Thursday, August 27, 2009

More August revials: Re-run Edition

Hey all, Mike here. I wrote last time that I didn't think there would be any more revivals in August to bring up. But things changed. 2 titles that I attempted in the past but couldn't catch for whatever reason, are back. So I'll do this as a rerun edition. I didn't think I'd be available for these at the time of the last post, but I'm glad that's changed.

Like I mentioned before in the previous re-run edition, I'm basically cutting and pasting from a previous post, with maybe a slight edit or update at best. Saving time on my end, nothing more. Here we go:

DEATH ON THE NILE- Thurs Aug 27 at 7 and 9:30 for 7.50- Clearview Chelsea Cinema- W. 23rd and 8th Ave- For those who like Agatha Christie mysteries, murder mysteries in general, travel porn (I mean seeing exotic locations!), or the British in general, here's an easy going film for you. Peter Ustinov makes his first appearance as Hercule Poirot. I don't know if I would put him over Albert Finney's version, and I wouldn't put him over David Suchet's great interpretation on tv. But this is Ustinov's best film as Poirot. The time, money and care was put into this. The wonderful Egyptian locales and the Oscar winning costume design helped create a fabulous look.
Once again, Poirot must stop his vacation and a solve the murder of an heiress (future Bond babe Lois Chiles) aboard a ship on the title river. A wonderful cast. David Niven assists Poirot, and the suspects include Bette Davis, Mia Farrow, Olivia Hussey, Angela Lansbury, Jack Warden, Maggie Smith, Jane Birkin, and George Kennedy. C'mon, not every film has to be serious, they can be fun too. And for a cheap price why not.

Note that the 7pm screening is one with some jokes as it goes on with Brini Maxwell (including a pre-show bit), while the 9:30 screening is just the film.

IN A LONELY PLACE- Fri Aug 28 at 9:50 and Sat Aug 29 at 5:30, 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- A new 35mm print for this; originally the start of a Nicolas Ray retrospective. Not the biggest hit of the day, but has gotten respect over the years, to the point that it was picked for preservation two years ago by the National Film Registry. The kind of that Curtis Hanson, when preparing to direct L.A. Confidential, showed some of his cast this film and said basically, This is what I'm going for.

Missed it when it played last month. At one point it came down to seeing this or Titus. The choice was made to see Titus, and it was a wonderful choice. But bye-bye went In A Lonely Place. But apparently, when this was played at the Forum, critics went ape-shit in joy over this and apparently business was real good at the Forum. So good, that this film was brought back for a nine day engagement. Sorry I'm only getting around to listing this on its last two days, but I'm posting only when I can do it. Because of the fact that I've only seen a few minutes of it, don't know it very well and would like to catch it, I'm forced to copy and paste from the Forum site, and let their description try to be a draw:
(1950) Humphrey Bogart a vicious killer? Okay, he’s a hard-drinking, log-sized-chip-on-his-shoulder screenwriter with a sardonic cynicism so deep he enlists a hatcheck girl as overnight novel summarizer so he doesn’t actually have to read the trashy book he’s agreed to adapt, stopping to take a poke at an asking-for-it producer’s son-in-law along the way. Even when she winds up dead, and he’s being grilled by old army buddy Frank Lovejoy, it turns into an occasion for girl-across-the-courtyard (an exact reproduction of Ray’s first Hollywood pad) Gloria Grahame to give Bogie an alibi — and to get to know better an “interesting” face. But as their love affair progresses, Bogie breaks his fussbudget longtime agent’s glasses, creeps out Lovejoy and wife Jeff Donnell with his too-real “imaginative” reenactment of the murder, and is barely prevented from braining a motorist he’d already sideswiped and beaten senseless. An agonizingly inevitable — but still surprising — resolution looms. Ray boasted “I took the gun out of Bogie’s hands” in altering his screen image (“a radical demystification of the classic Bogart hero” – Robert Sklar); while his own marriage with Grahame ended during the filming — they kept it a secret, fearing Ray would be kicked off the production. "Bogart's performance shares most of the characteristics of his classic performances except that the tie between the killer and the lover is laid bare, without the romanticism, the genre conventions, or the political ideology which underlay it in previous films.... There are no moments for audiences to cheer as he pumps lead into a noxious villain - surely not when he extols the wonderful feeling of crushing a throat, or with his hands around one. The role of Dixon Steele is among the most interesting examples of a performer's critical reevaluation of his screen persona, and surely belongs on the list of Bogart's great performances." – Robert Sklar. Approx. 93 minutes

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

Friday, August 14, 2009

August revivals: the rest of the month

Hey, Mike here with what to catch for the remainder of the month. I had originally planned to split this into 3 August posts, but some last minute schedule changes, plus the coming of the U.S. Open with its free practices and qualifiers, means this will probably be the last post this month. We'll see, but until then, here we go with the rest of August:

THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE- Sat Aug 15 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of the Coen Brothers retrospective. Not the first film, it's been playing for a few weekends now. But it's the first one I'm willing to post because I've never seen it. Most of their films I have caught. But this one? Nothing more than 30 seconds. I took heat from film buff friends that I missed it, and it didn't seem like I'd appreciate it as much on video or cable. But now, despite the late time, is a good chance to catch it.

