Thursday, April 16, 2015

April revivals: second half

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the second half of April, Haven't had a lot of time to do these kind of screenings recently, let's see if we can change that. At least this list doesn't have anything from the Museum of the Moving Image this time around. Not that I don't enjoy the museum mind you. But I can't work myself up for the Joan Crawford film, The Best of Everything. I don't care what influence it has/had on Mad Men, it was a slog at time on Fox Movie Channel, and my enthusiasm for now is minimal. So on with the list:

CLUE (1985)- Fri April 17 and Sat April 18 at 12:25AM- IFC Center- Yet another (cheap-ish) Midnight screening of Clue. This time at IFC Center, as part of a series of Staff Picks, or out of the box suggestions for Midnight movies, including Twilight Zone the Movie, Seasame Street Follow That Bird and The Birdcage. I have happy sentimental reasons to post it. It's no Citizen Kane, but it's fun. Compared to other films based on toys, like Battleship or Masters of the Universe, this is the Citizen Kane of toy films if you will: take that comment however you will. And if you know the board game, where a group of potential suspects try to find out which one of them killed Mr. Body, then you have the gist of the slender story. Though it doesn't give you an idea of the farcical style the story and jokes are told.  

This has a major cult following in L.A. In NYC, not so much. I don't know why I like the film so much. It has a good beginning, an extremely mixed middle and endings of varying quality. And we will be getting the version where all three endings were incorporated into the film, as opposed to three separate endings, as it was on its 1985 theatrical release. But I like it, no rational reason why. Just makes me laugh more often than not. Though its cast (Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, Michael McKean) sure helps. From director Jonathan Lynn of future My Cousin Vinny fame. 

Now in addition to a link to to the screening, I'll post a link of Adam B. Vary's interesting article on of how Clue went from conception, to flop, to cult hit. With interviews with Lynn, most of the cast, and others:

THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942)- Thurs April 23 at 6- Film Forum- Sorry that I don't have time for the Film Forum's Preston Sturges retrospective. In fact, this is the only one I can do, one I'm not familiar with. But here's as good a chance as any to change that.

The Palm Beach Story, where Claudette Colbert runs away from husband Joel McCrea to Palm Beach for a quick divorce, after being refused to let her use her sex appeal for raising money for his inventions, only to be pursued by rich Rudy Vallee, whose sister Mary Astor (The Maltese Falcon) chases McCrea, who is introduced by Colbert as her brother. Confused? Then wait till the action is ratcheted up:

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (1973) with a post-film Q and A with the cast- Mon April 27 at 7- Beekman Theater- 1271 2nd Ave between 66th and 67th Street- A one night only screening of Jesus Christ Superstar. A digital restoration being screened at a first run theater, the Beekman. For once, it's not being relegated to Midnight, but a reasonable 7pm screening. Now, is this film an underrated gem, or noble failure? I can't help you, because despite seeing this once on Cinemax and once with commercials on VH1, I'm not sure. From 1973, but still with a bit of 60s glow to it, a group of hippie actors bus out to the middle of nowhere (great use of mostly Israeli locales), ready to play out the last whatever number days in the life of Jesus.

Andrew Lloyd Webber wasn't exactly pleased with the final cut, and from what I can tell, critical and audience reaction were mixed. Musical fans and millennials have been much kinder to it. I guess the older people back in 73 didn't like it or refused to go, and the younger ones, as they got older and had more say in terms of media and so forth, spread the film's virtues. I wouldn't say this has a cult following, but its close. For me, it's a mixed bag. Up and down for the majority of the film, not happy with anything involving King Herrod. But they have a great Judas in Carl Anderson, and the last 20 or so minutes is a triumph of music, cinematography, performance, choreography and editing. So in the end, you'll have to decide if this is worth the risk. But if you take the risk, I'll be right there with you if you like. 

But before the screening, cast members Ted Neely (Jesus), Yvonne Elliman (Mary), Barry Dennen (Pilate), Bob Bingham (Caiaphas), Kurt Yaghjian (Annas), Josh Mostel (Herrod) and Larry Marshall (Simon), will participate in a Q and A, plus a tribute to the late Carl Anderson (Judas):

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS (1967) for 10 dollars- Thurs April 30 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- A cheap-ish screening of The Valley of the Dolls. Introduced by Hedda Lettuce and I'm guessing there will be some MST3K/ Rifftrax-style commentary as well.Wow, this is happy-go-lucky compared to the previous two films in this section. Eeeehhh at best, terrible at worst. But at times, gloriously terrible. Barbara Perkins is the hot pure virgin. Patty Duke is the hot nice girl so damaged by Hollywood that every other joke about her character will probably be about either The Patty Duke Show or about Lindsay Lohan. Sharon Tate is the hot actress who can't act, but who has a bad fate in store for her. Throw in a cast that includes Lee Grant, Susan Hayward, Joey Bishop, and a bunch of actors who don't deserve mention but they play weaklings or jerks, amd mix in good music from Andre Previn and John Williams (Oscar nominated). 

Wow, this film is so stupidly full of shit, but oh so wonderfully full of shit. I don't remember if it's on the level of The Swarm, but I sincerely doubt there will be much shushing like there was at that screening. Seriously, it's awful, but campily awful. Ok, not a word, campily, deal with it: 

Had to keep my descriptions brief, no need to elaborate. Let me know if there's interest, later all.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

April revivals: first half

Hey all, Mike here with a small revival list for the first half of April. All in the Museum of the Moving Image, but this time not all are part of a retrospective of films that influenced the creation development of the series Mad Men. The first two are, but not the third:  

