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.

No comments: