Wednesday, August 01, 2007

August revivals: first half

Mike here with a list of August revivals, first half. Enjoyed Manhattan. A great looking print that is more like Rules of The Game, a film that you'd need dynamite to get out of my top 100. Maybe Manhattan as well. I agree with who I went with, that if you wait long enough to catch a film you want to see, and you get into a good mindset and great timing, you can really sit back and enjoy. Plus any chance to see Mariel Hemingway in the late 70s through mid 80s is well worth admission. Sorry, my daydreams interfered again. Anyway, I hope some of you don't decide to wait too long on these flicks. Here we go:

16 CANDLES- Thurs Aug 2 at 7 (but I must know by noon on Thursday) and 10 for 6.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- In August, Chelsea Clearview will screen films that could only come from the 80s, for only 6.50. The sleeper hit of the spring of 1983 that put writer-director John Hughes on the map. Molly Ringwald became a leading actress for about 5-6 years as a girl who can't get any acknowledgement of her 16th birthday, but Anthony Michael Hall is still trying to overcome the image of geek supreme made in this picture. 80s trivia contests and other stuff is suppose to occur during all four 80s movies this month. Also, keep an eye out for a very young John and Joan Cusack.

THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE- Sat Aug 4 at 5:30, 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's NYC noir series. I did this film before in Sept 2004, and I liked it enough that I nominated it a couple of times in a Movie Night group I was involved in. It was eventually voted for, but we never got around to seeing it. This might be their only chance to see it. This Sat night is not the greatest of days, but it's Friday night screenings are impossible for me to make, so there we are. For the rest of you who haven't seen it . . .

A subway car is hijacked by terrorists who go only by color names like Mr. Blue and Mr. Brown (Gee, I wonder where Tarantino got the idea for Reservoir Dogs? Oh, he was doing a homage? YEAH RIGHT!) They demand one million dollars or they will kill the hostages one per minute. From there, it becomes a mental cat and mouse game between the hijacker leader (Robert Shaw) and the Columbo-esque Police Lt. (Walter Matthau) who just happened to be on duty at the time. Depicts a New York that was dirtier and more dangerous then most readers under 32 can remember. But it feels like NYC in every other way: from the different type of people that make up this city, to subway and traffic problems in Manhattan, to the way humor is used by New Yorkers in even the oddest or toughest moments. If you're a fan of films like Reservoir Dogs or Inside Man, this is for you.

THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG with post film Q and A with director Lawrence Schiller- Sun Aug 5 at 7- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- An adaptation of Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (he also wrote the screenplay), covering the last 9 months of killer Gary Gillmore, who thanks to his intense lobbying, became the first man sentenced to death after the death penalty was reinstated back in 76. It was shown on NBC in 1982, but was released unedited in parts of the U.S. and overseas. This is the version that will be screened at Lincoln Center. The quality of the film was never in question, but all the praise went to Tommy Lee Jones (Emmy winner) as Gillmore and Rosanna Arquette as his girlfriend. Christine Lahti and Eli Wallach co-star. The TV movie was directed by Lawrence Schiller, who apparently came off as a journalist/hustler, who paid his way to get Gillmore's story. Film Comment editor Gavin Smith will conduct a post-film Q and A with Schiller.

BILLY LIAR and GODZILLA- Mon Aug 6 at 6:15 (Billy) and 8:30 (Godzilla)- MOMA- A double feature of 2 different kinds of film altogether. I think the fact that they are both films and that they were both shot in black and white. First, Billy Liar, a dramedy from director John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Day of the Locust). Tom Courtenay plays a Walter Mitty- type, except his vivid daydreams don't shield him very well from job issues (embezzlement), family issues, and 2 girlfriends. But then he meets his dream girl, played by Julie Christie, but will he choose her over his fantasy life? Sounds like an interesting film.

Would definitely like to catch it as a double feature with Godzilla. This is the original version, not the version American distributors chopped up and stuck Raymond Burr in. Just because this started a long chain of crappy monster films, doesn't make this junk. You see consequences to the destruction, a believable romantic subplot, and a more political film then you might think. Yes, a chunk of it looks cheesy and cheap, but in this era, it looks more endearing than insulting. Combine its anti-nuke message with a brief scene between boyfriend and girlfriend that American studios couldn't do in the 50s, and no wonder it was cut up here. You haven't seen it, and/or you like current films like "The Host", you should like this more. Granted you'll probably have to have either an early or late dinner, but otherwise, go for it.