PATTERNS (1956) and/of DEAR HEART (1964/65)- Sun April 3 at 4 (Patterns) or 7 (Dear Heart)- From the Museum's retrospective of stuff that influenced Matthew Weiner in some way with the creation/development of the TV series Mad Men. Two films that frankly, I've never heard of, but I am curious. Not sure which one I can do yet, so I'll post both and see what happens.
First, Patterns, written by Rod Serling. At this point in his career,he might have been known for radio, but little else. Stuff like Playhouse 90 was but a gleam in his eye, The Twilight Zone was a couple of years away from that. But the original version of Patterns for the Kraft Television Theatre launched Sterling's writing career. A dramatic example of the corporate world that Mr. Weiner has used a sort-of blueprint for the dramatic work environment scenes in Mad Men. Not dramatic in terms of secretary seduction or a staffer chopping off a nipple and putting it in a box. No, dramatic in terms of how brutally cold the business world can get. Cold-hearted boss Everett Sloane will stop at nothing to raise the level of young VP Van Heflin, at the expense of humiliating older Ed Begley. But what kind of impression will this make on Heflin . . . Note this is the film version, not the praised TV version with Richard Kiley in Heflin's role. 
With Patterns, to quote Mr. Weiner:
I saw this film version as a child on sick day from middle school; it was originally written and produced for live television in 1955. Rod Serling ingeniously creates a boardroom passion play with a chilling first-person climax that I never forgot. We used it often over the life of the series to get a sense of the real offices and to see how virtue and ambition can clash when the older generation is pushed aside and ruthless business confronts humanity.
Next, Dear Heart. A comedy from 1964 technically so that it could receive an Oscar nomination or two for Henry Mancini's work. It stars Geraldine Page as a woman in New York who's having trouble finding love, or even feeling she deserves it. It also stars Glenn Ford as a Don Draper type, who has no trouble attracting women (engaged to Angela Lansbury, cheating on her left and right with other women), but not feeling a lot of love their either. Then our two leads meet . . .

Dear Heart received a wide release in early 1965, and was practically ignored. An Oscar nomination for Mancini's title song meant nothing for the film. While the film on the whole hasn't been reconsidered on the whole, the writing of the characters and the performances have been looked at with a kinder light, especially with the Mad Men connection. With Dear Heart, to quote Mr. Weiner:
Stumbling upon this film gave me the impetus to finally write the pilot. I was taken by this mainstream Hollywood film that reflected a very casual attitude towards sex, something that seemed uncharacteristic to my preconceptions of the era. With its glib bachelor hero and dowdy, conservative ingénue, it tells a tale of moral corruption and heartbreaking duplicity in the form of a light comedy. As Glenn Ford tries to change his ways and take responsibility for his meaningless romances in glamorous Manhattan, I found a jumping-off point for the series.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) in 3-D- Fri April 10 and Sunday April 12 at 12:30- plus Sunday April 12 at 3:30 with an introduction from Andy Ross and Micaela Biel, hosted by Dana Rossi- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- To draw the families into the Museum, the 3-D version of The Wizard of Oz has been playing since Good Friday, and will continue to play at the Museum at 12:30 PM through April 12th. And if you want to do the 12:30 screening on Friday the 10th or Sunday the 12th, I'm game. Though if you wish for what you might consider to be a more reasonable time, there will be a 3:30 screening on the 12th. It will be part of The Soundtrack Series, a podcast covering how music touches the lives of everyday people. When The Soundtrack Series does its live podcast at the Museum, it covers film soundtracks that serve special places in people's hearts. Hosted by Dana Rossi, it will broadcast live at this screening.

As for the Wizard itself, yes this is the same digital 3-D restoration that came out about a year and a half ago. No IMAX screen, but since the Museum's screen can expand to accommodate 70mm screenings, I'm sure the screening will turn out fine. The sound has been digitally restored, and the 3-D kicks in once Judy Garland is in Oz, not in any of the Kansas scenes. The film doesn't need 3-D to be enjoyed as the classic it is. But since most people are only familiar with Oz as a TV film, sometimes with commercials, the big screen experience of this is foreign to many. It certainly was to me until recently. I like the film prior, but it became a top 100 film for me afterwards. Yet another instance of the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it, to quote comedian Larry Miller:

Let me know if there's interest, later all.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March revivals: second half

Hey all. Mike here with a list of revivals for the second half of March. Again, because life is getting a bit in the way, we have another small list. And this list has films all in one location: the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. I didn't intend to do that, but we have 3 films here that are too good to ignore. We'll start off with a film I've waited a long while to become available on a list like this:

THE APARTMENT (1960) introduced by Matthew Weiner- Fri Mar 20 at 9:15- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- Part of the Museum's retrospective of films and TV series that influenced Matthew Weiner, either in his own life, or in the creation and/or development of his hit series Mad Men. Now before this screening, Weiner will do a discussion/ Q and A about the series and himself, with clips from the series. This event is sold out, though you might be able to get standby tickets on the evening of. But tickets for the screening of Billy Wilder's The Apartment, with an introduction from Weiner, are available and should still be on the afternoon of the 20th.
If North By Northwest was one of the films to heavily influence the pilot of Mad Men, The Apartment is another. The other two, Joan Crawford's The Best of Everything and Glenn Ford's Dear Heart, will screen at the Museum in April. But sticking with The Apartment, to quote Mr. Weiner:
I had seen this for the first time in film school and was bowled over by the dynamic writing and the passive nature of its hero, Jack Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter. It is definitely a story of its times, firmly rooted in a Manhattan where seemingly regular men behave unscrupulously, and it completely engaged my imagination as a representation of office and sexual politics at the time. It blends humor and pathos effortlessly. −Matthew Weiner
In this dramedy, from 1960, Jack Lemmon's character is near the bottom of the totem pole, in a big insurance company in New York. One way to get ahead is to allow his mid-level managers to use his apartment for extramarital affairs. It gets him both a promotion and the attention of the big boss, played by Fred MacMurray. This leads to even further use of his apartment, and problems with the woman he has a crush on, played by Shirley MacClaine.
A big hit in its day, a classic today. Praised by many critics, but attacked by a few for its seemingly caviler displays of adultery in the workplace, with all these very proper people. Maybe the amoral attitudes of our "hero" Lemmon upset some people, but it provided a respectable template for Weiner and his world of Mad Men.
10 Oscar nominations, including Lemmon for Actor and MacClaine for Actress. 5 Oscars, including Picture, Wilder for Director, Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond for Screenplay, and Editing. On both AFI top 100 lists, though not as well remembered or beloved as another classic released that year, Psycho. Whoa, what nerves did The Apartment hit that it isn't as beloved as a film about a disturbed young man who stabs a woman to death in the shower. Hmm, interesting . . . :

