Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jan revivals: second half

Mike here with a list of revivals to catch for the end of Jan. Among the titles, 2 of them are NOT on DVD. And who knows when they's see the light of video day. Here we go:

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTIEN- Wed Jan 17 at 8- MOMA- 11 W. 53 St., between 5th and 6th ave.-Once again, I bring up this horror comedic (though not too campy) classic, and I bring it up again. I've talked about it on previous lists, so I won't repeat myself again. Would like to catch it.

ERASERHEAD and 8 MILE- Fri Jan 19 at 6(Eraserhead) and 8 (8 Mile)- MOMA- Here's a unique double-feature; I would do both, or only just the former, but not only the later. First, Eraserhead, in a 35mm print that was restored by MOMA itself, with the director's help.

Highly experimental David Lynch film that took 5 years to make, shot on weekends and basically by piecemeal, with funding only coming in through family and friends. Became such a labor of love, that lead actor Jack Nance was content with only 25 dollars a weekend and a room and a chair for comfort during shooting. Such a labor of love that the set designer's girlfriend, Sissy Spacek, worked the slate while the boyfriend acted (they later married). Became an almost instant midnight movie staple in the late 70's and early 80's. Was interesting enough for Mel Brooks to hire Lynch to direct The Elephant Man.

An example of a Lynch film where narrative barely exists, but the visuals hold your interest. Mullholand Drive wished it was this good. And don't you waste my time, bringing this up in the same breath as Lynch's current unwatchable, Inland Empire. Some shots will fascinate, others will disgust, just go with it.

Double feaured with Eminem's 8 Mile, a slightly autobiographical take of his struggles with hip hop, his girlfriends and his mother in Detroit. Basically, Rocky for rappers was the early description of Curtis Hanson's (L.A. confidential) film. Came almost out of nowhere to break the 100 mil mark, lift Eminem from the A list among musicians to A list period, and win him an Oscar for Best Song (he refused to attend after the Oscar producers wanted to edit his lyrics).

3 WOMEN- Fri Jan 19 at 7 and 9:15- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd St. and 6th Ave- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. Definitely a 70s film, but one heavily influenced by Bergman's Persona. Lots of obsession and some switching of personalities. Hard to describe a film that had no screenplay, but was completely influenced by some dreams Altman had. Gone are the days when a major director and the head of a major studio (in this case, Alan Ladd Jr. of Fox) could have an exchange possibly resembling something like this:

Altman: Hi, Alan. I just had some dreams, and I'd like you to give me some money to make a movie about them. I promise I won't write a screenplay.
Ladd: Oh. Ok.
Altman: I don't need much.
Ladd: How about 1.5 Million? (the actual estimated budget)
Altman: Great. I've got a plane to catch. Will call you later.
Ladd: Have a good flight. (The situation actually happened, minus this dialogue, according to the book "Easy Riders" by Peter Biskind).

Starring Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall. Never seen all of this and I'm very curious.

McCABE AND MRS. MILLER- Sat Jan 20 at 7:40- IFC Film Center- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. A Western that must have heavily influenced at least the look of HBO's Deadwood, as well as Unforgiven. Warren Beatty (cast for box office purposes, over Altman's original choice of Elliot Gould) plays a gambler/hustler type who sets up a whorehouse/saloon with the help of Julie Christie (Oscar nominated). When mining companies try to buy out their successful business, things get bloody. But since we're in 70s Altman territory, expect some revisionist changes to the usual formula.

This film got lost in the shuffle back in 71; released in the summer around hits like Klute and Shaft, and with influential films like French Connection, A Clockwork Orange and Last Picture Show coming later on, forget remembering this back then. Over the years, it's developed a cult following, among Western fans and Altman fans. Vilmos Zigmond (Close Encounters, Heaven's Gate, The Deer Hunter)'s Cinematography and Leonard Cohen's songs certainly helped. Also filled with a lot of actors from other Altman films, including Keith Carradine, Rene Auberjonois, and Shelley Duvall. Would really like to try to catch this.

A WEDDING and HealtH- Mon Jan 22 at 7:25 (A Wedding, introduced by A.O. Scott) and 9:50 (HEALTH)- IFC Film Center- Part of the Robert Altman retrospective. A double feature, consisting of one of Altman's underrated 70s film, and one of Altman's film that never received a proper threatrical release, and is not on DVD. First, A Wedding, one of the last Altman studio film to receive a proper release. Basically, it covers the story of a wedding, the 2 families that come together, and the secrets, lies and other contrivances that come forth in this social event that doesn't run smoothly. Over the top at times, but likeable. Strong ensemble acting, including Carol Burnett, Mia Farrow, Lillian Gish, and a number of others who had appeared in previous Altman films.