WALLACE AND GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT- Tues Aug 7 and Wed Aug 8 at 10am for free- Midway Stadium 9- 108-22 Queens Blvd in Forest Hills- I've pushed this big screen adventure of the genius yet stupid Wallace and his infinitely smarter dog Gromit before, and I'll keep pushing it until most of you see it. Playing for free with Open Season, which I don't care about. Conveniently timed for the rugrats.

METROPOLIS- Wed Aug 8 at 8:30- Two Boots Pioneer- E. 3rd St bet. Ave A and B- For those who didn't get to see Metropolis at the Film Forum last month, you get another shot. The Forum is easier to get to, but the Pioneer is a small comfortable theater with a good sound system. At least it was last time I was there, which I believe was July or August 2004 when I caught Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

THE BREAKFAST CLUB- Thurs Aug 9 at 7 and 10 for 6.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- W. 23rd and 8th- Another John Hughes teen flick from the 80s, only more successful and more iconic. Ringwald, Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy (before she allegedly became professionally nuts), played all of the types found in high school, held in Saturday detention by psychotic principal Paul Gleason. Oh I'm sorry, he was normal? HA!!!! Anyway, most white U.S. teenagers from 1985-1993 swear by this film, and its impact and low admission price are too much to ignore. Like with 16 Candles, there are 80s trivia contests, and other things I don't recall.

THE DARK CRYSTAL with pre-film intro by Dave Goelz- Fri Aug 11 at 9:30- Cinema Arts Centre- 423 Park Avenue in Huntington, 100 Yards South of Rt 25A, Main Street- Part of a weekend-long retrospective of Jim Henson, and most of his TV and film works. But this is the only film I could possibly make. Henson and co-director Frank Oz's (with an uncredited assist from Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz) attempt to do a Lord of The Rings-style film with the latest in animatronics technology, received only minor acclaim and decent U.S. business in the Christmas of 1982, but became one of the biggest films to ever hit Japan and France up to that point. It still has a fervent cult here. A children's film that, despite some lulls, keeps the adults entertained, without being cheesy or insulting to the kids. Dave Goelz, who played 2 voices in the film, but is best known as the voice of Gonzo, will be at the screening. My guess is, he's doing an intro, but not sure. If you have kids, or can travel out to Huntington, just go. Don't think, since your brain is your enemy, just go.

THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS with introduction by co-writer Jacob Brackman and THE LAST DETAIL- Sat Aug 11 at 3 (Marvin) and 5:30 (Detail)- AMMI in Astoria- A Jack Nicholson double feature that should be real good. Part of AMMI's retrospective of movies: Uneasy Riders: American Film In The Nixon Years, 1970-1974. First, Marvin Gardens, an obvious play on the Monopoly board game. Nicholson and brother Bruce Dern get involved in a get rich quick scheme that will inevitable fall apart. Ellen Burstyn plays a former beauty queen who, as she's approaching 40, is now a has-been in this world. One of Nicholson's team-ups with director Bob Rafelson that was surprisingly ripped upon release, then flopped at the box office. History has been kind to since, but that doesn't mean a new audience has followed. Now's the time to change that.

The film was written by Jacob Brackman and director Rafelson. Brackman will introduce the screening.

Followed by The Last Detail, directed by Hal Ashby, which found the audience Marvin Gardens didn't receive. Nicholson is one of 2 Navy MPs who decide to give their prisoner (Oscar nominated Randy Quaid) a good time on the way to prison. Like Nicholson's then popular character said, which was used in the advertising "No *#@!!* Navy's going to give some poor **!!@* kid eight years in the #@!* brig without me taking him out for the time of his *#@!!* life.". Nominations for Nicholson and screenwriter Robert Towne, who would later reteam for Chinatown, Note the early appearances of Michael Moriarty, Nancy Allen, and a very cute Carol Kane.

A double feature I really want to make the time to see.

ROSEMARY’S BABY- Sat Aug 11 at 9:35- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's NYC Film Noir series. Polanski's thriller of Mia Farrow being a tool by some strange old people, her husband, and a certain horny deity has aged quite well since 1968. An revival option on a date that is chock full of good films. An Oscar for Ruth Gordon for Supporting Actress, and a nomination for Polanski for Screenplay Adaptation.