VERTIGO (1958) and/or BLUE VELVET (1986)- Sun March 22 at 4 (Vertigo) and 7 (Velvet)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. A potential double feature of two films that influenced Matthew Weiner, the creator/showrunner of Mad Men. The first film was influence starting in the hiatus between Seasons 1 and 2, while the second film was a major influence on Weiner himself back in college. One admission gets you into both films, along with a chance to check out the Museum itself, including the new Mad Men exhibit.
First, Vertigo. A revival screening of the Hitchcock classic isn't a rarity. That we're getting a presentation of it in an original IB 35mm print is highly unusual. Meaning while we may not get the highest quality digital presentation, we 're probably getting a well preserved reel of the film that's probably closer to it s original color and presentation than any of the post-1980s restoration efforts.
As for the film itself, a tragic romance with poor guy Jimmy Stewart, going down the emotional Rabbit Hole of Doom as he falls for Kim Novack, and tries not to literally fall due to his vertigo. The story of obsessive love that has never been done better than this. Not on the big screen anyway.
A film that was ignored at best and derided at worst in its initial release, but attained instant classic status upon its 1984 re-release. a near permanent fixture on most AFI Top 100 lists. In some recent film articles listing best movies, Vertigo has made the leap to 1st or 2nd. Not quite sure about that, but on my own Top 40 for sure.

Now again, note that I haven't written much at all about the story itself. To paraphrase Martin Scorsese when he wrote about Vertigo, not only is Vertigo required viewing, it also requires a Personal Response. Your life experiences will determine how you will take it. I'm guessing anyone who looks at my lists has seen Vertigo before. Therefore, you jumped past following the plot and can get to the heart (figuratively and literally) of the story and how it connects with you.
Now as for how Matthew Weiner was influenced by Vertigo, to quote Mr. Weiner:
Released to negative reviews, it now ranks for many as the greatest film ever made. I had not seen it before the show began, but finally caught it on a break after the first season. I was overwhelmed with its beauty, mystery, and obsessive detail. I remember watching the camera dolly-in on Kim Novak’s hair and thinking, “this is exactly what we are trying to do.” Vertigo feels like you are watching someone else’s dream. −Matthew Weiner
Next, Blue Velvet.   a darker variation of Shadow of a Doubt, with more than a little Wizard of Oz, in its way. In my top 5 ever, possibly higher. What Shadow of a Doubt pushed in terms of evil in a small town Americana, Blue Velvet cranked to 11 and turned it on its (severed) ear. This mystery/neo-noir/romantic drama got David Lynch a Best Director nomination, and brought both his and Kyle MacLachlan's career back from the dead. Isabella Rossellini established herself as an actress once and for all, and Dennis Hopper became a working character actor forever, in a career performance. Also drew major controversy in its day for its, let's just say, sexual connotations, and what was required of Rossellini in her role. I believe it was Ebert who called this film the most vile thing he had ever seen (or something along those lines).Rosselini attacked him in response (verbally attacked I meant). A bit of a Rorschach test, this hauntingly beautiful film is. Decide for yourself.
Now as for the film's influence on Matthew Weiner, to quote Mr. Weiner one last time:
Remarkably original for its time, this film had an impact on my generation that can’t be underestimated. I saw it as I was finishing college and applied to film school soon after. Indefinable in genre, Blue Velvet moves from murder mystery to film noir to black comedy to coming-of-age story, almost from scene to scene. With stylistic richness and psychological complexity, it celebrates the horror of the mundane and is filled with reference to a kitschy and ironic “’50s” milieu. This incredible observation informed much of the 1980s and became an inspiration for the series and its attempt to equally revise our mythical perception of the period. :

Let me know if there's interest, Take care.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

March revivals: first half

Hello all, Mike here with a list of revivals for the first half of March. I didn't mean to keep it isolated to 2 theaters for this posting, but my schedule and the films I'm interested in dictate otherwise. Here we go, starting with a holdover from the last list:

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976)- Fri Feb 27 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- From the Museum's Gordon Willis retrospective. Alan J. Pakula's classic film depicting the slow but steady investigation of the Watergate break-ins by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein. Difficult to make when the most of the answers and the climax were known by billions, and hard to make visually interesting inside the Post offices. A leap of faith by Lead actor/ uncredited producer Robert Redford that the audience would be willing to stick with following the story (or the money) with Woodward (Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) But I'll be darned if the filmmakers didn't find a way. Emphasize the danger, the impossible-to-believe aspects of a bungled burglary, the success the cover-up seemed to have for at least a portion of the film, make the reporter's environment as realistic and true to life as possible, especially in the case of the finely duplicated Post offices. And above all, make sure you don't show the reporters succeeding, but stuck in an almost unending struggle to find the truth, with only the audience's knowledge of history and a typewritten montage to provide relief. Basically, shoot it like a paranoid thriller; the kind that were popular in the 70s and not well known today, unless you saw Captain America: The Winter Solider.

Oscar nominations for Picture, Pakula for Director, Jane Alexander for Supporting Actress, and Editing. Oscars for Jason Robards for Supporting Actor, William Goldman for Adapted Screenplay, Sound and Art Direction. It might have won more, but that was the year of Network, Taxi Driver and Rocky. On the second AFI Top 100 list. This almost never gets a revival screening, so take advantage of this opportunity:

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN- Sun Mar 1 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- A restored 35mm print from the Academy Film Archive. The conclusion of the Museum's Gordon Willis retrospective. From 1981, from director Herbert Ross (The Turning Point, The Goodbye Girl) and acclaimed British writer Dennis Potter, who successfully adapted his highly praised BBC mini-series to the big screen. The last of the MGM musicals and a kick in the teeth to those musicals that offer too fantastical a release from reality, especially the Fred and Ginger and Busby Berkeley kind of musicals.

Steve Martin, in his first dramatic role, is a struggling song sheet salesman during the Depression, trapped in a loveless marriage. He'd like to live the happy life depicted in the songs of the day, but to no avail. He escapes from his depressing circumstances, by escaping into his fantasies and indulging in whatever immediate pleasures he can get. That includes having an affair with a schoolteacher (Bernadette Peters), and trying to start his own business with no money or support. This won't end well . . .

