Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jan. revivals: second half

Mike here with what to catch for the second half of January. Smaller list than usual. Almost half of the films are French, but they're still worth catching. KIDDING! Here we go:

LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD- Tues Jan 22, Wed Jan 23, Wed Jan 30 and Thurs Jan 31 at 6:30, 8:20 and 10:10- Film Forum- When I found out this was playing at the Forum back in early November, I wasn't looking forward to this. I was thinking about leaving it off altogether. Then, when I went to see the very good I'm Not There, I saw the trailer. Now I want to catch this real bad. Oscar nominated for Original Screenplay. In a new 35mm scope print. After that, I know nothing else about this picture. So I'm afraid I'll have to cut and paste from the Forum's website to explain this:

(1961) As ominous organ music resounds, the Scope camera tracks through the seemingly endless halls of a baroque grand hotel — alternately thronged with tuxedos and gowns or echoingly deserted — as Giorgio Albertazzi tries to persuade an initially disbelieving Delphine Seyrig (in gowns by Chanel — Coco herself!) that they’d met the year before, even as the sepulchral Sacha Pitoëff (her husband?) hovers about, continually beating all comers in a kind of pick-up-sticks game. Simple enough, right? But as Albertazzi continues to repeat “Last year. . . ” each encounter takes place in different locations, in different costumes, the alterations not just coming from scene to scene but from shot to shot — at one point Seyrig seemingly steps forward in a perfect match cut despite spanning completely different sets — with his remembrances becoming more and more detailed and personal, amid actually mounting suspense, until the question becomes not only did it happen, but was it seduction or. . . ? All this as their fellow guests alternate among relatively realistic crowd scenes, poses frozen in place as the principals walk past them, and a de Chirico-like composition amid the lavish grounds where the people cast extremely long shadows but the shrubbery casts none. Perhaps the ultimate puzzle film, with dizzying time shifts and flashbacks, real or imagined—or are they shifts into the subjunctive? Possible solutions have included the Orpheus-Eurydice myth; a visualization of the process of psychoanalysis; or the whole as a kind of stream-of consciousness of a single mind, encompassing truth, lies, and visualized what ifs. But the list could go on, and usually does, as vehement post-film discussions. Technically, however, it’s easy to agree that Marienbad is a tour de force, with Sacha Vierny’s lusciously velvet black and white photography of the incredibly lavish interior of — mainly — Nymphenburg castle in Bavaria; with the debuting Seyrig’s feathery peignoir probably an homage to Evelyn Brent in von Sternberg’s Underworld; and the horror film-worthy organ score by Seyrig’s brother Francis. With Oscar-nominated screenplay by nouveau roman titan Alain Robbe-Grillet, who now sits in the Académie Française. One of the most iconic and "referenced" art films of all time, Marienbad has been homaged in everything from Calvin Klein "Obsession" ads in the 80s, to Marc Jacobs' Fall 2007 collection, to British band Blur's music video "To the End." “I was not prepared for the voluptuous quality of Marienbad, its command of tone and mood, its hypnotic way of drawing us into its puzzle, its austere visual beauty.” – Roger Ebert. “The overall tone is poker-faced parody of lush Hollywood melodrama . . . Yet the film’s dreamlike cadences, frozen tableaux, and distilled surrealist poetry are too eerie, too terrifying even, to be shaken off as camp. For all its notoriety, this masterpiece among masterpieces has never really received its due.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum. “I can’t remember a film of more sustained visual delight. It is the Finnegans Wake of the movies.” – Dwight Macdonald.

LABYRINTH- Fri Jan 18 and Sun Jan 20 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A flop back in the summer of 1986. A cult following today. Personally, I think the cult is bigger in say, L.A. and Chicago than here. It feels to me that; if there is more of a following in terms of mid80s Jim Henson work, then it would be more for Fraggle Rock then for this flick. When you hear those from 26-30 in NYC, who had HBO back then, talk lovingly about the show, or even Tina Fey, when she compared Paris Hilton's wig with a Fraggle, you might come to the same idea I did. That said, tell me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Labyrinth the only Jim Henson film to be re-released in a 2 disc DVD set to actually sell pretty well? Someone's rocking out to this.

