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.

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