Critics at the time were not praising this to the hilt, Pauline Kael not withstanding. Even critics who liked portions of it, like a Vincent Camby or Roger Ebert, were vocal about its problems, like its grimness and chilliness. But since then, we've been able to accept the darkness in something like Chicago, so maybe Pennies From Heaven was just ahead of its time. Fred Astaire, who couldn't stop one of his scenes from being used in the picture which led to Martin and Peters then performing said number, felt the 1930s was an innocent time, and that the film was vulgar and cruel. Since Pennies From Heaven took the position that his kind of films widened the chasm between fantasy and reality in an era where poverty crushed many. Astaire himself created the dances that were among the most popular of said destructive fantasies, so Fred must have taken it real personal. As for the audiences, who were faced with upbeat advertising and critics saying it was something darker, and had the option of On Golden Pond or Raiders of the Lost Ark (still playing even at that point), they stayed away from Pennies From Heaven in droves.

3 Oscar nominations, including Potter for Screenplay and Costume Design for Bob Mackie. Much praise for Gordon Willis's color and B/W Cinematography, as well for the lead performances by Peters and Martin. Now Steve may not have been a dancer on the level of Vernel Bagneris performing to the title song, or to Christopher Walken's showstopping Let's Misbehave. But unlike Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Steve Martin actually danced, and did quite well. This film screams for re-evaluation:

PLAYTIME (1967/1973)- Fri Mar 6 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Museum's See It Big series, for films that can't be fully appreciated on small screens. Normally this might be screened in all its 70mm glory, since that is how it was filmed. Guess we'll have to settle for a 35mm print.

From 1967, though it didn't reach the U.S. until the summer of 1973. A French comedy directed, co-written by, and starring Jacques Tati, as his famous M. Hulot character. If you saw the Oscar nominee, The Illusionist, based on an unproduced screenplay of Tati's, then you are familiar with the character. Imagine the klutzy M. Hulot needing to get some paperwork from Paris. M. Hulot goes from his country town to some place not completely resembling Paris. Not just any Paris, not just any metropolis, but to an actual Metropolis. As in a place similar to the city from Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but with enough alienation and little use for individuality, that Tom Stoppard and/or Terry Gilliam had to know this film when making Brazil. A mega-flop in its day, but with ever growing appreciation for it as the years have gone by:

GREY GARDENS (1975/76)- Fri Mar 6 at 7:10 and 9:20, Sat Mar 7 at 9:50 and Thurs Mar 13 at 9:50- Film Forum- A DCP restoration of the cult classic. Directed by Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer. But the Mayseles brothers are who tend to get the main credit for the project. They were the ones originally interested in telling the story of Lee Radzwill, Jacqueline Onassis's sister. At the time the brothers were interested in telling the story, the two sisters had already spent money to fix the house of their aunt and first cousin, Edith "Big Edie" Ewing Bouvier Beale, and her daughter "Little Edie" Edith Beale. The mother daughter combo living in squalor despite the minimum repairs made, proved more interesting to the Maysles brothers. After a year of negotiating/ gaining the Beales and the other relatives' trust, the four directors began shooting in and around the home. Using a similar Cinema Verite technique used on their previous projects like Salesman and Gimme Shelter, the women told their stories to the cameras, to each other, to the cats and the raccoons, to whoever. Little to no interference, just an attempt to capture of these two eccentrics; decaying, almost completely isolated, yet still breathing.

No, Grey Gardens didn't win an Oscar. Hell, it wasn't even nominated! I'm not saying it shouldn't have beaten say, Hollywood On Trial or Harlan County U.S.A. (the eventual winner which I've posted here once or twice before). But to not even get nominated makes me shake my head and wonder what was going on back then. Maybe the Academy regrets this, what with the film being considered one of the classics in documentary filmmaking, and being selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in 2010. Regrets it, yeah right. Watch it and decide for yourself:

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)- Sun Mar 15 at 5:30- Museum of the Moving Image- This film starts a retrospective of films that influenced Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men. Either it influenced the show prior to filming, or became an influence over the course of production, or was an influence on Weiner in college or earlier. This film is credited by Weiner as a direct influence on the Mad Men pilot. Here's Weiner's own words, pulled from the Moving Image's website: 

This film became an important influence on the pilot because it was shot in New York City, right around the time the first episode takes place. While more overtly stylized than we wanted to imitate, we felt the low angles and contemporary feel were a useful reflection of our artistic mindset. I had studied the film in depth at USC film school and absorbed much of its “ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances” narrative drive. It is worth noting that Cary Grant is playing an Adman named Roger, who is forced to assume another man’s identity. —Matthew Weiner

Now as for the film itself, it's the best of all the lightweight Alfred Hitchcock films. No big morals here. Just sit back and relax, as everyman Cary Grant gets confused as a secret agent by sinister forces led by James Mason. He runs from them and runs from the law, for a murder at the United Nations he didn't commit. Of course all this running around doesn't stop Grant from taking time to flirt with mysterious Eva Marie Saint, in some of the most fun innuendo that the remnants of the Production Code would allow.

I use the term everyman loosely when describing Grant. But according to Gene Wilder on his episode of Inside The Actors Studio, that's how Grant described himself during a chance meeting on a cruise ship, where the Northwest homage Silver Streak, was playing. Wilder was pleasantly stunned to here this description, as well as how Grant was nice enough to include Wilder as being on the same level, but I digress.

Fun film, with good performances, a snappy though unsubtle Herrmann score, with one of Saul Bass's best opening credit sequences. Oscar nominations for the great Editing, Art Direction, and Ernest Lehman's script. I've done this film several times on the big screen, and will keep doing it as long as there are people I know who haven't experienced in the same way, as well as being financially and geographically viable for me. So if you haven't caught it on a screen larger than your tv, try it:

Let me know if there's interest, later all.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

February revivals

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the rest of the month. Let's keep it brief:

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)- Sun Feb 15 at 5:10, 7:05 and 9- Film Forum- A DCP restoration from the Forum's Charles Laughton retrospective. And I'm afraid the only one I would have any time for, especially since I've already seen Witness For the Prosecution and Ruggles of Red Gap. 

The original Night of the Hunter, one of the better film noirs. Yep, I'll just keep posting this until I catch a screening somewhere. Robert Mitchum's best performance as a corrupt preacher willing to kill, as he marries widow Shelley Winters to force her kids to tell him where their late father hid money from a robbery. Any comparisons to Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, where evil creeps into little America is understandable. It's easy to think of film villains like Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter and Gollum, or get caught up in a newer one, like Capitán Vidal from Pan's Labyrinth. It's sometimes easy to forget the older villains. I find Mitchum's preacher more insidious than his later turn in the original Cape Fear.

