Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Oct. revivals: first half

Mike here, with what to catch in the first half of October. Life's a little easier now, so I don't have to spilt the month up into thirds, like September. It's also easier that I don't have to bother to post anything playing at IFC Film Center, since they refuse to update their calendar beyond either last weekend or August, depending on the page you hit. There is also a larger number of films I haven't seen, or haven't seen in so long I can't give a thumbs up or down. So this month can be more adventurous. Here we go:

THE SHINING- Thursday Oct 2 at 7 and 9:30 for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- The start of a month long series of horror flicks at an affordable price. Do I really need to go into the film's story, people? You either know it, or you're a 20 year old who accidentally clicked on this, instead of one of the 1500 Project Runway blogs. Stephen King was not thrilled with the way Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel. And while I don't recall this film being wrecked by critics back in 1980, there was no outpour to proclaim this a classic then, as opposed to now. Nicholson's already mildly eccentric performance at the start before he goes into complete psychosis, was quite different from the book, and in most forms of reality. But I'll stop comparing the book with the film now. Especially when Stephen King got to make his own version of The Shining; that 1997 mini-series was borderline unwatchable. I saw most of it, scattered over 8 years, out of curiosity. Don't do the same. Watch this film instead.

The film has its own creepy build up that pays off well. Jack does psychosis better then most actors around. You may not believe Shelley Duvall could have ever been married to Jack, but you buy her as a mother isolated and at her wits end, only to find inner strength. The best performance in the film was pulled out of child actor Danny Lloyd, protected from knowing this was a scary movie until it was released. Not the best film of that year, or even among horror flicks, but still pretty good.

Will be screened at two different times on Oct 2, with 2 different pre-shows. The only way the 9:30 screening goes off on time, is if it's played in a different screening room. Which is possible, but if the 7pm can be done, great.

IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES- Fri Oct 3 at 10- The Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Nagisa Oshima retrospective. His films are being played as a sort of side venue of the New York Film Festival. While the main flicks are playing at the Ziegfeld, films from retrospectives such as these play at the smaller Walter Reade at Lincoln Center. These kinds of tickets need to purchased way in advance, or possibly bought one hour before the screening, when cancellations open up. That said, this is really the type of film that needs the tix to be bought ahead of time. I brought it up last time, and I'll bring it up again now.

Look back at the last post, where I cut and pasted the filmlinc.com description. Or go to imdb or Wiki and look it up further. It's not whether you know what happens, it's the journey, so to speak. Good luck finding this on DVD. It's not the type of film to be sold at Best Buy, or the type available at Blockbuster stores or online. Netflix may or may not be helpful either. This is as good a chance as you may ever have to seeing this. But for mature filmgoers only. The sexuality is quite frank, and the emotions are not child's play. If you don't think you can handle this once you've finished researching this, then move on to the next film option.

I VITELLONI and (maybe) THE WHITE SHEIK- Sat Oct 4 at 6:20 (Vitelloni), 8:20 (Sheik) and 10 (Vitelloni)- Film Forum- The start of the Alberto Sordi retrospective. For those who've told me that I should include more revivals I've never seen, well here we go. I wouldn't know Alberto Sordi to save my life. Never seen any of his films. So I'm relying on more then just memory to pitch here. Consider one of the best Italian film actors, equally adept at comedy and drama. I've pick the ones I have any interest in. I pick two early Fellini films, though I only have major interest in the first one.

I Vitelloni is considered the inspiration for films like American Graffiti, Diner and even Mean Streets. 5 male friends in Italy get together, but only one leaves their small town and start to live a real life. Sordi appears to play the comic relief friend. That this film was one of the all time favorites of Pauline Kael worries me. That's one of the all time favorites of both Scorsese and Kubrick lessens the worry. Oscar nominated for its screenplay.

