Tuesday, March 31, 2009

April revivals: first half

Mike here with what to catch revival-wise for the first half of April. A short list, so before that: I was glad to catch Night and the City at the Forum. At times, a little too stylish and slick, with a wasted Gene Tierney. But with enough humanity to give resonance to people's downfall. But what really got me excited was catching Costa-Gavras' Z. Exciting and well paced, when suspense thrillers and political corruption/cover-up films are brought up, Z belongs among the very top. While I think Arnold White's comment in the New York Press about this film being too politically grey and intolerable for the Clooneys "and their ilk" to be a little much (I'm not defending Syriana, but I will defend the qualities of Good Night and Good Luck), every decade or so, there will be revival screenings and renewed attention to Z. You have one more day to catch it at the Forum as of this writing, but it should be out there somewhere on DVD, though not the kind you'll find at your typical Blockbuster. As for the list, here we go:

BRUTE FORCE- Thurs Apr 2 at 7:20- Film Forum- Part of the Jules Dassin retrospective from 1947. I probably wouldn't have gone for this film-noir at first, but it seemed interesting, and interesting enough to be in the Criterion Collection. I know, so was Armageddon, shut up. Also, it's only playing for one screening only, making me further curious. Similar to Escape From Alcatraz, a convict wants out of a tough prison. Unlike Alcatraz, the warden is a weakling. It's the guards that run the prison, as well as some of the more powerful prisoners. Hume Cronyn plays the main guard who takes pleasure in beating prisoners to Wagner: I have to think Francis Ford and/or John Millius might have been somewhat influenced for Apocalypse Now. Burt Lancaster is the convict who has enough. But his plan leads to a rather brutal, bloody (for 1947) ending. One screening only, so let me know.

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT- Fri Apr 3 and Sat Apr 4 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A cheap(er) screening of the Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer then a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun.

NEVER ON SUNDAY and TOPKAPI- Sun Apr 5 at 5:10 (Sunday), 7 (Topkapi) and 9:15 (Sunday)- Film Forum- Part of the Jules Dassin retro. Both films played separately in last year's United Artists retro at the Forum, now they play together. First, Never On Sunday. Dassin cast himself as an American scholar who falls in love with a free spirited hooker, played by his future wife, Melina Mercouri. There's more, including a partial Pygmallion subplot, but since I haven't seen the film, I'll try to neither play spoiler (despite being an almost 50 year old flick), nor inaccurate screw-up. Nominations for Mercouri for Actress, Costume Design and Dassin for Director and Screenplay, an Oscar for Song. Not bad in the year of West Side Story, The Apartment and Psycho.

Next, Topkapi, from the recently deceased Jules Dassin. Raffi may his best film, and probably the best heist film ever made. Sorry that I'm not posting it now. I've seen it twice on the big screen already, but it plays on Fri April 3 and Sat April 4 at the Forum if you want. But Topkapi, this comedy/thriller deserves some love. Mercouri stars in another film directed by her now husband Dassin. She pulls in a group of jewel thieves, including Maximillian Schell and Robert Morely, for a heist. A small timer (and possible idiot), played by Peter Ustinov spies on them. The complications rise, the police apply more pressure, and this little idiot actually thinks he's controlling the situation. Featuring a heist scene that De Palma would expertly copy (I mean do a homage to) in the first Mission: Impossible film. In fact this film inspired the original series. Great location shooting, and an Oscar for Ustinov for Supporting Actor.

Let me know if there's interest. Needs to be ASAP, since all of these films are between the 2nd and the 5th. For the second half, among the options, is a Mike Nichols retrospective at MOMA, and more Melville at the Forum. Later all.

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