When I saw Do The Right Thing when it first played in theaters, I admired the Radio Raheem monologue about Love and Hate on his hands. Didn't realize it was stolen from Mitchum's character here. The moral: keep watching good films. And also, if we keep giving Spike Lee less credit, the world will be a happier place to live in. Somewhat kidding about that last part.

Initial reaction from 1955 audiences made this film a huge bust. It prompted first-time director/ acting legend Charles Laughton never to direct again. A cult classic today and maybe even more than that. Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1992. if you haven't seen it, let's do it.

ZARDOZ (1974)- Sun Feb 15 at 9:45- Film Forum- From the Forum's John Boorman retrospective. Zardoz, one of my favorite What The Fuck kind of films. I admire its audacity, and I can't believe that anyone in Britain or at Fox thought people would pay to see this in droves. I like that director John Boorman really tried to go out there, but in his most recent DVD commentary about Zardoz, even he can't figure out What The Fuck is happening, or why he chose to do certain scenes the way he did.
I'll attempt the Cliff Notes version here. In post-apocalyptic Britain, Sean Connery plays the leader of a group of tough guys, who stumbles on a highly advanced, Utopian village. It comprises of three types of people: youngish Brits with hot bodies bright minds and snooty attitudes, youngish Brits whose brains don't seem to be working, and babbling old people. Throw in a God named Zardoz, and there's a mystery to be solved. Though why Connery is forced to do this in a long black wig, Fu Manchu-esque mustache and shiny red diaper, I have no idea. I'm serious, it looks like Sean spends more than half the film in a shiny red diaper. With Charlotte Rampling, who's smoking here.

There are parts of the film that I don't want to spoil. There are parts of the film where I think "YOU GOTTA BE SHITTING ME!!!!". Though the ending is cool. You'll either admire it, hate it with a passion, or laugh at it. Don't worry, I've done all three. Let the film experimentation begin

BLUE VELVET (1986)- Sun Feb 15 at 12:10AM- IFC Center- A special Sunday midnight screening, thanks to this weekend containing President's Day. In my top 5 ever, possibly higher. I saw Blue Velvet when it was released back in 1986. Ok, 1987, thanks to critical acclaim. I was WAY too young to get all of what was going on, but what I did get was disturbing, fascinating, and told me that movies could be very different from Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz, or Casablanca. Now yes, the journey depicted here is somewhat similar to Dorothy's journey through Oz (intentional). But this precursor to Twin Peaks is it's own world. The shock factor may not be nearly the same for you compared to what 1986/87 audiences endured, but the story, the performances and Angelo Baldalamenti's beautiful score has endured.

What Shadow of a Doubt pushed in terms of evil in a small town Americana, Blue Velvet cranked to 11 and turned it on its (severed) ear. A very 50s town, with a very 50s kinda young man (Kyle MacLachlan) dealing with the kind of dark crisis a 50s era hero isn't obviously equipped to handle. Not without help, love and support that is. But oh what a dark journey to get to that point . . . This mystery/neo-noir/romantic drama got Lynch a Best Director nomination, and brought both his and MacLachlan's career back from the dead. Isabella Rossellini established herself as an actress once and for all, and Dennis Hopper became a working character actor forever, in a career performance. Also drew major controversy in its day for its, let's just say, sexual connotations, and what was required of Rossellini in her role. I believe it was Ebert who called this film the most vile thing he had ever seen (or something along those lines) and Rosselini attacked him (verbally) in response. A bit of a Rorschach test, this hauntingly beautiful film is. Decide for yourself.

MANHATTAN (1979)- Fri Feb 20 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- From the Museum's Gordon Willis retrospective, covering the best of the late Cinematographer's work. Manhattan, one of those films that should be seen on and can only be truly embraced on the big screen. It would be very hard for Arguably Woody Allen's best film. On the short list with Allen's Annie Hall, Hannah and her Sisters, and Crimes and Misdemeanors. He wanted to make a film where he wanted to captured what he thought of as life in Manhattan, late 1970s. Put into the filter of one of his favorite films, Jean Renoir's The Rules of The Game. Allegedly, at some point after post production was completed, Allen was so unhappy with the final product, he offered to make a new film for free if United Artists either shelved or destroyed Manhattan. UA execs, happy with what they received, politely declined. Despite the praise and acclaim, Allen felt/feels he got away with one in this case. It may not be a typical life in New York circa late 1970s, but worth catching.

Hell of a cast. Diane Keaton, Micheal Murphy, Meryl Streep and Allen were the better known actors; Mark-Linn Baker, Karen Allen and Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy in smaller roles. 2 Oscar nominations for the Screenplay (written by Allen and Marshall Brickman), and Mariel Hemingway for Supporting Actress. I hope as the relationship between Allen's and Hemingway's characters develops, all cries of "Soon-Yi" are held to a dull roar.

What it wasn't nominated for, which still stuns me, is the late Gordon Willis's stunning black and white Cinematography. Hard to say who should have been dropped from the category, considering the excellent work done in Apocalypse Now (the winner), All That Jazz, 1941 and The Black Hole. Wait, I know, drop Néstor Almendros for his work in Kramer vs. Kramer. But wait, he worked on Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven. DAMNIT!!! Anyway, a must see on the big screen.

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976)- Fri Feb 27 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- From the Museum's Gordon Willis retrospective. Alan J. Pakula's classic film depicting the slow but steady investigation of the Watergate break-ins by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodard and Carl Bernstein. Difficult to make when the most of the answers and the climax were known by billions, and hard to make visually interesting inside the Post offices. A leap of faith by Lead actor/ uncredited producer Robert Redford that the audience would be willing to stick with following the story (or the money) with Woodward (Redford) and Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) But I'll be darned if the filmmakers didn't find a way. Emphasize the danger, the impossible-to-believe aspects of a bungled burglary, the success the cover-up seemed to have for at least a portion of the film, make the reporter's environment as realistic and true to life as possible, especially in the case of the finely duplicated Post offices. And above all, make sure you don't show the reporters succeeding, but stuck in an almost unending struggle to find the truth, with only the audience's knowledge of history and a typewritten montage to provide relief. Basically, shoot it like a paranoid thriller; the kind that were popular in the 70s and not well known today, unless you saw Captain America: The Winter Solider.