The second film, The White Sheik, I can take or leave. An early Fellini comedy, where a young honeymooning couple experience early problems. When the wife already has trouble standing her husband, she goes off looking for her crush; the title character who's the star of her favorite soap opera. So she ends up tempted by her idol, while the husband is all distraught, surrounded by prostitutes. Sordi is in the title role, with questionable romantic skills and even questionable intelligence. Wouldn't mind seeing it, and it is only 86 minutes.

LA GRANDE GUERRA- Tues Oct 7 at 6:30 and 9:15- Film Forum- Part of the Alberto Sordi retrospective. A dark war comedy that seems to have been ripped off, in part, by the fourth edition of the BBC series, Black Adder. 2 young Italian men (Vittorio Gassman and Sordi) try to get out of serving in WW I, then try to stay as far from the front as possible. But the front easily can come to them . . . Mixture of comedy and war drama. Just as likely to do a comedic scene as it is to have a battle scene. Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film. Never saw it, but would like to try it. If this is the only Sordi film I get to see, I would be fine with that.

THE EXORCIST- Thursday Oct 9 at 7 and 9:30 for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- I've been looking forward to this film playing at non-Midnight screening time for quite a while now. And now it's at an affordable price as well. The director's cut from 2000, of one of the best modern horror films ever made. Thankfully not as graphic as the popular novel, where one got to imagine every orifice that stuff came out of little Regan. But in terms of atmosphere, it rivals Texas Chainsaw Massacre as among the creepiest films. And do note, these are just regular people, dealing with a horrifying problem the best way normal people, i.e. most of us, try. Helps give the film that little extra kick into our stomach when needed. One of the few horror films to pack a punch on the small screen, so you can only imagine on the big screen.

Oscars for Sound and for William Peter Blatty for adapting his own novel. Funny, Blatty wrote this in part because he could only get hired to write light comedies like A Shot In The Dark. After The Exorcist came out, studios were only interested in hiring Blatty for horror flicks. Oscar nominations for Picture, Director William Friedkin, Actor Jason Miller, Actress Ellen Burstyn (apparently she still suffers from back problems sustained while shooting this), Supporting Actress Linda Blair (though most of the credit for this performance is given to then-uncredited Mercedes McCambridge, as her possessed voice), Cinematography, Art Direction, and Editing. With Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb.

I just noticed I used both the kick and the punch metaphor in the same paragraph (the first one). Wow, I need to find better writers for this . . .

ANIMAL CRACKERS- for free (subject to availability) Fri Oct 10 at 6:15- MOMA- This Marx Bros. film gets a screening. I posted it back in July. I could have gone to it then, but when it came to doing a triple feature along with Fantasia and Monkey Business, I preferred to substitute Wall-E over this. But now there's a second chance to catch this, one that I didn't think would come this soon. Caused more excitement back in 1974, when it screened for the first time since 1957.

Some complain this is only a filmed play, and it's probably a fair complaint. But 4 Marx Brothers with Margaret Dumont is good enough for me. Where the line "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know." came from. Because this is being screened on a Friday night, admission is free, subject to availability. But if you don't get to MOMA by 5:15 to 5:45, or have someone get the tickets for you by then, then forget it.

THE DARK CRYSTAL- Fri Oct 10 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- This film gets a midnight screening every so often. I guess this will be the only time this year it will play. I succeeded last summer in getting a few people to go. I hope this time, I actually get to go. If you're a fan of Lord of the Rings kind of fantasy, or a fan of 80's films, here's this effort from Jim Henson. Jim and co-director Frank Oz's (with an uncredited assist from Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz) attempt to do a Lord of The Rings-style film with the latest in animatronics technology, received only minor acclaim and decent U.S. business in the Christmas of 1982, but became one of the biggest films to ever hit Japan and France up to that point. It still has a fervent cult here. Puppetry effects at their height, with the Muppet-esque cuteness cut down very low. A children's film that, despite some lulls, keeps the adults entertained, without being cheesy or insulting to the kids. Though if I see any kids at this screening, the temptation to call Child Protection Services will be high.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE- Sat Oct 11 at 9- The Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Nagisa Oshima retrospective. A new 35mm print. I would almost consider this 1983 picture a forgotten film, if most people in this country had ever heard of this to begin with. Sorry that back in Sept. 1983, it wasn't as cool as say, Jaws 3-D. See, that's a film Universal Pictures knew how to promote, not this.

The arrival of a British officer introduces us to a Japanese prison camp in Java, 1942. The man who runs the camp will seem very familiar to those who have seen Letters From Iwo Jima. Because these Allied prisoners have accepted surrender over suicide, they deserve more punishment for this, then for being the enemy. It tells more of a story of East/West differences, and how power and absolute belief can shift during war, then telling a straightforward war story. Expect more atrocities depicted then war action. Also expect a lot more character development as well.

The biggest issue Western critics had was the casting of David Bowie as a British commando. Too strange and spacey for his own good. But considering he was playing a burnout who couldn't function, his performance has aged well over the years. Only available in this country through the Criterion Collection. Take a chance and catch it.

Too many choices. Definitely yes to the horror films, and one of the Sordi flicks. Maybe Animal Crackers, because it's free. Anything else is a bonus. Later all.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sept. revivals: the rest of them

Mike here with the remainder of the September revival list. I couldn't believe I had the chance to catch every film on the last list. That's never happened to me before. Not that I did, mind you. Oliver was so unexpectedly fantastic, it was best to leave after that, then sit through the decent, but as far as I'm concerned, lesser Dickens adaptation in Great Expectations. The Godfather I'll go into later. And then the double feature of Blithe Spirit and Brief Encounters was good. Blithe Spirit was better then I remembered, while Brief Encounter was a little too soap opera for my taste, but still good. While Trevor Howard did a respectable job, he came off a little too earnest. Not as natural as he would be in say, The Third Man, Von Ryan's Express or Father Goose. But at least better then his work in 1981's Windwalker, where he played an Indian chief (Yeah, when I think Indian chief I think TREVOR HOWARD?!?!?!).

Anyway, no trace of soap opera in Celia Johnson's performance. We would probably think of her in the same breath as Streep in this country, if she didn't hate making films and preferred the stage. But at least we have her performance in Brief Encounter. Anyway, here we go:

LAWRENCE OF ARABIA- Sat Sept 20 at 7- Film Forum- Part of the David Lean retrospective. I've seen this before on the Ziegfeld's screen, and the Forum obviously can't compare, screen-wise. But this is one of top 5 all time favorite films. That is TOP 5 all time. Whenever one of my top 5 is available to see, I must post it, no matter if I own it, or how many times I've seen it on screen. The best film on the list; maybe by a little, maybe by a lot, but noticeably better. The intimate moments are treated with as much care and respect as the epic scenes, the script deserves just as much respect as the visuals, and has there been a better leading debut for a star than Peter O'Toole in the title role? Ok, Chaplin and Brando, but I can't think of any better lead debuts in color films.

On both AFI Top 100 lists. 10 Nominations, including Actor for O'Toole, the Screenplay, and Supporting Actor for Omar Sharif (don't get me started on his entrance!). 7 Oscars, including Picture, Score (maybe the best film score ever; not sure, but if you have better choices, let me know), and Director for Lean. If you haven't seen it, the big screen is THE way, there isn't a TV screen big enough to pull this entirely off.

THE GODFATHER PART 2- Sat Sept 20, Sun Sept 21, Thurs Sept 24, and Sat Sept 27 at 8:35- Film Forum- I caught Godfather this past weekend, and the restoration looked, and especially sounded, great. Throw out or ignore the DVDs from early this decade, and go get the new ones that come out in Oct. If you go for this on Netflix, make sure you're renting the 2008 edition, otherwise you'll probably be a little disappointed. The same restoration process has been done to The Godfather Part 2. I remember seeing an old 3 strip Technicolor print at AMMI a few years back. A scratchy print, but the color hues in the Vito Corleone scenes from Ellis Island through Robert de Niro's shooting scene blew me away. Totally different from every other time I've seen it on video or cable. If the quality of that is captured in this restoration, it should rock. It will anyway, but still.

