Thursday, July 31, 2008

August revivals: first half

Hey all. Mike here with what to catch for the first half of Aug. I could have done a longer list, but what would I really prefer catching? I narrowed that down. A lot easier to do with the first half of this month, as opposed to the second half. I do not look forward to having to cut that list down. In the meanwhile, here we go:

RASHOMON- Fri Aug 1 at 7:15- the Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Back to Kurosawa-Mifune territory with the first of their films to make a worldwide cultural impact. Set in feudal Japan, a rape and murder occurs in the woods. The story of the crime is told from the perspective of four different characters; a bandit (Mifune), a woman, her husband, and a woodcutter. The only two things about the incident are clear, that the woman was raped and her husband is now dead. However, the other elements radically differ as the four participants and/or witnesses relate their own stories (with the dead man, eerily speaking through a medium). As each account is revealed, the only thing that's black and white is the film's photography.

Put Kurosawa on the international film map, with a plot device and/or story-telling style that has been copied ever since. The idea of something happening, and being looked at differently through flashbacks that are rarely the same, was radical back in the early 1950s. Now with other films and tv doing variations, it seems common, even cliched. But this was the best. Memento, most Tarentino films, and Catch-22 are only the most famous variations (note I said variations, so I don't want to hear from nit-pickers). An Oscar nomination for the Art Direction. An honorary Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, apparently the only time there was basically a unanimous choice in this category.

THE ROAD WARRIOR- Fri Aug 1 and Sat Aug 2 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The first successful Mad Max film in the U.S. I mentioned a few months back how much of a mega hit the first Mad Max was in every country except this one. And Warner Bros must have figured this out when they changed the film's title from Mad Max 2 to this. This wasn't breaking box office records like E.T. was doing that same summer, but it found a big enough audience in theaters (and blew up big time on home video), that a third Mad Max film was eventually made.

Not only the best Mad Max film, but for me, one of the best action films ever made. Mel Gibson is in full anti-hero, as Max is in no mood to help one group that's low on brute strength, but high in both brain power and precious gas reserves. But another brutal group, full of men in masks and punk looks, is looking to pillage and do far worse, forcing Max to help. Some good action scenes, but the greatness comes in the final car chase lasting quite a while. Swarms of unrelenting evil, attacking Max in his tanker, at speeds that seemed at least 80mph.

A triumph of editing, cinematography and script writing. No, seriously. The stakes are raised by the time we get to this car chase, with an ending that we were not expecting. Yeah, you say that 25 yrs later, but when you first experience the scene? I don't think so. Have never seen this on the big screen and would really like to.

RAISING ARIZONA and MILLER'S CROSSING- Sat Aug 2 at 5 (Arizona) and 7 (Crossing)- MOMA- A Coen Brothers double feature. There could be a triple feature, but I've caught Blood Simple enough times that I have no burning desire to catch it again. But it's been awhile with these two, so on the list they go.

First, Raising Arizona. Narrated by Nicolas Cage, playing a dumb ass early variation of The Dude, as an ex-con who wants to start a family with ex-cop wife Holly Hunter. No conception success, so they get the bright idea to steal a newborn quintuplet from a millionaire. They take Nathan Jr., they think. Problems arise when they have to explain how they suddenly got a baby, the arrival of his ex-con buddies (John Goodman and William Forsythe), and the bounty hunter willing to do anything to get Nathan Jr. back. Very broad comedy, but unlike Intolerable Cruelty and Hudsucker Proxy, this Coen Brothers film is actually fun and funny.

Followed by Miller's Crossing. Released among the glut of gangster films back in the fall/winter of 1990. Goodfellas is the only one better than this from that time, and is among the best films from that year. That it barely found more of a U.S. audience than The Krays or State of Grace means less then you think. So I'm guessing most of you reading this have either never seen this, or haven't seen this since the 90s on video.

