Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nov revivals: first half

Patricia Quinn (Monty Python's Meaning of Life, 1983)


Mike here with what to catch for the first half of November. A bit of a long list, so I'll try to brief as possible. Here we go:

ON THE WATERFRONT- Wed Nov 4 at 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- 3 of the films from the Elia Kazan retrospective were popular enough to warrant their own week long release. On The Waterfront is the first. Since most people I know who don't know any Brando fanatics, didn't catch this last month, here's another chance. Sorry that this is the only date I can catch it.

THEATER OF BLOOD and SCREAM OF FEAR- Wed Nov 4 and Thurs Nov 5 at 8:10 (Scream) and 9:45 (Theater)- Film Forum- A few more days to catch this British horror film double feature. Like I said before, if I only catch Theater of Blood, I'm fine with that. Therefore, I won't re-post what I copied and pasted about Scream of Fear, just the Theater paragraph:

Theater of Blood is a lot of fun. Vincent Price plays a great (self-proclaimed) actor who fakes his suicide to revenge on all the critics who tried to "ruin" his career and deny Jack Hawkins and Robert Morely are among the Shakespearean stage actors playing critics who meet their Shakespearean doom. With Diana Rigg as Price's angry daughter. As you can imagine, it can get hammy and cheesy. And because of the time it was made (released in 1973), perhaps its bloodier than it should be. But trust me, its fun. But I'd like to catch both.

THE RED SHOES- Sun Nov 8, Tues Nov 10- Fri Nov 13 and Sun Nov 15, Wed Nov 11 and Thurs Nov 19 at 7 and 9:35- No screenings on Mon night- Film Forum- Arguably the most important film featuring dance ever made, and supposedly one of the films that inspired Martin Scorsese to become a filmmaker, gets a two week run at the Forum, in a restored 35mm print. The restored version that Scorsese himself this spring at the Cannes Film Festival. To quote him: "There's no question that it's one of the most beautiful color films ever made, and one of the truest to the experience of the artist, the joy and pain of devoting yourself to a life of creation."

The lush colors, and the breezy cinematic manner that directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger tell this story keeps it somewhat timeless. Sorry, you just can't have people riding in trains because they have to, and still be considered completely timeless.

One of the few films to pull off both the ballet on-stage and the work and/or the passion behind it successfully. This is despite having relatively less on-screen staged ballet than what you might remember. There are very few dancers worth a damn who haven't been inspired to join the profession since it's release in 1948. Maybe a little too girly for some of you, but it's a classic, so deal with it and catch it.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT- Fri Nov 6 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of a series of Monty Python films at Midnight. Never intended for release in their British home, this compilation of best of Python sketches, was suppose to introduce the group to America. Didn't work; not well distributed and perhaps too strange to dive into without any mental or emotional intro. At least their English audience had seen stuff like The Goons, or the members' previous shows, like At Last The 1948 Show, or The Frost Report to at least lay down the groundwork. And considering all we really had was Laugh-In unless you happened to catch Second City on stage, that wasn't enough.

For this film, it also didn't help that their director (according to the recent IFC documentary), tended to dive into drinking by noon, leaving the Python members to shoot on their own, essentially. And also according to the IFC doc., it gave them the impetus to maintain complete control of their work, eventually leading to Holy Grail. But it's gotten a sort of cult following, and with skits like Dead Parrot, Upper Class Twit of the Year, Hell's Grannies, Self-Defense, and so forth, the laughs come easy.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE- Mon Nov 9- Wed Nov 11 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- Another Kazan film that apparently did well enough at the Forum last month to get a week long run. You know it, you know Brando, you know Vivian Leigh, you know "STEEEELLLLLAAAAAA-HHH!!!!", so I don't think I need to go further . . .

8 1/2- Thurs Nov 12 at 7:30- Queens Theater in the Park- Part of AMMI's Masterpieces series that they have playing in other venues. Since the museum still isn't ready to reopen, they've been trying different venues. And this fall, they're being screened at Queens Theater in the Park, at Flushing Meadow Park. Digitally projected in their 400 plus theater, here's something for those who don't want to trek into Manhattan. I would have wanted to catch some of their earlier films, like Citizen Kane or Rules of the Game, but 8 1/2 is the first one in the series I have time for.

In time for the release of the upcoming musical remake 9, Fellini's classic film mixes reality and fantasy, as Marcello Mastroianni tries to overcome a form of director's block, while living his life in a fishbowl as a celebrity as well as trying to get his new film off the ground. The film mixes flashback, fantasy and reality, and is also a love letter to not only film in general, but the idea of a director as a kind-of Master of his little Universe. And when surrounded by classic beauties like Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale and Barbara Steele, yeah man, you got it tough.

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS- Fri Nov 13, Mon Nov 16 and Wed Nov 18 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum-The third Kazan film, a romantic drama, to get a week long run. I didn't have time for it last month when it only played one or two days, but I can catch it now.

In the 1920s, Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood play young lovers who might be each others' true love, yet split apart by parents, different social classes and perhaps not enough maturity to overcome them. Not to say the audience is any better then they are; it's how similar we are that drives the film home. Oscar nominations to Wood for Best Actress and for William Inge's Screenplay. Not Kazan's last successful or heavily praised film (that would probably be America, America), but career highs for Kazan, (especially) Wood, Beatty, and all involved.

MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE- Fri Nov 13 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of the Monty Python at Midnight retro that the IFC Center is having. Not the best film the group has ever done, but does have some of their best work. Closer to one of the old episodes in terms of style, than something linear like Life Of Brien. But like I said, some of their best bits are in this picture; like the old people who become pirates to attack big business, giving birth, the large Catholic family that performs "Every Sperm Is Sacred", and organ donation (also the bloodiest scene Python ever put up). And that's not counting the dinner sketch where might be the most disgusting Python skit ever, and I'd be damned if that wasn't funny as well. Like I said, not the best Python film, but still pretty funny and one of the best films of 1983. A biased opinion, since I'm the biggest Python fan I know, but so what?

That's all for now. Heavy interest in the Brit horror films, Red Shoes and Meaning of Life, but anything I can would be good. Let me know. Later, all.

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