On both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my personal top 35. 11 Oscar nominations, including Actor for Pacino and Supporting Actress for Talia Shire. 6 Oscars, including Picture, Director and Screenplay for Coppola. A Supporting Actor Oscar for De Niro in a career making turn, beating fellow nominated co-stars Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo. If the above dates don't work, there will be more chances in early October.

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI- Mon Sept 22 at 1:30 and 4:30- Film Forum- Part of the David Lean retro. The first of the Lean epics. A new 35mm print. Doesn't exactly jive with the real life history in World War 2, but more of a study of madness. The Japanese needs a bridge built. British colonel Nicholson is tortured to force him eventually to lead the prisoners into building the bridge. He agrees to, but is broken down to the point that building the bridge becomes a matter of British pride and strength. Refusing to surrender emotionally, while pushing his own men to the brink to finish construction. Meantime, a burned out American who escaped the POW camp is forced by the Allies into a suicide mission: to go back into the jungle and blow up the bridge.

William Holden was already a name around the world before he turned in a good performance, as a bitter man forced to fulfill his duty. But Alec Guinness became about as big a name, playing the epitome of obsession and madness. 8 Oscar nominations. 7 Oscars, including Picture, Screenplay, Guinness for Actor, Lean for Director, his first. I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it this summer, back when it played at the Holden retro at Lincoln Center. But better late than never.

RYAN'S DAUGHTER- Mon Sept 22 at 7:30- Film Forum- Part of the David Lean retro. A rare screening of a rare Lean flop. Its reputation differs from different people, assuming you know anyone other than me who's even heard of this. Set in World War 1, a bored married Irish woman has an affair with a young English officer. This type of adulterous affair with revolution about to begin, you know something bad will go down. With Sarah Miles in the title role, and actors like Trevor Howard and Leo McKern (Rumpole himself) also in the cast.

Released in 1970, this was not embraced in the era of MASH and Easy Rider. It seemed as though critics like Pauline Kael made it their mission in life to destroy the film and Lean as well. They succeeded in the former and might have succeeded in the later, since Lean worked on very little after that, only completing A Passage To India (which I like, but not enough to put on this list.). I tried to get into on TV, but like Dr. Zhivago, it was difficult to get through on the small screen. I didn't feel Robert Mitchum was miscast as the uptight, quiet husband. He was stretching himself and he did fine.

But I can't help you with the bigger question. Is this too damn slow and old-fashioned? Is this an undiscovered gem, unjustly attacked? A noble failure that is not as bad as 1970 critics said, but not deserving of higher praise? We will have to see for ourselves. A 1980 re-release didn't change matters. Miscasting of the young British officer doesn't help- he had to be dubbed. Recently it's received a reappraisal in Australia, playing in one of its larger houses for 2 years. But that's the only country where this film's fortunes have changed.

4 Oscar nominations, including Sarah Miles for Actress. I'm sorry we don't see much from her on these shores anymore. 2 Oscars, for Cinematography and Supporting Actor for John Mills, who played the village idiot. He's usually sighted as one of the first bits of proof, that the best way to at least get an Oscar nomination, is to play some of retardation. Not entirely accurate, but it's hard to fight a growing myth.

This is the only night and time this plays. Over three hours, plus an overture, intermission, and exit music, so plan ahead before you say yes.

SUMMERTIME- Tues Sept 23 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the David Lean retro, and his favorite to shoot. The first film David shot out side the auspices of some British film company, and outside of Britain as well. Adapted from an Arthur Laurents play, and starring the biggest name Lean would ever work with, Katharine Hepburn. She plays a spinster-ish American woman, who's given up on love and tries to have a good time in Venice. She unexpectedly discovers love and becomes a whole new woman, but it isn't to last . . .

