Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November revivals: first half

Mike here with what's playing for the first half of November. If you haven't caught Blade Runner: The Final Cut, make time. Don't know how much longer it will play, but whether you go for a midnight weekend screening at the Ziegfeld (playing this coming weekend for sure), or a regular screening at AMC Empire or Landmark Sunshine Cinema for the next week or two (exact engagement time unknown), go. The digital projection, & visual and sound quality are off the charts. And now being of a certain age and with a slight amount of maturity, I've looked at this film with fresh eyes, and I'm much impressed.

And I can thank this list with getting people to go. I've seen this twice now. The first time at the Ziegfeld, where the audience was clapping wildly in the end. The second time was at the AMC Empire, where we went for free. Someone was giving out free tickets for the new indie flick Wristcutters, and we just exchanged them for Blade Runner instead. The point is, I've had two people who have never seen this before go, as well as one person who hadn't seen it since the late 80s on VHS. It may not have been the best film they ever saw (I never claimed otherwise), but they were profoundly engaged and liked it.

And without my pushing with this list, they would never have enjoyed it. That makes me feel real good, and gives me the push to keep putting this together. Speaking of films on the list, here we go:

FUNNY FACE- Thurs Nov 1 at 7 at 6.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- A George Gershwin musical directed by Stanley Donen. It makes fun of the then beatnik crowd (mocking Sartre) and the fashion scene of the day. Fred Astaire, doing a variation of Richard Avedon, discovers mousy Audrey Hepburn and brings her to Paris and remakes her into a model.

Let's not pretend we're dealing with cinematic greatness here. The pokes of fashion feel dated in a world of Devil Wears Prada and America's Next Top Model, and the 30 year gap between Astaire and Hepburn is quite noticeable, so whether you buy their romance is one of personal taste. But this is Astaire singing and dancing Gershwin tunes with Hepburn. You have wonderful Paris locations, lovingly shot by Oscar nominated Ray June. And Donen never directed crap, unless you count Saturn 3, which was already a mess before he was hired. Along with the cinematography, this was also nominated for Original Screenplay, Art Direction, and Edith Head's and Hubert de Givenchy's colorful costumes. And if you think this film doesn't have an impact today, then The Gap wouldn't have digitally used Hepburn dancing around in this film to sell Khaki pants about a year ago. Plus, it's an affordable 6.50. What more do you want?

TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS in 3-D- Wed Oct 31 only at the Ziegfeld (W. 54th and 6th) at 5, 7:30 and 9:30, and Tues Nov 6 and Wed Nov 7- at AMC Empire- 42nd and 8th- at 5, 7 and 9- and Regal Union Square- W. 14th and Broadway- at 5:50, 7:50 and 9:50- and UA Kaufman Astoria- 35-30 38th st in Astoria- at 3, 5, 7 and 9- and AMC Lowes 84th St.- 84th and Broadway- at 2:40, 5, 7:30 and 9:45- Your last week to catch this fun stop motion/ horror/ comedy/ musical in all its 3-D glory. The last screening at the Ziegfeld is on Halloween. But it will play until Thurs Nov 8 at a few other theaters. The better ones I listed. But I can only catch it with you on the dates listed.

THE EXORCIST: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT- Fri Nov 2 at 12:05 AM- IFC Film Center- W. 3rd or 4th st (I forget which)and 6th Ave.- If you don't want to go for a midnight screening of Blade Runner, try this scary film. The director's cut from 2000, of one of the best modern horror films ever made. Thankfully not as graphic as the popular novel, where one can imagine every orifice that stuff can out of little Regan. But in terms of atmosphere, it rivals Texas Chainsaw massacre as among the creepiest films. One of the few horror films to pack a punch on the small screen, so you can only imagine on the big screen.

Oscars for Sound and for William Peter Blatty for adapting his own novel. Funny, Blatty wrote this in part because he was only hired for writing light comedies like A Shot In The Dark. After the Exorcist came out, studios were only interested in hiring Blatty for horror flicks.

