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

Thursday, September 21, 2006

September Revivals: Second Half

Here's a list of September revivals to catch. I list the days and times I think I can catch, but you have to get back to me as to when. I'd really like to catch one of the Ziegfeld's films or Monty Python, but we'll see. Here we go:

ARMY OF SHADOWS- Now thru Oct 3 at 6:45 and 9:30- Film Forum- 209 west houston- bet. 6th and Varick- Director Jean-Pierre Mellville's 1969 film received its U.S. release for the first time this spring to a ton of well-deserved acclaim. Film Forum has brought it back for a limited release. Telling the story of desperate members of the French resistance (based on the semi-fictionalized events of Joseph Kessel's book mixed with Mellville's own experiences fighting in the Resistance) through the filters of a film-noir, creates a memorable film experience. Not always "fast moving", but patience pays off big time.

I've seen this before and there are two or three others I really want to see, so I'm not rushing again. Only if If you've never seen this, try to find the time at some point. Because i've seen this already. When its time to cough up a top ten for 06, I might be bringing this up again.

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL- Fri Sept 22, Sat Sept 23, Tues Sept 26 and Thurs Sept 28 at 7 and 9, plus Wed Sept 27 at 3:20- Film Forum- The start of the Monty Python retrospective. The group's best film and in my personal Top 100. You always find this film in a list of Top 50 comedies, and if you haven't seen it, now is the time. Done on a shoestring, the group embraces it and uses to comedic success. Watch as King Arthur gathers men together to form the knights of the Round Table. See as they deal with such as enemies as the Black Knight, a Rabbit, virgins, and their most cunning opponent, the FRENCH!!! Co-directed by Terry Gilliam.

The following is cut and pasted from the Forum's website. This is what they offer for those who come on certain days and times:

Voucher good for two tickets to MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT will be given away to one lucky ticketholder at each 7:00 show of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL and at the following shows: 9 pm on Fri/Sat, Sept 22/23 & Wed, Sept 27; 3:20 on Sun, Sept 24.

2nd prize: Killer Rabbit Hand Puppet, 3rd prize: SPAMALOT Limited Edition SPAM, 4th prize: SPAMALOT T-Shirts! or SPAMALOT clicking coconut shells.

Drawings for Killer Rabbit Hand Puppets, Limited Edition SPAM, Clicking coconut shells and T-shirts will be held at all other shows.

BATMAN (1989)- Fri Sept 22 at 8, Sat Sept 23 at 1 and Wed Sept 27 at 4:30- at the Ziegfeld for 7.50- 141 West 54th St- Part of the Ziegfeld Classics series. Part of Superheroes week. Hopefully this is the 70mm version they'll be screening, but i'm not sure. Not as good as Batman Begins, but still one of the best films of 1989. The psychological analysis and battle of wills between hero and villain seems to just scratch the surface compared to the Christopher Nolan film from last year, but back in 89, this was heavy. And considering its history, it's amazing it even came out the way it did.

A difficult shoot. Took years for Warners Bros. to find someone who could tackle the project, until they noticed Tim Burton's work on Beetlejuice. Burton brought along Michael Keaton for Bruce Wayne/Batman; a move that made studio heads a little nervous, and pissed off most fans worldwide.
Jack Nicohlson and Kim Basinger were cast in part to help out the box office. During shooting, Burton tussled (and sometimes lost) in the struggle between bringing Dark Knight mood and angst, against producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber's desire for more action and adventure. Luckily, Nicholson tended to side more with Burton.

The struggle brought out that rare thing, the modern Hollywood summer blockbuster that works big time. Wonderful cinematography, good songs from Prince and a terrific score from Danny Elfman don't overwhelm the film; they enhance and improve. Keaton is no Christian Bale, but you can see why for one brief instant, he became a superstar.

What does overwhelm the film, but not in a bad way was Nicholson's Joker and the Art Direction. Talk about one performance dominating a film, check out Jack. The cast and crew must have felt the same way. Those who had a day off made sure to be there to watch the scenes Jack had with Jack Palance as the other crime boss. As for the Art Direction, you had a fully imagined Gotham City, with minimal help from CGI. This film took the visual concepts of both Blade Runner and Brazil, and along with those films, influenced neo-noir or dark forbidding city design ever since. A deserved Oscar for the Art Direction (but its only nomination?!?!?!)

SUPERMAN THE MOVIE- Fri Sept 22 at 4:30, Sat Sept 23, Tues Sept 26 at and Thurs Sept 28 at 8:15- at the Ziegfeld for 7.50- Part of the Ziegfeld Classics series. Part of Superheroes week. My first and the best of the Superman films. Some prefer Superman 2, and i don't blame them. Some prefer the recent Superman Returns, still out on IMAX. It's very good as well, but it's seems almost desperate to be it Superman 3 or Superman 2.5. This is what all superhero films are and should be compared to. Terrific production values, a pitch perfect cast (Reeves and Kidder in career performances, Hackman having fun, Glenn Ford in his best {only good?} performance. Oh yeah, Brando's here too- in full paycheck mode, but that's better then some others.), and a John Williams score that puts some others to shame, and the one new score from Superman Returns feel uninspired. Fun on TV, a must-see on the big screen. The Ziegfeld's screen should sufficient.