Never mind the gorgeous Venice visuals. Lean gets us to feel the love and empathize the way it feels for the first time. And how it feels when it doesn't go right. Oscar nominations for Hepburn for Actress and Lean for Director. I can't believe it's considered a forgotten Lean classic. I mean seriously, most of his black and whites are better remembered than this one? Really? Make up for that and go.

IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES- Sat Sept 27 at Midnight- The Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Nagisha Oshima retrospective. A new 35mm print. The kind of film you need to build yourself up for. The kind that one might have to buy tickets for online to insure admittance. If this night and time isn't possible, it will play again in early October. Google and Wicki this for more info, but in the meanwhile, I'll cut and paste what's on the filmlinc website:

The only film invited to the New York Film Festival ever to have been censored (it was stopped by U.S. customs officials but later released and shown after the festival), In the Realm of the Senses has proved so controversial that it’s still effectively banned in Japan. Unhappily, the controversy has made it difficult for people to appreciate what an enormously powerful work of cinema it truly is.

Based on a real incident, the film is set in 1936, when militarism is increasingly taking over every aspect of Japanese life. A hotel maid, Sada Abe, carries on an affair with her employer, Kichizo Ishida. One day, the lovers lock themselves in one of the rooms and push their lovemaking to some new, unknown limit. Oshima captures the startling intensity of the physical contact between his actors, as, gradually, the rest of the world disappears and is replaced by an overwhelming sense of passion.

Oshima had always explored the revolutionary potential of sexuality. Here that theme receives its most sustained, and profound, treatment. Bold, challenging, unforgettable—In the Realm of the Senses is not for the faint-hearted, but not to be missed.

Let me know if there's any interest. Later all.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept revivals: second third

Hey all. Mike here with the next batch of September revivals. I noticed something recently. I've been recommending films at the Forum now to the point where I'm starting to come off as a paid spokesman. First of all, I'm not. Second, it's getting harder to find more places. MOMA and Walter Reade are the only reliable places to go at this point. Anthology Film Archives is either too inconvenient, and most of their films that I might be interested in conflicts too much with others. I'm in no mood for Bergman or psychedelic 60s flicks, so IFC Film Center has been out for a while. There's nothing at Landmark Sunshine Cinema I want to get to until November, if I'm lucky. Two Boots Pioneer seems to have stopped with revivals altogether. AMMI in Astoria has been closed since late February and it will be quite a while before it reopens. Symphony Space seems to only screen films on Sundays now. BAM is out of my jurisdiction, and out of the jurisdiction of anyone that might catch something with me.

So it's frustrating that the films I can put on this list are playing in the Forum. But with all this said, I'm real happy with what's playing. Here we go:

THE GODFATHER- Sat Sept 12- Thurs Sept 17 at 8- Both this and Godfather 2 are being released on blu-ray fairly soon (exact date unknown and since I don't own a blu-ray player, I don't care). Much like the restoration for Apocalypse Now Redux, these Francis Ford Coppola films received a major cleanup and improvement of sight and sound. If these restored discs, overseen by Coppola, cinematographer Gordon Willis and Robert A Harris, are as good as the restored DVDs of both versions of Apocalypse Now, then the home viewer should be in for a treat.

Like previous DVD releases, such as Scarface, Blade Runner and THX-1138, both films will get a brief theatrical re-release. And it will only play at the Forum. Due to self imposed calendar restrictions, only the first Godfather film will be listed here. Godfather 2 will be on the next September list.

Now that I've said all that, do I really need to pitch this? Brando comeback, blah blah blah, rise of Pacino, blah blah blah, great cast that I'm not in the mood to breakdown, blah blah blah, on all great films lists worth a damn and most that are not, blah blah blah . . .

