Wednesday, March 14, 2007

March revivals: second half

Mike here with a list of March revivals for the second half. Almost as small a list as last time. Here we go:

RAISE THE RED LANTERN- Thurs Mar 15 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- 209 W. Houston St. bet 6th- I once again bring up this film that has been described as a kind of Doll's House in reverse. I wrote about it previously, so you can go back to that.

BLUE VELVET- Fri Mar 16 and Sat Mar 17 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd and 6th Ave.- Part of IFC Film Center's David Lynch midnight series. In my top 5 ever, possibly higher. This mystery/neo-noir/romantic drama got Lynch a Best Director nomination, and brought both his and Kyle MacLachlan's career back from the dead. Isabella Rossellini established herself as an actress once and for all, and Dennis Hopper became a working character actor forever, in a career performance. Also drew major controversy in its day for its, let's just say, sexual connotations, and what was required of Rossellini in her role. I believe it was Ebert who called this film the most vile thing he had ever seen (or something along those lines). Rosselini attacked him in response (verbally attacked I meant). A bit of a Rorschach test, this hauntingly beautiful film is. Decide for yourself.

REAR WINDOW and LIQUID SKY- Sat Mar 17 at 4(Window) and 6:30(Liquid)- 35th Ave. and 36th St.- AMMI in Astoria- A double feature that's part of the museum's Fashion In Film Festival. A very strange double feature to be sure. Strange enough that I will do both films if possible, not one over the other. Not on the level of previous double features, like Pink Flamingos and Yojimbo, but close.

First, Rear Window. An AFI Top 100 film, in my personal Top 30 and my favorite Hitchcock. I wrote about it back in October, so you can look it up in one of the previous blogs. Bard College professor Pat Kirkham gives some kind of pre-film talk, regarding the fashion choices made in the film and how they relate to each other, etc.

Next, Liquid Sky. A New York cult film from 1983, that played for several years as a Midnight movie. Aliens land on Earth, seeking the substance they find vital, heroin. Landing on what they think is normal Earth, downtown New York during the punk scene, they become fascinated with a female model and her casual sex ways. They also become interested in an androgynous male model. Both models played by actress Anne Carlisle.

The film had champions in a way, in the form of Siskel and Ebert. But after the 1980's, the film has dropped out of sight. Some put it on their list of bad films. Others put it in their list of fascinating cult films. A time capsule of the look and feel of the downtown scene of early 80's New York, in a sci-fi filter. To quote the museum's website, "Director Slava Tsukerman, cinematographer Yuri Neyman, and production and costume designer Marina Levikova will introduce the screening."

NETWORK- Mon Mar 19 with TCM's Robert Osbourne and director Sidney Lumet at 7:30 for 5 dollars-The Academy Theater at Lighthouse International- 111 E. 59th st.- A cheap screening of one of the more influential films of 1976. Considered a bit outrageous when first released, but more prophetic as each year has passed. Tell me that cable news shows and the shows that spoof them don't resemble anything depicted in Network. If you have the balls to me I'm wrong . . .

10 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Director Sidney Lumet and Actor William Holden. 4 Oscars, for Supporting Actress, Actress for Faye Dunaway, Original Screenplay for Paddy Chayefsky and Actor for Peter Finch, the first posthumous winner in an acting category. Some feel Holden would have won if Finch had not died. But once you deliver something that hits the pop culture zeitgeist like the "I'm mad as hell" monologue, it's hard to overcome. Network became only the second film to win 3 of the 4 Oscar acting categories (Streetcar was first.)

The screening will be hosted by TCM's Robert Osborne, with director Lumet as a guest. Whether he does an intro or a Q and A was not made clear by the oscars' website. Call 1-888-778-7575 to reserve. Plan to be there about a half hour beforehand, seats are first come, first served.

