Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oct. revivals: second half

Theater of Blood (Theatre of Blood) (1973, UK) movie poster

A Face In the Crowd

Hey, all. Mike here with what to catch for the rest of October. No time to waste, so here we go:


TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 in 3-D- Various locations in NYC- Now until whenever Disney feels like pulling it- Technically not revivals, but a re-release. Supposedly its for two weeks only. But as you can tell, they've done well enough that they're still playing. Not on the level of say, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, or even Couples Retreat. I heard that this would have been completely replaced by yet another 3-D re-release of Nightmare Before Christmas (which I recommend). But since Toy Story did well these past 2 weeks, the plan has been modified. Nightmare only played on 57 screens this weekend, none in the tri-state area. My guess, we have until either Thursday Oct 22 or Thursday Nov 5 until Disney pulls the double feature. But your guess is as good as mine as to when.   

A FACE IN THE CROWD- Wed Oct 21 at 2, 4:30 and 7- Film Forum- Part of the Elia Kazan retrospective. Not the best film he ever directed or even the most subtle, but a potent one nevertheless. And I know some of you have caught this before, either with or without me. But for those who haven't, who've probably caught most of the other films I'm listing hear, this is the one I want you to catch. A passionate gem of a film.

From 1957, Patricia Neal works on the radio, and gives a chance behind the microphone to a hobo type, with possible anger issues, played by Andy Griffith. So basically, by sheer force of personality, this early Howard Stern/ Rush Limbaugh type goes from small time Southern radio voice, to big time National radio voice, to selfish, borderline power-mad egomaniacal personality on this new fangled medium called television.

The writing and directing team behind On The Waterfront, went out of their way to make a large chunk of this film as unsubtle as possible. This was on purpose, since this was more a call to arms of the way TV and advertising was changing America, and not in a good way. Is right up there with Network, in terms of standout films that not only attacked and critiqued media, but also in terms of how despite the changing times, audience sizes and technology; the accuracy it has about our current times is uncanny. the idea of politicians packaged like a new car or a fast food place, or that the audience will follow some wannabe demagogue on TV and almost blindly follow what the person says (unless the audience feels blatantly tricked). Boy, that human nature crap hasn't changed at all.

Of course, this wouldn't work if we didn't at least empathize with the characters, and this certainly wouldn't work if the performances weren't outstanding. Neal, Walter Matthau (as the bitterly observant East Coast type), and Anthony Franciosa (as the slimy manager), are just the better known names in a wonderful cast. Lee Remick makes her fresh faced screen debut. But if you just think of Andy Griffith as the sheriff of Mayberry or as Matlock, his performance in A Face In The Crowd will shatter those perceptions. Funny, driven, ravenous, tender, lonely, subtle, brutal. Griffith bounces from one to another of these states and more, and you never see the seams. You see the cruel glint in his eye early, but you can sympathize with him for long stretches. In effect, you can understand why Neal's character would throw away her principals a piece at a time to love a man who may not be the misunderstood kind-hearted person she thinks he is. Very good film, one you really need to make time for at some point.

PSYCHO for 7.50- Thurs Oct 22 at 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- Honestly, I'm not trying to make a habit of posting this film each and every time it comes up. It's that I haven't seen it each time I've posted, and I'm gonna try again when it's playing at a convenient time for me. Which it is here, and at a cheaper price, 7.50, then the previous times I've posted it. I'm choosing this time as opposed to the 7pm screening, where it will get occasionally mocked by Hedda Lettuce. Some films deserve the MST3K method, this doesn't.

WILD RIVER- Fri Oct 23 and Mon Oct 29- Thurs Oct 29 at 5:30 and 7:40- the Fri screening at 7:40 introduced by Kazan's widow Film Forum- A new 35mm scope print. The last of the Elia Kazan retro, and the only one getting a week-long run. From 1960, a film that made even less of an impact upon its release than A Face In The Crowd. But like Face In The Crowd, it's reputation has grown and was cited for preservation by the Library of Congress. Now I've never seen it, so I'm forced to copy and paste from the Forum's website (I feel like a hack) to pitch this:

(1960) In the wake of disastrous Depression era floods, the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) is instituted, and Montgomery Clift flies in from D.C. to tie up one last loose end: get 80-year-old matriarch Jo Van Fleet to vacate her island homestead before the dams flood it. But she isn’t going, and as they argue Clift comes to appreciate her deep love for the land, and to find a bond growing with her widowed granddaughter, Lee Remick. A project Kazan nursed for 25 years, after his first visits to the region in the 30s, and the most atmospheric of his works, from its long, slow, almost Ozu-like opening scenes, through Ellsworth Fredericks’ crisply autumnal CinemaScope photography, Kenyon Hopkins’ haunting score — complemented by overheard snatches of hymns and spirituals, most memorably when a seeming no-neck begins a heartbreaking “In the pines” at a funeral on a cemetery-sized islet in the swollen river. And keyed by three powerful performances: Clift, never so sharp and subtle, a tentative smile, a flick of the eye, a nod conveying the shy city intellectual with an awakening heart and a hidden vein of iron; Van Fleet, only 37 at the time — her makeup took four hours — even stronger and more dominating than in her East of Eden Oscar-winner; and Remick, moving through loneliness, yearning, passion, and rage to create the most complete and developed among all of Kazan’s characters. Poorly distributed on first release, and long unavailable, this now can be seen as one of the greatest works of one of America’s greatest directors. 

THEATER OF BLOOD and SCREAM OF FEAR- Fri Oct 30 and Mon Nov 2- Thurs Nov 5 at 8:10(Scream) and 9:45(Theater)- Film Forum- A double feature of two British horror flicks that sounds like fun. Now the second film, Scream Of Fear, I don't know anything about, so here we go with the copy and paste stuff from the Forum website:

(1961, Seth Holt) Wheelchair-bound Susan Strasberg arrives on the Côte d’Azur for a first meeting with stepmom Ann Todd and a reunion after a decade with her estranged dad, only to find him away on business. So what’s his corpse doing in the summerhouse? The ever-so-helpful family doctor has a sedative for those hallucinations — but wait a minute, he’sChristopher Lee! Touted as Britain’s answer toPsycho, it was actually written much earlier (by Hammer horror specialist Jimmy Sangster, in a deliberate change of pace) and more reminiscent of Clouzot’s Diabolique — but with special twists of its own. Shot in stunning b&w by the great Douglas Slocombe (later DP of the first three Indiana Jones adventures).

Now the other film, 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, and if this is the only half of the double feature we catch, I would be satisfied. But I'd like to catch both.

MONTY PYTHON: LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL- Fri Oct 30 and Sat Oct 31 at Midnight- IFC Center- This weekend, IFC Center will start a Monty Python retrospective at Midnight for the next number of weekends. But I've done the first film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail twice in recent years, and I think I've bled out the audience for this. So I'll move on to the first Python film I can do: Monty Python: Live At The Hollywood Bowl. A concert film from the Los Angeles end of their tour back in 1980, released in the summer of 1982. A mix of classic skits (The Arguement Sketch, The Ministry of Silly Walks), with newer pieces like Graham Chapman wrestling himself. My favorite of the newer pieces is the Pope (John Cleese) arguing with da Vinci (Eric idle) over The Last Supper. I'm paraphrasing the following:

Pope: You can't have a Last Supper with THREE CHRISTS in it!!!

da Vinci: Why not? The fat one even outs the 2 skinny ones!

So if you don't want to spend your Halloween weekend with horror films. Here's a fun alternative.

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

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