Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jan revivals: first half

Mike here with a list of Jan revivals for the first half. But first, some unfinished business.Thanks for those of you who saw the following revivals throughout the past calender year: LOST IN LA MANCHA, GIMME SHELTER, THE WARRIORS, THE WRONG MAN, ROPE, VERTIGO, THE FALLEN IDOL, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, DR. ZHIVAGO, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, THE SHOOTIST, DIRTY HARRY, DAYS OF HEAVEN, ARMY OF SHADOWS, FULL METAL JACKET, LOLITA (1962), DR. STRANGELOVE, THE BIRDS, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, A SHOT IN THE DARK, CAPTAIN BLOOD, THE MALTESE FALCON, THE AFRICAN QUEEN, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD (not every revival was a winner), TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, THE RULES OF THE GAME, KING KONG (1932), INFERNAL AFFAIRS and WALKABOUT. Only one less then last year. Not shabby, so thank you. I know some of you were not always gung ho about some of the films going in, or gung ho about going out in general, so I am serious when I say, thank you. Special thanks to Ed for catching more then half of them. Several of the above films will re-appear on the list over the next 2 months for those of you who missed them, plus the good the bad and the ugly in Feb for J.C. to get another chance. Meantime, here we go:

SLEEPER and BANANAS- Mon Jan 1 at 4:35 (Bananas), 6:15(Sleeper), 8(Bananas) and 9:45 (Sleeper)- Film Forum- 209 west houston bet. 6th and Varick- Part of the Woody Allen retrospective. I've done this double feature before. But most of you haven't and this is a terriffic double feature. The first, Bananas, with Allen as a revoultionary, has some excellent set pieces, including taking on a pre-Rocky Sly Stallone as a mugger. Ending with a mockery of a trial that would make Donald Rumsfeld proud.

The second, Sleeper, is technically sci-fi, but one of Woody's best slapstick comedy. Waking up 2000 years later to a world run by a police state, consider this one part The Fugitive, one part Woody slapstick. With Diane Keaton.

If you're the type who prefers Woody's funny film as opposed to his serious ones, Sleeper and Bananas are Exhbits A and B.

ARMY OF SHADOWS- Wed Jan 3- Thurs Jan 11 at 6:45 and 9:45- Film Forum- I've done this before, but those who put Top 10 lists for 2006 must get around to this 1969 French war film. A surprise winner of this year's NY Film Critics award for Best Foriegn Language Film. Ordinary French citizens fighting in the Reisitance against the Nazis, unsure of who they can trust, who can be effective, and essentially on their own. Builds slowly, but hits powerfully in the end, and leaves you with much to think about for days afterward, if you're inclined to think after seeing a film. It can be caught again on Feb 23 and Feb 24 at AMMI.

MANHATTEN- Fri Jan 5 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Woody Allen retrospective. Once again, I bring up what some consider to be Woody's last standout film (depending on what you think of Hannah and her Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors). Possibly, his best looking film. Neil La Bute recently compared this to Rules of The Game; a well done portrait of a community in slow decay, and that the film makes you want to be a better person. Take that as you will.

TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN and(maybe) WHAT"S UP TIGER LILY?- Mon Jan 8 at 6:15 (Tiger), 7:50(Money) and 9:35 (Tiger)- Film Forum- Part of the Woody Allen retrospective. If you're the type who prefers Woody's funny films asopposed to his serious ones, Take the Money and Run is Exhibit C (scroll up for Exhibits A and B). The first film to be (co)written, directed and starring Allen. Shot in an early mockumentary style, you see the Woody character screwing up as he tries to be a career criminal, yet is even worse at going straight.

Double featured with What's Up Tiger Lily?, sort of a pre-cursor to MST3K. To quote the IMDB plot outline:

In comic Woody Allen's film debut, he took the Japanese action film "International Secret Police: Key of Keys" and re-dubbed it, changing the plot to make it revolve around a secret egg salad recipe.

Wouldn't mind catching it, but I don't have to.

THOTH and MARJOE- Mon Jan 8 at 7 for 5 dollars- Followed by a post film discussion from the film's directorAcademy Theater at Lighthouse International- 111 E. 59th- 2 Oscar winning documentaries from the same director, Sarah Kernochan. Also include is footage of her accepting her Oscars, and post film interviews with her. If there's any interest, I need to know ahead of time so that I can try to reserve. For the rest of the info, I'll cut and paste from the Oscars' website:

Thoth: Stephen Kaufman, aka Thoth, is a performance artist in Central Park. Dressed in nothing more than a gold loincloth and warrior headdress, Thoth performs his one-man operas, or "prayformances," with violin accompaniment, to bring divine inspiration and healing to the world. Amateur Rabbit Production. 16 mm. 40 minutes.

Academy Award winner: Documentary Short Subject (Sarah Kernochan, Lynn Appelle).

Marjoe: Marjoe Gortner, an extraordinarily charismatic fire-and-brimstone preacher, candidly reveals the tricks of his trade and his personal belief that religion is really just another business. Cinema X Production; Cinema 5, Ltd. 35 mm. 88 minutes.

Academy Award winner: Documentary Feature (Howard Smith, Sarah Kernochan).

STARDUST MEMORIES and INTERIORS- Tues Jan 9 at 6:40 (Stardust), 8:30 (Interiors) and 10:20 (Stardust)- with Mary Beth Hurt appearing at the 8:30 screening of Interiors- Film Forum- Part of the Woody Allen retrospective. 2 of Woody's first three films where he was getting away from his "funny" films. First, Stardust, the least comercially successful of all of Woody's United Artisits films, and yet is a favorite for some hard core Allen fans. Woody has repeatedly said this was not autobiographical. But writing, directing and starring as a director who has obsessive fans, none of whom appreciate his first 'serious' film, and a love life filled with gorgeous ex-lovers, you gotta wonder . . . With Charlotte Rampling, plus Sharon Stone in her (silent) film debut.

Next, Interiors, Woody's homage to Bergman. You might find this THE most depressing film you've ever seen. But if you stick with it, you will have seen a well crafted drama following three sisters' reactions, when their father divorces their psychologically damaged mother, and then remarries. 5 nominations, including Director and Screenplay for Allen, Best Actress for Geraldine Page as the mother and Supporting Actress for the late Maureen Stapleton as the new woman in Dad's life. Diane Keaton, Mary Beth Hurt and Sam Waterson also in the cast. Hurt herself(pictured above from Interiors) will be attending the 8:30 screening. No idea if her appearance will be pre- film, or post.

ZELIG and THE FRONT- Wed Jan 10 at 6:15 (Front), 8:10 (Zelig) and 9:50 (Front)- Film Forum- Another double feature from the Woody Allen retrospective. First, Zelig, the art house hit of 1983. Another faux documentary from Allen as he plays Leonard Zelig, a man who became a celebrity with no discernable talent (times have changed, hasn't it Paris?), except for being able to look and act like whoever he is with at the time. Mia Farrow as the doctor who tries to treat him. Is it another examination of celebrity? A homage to Peter Sellers and the type of acting he did? Forrest Gump's precursor? Something else entirely? You decide . . .

Successfull in getting Allen in many old time clips and newsreels WITHOUT any CGI magic. Nominations for Cinematography and Editing.

Next, The Front, the first film starring, but not written or directed by Allen. Underrated little gem. He plays a little man who agrees to be a front for blacklisted writers to get their work out there. Directed by Martin Ritt, written by Walter Bernstein and co-starring Zero Mostel and other formerly black listed people.

JULES AND JIM- Wed Jan 10 at 6:50- Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St., between Avenues A and B (closer to A)- The Truffaut classic that I listed last time is now at Two Boots Pioneer in a new 35mm print.

CALIFORNIA SPLIT- Wed Jan 10 with showtimes TBA- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd St. and 6th Ave- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. I listed it a few months back, so I won't repeat myself much. An underrated drama starring Elliot Gould and George Segal as struggling gamblers. Since no one here has probably seen it, now is a good time. Don't know the times right now, so if there's an interest, you'll have to tell me and we'll work from there.

THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK and IMAGES- Fri Jan 12 at 8:10(Park) and 10:20(Images) - IFC Film Center- A double feature that's part of the Robert Altman retrospective. 2 films for 1 admission. First, That Cold Day In The Park, a now forgotten film from 1969. Based on a novel about a rich but lonely and disturbed man who brings in a street hustler to live with him. But Altman got passed any problems with the gay themes by changing the lead into a woman, then getting the queen of the quirks, Sandy Dennis, to play the role.

Double featured with Images, one of Altman's "little" films, from 1972. Altman goes into quasi Bergman/Lynch terriotory, as Susannah York plays a schizophrenic who goes after those she believes is trying to harm her. But wether they are figments of her imagination or they're real . . .

THE PRINCESS BRIDE- Fri Jan 12, Sat Jan 13 and Sun Jan 14 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- 143 East Houston St bet. 1st and 2nd Ave- A new 35mm print of the Rob Reiner romantic family classic.

THE THIN BLUE LINE(tentative)- Sat Jan 13 at 2- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave. at 36 St.- Part of a series of documentaries that won an award from the New York Film Critics. Archival 35mm print from the Academy Film Archive. Put director Errol Morris on the film map. For the rest I'll quote, from AMMI's website, critic Mike D'Angelo from Esquire magazine, who will introduce the film:

"As one of very few films that have literally changed the course of someone’s life, Errol Morris’s spellbinding murder investigation, which helped to free Randall Dale Adams from prison some twelve years after he was falsely convicted of killing a Dallas cop, is well assured of its place in film history. But The Thin Blue Line’s true legacy is aesthetic: no previous documentary had privileged form as much as content, and few since have come close."

