Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December revivals: now until Xmas.

Mike here with what to catch in December, from now before Christmas. The rest of the year gets a separate list, and a lengthy one at that. Let's not waste time, here we go:

AMARCORD- Thurs Dec 18 at 2, 4:30, 7 and 9:40- Film Forum- One last chance to catch the 35mm restoration of Fellini's last film of note.

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)- Fri Dec 19 and Sat Dec 20 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- What seems to be a developing tradition at Landmark Sunshine: holiday season midnight screenings of the original version of this horror film from 1974. For the rest, I'll cut and paste from another source about this (honestly, I don't remember where I got it, but I claim no credit):

Black Christmas was a film ahead of its time. Four years before Halloween, Bob Clark (who also directed A Christmas Story) ushered in the holiday horror genre with this blood-curdling tale.
Three sorority sisters (Andrea Martin Margot Kidder and Olivia Hussey) have nowhere to go for the holidays. As if that weren't bad enough, Hussey is having problems with boyfriend Peter Smythe (Keir Dullea), one of their housemates is missing, and someone keeps making unsettling prank calls. Oh, and there's a dead girl in the woods.

Unlike the 2006 remake of the same name, Black Christmas is both truly terrifying and surprisingly original. It features well-developed characters and exceptional performances, among them the always great John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Enter the Dragon) as local cop Lt. Kenneth Fuller.

GREMLINS- Fri Dec 19 and Sat Dec 20 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- Part of the 80s horror film retrospective. Works well in making one both laugh and jump. Recently appeared in a list blog among the worst gifts ever given in a movie set in Christmas time. Cute little Gizmo given as a gift to a son by screw-up Dad, who just can't keep his pet from getting wet, thus multiplying, or keeping them from eating after midnight. Turning them into evil little things. I steal this from someone on imdb who talked about this: like The Matrix, be careful with your ever improving technology, or else you're screwed.

Laugh either loudly, at say, when the Gremlins enjoy Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or darkly, at Phoebe Cates' monologue involving her dad, a Santa Claus suit, and a chimney two sizes two small, so to speak. No laughing when the film came out, but now . . . And make you jump, when say, Mom is attacked by multiple Gremlins. One of the big hits of the summer of 1984, from director Joe Dante, and writer Chris Columbus.

AUTUMN SONATA- Sat Dec 20 at 11AM- IFC Film Center- Part of the Ingmar Bergman retrospective. Another well done dark drama from Bergman (gee, did make any other kind?) back in 1978. An almost claustrophobic, definitely naturalistic film, where world famous pianist Ingrid Bergman (Oscar nominated) visits her daughter, Liv Ullman. Let the recriminations and the passive aggressive behaviour begin! Mother and daughter dance around between real and imagined crimes, and questionable pains. Ullman's competent pianist still gets taken to task for her playing by her mother, the world famous concert pianist. The scene where Bergman plays exactly how Ullman's character does ok, and yet not good enough devastates. All this, while Bergamn's granddaugther/ Ullman's daughter suffers real agony, thrashing about from an extremely painful degenerative nerve disorder with no cure. Merry Christmas!!!

An Oscar nomination also to Ingmar for his screenplay (NOT for his direction).

BABY DOLL- with post film Q and A with Eli Wallach and Carroll Baker- Mon Dec 22 at 7- Film Forum- A night night only screening and Q and A at the Forum. If this isn't agreed upon and planned out within minutes of you reading this, the chance of getting in will be minimum. A screenplay from Tennesse Williams, and directed by Elia Kazan. Carroll Baker plays the title role, as a 19 year old child bride, who refuses to give in to husband Karl Malden's "demands". She ends caught in the middle, as her virginity becomes a prize, between Malden, and an angry Mexican business rival (Eli Wallach in his film debut) who tries to take revenge, by taking Baby Doll. Funnier then you might expect, but as well acted, written and directed as you might think from all the names I mentioned here.

Controversial back in the mid 50s for the subject matter (in the 1950s? Gee, you THINK?!?!?!). Condemned by the Legion of Decency, this arm of the Catholic Church tried to organize a nationwide boycott. Cardinal Spellman in St. Patrick's Cathedral condemned the film during mass, telling Catholics to not see Baby Doll "under pain of sin". A surprising indirect ally was Time Magazine, who called the film the dirtiest American picture ever legally screened. The boycott didn't completely work. The backlash eventually killed the Catholics out of giving films the Production Code seal of approval; a step that would eventually lead to the ratings system and board we have today. But it did kill any chance Baby Doll ever had to be profitable. The boycott succeeded to the point that over 50 years later, this film is still criminally under seen. You might have heard of this film, but you have to be an ardent buff to anything about this film. For the record, a bit on the tame side, and far from pornographic.

After this one night screening, Wallach and Baker will have a Q and A. Tickets on sale via credit card on the forum's website, with a small number tickets to be sold once the box office opens on Monday afternoon. If we do this, mucho planning needs to be done.

That's all for now. Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

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