10 Oscar nominations, 11 if you include the one for Nino Rota's score that was later ruled ineligible because he supposedly reused his score from the film Fortunella. Among the nominations it lost was Supporting Actor for Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola for Director, Editing and Sound. It lost all those noms to Cabaret. If this shocks you, it's because you're not into musicals or you have no idea how good and how influential Cabaret director Bob Fosse was/is. What shocked the hell out of me was that The Godfather WASN'T nominated for Cinematography. No Art Direction nod, I could understand that; look it up and you'll know what I mean. But you mean to tell me 1776, Butterflies Are Free, Cabaret (the eventual winner), The Poseidon Adventure and Travels With My Aunt ALL deserved votes more than Godfather? I'm not saying it should have won. I had no problem if they thought Cabaret, the eventual winner, was better. But that's because I have a soft spot for the work of cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (2001, Murder on the Orient Express, Becket, Superman: The Movie, among other credits). But Gordon Willis not even being nominated for his work is Bullshit.

But it did win 3 key Oscars: Picture, Screenplay Adaptation for Coppola and Mario Puzo and Brando for Actor. No need to mention the Oscar controversy in this list about Brando that night. No need to mention its high place on both AFI lists. No need to mention its place in my personal top 35 (pretty high, yet not as high as Godfather 2). Just need to say; unless you're over the age of 46, you saw its brief re-release in 1997 or saw a crappy print when it's played at Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, you're just like me. You've only seen this on tv. And you've never seen it look as great or as intended. Now is a great time to correct this.

If you can't make it in the days listed, it will play again later this month. It will be part of a separate admission double feature with Godfather 2, and I'll mention it again with the next list. Tix for The Godfather are already available online, so it might not be easy to get, especially within a half hour of its performance. A social backup plan might be in order. Here are two sets of possibilities . . .

GREAT EXPECTATIONS and/or OLIVER TWIST- Sat Sept 13 at 5:25 (Expectations), 7:40 (Twist), and 9:50 (Expectations)- Film Forum- The beginning of the David Lean retrospective. 35mm restorations for both. Not the biggest fan of Great Expectations, but it's one of the better versions of the Dickens story out there. A classic compared to say, the Gwyneth Paltrow version from the late 90s. Oh, you forgot that version? Lucky you . . .

Consider this a cliffs note version of the story, with as many story lines jammed in as possible. Try to ignore the very end of this if you can. But also the note the highly stylized attempts Lean made to make this cinematically interesting, though he would be involved in much better adaptations as his career went on. Very interesting cast, including John Mills as a young Pip, Jean Simmons as a very young Estella, and Martita Hunt as the quintessential Miss Havisham. Also notable for having Alec Guinness as Herbert Pocket. This was the first of his six collaborations with Lean.

Oscar nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay. Won for its Black and White Cinematography and Art Direction. I wouldn't mind seeing this, but I can survive with just catching Oliver Twist.

A much better adaptation of a Dickens story done by Lean, than Great Expectations. Made in 1947-8, though not released here until 1951, for reasons I'll go into later. Doesn't go for more sunnier aspects that the musical Oliver! goes for, as poor orphaned Ollie runs away from a workhouse and is on the streets. Notable for Alec Guinness's performance as Fagin; he must have been very comfortable working with a lot of makeup on. In fact, it was controversial in it's day precisely because of Fagin. In Israel and in the U.S., Fagin's depiction was considered anti-Semitic, which caused it to be briefly banned in Israel, and delayed for years here. In Egypt, it was briefly banned for making Fagin appear too sympathetic. Decide for yourself. With Anthony Newley as Artful Dodger.

BRIEF ENCOUNTER and BLITHE SPIRIT- Sun Sept 14 and Mon Sept 15 at 6:20 (Encounter), 8 (Spirit), and 9:50 (Encounter)- Part of the David Lean retro. 35mm restorations for both. Lean's first international successes, both from 1945, and paired together. Both films are under 96 minutes, so consider them as mini masterpieces by Lean.