Oscar nominations for Picture, Pakula for Director, Jane Alexander for Supporting Actress, and Editing. Oscars for Jason Robards for Supporting Actor, William Goldman for Adapted Screenplay, Sound and Art Direction. It might have won more, but that was the year of Network, Taxi Driver and Rocky. On the second AFI Top 100 list. This almost never gets a revival screening, so take advantage of this opportunity:

Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January revivals: small list

Hi all, Mike here with a short revival list for the month of January. Very short list, as in a three film list. Sorry, but life is getting in the way now, so on with the list we go:

THE THIRD MAN (1949/1950) and THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947/48)- Fri Jan 23 at 8:25 (Man) and 10:30 (Lady)- Film Forum- A double feature from the Forum's Orson Welles retrospective; both for one admission. Plays for two days and nights, but  I'm only posting the night screenings for Friday, January 23rd. If the Saturday day/night screenings on Saturday, January 24th, are the only ones you can do, go for it. Note that Lady From Shanghai is a restored DCP, while Third Man will be a 35mm screening.

First, The Third Man, from 1949. Though in America, it came out in 1950, where it would rise to classic status at about the exact same time as Sunset Blvd., All About Eve and Harvey. Talk about when being the third or fourth best film of that particular year meant a lot more than usual. Seriously, it's seems to me to be among the least seen of all the post silent flim era flicks I would label classic, at least stateside. As the older audience dies out, younger ones may not know it. But once they see it, boom, it's got them, and they'll probably see it everytime it comes on TCM as well. Film students must also have to see this at least once I would imagine. If not, then it's probably not all that reputable a film school.

Simple fish out of water story, where American Joseph Cotton, who seems to hold black belts in screwups and stumbling blindly into situations, attends a funeral for his friend in post-war divided Vienna. And yet things, as usual in these kind of film noirs, are not what they appear to be. Thus, what I said about the story being simple, eeeeehhhhh, not so much. The film seems to exist entirely in states of gray, with camera angles that seem to have made it the Blair Witch Project of its day.

Standing out in the colorful supporting cast are Trevor Howard with what appears to be a permanent British stiff upper lip, and Alida Valli, who can keep many men's interest, but keeps pining for the one who treats her like shit. And, oh yeah, Orson Welles; who brought charm, gravitas, and the memorable, though historically inaccurate, cuckoo clock monologue. The only part of the film not written by Graham Greene, who adapted his book with some uncredited help.

Oh yeah, he didn't write the ending either. Director Carol Reed didn't like the book's ending, but still wasn't sure what to do. But he came up with a solution, over Greene's objections. At the end of shooting, just placed his camera and himself far away so the actors couldn't hear him say cut, and let it roll. Whatever would be, would be. Hey, it worked.

An Oscar for the black and white cinematography, nominations for Editing and Reed for Director. Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes, on the first AFI Top 100 list (though not the second!), number one on Britain's similar film list, Japan's number one film on it's own similar list of non-Japanese films, and in my personal top 100. Not sure where exactly, but it's somewhere. It would be higher in my mind if there wasn't so much zither music. Yes, it fits, and after 60 years, we can't exactly do anything about that now, but still. That damn zither theme can still pop into my head from time to time. Despite that, you will enjoy it, whether you've seen it a bunch of times, or for the first time.

Next is The Lady From Shanghai, from 1948. Orson plays an Irish sailor (dialect questionable, later abandoned) who save platinum blond Rita Hayworth from muggers. In gratitude, her husband, a rich criminal lawyer (Everett Sloane-Citizen Kane) hires him to be their seaman for a cruise from New York to San Francisco, cutting through the Panama Canal. Now if you know film noirs, you can imagine how much a femme fatale Hayworth's character could be, and you can imagine, and the twist and turns that come right at you.

But here, the twists and turns feel far more out of nowhere. Partly due to the script, and partly because after a disastrous preview, Columbia Pictures took the film away from Welles, and came up with their own edit. An edit where numerous re -writes and re-shoots blew up the film's budget. The blame for this would fall to Welles, even though he had nothing to do with it, since his original cut came on time and on budget. The Lady From Shanghai flopped in the U.S. with both critics and audiences, and gave a permanent black mark to Welles' Hollywood reputation. But it gained respect and an audience in Europe. Below is a recent quote from a film website that I don't remember. Sorry, but in my haste to cut and paste the paragraph, I missed who I should give credit to. Google on your if you want: 

After the release of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI ('48), "friends avoided me," Orson Welles told filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. "Whenever [the film] was mentioned, people would clear their throats and change the subject very quickly out of consideration for my feelings. I only found out that it was considered a good picture when I got to Europe. The first nice thing I ever heard about it from an American was from Truman Capote. One night in Sicily, he quoted whole pages of dialogue word for word."

So yes, thanks to European critics/audiences, plus TV viewings over the years, The Lady From Shanghai did gain some sort of cult status here. In part because of good casting, though Hayworth has little to do but look good. In part because of the enjoyably stylized way this story is told. In part because a chunk of the dialogue is funny, intentionally funny as opposed to Welles's wandering accent. And in part because of the fantastic Hall of Mirrors climax; a scene that would heavily influence the likes of Enter The Dragon, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and almost any film that plays with funhouse mirrors:

ANNIE HALL (1977)- Fri Jan 30 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Moving Images's Gordon Willis retrospectives. In honor of the great cinematographer who died last May. Not all of his films, just the very best of an illustrious career. I won't have time for some films I've caught from previous revival lists, such as Interiors, Klute, and the first two Godfather films. And as much as I would love to catch the likes of The Parallax View and Broadway Danny Rose, I'm afraid I will miss those screenings as well. There's a chance I can see something from the end of the series, but for now, there's Annie Hall.

Now for years, I waffled back and forth between which film was my favorite of Woody Allen's career, Annie Hall or Manhattan. While the borough of Manhattan has never been more beautifully captured on film with Manhattan, and it should be seen on either the big screen or at least on a 50"-70" TV screen, Annie Hall became my number Allen film back in June 2012. Superior dialogue, best use of Diane Keaton, and a marvel in editing, especially considering the much longer murder mystery story this was a part of.

