Friday, August 15, 2014

August revivals: second half










Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the second half of August. Not as large a list as I can put together mind you. But with the U.S. Open coming up, I will be spending most of my time waking time there, and not at any films, whether they be new releases or revivals. Which means I won't be posting the upcoming re-release of Ghostbusters starting August 25th. Sony/Columbia says this will only be a one week re-release. Similar things were said about the recent re-releases of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Top Gun, Titanic, and The Wizard of Oz. All of them lasted more than a week, and I'm hoping for the same with Ghostbusters. If it lasts a second week, I'll be able to post it on the next list (dates and locations TBD). In the meantime, on with the list:



INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) for 10 dollars- Fri Aug 15 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A cheap-ish Midnight screening of the best of all the Indiana Jones sequels/prequel. Also one of the best summer blockbusters of the past 25 years. The good visual effects may have dated a smidge, but nothing has dulled the pace, John Williams's Oscar nominated score, the wish we could see more of the late River Phoenix, and especially the chemistry between Harrison Ford and one of the few on-screen dads Ford would ever have, Sean Connery. The last standout "light and fun" film Spielberg has directed. Yes, over Jurassic Park: 



THE KILLING (1956) and GUN CRAZY (1950)- Sat Aug 16 at 2:30 (Killing) 4:10 (Gun) 6:10 (Killing) and 8 (Gun), and Mon Aug 18 at 2:30 (Killing) and 4:10 (Gun)- Film Forum- A double feature of what was supposedly the most successful double feature the Forum had in its recent Femme Noir series, where the action is determined or permanently changed by a very bad dame. Both films are DCP restorations and plays for a week. I'm posting the only days I know I can probably do.

First, The Killing from 1956. Before Tarantino was making crime films that twisted the timeline back and forth, Stanley Kubrick made this film noir very early in his career. A film that made his reputation forever more. Kubrick adapted the novel "Clean Break", with additional dialogue from pulp author Jim Thompson. Sterling Hayden is the leader of a group robbing a race track. Of course, things go wrong, with a memorable ending. Among the standout performances, take note of Elisha Cook Jr. as Sap Incarnate, and Marie Windsor as his scheming wife.

United Artists had no faith in The Killing, and threw it out there as part of a B movie double feature. But critics took notice, and so did Kirk Douglas, who desperately needed a director for Paths of Glory. A classic of the genre, with one of the most memorable endings of all of Kubrick's films. And don't worry, its only 84 minutes long.

Next, Gun Crazy, from 1950. A quickie film-noir, where a former juvenile delinquent grows up and tries to be an upstanding citizen. When he gets out of reform school, he soon falls in love with what seems to be a good girl. They get married, but she turns to robbery when the money runs low. He doesn't think this is a good thing to do, but she loves the money and adrenaline rush, and threatens to leave him if he doesn't help her rob stores and banks. Thus a crime spree begins and the body count begins to rise . . . 

A film that was merely suppose to be a B picture, but became a critical and box office hit. Chosen to be preserved by the Library of Congress in 1998, and once you see this, you'll see how much Arthur Penn used of Gun Crazy to make Bonnie and Clyde:



THE SHINING (1980) for free at Bryant Park at sundown on Mon Aug 18- Yet another chance to catch this Kubrick-Nicholson film, this time for free, as the concluding film of the Bryant Park series. Everything starts at sundown, around 8:20 , with a Looney Tunes/ Merrie Melodies cartoon of some sort, followed by some HBO feature presentation tag, and then The Shining itself. So expect to leave the park a little before or a little after 11.

Do I really need to go into the film's story, people? You either know it, or you're a 20 year old who accidentally clicked on this, instead of one of the 1500 Project Runway blogs. Stephen King was not thrilled with the way Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel. And while I don't recall this film being wrecked by critics back in 1980, there was no out pour to proclaim this a classic then, as opposed to now. Nicholson's already mildly eccentric performance at the start before he goes into complete psychosis, was quite different from the book, and in most forms of reality. But I'll stop comparing the book with the film now. Especially when Stephen King got to make his own version of The Shining; that 1997 mini-series was borderline unwatchable. I saw most of it, scattered over 8 years, out of curiosity. Don't do the same. Watch this film instead.

The film has its own creepy build up that pays off well. Jack does psychosis better then most actors around. You may not believe Shelley Duvall could have ever been married to Jack, but you buy her as a mother isolated and at her wits end, only to find inner strength. The best performance in the film was pulled out of child actor Danny Lloyd, protected from knowing this was a scary movie until it was released. Not the best film of that year, or even among horror flicks, but still pretty good.



ZULU (1964)- Tues Aug 19 at 6:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- A DCP 50th anniversary restoration. Zulu, one of the best war films ever made. Consider this an early (slightly embellished) variation of Black Hawk Down. Both are true stories, both set up the conflict in the first half-hour or so, and the rest of the film is a brutal, well-edited battle between the sides. Stanley Baker and Michael Caine play the two officers in command of a small British outpost on Jan. 22 1879. Baker's character is an engineer, and not the upper class solider-gentleman Caine's character is. Neither has combat experience. But they must lead their 149 men (about a third were in the infirmary that day), against over 4000 Zulu warriors; who had just massacred over 1500 British soldiers earlier that morning, in the worst massacre the Army had ever suffered up to that point. The rest of the picture depicts the next 12 plus hours as the Zulus attack without relent, while the Brits desperately try to withstand the onslaught.

Despite the vast difference in accents and technology, both in the story and the storytelling, it compares quite favorably to the similar Black Hawk Down. Considering how macho the film gets and how important the big success Zulu was to the British Film Industry, I wouldn't be surprised if Ridley Scott knew and loved this film. Never are the Zulus depicted as evil savages. We don't get to know them as well as most of the British soldiers and the misguided missionaries, but they are people, and brutal adversaries. Good cast; Baker was the star and co-producer, but Michael Caine became a leading man forever because of this. Narration by Richard Burton. Also, take note of John Barry's very good score, who incorporated actual Zulu chants and songs into his music.



