Saturday, September 26, 2009

September revival: second half

Hey all. Mike here with what to catch, revival-wise, for the second half of September. And based on increased schedule difficulty (Trust at Parkside Players- catch it!), this is the only revival I can catch. But I've been waiting for this one to come around for a while:

FAT CITY- Sun Sept 27 at 7:30 and 9:30, Tues Sept 29 and Wed Sept 30 at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 and Thurs Oct 1 at 1:30- Film Forum- A new 35mm print. Not a hit back in 1972, and frankly, not really remembered today. But for those who have seen it, it's cited as one of the films that made 1970s the best decade for American film. I won't step into that particular argument here. But it's also one of those films that shows director John Huston was doing work that was just as vital near the end of his career as it was in the beginning.

Please, it's more than just Death of a Salesman or Requiem For A Dream, set in boxing. There's just enough levity to make it 70s palpable. Based on Leonard Gardner's successful book, Stacy Keach stars as a boxer, never the biggest name in his division, trying to restart his career in one of the most dusty, and drabbest (not a word but whatever) towns in all of California. He meets a younger version of himself, played by Jeff Bridges. Jeff's character may be up and coming, but is that only because he's so young? In a sport where one knockout can change anything, who's to say how long Bridges' character will have a bright future. And if Keach's character wins, whose to say that that would be enough to get him out of dive towns and into better fights?

Two aspects of Huston the man and director have served the legacy of this film well, for those who have seen it. One, Huston's past as a former boxer, led him to shoot the fight scenes as realistic as possible. Not with the power punches of a Rocky film or The Contender TV series, or with the bloody artistry of Raging Bull. But if you're familiar with the barroom fight in Treasure of the Sierra Madre, then you have the idea of the kind of fights depicted.

Two, Huston cast many of his films well, and this is no exception. He took chances casting Bridges and Keach, back when they were mostly unknown. Their breakout films, Last Picture Show for Bridges and Doc for Keach, had not been released when cast. It also helped Keach that Brando was unenthusiastic about taking the role. An Oscar nomination went to Susan Tyrell for playing Keach's 'squeeze', the barfly of all barfly. Before American Graffiti, Candy Clark made her screen debut as Bridges' screw-up girlfriend. With Nicholas Colastano (years before Raging Bull and Cheers as coach) as Bridges' trainer, and a number of welterweight, middleweight and lightweight boxers in small roles throughout.

Let me know because like I said, I'd really like to catch it. Later all.

P.S.: Do catch Trust. It's a good show. Go to, and follow along for Trust. Later all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sept revivals: first half, this weekend only

Hey all. Mike here with what's available for me to do revival wise for the first half of September. Which for me, except for the U.S. Open (which I've enjoyed for the most part as of this writing) and other stuff schedule-wise, means this weekend earlier. I would have posted earlier, but there was no interest from others regarding Psycho at Lincoln Center on Sun Sept 6, and no real interest for myself regarding The Big Lebowski last weekend at Midnight at IFC Center. So it's really just these two films. Here we go:

ODD MAN OUT- Sat Sept 12 and (maybe but I'd like to avoid this date) Tues Sept 15 at 5:30, 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of the last of the British film noir retrospective. From director Carol Reed, who made pictures such as The Fallen Idol, Oliver! and one of my favorites, The Third Man. But this film starring James Mason as an IRA man, I'd like to catch. But since I don't know it, I'll have to cut and paste from the Forum's website again:

(1947) Snow drifting down a once elegant stairwell from a broken skylight; a little girl with only a single roller skate; a seemingly omnipresent clock tower that counts down the hours to a midnight resolution: and a bank job to fill the coffers of the Organisation (the IRA, though unnamed) gone sour: one man dead, Cyrill Cusack and Dan O'Herlihy panic and go on the booze, and James Mason's Johnny McQueen is badly wounded on the run. And as his path to Calvary runs on from sunny afternoon to pouring evening to snowy night, it moves from suspenseful Noir to the almost surreal, while he's being sought by icy policeman Dennis O'Dea, unspoken lover Kathleen Ryan, and ally Robert Beatty, with Good Samaritan Fay Compton dressing his wounds, bum F.J. McCormick calculating what he's worth, bartender William Hartnell wanting him out, and barmy artisit Robert Newton trying to paint his look of death - but is there a ship out there? "The most complex manhunt ever filmed" (Pauline Kael) - and the first of the trilogy (followed by The Fallen Idol and The Third Man) that would make Reed world renowned and set him on the path of Britain's first cinema; with Robert (Third Man) Krasker's spectacular b&w photography making the moody settings and the (unnamed) Belfast locations into a true city of dreadful night.

MILLER'S CROSSING- Fri Sept 11 and Sat Sept 12 at Midnight- IFC Center- The last of the Coen Brothers retrospective. Released among the glut of gangster films back in the fall/winter of 1990. Goodfellas is the only one better than this from that time, and is among the best films from that year. That it barely found more of a U.S. audience than The Krays or State of Grace means less then you think. So I'm guessing most of you reading this have either never seen this, or haven't seen this since the 90s on video.

A stylized gangster film set during the Prohibition era. Albert Finney's Boss character refuses to bow to pressure from a rising upstart who refuses to take "the high hat" any longer. Gabriel Byrne, playing his best friend and right hand man, begins a complicated scheme to save his boss. Even it costs him their friendship and possibly his life. Because Byrne's character is something of a cold fish for whom most of the fireworks going on with him are internal, you might have trouble going for this film.

For me, the style is substance here. A bit intellectual, but then I didn't say it was the best film of that year, just one of. Good cast helps. Among them is Homicide's Jon Polito, Marcia Gay Harden in her first major film role, and early screen appearances by Steve Buscemi and Michael Jeter. Cinematography by future director Barry Sonnenfeld, who come to think of it, did the same thing for Raising Arizona as well.

But if you know the film at all, then your first thought would be to John Turturro as weasel extraordinaire Bernie Bernbaum. Specifically, the scene in the woods where he goes to great lengths begging for his life. The desperation, the loss of self confidence in the face of one's demise, the knowledge that you have nothing to give that could change your killer's mind so you just beg and cry and beg some more. If John wasn't locked in to at least character film work forever with his work on Spike Lee films, then this cemented it.

Let me know quickly. Later all.