JOHNNY GUITAR- Thurs Mar 22 at 7 for $6.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- W. 23rd and 8th Ave. A simple Western, starring Sterling Hayden, Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge, and directed by Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without A Cause), that was successful back in 1954, then went away. Until Francois Truffaut and some gay film buffs got ahold of it.

So is it a simple, entertaining Western? Is it an allegory of the Blacklist and the McCarthy witchunts? It was written unofficially by black-listed screenwriter Ben Maddow. Is there high entertainment value from the over-the-top perfs of both Crawford and McCambridge? Both ladies hated each other. They fought constantly, and according to IMDB, Crawford was so mad (and drunk), that once she flung McCambridge's costumes along a stretch of Arizona highway. And is it true that the real story of the film, is that McCambridge's character is actually a closeted lesbian, spurned by Crawford, and now seeking revenge? I would say, yes to all of the above. It works as a Western, the allegory is right there, the lead female perfs have high camp value, and I would say you could say no about the lesbian overtones, but there's enough there to read that into it. Worth catching in any case.

THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE . . .- Fri Mar 23 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica stars in Max Ophuls' film, which will be screened in a new 35mm print. Nominated for costume design. Don't know a lot about this film, and frankly, I thought there would be no interest. But, there is. So instead of writing up something I'm not familiar with, I'll just cut and paste the following from the Forum's website:

1953) “Unhappiness is an invented thing.” The earrings of Madame de... (her name is never spoken in full) pass from husband to Madame to moneylender to husband to mistress to lover, and back again — until someone barks, “Stay away from me with those infernal earrings!” — and fin de siècle high society is exposed in its frivolity, hypocrisy, and inability to love. The sumptuous sets and costumes, and the swirling camerawork — dollying, tracking, craning — of Ophüls’ trademark romanticism — its highlight the progress of a romance traced through a single rapturous dance through time shifts and costume changes — transform the astringency of Louise de Vilmorin’s original novella, while the performances by Danielle Darrieux in the title role, Charles Boyer as her husband, and Vittorio De Sica as her lover are “quite likely the finest each has given” (Pauline Kael). “The greatest film of all time . . . Below the glittering surfaces, the lush decor, the sensuous fabrics, there is the cruel sensibility of an artist mourning the death of this world and all other worlds to come. Inside the beautiful ladies and lovers of romance lurk the grinning skeletons of tragedy. If the cinema had produced no other artists except Ophüls and Renoir, it would still be an art form of profundity and splendor.” – Andrew Sarris. “Perfection... A novelist may catch us up in the flow of words; Ophüls catches us up in the restless flow of his images — and because he does not use the abrupt cuts of ‘montage’ so much as the moving camera, the gliding rhythm of his films is romantic, seductive, and, at times, almost hypnotic. The virtuosity of his camera technique enables him to present complex, many-layered material so fast that we may be charmed and dazzled by his audacity and hardly aware of how much he is telling us. Should the day ever come when movies are granted the same respect as other arts, The Earrings of Madame De... will instantly be recognized as one of the most beautiful things ever created by human hands.” – Dave Kehr.

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SING-ALONG- Fri Mar 23 and Sat Mar 24 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- Once again, I bring up this fun outing to those who haven't done this. Go to the Feb second half listing for what I wrote there.

TRUE STORIES- Sun Mar 25 at 6:30- AMMI in Astoria- Part of the museum's Fashion In Film Festival. A cult film from 1986, starring and directed by Talking Heads' David Byrne, and written by Byrne and Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart). Actual tabloid stories are combined to tell a story in a small Texas town. Interesting cast includes Byrne as narrator, John Goodman (possibly his best screen performance), Swoosie Kurtz and the late Spalding Grey. Quirky, fun film, with Byrne using his sensibilities to great effect. Imagine a happy David Lynch projected on screen. That includes a number of Talking Heads songs and stylized costumes to match.

Offbeat list I think. Let me know. Later all.

P.S.: A link to the famous Mad As Hell speech from Network. Try pulling off this monologue:

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