A stylized gangster film set during the Prohibition era. Albert Finney's Boss character refuses to bow to pressure from a rising upstart who refuses to take "the high hat" any longer. Gabriel Byrne, playing his best friend and right hand man, begins a complicated scheme to save his boss. Even it costs him their friendship and possibly his life. Because Byrne's character is something of a cold fish for whom most of the fireworks going on with him are internal, you might have trouble going for this film.

For me, the style is substance here. A bit intellectual, but then I didn't say it was the best film of that year, just one of. Good cast helps. Among them is Homicide's Jon Polito, Marcia Gay Harden in her first major film role, and early screen appearances by Steve Buscemi and Michael Jeter. Cinematography by future director Barry Sonnenfeld, who come to think of it, did the same thing for Raising Arizona as well.

But if you know the film at all, then your first thought would be to John Turturro as weasel extraordinaire Bernie Bernbaum. Specifically, the scene in the woods where he goes to great lengths begging for his life. The desperation, the loss of self confidence in the face of one's demise, the knowledge that you have nothing to give that could change your killer's mind so you just beg and cry and beg some more. If John wasn't locked in to at least character film work forever with his work on Spike Lee films, then this cemented it.

Both films are worth catching separately, but I much prefer catching them together. Let's do this please.

RIFIFI- Fri Aug 8 and Sat Aug 9 at 5:30, 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- The start of the French Crime Wave film Retrospective. One of the great film-noirs ever made, and it's French, but directed by an American. Jules Dassin, forced to work outside the U.S. after being named by others to the House Un-American Activities Committee, then eventually blacklisted after refusing to name names.

This was his first film after all that, shot on a very low budget. Very simple heist story, where an ex-con plots the perfect robbery, gets others to help, they pull it off, things go wrong from within and from outside afterwards, and revenge is sought after. The story is simple. The execution of it is spectacular. Famous for its long robbery sequence (about a fourth of the entire film!), done with no music, no dialogue, and no sound effects unless absolutely necessary. A scene that's been copied most famously by Brian De Palma in Mission: Impossible.

I've seen this only once, as a re-release back in 2000. I tried to talk someone into seeing a cheap screening of American Psycho, but he talked me into this instead. American Psycho was one of the best films of 2000, Rififi is one of the best films ever. Haven't seen this since that night, but would like to do this again.

THE THIEF OF PARIS- Tues Aug 12 at 7- Film Forum- I've never seen this one, but the combo of director Louis Malle and one of my all-time actress crushes, Genevive Bujold. Set in turn of the century Paris, filled with gentlemen thieves. The focus is on one thief played by Jean-Paul Belmondo (Le Doulos), who steals his family's jewelery when he's cheated out of the woman he loves. What happens from there, I have no idea. But I'd like to catch it.

This is followed by Borsalino. But apparently, this is the English language version. That to me means poorly dubbed, so I have no interest in staying.

LA PISCINE and PURPLE NOON- Wed Aug 13 at 7:35 (Piscine) and 9:50 (Purple)- Film Forum- Part of the French Crime Wave retrospective. Interesting double feature that I've never seen, but I'd like to give a chance. First, La Piscine, or The Swiming Pool or The Sinners, depending on where it was released. Alain Delon and Romy Schnieder are vacationing in St. Tropez, when her ex-lover and his daughter (the ex, not Delon) come along. There sex, murder and betrayal.

Honestly, there's nothing about this story that screams I Must See This. An excuse to see two hot European actresses in a film that's supposedly slow, possibly dated, but decent is all the excuse I need. The two I'm referring to are Schnieder and Jane Birkin, as the daughter.

If anything, I'm more interested in the second film, Purple Noon. An early adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley. Basically, if you're allergic to Matt Damon or Gwyneth, this is the version you can at least sit through. Alain Delon (again) became a French star forever playing Thomas Ripley. Like I said, never saw it, and would really like to. And since we can see both films for one admission, let's do it.

Definitely want to do the Coen brothers flicks, followed by The Road Warrior (if you can stay up). Rififi and at least the Malle film as well. Anything else is a bonus. Later all.

Friday, July 18, 2008

July revivals: second half

Mike here with what to catch for the rest of August. Not everything mind you. Just what I want to see, and would like others to see as well.

Interesting revivals last weekend. Caught double feature at the William Holden retrospective. I still liked S.O.B. But audience reaction was mixed. While waiting in the lobby to get it, those at the Walter Reade were nice enough to play for us the I Love Lucy episode when Bill Holden visits the Ricardos. Complete with Lucy's disguise (after she embarrassed herself meeting him earlier), and long fake nose that catches fire. While I liked the film, it wasn't quite as funny as I remembered. And definitely not as funny as the Lucy episode. Having a portion of the film burn up, causing a 2 minute delay, and having some loon behind who thought EVERYTHING WAS HYSTERICAL didn't exactly help.

Followed up by The Wild Bunch. Despite one audience who sounded like he was let out of his "special" home for the weekend, I thought it was a terrific film. I liked it on TV, but on the big screen, it blew me away. I can see why it almost got an X rating for its violence. It doesn't matter if you blow away a hundred men at a time. It's when you start blowing away women, armed or otherwise is when you get into trouble. But all the violence has artistic relevance as far as I'm concerned, and the editing gives the film a modern feel today. Don't know if I'd put it in my top 100, but it's close.

Also caught Ran at the Forum. Difficult to sit through on TV, a must-see treasure on the big screen. Nuff said, now let's get on with the list:

XANADU SING-ALONG- Fri July 18 and Sat July 19 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- Not a great film, not a good film. But a craptastic film. One that is crap and fantastic to watch in that respect. Now throw in the new element of a sing along, and this can only get better. Hey, it's cheaper than renting a box of a room in Koreantown, watching someone drink while others attempt karaoke. Plus the visual stimulus of Olivia Newton John, what is there to lose?

FAME- Mon July 21 at 7pm for 5 dollars, 3 with student I.D.- doors open at 6:30- DGA Theatre- 110 W. 57th St.- An archival print from the Academy. A cheap screening of the 1980 musical. I wrote about All That Jazz back in December, stating basically that there were no great live action musicals between the Fosse film and fill in the blank from this century (Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Once). But I didn't say there wasn't anything good or successful in-between. Fame is one of them. Not the blockbuster like Empire Strikes Back, or the big hit like The Blue Lagoon. But it held it's own, playing, like Airplane, for months until it could be considered successful.

Depicting several students studying to become actors, singers musicians etc., at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. It seems like an Andy Hardy-like musical (especially the end), but it doesn't shy away from the idea that failure and/or emotional collapse are around the corner, and none of them are immune. Must be the working class influence of director Alan Parker. Some good musical numbers, especially the one pictured here, that takes place on W. 46th St.

It covers a New York that is essentially gone now, but the feelings of struggle by students and teachers alike are timeless. Great cast but it's telling to me, that for a story where the promise of a career may not last beyond school, some of the actors in the best roles or give the best performances, disappeared fairly quickly after the film's release. But the more recognizable people include Irene Cara, Broadway actor Boyd Gaines, Paul McCrane (Robocop, ER, 24), the late Gene Anthony Ray, Debbie Allen, Issac Mizrahi, Meg Tilly, Holland Taylor and Anne Meara.

6 Oscar nominations in total. I was definitely surprised by that number when I looked it up. Nominated for Original Screenplay, Editing, Sound, and for the song "Out Here on my Own". 2 Oscars, for Original Score and for the title song that gave Cara a career for a few years.

Michael Gore (who took home the Oscars) and costume designer Kristi Zea (who has moved on to become a production designer on flicks such as Goodfellas, Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and The Departed), will be at the screening. I don't know if they introducing the film or if they'll do a post film Q and A (my guess, it's the later), but they'll be there. Call 1-888-778-7575 for reservations. Get there before 6:45, otherwise the reservation may not be held.

But if you don't want to spend money to see a film that night, there's always . . .

ARSENIC AND OLD LACE- Mon July 21 for free at Bryant Pk.- Park opens at 5pm- Another strange, talky choice to show at Bryant Park. But this is one of my favorite comedies. Despite the play having been done to death in community theater, this Frank Capra comedy is still gold to me. I really hope the speakers at the park are cranked extra high. Cary Grant plays a man who comes home to find his beloved aunts are serial killers, who get thoughtfully kill lonely old men, and then bury them in the basement with the aid of the uncle who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. It's a good thing his serial killer brother returns home on the same night; looking like Boris Karloff and accompanied by his "doctor" who looks like Peter Lorre and is played by Lorre.

Grant thought it was his weakest, most over the top performance. History has been quite kind, disagreeing with Cary. Pitch perfect cast and production. If this was playing inside, I'd push this to the hilt, and be obnoxious to many in trying to catch this. But in Bryant Park? I'll leave this to you.

MONKEY BUSINESS and A DAY AT THE RACES- Thurs July 24 at 6 (Monkey) and 8 (Races)- MOMA- Explaining the plot of a Marx Bros. film is pointless. I know from experience when I was with a girl at the Forum for one of their flicks. Now granted, her wanting to know what the film The Marx Brothers was about should have been a sign, but I persisted. I gave the loosest description possible for one of the films, before some c-blocking twerp started going on about his philosophy of how there's no real structure to the plot and other crap I've long since scraped out of my mind. After he finished using oxygen, we looked at him, then turned around like he didn't exist. Not much happened with the girl by the way. Last time I heard from her, she complained about film shoots being moved to Connecticut for tax reasons and to benefit actors living there. She said somebody should write the mayor of Connecticut and tell him he's destroying actors' lives in New York. Re-read that sentence from time to time, and feel the IQ points drip away.

Even that above couldn't take enjoyment of the Marx Bros. away from me. Here's a double feature; we don't have to catch both, but one admission takes care of both film. And to tell the 2 films apart, Monkey Business is where the four brothers play stowaways on a cruise ship, with a funny scene where Groucho Harpo and Chico all have Maurice Chevalier as a passport photo, plus a hysterical finale in a barn. With A Day at the Races, we're down to 3 brothers. But we do get Margret Dumont and scenes at a sanitarium and a race track.

DICK TRACY- Fri July 25 and Sat July 26 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- An interesting choice for a midnight movie. Warren Beatty directed and stars as in the title role. Do your best to ignore Madonna whenever she stops singing Sondheim, no matter how much cleavage is on display.

An entertaining film, though this film is more into story than the typical summer blockbuster. Therefore it's pace might feel a little too drawn out, pun not intended but readily embraced. It moves fine for me.

The real star of this film is the makeup and art direction, both Oscar winning. The eye candy here is a ten, you feel like you're in the comic strip. The amazing bright colors and horrific look of the criminals goes a long long way. When you have characters like Pruneface, Flattop, Itchy, and Little Face, you get the look and you get the creep.

While not the star, Al Pacino steals the film chews the scenery as the Al Capone-esque main villain, with half baked artistic ideals and intellectual pretension, with a long cruel streak. Oscar nominated, the scenery is sufficiently chewed by Al. His comeback, started the previous year with Sea of Love, is complete here. And a little love for the rest of the cast that includes Glenne Headly, Charles Durning, Mandy Patikin, William Forsythe, Paul Sorvino, Estelle Parsons, Dick Van Dyke, James Cann, Catherine O'Hara, Michael J. Pollard, a pre-Misery Kathy Bates, a boatload of character actors, and Dustin Hoffman who hilariously strives to become the living embodiment of the name Mumbles.

