Friday, April 18, 2008
April revivals: second half
Mike here with what to catch in the second half of April. Won't waste time, so let's go:
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME- Tues April 22 and Thurs April 24 at 8- at the Ziegfeld for 8 dollars- W. 54th and 6th Ave.- I think this is a digital screening of the flick, but DON'T QUOTE ME because I could be wrong. I've done this before, but I'm open to doing this again, especially on this screen.
This is what a summer blockbuster should be; Pirates of the Caribbean and Spider-Man 3 are embarrassing next to this. Arguably, the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. A lot of fun without insulting your intelligence, unless you're an annoying Connery/Craig purist. Definitely the best of the 70s Bond films, though it admittedly doesn't have a lot of competition. One of the better stories, Moore's best Bond performance, great Egypt and Canada/Switzerland locations shots, a standout opening stunt title credit sequence and song, and one of the better Bond villains in Jaws (you know, the one with the metal teeth). Would have been the big hit of 1977, if that art house film Star Wars hadn't come out.
Oscar nominations for Marvin Hamlisch's score, song (Nobody Does It Better) and the opulent Art Direction/ Set Decoration. But if you're a Connery/Craig purist, you hate this film with a passion, so I'll move on. I wish you gave it a chance, but I move on.
MIDNIGHT COWBOY- Wed April 23- Tues April 29 at 1, 3:15, 5:30, 7:50 and 10- Film Forum- 209 Houston St.- Part of the United Artists retrospective. A new 35mm print. It played earlier, but now gets a one week run where it will be the only film playing on one of the Forum's 3 screens. 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.
THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920) and/or TOM JONES- Thurs April 24 at 7:45 (Zorro) and 9:40 (Tom Jones)- Film Forum- Part of the United Artists retrospective. A double feature for one admission. I don't have to catch both. I'd like to, but it's not a priority.
First, The Mark of Zorro. One of UA's early hits from the silent era. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. stars in one of the more popular versions of the story. Tyrone Power is probably the best remembered Zorro, except for idiots who can only think of Antonio Banderas's versions. That might be harsh, but let's not put Antonio's big budget, heavily edited version, with the more athletic Fairbanks Jr. version. With live piano accompaniment, as opposed to some canned synthesized music for "modern audiences".
Followed by Tom Jones. The Forum refers to this romantic farce as Barry Lyndon with laughs. Never seen this, so I couldn't tell you. But now is as good a time as any to catch up. I do know this is what made Albert Finney an international star forever. For those who just think of him as some older, overweight actor in small roles from The Bourne Supremacy to Before The Devil Knows You're Dead., here's the chance to see him young and vibrant.
11 Oscar nominations, including Finney for Best Actor. He lost to some guy named Poitier for Lilies Of The Field. Winner of 4 Oscars, including Picture and Director for Tony Richardson, and Screenplay Adaptation for John Osbourne. Not a great year for film 1963, considering the other films included Cleopatra, How The West Was Won, Bye Bye Birdie and Come Blow Your Horn. Ok, Hud , 8 1/2 Charade, The Birds, Dr. No and The Great Escape salvage the year. Anyway, let me say, catch this film.
Note: Yes, I know Dr. No is mostly considered a 1962 film, but since it wasn't released in New York until 63, tough titties. The next film is generally considered a 1963 film, but since it didn't come out in the U.S. until 1964, again, tough titties.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE- Fri April 25 at 8, Sat April 26 at 2 and Sun April 27 at 5- at the Ziegfeld for 8 dollars- In my opinion, the Best Connery Bond. Yes, even over Goldfinger. Has the best fight scene, between Connery and Robert Shaw. If you know Bond, you know how good this is. Nuff said.
ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE- Sat April 26 at 5- at the Ziegfeld for 8 dollars- For me, the best Bond film. Not necessarily the best Bond in George Lazenby, though I thought he was the best, physically and fight-wise. I've done this one before, so if someone really wants to do it, they'll have to let me know ASAP.
DR. NO- Fri April 25-Thurs May 1- at the Ziegfeld for 8 dollars- Caught already and not going again. Hasn't aged well in and at times, moves like molasses. Luckily, Connery's characterization, the theme, some action/fight scenes, and Ursula Andress rising from the ocean in a swimsuit makes this worth catching. It also makes this the weakest of all the films on this list, and not by a little bit. But if you have the time, go.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN- Tues April 29 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A new 35mm print. Well made remake of Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. Yul Brynner leads the group of hired guns, defending the poor Mexican village from despicable Eli Wallach and his evil henchmen. Served as a kind of template for future spaghetti Westerns. Also served as a springboard for the film careers of several of the 7: James Coburn, Charles Bronsan, Robert Vaughn, and . . . oh yeah, Steve McQueen. Also with one of the best film scores of all time from composer Elmer Bernstein(no exaggeration). From the director of The Great Escape. If you've caught up with Steve McQueen with both that and Thomas Crown, you might as well complete the journey for this retrospective.
THE LONG GOODBYE and/or THIEVES LIKE US- Wed April 30 at 5:25 (Thieves), 7:35 (Long Goodbye, with a pre-film intro by Jim Bouton) and/or 9:40 (Thieves)- Film Forum- An Altman double feature. First, The Long Goodbye. Some of you have done with me before, so I won't push too hard. If you haven't seen it, catch it. Imagine Phillip Marlowe, now in the swinging, more violent, early-1970s, while he still seems to carry the values and ideals of a Bogart-esque era. Now, instead of having Bogart as your private eye, you have Elliott Gould. Altman felt Gould was perfect for it. He said (I got this from the Forum website):
“Everyone said Elliott’s not Philip Marlowe and I wasn’t being true to Chandler, but what they were really saying was that Elliott Gould wasn’t Humphrey Bogart. I believe we were closer to Chandler’s character than any of the other renditions.”
That apparently was the feeling back in 73, because the film was a box office flop. Their loss, your gain if you go see it. Jim Bouton, the ex-Yankees pitcher who plays Marlowe's friend will introduce the screening. The only thing I'll add is this quote I previously wrote from the Forum's email system. From Terrence Rafferty of the New York Times: “Watching The Long Goodbye in 1973, you could feel Philip Marlowe dancing on his own grave. Watching it now, you can see Robert Altman dancing with him.”
Followed by Thieves Like Us, an Altman film from 1974. Unfortunately, this was also a flop. An adaptation of Edward Anderson's novel. While it might be considered a more faithful adaptation than the Nicolas Ray film They Live By Night, most of us have never read it. This film feels like a more realistic version of Bonnie and Clyde. 3 bank robbers elude the law. One of them falls in love with a girl. But instead of the sexiness of a Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway couple, we have a more realistic Keith Carradine-Shelley Duvall pairing. You feel for them, but you know in this time period it won't work out. Lots of Mississippi locations and superior art direction and costume design help with the authentic feel. Catch this, though if it's inconvenient now, it plays for a week in May at the Forum.
I'm also leaving out Sunday Bloody Sunday at the Forum, because it will play later on at more convenient times in May. Otherwise let me know. I lean toward Tom Jones, the western and the Altman double feature, but anything else is a bonus. And I must know if there's any interest in Her Majesty's ASAP. Later all.