Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June revivals: second half

Hey all. Mike here with what to catch in early June. A more eclectic collection than usual. but before that, I went to MOMA on Friday to catch Breathless. Whoever thought that many people would go to see the Richard Gere remake as opposed to the French original, is the very definition of being cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Anyway, now I knew that on Friday's after 5pm, the museum is free to the public. But I didn't know the films were as well. Boy am I pleasantly surprised. When they come up with something interesting I'll post it. Sorry that I don't consider Todd Haynes' Poison to be one of them. Anyway, here we go:

Charlie Chaplin's MONSIEUR VERDOUX- Wed June 18 and Thurs June 19 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of a long forgotten Charlie Chaplin comedy. The blackest he ever made. No Little Tramp business here, as he plays a dapper looking man who, after the stock market crash of '29, supports his family by marrying, then killing other women. Exactly the kind of film post WW 2 film audiences were demanding to see . . . Before the film came out, Charlie had the kind of negative publicity that Britney and Lindsey would think there but for the grace of God go us, or whatever their equivalent would be. But being an actual artist with a point of view (along with a strong sexual appetite that leaned toward much younger women to put it kind), seemed to make Chaplin more of a danger. Imagine the way critics have sharpened the knives, ready to rip into M. Night's films now. Then imagine some of these critics feeling they must defend the masses against whatever political statement Chaplin would make with this film. Then consider the only media around are in newspapers, magazines and radio, thus giving these critics some more sway. Throw in other reporters more interested in asking Chaplin about allegedly sleeping with underage girls or being condemned by members of Congress then the film's content.

Monsieur Verdoux was DOA. A major financial flop that was pulled after a month or some. Not everyone hated it. The Times back then gave it a very good review. It was named Best Film by National Board of Review, and Chaplin himself received an Oscar nomination for the Screenplay. A 1964 re-release gave the film some much needed respectability and even an audience. I guess those dealing with the Cold War felt the film to be quite fresh. But except for the rare TV screen, it's been out of sight, out of mind. Now's the time for major re-evaluation.

SPELLBOUND or JAWS- Fri June 20 at 6 for both- MOMA- First come, first served with both these films. You can't do both on this day, you can only get into one. Spellbound is Hitchcock's romantic mystery/thriller. Ingrid Bergman is a psychiatrist who tries to help amnesiac patient Gregory Peck, who thinks he might have killed someone. Of course they fall in love . . . Oscar nominations for Picture, Hitchcock for Director, Michael Chekov (as Bergman's mentor) for Supporting Actor, Cinematography, and Special Effects. An Oscar for the score. It's playing at MOMA as part of a retrospective of Salvador Dali's work. He designed the dream sequence. Fans of his work tend to enjoy this more than the rest of the film. It's not in my top 5 of Hitchcock, but I like it, and wouldn't mind seeing it, especially for free.

Jaws is also playing for free, subject to availability. I talked about it when it played at the Ziegfeld. If you didn't catch this there before and you DON'T take advantage of this, then you're hopeless, or out of town. Though probably both.

BONJOUR TRISTESSE- Wed June 25 at 6 and Thurs June 26 at 8:30- MOMA- An Otto Preminger film I've never seen. David Niven and Jean Seberg play play self-interested father and daughter who vacation on the French Riviera with his girlfriend. An Oedipus attachment develops between parent and daughter, but things get worse when old girlfriend Deborah Kerr comes to visit. Very curious and wouldn't mind trying it.

CLUE- Fri June 27 and Sat June 28 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The 1985 comedy gets another midnight screening. This has a major cult following in L.A. In NYC, not so much. I don't know why I like the film so much. It has a good begginning, an extremely mixed middle and endings of varying quality. But I like it, no rational reason why. I'd like to catch this, unless you prefer your midnight films darker, in which case, there's always . . .

MAD MAX- Fri June 27 and Sat June 28 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- The 70s Sci-fi retrospective ends with the film that made Mel Gibson an international star and put director George Miller into the big leagues. Note I said international and not U.S. Before films like Titanic and the Lord of the Rings series came along, you see the list of what was the highest grossing films in any country outside of North America, and chances are Star Wars, Mad Max and E.T. were in the top 4. But in America back in 1980 (it was released in most countries in 1979), it came out in a heavily dubbed form. Apparently there was no belief that we could understand all these Australian dialects. And to see this little film as opposed to say, Empire Strikes Back for the second or third time? Forget it. Several re-releases, including one a year after The Road Warrior's success, made no dent here.

One part post-apocalyptic film and one part Death Wish. Not as much action as you might think or remember, but still pretty good on a low budget. Apparently most of Australia can pass for a post- WW3 environment, and director Miller does a lot with a little. And Gibson practically screams Movie Star here. And it's only 93 minutes; helpful for a midnight screening.

YOJIMBO- Sat June 28 at 1, 7:10 and 9:40- Film Forum- Part of the Tatsuya Nakadai retrspective. The only one I have the guts to post at the moment- I've caught High and Low at the Forum and I'm in no hurry to catch it again. Among my favorites. Leone would later rip this off to make A Fistful But for the rest of this Mifune-Kurosawa, I'm cutting and pasting something from a another website that described this. It could have been Film Forum, it could have been AMMI. I don't remember, it was over 2 years ago and I'm tired:

"You can't get ahead in this world unless folks think you're both a cheat and a killer." Met at the entrance to a seemingly deserted village by a stray mutt sauntering past with a severed hand in his jaws, grubby wandering and unemployed samurai Toshiro Mifune, after a suitable double take, realizes a skilled yojimbo (bodyguard) could rake in a few ryo in this town. And after checking out the sake merchant's thugs squaring off against the silk merchant's goon squad, twice as much, if he hires out to both sides. Venice Festival acting prize to Mifune, with Tatsuya Nakadai as the pistol-waving killer."

I would have posted Bride of Frankenstien at Bryant Park for free on Monday June 23, but due to the fire at Universal Studios, I don't know if the print scheduled to come here survived the fire. If it didn't, I don't know if they'll get another print up in time. Either way, there are other choices so I push them instead. Let me know. Later all.

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