FANTASIA with SKELETON DANCE and/or ANIMAL CRACKERS and/or MONKEY BUSINESS- Sat July 26 at 2 (Fantasia), 4:30 (Animal) and 6:30 (Monkey)- MOMA- On the first AFI Top 100 film. 2 Honorary Oscars for its then revolutionary combination of music and animation. A flop in its day, a hit and a classic since then. I really want to see this. I saw it on Radio City Music Hall's former 70mm screen and it blew me away. Now I know that MOMA has no 70mm screens, but their sound system is pretty darn good. I hate it when I take grief from people, just because I've said that if you give me great visuals and interesting music, I can overlook quite a number of a flim's flaws. But a film like this? Bring the kids. Bring the kids-at-heart. Now for the rest, I'll quote from the Walter Reade website back in 2006 I believe:

"Go and see it, if you're in the business. You can learn more from seeing 'The Dance of the Hours' by Walt Disney than from spending a year glumly staring at the television screen," wrote director Michael Powell in his autobiography. "Oh that the rest of Hollywood were only like Walt!" For generations now, kids and adults have plunked down their hard-earned dollars to see Fantasia, and emerged a little over two hours later with their minds blown. Vulgar? For sure, and proudly so. This kind of myth-making always is.

You could throw almost any adjective at the film and it would be absorbed into its vast mythic territory. One little addendum to Powell's assessment. It's Walt, assisted by a small army of animators. Here are a few names: Bill Tytla, Norman Ferguson, Ollie Johnston, Ward Kimball, Eric Larson, Joshua Meador, Fred Moore, Art Babbitt and Wolfgang Reitherman. Not to mention a few composers: Bach, Dukas, Tchaikovsky, Ponichelli, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, and Schubert.

Preceding Fantasia, is a Disney short, Skeleton Dance form 1929. One of the Silly Symphonies shorts. I know nothing else about it.

Now for the same admission, you can also see one or two Marx Brothers films on the same day. Monkey Business I mentioned above. Animal Crackers is definitely weaker than say, Duck Soup or Monkey Business, but still fun. It's basically a filmed play, but fun it is. Groucho is a famous explorer, returning home to a party held by Margaret Dumont. The 3 other brothers come in tow, hilarity ensues.

Fantasia is the highest priority, followed by Fame, then anything with the Marx Brothers. Anything else is a bonus. Let me know, especially with Fame, which probably requires a reservation. Later all.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

July revivals: first half

Mike here with what to catch for the first half of July. One retrospective I really want to attend is the William Holden retro at the Walter Reade at Lincoln Center. I can't catch most of them, especially I'm afraid The Bridge on The River Kwai. Too many plans for me this 4th of July weekend, so I'm afraid I'm missing that one. In the meantime, here's some good choices here. Now let's go:

THE GENERAL with SALVADOR DALI: HOME MOVIE- Mon July 7 at 6 and Wed July 9 at 8- MOMA- W. 53rd and 5th- A Buster Keaton comedy classic, though I would argue that it's more successful as an action film classic. He plays a train engineer who has a better time showing affection to his locomotive, The General, than with his girlfriend. But the Civil War breaks out, and all the men in her family enlist and are accepted as soldiers in the Confederacy. Keaton tries, but his engineer job makes him more valuable there than as a solider. But the girlfriend thinks he skipped out on enlisting and brands him a coward. He sulks away.

Some time later, they meet again. Somehow, she ends up on his train when it's hijacked by Union spies. Keaton must now to go to great lengths to save his train (and oh yeah, his ex) from the North, then get back to the nearest Confederate general with his train (and oh yeah, his ex) to warn him of a surprise Union attack.

Rooting for the Confederates is not as hard as you might think, this isn't Birth of a Nation folks. It's an action comedy. And there are some good comedy set pieces, such as Keaton in the enlistment office. But it works best as an action film. Wonderful scenes shot in the Northwest; the only place where Civil War style trains and tracks were still in use. Wonderful stunt work from director/lead Keaton. Chaplin's films may be best remembered, but he couldn't do that kind of stunt work on a moving train. Deservedly a classic.

Playing before it is a very short film about Salvador Dali. MOMA is doing a retrospective of his work. It includes this. You now know as much as I do.