OLIVER!- Sat Sept 23 at 11AM- IFC Film Center W. 4th st and 6th ave.- From the IFC Film Center's Children's film series. It's getting late. I'm just going to cut and paste this from the IFC Film Center's website and say 'Yes, it should be on the list'.

"Adapted from Dickens's novel, OLIVER! is a drama and song-filled adventure on an almost monumental scale, one of the last great musicals, and an enormously entertaining film. Waifish runaway orphan Oliver Twist is befriended by the pick-pocketing Artful Dodger and recruited into a gang of boy thieves. The film features brilliant casting, glorious performances, seat-gripping drama, and a bevy of infectious songs including Consider Yourself, Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, and Reviewing the Situation. Quoting at length from Roger Ebert: "A treasure of a movie. OLIVER! is one of those rare films like The Wizard of Oz that appeals in many ways to all sorts of people. Not for a moment, I suspect, did Reed imagine he had to talk down to the children in his audience. Not for a moment are the children in the cast treated as children. They're equal participants in the great adventure, and they have to fend for themselves or bloody well get out of the way. This isn't a watered-down lollypop. It's got bite and malice along with the romance and humor." OLIVER! received eleven Academy Award nominations and took home five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Music, and Best Art Direction. Hard to argue with that.".

LAURA and/or KEY LARGO- Tues Sept 26 at 5:15(Laura) and 7(Largo)- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- W. 95th st. and Broadway.- 2 film noirs. One classic, the other successful and good.

First, Laura. One of my favorite noirs. I cut and paste the following from a list of revivals i wrote out a while back, which may or may not have been cut and pasted from the Film forum's website. It's not playing there now, but just want to give proper credit:

Clifton Webb's elitist columnist Waldo Lydecker acidly narrates, as detective Dana Andrews falls in love with portrait of murdered Manhattan smart-setter Gene Tierney. And then . . . far be it for me to spoil the rest for you. Standout film noir from director Otto Preminger with Oscar winning cinematography and one of the best scores from that period.

Next, Key Largo, from director John Huston. Bogie's engaged in a battle of wills with gangster Edward G. Robinson inside an old friend's hotel, while Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor (who won an Oscar for her role) look on, and a hurricane threatens them all. An adaptation of Maxwell Anderson's play, written by huston and future director Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood)

JAWS- Sat Sept 30, Mon Oct 2 and Thurs Oct 5 at 8- at the Ziegfeld for 7.50- Part of the Ziegfeld Classics series. Part of their Steven Spielberg week. Yes, E.T. and Back to the Future are playing there that week as well. But this film is most convenient to catch. An AFI Top 100 film and in my personal Top 30. The summer blockbuster that started it all. If you've only seen it on TV, it doesn't compare. "It's only a shark film" my ass, Ed.

Let me know, either here or personally. And if you see an ad, please click. No obligation to buy. I might make enough to buy a stick of Bazooka gum. Later.

An intro.

Hi, Mike here. I've put together a list of film revivals to catch for over 5 years now. But since others are doing blogs, I'll be putting my lists on a blog now (based on a suggestion from you Ed, thanks.). Basically, I intend to write about several things:

1) Continue putting out a list of films to catch, to the people I sent this stuff out before. Only films in either Manhatten and Queens, unless there's a sudden reason to do otherwise. Won't list every revival playing , just the ones I think I might be able to catch. Ocassionally I'll put on a new release, but mainly as a reminder to at least one person that this is something I want to catch. Who knows, this might make things easier then putting out long emails. Let's try it.

2) I'll review films I catch in New York. I may include what your views are if you come with me. I won't use your name if you don't want me to. You could choose your own nome de plume if you wish. You can choose not to be included as well. I may also comment on the experience on the whole as well (the theater: good and/or bad qualities). Consider me as nothing more then a gifted amatuer or amatuer ZAGAT. I won't keep any real critics up at night with my prose.

It may take me up to 2 weeks to get around to posting, so don't hold your breath. If I don't get in within two weeks, I may or may not even bother. We'll see.

If you see an ad, click it please. No obligation to buy. Only once a day would that work. I get a small piece. Very small. So small, I might barley get a newspaper out of it. Not a Sunday Times though, I don't dare to dream.

Let's see what happens. Later.

P.S. One of my favorites, Monty Python's Flying Circus, has a retrospective coming up at the Film Forum. Very influential in my thinking and in my humor, for better or for worse. I'll break it down what's playing and when another time, but for now, here's the link:

I hope you go to see something there. Later.