Saturday, April 05, 2008

April revivals: first half

Mike here with what to catch for the first half of April. Sorry for being a little late, spent a little time working background on the new Tony Gilroy film, Duplicity. A film shoot where earlier in the week, lead Julia Roberts mocked someone for watching cartoons. According to Ms. Roberts, any grown man who watches animation is absurd. So apparently any male over 21 who watches animation, whether it's Tom and Jerry, or South Park, or Family Guy, or something from Pixar, or something like Persepolis. She didn't specify and I don't need her to. The attitude gives me a clear enough picture. But that doesn't make her a bad person. Anyone on Duplicity who came up with idea of having hundreds of people work while deprived of access of food (and at one point, water except from the bathroom sink) for over seven hours, those people are far worse. Oh, we could try to get something from the overpriced snack machine, as long as they were the first 50 people on line. Or we go to the tent area on 36th st. That is, if you managed to dodge traffic, stick your hand in the cooler and hope it's just soda, or fight the ravenous mob of people, desperate for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Wow, this experience just sucked.

At least Paul Giamatti was professional with his mini monologue/speech. He never flubbed his lines, had his character well set, with some takes lasting several minutes at a time (with massive coverage for editing purposes.). And when a frustrated female extra (who babbled behind me earlier on about how she screwed up taking off from her babysitting gig for this job, which paid about 80 percent less) yelled during a take "WE HAVEN'T EATEN ALL DAY!!!", Giamatti just took a beat, and resumed as though nothing happened. It felt like if it wasn't for him, we would be shooting through midnight. Part of me knows that's not true; but as I was desperately filling the empty cavern I was calling my stomach with a patty melt from a nearby greasy spoon, it was hard to believe at times. Thank goodness I knew some people at this gig. Best to share the misery I always say.

Anyway, I'm done ranting. Here we go with the list:

DR. NO and GOLDFINGER- Sat April 5 at 5:15 (Goldfinger), 7:25 (Dr No) and 9:30 (Goldfinger)- Film Forum- A new 35mm print for both. Yes, both films will be playing at the Ziegfeld later this month. But either you want to spend 8 dollars for each film separately, or pay 11 dollars to see both. I leave that decision to you, I'll just post.

First, Dr. No. The first of the Bond films (No I'm not counting the Barry Nelson version done for TV, Bart. Shut up about it already!) with Sean Connery. Featuring the Theme, and Ursula Andress, rising from the sea like a goddess. Luckily, there will be no sing-a-long after each screening of Dr. No. I'd hate to imagine how stupid that would be.

Next is Goldfinger. Arguably one of the best Bonds, though that argument won't be made by me after seeing this and From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty's Secret Service on the big screen. The cheese factor is notably higher then in the previous installments; as Sean Connery battles the title character, Odd Job, a castrating laser, and in his own way, Pussy Galore. But it's still a lot of fun. Following the 2 listed evening performances on each day, there will be a Goldfinger sing-a-long. It not only shows the god awful song writing, but makes us think what kind of a miracle worker Shirley Bassey is, by turning this chicken shit song into chicken salad.

THE GREAT ESCAPE- Tues April 8 at 7:20- Film Forum- A new 35mm print. A well-crafted mix of fact and just enough Hollywood (it lays that right out for you in the beginning) to create a rousing adventure-thriller. Depicting the true story of the mass escape of Allied POWs from a German stalag during WW2. Big cast includes James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Donald Pleasance, James Coburn and Charles Bronson. Oscar nominated editing was well deserved.

In retrospect, all of this has been pushed aside by the presence of Steve McQueen. With this picture, you can literally pinpoint the moments where McQueen goes from leading man, to American Movie Star, to International Film Icon, all in the course of 2 hrs, 57 min. It's a long night, but if you're for it, please say yes.

MIDNIGHT COWBOY- Wed April 9 at 7:30 and 9:40- Film Forum- Part of the United Artists retrospective. A film that show the seedy side of NYC circa late 1960s. Flower power didn't seem to extend here. The only X rated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, as well winning for Director John Schlesinger and Screenwriter Waldo Salt. Depicting the relationship between hayseed male prostitute Jon Voight and sickly slickster Dustin Hoffman. On both AFI Top 100 lists. Chances are, if you're looking at this post, you know the film. But there's also a good chance you haven't seen this film, except for maybe Hoffman's "I'M WALKING HERE!!!" clip. Now would be a good time to change this.

ANNIE HALL and WHERE'S POPPA?- Thurs April 10 and Fri April 11 (Friday tentative on my end) at 6:15 (Poppa), 7:50 (Annie), and 9:40 (Poppa)- Film Forum- Both films part of the United Artists retrospective. First, Annie Hall. Not going too much into this. Blah blah, Woody Allen's best film right along with Manhattan. Blah blah, on both AFI Top 100 lists and in my own personal top 100. Blah Blah, Multiple Oscar winner including Best Picture. Blah blah, Diane Keaton becomes movie icon and feminist icon of all time. Blah blah, the Annie Hall character was to women then as Juno is to young women right now. Blah blah, one of the best romantic comedies ever made, despite the dramatic/sad tinges to it. Blah blah, just see it, all right.