ADAM'S RIB and PAT AND MIKE- Tues July 8 at 7 (Adam's) and 8:45 (Pat)- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- W. 95th and Bway- A double feature of two Hepburn/Tracy comedies directed by George Cukor. Both for one admission. First, Adam's Rib, my favorite of the two. Hepburn plays a defense attorney, who turns her loser of a case (a wife shoots her husband when he catches him cheating) into a rallying cause for women's rights and anything else she can think of. Much to the chagrin of her husband Tracy, the prosecuting attorney. The marriage takes a beating, but will it hold up? Gee, what do you think?

My favorite of all the Hepburn Tracy team ups. Some hilarious set pieces, some involving David Wayne as the comic relief neighbor with a longing for Hepburn. Judy Holliday steals scenes as the wife on trial. An Oscar nomination for screenwriters Ruth Gordon and Garrison Kanin.

Gordon and Kanin were also nominated for their Screenplay for Pat and Mike. Another pretty good Hepburn/Tracy team up. Kate plays an athlete who's great at golf and tennis, but cracks when whenever her annoying fiance watches. Enter her new manager Tracy, whose tough ways eventually melt in the face of too much Kate. The script was conceived in part to take advantage of Hepburn's physical skills. She believable plays tennis and golf with the likes of Babe Didrikson.
But two set pieces stand out. One where Tracy imposes the first limits of diet and training on Hepburn, which she hates but has no choice. The second involves a very young Charles Bronson. Hepburn saves Tracy from getting beat on by thugs, one played by Bronson. First you have the thugs beating Tracy, then they get beaten by Hepburn, then they're flabbergasted by the feeling of lost manhood by being beaten by a woman, then you have them trying to explain to Sheriff Chuck Connors why Hepburn should be arrested, then the thugs try to keep from going to jail, then Tracy and Hepburn try to keep the thugs from facing worse criminal charges or perhaps more thugs would come down after them. Got all that? No? See the movie, they do it better then I can explain.

JEAN DE FLORETTE- Tues July 8 at 7:30- Florence Gould Hall- 55 E. 59th St.- Part of the Yves Montand retrospective. A novice farmer battles another farmer for control over a natural spring. Part one of a two part French epic. Starring Montand, Gerard Depardieu and Daniel Auteuil. Sorry I'm not describing it well. But it's very good.

S.O.B. and THE WILD BUNCH- Fri July 11 at 1 (S.O.B), 3:30 (Bunch), 6:15 (S.O.B.) and 8:45 (Bunch) - Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the William Holden retrospective. According to V.A. Musetto's NY Post article, all films shown in the retrospective are one admission for each day. 2 films, one admission is what I meant to say. I hope that's true, especially for this pair.

First, S.O.B.: Holden's final film. This rarely gets a revival screening, and I'm glad this is will play now. A forgotten Blake Edwards comedy from 1981. His previous films from 1975 up to that point were all Pink Panther sequels. But this was different, this was more in the vein of acidic Hollywood films like Sunset Blvd. and The Player. Oh, and don't think the initials in the title stand for the obvious.

He based it on his previous experience directing his wife Julie Andrews in the film Darling Lili. Big budget, big promotion, big expectations, big bomb. It was re-edited and re-released, to no avail. In this film, Richard Mulligan plays an Edwards-like director who directed his Julie Andrews-like wife, played by Andrews herself, in a big budget musical disaster. After several days of suicidal depression, he comes out of it (though not necessarily sane) with an idea to save the picture. By remaking it as an X-rated film, with his wholesome wife showing her breasts. And the film goes from there. Cynical to be sure, and it does get silly in the last 20 minutes or so, but I like this film a lot. Great cast. While Holden (as a liked but somewhat burned out veteran producer) and Andrews got top billing, it's more of an ensemble cast. Along with Mulligan, you had Robert Vaughn, Shelley Winters, Loretta Swit, Larry Hagman, Edwards veteran Robert Webber, Larry Storch, Marisa Berensen and Rosanna Arquette in her film debut. But the standout among the supporting players is Robert Preston, as a quack of a doctor, with as many punch lines as drugs in his medical bag. In other words, plenty.