Oscar nominations for Picture, Director William Friedkin, Actor Jason Miller, Actress Ellen Burstyn (apparently she still suffers from back problems sustained while shooting this), Supporting Actress Linda Blair (though most of the credit for this performance is given to then-uncredited Mercedes McCambridge, as her possessed voice), Cinematography, Art Direction, and Editing. With Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb.

DIVA- Tues Nov 6, Wed Nov 7, Fri Nov 9, Sat Nov 10 and Mon Nov 12- Wed Nov 21 at 3:15, 5:30, 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- Part of the Jean-Jacques Beineix retrospective. Here is a new 35mm print of a film I've enjoyed, that I'm pretty sure everyone who sees this list on any regular basis has never heard of. Unless you're familiar with the U.S. art house circuit of the early 80s (this was distributed by United Artists Classics in 1982), or if you've stumbled onto this on Showtime in the past 6 months, this is new to you. Allow me to enlighten a little bit.

If you have to categorize Diva, you can consider this a Romantic Action Thriller Mystery, with some opera. A young French mail courier is ok with his happy-go-lucky lifestyle. But his big passion in life is Opera. 1 American soprano in particular, who has never allowed her performances to be recorded.diva who refuses to be recorded. The young man makes a tape of her in concert. But when the tape is confused with ones that corrupt police and gangsters are looking for, it gets tough for this guy to survive, never mind meeting his idol. Never mind when a rich French recluse, his sex slave Vietnamese model, and members of the Taiwanese mob get involved. Then in the middle of all of this, there's one of the better chase scenes ever filmed, as our young hero tries to get away from what seems like most of Paris, on his crappy little motorcycle.

Confused? Understandable. But if you stay with it, you'll have a lot of fun, uncovering this forgotten New Wave-ish gem. By all means, take a chance on Diva.

Below is the Wikipedia meaning (cut and pasted) of Cinema du look, a French genre that Diva falls into:

Cinéma du look was a French film movement of the 1980s. It referred to films that had a slick visual style and a focus on young, alienated characters that were said to represent the marginalised youth of Francois Mitterrand's France. The three main directors of the Cinéma du look were Jean-Jacques Beineix, Luc Besson and Leos Carax. Themes that run through many of their films include doomed love affairs, young people with peer groups rather than families, a cynical view of the police and the use of the Paris Métro to symbolise an alternative, underground society. The mixture of 'high' culture, such as the opera music of Diva and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and pop culture, for example the references to Batman in Subway, was another key feature. Unlike most film movements, the Cinéma du look had no clear political ideology.

DIVORCE-ITALIAN STYLE- Fri Nov 9, Sat Nov 10 and Mon Nov 12 at 5:30, 7:45 and 10 - and Fri Nov 16, Sat Nov 17 and Mon Nov 19- Wed Nov 21 at 7:45, 9:20 and 10- Film Forum- Part of the Pietro Germi retrospective, but this is the only one I'm interested in. A potential farcical film that becomes a dark satire fairly quickly. A man (Oscar nominated Marcello Mastroianni) wants to marry his nubile cousin (Stefania Sandrelli). But he's already married to a lump of a woman. Divorce is a no-no at this time. But when he finds out her former lover is back in town, this is great. He can set them up together, kill her in a "crime of honor", do a quick 3-7 yr, jail term, then marry the hot cousin. Oscar nominated for Best Director, won the Oscar for Original Screenplay. Surprisingly not even nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, because Italy chose enough film as their representative. I've never even heard of all the nominees in this category. Don't think it's a coincidence that the only foreign language films talked about anymore that came out in 1962 are Through A Glass Darkly (directed by Bergman) and this one. Should be worth catching.

STAR TREK: THE MENAGERIE- Tues Nov 13 at 7:30 and Thurs Nov 15 at 7:30 and 10:30- at Regal Union Square Stadium 14- and Regal Kaufman Astoria Stadium 14- This should be fun for the Star Trek fan. But I'm tired, so I'll have to cut and paste from the Regal Cinema website:

This event features the original Season 1 episodes “The Menagerie” Part 1 and 2, digitally re-mastered in High-Definition and Cinema Surround Sound. Also included is greeting from creator Gene Roddenberry’s son, Eugene “Rod” Roddenberry and an exclusive 30-minute behind-the-scenes look at how the episodes were digitally re-mastered from the original negatives.