NASHVILLE- Mon Jan 15 at 6 and 9:15- IFC Film Center- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. You know about this, otherwise, what the hell kind of buff are you? If you've never seen it, this is the perfect chance. Considered, along with MASH to be classic Altman. If we don't catch it here, we can try again on Sun Jan 28 at AMMI.

Lot of choices, let me know. Later, and Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Apocalypto is in some ways, a typical Hollywood action film. Most of the dialogue is junk and most of the characters are two-dimensional. But place us among the world of the Mayans and have all the lines subtitled, and now you have some heft to your film, supposedly.

In this one case only, I will speak for the majority of Americans that I don't know a lot about Mayans. History classes tend to teach more about say, the Greeks, or the Romans as opposed to the Mayans. This is certainly a world that a studio hasn't covered with a depth. So I'm sure there will be people who think of this as authentic, perhaps accurate. But interviews with the film's director, everybody's favorite drunken anti-Semite, talked about this as more of a "could be" then fact.

Before I start bashing this film too much, I should state that this is the best looking DV film I've ever seen. The technology has improved to the point to the point that I almost couldn't tell the difference. I couldn't tell the difference in the majority of the film. This is 2 hrs, 19 min long, and it moved so fast I didn't feel it (something The Da Vinci Code can't say.). And the CGI enhances the look, not used in a showy look-at-me style.

The whole second half is one major chase sequence that for the most part works. Director Gibson owes much to cinematographer Dean Semler (The Road Warrior, Dances With Wolves) and editors Kevin Stitt (X Men) and John Wright (X Men, Speed). Any nominations for them, as well as for Sound Effects Editing would be well deserved.

I've told some of you that if you give me interesting visuals and a good score (Apocalypto's was done by James Horner), then I can overlook a lot of a film's problems. For a while, anyway. And I can say I was never bored. I was never unstimulated by the film's sights and sounds. And the acting is similar to say, Heaven's Gate. No one great performance, but the whole cast works.

This is definetly Gibson's bloodiest film. The scene involving the end of a jaguar's attack is as gruesome as Jesus getting whipped in Passion. And if you're into disembowlment, beheadings, and the occasional brain bleeding (see it and you'll know what I mean), this is the film for you. Gibson's got this one man martyr with buckets of blood film down pat.

Like I said, the characters are no better developed here then in say, a Die Hard film, or Snakes on a Plane. The finding of the jaguar causes a jump, but the chase . . . Let's just say Gibson must have found the one jaguar who's a member of AARP. How slow was IT?!?! Nice waterfall sequence, but if you've seen Romancing the Stone or The Fugitive, you know most of what's to come. I don't understand why a lot of Mayans were frightened by the total eclipse. Didn't they invent astronomy? Couldn't some of them have predicted this, and then tell the rest? And once a certain 3 ships start sailing in to visit this New World, the film is over and I'm left with a feeling of that's it? What was the point?

So let's see what lessons did we learn from this film. A nation that enslaves or attacks their weaker citizens, won't be able to stand up to a stronger force? A long way to go for that. There's always a bigger fish to swallow you up? Hell, we all learned that in Star Wars Episode 1, but at least we don't have to deal with Jar Jar Binks here.

I've been wondering wether to give this thumbs up or down. Despite its pluses, I have to give this a thumbs down. Just not substantial enough, as well as a little too heavy handed, to tell someone to pay 10 or 11 dollars to see this.

Caught it at the Fresh Meadows movie theater for free, with the help of a friend's SAG card. If I had pay to see it, would I feel any different? Doubtful.

P.S.: At fresh Meadows on Friday and Saturday nights, they apparently need a van full of cops to act as security. Why I wonder. Nothing happened, but still, cops? What the hell is going on in this area on weekends? It seems like a nice neighborhood. I don't know . . .

P.P.S.: Here's a link to YouTube's showing of a spoof of Apocalypto, using the trailer. It's funny, and only 65 seconds long.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dec. revivals: second half

Mike here with a list of what to catch for the second half of Dec. The more I saw this, the more I drooled at the possibile combos. Then I began to feel a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume. So to make things a little easier, I broke it down by dates. Some films you notice I am pushing harder than others. All you have to do is say what date you want to see a movie and I can tell what and when. I can't make this any easier. I know things conflict, so it's first come, first served. Here we go:

Fri Dec. 15:
THE PINK PANTHER- 6:15 at MOMA- 11 W. 53 St., between 5th and 6th ave.
21 GRAMS- 7:30 at AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave. at 36 St.
ALL ABOUT EVE- Midnight- Chelsea Clearview Cinema for 7 dollars- W.23rd St. and 8th Ave.

I talked about these three last time, so you'll let me know.

Sat Dec 16:
THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN- 5:30 at MOMA- The James Whale- Boris Karloff horror classic that's probably better then the first film; a rarity among sequels. Famous for the final sequences involving Elsa Lanchester as the Bride.

JULES AND JIM- 9:40 at Film Forum- 209 west houston- bet. 6th and Varick- The Truffaut classic involving the love between two men and one woman (too long to try to go into detail) gets a week long screening, with a new 35mm print.

ALL ABOUT EVE (tentative)- Midnight- Chelsea Clearview Cinema for 7 dollars.

Mon Dec 18:
JULES AND JIM- 5:20 at Film Forum

Only times I can do either Truffaut's best or Fassbinder's best on Monday. It's available on another day for both.

Tues Dec 19:
JULES AND JIM- 7:30 and 9:40 at Film Forum

Wed Dec 20:
JULES AND JIM- 9:40 at Film Forum

Thurs Dec 21:
BELL BOOK AND CANDLE- 7 at Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St., between Avenues A and B (closer to A)- Fun romantic comedy from 1958. Witch Kim Novak casts a spell on mortal Jimmy Stewart, only she accidentally falls in love with him instead. Strong support from fellow witches Elsa Lanchester and Jack Lemmon, and mortal Ernie Kovacs. Stewart's last film as a romantic leading man.

JULES AND JIM- 7:30 and 9:40 at Film Forum

Fri Dec 22:
IT'S A WONDERFULL LIFE: IFC Film Center- W. 3rd St. and 6th Ave.- If you're not sick of this AFI Top 100 Christmas classic (to the post WW2-era people what A Christmas Story is today), it gets a rare weeklong screening for you to catch here. I don't have times, but if there's interest, you'll tell me. Showtimes should come out no later then Wed Dec 20th. But think evenings for this.

THE MAGNIFICENT 7: 8:15 at MOMA- Part of the producer Walter Mirisch's retrospective. Well made remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. Yul Brynner leads the group of hired guns, defending the poor Mexican village from despicable Eli Wallach and his evil henchmen. Served as a kind of template for future spaghetti Westerns. Also served as a springboard for the film careers of several of the 7: James Coburn, Charles Bronsan, Robert Vaughn, and . . . oh yeah, Steve McQueen. Also with one of the best film scores of all time from composer Elmer Bernstein(no exaggeration).

WALKABOUT- 9:10 at Film Forum- A terrific underrated film from 1971 in a new 35mm print. I wrote about it in Oct. I'll just repeat that it's best seen on the big screen and that if you've never seen it, go. There are multiple days to go, not just this night. For the rest, I'll just cut and paste from the Forum's website:

"Nicolas Roeg’s breathtakingly-shot solo directorial debut. Amidst the vast emptiness of an unending plain, a stressed-out Australian urbanite interrupts his family’s Outback picnic to kill himself and blow up their car, leaving his teenage daughter and six-year-old son… alone. Thus begins a memorable emotional and physical odyssey for a girl just old enough to take matters in her own, very proper hands — and for her little brother, zestfully plunging into this brand new game. But it's no game for the third member of the eventual trio: an Aborigine boy on his coming-of-age “walkabout.”

A Rousseauian evocation of Nature vs. Civilization, WALKABOUT ascends to a mystical, magical plain that transcends the banalities of what has become, in other hands, a threadbare genre. The first solo credit of Nicolas Roeg (who co-directed PERFORMANCE), his previous cinematographer career (including 2nd unit work on LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) evident in the luscious color and sweeping vistas and in the teeming, near-microscopic views of Outback life. And he evokes striking performances from his basically three-person cast of newcomers: his son Lucien John; Jenny Agutter, later British-Oscared for EQUUS; and David Gulpilil (an Aborigine from the greener North, and so nearly as at sea in the desert as the castaways themselves) with Agutter and Gulpilil feverish with an adolescent longing that breaks against the barriers of language and race."

THE DARK CRYSTAL- Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema- 143 East Houston St bet. 1st and 2nd Ave.- If you're a fan of Lord of the Rings kind of fantasy, or a fan of 80's films, here's this effort from director Jim Henson. Puppetry effects at their height for this sword and sorcery film, with the Muppet-esque cuteness cut down very low.

Sat Dec 23 (all tentative):
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT and/or THE GREAT ESCAPE- 5(Heat) and 7:30(Escape) at MOMA- A potential double feature, both part of the producer Walter Mirisch's retrospective. Heat I talked about before. The Great Escape plays afterwards. A well-crafted mix of fact and just enough Hollywood(it lays that right out for you in the beginning) to create a rousing adventure-thriller. Depicting the true story of the mass escape of Allied POWs from a German stalag during WW2. Big cast includes James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn and Charles Bronsan.

