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.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

July revivals: first week







Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the first week of July. This will include the Fourth of July weekend. A lot of these conflict with each other, but these tend  to sort themselves out. A few of these films extend beyond July 7th, so they could end up on the next list. Let me not waste time since this list is a bit long, so here we go:



KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS- Tues July 1 at 4:40- Film Forum- A DCP restoration. Part of the Alec Guinness retrospective. Kind Hearts and Coronets, from 1949 though released in the U.S. in 1950. Based loosely on a 1907 novel, Guinness plays a young man grieving the loss of his mother. She had married her father, an opera singer, and was disinherited by her powerful family because of it. After the deaths of both parents, and no visible means to move up in society or marry the girl he loves. Guinness sees only one way to advance. By seeking revenge on the family who shunned him, by killing all 7 members of the family that are in the way between poverty and riches. Oh, did I mention Guinness plays the other seven family members, all of different ages and gender? 

So yes, while the new musical A Gentleman's Guide To Love and Murder is a joy and I hope it wins a lot of Tonys, it's far from original. If nothing else, the film plays up the class distinctions more than the musical. Not a complaint, just an observation. At times it's fairly gentle when this black comedy delivers its kicks to the teeth, but any film where the lead lovably tries to kill 7 people isn't completely gentle. But always funny.

Arguably the best comedy Guinness ever made, though there are one or two films later in this retrospective that I'll probably bring up that, if you tell me they're better, I won't argue much. One in particular I wouldn't argue about at all, but that's for later. Before the likes of Peter Sellers, Eddie Murphy,and Mike Myers, you had Guinness playing multiple roles convincingly. You can see the influence directly with Sellers in The Mouse Who Roared as well as, to an extent, Dr. Strangelove. And with this kind of dark tweaking of class, you can see Kind Hearts and similar Guinness comedies influencing the likes of the Goon Squad and Monty Python, which in turn influenced Saturday Night Live, which in turn . . . You get the point, the film is influential and still funny:



A SUMMER'S TALE- Tues July 1- Thurs July 3 at 8 at IFC Center- and Tues July 1- Thurs July 10 at 6:30 and 9 at 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 on the last list, go there. Have never seen it and I'm curious. If you're patient with dialogue-heavy films shot in long takes, this might be for you. i don't know if this will play beyond July 3rd at IFC Center, but it will play at until at least July 10th at Lincoln Plaza Cinema:  



THE GODFATHER PART 2- Wed July 2 at 2 and 7 (not likely for me) for $8.00- AMC Empire- A DCP restoration at a cheap price. I caught Godfather this past weekend, and the restoration looked, and especially sounded, great. The same restoration process has been done to The Godfather Part 2. I remember seeing an old 3 strip Technicolor print at AMMI a few years back. A scratchy print, but the color hues in the Vito Corleone scenes from Ellis Island through Robert de Niro's shooting scene blew me away. Totally different from every other time I've seen it on video or cable. If the quality of that is captured in this restoration, it should rock. It will anyway, but still. I think I prefer the first Godfather, but that's probably because the passion speaks to me a bit more. But we're talking such a tiny difference between the two and if you've never seen it on the big screen, this is a great chance.

On both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my personal top 35. 11 Oscar nominations, including Actor for Pacino and Supporting Actress for Talia Shire. 6 Oscars, including Picture, Director and Screenplay for Coppola. A Supporting Actor Oscar for De Niro in a career making turn, beating fellow nominated co-stars Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo:



TUNES OF GLORY- Wed July 2 at 9:45- Film Forum- Of all the films I mentioned to people that are part of the Alec Guinness retrospective, Kind Hearts and Coronets received the most interest. But the movie that received the most passionate interest  was Tunes of Glory. Partially because people have seen Zhivago, Lawrence and River Kwai with me, but still I was surprised about the passionate interest in this.









From 1960, featuring a battle of wills between two men in charge of a Highlander brigade. On the one hand, you have Guinness's Major; from the lower classes, pressed into command during WW 2, with a love for his men but even more love for himself and his ideas of what it is to be a real man. And on the other hand we have John Mills's Colonel: aristocratic third generation solider, smarter than the Major but scarred from his experience as a POW. Both men want the command, both feel they're better than the other. While Guinness's Major thinks he's smarter (he's probably wrong), he is crueler and will get rid of the Colonel by any means necessary.

A very big deal in Britain, where its themes and shortly-after-WW2 setting expressed by the likes of Sir Alec and Sir John resonated greatly with critics and moviegoers. But reaction in the States seems to be less so, especially with filmgoers busily embracing the likes of The Apartment, Elmer Gantry, The Alamo and Inherit The Wind (not to mention Psycho and Sparatcus). Can't say I blame them with those options, except for The Alamo, what the hell people?!?!?! An Oscar nomination only for Screenplay Adaptation and after the 1970s, Tunes of Glory seems to be a film forgotten in these parts. This makes me think this is the film from the Guinness retrospective that needs re-discovery more than any other. So join me in doing that if you're not doing Godfather 2 instead:



KING KONG (1933) for $8.00- Thurs July 3 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- A cheap screening of the 1933 classic film, with an intro by Hedda Lettuce. Bow Tie Cinemas appears to have chosen to no longer do the 9:30 screenings after the 7pm of the older films. Can't blame them, a good film would only screen to 6-12 people on average. The likes of Laura and Muriel's Wedding might have drawn 15. So the new owners of the Chelsea Cinema seems to be tightening their belts a bit . . . 

The original King Kong, the one where Fay Wray screams her head off. I liked it as a kid, thanks to those endless Kong triple features WOR-TV used to do on Thanksgiving weekend. But I hadn't seen it for almost 2 decades until a few years ago, at a midnight screening at Landmark Sunshine. There, I began to appreciate this film real fast. Moves great, thanks to not being bogged down by back story that the remakes felt were needed. And while I quite like Peter Jackson's version, and I can have some fun with the 1976 version (despite some MASSIVE problems), this is superior if for no better reason then how Kong itself is handled. This is an ape, and no attempt is made to humanize it. It's an ape, and it doesn't have any moral issues about squashing people or flinging them like confetti, and doing this multiple times. One of the best action films ever made. On both AFI top 100 lists, and on my personal top 100 list as well:



A PASSAGE TO INDIA- Thurs July 3 at 7:30- Film Forum- The last film in the Alec Guinness retrospective, and the last team-up of actor Guinness and director David Lean. From 1984, set in the 1920s during the growing Indian Independence against the British Raj. Two English women travel to India to visit the same man. For the older woman (Dame Peggy Ashcroft), that man is her son. For the young woman (Judy Davis in her first film lead outside of Australia), that same man is her fiancee. The two women are close, and they are intrigued and exhilarated by India. The women are interested in knowing more about the country, and far more interested in learning about the people than almost all their upper crust white friends/family/associates. Two natives they get to know is a young doctor and an eccentric Professor (Guinness). But a cave exploring trip to see "the Real India" leaves the young English woman injured and disheveled, and the Indian Doctor arrested and charged with attempted rape. The country becomes divided between those in power backing the alleged victim, and the native population backing the accused.

Felt like a throwback when it was released in December 1984, especially in the same marketplace as Amadeus, The Killing Fields, Beverly Hills Cop, and three American-farmer-in-trouble films released at around the same time. A film that takes full advantage of its locales to bring us to into a world that seems alien to both the main female characters, and to those of us who saw this in the mid 1980s and beyond. But the intimate one on ones are never forsaken, even if the courtroom scenes seem a little Law and Order-like, and about twenty percent of the book was cut out. A few critics complained about not matching the tone of Forster's novel, but I'll trust Lean's judgement of literary material, thank you very much. 

Oscar nominations helped the film gain some business. 11 in total, including Picture Director Screenplay and Editing for Lean, and Davis for Actress. But with only 2 Oscar wins (for Dame Peggy for Supporting Actress and for Maurice Jarre's Score), business dropped. The combination of pan-and-scan home video and cable screenings for over a decade afterwards, and that Passage is not on the level of River Kwai or Lawrence (sorry to Vincent Camby of the Times for disagreeing), has kept this film from being better known. Especially if you're under 40, regardless of whether you read the book or not. Now you can see Lean's last film, and Guinness's last film of note, and judge for yourself: 



WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?- Thurs July 3- Sat Jul 5 at Midnight for $10- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- Plays for the entire July 4th weekend, including Thursday July 3rd. The big hit of the summer of 1988 where Bob Hoskins is a film-noirish gumshoe, tracking a killer while dealing with all types of people, human and animated. This Disney film is a blast on the big screen, and innovative in its time for the mixing of animation and live action. 4 Oscars, including an award for visual effects that still holds up today, and a special achievement in animation:



JAWS- Thurs July 3- Sat July 5 at Midnight- A DCP screening, and if it's the same DCP I saw at the Film Forum in the summer of 2012, then we're getting a good one. Jaws, a popular film over at IFC Center (file under Yeah: No Kidding), plays once again late at night all July 4th weekend long. 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:



A HARD DAY'S NIGHT- Fri July 4- Thurs July 17 at 12:45, 3, 5:10, 7:30 and 9:45 (Wed July 16 at 7:30 is sold out)- Film Forum- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that will play for two weeks. Not sure what day and time I can do specifically, so I'll just post them all. 