First, the original Brief Encounter. 2 married people meet by accident, fall in love, but the stars just aren't aligned for them to have a future. One of the better love stories made, in part because of the obviously short life their romance will have. Not for lack of love for each other, but they can't destroy their home lives for this. You know this story because in part, many films and tv shows have followed the setup or the pathos of this film, which is an expanded adaptation of Noel Coward's one act play. This came before most. If you know Lawrence and Dr. Zhivago as outwardly expansive, then consider this as Lean at his most intimate best. 3 Oscar noms; Celia Johnson for Actress, and Lean for both Director and Screenplay.

Next, Blithe Spirit, another adaptation of a Noel Coward play. Only this time, unlike Brief Encounter's alternating middle class and romantic black and white, Blithe Spirit was shot in an early form of Technicolor. Thanks to the wacko medium who performs a seance, the ghost of Rex Harrison's first wife returns and won't leave. The second wife, very much living, is not happy to say the least.

One of only 3 comedies directed by Lean, but he has a light touch that makes you wish he made more. Not at the expense of him not making Lawrence or Bridge Over The River Kwai for example, but still. Having superior material like Coward's play certainly helps. Also helping is having several actors (Margaret Rutherford as the wacky medium, Kay Hammond and Jacqueline Clarke as both wives) who played their respective roles on stage for years, so it became second nature on screen. An Oscar for the early visual effects. The Forum claims this was the only time Lean used special effects for one of his films. Whatever.

So that's it. I narrowed it down to what I really want to see, with not an ounce of junk among the options. Let me know, later all.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sept revivals: first third.

Mike here. Sorry for the lateness and the soon-to-be-apparent laziness. But I've just completed my time attending the U.S. Open. Had my usual fun out there. But it kept me from going behind the computer to write up a list. And as I started to put the first half of this month together, I started getting nervous about tackling a lot of titles at once. My only solution: to split up this month into thirds. Not my first choice, but the best I can do. Which means a real small list. Here we go:

THE WAGES OF FEAR- Thurs Sept 4 at 7 and 9:40- Film Forum- Part of the French Crime Film retrospective. From the director of Diabolique. 4 desperate macho men will get the reward of a ticket out of the hellhole, piss-poor little South American village they're all stuck in. That is, if they're willing to drive trucks filled with nitroglycerin over mountain sides and through jungles, in order to put out a fire at an oil refinery. They also battle each other, with macho posturing just as threatening as the elements. Starring Yves Montand.

Perennially in imdb's annoying top 250. Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes. Diabolique is director's Henri-Georges Clouzet's best known film, but this is considered his best. I've never seen it, but I've seen the American remake from 1977, Sorcerer, which is underrated (released the same weekend that Star Wars went into wide release, therefore forgotten). Would love to catch this. According to the Forum's website, the version being screened is about 9 minutes longer then the cut version released in 1955, but 8 minutes shorter than the director's cut.

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER- Tues Sept 9 and Wed Sept 10 at 7:45 and 9:30- A new 35mm print of this, the last of the French Crime Film retrospective. Francois Truffaut's version of a gangster film, where thriller and comedy aspects are thrown into the genre in uneven amounts. A concert pianist, burned out and widowed, works in a dive. Has 2 hot chicks who want him, but he's closer to Spock then to an emotionally expressive person, except when he plays the piano. But now that his brothers are in trouble with (amateur) criminals, things can't stay good forever. Never seen this, but the mixture of comedy, drama, thriller aspects, homages to Warner Bros B crime flicks, and a passing resemblance to Vertigo (more than just passing?!?!?), it's sounds very interesting.

That's it. Yep, only 2, and both French. Hey, that's how the calender fell into place. Let me know if there's interest. Among the titles in the next batch are a bunch of early-ish David Lean, and the return of The Godfather. Later all.