POLA X (1999/2000)- Wed Aug 20 at 9:15- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Leos Carax retrospective. Didn't know his name until Holy Motors came out last year. Now I'm curious. Pola X, an adaptation of Melville's Pierre from 1999 (released in the U.S. in 2000). Guillaume Depardeiu plays the title role; a big time novelist who kinda loves his fiancee, and has an unusually close relationship with his mother (Catherine Deneuve). But then a young woman emerges from the forest connected to his mansion, claims to be his half-sister, and boom goes the emotional and sexual dynamite. Haven't seem it, but I'm curious:



LES AMANTS DU PONT NEUF or LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (1991/1999)- Sat Aug 16 at 4:40 and Thurs Aug 21 at 9:15- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Leos Carax retro. Carax's most successful film in France, from 1991 though not released in the U.S. until 1999. The story of two homeless lovers of questionable sanity that live under the title bridge; a drug and alcohol addicted street performer (Holy Motor's Denis Lavant) and an artist (Juliette Binoche) who's damaged by both a failed relationship and her deteriorating eyesight. But with her family desperately searching to get her to a surgeon who could restore her sight, her boyfriend will go to great lengths for them to go undiscovered. Never seen it, sounds subtle as a brick, still curious:  



BLUE VELVET (1986)- Fri Aug 22 or Sat Aug 23 at Midnight- IFC Center- David Lynch's Blue Velvet gets another DCP Midnight movie screening. Not sure which screening I can do and won't until the 18th. So I'll list both dates for now.

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:




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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August revivals: first half














Hey all, Mike here with a bunch of August revivals. Back with the twice a month format of revival listings, so this list will carry us to the middle of the month. Filled almost entirely with repeats from other lists, with one or two exceptions. But I haven't seen the majority of them, and most of you have seen maybe one or two of these films at most on the big screen. So here we go, a good time to be had for at least one of you with at least one of these options:



A HARD DAYS NIGHT- Fri Aug 1- Thurs Aug 7 at 3:30 and 8:10- Film Forum- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that was supposed to finish its Forum run on Thursday July 17,has been given yet another extension of at least one more week. Limited screening times, but extended none the less. There's a chance it's run might be extended until either August 12th or 14th, but that's not official, so just work with the idea of this only running until the 7th.

A Hard Day's Night from 1964. The Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer than a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun:



DOUBLE INDEMNITY- Fri Aug 1 at 5:10, 7:30 and 9:45, Sat Aug 2 at 9:45, and Tues Aug 5- Thurs Aug 7 at 7:30 and 9:45- Film Forum- A new DCP restoration of the classic film that ends the Forum's retrospective of film-noirs where the main female character is a bad to the bone kind of woman But unlike the other films in this retrospective, Double Indemnity gets a week-long run. The granddaddy of film-noirs with bad bad women at the heart of it all, much more so than The Maltese Falcon.

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are both cool as they plot her husband for the insurance money, but pesky investigator/moral compass Edward G. Robinson keeps getting in the way. I shouldn't be that way; if Eddie G. didn't turn in such a humane performance as basically both the audience's stand-in and the incorruptible everyman (as opposed to MacMurray's fine performance as the corrupted everyman), maybe this film would be slightly less better remembered. That last sentence probably made little grammatical sense, but I have little time, so I'm just moving on. Except that it's not like Eddie G. created the performance out of a vacuum. He had Wilder as a director, and Wilder and Raymond Chandler as screenwriters (the screenwriters detested each other. Reading a little about this makes me think it was karma that Wilder had to deal with Monroe for Some Like It Hot). And let me not forget the source material: James M. Cain's novel, based on actual murder case from the 1920s.

7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Wilder for Director, Stanwyck for Actress, and Wilder and Chandler for Screenplay. Surprisingly nothing for MacMurray or Robinson. No wins, since Going My Way was a juggernaut that year. On the short list for the best film noirs ever made. While I can't put this above Laura, which was released the same year as this, I do enjoy the dance Wilder and cast do around the Production Code:



BLACK NARCISSUS introduced by Thelma Schoonmaker for a 10 dollar minimum- Fri Aug 1 at 9:30- Rubin Museum of Art- Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's  1947 film gets a screening at the Rubin. The policy now is you can spend a minimum of 10 dollars either at the bar, the restaurant or at the gift shop, which allows you to get a ticket for the screening (first come, first served). A DVD projection of the restoration supervised by the film's Cinematographer Jack Cardiff and Powell's widow, editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Adapted by Rummer Godden's 1939 novel, a group of Anglican nuns go to their new order, up in the Himalayan mountains, to establish a school and a hospital. But it's hard to do when you're tempted by the land and the people around you, and you've dragged issues like failed romances and possible insanity up the mountain with you. You can go with those statements, or accept this as an allegory of Britain's last glory days as an Empire, and the dignified way the Empire comes to an end. Starring Deborah Kerr as the head Sister whose escaped one failed romance,and might get tempted into another, and Jean Simmons as, in the words of author Godden, "a basket of fruit, piled high and luscious and ready to eat."

Oscar nominations for Cardiff's Cinematography and Art Direction. I think I saw this a long time ago. I don't remember it clearly, but I could have sworn I've seen it and liked what I saw. And even if I haven't, a film from the directors of The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp becomes a must-see in my book. Unless you prefer Double Indemnity, I can understand that. Schoonmaker herself will introduce the screening: 



EL TOPO- Fri Aug 1 and Sat Aug 2 at 12:05AM- IFC Center- The start of Midnight movie screenings are usually traced back to this Mexican film, El Topo, from 1970. Starts off as a somewhat slow moving Spaghetti Western, as a man seeking revenge against bad guys, and then it gets progressively weirder. If you don't know what goes in the film, I won't spoil it for you. The swinging in tone, from comedy to action to drama to metaphysical to romantic to tragic and back to any of the other types I've just described, might drive you nuts. And because it was shot in the late 60s, it has a very trippy quality to it as well. But the episodic style and part-time trippiness does help as does, for me, what writer/director/star/ costume designer/production designer/co-composer Alejandro Jodorowsky said about it: "This is the story of a man searching for peace, and can never find it.". At the very least, you'll walk away from the screening saying, I've NEVER seen a film like El Topo before, never. And I don't think that's a bad thing. Screened in a beautiful looking digital restoration:



BATON BUNNY with other Chuck Jones cartoons and CHINATOWN with a post film Q and A with Kenneth Turan- Sun Aug 3 at 1 (Bunny) and 2:30 (Chinatown)- Museum of the Moving Image- A potential double feature at the Museum of the Moving Image. For one admission, you can see one or both items on visual display on Sunday August 3rd. First, the Chuck Jones retrospective continues with another set of cartoons to be screened. I wished that the Museum would have laid out its schedule of Jones' cartoons sooner, but at least now we have a schedule of cartoons thru early September so that's something. I won't post all of them because I don't have time to see all of them. But once you click on any of the links to the Moving Image below, you can follow along and see what else the Museum is doing in terms of Chuck Jones cartoons, other films, exhibits, etc.

Anyway, here are the following Chuck Jones cartoons that will be screened this weekend, on both Saturday August 2nd and Sunday August 3rd at 1PM:

The Dover Boys from 1942, though the Museum claims is from 1940. The first of his of his cartoons that Jones actually liked to watch, marking the first uses of smear animation, which showed characters going into sudden extremes of speed. The Dover Boys were not used again until Animaniacs (usually with Slappy Squirrel) in limited doses, so if you think these characters are familiar, that might be why.

Drip-along Daffy from 1951, a Western spoof where incompetent Daffy Duck and infinitely smarter Porky Pig, try to clean up "a one horse town".

A Bear For Punishment from 1951. One of the Three Bear cartoons, featuring angry Pa, calming Ma, and dum-dum Junior. Those cartoons I can take or leave them, usually. Here, Ma and Junior try to cheer up Pa on Father's Day. Good luck on that.

Much Ado About Nutting from 1953. This one I enjoy, where a squirrel on a nut hunt thinks he's hit the Mother Lode, when he finds a coconut. But good luck trying to crack that thing . . . 

Baton Bunny from 1959. The last of the Bugs Bunny cartoons with no dialogue. Here, Bugs is an orchestra conductor, and he would succeed in his job if it wasn't for an annoying fly . . .

Whoa Be-Gone from 1958. A Road Runner- Wile E. Coyote cartoon, though I don't recall what's distinctive about this.

High Note from 1961. An Oscar nominee for Animated Short. Here, the Blue Danube can't be performed, because one of the notes is drunk as a skunk. The conductor tries to get the note straightened out, with extreme difficulty.

And finally, Chariots of Fur. Originally screened with the 1994 Macaulay Culkin disappointment Richie Rich, it was the first new Road Runner- Wile E. Coyote cartoon since 1980, and the last Road Runner cartoon Jones would ever direct.      

Next is Chinatown, the last of the great film-noirs. Ok, it's more of a modern or neo-noir. While there would be some very good to excellent modern noirs afterwards (L.A. Confidential, Blue Velvet and Fargo chief among them), none would go the dark paths Roman Polanski's film would travel, not even Lynch's film.  Based on events from the California Water Wars of the 1930s, Jack Nicholson's private eye (the role that made hime  a star forever)is hired by Faye Dunaway to spy on her husband. But nothing is as it seems, and if you don't know the film, I won't spoil it for you here. One of the great period films, one of the great mysteries, and if wasn't for Paramount's own Godfather Part 2, it might have been the best film from that year. An Oscar for Robert Towne's Screenplay; 10 other nominations including Picture, Polanski for Director (who also turns in a memorable performance as a thug), Nicholson for Actor, and Dunaway for Actress. Sorry there was no room for John Huston for Supporting Actor, but boy does he make a memorably repellent villain. On both AFI Top 100 films and in my personal top 100.

L.A. Times and NPR film critic Kenneth Turan will introduce the film, discuss it in a post film Q and A, and will then sign copies of his new book, "Not To Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites From A Lifetime of Film".





JAWS for free on a first come first served basis- Wed Aug 6 at 6:30- Museum of Jewish Heritage- 36 Battery Place- A free screening of Jaws, on a first come first served basis. This time at a venue I'm not familiar with at all: the Museum of Jewish Heritage, down in Battery Park City near the Bowling Green, Rector Street and Whitehall Street stations. The Museum has been doing a Steven Spielberg retrospective all summer long, but only now do I have any time for it. At worst, if you don't get there in time for a free ticket (4PM), the Museum is free from 4-8, and then you can catch something else. I have no idea how the venue is or how it will be projected, guess we'll wait and see.

as for Jaws itself, on both AFI Top 100 lists, but higher up for me. Also in my personal Top 35 as opposed to just one of one hundred. Don't underestimate the quality of this Spielberg film on the big screen. It's not just another fish film. 3 Oscars including John Williams's memorable score, and a nomination for Best Picture (along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville; not shabby:



THE BIG LEBOWSKI for 8.50- Wed Aug 6 at 7- AMC Empire- The Big Lebowski is a film that has a major cult following. But I'm not a member of this cult. I admire and at times, like this Cohen brothers film. But it's hard for me to hate one of their films, unless it's The Hudsucker Proxy. That's easy. But I'm willing to give this a second chance. Especially a non-Midnight screening and at a relatively cheap price:



METROPOLIS- Sun Aug 10 at 2- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- In a world where one group of people are in charge of doing all the "thinking" and another group actually has to do the manual labor, not everyone is happy in this city full of skyscrapers. So let's keep the masses happy through the temptations of a beautiful woman, who's actually a robot. Throw in a young man who's not only in love, but also sees for the first time that not everyone is equal.