But that's about all I'll say about this film. Blah blah, Woody Allen's best film right along with Manhattan. Blah blah, on both AFI Top 100 lists and in my own personal top 100. Blah Blah, Multiple Oscar winner including Best Picture. Blah blah, Diane Keaton becomes movie icon and feminist icon of all time. Blah blah, the Annie Hall character was to women then as Juno is to young women right now. Blah blah, one of the best romantic comedies ever made, despite the dramatic/sad tinges to it. Blah blah, just see it, all right

Let me know if there's interest, later all.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Revivals: post Christmas edition

Hey all, Mike here with revivals for the post Christmas Day winter break, for those who can take a break that is. But don't worry, plenty of weekend options here. This list runs into early January, since that kinda counts as a long weekend for some as well. I tried to keep the descriptions as brief as possible. No time to waste, here we go:

THE MALTESE FALCON (1941) or THE DEAD (1988) for 10 dollars- Fri Dec 26 at 2:30 (Falcon) or 8:30 (Dead)- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Two films from the John Huston retrospective. Separate admission only, unless you go for the 5 films for 5 dollars deal for this retrospective. Ten dollars for each film otherwise.

First, The Maltese Falcon. One of the best ever and an AFI Top 100 film (both lists), Falcon made Bogart a leading man for life and was also Huston's directorial debut. Proof that Tarantino did not have the best start to a film career. Okay maybe Welles did, but no one went to see Citizen Kane when it came out, but they did go to see Falcon in the same year. And oh by the way, its one of the best films ever made. I'm sorry did I say this already instead of going on about the film? If you know this site is known to you at all, then this is the kind of film you know well. "The kind that dreams are made of". I hope we can go.

Next, The Dead, Huston's last film. Released posthumously in 1987, Huston's adaptation of James Joyce's short story might have received the best reviews of Huston's career. Or at least on par with the likes of Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann are a married couple in Dublin, attending the 1904 Epiphany dinner of his elderly aunts. But amid the good cheer the husband goes through his own epiphanies, and not all of them are pleasant. Oscar nominations for for son Tony Huston's Screenplay and the Costume Design, with a cast that includes Dan O'Herlihy and Deep Space Nine's Colm Meaney, and a lush Alex North score:

DIE HARD (1988)- Fri Dec 26 at 11:50pm- IFC Center- A DCP projection, part of IFC Center's series of Christmas films. An offbeat choice for the holiday season, but since everything takes place on Christmas Eve, it fits. An off beat change of pace for Christmas, but one of the best action films of the past 25 years or so. Bruce Willis jumps from TV star to Superstar status with this film, as everyman cop John McClane, saving his wife and co-workers in a giant office tower, from the clutches of evil Alan Rickman and his machine gun toting cohorts. True, you might feel Paul Gleason, William Atherton and Hart Bochner slow down the fun a bit by playing variations of the American Asshole, but two out of three pay off.

Compared to a lot of action films made after say, True Lies, Die Hard looks better and better each year. CGI alone does not make an action film exciting or even interesting. Yeah, I'm talking to you Transformers 1 and 2, just to pick on two films almost at random. Die Hard was just another above average hit from 1988. A little bigger in popularity than say, Beetlejuice, but not on the level of Crocodile Dundee 2. Home video and cable, plus the even bigger success of Die Hard 2, helped move Die Hard to the level of classic status. But if you're reading this, then you've probably only experienced this on TV. A large TV perhaps with an ok sound system, but not the big screen. Time to change that.

THE FLY (1986)- Fri Dec 26 at Midnight- IFC Center- The Fly, Cronenberg's only big career hit, the surprise hit of the summer of 86, and one of the best films of that year. At that time, despite the praise, saying something like that was considered surprising, daring, or greeted with a "oh, please". History says differently, if you can get by the Oscar winning, and at times disgusting, makeup effects.

But underneath the horror film aesthetic, is a well done tragic love story, where the love suffers terminal problems, when one of them suffers a crippling disease or addiction. This kind of story, as Cronenberg knows well, has universal appeal. Instead of say, AIDS or drug addiction, or the ravages of aging as Cronenberg has stated in more than one interview, you have Jeff Goldblum transforming into a man-sized insect. His physical deterioration and changing behavior does mimic disease, aging and addiction, despite the disintegrating fly vomit. With Geena Davis, at her most beautiful, turning in her best performance.

WISE BLOOD (1979/80) for 10 dollars- Sat Dec 27 at 3:30 and Thurs Jan 1 at 6:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- From the John Huston retrospective at Lincoln Center, one were there are two possible dates I can do. From 1979, released in the U.S. in 1980. Huston's dark dramedy adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's novel. Haven't seen it, would like to see it. But for the rest of this post, I'll have to cut and paste from Lincoln Center's filmlinc website:

“Where you’re going doesn’t matter,” insists the impassioned young hero of Huston’s deepest, thorniest reflection on religious faith. “And where you are ain’t no good unless you can get away from it.” Brad Dourif gives the performance of his career as Hazel Motes, a recent war veteran who comes to a small Southern town advocating with Pentecostal fervor for the “Church of Christ Without Christ.” Huston fills the fringes of the movie with an indelible cast of American eccentrics, including the great Harry Dean Stanton as a (possibly) blind preacher. Adapted from Flannery O’Connor’s legendary first novel,Wise Blood is a comic, unsettling parable about, in the novelist Francine Prose’s words, “a Christian in spite of himself.”

HEALTH (1980) with Go To Health- Sat Dec 27 at 4- MOMA- HealtH (the way the title is spelled; no typo.). Inspired by (his feelings of anger toward) Watergate, HealtH depicts a convention, where several people battle to win an election for president of a health organization that lobbies Washington. Lauren Bacall plays one candidate, who claims that every orgasm takes 28 days off a woman's life, while she occasionally slips into a coma. Glenda Jackson plays another candidate who can't talk without lapsing into a bored speech. How you can tell if she can be effective when she doesn't know how to present herself (a topic Altman would later cover on HBO's Tanner 88). Paul Dooley (co-writer and frequent actor for Altman) plays an independent candidate who claims to be for the little guy, but you have to wonder . . . James Garner plays bacillus campaign manager, and Carol Burnett plays the Presiden'ts personal observer ("I just want everyone to know the President is very pro-health!"). A young Alfre Woodard plays the hotel manager, and Dick Cavett plays himself.

