I’ve never seen Richard Pryor’s Which Way Is Up? (1977) and expect to try it at the Cleveland Cinematheque tonight or tomorrow (5:15 and 9:45, respectively), forewarned that it’s raunchy. I don’t think I’ve seen any Richard Pryor movies, in fact, a gap I look forward to closing. The Cleveland Plain Dealer made it their movie pick this weekend.
A fan of Jean Renoir, I’m also eager to see The River (1951), a rare English-language, color film by this director. Many of my friends saw the gorgeous Renoir recently at the Cedar-Lee Theater here in Cleveland Heights. It was lush but a little vapid to me; still, it showed the relationship between the painter father and the filmmaker (to-be) son, and also described the beginnings of Jean’s relationship with his first wife, one of his father’s models. If you check out Renoir, My Father from the library, you see lots of photos which demonstrate the film’s artful set and costume design. You can also read Jean’s own version of his relationship with Catherine Hessling, who became his muse and star.
While we’re talking about Renoirs, pere et fils, let me tell you about my recent vacation. We visited Philadelphia for a few days and stopped in at the Barnes Foundation and exhausted ourselves looking at the densely packed walls of paintings there. Dr. Albert C. Barnes amassed the largest collection of paintings–181– by Auguste Renoir in the world. That’s not the largest collection outside France; it’s the largest collection anywhere. And, frankly, it’s too many Renoirs to take in in one day, or three days, or even four, especially when they hang amid dozens of other people’s paintings. Barnes was a collector extraordinaire. The newly built Foundation preserves the idiosyncratic arrangement he designed at the mansion where it used to be housed, and resting on tables under some of the Renoir paintings are earthenware dishes fashioned by Renoir fils. Pottery was Jean’s art prior to film.
The River shows tonight at 7:10 pm and tomorrow at 5:00 pm.