After decades where this film bounced around, was chopped, and at one point, colorized and had music from Queen and Bonnie Tyler as part of the new soundtrack, a major restoration took place. Not everything could be found, either due to age, no ideas about preserving film history, the flimsiness of the material or the bombings in World War 2. But the original score was found and recorded in stereo. All seven versions were combined and restored, with title cards filling in the story blanks. This 2002 restoration, now returns to Film Forum, and this 2 hour, 19 minute version is as close as we'll probably ever get to definitive.


Fritz Lang was inspired by the Manhattan skyline when he created Metropolis's look. Huge sets that held thousands of extras. Live action and miniatures shot together for the first time. A robot who's initial look influenced C-3PO, and whose existence influenced HAL 9000, the Blade Runner androids and who knows what else. And as influential as the city looks of films like Blade Runner, Brazil, and Dark City have been, they had a source material to work from here. I've caught this before, and may not get to go again this time around. But by all means, go yourselves.

Yeah, that's what I wrote back in mid July 2007. I could have added how the robot in female human form enticing the men seems like it influenced Madonna, and now it appears to have influenced Lady Gaga. Anyway, since then, 23 additional minutes, found in a beaten-up 16mm print down in Argentina, was restored (as much as possible), and edited into the 2002 restoration. This version is being advertised as "Presented in High Definition". Don't know quite what that means, but this means that now only about 5 minutes are missing from Lang's original cut. This will probably be as close as we'll ever get to what was screened in Berlin back in '27. I enjoyed seeing this at the Film forum, and I wouldn't mind seeing it again. If you're ambitious, here you go:



REAR WINDOW- Tues Aug 12 at 7- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- Also an DCP screening. My all time favorite Hitchcock, and in my top 25 overall. Also the best film in Jimmy Stewart's career, with a knockout entrance from Grace Kelly that matches or tops anything done today. On both AFI Top 100 lists.



BEVERLY HILLS COP for 8.50- Wed Aug 13 at 7- AMC Empire- A cheap screening of the biggest hit of 1984. Ok, Ghostbusters is higher on the all time box office charts, but that's only because of a 1985 re-release. The film that made Eddie Murphy a Leading Man Forever, or at least until his post-Shrek career damaged goodwill and his appeal. Simple story of a brash young police detective from Detroit who comes out to Beverly Hills, to find the people behind the murder of his best friend. Once there, it takes plenty of sass and improvisation to get those stick in the mud Beverly Hills officers to get with the program. 

Now do I mean Murphy's Axel Foley do the improvising, or Murphy himself, seemingly treating the script alternatively like a blueprint and used tissues. Ok, let me calm down. It's still far better than the original concept, an action drama where Sylvester Stallone tried to stop a cough syrup ring. Far better. The comedy and the serious action scenes still work, thanks to both Murphy and a fun supporting cast (Judge Reinhold, John Ashton, Steven Berkoff, Bronson Pinchot, Paul Reiser, Breaking Bad's Jonathan Banks, et all). Also thanks to a cool for its day soundtrack (Patti Labelle, The Pointer Sisters, Glenn Frey and Harold Faltermeyer with his memorable theme music, among others), and a surprising deft touch from director Martin Brest (a touch we wouldn't see from Meet Joe Black on). Still, the idea that this film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay is laughable. Still a good time for a relatively cheap price:  


  
WAITING FOR GUFFMAN for 8.00- Thurs Aug 14 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- A cheap screening of Christopher Guest's comedy, introduced by Hedda Lettuce. The first official Christopher Guest mockumentary comedy, since credit for This Is Spinal Tap must be shared with Rob Reiner. But here Guest is at the helm, as well the nominal lead. Here plays an eccentric (gay in the closet?) man from New York, who moved to a small town in Missouri with his (always unseen and never heard from) wife, and is now a director. Specifically of a musical of the history of the small town, filled with a cast of decent people. No professional actors, some talented, some delusional, but all decent. 

Anyone who ever worked in theatre, community semi-professional or professional, would or should carry a soft spot for the people in the film and for the film itself. Too small a crowd to make this film successful at the box office. But the success of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind (barely) has kept Waiting For Guffman from becoming a mere footnote. The quality of Guffman, mixing laughs with honest believable humanity and a believable atmosphere, has also kept it from being a footnote, as opposed to Guest's last film, For Your Consideration. Plus we have the core cast that would be important in other Guest films: Eugene Levy, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara and Bob Balaban. This film rarely gets a revival screening, so let's take advantage:  




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

Friday, July 25, 2014

End of July revivals











Hey, all. Mike here, still doing the one week at a time drill with regards to film revivals. This one runs thru the end of July, don't mind me if any of these conflict. So let me not waste any time, here we go:



A HARD DAYS NIGHT- Fri July 24- Thurs July 31 at 3:30 and 8:10- Film Forum- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that was supposed to finish its Forum run on Thursday July 17,has been given yet another extension of at least one more week. Limited screening times, but extended none the less. But the Long Island run in Cinema Arts Centre is over, so now it's Film Forum or nada.

A Hard Day's Night from 1964. The Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer then a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun:



THE MALTESE FALCON and MURDER, MY SWEET- Fri July 25 at 7:30 (Falcon) and 9:50 (Murder)- Film Forum-  Part of the Forum's Essential Film Noir series. One of the best ever and an AFI Top 100 film (both lists), Falcon made Bogart a leading man for life and was also John 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.

Followed by Murder, My Sweet. Never saw this, but wouldn't mind at all. To quote from the website: "I caught the blackjack right behind my ear. A black pool opened up at my feet. I dived in." Dick Powell's Philip Marlowe, sweating through a police grilling, flashes back to tell this story of murder, blackmail, sadism, and sexual servitude, in the picture Chandler considered the best of all his novel adaptations (based on Farewell, My Lovely) - and the prototypical 40s noir.



