Wednesday, December 03, 2008

December revivals: first half

Mike here with what to catch for the first half of December. Let's not waste time, here we go:

AMARCORD- Thurs Dec 4, Mon Dec 8, Tues Dec 9, Thurs Dec 11, Sat Dec 13 and Tues Dec 16- at 4:30, 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A 35mm restoration of Fellini's 1973 film (released officially in the US in 75), his biggest hit. Originally shot in the same 3 strip Technicolor style of previous films such as Singin In The Rain and The Godfather Part 2. I use these two films as previous examples of restored films shown at the Forum. While Rain's new print was on the muted side compared to the vivid 3 strip print, Godfather 2's was suppose to look terrific. Which way Amarcord's restored print will turn out , we'll have to see for ourselves, won't we?

The film itself is heavy on visual vignettes, as opposed to a linear story. Amarcord, essentially meaning I remember, is a semi-autobiographical tale of one year in the life of a small Italian town, similar to the one Fellini grew up in. The autobiographical part Fellini had denied, but did say there were similarities, whatever that means. Ending specifically in April 1933, which tells us this is a slice of life tale, which would change forever just a few years after the film's end. Unlike Rules of The Game, where a similar change in this world wasn't entirely apparent during the making of it, this feeling can't help but be there off and on throughout Amarcord. Though easy to forget at times for such a visual heavy film.

Won the Oscar for Best Foriegn Film in 75, nominated in 76 for Director for Fellini and Screenplay for Fellini and Tonio Guerra. But NOT for Cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard), who was involved in the restoration. I'm not saying it should have beaten Barry Lyndon, and I wouldn't drop The Day of The Locust or Cuckoo's Nest for sure. But I guess it was hard for American Cinematographers doing the nominating to not vote for the respected James Wong Howe (Funny Lady) or Robert Surtees (The Hindenburg). This plays for two weeks total, so there's time to catch Amarcord.

THE DARK KNIGHT- Mon Dec 8 at 8:15- MOMA- One of the best films of 2008 gets one last screening in a theater before it comes out on DVD. Part of MOMA's series of 2008 Contenders for critics' top 10 lists and/or Oscars and other awards. You probably saw this already, and probably more than once if you made your second trip to Dark Knight at an IMAX screen. Now this film is scheduled for a smallish re-release sometime in January, to make it fresh again in the minds of Academy voters. But I can't not post this film, it's too good. Especially in such a comfortable screening area as MOMA's.

AUNTIE MAME- Thurs Dec 11 at 7 and 9:30 for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- A cheap screening of the non musical form, of the story of a young orphan boy, who is raised and taught love and tolerance from her beloved Auntie Mame. Cute at times, and I prefer the music and songs, though there's no way in hell do I prefer the 1975 musical version of the film, Mame. Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Picture, Supporting Actress, Editing and Cinematography. This was in 1958/59 when Auntie Mame competed for Best Picture against flicks such as The Defiant Ones, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and lost to Gigi. The only film remembered and admired most by the way, is Vertigo, a flop back then. Go figure.

Anyway, the main reason to catch this is for Rosalind Russell 's Oscar nominated title performance. A career performance as the lovable eccentric, and almost indomitable Auntie. There are very few scenes where she isn't onscreen, and you'll go wherever she and the story will takes us.

POLTERGEIST- Fri Dec 12 and Sat Dec 13 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- Part of IFC's retro on horror films of the 1980s. A little over the top in its last half hour, but still quite effective. Just enough humor to set you up for more scares. Cited as one of the reasons for the creation of the PG-13 rating; can you believe it was rated PG? Directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Tobe Hooper, though how much of the film was made by Hooper and how much was made by producer/co-writer Steven Spielberg still seems to be a topic for conjecture. Though there's nothing as creepy here, as when a clip was used for DirectTV's series of commercials. My first thought: "This commercial is freaking me out. They're using the little dead girl to sell DirectTV. You have to be kidding!". 3 Oscar nominations, including the visual effects and Jerry Goldsmith's score.

CRIES AND WHISPERS- Sat Dec 13 at 11AM- IFC Film Center- Part of the Ingmar Bergman retrospective. Far from a happy film. A family gathers for a death watch, waiting for a woman to succumb to her cancer. The wait for the family members to inherit the dying woman's fortune is especially tortuous for her two sisters, whose feelings of repressed hatred and jealousy come bubbling forward. As the dying sister slips into further pain and agony, the sisters become more apathetic, to the point of will she die already? Like I said, not a happy film, but a well acted, well written one. If you can take it, it is a good one. Nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay and Costume Design (losing all to The Sting). An Oscar for Sven Nykvist's Cinematography.

I would have included Fanny And Alexander (the director's cut) at IFC Film Center, but then I actually saw part of Bergman's film on TCM late Sunday night. Now this was the 1983 U.S. cut, which is two hours shorter, but still. I saw 10 minutes that I really liked, then 5 minutes I didn't. Followed by 5 minutes I thought "Eh.", followed by 5 minutes that were better to look at than anything else. Then after another 10 minutes I was getting bored, and I moved on. Then when it came time to put this list together, I had Fanny and Alexander as an early possibility. At that point, I thought "If I'm squirming in the comfort at home after thirty plus minutes, how will I feel during a five hour plus version?" Which is when I deleted the title from this list. Maybe another time. If you want to catch it, go ahead. It plays from the 5th through the 11th.

Biggest push for me for Amarcord and the midnight screening of Poltergeist. Most looking at this list have probably never seen it on the big screen. It may not scare like it did on tv when you were younger, but it's still good. And anything else is a bonus. Let me know. Later all.

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