In retrospect, all of this has been pushed aside by the presence of Steve McQueen. With this picture, you can literally pinpoint the moments where McQueen goes from leading man, to American Movie Star, to International Film Icon, all in the course of 2 hrs, 57 min.
Both films are doable, but that's a long day into night, so be careful before speaking up about both films.

WALKABOUT- 7 and 9:10 at Film Forum
THE DARK CRYSTAL- Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema

Wed Dec 27:
OLIVER!: 1:30 at AMMI in Astoria- From the director of The Third Man, this family musical adaptation of Oliver Twist plays for the entire holiday season at AMMI. 6 Oscars including Best Picture and Director.

LAW OF DESIRE: 4 and 8:30 at the Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Pedro Almodovar retrospective. Too strange to come up with my own writing here, so I will use the Walter Reade's website:

"Set against a backdrop of a mad, mad Madrid, this film swirls around a cast of characters we haven’t seen the likes of since What Have I Done to Deserve This? Our hero is absorbed in a cat-and-mouse game with an obsessive lover that before long entangles his transsexual brother/sister, father/son detective team and a mother who makes the Spider Woman look tame. Almódovar moves his story with a deft hand and a twinkle in his eye as he examines the idea and the attractions of absolute desire. A kind of preliminary sketch for the later masterpiece Bad Education . . ."

EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX (BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK) and/or LOVE AND DEATH: 6:15(Sex), 8(Death), and 9:45(Sex) at Film Forum- Part of the Woody Allen retrospective; a possible double feature of his 70's work. First, Sex, a series of sketches based on or inspired by the successful sex manual. The popular sketches include Gene Wilder falling for a sheep, Allen desperately trying to open Lynn Redgrave's chastity belt, Allen fighting a runaway breast, and Allen as a neurotic sperm cell. The cast includes Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds, John Carradine and Regis Philbin.

Next, Love and Death, a kind of spoof of Russian classics. Another re-teaming with Diane Keaton, the last of the pure comedies of Allen, before he turned to more serious work, starting two years later with Annie Hall.

WALKABOUT: 7 and 9:10 Film Forum

Thurs Dec 28:
WALLACE AND GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT: 11AM and 1:30PM at MOMA- Winner of Best Animated film at this year's Oscars, and one of my favorites from 2005. For the kids and the kids at heart.

OLIVER!: 1:30 at AMMI in Astoria
LAW OF DESIRE: 1:45 and 6:45 at the Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center
WALKABOUT- 7 and 9:10- Film Forum
BELL BOOK AND CANDLE- 7 at Two Boots Pioneer

Fri Dec 29:
OLIVER!: 1:30 at AMMI in Astoria
WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN: 2:15 and 6:30 at the Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Pedro Almodovar retrospective. The first major U.S. art house hit for Almodovar. You've probably heard of this, so I'm not going into detail. Just don't feel like it. Next.

THIS IS SPINAL TAP: Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema- I've done this before, but for those who are interested, here's the midnight screening of the best of Christopher Guest's mockumentary comedies, directed by Rob Reiner. And no, the theater will not have the volume turned up to 11. God, that was lame. I'm so burned out . . .

Sat Dec 30:
OLIVER!(tentative): 1:30 at AMMI in Astoria
WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY- 2 at Symphony Space in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia- W. 95th St. and Broadway- For once, the children's cult-hit musical starring Gene Wilder is being screened in a reasonable hour.

RADIO DAYS and/or BROADWAY DANNY ROSE: 6:15(Broadway), 8(Radio) and 9:45(Broadway) at Film Forum- Another potential double feature that is part of the Woody Allen retrospective. Both films nominated for Best Original Screenplay. First, Radio Days. Allen's look at his Far Rockaway's childhood, as influenced by Radio. Seth Green plays the young Allen-like person, with a cast that includes Julie Kavner, Tony Roberts, Mia Farrow, Dianne Weist, Larry David, Danny Aiello, Mercedes Ruehl, William H. Macy and Diane Keaton.

Broadway Danny Rose I talked about previously, so you know it, or you click back and read it again.

SAYONARA: 6 at MOMA- Romantic drama depicting culture clashes, surrounded by Marlon Brando's Korean war pilot in love with a Japanese woman.

EASY RIDER: 9 at Two Boots Pioneer
THIS IS SPINAL TAP: Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema

So many choices, so little time. Let me know. Later.

And also, have yourself a Merry Kwanzaa and a Happy Festivus; tell me the holiday's date, what's done to celebrate it or as much as I think is enough, and where I heard of this holiday and I'll take you to one of these films for free. Unless it's AMMI; depending on who you are, I may have to figure out something else.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dec revivals: first half

Mike here with a long list of films to catch for the first half of December. Some conflict with each other, and some might be difficult for me to catch. But in the end, I'll just throw a whole bunch if titles and let's see what sticks. Here we go:

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT- Fri Dec 1 at 6:30- MOMA- 11 W. 53 St., between 5th and 6th ave.- Part of the producer Walter Mirisch's retrospective. As socially relevant as they come, but that ignores what at the core is a well crafted character study between black detective Sidney Poitier and white sheriff Rod Stieger, with a murder mystery that serves the social story and character work, not vice versa. Don't underestimate the importance and strength of this film. 7 nominations, including Best Director for Norman Jewison (lost to Mike Nichols for The Graduate). 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and Actor for Stieger.

EASY RIDER- Fri Dec 1 and Fri Dec 8 at 11pm, and Fri Dec 30 at 9- Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St., between Avenues A and B (closer to A)- I brought this up last time, so I bring it up again. Read the previous list for more info.

LOST HIGHWAY- Fri Dec 1 and Sat Dec 2 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd st. and 6th Ave.- In honor of the upcoming release of David Lynch's upcoming Inland Empire, IFC Film Center will have a midnight screening of Lynch's 1997 film. Similar to Mulholland Drive, where dreams push the film and put the "plot" on the back burner, not that far in the case of Highway. Better clarity of dreams and reality that combine more effectively I think. The best I've heard this described, was Lynch's idea of "O.J's dreams after he committed the murders" (it came out about a year and a half after the criminal trial's verdict). Note that Lynch himself never said this, but judge for yourself.

Strong cast includes Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Richard Pryor, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Loggia, and in a post-film ironic twist, Robert Blake. He has the most outlandish role, and he is good. But since then, you could now replace O.J's name from the previous paragraph with Blake's. Gives the film an additional edge.

WEST SIDE STORY- Sat Dec 2 at 3- MOMA- Part of the producer Walter Mirisch's retrospective. If you want to re-read the hard sell I made in the first list I made in this blog, the details are there. I've already talked about how much better it is on the big screen as opposed to tv. Now we're not talking about the Ziegfeld, but MOMA's will do just fine. Especially if you've only seen it on tv. In my personal top 100.

INFERNAL AFFAIRS- Sun Dec 3 at 2- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave. at 36 St.- Martin Scorsese’s film, The Departed, is actually a remake of this character driven thriller from Hong Kong. I've never seen it and would like to. The first of a trilogy, the other two films only had small portions used by Scorsese for The Departed. With Tony Leung (Hard Boiled, The Lover, In The Mood For Love).

INLAND EMPIRE- Wed Dec 6- Tues Dec 19 only- IFC Film Center- Times TBA- Not a revival, but this is the best way to mention this, and to find out if there's any interest in Lynch's new film. Will it be top tier like Blue Velvet, bottom of the barrel like the Twin Peaks prequel and Mulholland Dr., or smack in the middle like Wild at Heart or Lost Highway. You don't know until you see for yourself. Mondays and Thursdays are out for sure for me. Any other days are TBA. Performance times are unknown to me at this writing. Note that the film is 2 hrs. 59 min. long, so plan ahead if you're interested.

For the rest, I'll just quote from the IFC Film Center website:

"The latest hallucinatory vision from the iconoclastic director of Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks, INLAND EMPIRE stars Laura Dern in a tour-de-force performance as, perhaps, an actress who lands a dream role that quickly devolves into nightmare. Intrigued by the texture and freedom of consumer-grade DV, Lynch started out shooting tests with Dern; over the next two years, he grafted on scenes encompassing Hollywood machinations, conjugal intrigue, Polish curses, and even a rabbit-headed sitcom parody. The result is as dark, unpredictable, and utterly compelling as anything he's ever done, both a masterful recap of a career -- including appearances by Lynch veterans Justin Theroux, Laura Harring, Grace Zabriskie, Diane Ladd, and the inimitable Harry Dean Stanton -- and his most radical and experimental movie since Eraserhead."

William H. Macy, Jeremy Irons and Nastassja Kinski are also in the cast.

AMORES PERROS- Fri Dec 8 at 7:30- AMMI in Astoria- Part of the director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s retrospective. I'm tired, so I'll just quote from AMMI's website: "With Gael Garcia Bernal. Three stories, all including dogs, intertwine in the margins of Mexico City in Iñárritu’s dynamic debut film, which established him as a major international director."

The first of these types of inter-connecting films this director has done, like his recent "Babel". Note that this is a long one, 2 hrs 33 min, so plan ahead if you're interested.

SUNSET BLVD.- Fri Dec 8 at Midnight for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- W. 23rd and 8th Ave.- For those who haven't seen this on the big screen, you now have a chance to catch this film at a reduced price. An AFI Top 100 film, 3 Oscars including Best Screenplay, 8 other nominations including Picture, Director for Billy Wilder, Actor for William Holden and Actress for Gloria Swanson. It lost to another film on this list. In my personal top 30.