PULP FICTION for 10 dollars- Fri July 25 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- Now here's a film that probably fits the title "The Greatest Independent Film Ever Made" Not quite sure if it is, but it fits the title a lot better than Reservoir Dogs, and if you pitch it right, I might buy your argument. A film that doesn't feel old, and while the ride might feel familiar, you'll quickly remember how great the ride is. An Oscar winner for the Screenplay, nominations including Best Picture, Director for Tarantino, Actor for John Travolta, Supporting Actor for Samuel L. Jackson and Supporting Actress for Uma Thurman. Like Maltese Falcon, on both AFI Top 100 lists and in my own personal Top 40:



PAPER MOON introduced by Alena Smith- Mon July 28 at 8- IFC Center-  Oscar winning film that rarely gets a revival screening. A dramedy, where Ryan O'Neal and daughter Tatum are con artists during the Depression. They may or may not actually be father and daughter, they pose as such often enough for their various cons. The last film Peter Bogdanovich ever directed that audiences gave a crap about, at least until Mask. A big hit back in 1973, Oscar nominated for Madeline Kahn for Supporting Actress, Sound and Alvin Sargent's Screenplay Adaptation, an Oscar for Tatum; the youngest to ever win the award. Writer Alena Smith (HBO's The Newsroom among other credits), will talk about the film:



MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL for 8 dollars- Wed July 30 at 7- AMC Empire- A cheap screening of the comedy classic. A lot of fun on a warm summer night, without the pesky nudity and crucifixion that keeps Life of Brian off some other screens. And since it's Python, you'll probably be sitting near a fanatic who silently mouths some of the lines. Whether this sounds like a blast to be around fans, or it feels like the seventh level of Hell, is up to you. I understand either way, but I'll post it anyway in case there's interest. I would be easy to spot; I'll be the one with the killer rabbit puppet. Wait, they'll probably be at least twenty guys doing that. Never mind about that, if you've never seen it on the big screen, just go . . . .



CASABLANCA for free- Wed July 30 at 8 or sundown- Maspeth Savings Bank Parking Lot- 69th St and Grand Ave in Maspeth, Queens- So yes, there have been free movies being screened at the parking lot of a bank. I already did The Lego Movie so no need to go again. But if you want to bring a chair to a parking lot in Maspeth to see one of the greatest movies ever made, here you go. I am curious, especially since I have no idea what the conditions will be like, except that this screening is weather permitted:




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

Friday, July 18, 2014

July revivals for the next week









Hey all, Mike here with another week of revivals. I wanted to do the rest of the month, but scheduling on my end doesn't allow me to do more than one week at a time. Pain in the ass, but that's the way it is right now. So here we go:



DUCK AMUCK and other Chuck Jones cartoons- Fri July 18 at 6 (members only), and Sat July 19 and Sun July 20 at 1 (Duck) and 6 (Foxes)- Museum of the Moving Image- This marks the beginning of the Museum of the Moving Image's Chuck Jones retrospective. After a popular run in D.C., it begins it's New York run from Friday July 18th, thru Martin Luther King Day 2015. The third floor exhibit includes cels, storyboards, influences, sketches, drawings, and how Jones and his associates put their work together. 

Jones did some good Tom And Jerry cartoons from the 1960s, some interesting TV specials with Dr. Seuss (Horton Hears A Who, The Lorax and The Grinch) and without him (including Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The Cricket and Times Square), handled the animation on the original version of The Electric Company, and did work on films as varied as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Mrs. Doubtfire, Gremlins 2 and Gay-Purree (one of Judy Garland's last films). But Jones is best known for his work with the Looney Tunes characters; specifically the creation of the likes of Sylvester & Tweety, Speedy Gonzalez, and Wile E. Coyote & The Road Runner, as well as the perfecting of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

I get the impression that every weekend or so over the next 27 weeks, the Museum will screen Jones's works. This weekend, the Museum will screen the following cartoon shorts: 

Rabbit Seasoning (the second of the three Rabbit Season/ Duck Season cartoons, which doesn't end in the snow or with Elmer Season), 
Feed The Kitty (where a big bulldog unexpectedly bonds with a tiny stray kitten), 
Bully For Bugs (where Bugs ends up making the wrong turn at Albuquerque and ends up bull fighting), 
Duck Amuck (one of Jones's best, a 4th wall breaker where Daffy is tormented by his animator),
Hare-way to the Stars (the first time Bugs took on Marvin the Martian),
Zoom and Bored (Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote),
One Froggy Evening (featuring Michigan J. Frog singing "Hello My Baby". Referenced in Spaceballs, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, South Park and referred to by Spielberg as the Citizen Kane of cartoons),
and What's Opera, Doc? (generally considered Jones's best cartoon, where Elmer hunts Bugs into a Wagnerian opera).

All cartoons will be 35mm screenings. The Friday screenings are for members only, but Saturday and Sunday screenings are for all. For one admission, you can do the cartoons, the Chuck Jones exhibit, the Museum's other exhibits, pieces of from shorts depicting the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, and films as varied as The Little Foxes, Voyage To Italy, and The Trial of Muhammad Ali:   



A SUMMER'S TALE-  Fri July 18 and Tues July 22- Thurs July 24 at 7:35 and 9:50 at Quad Cinema, plus Fri July 18 and Tues July 22- Thurs July 24 at 9:30- The Eric Rohmer film that is receiving its first U.S. release plays for at least a few more days. I wrote about it 2 lists ago, go there. Have never seen it and I'm curious. If you're patient with dialogue-heavy films shot in long takes with attractive 20somethings, this might be for you. I don't know if this will play beyond July 16th at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, but at least some of their screenings are doable for me. Not so the afternoon only screenings at IFC Center, which is why I'm not posting them here:  



AMERICAN PSYCHO- Fri July 18 at 11- Howard Gillman Theater in Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's late night horror series, Freaky Fridays. This isn't horror per say. It certainly would have been had director Mary Harron chosen to make a more literal adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's controversial novel. But freaky, I'll buy that.