Major push for Diva and even Divorce, and if the Star Trek fans want to do The Menagerie, I'm up for it. Anything else is a bonus. Let me know. Later all.

Friday, October 19, 2007

October revivals: Halloween edition

Hey, all. Mike here with the rest of the films to catch in October. I call this the Halloween edition, mostly because all of the films I have an interest and make time to see are horror flicks. There is all The Third Man at Symphony Space and War and Peace at the Film Forum. But I've done the former, and have no time or enough money to take the time to catch it right now. And as for War and Peace, it's 6 hrs, 51 minutes, split into 2 parts, each with separate admission with an intermission for each part. If this sends me to cinephile purgatory, so be it, but no way on God's green earth will i sit through a 6 hr 51 min film. Never mind the chance to catch on two separate days. This doesn't sound like fun, this sounds like homework.

Since these are mostly horror flicks, I don't know a lot of people excited about catching these flicks. Therefore, I've been dreading getting around to putting a list up. But put it up, I will. Here we go:

TIM BURTON'S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS IN 3-D- Sun Oct 21- Thurs Nov 4 in the Ziegfeld at Noon, 2:15, 4:30, 7 and 9:15- and from Sun Oct 21 to either Thurs Nov 4 or Thurs Nov 11 at Regal Union Square Stadium 14 (850 Broadway) at 11am, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11pm(weekends only)- and AMC Empire 25 (W. 42nd st and 8th ave.) at 11AM, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11PM- and UA Kaufman Astoria Stadium 14 (35-30 38th St., Astoria) at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11- The only film I can imagine most of you are interested in. For the second year in a row, Disney is re-releasing Tim Burton's stop motion animation flick for the Halloween season, in 3-D. I should say that this is Tim Burton's in the sense that he co-produced and created the story; his name alone is why this was made.

I've caught this before, but I don't mind seeing this again. In part, because I know a lot of people who would enjoy this on the big screen who missed the first time, or have never seen it. Now this last thought shouldn't be a shock. Yes, Nightmare is profitable when compared to say, Meet The Robinsons, Treasure Planet, Disney's Atlantis, or everything from Dreamworks Animation that isn't CGI. But compared to Pixar flicks, or Disney's flicks that came out slightly earlier like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, this is a cult film.

Nightmare might feel sluggish on TV, but on the big screen, it moves quickly. The songs are zippy, Danny Elfman does a terrific job singing as Jack Skellington, and just when it seems like they can't do anything else with the story, the film is over. No major amounts of time-wasting backstory here. And Disney did a terrific job with the 3-D animation. The musical numbers for me, come off best with this process. Hopefully, they'll do with this re-release what they did last year, which was have an old Pixar short converted into 3-D, play before the film. Last year was Knick-Knack; let's see what they do this year.

The best screen to catch it around here is the Ziegfeld, though it's only playing for two weeks. The whole release of this will only be three weeks, so I'm guessing the other locations will have them for that long. Don't know for sure, it's a guess. For those going with me, if it ain't the Ziegfeld, I can get into any AMC/Lowes easily, though the Regal Kaufman Astoria (very close to AMMI) is good for me in terms of easy location. I can't make every date or time, but you tell what you can go for, and we'll work from there. Some showtimes are subject to change mainly on the weekdays.

THE LOST BOYS as its being mocked by The Raspberry Brothers for 6.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- W. 23rd and 8th- Thurs Oct 25 at 9- Not one of my favorite films. It is directed by Joel Schumacher after all. Hot teenage vampires in California should sound appealing, and it did to some of my generation, as well as the one or two before me, and the three or four after me, thanks to VHS. It did ok business, but it's place in cinema history's dustbin seems complete.