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:



2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY- Sat July 5 at 3 and 6:30 and Sun July 6 at 3 - Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Museum of the Moving Image's See It Big: Science Fiction series,  in what seems to be a July 4th weekend tradition for them. 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.":



BLAZING SADDLES for free- Mon July 7 at sundown- Bryant Park- A free screening of Mel Brooks' comedy classic, that still works as incisive satire even today. Brooks told the story on Bob Costas' Later about how the Warner Bros. studio heads loved the film when they screened it the morning before it's big test screening. They told Mel how much they loved the flick, but they wanted a few changes. They then proceeded to give him a laundry list of what they wanted cut, of all which Mel just nodded his head and kept saying yes. "The bean farting scene, we want out, the sheriff is a niGONG, we want out, all n-word jokes, out, etc.". And after they were done giving notes and departed, Mel told his assistant "Fuck em. Send the film out as is.". Supposedly at the time, it was the most successful screening Warners ever had for a comedy. Oscar nominations for Madeline Kahn for Supporting Actress, Editing and Brooks' title song. If noting else, it would be better to spend 11 dollars to catch this then full price to catch Brooks' stage version of Young Frankenstein. Don't get me wrong, I was entertained. The cast was enjoyable (no Andrea Martin but I didn't miss her; the understudy was fine). But except for the Puttin' On The Ritz number, the stage version rarely rises above the film. The Producers, it is not. Even Spamalot at times rises above Monty Python and the Holy Grail a lot more than Young Frankenstein does. Anyway, I'd love to catch it if we can. Unless you prefer . . .



HIGH NOON- Mon July 7 at 9:30 IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's series: Time Regained. In honor of Richard Linklater's new film Boyhood. Films that try to honor or manipulate time on screen. Sometimes in decades, and sometimes in real time, like with High Noon. One of the best Westerns, and one of the best films ever made. Told in almost real time, Marshall Gary Cooper has just gotten married to Quaker Grace Kelly, and about to give up being a lawman to be a storekeeper. But before he can go off and start his new life, word comes down that a criminal the Marshall arrested is out of jail on a technicality, and coming to town with his gang, presumably seeking revenge. Thinking it would be better to fight the gang now as a lawman then to be blasted away as a civilian, the Marshall stays in town. Even though his pacifist wife threatens to leave him alone. As a jealous former deputy refuses to help, alongside the escaping judge and the rest of the townspeople. Whether they think it's better to try to appease the returning criminal gang, or if they think the town is better off without such a stern lawman, or whether they're just afraid of dying, they will not help the Marshall. As he awaits the noon train to arrive and with that his fate.

Effective as a Western, as a drama, and as allegory against the House Un-American Activities Committee, or at least the Hollywood community's refusal to stand up to them.. How much credit goes to soon-to-be blacklisted Carl Foreman or to producer Stanley Kramer is still being argued today. But credit them and director Fred Zinnemann with a fine film. A film John Wayne and Howard Hawks despised and made Rio Bravo as a response. Also despised by the likes of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn. Some audiences and critics missed the multiple action scenes, shootouts and wide scenic shots they had come to expect from Westerns, and Hitchcock thought Grace Kelly was misused. But audiences came in droves, if for no other reason than the stoic appeal of Cooper as a man alone, nervously and bitterly standing up for himself, for the law, and for people who probably don't deserve his help.

4 Oscars including Cooper for Actor, and for Editing. The editing is notable not only for how the last few minutes were put together, but that the whole real-time aspect was an experiment that surprisingly work, when the rough cut was a near disaster to all involved. Nominations for Picture, Zinnemann for Director and Foreman for Screenplay. Cited alongside the likes of Goodfellas and Dr. Strangelove as films that were gypped out of an Oscar for Best Picture. Given to The Greatest Show on Earth; try to watch it now, I dare you. A favorite of Presidents Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton. On both AFI Top 100 lists and on my own personal top 100:



ROPE- Mon July 7 at 10:30 and Tues July 8 at 9:15- IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's Time Regained series, screening films that try to honor or manipulate time on screen. Sometimes in decades, and sometimes in real time, like with Rope. A DCP restoration from a few years back, so it looks better than you've ever seen it before. I wouldn't have posted Rope at all if someone didn't express interest in seeing it, and only at night. Since this is the only evening performance of Rope and I have no interest in I Confess (I'd rather sit through Torn Curtain), here's Rope at its only evening time in this retrospective.
Alfred Hitchcock shot this film in a series of 8-minute continuous takes, the maximum amount of film that a camera could hold. Yes, it feels unnatural at times, but the story is compelling enough, so you accept the experiment. The story is a variation of the real life Leopold and Loeb murder. Two men murder a classmate/ friend of theirs, just for the moral superiority of it. They then have a dinner party over his hidden body, which his friend, relatives and fiancee attend. Also in attendance is their former professor, played by Jimmy Stewart. Ruh-roh.

For years I have seen Rope on TV, semi-popular after it's return as part of the Hitchcock 5; films that disappeared for over a decade until Universal Studios were able to re-release them in the early-mid 1980s. Rear Window and Vertigo became instant classics, The Man Who Knew Too Much remake did ok with critics and audiences, The Trouble With Harry, not so well. And Rope was kinda in the middle. The experiment was tolerated by critics (less so as the years went by), the film didn't play well in theaters, but played like gangbusters on home video and syndicated TV broadcasts.
For me, I enjoy it. It's less cinema, more like filmed theater. Like a proto- Dial M For Murder. It's fun, even for the content: 




Let me know if there's interest. Enjoy the 4th, later all.