Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Feb revivals: first half

Hi all. Mike here with a list of what to catch in the first half of Feb. I know I got carried away with the photos. But I liked some of them and once I got going, I didn't want to ignore the films I REALLY wanted to catch. And I know some of them conflict, but like I said before, not my problem unless someone really wants to catch something. A problem I rarely have, so here we go:

THE MISSION- Thurs Feb 1 at 6- MOMA- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. In time for his acceptance of an honorary Oscar, we have a retrospective of his best scores, and the films that came along with them. This is part of MOMA's, but the only one at MOMA that I'll have any possible time for. A Jesuit mission is founded in South America in the 18th Century. But once Spain sells the colony to Portugal, allowing the natives to be sold as slaves, 2 men who helped the mission are in conflict as to how to help resist. The priest who founded the mission (Jeremy Irons) is sticking to his vows, while a former mercenary (Robert De Niro) is trying to set up armed resistance.

7 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director for Roland Joffe, and Score for Morricone; an Oscar for Cinematography. Was labeled as nothing more then Masterpiece Theater-esque at the time of its release by some, and was lost in the Oscar buzz and news in general by the dominating Platoon. But still worth catching. Also, Adian Quinn and Liam Neeson in early roles.

INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION- Fri Feb 2 at 7 and 9:30 and Sat Feb 3 at 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. In time for his acceptance of an honorary Oscar, we have a retrospective of his best scores, and Film Forum's last longer with choices as diverse as the films he worked on.

This is the first from the Forum's retrospective. Winner for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1971, and nominated for its Screenplay in 1972. A famous detective from Rome, who specializes in cracking political dissidents, kills his mistress. He's put in charge of the murder investigation, but how much of his guilt and how much of his ego will come out? Obviously not a whodunit, but more of a whydunnit, with its heavy critique of police corruption.

This film is NOT available on DVD, is rarely played on American TV, and being screened in a new 35mm print. Never seen all of it, and would REALLY like to.

BATMAN- Fri Feb 2 and Sat Feb 3 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The Tim Burton- Jack Nicholson version. Wouldn't put it above Batman Begins, but it's better then some Hollywood blockbusters today. It's Oscar winning art direction took the influences of Blade Runner and Brazil, and still managed to stand out on its own, with its decaying look of Gotham and impressive Batcave.

THE LAST WALTZ introduced by critic Thelma Adams- Sat Feb 3 at 4- AMMI in Astoria- Considered by some to be the best concert film ever made. After Taxi Driver, a change of pace for director Martin Scorsese, filming the farewell concert of The Band on Thanksgiving 1976. Mixed with recording sessions that also included working with Emmylou Harris and The Staples. They also had some friends performing with them, including Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Ron Wood, Dr. John, and Ringo Starr. Also includes interviews with members of the Band, days after the concert.

Also noteworthy is the cinematography of Michael Chapman, who also did Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. The first concert film to be photographed in 35mm. The film will be introduced by film critic Thelma Adams.

THE LION IN WINTER- Sat Feb 3 at 8 for 5 dollars- The Makor, Steinhardt Building, 35 W 67th St- Part of the Academy Awards®—You Be the Judge series. Never been to the Makor before, but very curious, considering this is a favorite of mine. They did a poll with people about what they thought was the best performances that deserved to win an Oscar, but didn't. Peter O'Toole's perf in the Lion in Winter was one of them. He plays the same role he did in Becket, King Henry II of England, but as an older man despite only aging 4 or 5 years himself. Henry wants to name his successor, and his scheming sons and plotting wife at times backstab each other, just to have the chance to curry favor or backstab Henry. Hardly the happiest Christmas Day movie you'll ever see, but definitely the bitchiest.

I've told some of you about films I watched a lot at home, back when we had a CED disc collection (bonus points and a possible free revival out of me for the one not named Bart who knows what I mean by CED discs). There were films I saw in heavy rotation, semi- heavy, and monthly. The Lion in Winter was one I tended to see seasonally; enough to enjoy without tiring of it.

Verbal fireworks from writer James Goldman (who adapted his play), played to terrific heights from O'Toole and Katharine Hepburn. Their scenes are the highlight of this film, and Kate probably was given the best lines of her career in this film. One of her better ones:

. . .even made poor Louis take me on Crusade. How's that for blasphemy. I dressed my maids as Amazons and rode bare-breasted halfway to Damascus. Louis had a seizure and I damn near died of windburn... but the troops were dazzled.

Also featuring Anthony Hopkins and Timothy Dalton in their screen debuts, as Richard the Lion-Hearted and King Louis II of France, respectively. 7 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director, and O'Toole. 3 Oscars; for the Screenplay, Hepburn for Actress (Hepburn became the third performer to win consecutive awards, the first to win three awards for lead roles and tied with Barbara Streisand for Funny Girl that year.), and John Barry's terrific score. A note about Barry. It was considered a bit of surprise that someone known for light scores like the James Bond theme would get the gig, but he was friends with director Anthony Harvey. Barry's score just feels like it belongs in the Middle Ages, and I mean that in a good way.