One of the best films of 2000, we follow one Patrick Bateman. A successful Wall Street banker-type with a lovely fiancee (Reese Witherspoon) and a respectable amount of wealth for someone so relatively young. But none of this satisfies Bateman. Becoming a Master of the Universe isn't satisfying either; not when something as small as a somewhat more attractive business card can send you into a tailspin. So he has a mistress and hires prostitutes from time to time. But none of this satisfies Bateman either, even if he beats his prostitutes. No, the only thing that seems to give poor Patrick any satisfaction is killing someone. Anyone who stands in his way. Anyway powerless to stop him. Anyone will do. Like any addiction, Bateman can only be satisfied by killing more and more. Like anyone with a few remaining twinges of a conscious, he wants to stop, or be stopped. But . . . . well the ending I leave to you to decide how you feel.

Controversial from the get-go, thanks to the source material. Ideas to humanize Patrick as opposed to giving him twinges of conscious (as was the plan in an attempted DiCaprio- Oliver Stone adaptation) were shot down by both fans and Gloria Steinem. The subdued approach and the aim to make this a comedy/satire of manners by director/ writer Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner works. In part to give the violence consequences when it does occur/ threatens to occur. In a East Coast variation of Fight Club, we see him get everything he wants or "needs", it gives him nothing. And despite keeping it in the late 80s to maintain the attack on Reagan/ Bush 1 era yuppie/preppie-types, narcissism, and overall thinking, it felt just as relevant in 2000 as it did then. And unfortunately in 2014, this film feels as relevant as ever. Right down to the type of profession that has gotten away with financial crimes with slaps on the wrists, if even that much.

But that didn't make the film a hit in 2000. Audiences and critics were divided. Even though the film toned down the book's brutality, the scenes that did stay in that avoided the dreaded NC-17 rating (the Hip to be Square scene, the chainsaw sequence), pissed some people off. And since some of the satire was subtle, I think some people from the day confused said subtlety with approval by the filmmakers. The ending didn't help. It made enough money to avoid being considered a flop and supposedly has developed a cult following. But if you're talking about films remembered from the year 2000, you're talking about say, Cast Away, Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, maybe X-Men because of Hugh Jackman's star-making turn. 
 
Speaking of star making turns, that might be the reason why anyone watches this film anymore. Christian Bale, rising from nearly forgotten child actor to British art house lead (and former Jesus of Nazareth) to leading man in American films. A few missteps and some underrated American art house films were to come before Batman Begins, but as far as I was concerned, American Psycho showed us an actor who would be around for a long while to come. Narcissistic yet occasionally empathetic, funny yet dangerous enough to make you think what he could have done as Hannibal Lecter. Able to switch on a dime; whether we're talking about the Hip To Be Square scene (opposite Jared Leto), or the scene were Bateman brings his smitten secretary (Chloe Sevigny) back to his apartment with some hard decisions to make . . . 

In some ways, it was appropriate for Christopher Nolan to cast Bale in his series of Batman films. Though with Bateman, he seems more akin to Harvey Two-Face Dent than Bruce Wayne. The monster gains more control over time, but that other face, clean, handsome, keeps popping up. Is it a mask? Is it that last sign of positive humanity left in him? Is it guilt mixed with the need to be punished? A face that contorts farther as his behavior goes ignored, possibly excused? No matter how bat shit the film gets (still more muted than the novel), Bale allows you to believe it and follow it. And even this performance polarized critics and audiences. Too on the nose, too over the top were some of the complaints. But it's not a complaint of mine. We got a three-dimensional person, whose heights tend to be on the bloody side (or are they?). Go see this if you've never seen it before. Unless you prefer the other Midnight movie playing below:
 


ROBOCOP (1987)- Fri July 18 at 12:25AM- IFC Center- The sleeper hit from the summer of 1987. One part kick in the teeth action film, one part kick in the teeth social commentary. Peter Weller is the poor schnook patrolman who gets killed in the line of duty lead by sadistic Kurtwood Smith, only to be rebuilt almost against his will by a multinational corporation as the title character, carrying out their contract to protect Old Detroit. The company thinks they erased or overrode his old identity and memories, but such human elements are hard to get rid of . . . Mix of sharp satire, tragedy, and good action scenes from director Paul Verhoven. Accept no substitutes, stick with the original:



A HARD DAY'S NIGHT- Mon July 21- Thurs July 24 at Film Forum at 8:30 and at Cinema Arts Centre (423 Park Avenue in Huntington) at 7:40 and 9:30- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that was supposed to finish its Forum run on Thursday July 17, was given an extension of at least one more week. Limited screening times, but extended none the less. But now the film will also play for at least a week at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, so now you Long Islanders don't have to consider travelling into the city for this. 

A Hard Day's Night from 1964. The Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer then a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun:





NIAGARA and ANGEL FACE- Tues July 22 at 7 (Niagara) and 9:15 (Angel)- Film Forum- Two films from the Film Forum's Femme Fatale series, showing film-noirs where one of the more important characters, is a bad, bad, woman. First, a DCP restoration of Niagara, a rare Technicolor noir. A young couple takes a delayed honeymoon at Niagara Falls. There, they get to know another married couple, young vivacious Marilyn Monroe, and older, depressed and seething Joseph Cotton. Monroe and Cotton's marriage is on the rocks to put it mildly. But this troubled marriage will lead to murder, draw the young married couple into this mess, and to reveal more would spoil surprises if you've never seen this. Underrated, successful back in the day, though praised more for the look of the falls and the look of Marilyn. But her performance and the film itself was reevaluated after her death. Give it a try.

Next, Angel Face. From 1952, directed by Otto Preminger. Ambulance driver Robert Mitchum is not the world's best boyfriend, and is happy to trade up to rich girl Jean Simmons. But she's not what she appears to be, and if you've seen The Postman Always Rings Twice, then you have an idea about what will go right, and what will go very wrong. Never seen it, but I'm curious:




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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mid-July revivals











Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the next week or so of July. I can't believe how chock full of revivals the month of July is. So the best I can do is post films for the next 7-8 days, and see how the rest of the list shakes out. Let me not waste any time, here we go:



NORTH BY NORTHWEST introduced by Royal S. Brown- Thurs July 10 at 7- Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington- A DCP screening. The same restoration I did in Queens back in early 2012, and also played at the Forum in 2013, comes out to the lovely Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, for one night only. The screening will be introduced by Queens College film professor Royal Brown. At least I hope that's the person. The Cinema Arts Centre's website doesn't give his credentials and Goggling his name makes me think the Queens College profile is the most likely person. Either way, the film is why I'm going out there, not the person doing an intro.