But as a bad film, it is worth catching, and mocking. Jason Patric and Corey Haim compete for the title of Most Whiny Brother. Kiefer Sutherland is more annoying than scary. There's another Corey in the film, but who cares. Jami Gertz looks pretty, but then she has to speak. And this was not the best follow-up for Dianne Wiest, after her Oscar winning performance in Hannah and Her Sisters (and the less said about her hideous Mia Farrow-esque haircut, the better).

And mocking The Lost Boys is what The Raspberry Brothers intend to do? Who are they? I have no idea. Never heard of them until I looked up the film and time. But if you know TV shows like Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Cheap Seats, then you know what is coming up. Are there films that deserve to be mocked more than The Lost Boys? Yes, but this will do for now. Kind of sounds like the death penalty. Anyway, moving on . . .

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST- Sat Oct 27 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- Without a doubt, the grossest and goriest film on the list, and it's not even close. This Italian horror film from 1980 (released in the U.S. in 1984 or 85, not sure which), takes an idea later stolen by the makers of The Blair Witch Project, in terms of confusing audience confusion with fact and fiction (no fact, all fiction). All the kind of film Eli Roth and the makers of Saw are probably jealous they were to young to make. A New York professor recovers documentary reels of a crew missing in the jungle. We see what the crew did to the natives and vice versa. Let's just say, the title seems accurate.

The special effects were so realistic, the director ran into problems. One time, he had to go to court to prove it was fake. Another time, he had to bring the actors to a TV show he was being interviewed, to prove they weren't eaten. The animal killings however, were real, which is the main reason why is was banned at varying times, in almost every country it's been screened. The film actually tries to make a statement about the media's fascination with showing violence no matter what the consequences, but the violence and the effects is what this film is remembered. Not for everybody's taste, but if you're game? Get it, cannibal, taste . . . good lord, this list needs a new writer . . .

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD- Wed Oct 31 at 6 and 8- MOMA- Here's a chance to hunker down on some classic B and W horror. Enjoy George A. Romero's original zombie flick, as it was meant to be seen: at MOMA. At MOMA?!?!? Sure, why not? If they declare this as art, far be it for me to disagree. Just enjoy.

That's all for now. Let me know. Later all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

October revival list: the only films on the list for now.

Mike here with a list of October films. A very small list for now. The 400 Blows can still be caught at the Film Forum through Tues Oct 9, but there are 2 others I want to catch more. So much so, that I'm not putting up another list until I see at least one of the two below. Let's not waste time, here we go:

BLADE RUNNER:THE FINAL CUT- The Ziegfeld theater- W.53rd and 6th- Sat Oct 6- Thurs Oct 20- Weekends- 4, 7, and 10; Weekdays- 5:30 and 8:30- The film will be digitally projected at the Ziegfeld for 2 weeks only.

I've been looking forward to this for quite a while. Not because this is a great film. It wouldn't make my Top 10 and maybe not my Top 20 of 1982. But this might be in my top 10 for most visual appealing films ever shot in my lifetime (take that for what it's worth.). Along with Brazil, the most influential film with regards to art direction to come out of the 1980s. Whenever you want to depict a decaying metropolis, you must check out those two films Sorry, Batman and Dark City, you must bow before your masters. Blade Runner also belongs in that hallowed place of dystopian sci-fi films, along with Brazil, Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange, 1984 and Soylent Green. Yes, I said Soylent Green, I'm not stuttering.

Anyway, this is the kind of film I've talked to some of you about. Give me a film with a good score and quality visuals, and you've got me for quite a while. I should mention Vangelis' score. Chariots of Fire might have won him the Oscar, but this has a greater degree of difficulty that he succeeds with. You'd almost want to get the soundtrack afterwards. Futuristic after all this time. Unobtrusive, and at times beautiful. An L.A. of 2019 that seemed so far away, but now kind of fits the vision of An Inconvenient Truth. Throw it into the world of the film-noir, where you can't always trust those with badges, and even the "villains" are looking for redemption, if not longer life. Don't forget the cast. Harrison Ford as your burn-out lead, an ex-blade runner, forced back into the job to kill off deadly illegal androids or "replicants". Rutger Hauer as your main, but not unsympathetic lead villain. And give kudos to the casting director for pulling out newcomers like Sean Young, Daryl Hannah and Edward James Olmos, as well as character actors like M. Emmet Walsh, the late Brion James, William Sanderson (Newhart, Deadwood) and Joe Turkel (Paths of Glory, The Shining).

Director Ridley Scott's film is VERY loosely based on the novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. A very good and quick read where the hero is married and more like an accountant then a cop. Which would explain why Scott tried hard to cast Dustin Hoffman in the lead. Despite the massive changes in some aspects of the stories, Dick himself felt the look of film matched what was on the page and in his head.

Not an easy film to shoot. The producer's didn't like Scott's exacting ways, and his going over budget. The crew referred to this as Blood Runner, and made the joke that Will Rogers never met a man he didn't like but he never met Ridley Scott (the joke was later made into a t-shirt worn by most of the crew throughout the shoot). Harrison Ford didn't get along well with Scott and Sean Young, and Young hated Ford, especially during the shooting of their major kissing scene. Supposedly, Hannah nearly broke Ford's neck in their fight scene. When the film went over budget, the rights to the film went from the director to the producers, who convinced Ford to do a last second voiceover narration. Ford has vigorously denied doing a half-assed job on the narration over the years, blaming a bad cold for the crappy work.

This is the 4th or 5th version of the film, I've lost count. I'm sure there's a cut with just penguins that I don't know about. The first version was the June 1982 U.S. release, which when it faced off against the likes of E.T., Poltergeist, Rocky 3 and Star Trek 2, it was DOA. It had the narration, the snowy ending, and several minutes of violence removed by the producers in order to avoid the X rating. It received Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Visual Effects, then went away, except for midnight screenings like at the late St. Marks Cinema. Then you have the version that came out in Europe in 82, that had the extra minutes of violence, which was released in in the U.S. on video, except on CED for some reason. This was the version that mostly started the cult following here. Except for edited for TV versions, the only other cut I remember seeing was the "Director's Cut" from 1992. Which was more of a studio editing job as opposed to Scott doing the reworking itself. Except for an added dream sequence, the dropping of the narration (A very good thing), and a changed ending. It works in tone, but with one significant difference that splits fans down the middle. I agree with those that don't like it, but mainly because it manages to step even further away from Phillip K. Dick's original vision. That's my feeling anyway. But this version is what made a lot of critics change their original bad or mixed reviews to good ones (Leonard Maltin still sticks to his 1 1/2 star rating), and it's the cut that was probably looked at when it made AFI's second Top 100 list.

Now what kind of ending will the Final Cut this will have, I have no clue. I know 4 minutes were added. Some of it is corrections, like using Ford's son to help with the dialogue correction of one small scene. Also, Joanna Cassidy's stuntman has been replaced with an actual stuntwoman with Cassidy's head CGIed in there. After that, I have no idea. Ridley Scott promises this will be the last and most complete version of this story. Yeah, whatever.

All I know is that there will not be a better way to catch this film on the big screen ever again. Not this style of projection, and not in a better theater. Film buffs, I'm telling you. This is one of those things you say yes to.

BLUE VELVET- Sat Oct 6 and Sun Oct 7 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- I thought Blade Runner would be the only film I would write about. But if you think I would ignore David Lynch's best film, and something in my personal top 2, then you're nuts. I wrote about this on a previous list in this blog, so go back and look it up. If you haven't seen this twisted modern noir on the big screen and you can stay awake, let's go do it. Don't worry, if you get sleepy, they sell David Lynch's Organic Coffee there; it's a kind of espresso. C'mon, don't be shy.

So those are the 2. 3, if you count the 400 Blows. For those who know me, if you are interested in Blade Runner. Try to arrange a time with me directly. Saturdays are best for me, with this Saturday night being the best. With the Ziegfeld, you never know if they decide to close on a weekday "Just because". I think Wed and Thurs nights would be doable, but Mon and Tues nights (except for Columbus Day night) would be risky. Either first come first served, or by majority vote, whatever fits for me the best. Let me know. Later all.