Next is Where's Poppa, from director Carl Reiner. A film that could only have been made in the 1970s. Well, let me rephrase that. The idea of an adult trying to take care of their senile and/or elderly parent has been covered before, most recently in The Savages. But the black comic depths could not be done today. George Segal plays a failing lawyer, going nuts over taking care of his senile old bat of a mother, played by Ruth Gordon. He finally gets help from a nurse, who turns out to be his dream girl. But wait till Momma does things her way. Ron Liebman, Barnard Hughes, Vincent Gardenia and Paul Sorvino are among the cast of this cult film. I don't know which ending this screening will have. Those with the laser disc know exactly what I mean. Anyway, let's make time for both films please.

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY- Sat April 12 at 1 and 8:30- Film Forum- Part of the United Artists retrospective. The epic of Leone's Man With No Name trilogy; you definitely go on a journey here, aided with Morricone's most famous score, especially the theme. Eastwood's not so nice Good, Lee Van Cleef's evil to the core Bad, and Eli Wallach's not much better Ugly, fight each other, and try to work their way around something called The Civil War, to get their hands on buried gold. Probably, the best of the Spaghetti Westerns, due in no small part to Wallach's great performance (note that I RARELY use that phrase), the cinematography and Morricone's score.

This is the Reconstructed Italian version (don't worry, the words are still spoken in English). 2 hrs. 55 min. long, including 15 restored min. that Eastwood and Wallach had to go back and re-dub a couple of years ago. The print has been cleaned up, and has a remixed 5.1 Digital Dolby sound. I've done this at the Forum a few years ago, but I need no excuse to go back. A favorite of mine.

PINK FLOYD: THE WALL- Sat April 12 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A film from United Artists, after it was sold and became part of MGM. That's the only connection this has with the other films on this list. You can't get much more bizarre than this collaboration of Alan Parker's visual style and Roger Waters' music. Among the last of the midnight movies to make any kind of impact. Waters hated this film so much, he bad mouthed it every chance he had. I don't think Parker can say Roger's name without some form of bile buildup. Amazing visual sequences, not just in the famous We Don't Need No Education scene. The film is barely coherent from the start, and makes less sense as it goes along. But good music and visuals go a long way with me.

NIGHT OF THE HUNTER- Mon April 14 at 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the United Artists retrospective. 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 watched 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 watching good films. And also, if we keep giving Spike Lee less credit, the world will be a happier place to live in.

Initial reaction from 1955 audiences made this film a huge bust. It prompted first-time director/ acting legend Charles Laughton to never 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.

TOPKAPI and/or THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968)- Thurs April 17 at 7:05 (Topkapi) and 9:20 (Crown)- Film Forum- 2 heist films that are part of the United Artists retrospective. First Topkapi, from the recently deceased Jules Dassin. Raffi may his best film, and probably the best heist film ever made, but this comedy/thriller deserves some love. A small timer (and possible idiot), played by Peter Ustinov spies on a group of jewel thieves (Melina Mercouri, Maximillian Schell and Robert Morley, among others) involved in a caper in Istanbul. The complications rise, the police apply more pressure, and this little idiot actually thinks he's controlling the situation. Featuring a heist scene that De Palma would expertly copy (I mean do a homage to) in the original Mission: Impossible. In fact this film inspired the original series. Great location shooting, and an Oscar for Ustinov for Supporting Actor.

Next, the original Thomas Crown Affair. The Pierce Brosnan remake is ok, but nothing matches the original. A new 35mm print for Thomas Crown. Steve McQueen plays the title role, and is in ultra-cool mode. He's a bored multi-millionaire who gets his kicks from planning bank robberies. But he might meet his match in high class private eye Faye Dunaway. The rest of the film becomes a cat and mouse game between them.

I enjoy Norman Jewison's film very much. But I'll admit to some dated moments here, though thanks to 24, the multiple pictures in picture isn't one of them anymore. Has a very 60s feel to it, especially in the Oscar nominated score, the Oscar winning "The Windmills of your Mind", and the ending.

The leads help this endure. McQueen may not be the prototype for the polo playing 60s-esque Master of the Universe. But he's Steve McQueen, so he's cool. And Faye Dunway gets to be stylish, sexy, and smart as whip. Mix the 2 together in that chess seduction scene, and it becomes unforgettable. I'm confident that if you're reading this, you probably haven't seen this. And I'm just as confident you'll enjoy it.

Emphasis on the McQueen films and the Annie Hall/Where's Poppa double feature. Anything else is a bonus. Let me know. Later all.

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