Friday, September 07, 2007

Sept revivals: first half

Mike here with a short list of films to catch in the first half of Sept. I'd have put up the list a little sooner, but the combo of my enjoying the U.S. Open and there being a only a number of films in a concentrated number of days, hasn't caused me to rush. This also doesn't pay, but anyway . . .

I did receive an interesting number of reactions from the second half August list. Here was one email reaction about Rope:

"God I love Rope. A. and I were saying that it's definitely one of our fave Hitchcock movies."

Unfortunately, they weren't able to make it that weekend. I caught Rear Window with someone who had already seen Rope with me in January 06, so there was no need to stay.

The same person sent me this email response to Klute:

"[A]nd I can't help but feel that it probably isn't justified", re: the vast reservoir of loathing for Jane Fonda. Really, Mike? Well, let me 'splain it to you. The woman was [is] a traitor to her country. She volunteered be used as a propaganda spokeswoman for the North Vietnamese, traveled to that country in wartime, shot at U.S. warplanes using enemy anti-aircraft guns (smiling and laughing like a hyena, btw), and permitted herself to be photographed doing so. She should have been prosecuted and sent to prison. She wasn't b/c she was Henry Fonda's daughter. The only way to demonstrate my disdain for her is to turn my back on anything she says or does and not contribute a penny of my money to her residuals. So I couldn't care less whether acting-wise she is the second coming of Eleanor Druse; Jane Fonda is simply beyond the pale."

Ok then.

At least those two looked at this and reacted. Better than this phone exchange I had with someone else back in July:

Him: So, what's playing at AMMI?

Me: Did you look at the list?

Him: Is there anything there this Sunday?

Me: Look at the list and I'll let you know ASAP.

Him: Why don't do you just tell me?

Me: Did you even bother to look?

Him: You write so much, I print it out so I have something to read on set.

Me: You don't do that anymore. If you did it since the blog started, do you know how many pages you'd have to print?

Him: So you won't tell me what's playing at AMMI?

Me: Oh c'mon!

Him: Well, Karyn won't be doing The Fantasticks for much longer.

Me: Again with Karyn, Bart?!?!?

Oops, did his name slip? MY BAD! On with the list. Here we go:

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER- Fri Sept 7 at 8:30 and Sat Sept 8 at 5:30 and 8:30- The Ziegfeld- 141 W. 54th St.- One more weekend to catch the disco classic that made Travolta a movie star. The film's new 35mm print should be fine on the big screen, and the cleaned up sound should play great.And for those of you who know me, it's 5 dollar admission for up to 4 people, thanks to a printout from Clearview Cinemas website. Then again, if you get contact from their website, you get it also. 5 dollars as opposed to 9.

CRUISING- Fri Sept 7 at 9:40, Sat Sept 8 at 2, 7 and 9:40, Mon Sept 10 at 2 and 7:15, Tues Sept 11 at 7 and Thurs Sept 13 at 2, 4:30, 7 and 9:30- Regal E-Walk Stadium 13- 247 W. 42nd St. and 8th Ave.- A brief release of this restored 1980 film, with a cleaned up sound, and digitally projected for at least one week. In short, this is the one Al Pacino film that doesn't have any clips shown whenever his career is honored. From director William Friedkin, Pacino plays an NYPD cop who goes undercover in the world of gay S and M clubs, to find a serial killer who stalks his prey there. And Pacino's character begins to like this world. Don't know how accurate this sub-culture is depicted, but it is a snippet of the past and how gays are viewed and depicted one year before the first AIDS cases were diagnosed in New York. One of Friedkin's police advisors on The French Connection worked on this film, so the police side is probably accurate. If anything, Cruising focuses more on the police reaction to the gay communtiy.

Cruising was heavily protested when it was shot in New York, to the point where gay activist groups tried to have the filming removed from NYC altogether. Then 40 minutes had to be cut in order to get the R rating. The film came out in March 1980, where the protests never let up. The film was trashed by critics, and flopped at the box office. If it lasted more than a month, I'd be stunned. Pacino, upset that Friedkin changed the film from what is in the script to the final product, and stunned by the intense anger of the protestors who never saw the film (but might have read the book), would never speak about the film afterwards. Distributed by United Artists. Wow, with Cruising released early in 1980, and Heaven's Gate released near the end of that year, no wonder Transamerica got out of the movie business.

Found some quotes about the film from IMDB. Don't know the sources, otherwise I'd quote them:

"“The film doesn’t turn away from the sexuality,” says Friedkin, who notes that the Cannes screening will be followed by a theatrical re-release, complete with a new Dolby Digital sound mix, in select U.S. cities this fall. “That means it will still disturb a lot of people on both sides of the issue.”

He does wish, though, that the studio (Warner Bros.) had been able to find some of the 40 minutes of deleted scenes that he was forced to remove from Cruising 26 years ago at the behest of the MPAA, all of which are now feared missing or destroyed.

