Sunday, March 25, 2007

April revivals: first half

Mike here again with a list of what to catch in early April. This may not be the most popular list I've ever put by a wide margin, but I want to at least put it out there that my tastes are not always obvious. The first film listed here is not in April but this Thursday, but since I just found out about it, I want to put this fun film out there as soon as possible:

DEATH ON THE NILE- Thurs Mar 29 at 7 for 6.50- Clearview Chelsea Cinema- W. 23rd and 8th Ave- For those who like Agatha Christie mysteries, murder mysteries in general, or the British in general, here's an easy going film for you. Peter Ustinov makes his first appearance as Hercule Poirot. I don't know if I would put him over Albert Finney's version, and I wouldn't put him over David Suchet's great interpretation on tv. But this is Ustinov's best film as Poirot. The time, money and care was put into this. The wonderful Egyptian locales and the Oscar winning costume design helped create a fabulous look.

Once again Poirot must stop his vacation and a solve the murder of an heiress (future Bond babe Lois Chiles) aboard a ship on the title river. A wonderfull cast. David Niven assist Poirot, and the suspects include Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Olivia Hussey, Angela Lansbury, Jack Warden, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin, and George Kennedy. C'mon, not every film has to be serious, they can be fun too.

LILI MARLEEN- Wed April 4 at 6- MOMA- W.53rd and 6th Ave.- Part of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective. I caught a bunch of them at Film Forum's retrospective back in March 2003 or 04, I forget. Some of them are playing at MOMA's retro in April, but I'm not going to list most of them or put them on, in case someone says yes. And if you think I'm going to list his 15.5 hour film, no matter how many parts it has been broken up, you're a crackhead.

This however, was the one film I wanted to see there and didn't get to. It plays again now. Controversial in Fassbinder's native West Germany for depicting the time period in a kitschy, irresponsible manner. How dare he throw in Busby Burkley elements! Fassbinder was more interested in telling a love story, and would not let historical accuracy get in his way. It was originally shot in English for American distribution, then dubbed in German. I don't know if there will be any subtitle reading or not for this. But anyway, I'm going to be a little lazy, and just cut and paste from MOMA's website:

Screenplay by Fassbinder, based on unproduced screenplays by Joshua Sinclair, Manfred Purzer; adapted from the autobiography of Lale Andersen. With Hanna Schygulla, Mel Ferrer, Christine Kaufmann. In Fassbinder’s only film set during the Third Reich, Schygulla, a fine singer, plays an emotional chanteuse who falls in love with her Jewish accompanist and becomes a recording star by performing “Lili Marleen,” the song that Goebbels derided and Hitler loved.

"A movie with a fantastic plot and very rich and energetic mise-en-scene. The feelings Fassbinder expresses in Lili Marleen are sweeter and more compassionate than any he has expressed before"
Andrew Sarris

DESPAIR- Fri April 6 at 8 and Mon April 16 at 6- MOMA- Part of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective. Never seen this. But I am very curious about this one, because of the writers involved. Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay, adapting Vladimir Nobokov's novel. Nominated at Cannes for the Golden Palm. For the plot, here it is from imdb:

Germany in the early 1930s. Against the backdrop of the Nazis' rise, Hermann Hermann, a Russian émigré and chocolate magnate, goes slowly mad. It begins with his seating himself in a chair to observe himself making love to his wife, Lydia, a zaftig empty-headed siren who is also sleeping with her cousin. Hermann is soon given to intemperate outbursts at his workers, other businessmen, and strangers. Then, he meets Felix, an itinerant laborer, whom he delusionally believes looks exactly like himself. Armed with a new life insurance policy, he hatches an elaborate plot in the belief it will free him of all his worries.

THE NIGHT OF THE SHOOTING STARS- Mon April 9 at 8:30- MOMA- Italian film that made an art house impact here in 1983. Never seen it and would like to. Here's the plot of this film, according to imdb:

The Night of San Lorenzo, the night of the shooting stars, is the night when dreams come true in Italian folklore. In 1944, a group of Italians flee their town after hearing rumors that the Nazis plan to blow it up and that the Americans are about to arrive to liberate them.

ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE- Tues April 10 at 6- Walter Reade theater at Lincoln Center- W. 67th St.- A forgotten crime drama from 1973, that in part, dismisses the saying 'The grass is always greener on the other side'. Robert Blake plays a short Arizona CHIPS-like cop, who dreams of being a Homicide detective. He gets his wish, only to discover his life is now much more complicated. Job responsibilities are tougher, his personal life is in upheaval, and can he trust his superiors?

Underrated crime drama, with a terrific lead performance from Robert Blake. Yes, the same Blake acquitted of murder. But if you remember him form In cold Blood, you can imagine how good he really is here.

THE COLOR PURPLE with Whoopi Goldberg in a post screening Q and A for 5 dollars- Mon April 16 at 7- The Academy Theater at Lighthouse International- 111 E. 59th St.- Steven Spielberg's first attempt at a serious, non-genre film gets a rare, affordable screening. Controversial in part because both the NAACP and the book's author, Alice Walker, were not thrilled with both who was director, and the changes made from the book. That part seems to have been swept away over time (in part because Walker has embraced the film as being different yet special), but as a curious side effect, the film seems to have been swept away and forgotten as well.

Was also controversial at Oscar time, when it received 11 nominations, including Best Picture, but nothing for Spielberg as Director. Then, it won nothing on Oscar night, tying it with The Turning Point as the most nominated film to not receive an award.

Also notably in the casting of both Oprah Winfrey and Whoopi Goldberg; both cast in their first major film, both Oscar nominated, and both haven't left the public consciousness ever since. Goldberg herself will do a Q and A after the screening.

If there's any interest in this screening (happening the day our taxes need to be mailed out), I need to know ASAP. To quote, Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with a valid ID, and may be reserved by calling 1-888-778-7575. Depending on availability, tickets may be purchased in person on the night of the screening. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved.

REAR WINDOW- Tues April 17 at 8- W. 95th and Broadway- I bring up this AFI top 100, my personal top 30, and my favorite Hitchcock film yet again. I've talked about it before, so I'll move on.

Let me know ASAP if there's any interest. Before I go, some of you may not know that from late April thru mid-May, the Film Forum will be doing a series called 60s Spies a Go Go. Some fun, good or bad, spy films from the 1960s, plus every official and unofficial James Bond film from Dr. No thru A View To A Kill (except for Moonraker; sorry JC). I'll go into some of them another time, but here's the link, in case some of you want to get a quick look and make early plans:

Later all.

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