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. And watch out for not only a crop duster, but Martin Landau and his "woman's intuition".

I use the term everyman loosely when describing Grant as an Everyman. 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 Bernard Herrmann score, and featuring one of Saul Bass's best opening credit sequences. Oscar nominations for the great Editing, Art Direction (check out say, the U.N. and Mount Rushmore), and Ernest Lehman's script.

I tried to see this on the big screen multiple times over the past 10 years. I missed my chance about 9 or so years back, when it was screened for several weekends at midnight at the Paris theater. I'm sorry I missed catching it on the Paris's large screen, but I blame a girl named Amanda for that. Then I finally saw a digital projection at the Museum of the Moving Image almost two years ago. A near sell-out, that looked and sounded great. The jokes landed great, and the audience was in hushed, rapt attention thru out the Mount Rushmore finale (except for the bits of humor sprinkled in). The Forum's screen will be more than adequate for this occasion, and the picture and sound should come off well with this new restoration. Their sound system should rock the hell out of Herrmann's score so to speak, one of the few scores I've hummed after a screening days and weeks afterwards.



A HARD DAY'S NIGHT- Thurs July 10 and Tues July 15- Thurs July 17 at 7:30 and 9:45 (Wed July 16 at 7:30 is sold out)-plus Sat July 12 at 9:45 Film Forum- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that will finish its Forum run on Thursday July 17. 

A Hard Day's Night from 1964. The Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer then a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun:



SQUIRM- Fri July 11 at 11- Howard Gillman Theater in Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's late night movie series, called Freaky Fridays. Here we have Squirm, a Southern Jaws on the ground, or the Ben-Hur of worm films, according to the late 92nd Y's website. Worms get a shock of electricity down in a small Georgia town, and somehow become flesh eaters. Meanwhile, city slicker Don Scardino (best known for his off-screen work on 30 Rock) goes down to visit his girlfriend (Patricia Pearcy), and runs into some characters who not only appear to be either stereotypes or rejects from Deliverance, but also seem to have Worm Attack victim tattooed on their foreheads.

Trust me, it's more fun than I'm making it sound. Tongue is firmly planted in cheek here, when it isn't filled with rubber things passing for killer worms instead. Seriously, you can't take the threat of killer worms too seriously, and the filmmakers know this. Nobody got any acting awards for this, and once you see it, you'll know why. But I do have a fondness for our lead heroine Patricia Pearcy. Maybe she was a little too delicate looking, a little too close to say, Sissy Spacek for some casting directors tastes. Aside from the soap Ryan's Hope and a small role in The Goodbye Girl, she didn't seem to get much of a chance for substantial screen roles, except for this fun junk. She does well with it, just wish it was for something better. Nevertheless, this is fun, so if you don't mind sitting thru some cheap looking 70s fun, let's try it: 



THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE- Fri July 11 and Sat July 12 at Midnight- IFC Center- A 40th Anniversary screening of the horror and independent film classic, a DCP restoration. The same one that played at Lincoln Center last month seems to have found a home this summer at IFC Center. Not sure for how long, seems to be on a weekend by weekend basis.

One of the few that can elicit some jumps even on home video. Not nearly as bloody as you think. Shot and edited in such a way that it is implied, but usually not shown. Helped put New Line Cinema on the map. Forget all imitators/remakes. For horror fans and those who came to like well made films of all genres, go. Not as scary as when I first saw it as a teenager. But definitely creepy as all hell from beginning to end. A respectable print; I thought it was occasionally out of focus, but I'm guessing it was the way it was shot. And great, the last section with the family all gathered together, with Grandpa with the hammer, rotting meat and actual skeleton had to be clearly in focus. The best 83,000 film I've ever seen:



2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY- Sun July 13 at 3- Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Museum of the Moving Image's See It Big: Science Fiction series, for one more weekend. I can only do the Sunday July 13th screening, not the Saturday July 12th screening at 3:30. But if that works for you, by all means, go and enjoy. On either day for one admission, you can also enjoy Brainstorm at 7pm. Not me because I'm not the biggest fan of that film. Maybe the rare 70mm screening would change my mind, but I have little desire and no time right now. 

There are films that can only be truly appreciated on the big screen. 2001: A Space Odyssey certainly qualifies. One of my all time favorites, and my favorite Kubrick is on the big screen again. I've seen it, I love it, and need no excuse to see Stanley Kubrick's classic. Some of you have done this before with me and some of you, more then once. But this is too good to ignore. Every time one of my all time top 5 films is shown on a decent screen with at least good sound, I will bring it up. Throw in the odd chance that someone I know has never seen it except on TV and might be curious to experience this classic as it should be . . . I'd feel guilty not bringing this up. This film is ageless despite the title, timeless, and it's still possible to discover something new about it as one gets older.

Here's a quote from Neil Degrasse Tyson about one of his favorite sci-fi films: "Perhaps the first film to be all about the discovery of alien intelligence yet not show what it looks like, knowing that our imagination could surely do a better job than Hollywood. In any case, it was a visual orgy of space travel and space exploration that we remain far from achieving, even 13 years after the 33 years-in-the-future it portrayed." 