Skin tones looked a little pale in the night and club sequences, but colors really popped for the most part, in particular, the yellow NYC cabs. Sound, in particular, the separation between the various songs and ambient noises, was excellent."

Now the film's reputation has been getting some rehabilitation, thanks in part to the standing ovation the new print received this year at Cannes (Tarantino was among those applauding). Personally, I have no idea if this film is any good. I've never seen more than a minute of it years ago on cable. As well as the original trailer which is quite effective actually. It could be good, could be crap, or just passable. It will probably look and sound good, but after that, who knows? Any of you adventureous?

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI- Wed Sept 12 at 7:30- MOMA- Chances are, Lawrence of Arabia is your favorite of David Lean's films. Unless you're a romantic type, then Dr. Zhivago is your favorite. While Lawrence is in my personal top 5, if you tell me Bridge on the River Kwai is your favorite Lean, I can certainly understand it.

A World War 2 drama very loosely based on some true events. A split story of 2 men in a Japanese POW camp. One, an English colonel, the very obsessive model of an English gentleman, who helps the Japanese build a bridge as a symbol of the English spirit. The other, a cynical American who escaped from the camp, and after a brief respite, is forced on a mission to blow up the bridge. William Holden was already an international film star by the time he played the lead American, and Alec Guinness became one as well as the arrogant, deluded, damaged Colonel Nicholson.

9 Academy Award nominations, 8 Oscars, including Picture, Guinness for Actor, Lean for Director and for Screenplay. The film was adapted by Carl Forman and Michael Wilson, both blacklisted writers who received no screen credit. The Oscar went to the man who wrote the original book, Pierre Boulle, despite the fact he only wrote and spoke in French. Forman and Wilson received posthumous Oscars in 1984, and actual credit on the film itself years later. Made it to both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my personal top 100. A film buff's must see.

MEAN STREETS and/or A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN)- Fri Sept 14 at 6 (Mean) and 8:30 (Stairway)- MOMA- A possible double feature, that can be seen either together for one admission or separately. Personally, I think it's enough of an offbeat double feature to want to catch it, though time constraints may tell me otherwise. A Scorsese picture, followed by a film directed by one of Scorsese's inspirations, Michael Powell.

I brought up the Scorsese-Kietel-De Niro collaboration back in the first half of August, so you'll either see it or you won't at this point. But A Matter of Life and Death (also known as Stairway To Heaven), is something you might not be familiar with. A British film released in the U.S. in 1947, stars David Niven as a RAF pilot who miraculously survives a plane crash. He falls in love with Kim Stanley, an American working with the RAF, who he thought would be the last voice he would ever hear. But the only reason he's still alive, is because an angel in Heaven forgot to collect him. The love affair is cut short when an angel finally comes around to get him. But Niven's character demands an appeal, and has to defend his life in Heavenly court.

Director/Writers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger split the film with a unique color scheme. Earth is depicted in the brightest Technicolor they could use in 1945/46. While all the scenes in Heaven are in stark black and white. I'm guessing the feelings stirred up by this idea, inspired part of Tony Kushner's vision of heaven and angels in Angels in America. And I'm guessing the idea of proving your life's worth in Heaven inspired part of Albert Brooks's Defending Your Life. Throw in Niven being his very proper British self, and you have a good film here. Mix it in Mean Streets, and you have a good double feature. Catch it seperately, and it's still pretty good.

UNFORGIVEN and LORD OF THE FLIES (1963)- Sat Sept 15 at 2 (Unforgiven) and 5 (Flies)- MOMA- A unique double feature. First, Unforgiven. The last Western large numbers of Americans cared about, and in some ways, put the final nail in the genre's coffin. Don't know if the remake of 3:10 To Yuma can change that. And sorry, Tombstone and HBO's Deadwood doesn't cut it for me.

Anyway, if you don't know Clint Eastwood's classic revisionist Western from 1992, then you're not the kind of person who looks at this site. And if you're not into seeing this film, then either you've just seen this recently, you own it at home, you're the kind of person who needs a lot of "action" in your films, or you have your head up your ass with regards to this genre. I can't help you with these issues, I can only push to see it.

9 Academy Award nominations, including Actor for Eastwood and Original Screenplay. 4 Oscars, including Picture and Director for Eastwood and Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman. Chosen for film preservation in 2004, on both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my personal top 25, possibly even higher.

For the same admission, you can see the original Lord of the Flies. Peter Brook's adaptation of William Golding's book. Shot in black and white, but not necessarily black and white in tone. The idea of a kid doing whatever he wants is not unfamiliar to us. Millions ran to see the light version of this story in Home Alone. Consider this a much more bitter pill to swallow.

Using amateur young actors, Brook successfully tells the story of a group of boys, marooned on an island with no adults. They split into 2 tribes, until baser instincts and survival of the fittest prevail. Ignore the 1990 remake, and ignore the CBS reality show variation (wannabe?) Kid Nation, and go for this. Paired with Unforgiven, a strong double feature.

I back all my choices here. Even if its a risk like Cruising. Let me know. Later all.

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