While babysitting, Teenager Jennifer Connelly gets sick of her little brother, and wishes him taken away by some goblins. Why a mid 80s teen would pick goblins, who knows? But she gets her wish, as Goblin King David Bowie does exactly that. Jennifer goes off to David's Goblin castle to keep the rugrat from becoming a goblin. And of course, has to go through the title set of mazes to get there.

Executive produced by George Lucas, but hey, at least it's better than the other film he produced from that summer, Howard The Duck. Directed by Henson, who co-wrote the story. Monty Python's Terry Jones wrote an early version of the screenplay, with some kind of uncredited re-writing from Elaine May. Hell, I'll give this a shot. And because this falls on Martin Luther King weekend, Landmark Sunshine Cinema will also have a Sunday night Midnight screening, to go along with the Friday and Saturday night ones. If you don't have to work the next day, the Sunday nighter might be fun.

HIS GIRL FRIDAY and (But I'm not running to catch this one) THE WOMEN- Tues Jan 22 at 6 (His Girl) and 7:45 (Women)- Symphony Space- W. 95th and Bway- A double feature where I'd really like to catch the first film, and I don't care whether I see the second or not. His Girl Friday is the first of two female reporter versions of The Front Page, and the best film adaptation of this play. Newspaper editor Cary Grant tries to keep top reporter/ex-wife Rosalind Russell from quitting the paper and marrying perennial other guy Ralph Bellamy. She gets to finish her career on a high note, but actually finishing isn't that easy . . .

Director Howard Hawks keeps the film, and especially the dialogue, flying at a million miles a second, or it seems that way. Very few films have succeeded in pulling off such an evenly matched battle of the sexes for as long as they do here. Russell never had better chemistry with another male actor, as she did with Grant.

Double featured with another Russell film, George Cukor's The Women. Cukor got the job after being fired from Gone With The Wind. Whether it was because Clark Gable didn't want to work with a gay director, or didn't want to be directed by someone who had dirt on him, or any dozen of reasons from Hollywood Babylon, The Last Tycoon and God knows how many Golden Age of Hollywood dirt specials, Cukor was available and solidified his reputation as a successful woman's director here. Feels a bit too campy for me now, but not bad. Has its fun bitchy moments. Lines are drawn in a group of female friends, when one of their's husband has an affair, and the gossip spreads like wildfire. Hell of a cast, as MGM used every actress they had under contract, except for Myrna Loy and Greta Garbo. Ok, I guess Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, and Lassie as well. Assuming they were under contract that is. The cast includes Russell, the cheated-on Norma Shearer, adulteress Joan Crawford, Pauline Goddard and Joan Fontaine.

LADY CHATTERLY- with an intro by Director Pascale Ferran- MOMA- Mon Jan 28 at 7- Technically a revival. A highly praised adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's story from 2006. For once, a version that wasn't turned into soft core porn, but treats its audience like adults. It came out in the U.S. this summer to critical praise, but against PG-type art house hits such as Waitress and Once, it had no chance. It seems like one of those films one should probably try to catch this when it comes to rounding out any potential top 10 lists for the year. Note this is the 3 hr version of the film, not the 3hr, 40 min version as it originally was on French TV. Director Pascale Ferran will introduce this particular screening at MOMA herself.

Let me know. Later all.


Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...

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cr99ist03in said...

Someone's rocking out to Labyrinth, indeed. Me, baby. Me. Wish I lived in NY right about now:)

mtlamsa said...

I thank you for your many-sidedness. A cinema citizen, a celluloid soldier. Thanks also for your "Julian Marsh" line readings!