Sunday, March 01, 2009

March revivals: first half

Mike here with what to catch for the first half of march. I hate that I have to cut and paste more then usual, but for the most part, I'm dealing with films I'm not familiar with. So bear with me, here we go:

LAWYER MAN and BLONDE CRAZY- Tues Mar 3 at 6:50 (Lawyer) and 8:30 (Blonde)- Film Forum- More films from the Depression-era retrospective. Don't know them, but they look interesting. Lawyer Man, only because after seeing William Powell in My Man Godfrey, I'd like to catch him in something else that's not Life With Father, Mister Roberts, or one of the Thin Man films. Those I know. But Blonde Crazy, a pre-Code film starring James Cagney just starting out in this comedy/drama/ caper flick sounds VERY intriguing. And both films are under eighty minutes! For the rest, I'll cut and paste from the Forum's website:

(1932, William Dieterle) Fast-talking William Powell, with ever-loyal secretary Joan Blondell in tow, moves from schlmiely Second Ave. mouthpiece to natty Park Ave. assistant D.A. Approx. 72 min.

“A fast-paced, snappy little melodrama. Its active libido is resolutely Pre-Code.” – William K. Everson

(1931, Roy Del Ruth) Hustling bellboy James Cagney moves from gin procurement to the shakedown racket, aided and abetted by Joan Blondell ("The most alluring chambermaid you've ever seen." - Time Out New York). Approx. 79 min.

Cagney demonstrates particular genius for quick witted, fancy-footed, no nonsense characters.”– Bruce Bennett, Stop Smiling“A chipper, hard-boiled, amusing essay in petty thieving.” – TIME (1931)

CUTTER'S WAY- Fri Mar 6 for free (subject to availability) at 8, introduced by director Ivan Passer- MOMA- Also known as Cutter and Bone. A forgotten film from 1981. One of the last of the 70s style character study films made by Unitd Artists, before Heaven's Gate's failure had the company sold to MGM. Kind of similar to Jeff Bridges' later film The Big Lebowski, but not played for laughs. A character study of two friends who are Vietnam vets, back in a day before Magnum P.I. became a megahit, and before the release of First Blood; when a Vietnam vet was usually depicted either as a deranged killer, or a damaged avenger.

Bridges plays the cynical part time gigolo, who tries to care for his junkie depressed wife, but beyond sex and drugs, can't give her any real intimacy. But he's stable next to John Heard's Bone, in one of the better performances you've probably never seen. This one armed, one eyed drunk with a bad leg, can rail against anybody and anyone, but then plays the cripple card when someone has enough of his shit. So this very un-PC character represents at times, the films post-Watergate anger and distrust of authority. The film twists into a modern noir, when Bridges' Cutter sees a young girl murdered, the murder is connected to someone powerful, and Heard's Bone finds a way to let's say, channel his aggression.

United Artists decided to change it's distribution pattern, after the film got good reviews and something of an audience, PULLED it from release, and re-released only in art house theaters. It helped the film make a profit, but over time, it buried the film, making its recent DVD release almost like opening a time capsule. Of the people who look at, or might consider looking at this list, only 1-3 might have even heard of this film, never mind have seen it. For the rest of you, it's time to rediscover it.

The film will be introduced by its director. It is also playing on a Friday, when the screenings are for free. Tickets will be released sometime after 4:30. This may require some planning.

THE FLY (1986)- Fri Mar 6 and Sat Mar 7 at Midnight- IFC Film Center- Part of a midnight screening retrospective of David Cronenberg films. Cronenberg's only big career hit, the surprise hit of the summer of 86, and one of the best films of that year. At that time, despite the praise, saying something like that was considered surprising, daring, or greeted with a "oh, please". History says differently, if you can get by the Oscar winning, and at times disgusting, makeup effects.

But underneath the horror film aesthetic, is a well done tragic love story, where the love suffers terminal problems, when one of them suffers a crippling disease or addiction. This kind of story, as Cronenberg knows well, has universal appeal. Instead of say, AIDS or drug addiction, you have Jeff Goldblum transforming into a man-sized insect. Though his physical deteritation and changing behavior does mimic disease and addiction. With Geena Davis, at her most beautiful, turning in her best performance.

LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN- Tues Mar 10- Thurs Mar 12 at 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- A new 35mm restoration.Heard of the film, don't know much about it, but it looks interesting. A little over the top and melodramatic, but interesting. An Oscar for its early color Cinematography, nominations for Actress Gene Tierney, and Art Direction. After that, I don't know much else, so once again, I'll cut and paste from the Forum's website:

(1945) Always elegantly coiffed Gene Tierney (in Oscar-nominated role and fresh from her starring role in Preminger’s Laura) and best-selling author Cornel Wilde meet cute — she’s reading his latest book — in a super-luxurious railroad car lounge and, despite her engagement ring, it’s instant attraction. And next thing Wilde knows, he’s on horseback watching as she strews her father’s ashes on a New Mexico mountaintop — as Alfred Newman’s score thunders — and suddenly, he’s the new fiancĂ© of someone with a very possessive passion. Big Mistake? A drowning coldly watched from behind the screen’s most menacing pair of sunglasses, a miscarriage via intentional staircase fall, a death by poison, and a murder trial with a very surprising defendant getting hammered by relentless DA/spurned lover Vincent Price ensue, amid splendiferous settings, all viewed via sumptuous, Oscar-winning photography by Fox Technicolor specialist Leon Shamroy. Screenplay by Jo Swerling (Man’s Castle and other Depression films), with a colorful cast including Jeanne Crain, Ray Collins (Citizen Kane, Perry Mason), and Darryl Hickman. 110 min.

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

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