Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sept revivals: Part 2

Mike here with the rest of the September list. Running behind so I'll have to break this month's list into three parts. Not much to bring up other than that, so here we go:

THE LANDLORD- Wed Sept 19- Fri Sept 21, Mon Sept 24 and Tues Sept 25 at 7:45 and 10- Lee Grant will introduce the 7:45 show on Wednesday, September 19- Film Forum- A film NOT available on DVD, just out of print VHS, from director Hal Ashby. Not the first standout director from the 1970s (the last Golden Era of film, allegedly) that you would think of, but with credits that include Harold and Maude, Coming Home and Being There, he is one who must be noticed. I am very curious to catch this one, never seen it before. Basically, it seems to be a similar story as the 1991 Joe Pesci flop The Super, though this actually appears to be funny. Lee Grant, nominated for Supporting Actress for this flick (and would win 5 years later for Ashby's later film, Shampoo), introduces the 7:45 screening. If we actually did this one, it will require some advanced planning.

As for anything else about The Landlord, I'll have to cut and paste from the Film Forum's website, since they can sell it a lot better than myself:

“You know what NAACP means, don’t you?” Whiter than white, richer than rich, callower than callow (“I’m 29!”) Beau Bridges tells the camera, on the impeccable lawn of his family compound as the black butler delivers him a drink, that he needs a home of his own — except his dream house is a tenement in the way-before-gentrification Park Slope! Think he’ll get the African-American tenants to move out? Think he can even get them to start paying rent? And bring back those hubcaps! First feature by Hal Ashby is both a time capsule of 70s cinema — direct-to-the-camera dialogue, jagged editing, jarring bursts of music on the soundtrack, echoey on-location sound... and those bellbottoms! — as well as an edgy (before the term was coined), rope-dancing-on-the-razor’s-edge dramedy on race in America, with Bridges’ mom, Oscar-nominated Lee Grant, taking a break from nurse-maiding the Spinal Meningitis Ball to get down on pot likker with Pearl Bailey;Diana Sands painfully making a shocking admission to “Sioux Indian” hubbie Lou Gossett; Robert Klein’s turn in blackface; and the ‘N’ word, but not said by whom, and to whom, you might think. With camerawork by the great Gordon Willis (Klute, All the President’s Men, Annie Hall and all three Godfathers); screenplay by black actor/writer Bill Gunn (Ganja and Hess); and, as the good-natured jerk rich boy (“I’m a bastard!”), a could-pass-for-18 Beau Bridges, who surprisingly was 29 at the time. “An outrageous debut that still feels daring, both stylistically and politically.” – Darren Hughes, Senses of Cinema. “A wondrously wise, sad and hilarious comedy. Leaves an almost eerie tonic effect of truth and laughter, with some of the sharpest, funniest dialogue in a long time.”– The New York Times. “There’s something really great about it, and it’s a film that I’d kind of fallen in love with. There’s something unique about the softness of the colors, about the way you can light things well but they’re not overly sharp and vivid. There’s just something more human about them, a more poetic way of capturing reality.” – Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt).

A ROOM WITH A VIEW- Thurs Sept 20 at 6- MOMA- Not the first Merchant-Ivory film ever made. And also not the first Merchant-Ivory film to be Oscar nominated, but if you happen to remember The Europeans (just recently released on DVD, though I'm not sure if it's available in R1) or The Bostonians (Vanessa Redgrave's perf holds up, the rest of the film and Christopher Reeves's perf in particular doesn't), then you're a ghost, a freak that I'm not sure I want to know, or James Ivory. And why James Ivory would look at these pages, I have no idea. But just in case, hi James. Don't hate me about that Bostonians crack just now. I'm not that bad, really. Really.

But A Room With A View is the first Merchant-Ivory picture I consider watchable. Oh hell. I blew with James. Forget it, Mr. Ivory. I just can't get anything right. Find another blog.

A delicate romantic comedy (yes, with some dramatic elements) that found it's art house niche in 1986, just as Platoon was beginning to dominate. 3 Oscars including the Screenplay adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel; nominations also for Picture, Director, Supporting Actress Maggie Smith, and Supporting Actor Denholm Elliott. Also featuring notable early performance by Helena Bonham Carter (this and other projects forged the perception of her only as a corset non-modern actress until Fight Club) and Daniel Day-Lewis (how this foppish dolt became Bill the Butcher is a marvel of acting technique), plus a gossipy witch of a woman played by Judi Dench.

