (111 mins., 35mm)

Le amiche restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation.

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Josef Albers, Leaf Study IX, c. 1940Leaves on paper28 x 24 ¾ inches© The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/ Artists Rights Society New YorkPhoto: Tim Nighswander/Imaging 4 Art

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