2001 will be screened all weekend long at the Moving Image. In fact, it will be the only film screening there this Fourth of July-esque weekend. But this will be a rare 70mm screening. I saw the last 70mm screening of this at Lincoln Center, and I'll repost what I thought of the print. I did have complaints, but nothing that would keep me from seeing it again (assuming this is the same print, of course):

"Overall, a quality restoration, but I feel a better job was done with the Hello, Dolly! restoration I saw . . .  (not sure who did the respective restorations). Sound quality was equally superior, but there were noticeable image issues with the 2001 print that didn't crop up with Dolly. In particular the colors red and white were difficult to pull off without some sort of cloudy distortion. Not every time mind, you. No issues with the color red when it came to anything involving Hal, but with the trip at the end. And as for white, there were no issues with say, the space station or the various shuttles.  But anything lit with what appears to white halogen lighting (or the mid-1960s British equivalent), such as the lighting in the station, the moon base meeting room, and especially the French suite environment the Monolith creates, the restoration wasn't that effective. Or the restoration wasn't able to fix all the problems of the original negative, not sure what the reasons are. The colors were more effective overall with the Digital restoration of 2001 that I saw in March. Sound quality was about equal, but I consider the 70mm print superior to the DCP print in one section: The Dawn of Man. For some reason all of it looked completely fake on the DCP, even the leopard and the second unit footage. Not so with the 70mm, the textures of everything, the sets, the matte paintings and the incredible make-up, all looked more realistic. Enough texture to allow one to believe the illusion quickly, without distraction.":



A SUMMER'S TALE-  Tues July 15- Thurs July 17 at 9:30- Lincoln Plaza Cinema- The Eric Rohmer film that is receiving its first U.S. release plays for at least a few more days. I wrote about it 2 lists ago, go there. Have never seen it and I'm curious. If you're patient with dialogue-heavy films shot in long takes with attractive 20somethings, this might be for you. I don't know if this will play beyond July 16th at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, but at least some of their screenings are doable for me. Not so the afternoon only screenings at IFC Center, which is why I'm not posting them here:  



AMERICAN PSYCHO- Fri July 18 at 11- Howard Gillman Theater in Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's late night horror series, Freaky Fridays. This isn't horror per say. It certainly would have been had director Mary Harron chosen to make a more literal adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's controversial novel. But freaky, I'll buy that.

One of the best films of 2000, we follow one Patrick Bateman. A successful Wall Street banker-type with a lovely fiancee (Reese Witherspoon) and a respectable amount of wealth for someone so relatively young. But none of this satisfies Bateman. Becoming a Master of the Universe isn't satisfying either; not when something as small as a somewhat more attractive business card can send you into a tailspin. So he has a mistress and hires prostitutes from time to time. But none of this satisfies Bateman either, even if he beats his prostitutes. No, the only thing that seems to give poor Patrick any satisfaction is killing someone. Anyone who stands in his way. Anyway powerless to stop him. Anyone will do. Like any addiction, Bateman can only be satisfied by killing more and more. Like anyone with a few remaining twinges of a conscious, he wants to stop, or be stopped. But . . . . well the ending I leave to you to decide how you feel.

Controversial from the get-go, thanks to the source material. Ideas to humanize Patrick as opposed to giving him twinges of conscious (as was the plan in an attempted DiCaprio- Oliver Stone adaptation) were shot down by both fans and Gloria Steinem. The subdued approach and the aim to make this a comedy/satire of manners by director/ writer Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner works. In part to give the violence consequences when it does occur/ threatens to occur. In a East Coast variation of Fight Club, we see him get everything he wants or "needs", it gives him nothing. And despite keeping it in the late 80s to maintain the attack on Reagan/ Bush 1 era yuppie/preppie-types, narcissism, and overall thinking, it felt just as relevant in 2000 as it did then. And unfortunately in 2014, this film feels as relevant as ever. Right down to the type of profession that has gotten away with financial crimes with slaps on the wrists, if even that much.

But that didn't make the film a hit in 2000. Audiences and critics were divided. Even though the film toned down the book's brutality, the scenes that did stay in that avoided the dreaded NC-17 rating (the Hip to be Square scene, the chainsaw sequence), pissed some people off. And since some of the satire was subtle, I think some people from the day confused said subtlety with approval by the filmmakers. The ending didn't help. It made enough money to avoid being considered a flop and supposedly has developed a cult following. But if you're talking about films remembered from the year 2000, you're talking about say, Cast Away, Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, maybe X-Men because of Hugh Jackman's star-making turn. 
 
Speaking of star making turns, that might be the reason why anyone watches this film anymore. Christian Bale, rising from nearly forgotten child actor to British art house lead (and former Jesus of Nazareth) to leading man in American films. A few missteps and some underrated American art house films were to come before Batman Begins, but as far as I was concerned, American Psycho showed us an actor who would be around for a long while to come. Narcissistic yet occasionally empathetic, funny yet dangerous enough to make you think what he could have done as Hannibal Lecter. Able to switch on a dime; whether we're talking about the Hip To Be Square scene (opposite Jared Leto), or the scene were Bateman brings his smitten secretary (Chloe Sevigny) back to his apartment with some hard decisions to make . . . 

In some ways, it was appropriate for Christopher Nolan to cast Bale in his series of Batman films. Though with Bateman, he seems more akin to Harvey Two-Face Dent than Bruce Wayne. The monster gains more control over time, but that other face, clean, handsome, keeps popping up. Is it a mask? Is it that last sign of positive humanity left in him? Is it guilt mixed with the need to be punished? A face that contorts farther as his behavior goes ignored, possibly excused? No matter how bat shit the film gets (still more muted than the novel), Bale allows you to believe it and follow it. And even this performance polarized critics and audiences. Too on the nose, too over the top were some of the complaints. But it's not a complaint of mine. We got a three-dimensional person, whose heights tend to be on the bloody side (or are they?). Go see this if you've never seen it before. Unless you prefer the other Midnight movie playing below:
 


ROBOCOP (1987)- Fri July 18 at Midnight- IFC Center- The sleeper hit from the summer of 1987. One part kick in the teeth action film, one part kick in the teeth social commentary. Peter Weller is the poor schnook patrolman who gets killed in the line of duty lead by sadistic Kurtwood Smith, only to be rebuilt almost against his will by a multinational corporation as the title character, carrying out their contract to protect Old Detroit. The company thinks they erased or overrode his old identity and memories, but such human elements are hard to get rid of . . . Mix of sharp satire, tragedy, and good action scenes from director Paul Verhoven. Accept no substitutes, stick with the original:




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