MOONSTRUCK- Mon Dec 11 at 6 and Wed Dec 13 at 8- MOMA- Part of the Made in New York series. From director Norman Jewison. One of the better romantic comedies around, as well as one of the better made in New York films as well. Of the city and universal at the same time. Cher won an Oscar as the widow engaged to Danny Aiello, but in love her brother, the hammy but still interesting Nicolas Cage. Olympia Dukakis also won an Oscar as her mother, as did John Patrick Shanley for his screenplay (probably the only good screenplay he's ever written).

THE PINK PANTHER- Fri Dec 15 at 6:15 and Wed Dec 20 at 8:15- MOMA- Part of the producer Walter Mirisch's retrospective. Blake Edwards's hit comedy plays again. The David Niven vehicle, that ended up making Peter Sellers an international comedy icon instead. The rest of the film is funny too, but Sellers as Inspector Clouseau is on another level. With a memorable, Oscar-nominated theme from Henry Mancini, and a certain memorable animated cat, both in the opening credits.

21 GRAMS- Fri Dec 15 at 7:30- AMMI in Astoria- Part of the director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s retrospective. Another of the director's interconnecting story. Believe it or not, I still haven't seen all of this, so now might be a good chance. Assuming no one is interested in the pink panther instead. Oscar nominations for Naomi Watts and Benicio Del Toro.

ALL ABOUT EVE- Fri Dec 15 and Sat Dec 16(tentative on my end) at Midnight for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- The acclaimed bitch fest starring Bette Davis that beat Sunset Blvd. for Best Picture. Try to pick between those two films; almost like which flavor satire you prefer, acidic with visual style, or acidic with verbal flair. If you've never seen it on the big screen, you can now at a reduced price. Sat is tentative for me at the moment.

6 Oscars. Most nominations in Oscar history, Titanic could only tie it. An AFI Top 100 film and in my personal top 30.

THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN- Sat Dec 16 at 5:30- MOMA- The James Whale- Boris Karloff horror classic that's probably better then the first film; a rarity among sequels. Famous for the final sequences involving Elsa Lanchester as the Bride.

THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN- Mon Dec 18 at 4 and Wed Dec 20 at 3:45- MOMA- Rainer Werner Fassbinder's biggest commercial success. Definitely his most assecisble and possibly his best. Imagine after the movie Downfall ends, a woman trying to survive and prosper in post WW2 Berlin. Career best from Hanna Schygulla in the title film.

Lots of choices, so you tell me. Coming up later in Dec and early Jan is a Woody Allen retrospective at the Film Forum. No time to break it down, so here's the link:

Let me know. And please don't be afraid to click the ads. No obligation to buy. Later all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

November revivals: second half

Mike here with films to catch for the second half of Nov. Not a lot of films, but very high in quality. Here we go:

KING KONG (1933)- Wed Nov 22, Thurs Nov 23, and Fri Nov 24 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The original 1933 classic gets a midnight screening throughout the Thanksgiving weekend. An AFI Top 100 film. It use to be a big deal, when this film was screened every Thanksgiving weekend on the old Ch. 9. Now would be nice to do again, even on Thanksgiving night, maybe. For those who did The Warriors here at this theater last Thanksgiving weekend, this might be a good time to go again.

12 ANGRY MEN- Fri Nov 24 at 2:45 and Sun Nov 26 at 9- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Dziga and His Brothers: A Film Family on the Cutting Edge retrospective. The story of several calmness-free humanoid males expressing displeasure as they serve as jurors on a murder case. The Henry Fonda film features Sidney Lumet in his first non-TV directorial effort. The film was a critical hit but financial disappointment. Fonda took it so hard that he never produced another film, but it launched Lumet's film career. His success in both casting and how to keep a film mostly trapped in 2 small rooms, has helped make this a classic today. Not on the official AFI Top 100 list, but on some of their other ones. Nominations for Picture, Director and Screenplay Adaptation.

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS- Fri Nov 24 at 6:30, and Sat Nov 25 at 3- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Dziga and His Brothers: A Film Family on the Cutting Edge retrospective. Probably one of the best tragic romance films ever made, from director Elia Kazan. Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty play a young couple who fall in love despite family objections. An Oscar for the screenplay for William Inge; a nomination for Wood.

ON THE WATERFRONT- Fri Nov 24 at 9- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Dziga and His Brothers: A Film Family on the Cutting Edge retrospective. You all know this one. Brando classic, blah blah blah, Best Picture winner classic, blah blah blah, AFI Top 100 film, blah blah blah. You'll decide if you want to see it or not.

EASY RIDER- Sat Nov 25 at 11- Two Boots Pioneer- Another AFI Top 100 film, as 2 counter-culture bikers go searching for America in all the wrong places. Should have looking pu nub instead. Anyway, a classic and the first sleeper independent hit. Stars Dennis Hopper (also Director and co-Writer) and Peter Fonda (co-Writer), but co-star Jack Nicholson steals the show. His first Oscar nomination.

BROADWAY DANNY ROSE- Wed Nov 29 at 8- MOMA- Comedy-drama from Woody Allen, as an unsuccessful manager, trying to help his lounge act singer by posing as his mistress's (Mia Farrow) boyfriend. Leading to complications with the mob and his own feelings for her. Nominations for Allen, for both Director and Original Screenplay.

So plenty of choices for Thanksgiving weekend. Let me know. Later.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Death of a President: a review

Death of a President is a film that doesn't really deserve all the attention it's received. It's a British what if film, shot in the mockumentary style of something you find on A & E. I didn't have any intention of catching it, though I didn't appreciate hearing on TV how watching it supports anti US bias, or makes you anti-American yourself. But I don't want to go out of my way and pay for it. But in the end, I was paid for, so off I went. I comprised a tenth of the audience and based on the lack of word of mouth, I'm not surprised. Not a terrible film by any means, but I came away dissappointed.

Potentially interesting set-up, with various talking heads looking back on several years earlier, on the difficulties for the Bush White House in Oct 2007. Also interesting is the anti-Bush protest turning violent, reminicent of the Chicago riots in the summer of 68. The money shot of the assissination happens so fast, you'll probably miss it. Those who so the picture of the CGI Bush getting shot, saw it clearer then those of us who saw the movie.

But it only takes up a portion of the film. The filmmakers are more interested in depicting 3 strands; the investigation that's aided by President Cheney's Patriot Act 3, Cheney's efforts to get another war going, and the resolutions to the investigation. Almost all of this is depicted through actors playing talking heads (Cabinet people, investigators, cops, civilians, etc.); and your tolerance of this narrative device either keeps you interested, or bores you to tears. Personally, I was right in the middle. I bought all the performances, but they started to meld together, and my mind drifted in the middle of the film whenever a talking head came back on.

The resolution I didn't see coming, but I can't say all the pieces fit neatly. More like some puzzle pieces that get pounded in even if they're not an even fit. And this isn't so much anti-Bush, but anti-Cheney and those who want no objections to all of the Patriot Act. The filmmakers take the old Saturday Night Live joke from 1988 seriously: In the event President George Bush (Sr.) is killed, the Secret Service is to shoot Quayle. Replace father with son and Quayle with Cheney, and the filmmakers might endorse the sentiment. Anything to keep Bush alive and any crony or sub-ordinate out.

More then a little cynicism helps the film go down a lot easier. The naive or overly hopeful will have a hard time with the film. But this tone was what works best about the film; the naive or overly hopeful have to snap the hell out of it.

Not a bad film overall. But wait for cable or home video. Can I honestly tell someone to go to a theater and spend 9 ,10 or 11 dollars? No.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tideland: a review

At the start of Tideland, director/co-screenwriter Terry Gilliam appears in black and white, in a small cube dead center of the screen. He warns the audience that some of this could be offensive and that some of us will hate it. But that even more of us will love it and not to be afraid to laugh. He says that the entire film is told from the perspective of a child, and to put away EVERY adult preconception of life that we have. These are ideas that children don't have. This child is innocent, and children are resilient.

This is not a film I could laugh in, except for one or two sequences which were more nervous laughter then anything else. A few people on the half-filled, comfortable screening room in the IFC Film Center could do that, but that didn't happen very often. This is also not a film I could hate, though it's difficult for me to ever get comfortable with it. I'm ok with that. I'm also ok with the idea that I'll probably be the only one I know who will like it, and that some people I recommend this to will look at me as though I have a severed head. I understand that this film is probably an acquired taste. It just so happens that it fits my taste as well.

Jodelle Ferland turns in the best performance I've seen in my lifetime from a child actor. She plays Jeliza-Rose, the daughter of drug addicts. Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly play the parents, and I think it's no coincidence that they're made to look like a middle aged Kurt Corbain and Courtney Love on their last legs. Jeliza-Rose doesn't go to school, but she has learned how to cook up Dad's heroin. And she knows how to step into her fantasy world with her only friends, a set of bodyless dolls heads.

After Mom dies, Dad and daughter go to his late mother's abandoned, decrepit home. The country side of Saskatchewen forms another character here. One part filled with little lifeforms, one part oppressively isolated to the point that you'd think Tom Hanks had an easier chance to rejoin the world in Cast Away. Here, Jeliza-Rose becomes more of a modern-day Alice in Wonderland (the metaphor keeps hitting like a ton of bricks off and on throughout the film), diving deeper into her fantasy world.

It's an unconscious, reflexive escape that she makes there, but it does shield from the harsh reality surrounding her. At first Jeliza-Rose mouths what her dollhead friends say, but soon she hears their voices on her own, complete with their own personalities. Ferland does the voiceovers as well, and there is enough differences in each voice that you buy it. The fantasy world also distorts what kind of threat the only nearby neighbors can be. A strange woman (Janet McTeer) who you might confuse as a witch if you were little, and her brother, who might have some form of mental retardation, but bears an obvious lobotomy scar. He's played by Brendan Fletcher, and if you haven't seen him in such family fare as RV and Freddy Vs. Jason, you'd never know he was acting.

I can imagine parents or hyper-sensitive adults having a problem with this film, but I hope not. The key is to remember that this is all being told thru an eight or nine year old's perspective. We as adults understand what it means when her father goes on his heroin "vacation", or if the retarded guy takes a little kiss as a license to want to do more to/with her. She's not dumb, but she doesn't have the life experience to understand this yet. That's probably where Gilliam succeeds in getting us to squirm in our seats the most.

Throwing away adult pre-conceptions, as Gilliam strongly suggests, does provide the viewer with a quality film experience. It still leaves me uncomfortable, thinking about some sequences. But it still has me thinking about it still, playing out vividly at times. Can't say that about a lot of films.

I wish I had seen this sooner, since it seems to be leaving NYC shortly as of this writing. If it doesn't keep playing as a late night movie at IFC Film Center, it might play at a small, hole-in-the-wall, independent theater. But chances are, anyone reading this will probably only see this on TV. A shame. It would be more comforting to sit with some people while watching this, even with strangers. It would be a bigger shame to miss this entirely, especially if the major hangup keeping you from seeing Tideland, is you.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Nov. revivals: first half

Mike here with a list of revivals to catch in the first half of November. A smaller list then usual, but quality beats quantity in this case. Here we go:

TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS- Wed Nov 1 and Thurs Nov 2 at 7 and 9:15 at College Point Multiplex (28-55 Ulmer St. in Whitestone)- plus Fri Nov 3 at 7:30, 8:55, 9:50, 10:55 and 12:05AM, Sun Nov 5 at 5:10, 6, 7:30 and 8:55, and Wed Nov 8 and Thurs Nov 9 at 7:30, 8:55 and 9:50- The Disney animated cult hit is starting to leave now, as I feared. So you only have thru Thursday night for College Point. Definitely another week at Regal Union Square, but after that, I have no clue. Don't let this go away.

A SCANNER DARKLY- Fri Nov 3 at 7:30- AMMI- 35 Ave at 36 St- A chance to catch a probable nominee for best animated film from director Richard Linklater, based on Phillip K. Dick's(Blade Runner, Total Recall) novel. Rotoscope images mostly drawn over film, as Keanu Reeves plays an undercover narc in a near-futuristic L.A. He spies on his drug addict friends (including Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson), but the drugs he takes helps makes things more uh . . ., schizophrenic. May or may not be for everybody's taste, but is part of the conversation for coming up with a top 10 list for 2006.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN- Fri Nov 3 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- 143 East Houston St bet. 1st and 2nd Ave.- Here's an offbeat film to catch at midnight. Watch as Bud and Lou match match wits (barely) with the Frankenstein monster, The Wolfman (played by Lon Chaney Jr.) and Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi). For years, it was among the biggest hits in Universal Studios history.

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD- Tues Nov 7 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- I talked about this in the previous email. This is the only day and times I can make it. This is also the last day it will be playing at the Forum, so let's make this happen.

THE RULES OF THE GAME- Film Forum- Wed Nov 8, Fri Nov 10 and Mon Nov 13- Thurs Nov 16 at 7:30 and 9:40- Always on some list of must see for international films. Never seen it, but would like to. From here on in, I'll just quote the Film Forum website:

(1939) “Everyone has his reasons.” Record-breaking aviator Roland Toutain, fresh from a trans-Atlantic jaunt, addresses a radio audience from the tarmac, lamenting the absence of his lover, to whom he dedicated his flight. Unfortunately she’s Nora Gregor (in real life, fugitive-from-the-Nazis Princess Starhemburg), wife of Marquis Marcel Dalio, who’s got mistress troubles with très sophistiquée Mila Parély. Complicated enough when in Paris, but then the Marquis invites all to a shooting party at his chateau — with the gameskeeper, local poacher and Gregor’s maid adding their own below-stairs triangle. And amid pioneering deep focus photography that keeps multiple intrigues running simultaneously, bullets start flying not just at rabbits and grouse but at people, moving from sophisticated byplay to slapstick farce to tragedy, even with the bumbling Octave (played by director Renoir himself) providing playful, impassioned, and ironic commentary. On most lists of all-time great movies — often as number one — Rules is both a light, even frivolous, comedy of manners and a biting satirical look at a corrupt society under the shadow of war.

And its exhibition history is a drama in itself: trimmed from Renoir’s ideal cut to 94 minutes, it was shortened another 13 minutes after a disastrous premiere (one enraged patron reportedly tried to torch the theater). Two months later, it was banned as “demoralizing” and, later, its negative was destroyed by Allied bombs. Then, in 1959, over 200 boxes of forgotten Rules material was unearthed, resulting in a reconstituted version hailed internationally as a lost masterpiece. But since the 1959 negative, source of all prints until now, was stitched together from multiple versions, the overall quality was a pale shadow of Renoir’s original. Now, thanks to painstaking digital restoration, Rules is at last viewable in a complete 35mm print in all its visual glory.

“As fresh, funny, and poignant as it ever was, and even more mysterious. How did Renoir do it?” – J. Hoberman. “Every viewing is repaid with new strands of the story, new turns of the dialogue, new corridors of meaning — as if they had not been there all along but had grown in the interval between the last time you saw it and this time.” – Luc Sante. “Stands above all other films because, quite simply, it has it all. If one movie can stand for all others, represent all that film can be, that film is The Rules of the Game.” – Paul Schrader.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE- Thurs Nov 9 at 7pm for 6 dollars- Clearview Chelsea Cinema- W.23rd and 8th- The classic dark thriller, where 2 older sisters/actresses/reclusives (I don't know if that's a word but WHATEVER) live out a relationship of envy, revenge and hatred. This was played out by 2 actresses, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford who HATED each other even more offscreen! One of the big hits of 1962, with 5 Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Davis. And can be seen for only 6 dollars.

Let me know if there's interest. And don't be afraid to click the ads, no matter how bizarre they get. Later.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Borat: a review

I caught Monty Python and The Holy Grail again when it was shown last month at the Film Forum (my pity to those of you who still haven't seen it). What they did with a little bit of money was create the look of a medieval epic on the outside. But inside the writing of the jokes about funny knights and the French, there is a severe mistrust of authority, an attack on hypocrites, people who go blindly into war with no plan, and self-important types who twist laws and ideas to their own end. Nothing was taboo for a joke, and when in doubt, the Pythoners would attack no matter who gets offended.

Carrying on this fine tradition is another British comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. This isn't the first time Cohen has made a film out of one his characters from Da Ali G Show. I believe that was Ali G Indahouse from 2002. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you've been spared from the horror. Let's instead bring up Borat, the best comedy so far in 2006.

Shot in the mockumentary style that helped make This Is Spinal Tap a classic, we see our intrepid, anti-Semitic reporter learning what it is to be an American. Though really, Cohen manages at times to bring out the worst sides of some people, just by bringing up a more radical viewpoint then they themselves have. Several scenes at the rodeo highlight this, from the anti-Semitic gay bashing cowboy, to a crowd's cheer that every Iraqi is wiped off the face of the Earth in the name of democracy.

And the people's reaction don't appear to be scripted. Most likely, the Kazakhstan scenes and scenes involving Borat and his producer are scripted, or at least the scenes have their stories fleshed out with some key lines, just like "Curb Your Enthusiasm". Not surprising that Borat director Larry Charles directed 8 episodes of that series.

But the rest of the movie's fish-out-of-water-Crocodile-Dundee motive has the improvisational feel that gives the film energy. In Borat, the fish fights back with a satirical bite. And the camera appears to be out in the open all of the time, so people's true nature at that moment is out there, for better or for worse. If it's all honest reactions, or just reactions that took a lot of pushing by Borat/Cohen to get for the camera, or even if it's scripted, I couldn't care less. It's just too funny. And I'm guessing most of the people depicted here don't have HBO, where Cohen did his Borat character. But considering how Sex and The City ended in a whiny whimper and The Sopranos's quality remains inconsistent, no wonder they don't watch the network anymore. But I'll save the rant about HBO's continuing irrelevance in the realm of series television for another time . . .

Going into more detail about the film spoils a lot of the fun. I was worried, and slightly hopeful, that a scene involving some graphic nudity might get cut, but after hearing about both BORAT's R rating and a defecation scene in Jackass 2, methinks the nude scene will stay intact. Us New Yorkers definitely come off as being fearful of physical contact (not inaccurate). And in the preview I caught in Manhattan, there is one joke that left the NYC crowd in stone silence for about 5 seconds. You'll know it when you hear it.

But the candid camera style antics come off hilarious, showing off America as a royally screwed up, and yet, passable country to live in. It does this better then most documentaries, any propaganda for your own individual political party, and films like American Beauty, combined. It makes recent comedies like Wedding Crashers look a little toothless. Thank you Sasha Baron cohen, the comedic love child of Monty Python and Peter Sellers, for a funny film.

So go out and enjoy it. Unless you're a male over 50, or a female of any age, or an overly sensitive Jewish person with no sense of humor or irony. I hope you'll enjoy it, but will you be too offended by some moments here and there, I wonder. I think you might still enjoy it, but consider yourselves warned.

Friday, October 20, 2006

October revivals second half: revised

Mike here with an updated list for the second half. Now that the Mets are toast (disappointed but it's better to be in the playoffs then not be there at all), and I know what theaters are showing Nightmare before xmas, I can give a better idea what to catch. Here we go:

TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS- Regal Union Square Cinema- Fri Oct 20 at 7:30, 9:20, 9:50, 11:30, 11:50 and Midnight, Sun Oct 21 at 5:10, 7:30 and 9:20 and 7:30 9:20 and 9:50 during the week- Also AMC Lowes Raceway 10 in Westbury- for at least a week starting Friday at 5:45, 8:15 and 10:45- Also College Point Multiplex Cinemas- for at least a week- at 4:45, 7, 9:15- plus 11:30 on weekends-

Here are the majority of the theaters playing Tim Burton's (created but not directed by him) cult hit that became a huge hit on home video. Since the 3-D process is coming mainly from a projector, I guess not many theaters are willing to take a chance on a 13 year old film. No idea how long this will play, but with this few theaters, I guess it will be thru Halloween and then who knows. Oh joy.

The Regal Union Square is the only convenient theater in Manhattan to catch this. I'm guessing this will play next week, but who knows. The only convenient theater in Queens is College Point, but it may not play the 2 weeks to wait for Bart's SAG card to kick in. Also playing out in Westbury. But only if needed and depending on who actually says yes.

For fans of the film, or animation fans here who have NEVER seen it, I can't say enough that I'd really like to make time for this.

I should correct myself regarding one part of this in the previous list. Danny Elfman did the singing voice of Jack Skellington, but NOT the speaking voice. That was Chris Sarandon (Child's Play, Fright Night, The Princess Bride).

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD- Fri Oct 20, Tues Oct 24, Wed Oct 25 and Mon Oct 30 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- More chances to see the first team-up of Kinski and Herzog. Scroll down to the previous blog list and read more. But since it's playing this many days, it would be a shame to miss it.

RASHOMON- Fri Oct 20 at 7:30- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave at 36 St- This Kurosawa-Mifune classic is also playing on Friday night. A shame that this is an afterthought, but it's a crowded list. Nevertheless, this is an option. Moving on.

WALKABOUT- Tues Oct 24 at 1- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- The excellent film from 1971 from director/cinematographer Nicholas Roeg. I'm not cutting and pasting the rest. Scroll down to the previous list blog to read more.

MEAN STREETS and/or MANHATTAN Wed Oct 25 at 6 and 8:15- MOMA- The Scorsese- De Niro- Kietel classic, and/or the Woody Allen 1979 film. Can see one or the other, or both films for one admission and one long night. Plan for a very late dinner if you do that. But considereing the cinema feast, not too shabby.

CARRIE- Fri Oct 27 at Midnight- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas for 6 dollars- You know this one. You decide if you want to do it.

CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON- Sat Oct 28 at Noon- IFC Film Center- W. 4th st and 6th ave.- This film is playing as well. Scroll down to the previous list to read more.

ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER- Sat Oct 28 at 9 for 5.50- Film Forum- Part of a retrospective, honoring the best documentaries that received money from the Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund, and made an impact at the Sundance Film Festival. If you're a fan of the Spielberg film "Munich", or fascinated by this moment in history, this 2000 Oscar winner for Best Documentary is worth catching. It won't fail to engross, and won't fail to piss you off on some level.

An additional note; all tickets for this screening is 5.50, so my FF card isn't needed.

HALLOWEEN Mon Oct 30 and Tues Oct 31 at 8pm- Regal Union Square Cinema- A special screening of the John Carpenter horror classic. If you can tell me a more perfect film to see at this time period, I'd like to know. OK, aside from Nightmare Before Christmas, but anyway. Not the headiest or highest brow of the previous films on this list to be sure. But consider this low on the art, high on the execution (no pun intended). Few horror films work this well. Great use of lighting, or lack of. You would be surprised at how bloodless it is, and how much of the deaths you have to imagine for yourself.

To quote from the regal cinemas website: "THE HALLOWEEN CONTENT IS A DIGITAL VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL MOVIE AND WILL BE SHOWN IN ITS ORIGINAL FORMAT." This will also include interviews with some actors from the 1978 film, plus director Rob Zombie, who's about to shoot the remake. All that presumably before the film.

Yes, CORPSE BRIDE/PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, SQUIRM and ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTIEN are also options, but I don't feel like writing about them; just scroll down to the previous list.

I really want to make an effort for NIGHTMARE, and find the time for AGUIRRE, ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER, HALLOWEEN and if anything else can be caught, great. Let me know. Later.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Illusionist: a review

Quick summary of the story of the film The Illusionist. A magician, Eisenheim, in turn of the century Vienna falls in love with a woman. To win her, he must use all his skills to defeat her fiancée, a Crown Prince with violent, petty tendencies. Maybe not the kind of film you expect to pack them into the multiplexes. It has found something of an audience in the U.S. But based on the lack of crowd that watched this with me at AMC Lowes Raceway 2 weeks ago (counted the entire audience with both hands.), you wouldn't know it.

That being said, 3 feelings came to me after The Illusionist was over. One, this looked like a handcrafted film. Shot on location in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic, director/screenwriter Neil Burger is aided by both wonderful locations and great work from his cinematographer Dick Pope and the art direction team.

Two, the performances never failed to keep one engaged. I enjoyed Paul Giamatti in Sideways and even in Lady in the Water, but I admired his range going way back to Broadway in a revival of The Iceman Cometh. As the Inspector investigating Eisenheim, Giamatti looks just as home in this era as in modern day. As the arrogant prince, Rufus Sewell works overtime to rise above the stereotypical fop, and mostly he succeeds. Any time he doesn't, I blame the need to fulfill the needs of the plot. Jessica Biel was a pleasant surprise as the love interest. Lord knows I'm not the only one to write something along those lines, and I can imagine that being infuriating for her if she's read or heard that regularly at this point. I'm sorry, but there was nothing in her work in either Seventh Heaven or Blade:Trinity to make me think otherwise.

But as much as I liked all those performances, Giamatti, Sewell and Biel all looked like they were working, next to Edward Norton as the lead. The three of them were trying to be their characters, Norton simply was. As I was watching him, he seemed to make it effortless.

Unfortunately, that leads to my third feeling. I never believed for a second that Norton's character was in danger. They made pains to settle up obstacles; the anti-Semitism in that era. The class structure, of which Eisenheim was at the bottom. The flashback method, of which I'd guess 4/5s of the film is comprised of doesn't help. With no credible threat, the film starts to become more of an exercise in style. There's another beef I have regarding how what the reaction to the death of someone Royal would be, but this involves possible spoilers, so I can get into it.

But then there's the end. I've never read the short story, Eisenheim the Illusionist by Steven Millhauser, that the film The Illusionist, is based on. But here, let's just say that if you've seen The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense, you now have a good idea how the ending will go here. It left me with feelings of been there/done that, as well as a little disappointment. Overall, I was entertained and I got a lot more out of this then say, Jackass 2 or The Guardian. But Norton and the look of the film aside, best to watch this with low expectations coming in.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

October revivals: 2nd half.

Mike here with a list of films to catch for Oct. Can't say for sure I can catch all of them. Some conflict, and there's the little matter of the Mets in the playoffs. But we'll see. Here we go:

REAR WINDOW- Fri Oct 13 at 5 and Tues Oct 17 at 8:15- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- I know this was already done, as those who were involved in our movie night session already knows. But if there's a major interest, let me know. My personal favorite Hitchcock, and in my top 25. Also the best film in Jimmy Stewart's career, with a knockout entrance from Grace Kelly that matches or tops anything done today. An AFI Top 100 film.

MANHATTAN- Sat Oct 14 at 2- MOMA- 11 West 53 St, bet. 5th and 6th ave- Part of the films in New York retrospective. The last of the 70's Woody Allen-Diane Keaton romantic comedies. It's hard to find a bad review for this, but all of them single out Gordon Willis's cinematography. The title borough probably has never been so attractively photographed. Nominations for the screenplay (co-written by Marshall Brickman) and Supporting Actress for Mariel Hemingway (who lost to co-star Meryl Streep for her performance in another 1979 film, Kramer vs. Kramer).

THE BIRDS- Sat Oct 14 at 2 and Thurs Oct 19 at 8:15- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- 141 West 54th St- I saw this Hitchcock film, his last big commercial hit, already this year. But if there's a major want, let me know.

CALIFORNIA SPLIT- Sat Oct 14 at 3:10, Mon Oct 16 at 9:40 and Thurs Oct 19 at 7:30 and 9:40- Film Forum- 209 west houston- bet. 6th and Varick- A new 35mm print of a possibly forgotten Robert Altman film from 1974. A character study of 2 gamblers (Elliot Gould and George Segal in giving some of their best performances), and how they live their lives when things go generally wrong and (surprisingly?) go right. Perhaps it's more relevant now that poker and online gambling are popular. Also known as the first time a film ever used eight track stereo, perfect for Altman's style of overlapping dialogue.

Being screened in its original, uncut form, as opposed to the current DVD. That is three minutes shorter, due to problems with music rights.

THE 7 SAMURAI- Sat Oct 14 at 7:30 and Tues Oct 17 at 6:30- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the New York Film Festival, honoring Janus Films, the premiere art house distribution company, and the best films they introduced to America. And this film, the first modern action film with a script to match, deserves the attention. In my personal Top 15.

Ed, once again you cannot avoid this Kurosawa classic; one of the best films ever made.

THE SHINING- Sat Oct 14 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- 143 East Houston St bet. 1st and 2nd Ave.- The Kubrick-Nicholson classic gets a midnight screening.

DIAL M FOR MURDER- Wed Oct 18 at 8:15- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- For this, i quote an old pitch from the film forum website (no it's not playing at the forum, stop getting confused . . .) "Flat-broke husband Ray Milland, jealous of rich wife Grace Kelly’s friendship with Robert Cummings, plans the perfect murder. And, despite an errant pair of scissors, things look good until Inspector John Williams arrives . . ."

Don't know if it's regular screening or in 3-D, but it's good Hitchcock, therefore it's here.

TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in Disney Digital 3D- Starting Fri Oct 20- Theaters TBA- For the record, Burton didn't direct, but he did produce this fun film, as well as write the story and create all the characters. Standout stop-motion animation with good music and songs
from Danny Elfman has kept the cult status of Disney's modest hit alive.

Elfman also does the voice of Jack Skellington, Pumpkin King, ruler of Halloweentown, who happens upon Christmastown, and decides to change Christmas into another Halloween. He kidnaps Santa Claus, and with a song in his heart and a twinkle in his eye(socket), takes it upon himself to
deliver some alternative gifts to unsuspecting children. Watch and enjoy.

This is not a revival, but a re-release, being shown now in 3-D. If you've never seen it, this is a good intro.

AGUIRRE, THE WRATH OF GOD- Fri Oct 20 and Thurs Oct 26 (tentative) at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- The highly praised first teaming of director Werner Herzog and star/madman Klaus Kinski. We see how the title character leads an expedition in 16th Century Peru, for the lost city of gold. We see how obsession leads to madness, then tragedy. That is if the lead character wasn't an evil son of a bitch.

Star and director hated each others guts, but apparently that didn't stop them from working with each other again. I've never seen it, but I'm curious. In a new 35mm print.

RASHOMON- Fri Oct 20 at 7:30- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave at 36 St- I wrote the following in a pre-blog list. I think i cut and pasted portions of it, but I don't remember where exactly. Just writing this so I don't get into any possible trouble. Basically, I only came up with parts of the following paragraph on my own, but I find the words to be true:

"This highly acclaimed film, set in feudal Japan, presents a tale of violent crime in the woods, told from the perspective of four different characters - a bandit (Toshirô Mifune), a woman, her husband, and a woodcutter (Takashi Shimura). Only two things about the incident seem to be clear - the woman was raped and her husband is now dead. However, the other elements radically differ as the four participants and/or witnesses relate their own stories (with the dead man, eerily enough, speaking through a medium). As each account is revealed, what seemed black and white turns to various hues of gray, leading to surprising - and confounding - revelations. Put Kurosawa on the international film map, with a plot device and/or story-telling style that has been copied ever since. Memento, most Tarentino films, and Catch-22 are only the most famous variations."

TIM BURTON'S CORPSE BRIDE and PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE- Sat Oct 21 at 11AM(Corpse) and 2pm(Pee-Wee)- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- W. 95th st. and Broadway- 2 films back-to-back from Tim Burton. It's part of a full day and night of his work. But I only have time for those two together. The first, an Oscar nominee for animated film. A terrific contrast between the Victorian era type look and the world of the dead. Good visuals, some highly underrated songs and score, and strong voiceover work (Johnny Depp, Emily Watson, Albert Finney, etc.)

Followed by the sleeper hit of 1985. The story of a crazy man-child and the love he has for his bike. Better then I make it sound.

One admission should cover both.

WALKABOUT- Mon Oct 23 at 9 and Tues Oct 24 at 1- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Excellent film from 1971 from director/cinematographer Nicholas Roeg, depicting the clash between Nature and civilization, and the clash between the modern and "savage" world. A teenage girl (Jenny Agutter- Logan's Run, An American Werewolf in London) and her little brother (the director's son) are stranded with no supplies in the middle of the Australian Outback, and are forced to rely on an Aborigine teenage boy for survival. Cultural and sexual misunderstandings play out to devastating effect. Agutter started to be considered a British beauty legend (only 17 or 18 at the time) with her terrific performance. Roeg's best film.

MEAN STREETS- Wed Oct 25 at 6- MOMA- Part of the Filmed in New York retrospective. The Scorsese- De Niro- Kietel classic gets a screening that for once gets a screening at a reasonable hour.

CARRIE- Fri Oct 27 at Midnight- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas for 6 dollars- The Brian De Palma classic where Sissy Spacek(Oscar nominated) goes nuts and wont be laughed at anymore, gets a screening. With John Travolta, Amy Irving and Nancy Allen when they were all quite young, and Piper Laurie (also Oscar nominated) as the mother of all demented mothers.

CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON- Sat Oct 28 at Noon- IFC Film Center- W. 4th st and 6th ave.- Getting tired, so I'm going to IFC Film Center website, to cut and paste a review from Roger Ebert:

"CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON, the last of Eric Rohmer's "Six Moral Tales," is the best of those I've seen. It is also the most fully rounded, lacking the one-dimensional tone of some of his earlier tales. It's as if he were striking notes in the previous works, and is now bringing them all together into a chord; the final scene in CHLOE is his last comment on the series, and Rohmer is telling us to, for god's sake, stop playing games and embrace each other with honesty.

"Game playing is always his subject. He doesn't approve of it, but he's become obsessed with studying it. He isn't interested in making movies about people with shallow motives and obvious personalities (which is to say, about 90 per cent of the characters in movies). Rohmer's work contains surprises. People develop in unexpected ways. We don't know how to relate to them until well into the movie; they don't telegraph their intentions.

"Rohmer's hero this time is Frederick, a pleasant if somewhat cool business executive who inhabits a marriage of the greatest simplicity and mutual respect. He and his wife, Helene, live like students -- not because they can't afford better, but because they enjoy the lack of bourgeois physical and mental clutter. It's one of those marriages that outsiders call "perfect."

"But then Chloe materializes, right there in the middle of Frederick's afternoon. Frederick is a man who loves Paris, and who has arranged his work schedule so that he has his afternoons free for a sandwich, a little wandering, and his fantasies about the women of the city. It isn't that he desires them (although he daydreams of a magic amulet that could seduce them all), but that their beauty affirms his choice of a wife.

"This description of the movie may make it sound inconsequential and meandering, but then Rohmer's movies always sound like that. What makes Rohmer's films so sparkling and intelligent is the way in which he watches his characters. Nothing escapes him, and he uses the angle of a glance, the tilt of a head, the precise set of a mouth, in order to create wonderfully complex characters." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times.

ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER- Sat Oct 28 at 9- Film Forum- Part of a retrospective, honoring the best documentaries that received money from the Soros/Sundance Documentary Fund, and made an impact at the Sundance Film Festival.

Oscar winner for Best Documentary for 2000. One of those rare types, a documentary thriller. For those of you who have seen Munich, you have an idea of about the Munich Massacre at the 72 Summer Olympics in West Germany. But the true story is more engaging then Spielberg's story, and probably more disturbing. We see how the terrorists planned it and got in, how the German police screwed up and the German government kind of played both sides of the fence. How the Olympic Committee were at best indifferent and did worse, and how media helped influence what happened as it happened, for the worse.

Mixes footage from back then with modern interviews. 2 of the most notable is a widow of one of the slain athletes, plus the only interview ever given from the terrorist leader of the Black September group, who I believe still hasn't been caught.

SQUIRM- Mon Oct 30 at 7- Two Boots Pioneer- If you're into bad films, here's this whopper from 1976. Basically, you have man eating killer worms, knocking off rednecks. Not very attractive rednecks. Proof that this was done in the 70's: the leads are cute (especially the red headed girl Patricia Pearcy), but not model beautiful. Not saying they're good actors, but they'd be lucky to be crew members in a modern remake. Snakes on a plane, but with no stars, no budget and worms instead of snakes.




The kind of film that would have destroyed Kim Basinger's, Sly Stallone's and Martin Sheen's careers had they been cast as originally hoped.

Tacky fun. The writer/director Jeff Lieberman (from Stoney Brook) will be doing an appearance. Hopefully to explain himself.

ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN- Tues Oct 31 and Fri Nov 3 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- If you want to try something off beat for halloween, try this comedy.

For those who know me, let me know. With so many choices, you have to speak up. And don't be afraid to click on an ad once a day. Hopefully an ad for a real-life Jesus Camp won't be there. Who knows, I might get a newspaper out of it. Later.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Jesus Camp: a review

JESUS CAMP tries a fly on the wall approach. No obtrusive narrator. Keep the cameras on their subjects, and let them show and express themselves however they wish to. We meet several kids, mostly home schooled, as they eventually attend a camp run by Becky Fisher that teaches them more about the Bible. And how to preach in mass. They get to learn how to be part of God's Army by smashing coffee mugs with the word "government" on it. And how to have tape placed over their mouths, with words like "Life" on them. They get taken to Washington D.C., and are almost like little weapons. Pastor Fisher talks about how Islamic kids are taught in camps how to kill, and we see how she will use these American kids in a similar manner. As borderline tools. We see kids isolated from not only culture, but from most people. These blank slates get to pledge themselves in the fight against Abortion.