Paramount distributed this film. For weeks during the summer of 81, they had sneak previews with nothing in the ads but a time, night, location and a hot chick. Played out in the media, just like in the film, was Andrews throwing out her Mary Poppins image, to show the world her tits on screen. Then the film came out. The reviews were mixed, though the overall ones are better now. The business was non-existent. It's become a footnote, both for Andrews' nudity and for being Holden's last film (he died about 3-4 months). You probably never saw this comedy, especially if you're under 34.

Next, The Wild Bunch, the film that John Wayne complained destroyed the myth of the Old West. Follows a group of older outlaws, still robbing and shooting to make a living. The times have changed, they've gotten a lot older and their foes are seemingly younger and stronger. They want to rob to retire, but that only gets a group of bounty hunters after them, led by a former member of the group. They escape to Mexico for one last go. But dealing with the corrupt forces there and the bounty hunters on their tail, the old group of outlaws basically to go out on their own terms. Violent, bloody, and taking hundreds of the enemy with them. Holden is the leader of the Bunch, Ernest Borgnine is his best friend, and Robert Ryan is their former friend. Plus Western stalwarts like Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Strother Martin and future director Alfonso Arau (A Walk In The Clouds) in the cast as well.

Sam Peckinpah's film was approved mainly to compete with what they thought was the similar Buthch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Similar, Warner Bros.? Oops. He wanted to show a certain macho code that was not holding up in the start of the 20th Century. But no matter what code you live by, betrayal is unacceptable. From others and especially from yourself. Another thing Peckinpah wanted to show was the violent world of this time. Not sanitized like in most Westerns, but closer to what was shown on the news in Vietnam. He wanted to horrify his audience with its brutality. The climatic shootout was supposed to convey this. With 6 different cameras all shooting at different speeds, its an amazing combination of choreography, cinematography and editing. Despite about 20 minutes cut before its release to avoid an X rating, the violence was still considered controversial. But what shocked Peckinpah was how much of his audience was thrilled by the violence as opposed to being repulsed by it. Oops for Sam. When Warner Bros tried to re-release the film back in 1994 with 10 extra minutes, the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating, complaining about the violence! It took a year of resubmission before an R rating was finally granted.

I'm sorry to say, it appears Lincoln Center will only be showing the original theatrically released cut, as opposed to the longer, more accepted version. A version still good enough to get 2 Oscar nominations, including Screenplay. On BOTH AFI Top 100 lists. Seeing either film separately is ok I guess. But I REALLY prefer seeing S.O.B. and The Wild Bunch together. There is an alternate day and time regarding Wild Bunch, but that's later in this post.

RAN- Sat July 12 at 4:30 and 7:30- Film Forum- Part of the Tatsuya Nakadai retrospective. Considered Kurosawa's last standout film. Basically King Lear set in Japan with sumptuous visuals, with Nakadai as the old king. Oscar nominations for Cinematography, Art Direction, and Kurosawa's direction. An Oscar for the costumes. A visual spectacle worth catching, even on the Forum's smallish screen.

SABRINA (1954) with or without STALAG 17- Mon July 14 at 6:15 (Sabrina) and 8:30 (Stalag)- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the William Holden retrospective. Another double feature, though this time, I want to catch the former, and wouldn't mind seeing the later. But only if it's convenient.

One of the better romantic comedies. Young servant's girl falls for the youngest of 2 rich brothers. Gets a little older and goes off to Paris. Comes back full of life and self confidence. The younger brother is now attracted to her, but things get complicated when the older brother gets involved. There, that's the Cliff Notes version. Audrey Hepburn plays the girl, Holden is the younger brother, Humphrey Bogart is the older brother. MUCH older brother; you're gonna have to let some stuff slide to enjoy.