Movie critic for the New York Times, A.O. Scott, will introduce the 7:25 screening.

Next, HealtH (the way the title is spelled; no typo.). Inspired by (his feelings of anger toward) Watergate, HealtH depicts a convention, where several people battle to win an election for president of a health organization that lobbies Washington. Lauren Bacall plays one candidate, who claims that every orgasm takes 28 days off a woman's life, while she occasionally slips into a coma. Glenda Jackson plays another candidate who can't talk without lapsing into a bored speech. How you can tell if she can be effective when she doesn't know how to present herself (a topic Altman would later cover on HBO's Tanner 88). Paul Dooley (co-writer and frequent actor for Altman) plays an independent candidate who claims to be for the little guy, but you have to wonder . . . James Garner plays bacillus campaign manager, and Carol Burnett plays the Presiden'ts personal observer ("I just want everyone to know the President is very pro-health!"). A young Alfre Woodard plays the hotel manager, and Dick Cavett plays himself.

The film was supposed to send up the condition of the American political process in the 70s. Bacall playing a variation of an empty platitude Dwight Eisenhower, and Jackson play a variation of the useless Adlai Stevenson. It was supposed to be released during the 1980 presidential campaign, but after one disaterous screening, 20th Century Fox essentially buried the film and called it "unrealeasable". One week in L.A. in Sept 1980, one week at the old Film Forum in 1982, and then mostly buried. A 1983 summer screening on CBS, and the rare screening on Fox Movie Channel, plus several showings at Film Forum and similar type of revival houses. Not the best Altman, but pretty decent.

If you're an Altman fan who's just discovering his films, this is a good night to go.

BECKET- Fri Jan 26- Mon Jan 29 (tentative for Mon on my end) at 8:20, plus Sat Jan 27 and Sun Jan 28 at 5:20- Film Forum- 209 west houston bet. 6th and Varick- The following is a forgotten film from 1964. NOT on DVD in North America, and only available on long out of print VHS and laserdisc (the later has sold as high as 80 dollars on Ebay). It's almost never shown on TV and it's being screened for the first time in NYC in decades, in a new 35mm print. If you consider say, Glengarry Glen Ross, to be Acting 101, then consider Becket as Acting 101: British Male Edition.

Not to dismiss the rest of this finely crafted film, adapted from Jean AnouilhÂ’s play. This could be considered among the best examples of opening up a play for film, and not just the wonderful use of various sites in Northumberland, England. If you watched this without knowing it was based on a stage play, you'd never know it.

What this film may best be remembered as, is as an acting duel between Peter O'Toole (in his first post-Lawrence of Arabia role) and Richard Burton (1 year after Cleopatra). This a historical drama, with O'Toole and Burton playing childhood friends Henry and Thomas Becket, repectively. You see them as friends; and we see them later, as O'Toole's character becomes King Henry II of England, and Burton's character becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. We also see the conflict, as Becket chooses to follow God's will as opposed to his King's.

12 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Actor for both Burton and O'Toole, Supporting Actor for John Gielgud, Director and Cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (Cabaret, 2001, Superman, Tess). It won only one Oscar, for Screenplay Adaptation. Which might lead to why this film has gone away to many film buffs minds (or never entered them to begin with.). For a film about ideas, featuring lots of talking, it came out around the time of more popular films both critically andculturallyy: Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day's Night, My Fair Lady, Goldfinger and Mary Poppins. They're remembered and Becket isn't. I'm pretty sure most of you who read this don't know Becket, and I strongly suggest this changes now. It will also play on Thursday Feb 1, butI'll list that (maybe) in Feb.

The thing that might decide when I see this is if my mother wants to go. She is a HUGE Becket fan, and in this one case, I may have to bend to when she can go (if she does have the time). More on that if you say yes.

EASY RIDER- Fri Jan 26 at 10:40- Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St., between Avenues A and B (closer to A)- Once again, I pitch this film. Let's see if there are any takers this time.

NASHVILLE- Sat Jan 27(tentative on my end) and Sun Jan 28 at 6:30- AMMI in Astoria- 35 Ave. at 36 St- Once again, I pitch the Robert Altman classic in hopes of catching this. I'm beginning to regret not catching this at AMMI back in March 2003 when I had the chance. Don't prove me wrong. Though when I see BECKET will decide when or if I can catch Nashville.

Lots of good (or unique) choices. In case you didn't notice, HealtH and BECKET were the 2 not on DVD. Throw in at least Bride of Frankenstien, the MOMA double feature this coming Fri night, McCabe and Mrs Miller, and (time permitting) Nashville, you have an idea of what I really want to see. But then again, I wouldn't mind catching all the films on the list, otherwise I wouldn't bother typing them out. Let me know. Later.

No comments: