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.

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