Best of all about this: only 5 dollars a ticket. If you've never seen it, go. Go now. Let me repeat:

If you haven't seen it,


A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS- Wed Feb 7 at 3:50 and 7:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. The first of the spaghetti Westerns, the first of the Man With No Name movies and the first role to put Eastwood on the film map. A rip off of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, for which director Sergio Leone was sued. He claimed both films were The Servant of Two Masters, plus some deaths.That didn't fly, and I believe an out of court settlement was reached. Nevertheless, this is worth catching. Not as good as The Good The Bad and The Ugly (which will appear on the next list), but still pretty good.

MY DINNER WITH ANDRE and SHAFT(1971)- Thurs Feb 8 at 6(Andre) and 8:30(Shaft)- MOMA- A double feature at MOMA, contrasting 2 films that were made entirely in NYC. Yes, they did this on purpose at MOMA. It's not paying to see one film and walking over to see another. You go to see the Louis Malle talkfest with Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn, and you stay for the Richard Roundtree blaxplotation classic. THIS IS INSANE, but I'm interested. Are you?

DEMON SEED- Fri Feb 9 at 9 and Sat Feb 10 at 1:15- Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center- Part of the Donald Cammell retrospective, adapted from a Dean Koontz novel. An underrated sci-fi film that was a little ahead of its time in terms of computers and how they much use they are in our everyday lives. In the story, advances in artificial intelligence result in a computer more advanced then his creator expected. It's more interested in evolving then being taken over by the military, and will use his creator's wife (Julie Christie) against her will to do so. Christie is good, but Robert Vaughn stands out as the ominous voice of the computer, Proteus IV; he makes HAL 9000 sound like a benevolent choir boy in comparison.

One note from the filmlinc website about the film:
"We apologize in advance: the only existent 35mm print is slightly faded."

AMERICAN DREAM and SHUT UP AND SING, with pre and post film talks (depending on the film) with director Barbara Kopple- Sat Feb 10 at 4:30(American) and 7(Shut Up)- AMMI in Astoria- Part of the Critics Choice: Great Documentaries series. The liberal film network is on full effect with this pair of documentaries from director Barbara Kopple. All conservatives, run and hide, AMMI probable isn't the place where you want to be considered the enemy on this day.

First, American Dream, Oscar winner for Best Documentary. It covers how a small Minnesota town is ripped apart, due to a prolonged strike of a Hormel meat packing plant. The executives are not shown in a positive light to say the least. Michael Moore showed the GM executives in Roger and Me in a kinder light. Definitely on the side of the workers here. Critic Marshall Fine handles the post film Q and A with co-director Kopple.

Afterwards, Kopple will introduce Shut Up and Sing, that she co-directed with Cecilia Peck (Gregory's daughter). It follows the Dixie Chicks after they made their anti-Bush comment and the firestorm that followed. Really it was singer Natalie Maines who made the comment, the other two got dragged into the crap. Where they stopped, or were liberal martyrs created? And are they really down and out anyway? Watch and find out.

THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS- Sat Feb 10 at 4:30- Film Forum- Part of the Ennio Morricone retrospective. An excellent film that was studied in the Pentagon as an example of what to expect when invading Iraq. But as you see the film, you might wonder, at what point did those in charge forget what they learned by seeing this?!?!? For the rest, I'll just cut and paste from the Forum's website:

(1965, GILLO PONTECORVO) Algiers, 1957. French paratroopers inch their way through the Casbah to zero in on the hideout of the last rebel still free in the city. Flashback three years earlier, as the Algerian National Liberation Front decides on urban warfare. Thus begin the provocations, assassinations, hair-breadth escapes, and reprisals; and massive, surging crowd scenes unfolding with gripping realism: many of the sequences were shot and edited to the driving prerecorded score by Pontecorvo and Morricone. Winner, Grand Prize, Venice Film Festival.

THE DEER HUNTER- Sat Feb 10 at 8 for 5 dollars- The Makor, Steinhardt Building, 35 W 67th St- Part of the Academy Awards®—You Be the Judge series. They did a poll with people about what they thought was the best performances that deserved to win an Oscar, but didn't. Robert De Niro's perf in The Deer Hunter was chosed. Now I don't agree that De Niro should have won over Jon Voight for Coming Home that year. But if that's what it takes to get this film on this list, fine by me. The first Vietnam War film that was accepted by the public, despite massive controversy. 9 nominations, including Meryl Streep for Supporting Actress. 5 Oscars, including Picture, Director Michael Cimino and Christopher Walken for Supporting Actor.

Also, only 5 dollars a ticket.

I left out one film from the list: DAYS OF HEAVEN on Wed. Feb 14 at the Film Forum. Terrence Malick's film is less of a movie, and more of a well crafted work of art. But I already caught this last April. If you're really excited to catch it, let me know.

Anything that's on the list, with an emphasis for what's coming up this weekend, is what I'm interested in. And you can't top 5 dollar screenings in Manhatten or if you join me at Film Forum at a reduced price. Let me know. Later.

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