We meet some of the kids, fear for them and how they're being raised. A little girl talks about how she enjoys dancing, but has difficulty seeing the difference between dancing for God and "dancing for the flesh". How a girl knows the difference, or what is the difference as she perceives it, we can only wonder. A boy talks about how glad he was to find Christ at 5 because he wanted more out of his life. At ten or twelve I could buy a kid making a statement like that, BUT AT FIVE!?!? I had to see it to believe it.

The kids are cute, but passionate (programmed?) in their fervor.The sequence where they idolatrize a cardboard cutout of President Bush hit the audience the hardest into a gasp or silence. Touching, praying, bursting into tears, as they're being told about this Warrior of God. Oy vey. The audience at the sold out AMC Empire also gasped when we saw one home schooled child being taught how there's no such thing as global warming, and that Science has never proven anything. I guess no one has ever been sick there . . .

The directors try to show that not all Christians are this extreme, with the framing device of radio host Mike Papantonio. It doesn't completely work, until the end when he interviews/confronts Fisher; she doesn't come off well in the interview.

You get to see the kids' innocence slowly going out the window. It would be interesting to see the kids in 5-7 years. If a film screams for continuation in the 7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up etc. method, this is it.

I can see why some Christians feel this is an attempt to demonize all of them. The film makes only a minimal effort to differentiate. But it appears the directors covered this particular group accurately, with minimal if any, interference. I don't know where they got the stat that 75% of home-schooled kids are Evangelical. I'd like to know where they came up with that. And the ending, a LITTLE heavy handed, to say the least. But overall, this a compelling must-see.

Below are 2 links; one of the films website, and the other is a link to an ABC news report involving the movie (about 3 minutes long).

Friday, September 29, 2006

October revivals to see: First Half

Mike here with a list of October revivals to catch in the first half of the month, based on my tentative schedule. Some of this conflicts, and its distressing to think something has to be missed. But I'll leave it up to demand to decide this.

One note, i have to leave out the director's cut of Brazil:Director's Cut on Sun Oct 2nd and Mon Oct 3rd at the Film Forum. I've done it before and even though I think it's the best film from 1985, it won't be easy for me to catch and there's something else on that Monday I'd rather catch. Hopefully, the Forum will have a better print then what I saw in December 2001. Parts of the print look like they were washed with sea water, and it seemed like the damn thing snapped at the start of the end credits. Anyway, here we go:

MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE and LIFE OF BRIAN- Fri Sept 30 and Sat Oct 1 at 5:10(Life), 7:25(BRIAN) and 9:20(Life)- Film Forum- Part of the Monty Python retrospective. I lean to Meaning of Life, the underrated of the three main Python films, but only because i've seen Brian during it's recent re-release (it's the better of the 2). Both films directed by Terry Jones. Not that I wouldn't mind catching both together. Either way, if you're not offended by something happening in either film, something's wrong with you. If you're not laughing hard at least at some point, something's REALLY wrong with you.

First, Meaning of Life. A winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Not the best, but it has some memorable moments. 2 great musical numbers, including the Catholic anthem (Every sperm is sacred . . .) and the song about the universe (You better hope there's some intelligent life out there, cause there sure as hell ain't none of that here on earth.). Also several memorable skits, including the sex lesson at English boarding school, and Death visiting a dinner party. It starts with "The Crimson Permanent Assurance", a clever short directed by Terry Gilliam, where a bunch of old geezer clerks have had enough and are not taking it anymore. Also featuring the "Mr.. Creosote" sketch, the most disgusting thing Python has ever done. EVER. But it does have a point or two.

Followed by Brian, Python's most biting satire. Following how Brain grows, from being born next to Jesus's manger, to growing up to becoming accidentally crowned Messiah. Python takes on all religious hypocrites, and leaves no one unscathed. Remember, they're making fun of those who bend religion to their own earthly desires and dementia. They are not attacking religion itself as a moral philosophy. And you learn more about life was back in 33AD from this film then from Passion of the Christ.

At the time of its release, there were demonstrations by Fundamentalists, most of whom never saw the film. Some signs outside a demonstration at the Warner Bros. building in NYC included " . . .A vicious attack by Warner Bros. upon Christianity!", "Why does Warner Bros. cheapen Jesus and his mother?" and "Python: Serpents of Satan!". It was banned in several Southern states, parts of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Norway for blasphemy, and Italy until the early 1990's.

JAWS- Sat Oct 1, Mon Oct 2 and Thurs Oct 5 at 8- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- An AFI Top 100 film and in my personal Top 30. Don't underestimate the quality of this Spielberg film on the big screen, and on the Ziegfeld's 70mm screen? Forget about it. It's not just another fish film, Ed. 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.)

TIME BANDITS with an appearance by Terry Gilliam and A FISH CALLED WANDA- Tues Oct 3 at 7:30(Bandits) and 9:30(Wanda)- Two films that are not from the whole Python group, but they definitely fit in with the main Python films.

First, Time Bandits, the sleeper hit of 1981. More successful then all the Python films, except for Wanda and maybe Meaning of Life. More a family film, but with enough Python touches that keep the youngest kids away, and more then keep adults awake. A boy encounters 6 time traveling dwarves, and ends up accompying them on their adventures. Featuring John Cleese as Robin Hood, Sean Connery as Agamemnon, Lord of the Ring's Ian Holm as Napoleon, Ralph Richardson as the Supreme Being and Jim Broadbent in an early film role. Also featuring Michael Palin in a dual role; he also co-wrote the film with Gilliam.

Terry Gilliam in person at 7:30 show. Because of this, anyone interested in going must make up their minds by 4:30 PM on Tuesday the 3rd. After that, no guarantees.

Next, Wanda. One part caper comedy, as jewel thieves try to pull off a big jewel heist. And one part comedy of manners, as writer and co-star John Cleese makes fun of how uncouth Americans (Jamie Lee Curtis and Oscar winner Kevin Kline) live their lives, in comparison to their repressed British counterparts (Cleese and Michael Palin). Controversial in its day for its (funny) depiction of stutterers and dog deaths.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and/or JABBERWOCKY- Wed Oct 4 and (Tentative) Thurs Oct 5 at 5:10 (Jabberwocky), 7:10(different) and 9(Jabberwocky)- Film Forum- The last in the Python retrospective. Shot for U.S. audiences as an introduction of Python, but thanks to their shady financier and lousy distributor, was DOA. Consider this as a greatest hits of the Python show; with sketches including the Dead Parrot sketch, Self-Defense, How Not To Be Seen, The Lumberjack Song, and The Upper Class Twit of the Year competition (replace the men with Paris, Nicole, Lindsay and Tara and you can understand why the sketch is still brutally funny.)

Next, Jabberwocky, the first solo directorial effort by Gilliam. A dark medieval comedy that follows Michael Palin's naive apprentice-type character, who goes into town to impress his family and uncaring fat girlfriend. There he has several adventures, including dealing with the title, flesh-eating beast.

Hit and miss to be sure, Gilliam himself referred to this as a "transitional" film between this and his other works to come (i quoted an imdb user who just happens to be right.). More for Python and Gilliam-as-director fans.

CABARET- Fri Oct 6 at 1, Sat Oct 7 and Wed Oct 11 at 8:15- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- The classic Fosse-Minnelli musical, gets a 70mm screening. 8 Oscars, in the year of the Godfather. Number 5 on AFI's recent Top Musical list. I've never seen all of it in one sitting from beginning to end, but would like to. I know that's like pissing in the wind with this group, but I have to try.

GREASE: SING-A-LONG- Fri Oct 6 and Mon Oct 9 at 8:15, and Sat Oct 7 and Thurs Oct 12 at 1- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- The big hit of 1978 will play at the Ziegfeld, in a sing-a-long format. When a song
comes up, the lyrics will appear on the bottom, encouraging audience participation. For those who threw down the challenge, daring me to sing . . .i'm very nervous about it (and so should you), but here are the dates. Next.

WEST SIDE STORY- Tues Oct 10 and Thurs Oct 12 at 8- The Ziegfeld for 7.50- Just like Jaws, an AFI Top 100 film and in my personal Top 100. Number 2 on AFI's recent Best Movie Musical list. Also, like Jaws, totally different seeing it on the big screen as opposed to TV. Sight and sound makes this more of an experience then just passive viewing.

Is it perfect? No. Some of the slang is just too dated, some of the actors had to be painted Latino (get a good look at George Chakiris and tell me I"m wrong), most of the teenagers are either over 21 or pushing 30, and some had to be dubbed. But mix Bernstien's music, Sondhiem's songs, Robbins's choreography and Robert Wise's direction and you have a terrific film. Yes, Robbins is co-director, until his perfectionism resulted in re-shoots and extended shooting, causing the film to go over budget and behind schedule. He was fired 60 percent into shooting and Wise finished it.

Stunning use of New York locales and a terrific opening credit sequence and end. 10 Oscars including Picture and Director. If you've never seen it on the big screen, go.

STOP MAKING SENSE- Fri Oct 6 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- 143 East Houston St bet. 1st and 2nd Ave.- Jonathan Demme's ground-breaking concert film about the Talking Heads gets another screening.

STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KHAN- Fri Oct 9 at 1:30- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave at 36 St- If you haven't seen this on the big screen, COME ON!!! It's one of the better Star Trek films, i have a coupon for half admission. It's better then most of the films in theaters right now. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU PEOPLE WANT!!!!!

For those I know, let me know. Later