Which brings something up for me. If you know a person who plans to see a Roman Polanski film on Saturday August 11, and that film turns out to be Rush Hour 3 (Roman has a supporting role) instead of Rosemary's Baby, disown the person. Cut the person out of your life. This person is
too stupid to live, and if it's possible, find a way to keep them from ever breeding, without killing them that is. If they have a kid, call Social Services, cuz otherwise the kid(s) will grow up to be stupid too. Moving on . . .

MEAN STREETS and TAXI DRIVER- Sun Aug 12 at 5:45 (Streets), 7:50 (Taxi) and 10 (Streets), and Mon Aug 13 at 3:10 (Streets)- Film Forum- A double feature of the first 2 pairings of actor Robert De Niro and director Martin Scorsese, Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. The first one, I have never seen on the big screen, and I really want to. Not Scorsese's first film, but it is his first studio film. Done cheaply since Warner Bros was only going to devote so much Dirty Harry profits to the director of Boxcar Bertha. In college I dealt with a Scorsese sycophant, I mean fan, who talked about the raw power of this film was superior to the polished works of Raging Bull and Goodfellas. Considering he was coming out with Casino and The Age of Innocence, it was easy to conjure up babel like that.

But just because the film is raw as opposed to polished, doesn't mean it doesn't belong near the top of the director's work. Just that when you have Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and lower profiles works like After Hours and Kundun on your resume, it's hard for a lot of films to get the respect it deserves. And respect AND viewer ship is what Mean Streets deserves. More of a character study than a plot driven project, Harvey Kietel's small timer is who we follow, but De Niro's living embodiment of a psychotic screw-up is what steals the show. The quintessential New York, shot mostly in Los Angeles. Please let's make time to see this.

Now, Taxi Driver, a film that could only have come from the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate 70s; that is a film that gets all the respect it deserves, except for losing the Best Picture Oscar to Rocky. Is on both AFI top 100 lists, and in my own personal top 100.

Why am I not writing more about this. One, if you look at this blog in even in passing, you know the film. And if you don't, just make the time and go. Two, I've done this film at the Forum already. I'll gladly go again, but only with Mean Streets.

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER for 5 dollars with post film Q and A with actresses Karen Lynn Gorney and Donna Pescow, costume designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein and casting director Shirley Rich- Mon Aug 13 at 7:30- The Academy Theater at Lighthouse International- 111 E. 59th St.- Part of the Academy's salute to Oscar winning and nominated films. It didn't win its only nomination, Best Actor for John Travolta. What will be shown is a new print of the original theatrical release from the Academy's archive. Yes, I have the poster of the PG rated

Watch John go from TV sitcom guy, to Disco icon, then Movie icon, as the king of Brooklyn disco, who wants more out of life, and out of Brooklyn. The film is specifically structured where if Tony doesn't see it happen, the audience doesn't experience it. At least three quarters of it is basically Tony slowly growing up, which is why the film survived the "Disco Sucks" backlash. The rest is at the disco, where director John Badham's visuals, Travolta's dancing, and The Bee Gees' music is what's remembered and loved the most. One of the first films to ever use the Steadicam.

After the film, there will be a discussion and Q & A. Actresses Karen Lynn Gorney (Sarah, the girl who shows Tony there's life outside of Brooklyn) and Donna Pescow (Tony's Brooklyn girl), casting director Shirley Rich and production designer Patrizia Von Brandenstein (who attended last month's Amadeus Q and A) will participate.

CASABLANCA- Mon Aug 13 for free at dusk- Bryant Park- Speaking of a film being on both AFI Top 100 lists as well as my own personal top 100, try Casablanca; a film on both AFI top 5 lists, as well as my personal top 10. Generally, films with long passages of dialogue don't do well in Bryant Park unless it's a classic of some sort. This certainly qualifies. If you haven't been to the the park this summer or ever, this is a great film to start. The lawn opens at 5, the film begins at dusk. Bring your largest beach blanket, and your biggest dictionary to sit on in case you're short. The film starts at dusk.

Definitely would want to go for the Nicholson double feature, The Dark Crystal, Mean Streets, and the Godzilla double feature the most. Either Saturday Night Fever or Casablanca would be fun, as would anything else on the list. Though with the two films on Aug 13, let's break it down. Casablanca is one of the best ever made, in an evening picnic atmosphere under the stars. Saturday Night Fever is a good film in an air conditioned theater, with a Q and A afterwards. Decide and let majority rule.

Look for the end of the month to be jammed up even more. And with the U.S. open, more baseball and exhibition football, I might have to make some drastic cuts. Later.

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