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

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