The film was supposed to send up the condition of the American political process in the 70s. Bacall playing a variation of an empty platitude Dwight Eisenhower, and Jackson play a variation of the useless Adlai Stevenson. It was supposed to be released during the 1980 presidential campaign, but after one disastrous screening, 20th Century Fox essentially buried the film and called it "unreleasable". One week in L.A. in Sept 1980, one week at the old Film Forum in 1982, and then mostly buried. A 1983 summer screening on CBS, and the rare screening on Fox Movie Channel, plus several showings at Film Forum and similar type of revival houses. Not the best Altman, but pretty decent.

Preceded by Go To HealTh, a documentary where Cavett interviews the cast. Seen by even fewer people than HealTh itself:

CITIZEN KANE (1941)- Thurs Jan 1 at 7:30 and 9:50, Fri Jan 2 at 2:50 and (tentative for me) 9:50, Sat Jan 3 at 2:50 and (tentative for me) 7:30 and 9:50, and Wed Jan 7 and Thurs Jan 8 at 7:30 and 9:50- Film Forum- A DCP restoration of the film that kicks off the Forum's Orson Welles retrospective. Ok people, show of hands, how many of you have ever heard of Citizen Kane? Ok, good. If you even bother to look at this list at all, you at least know of Orson Welles' film. Didn't expect to see any hands from those under 18 anyway. Now, how many of you know more about Kane than just Rosebud, even if it's aided by memories of HBO's passable version of the making of Kane, RKO 281? Similar number of hands, fine.

Seeing this on the big screen as opposed to watching it on TV, there's a world of difference. In terms of storytelling, pacing and emotional depth (as well as innovative in its use of visual effects, make-up and music), as modern a film as what we have now in release, and a lot better than all but a hand full (I'm trying to be nice and not be considered a snob. I probably failed at that a long time ago). Now, how many of you have actually seen Citizen Kane from beginning to end? Ok, the number of hands have dropped, but I'll let you decide if that would be a fairly low number. I mean, some of have seen it through the very occasional airings on TCM. Maybe 1 or 2 of have seen it/ own it on DVD. New York/ New Jersey people as recent as the early 80s saw this on one of Channel 9's Million Dollar Movie airings. Or maybe 1 or 2 of you saw it in a film class or some sort. Now, how many of you have actually seen this on the big screen? Yeah, that's what I thought. The 1 or 2 of you who saw this with me at the Forum, when Kane ran for a week back in March 2004, or the one who saw it with me at the Forum last April.

A flop in its day (when you do a thinly veiled attack on William Randolph Hearst, and he still wields considerable influence, it's amazing no one burned the negatives behind RKO's backs), a classic today. First, in France, where it was screened shortly after WW 2, and had the praise and backing of filmmakers like Goddard. Then in the mid to late 50s, when it aired on TV and had a major re-release. 9 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Welles for Actor and Director, Herrmann for his Score, and Editing for Robert Wise. An Oscar to Welles and Joseph J. Mankiewicz for the Screenplay. Number one on both AFI Top 100 lists, and along with Casablanca and The Godfather, always in the conversation for greatest American films ever made. That it's in my personal top 6 should be a little obvious.

MCCABE AND MRS MILLER (1971) with Zinc Ointment- Fri Jan 2 at 7- MOMA- From MOMA's Robert Altman retrospective.Unlike other Friday nights there, this one isn't free, we'll have to pay to see this. 

A Western that must have heavily influenced at least the look of HBO's Deadwood, as well as Unforgiven. Warren Beatty (cast for box office purposes, over Altman's original choice of Elliot Gould) plays a gambler/hustler type who sets up a whorehouse/saloon with the help of Julie Christie (Oscar nominated). When mining companies try to buy out their successful business, things get bloody. But since we're in 70s Altman territory, expect some revisionist changes to the usual formula. Plus an ending that makes The Wild Bunch and Heaven's Gate look cheery in comparison, though comparatively less bloody.

This film got lost in the shuffle back in 71; released in the summer around hits like Klute and Shaft, and with influential films like French Connection, A Clockwork Orange and Last Picture Show coming later on, forget remembering this back then. Over the years, it's developed a cult following, among Western fans and Altman fans. At first, it was at least better than Altman's previous picture, Brewster McCloud. A 1990 revival/ mini re-release in London helped. Vilmos Zigmond (Close Encounters, Heaven's Gate, The Deer Hunter)'s Cinematography and Leonard Cohen's songs certainly helped, as did future revisionist Westerns like Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven. Also filled with a lot of actors from other Altman films, including Keith Carradine, Rene Auberjonois, and Shelley Duvall.

Preceded by Zinc Ointment, a 9 minute short about the making of this film:

TENTACLES (1977)- Fri Jan 2 at 8:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- The last from the John Huston retrospective that I will be able to post, and boy do we have a doozy of a bad film. Henry Fonda's evil corporation does some oil drilling off the coast of whatever beach town, California. They shouldn't be drilling out there but DAMMNIT, we need energy! Anyway, the drilling somehow messes with the octopus population, and said octopus population somehow become maneaters.

Awful action, questionable editing, terrible score (both in quality and inappropriateness), a campy awful ripoff of Jaws. Not the only ripoff of Jaws, but notable in terms of cast and shoddiness. The money went straight to the cast: with Huston (a rare lead role as a reporter who uncovers the drilling), Fonda as the evil businessman (a handful of scenes, sitting in a chair), Shelly Winters (as Huston's sister; all over the place with a terrible scene when she tries to reach her son via walkie talkie), and a stiff Bo Hopkins as the actor who could do the "action scenes" (but darn it, I liked him in The Wild Bunch and Dynasty). If you like bad movies, Tentacles is for you: 

VIDEODRONE (1983)- Fri Jan 2 at Midnight- IFC Center- From IFC Center's David Cronenberg retrospective. Videodrone, from 1983. One of the few studio films from director David Cronenberg. James Woods stars as a sleazy cable tv programmer, who gets hooked to Videodrome, an S and M, snuff-ish film show, that tends to distort things, physically and mentally, for the viewer. If you don't know this, I won't spoil it much more, except this is NOT for the physically or emotionally squeamish. Cronenberg's statement on overdosing on the varying visual media, and trashy TV (sounds timely, doesn't it?). Featuring a quite sensuous Debbie Harry:

Let me know if there's interest, later all.