This film noir homage stars Billy Bob Thornton in his most praised performance after Sling Blade and (maybe) Bad Santa. He plays a sad sack of a barber, who decides to blackmail the man who he thinks is sleeping with his wife, and use the money to start a dry cleaning business. This being a film noir, these things lead to murder, attempted cover-ups, and damage spread to all. James Gandolfini plays the blackmailed, and Frances McDormand (in what amounts to an extended cameo) plays the wife. But since the film's 2001 release, the supporting cast has become better known. Yes there are Coen veterans like Jon Polito (Miller's Crossing) and Michael Baldalucco (O Brother Where Art Thou). Since then, Tony Shaloub (Monk), Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Scarlett Johansson have become more prominent.

Roger Deakins' cinematography however, is mostly what was always singled out for praise. Shot in color, then developed in black and white. He had been working for decades at that point, on films like Sid and Nancy, Shawshank and Kundun, plus every Coen Bros. flick since Barton Fink. But despite multiple awards and nominations before this, his work on Man That Wasn't There was the one that seemed to have Deakins stand out more.

Like I said, it was a 2001 release. But such a depressing looking film, coming out about 2 months after 9/11, and having critics unanimously praising the look but not necessarily the film itself, this didn't have a shot. Ok, but not a great art house run. An Oscar nomination for Deakins' work (losing to the first Lord of the Rings film), then off to obscurity the film went. But I want to check it out, and if you can stay up until about 2AM, I hope you can too.

THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS (1978)- Wed Aug 19 at 7 and 8:45 for 9 dollars (cheaper if you have a SAG card)- Huntington Arts Cinema- A new 35mm print of the original version, before Quentin Tarantino's remake or homage (whichever) comes out. I've never seen this either, but I'm curious. I also don't claim this to be high art either. This is the kind of Grindhouse film that inspired Quentin to get into film.

From 1978 (though not released in the U.S. until 1981), this is basically an Italian ripoff of The Dirty Dozen. 70s B movie stars Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson are in a platoon of mostly criminals, who are out killing Nazis, then facing the death penalty. But after escaping from a Nazi prison, they end up working with the French Resistance on a "suicide" mission. Nothing earth shattering here. Just expect a decent level of competent film making, naked Aryan looking women firing machine guns, and lots of Nazis dying. Shooting, stabbing and blowing up Nazis by the ton. Sounds like fun.

9 dollars is the regular admission, 6 dollars for members. However, if you have your SAG card, two of you can get in for the member price.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY- Mon Aug 17 or Fri Aug 21 at 7- MOMA- Part of MOMA's recent Acquisition retrospective. I brought Mike Leigh's film up several times, reserving it a very high spot on my best of 2008 list. No amount of prying on my end got anyone that I know to see this, but I will try again here. Leigh's most accessible film, a serio-comic film that's more comic than serious didn't seem to draw anyone other than the director's die-hard fans. Even for an art house film, it drew disappointingly. I hope you give this a chance.

Sally Hawkins plays a single kindergarten teacher who absolutely refuses to be down or nasty. She will be cheerful and chipper to the point that some strangers and the viewer might think she's delusional and insane. Not that she's blissfully unaware of troubles in the world and in other people. She actively tries to help her students and friends. But she will not make the world worse by being intentionally cruel or mean herself, no matter what.
Leigh lets the viewer decide if she is silly, naive or is in a place in her life we should consider aspiring to. Many smiles and more then a few laughs abound. And Hawkins makes this special creature shine. And her scenes with Eddie Marsan, as her polar opposite driving instructor, are the highlight of the film.

BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE- Fri Aug 21 at 6:15 with Elliot Gould and Dyan Cannon either introducing or doing a Q and A- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Natalie Wood retrospective, and the only one I'll be able to catch. I've seen West Side Story enough times that I'm doing it again right now, no one is interested in Miracle on 34th Street (little known fact: Miracle was originally released in August, so it's not that big a stretch to see it now), Lincoln Center isn't into screening obviously fun bad films so no Meteor, if I couldn't get people to see a 7 dollar screening of Gypsy before then forget spending 11 dollars now, and everything I don't have time to catch. Except this one.

Now people familiar with films have probably heard of this film, but figures since it's just about married couples switching partners, that's all they need to know about it. And these people are probably over 50 and saw the film when it first came out, or on network TV/syndication. If you're under 50 the chances you haven't seen this film are high. Hell, even I haven't seen all of it. But I seen enough to know it's more than just sex for thrills.

Now whether it's more than just a Sixties time capsule is something I can't help you with. You'll have to decide for yourself. From director/co-writer Paul Mazursky, two married couples, Dyan Cannon & Elliot Gould, and Robert Culp & Wood, are best friends. Despite the sexual tension between them, nothing is done about it. Until the late 60s comes along. Therapy, special "Institutes", and the notion of free love, tests the ideas of love and friendship between the four of them. Praised for its insight and snappy dialogue, and oh yeah, the cast. Nominations for the Screenplay and Cinematography, as well as Supporting nods to Cannon and Gould. Both of them will be at the screening. I don't know if they'll be introducing the film, or doing a Q and A afterwards. My guess is, it will be the later. They'll be doing this on Sunday the 23rd as well, but I can only do the 21st. Hope you can too.

SPACEBALLS- Fri Aug 21 and Sat Aug 22 at Midnight for 9.99- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A new 35mm print of the Mel Brooks Star Wars spoof. Ok, it hits a few more sci-fi stuff, but mainly Star Wars. Not on the level of Brooks' Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. More on the level of stuff like History of the World Part 1 and Silent Movie, which is still respectable. More affection for this film than any actual love for it. Even when the jokes get corny, the fact that people like John Candy, Rick Moranis and Bill Pullman are pulling them off is more than good enough.

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