It's a miracle this got made at all. Director/Co-Writer Billy Wilder had to settle for Bogie when Cary Grant wasn't available. Bogie didn't get along with Wilder, especially when Billy refused to cast Lauren Bacall in the title role. Bogie didn't respect Audrey, and he and Holden hated each other with a passion. Speaking of passion, Holden and Hepburn started a heated affair on this film. It supposedly ended shortly after the film ended, but I thought it picked up later on; I could be wrong on this. Anyway, Oscars nominations for Wilder for both Director and Screenplay (along with Ernest Lehman and Samuel A. Taylor), Hepburn for Actress, Art Direction and Cinematography. An Oscar for Edith Head's Costume design, though most of Hepburn's costume were designed by someone else who DIDN'T win.

The other film in this double feature is Stalag 17. I'm not dying to catch this, but I wouldn't mind. It's pretty good and doesn't feel like the typical stagy adaptations. Especially if the alternative is to walk around on a potentially hot sticky night away from the Walter Reade's air conditioning.

One of Billy Wilder's biggest hits, about a group of American P.O.W.s living in the title German camp. One part dramedy/slice of life during WW 2, one part mystery as the prisoners try to figure out who informing to the German guards.

An Oscar nomination for Wilder for Director, an Oscar for Holden for Best Actor. Won in part probably making up for losing the award for his performance in Sunset Blvd. three years earlier. Also won in part for his twenty minute scene where he reveals who the rat is. Holden plays this with two themes in mind. One, as though he was the detective in an Agatha Christie murder mystery, delighting as he shows off his smarts. And two, as a giant F.U. to all the guys who thought HE was the traitor and beat him for it.

Like I said, I'd really like to catch Sabrina, and wouldn't mind staying for Stalag 17. Unless you prefer to catch the following after Sabrina . . .

FAIL-SAFE- Mon July 14 for free- at Bryant Pk- park opens at 5pm- Part of the free film series at Bryant Park. An unusual choice as far as I'm concerned. So talky for a park film. From the same year and studio as Dr. Strangelove, with the same brutally dark black Cold War atmosphere as well. But while Strangelove treated it's material as black comedy, Fail-Safe treated its material as dark suspense thriller. A thriller where our technology is stronger than our ability to fix it. A thousand to one electronic glitch causes a bomber group to go past its fail-safe marks, and proceed to bomb the Soviet Union. A nervous general tries to help the Soviets shoot them down, civilian expert Walter Matthau advises to let the planes hit their targets to force a showdown once and for all; and President Henry Fonda must talk to the emotional Russian premier (with the help of nervous translator Larry Hagman), and eventually must make an offer of atonement that's should make every New York viewer very uncomfortable.

In fact, even if I don't do the film at all from start to finish, I might want to race down there for the last 10-15 minutes and see the viewers in the park squirm.Sidney Lumet's film is well acted and well crafted. Because of Strangelove, a flop in its day, despite great reviews. But I'm guessing most of you reading this aren't very familiar with this film, so it's time to play catch up.

SABRINA (1954) and THE WILD BUNCH- Tues July 15 at 1 (Bunch) and 3:35 (Sabrina)- The Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- The end of the William Holden retrospective. If The Wild Bunch isn't doable on Fri the 11th, then it can be done in the afternoon with Sabrina. A more out of whack double feature then S.O.B. and Wild Bunch, but these are two good films, so I'm ok with that.

MANON OF THE SPRING- Tues July 15 at 7:30- Florence Gould Hall- Part of the Yves Montand retrospective. The sequel to Jean De Florette. I prefer this one to the first. Don't get me wrong, they both get thumbs up from me. But I suppose since this film puts the story to a satisfying end, I prefer Manon. That and having Emmanuelle Beart in all her nubile glory helps. What can I say, I'm a pig. Sue me. She plays the title role, seeking revenge on Montand and Daniel Auteuil what they did in the first film. Both French classics were released in the US in 1987, and both won Best Foreign Language film by the National Board of Review.

Like I said, the Holden films have top priority for me. Anything else is a bonus. Later all.