Acqua e Zucchero: Carlo Di Palma, i colori della vita
diretced by Fariborz Kamkari
by Bill Chambers This is an illuminating if less than revolutionary documentary about a cinematographer who's more of a DP's DP than a consensus Great among film buffs. (Google "greatest cinematographers" and Carlo Di Palma doesn't even number among the sixty thumbnails in the banner at the top.) Perhaps the reason is because he spent so long in the weeds with Woody Allen (from 1986 until his retirement from fiction features in 1997), whose movies are statistically ephemeral; perhaps it's because Di Palma is a key figure specifically in Italian cinema, which seemed to exhaust its cultural cachet as art films became outmoded there. Inspired by an exhibit devoted to Di Palma curated by his widow, Adriana Chiesa De Palma, Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, The Colours of Life--a title derived from a late-film anecdote about Carlo as a young boy that packs an emotional punch I wasn't quite expecting--sees Adriana poring over his papers and videos, interviewing her husband's colleagues and admirers, and wistfully recalling their marriage. Surprised herself by the vitality of his contribution to the cinematic arts (it sounds like he didn't talk shop much at home), she makes for an ideal entrée into the filmmaker's oeuvre: she knows the titles and the people involved (sometimes personally), but not well enough to be disenchanted with them.