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The Question of Integrity–Life and the Movies

Attending the TCM Classics Film Festival is like renewing your vows with… your love of cinema. Unlike any other festival I have been to, the programming is not for the filmmakers, but for the cinephiles (some of them hardcore buffs) traveling nationally and internationally. Most return year after year to discover newly restored gems and experience their favorite classics on the silver screen. The pictures are presented in the context of their time, Francis Ford Coppola teaches you the origin of the term Sound Design, you watch Ben Mankiewicz figure out how Jean-Luc Godard seduced Anna Karina. I’m a fan.

Programming “All The President’s Men” in the mist of the campaign as the opening film was wonderful, especially introduced by a conversation with the filmmakers of “Spotlight.” Both films are an ode to Journalism and highlights the level of integrity reporting demands. As a consumer of news, I never realized how rigorous the process had to be… and you get why Hoffman and Redford are Hoffman and Redford. I’m a dreamer and I like to think the pictures we make change the world we live in. But something inside me wishes the exceptional stories that inspire us from the movies were the norm. Like if somehow these two films reflected the landscape of today’s media. I hope the gentleman and gentlewomen covering our presidential election will soon wake up and report.

Talk about integrity and being an auteur: Billy Wilder still shining from the success of “Sunset Boulevard” dives into the production of “Ace in the Hole,” unrestrained by his usual writing partner Charles Brackett. Wilder, who was a reporter in his early days, shares a personal story he had been wanting to work on. His vision is uncompromised, the tone is dry and cynical. I find it hilarious how he shoots himself in the foot, criticizing the ‘suckers from the press’ and ‘lame middle America,’ or the shallow interpretation of ‘news-worthy’. Both hated the picture, it was a flop. I think it’s kinda brilliant though, perhaps even noir! Kirk Douglas plays a jaded manipulative and ambitious newspaper man, creating a national carnival around a human interest story (inspired by real-life events). Jan Sterling is killers, as the wannabe widow, or at least out-of-here:

-I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my time, but you–you’re twenty minutes.

For this 7th edition of the festival, Turner Classics announced the launch of FilmStruck, a partnership with Criterion, expanding their online catalogue with up to 80% foreign pictures (that means the current collection will no longer be available on Hulu this fall). We are going to be able to binge some more, at home. Watching an impeccable print of “Cinema Paradisio” at the majestic Chinese Theater IMAX reminded me with what movie magic is all about. Interesting that a film commenting on censorship (the kisses), has a director cut 15 minutes longer. Errr… what happened, were we censored? Are there any more kisses to be had? Also got to see the US premiere (4K digital restoration of first generation print–a replication was originally released) of “The Kid,” Charlie Chaplin’s first feature. The current music for the film was composed by Chaplin at age 82. A proof that movies are like wine and women: they get better with age 🙂

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Flo Ankah
Actress | Director | Songstress
A French New Yorker at heart, Flo Ankah works as an actress, director and voice-over talent (Listen Up Philip, Loving the Silent Tears, Edith Piaf Alive). Her voice is in commercials and feature films for prominent directors. As the songstress 'Floanne,' she performs at Joe's Pub, Symphony Space, MoMA and Feinstein's/54 Below.