FITZCARRALDO- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd on 6th Ave- Fri Sept 22 at 9:20 and Sat Sept 22 at 2:55, 6:10 and 9:20- If you see only one Werner Herzog film this year, let it be Rescue Dawn. It's his most accessible, with a terrific Christian Bale performance. You really get a sense of being a POW with nowhere to escape. It gets the nature beats down man part (a specialty of Werner's) down
better than Castaway, the only film of that kind that most of you readers are aware of.

But if you only see TWO Werner Herzog films this year, let's try to make it both Rescue Dawn AND Fitzcarraldo, from 1982. Klaus Kinski (taking over after both Mick Jagger and Jason Robards quit) plays the title role, a man obsessed with building an opera house in the Peruvian jungle so that Caruso can sing there. Which means of course having to the deal with the Indians, nature, getting a giant boat over a mountain, you know, THE USUAL. As you can tell, or if you already know Herzog and/or Kinski, little about this film would be considered usual. With Claudia Cardinale (Once Upon A Time In The West, The Leopard, The Pink Panther) as his lover.

The film took about three years to make. Obstacles included recasting, the Indians struggling to push the large boat up a mountain so that Herzog could film Kinski and the Indians struggling to push the large boat up the mountain, a plane crash that killed several crew members and some Indians actually burning down the film's campsite because they didn't want the outsiders here anymore. And of course, the non-mellow relationship between Herzog and frequent star/adversary Kinski. Non-mellow to the point that some of the Indians offered to kill Kinski for Herzog (caught on camera in the documentary, My Best Fiend).

But to quote Roger Ebert, 'It may be overlong and meandering, but I wouldn't ever have missed seeing it." I hope you feel the same. The not missing part, I mean. I can't do anything about the rest . . .

THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955)- Sat Sept 22 at 3:30- MOMA- One of the better film noirs. Robert Mitchum's best performance as a corrupt preacher willing to kill, as he marries widow Shelley Winters to force her kids to tell him where their late father hid money from a robbery. Any comparisons to Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks, where evil creeps into little America is understandable. It's easy to think of film villains like Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter and Gollum, or get caught up in a newer one, like Capitán Vidal from Pan's Labyrinth. It's sometimes easy to forget the older villains. I find Mitchum's preacher more insidious than his later turn in the original Cape Fear.

When I saw Do The Right Thing when it first played in theaters, I admired the Radio Raheem monologue about Love and Hate on his hands. Didn't realize it was stolen from Mitchum's character here. The moral: keep watch good films. And also, if we keep giving Spike Lee less credit, the world will be a happier place to live in. Somewhat kidding about that last part.

Initial reaction from 1955 audiences made this film a huge bust. It prompted first-time director/ acting legend Charles Laughton never to direct again. A cult classic today and maybe even more than that. Selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 1992. if you haven't seen it, let's do it.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and KING KONG (1932)- Mon Sept 24 at 7:15 (Game) and 8:30 (Kong)- MOMA W. 53rd and 5th- A double feature of 2 RKO adventure films from director Ernest B. Schoedsack that also shared some of the same sets and co-stars Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray. First, Game, co-directed with Irving Pichel; an adaptation of Richard Connell's short story, where a rich man lets a ship crash onto a deserted island, so that he could hunt and kill the passengers. A story that has been remade over and over again (I'm sure Connell imagined Ice-T being hunted by Rutger Hauer and F. Murrary Abraham; don't you?!?!?). But see how it was done first.

Since Dangerous Game is only 63 minutes long, I figure we can go see that, and stay for King Kong, co directed with Merian C. Cooper. I know a couple of you saw it with me last Thanksgiving weekend, and that the rest of you know of the classic film. But if you see it on the big screen, you would be amazed how well it holds up. Seeing it in a theater as opposed to TV, made it enough of a difference to me have it go from an OK old movie, to a Top 100 film for me. On both AFI Top 100 lists. Go for it.

This double feature will also be re-screened at MOMA on Sat, Oct 13 starting at 3:15

That's all for now. Will bring up the rest of the month next week. Later all.

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