Wednesday, December 23, 2009

December revivals through New Year's Eve/Day

Hey all. Mike here wishing all a Happy pick-your-own holiday; just don't give me crap if I don't pick what you celebrate. Anyway, here's the list from now through New Year's Day, and it's my most diverse in a while. A lot of titles, so here we go:

THE THIRD MAN - Now thru Tues Dec 29 at 3:20, 5:30, 7:40 and 9:50 - Film Forum - You still have a chance to see the best film on this list now thru December 29. Being screened in a new 35mm print. I went over on the last list, and this list is too long for me to repeat or repost myself, so moving on. Actually, you can make an Orson Welles double feature for yourself on Saturday, December 26th. The Third Man would the second half, and one of the next two pictures playing uptown would make the first half:

THE MUPPET MOVIE- Sat Dec 26 at 2- The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space- W. 95th and Broadway- All right, that was a cheat from me, referring to this as an Orson Welles film, even though he had a key cameo near the end. But it could be worse. If I posted Transformers: The Movie, then you had the right to be pissed at me. You couldn't possibly get at pissed at me, as I was back then, when Optimus Prime was killed off in that picture. Then I was pissed when I read a few years ago, that Hasbro was the one who decided to kill off the beloved character just to sell some new characters. What a stupid business decision it turned out.

Sorry, I digressed. Yes, the first and best of the Muppet films gets an afternoon screening. A sleeper hit of the summer of 1979, you might be surprised that it's more than just a kid's flick. You have a road film, with a stealth satire of Hollywood and what one might move too quickly to give up on to make it big. A satire not on the level of say, Sunset Blvd or The Player, but one that registers now that didn't back in grade school when you/we first saw this. Ok, was that too much? Fine, you got fun jokes, both good and groan inducing. You have enjoyable cameos, with Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, Charles Durning, Dom DeLuise, Richard Pryor, Bob Hope and Welles among the cast. You've got practically every Muppet that ever appeared during the run of The Muppet Show. You also got the Oscar nominated song, The Rainbow Connection. What you'll have is fun.

MACBETH (1948)- Sat Dec 26 at 3:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- But if you want to see something you would easily get to see at some Orson Welles retrospective, then you'll see his version of Macbeth instead. Part of Lincoln Center's end of the year retrospective of the most successful films they've screened there in 2009. A restored director's cut.
Orson Welles spent years raising money, shooting a little at a time, going out and doing another job, then going back to finish starring and directing his version of the Scottish play. While changes were made mainly in the condensing side to keep things moving, and under 1hr 50 minutes, and affording a cast including Roddy McDowell, Dan O' Herlihy, a young Keene Curtis (Cheers) and Alan Napier (Alfred from TV's Batman), and future TV veteran Jeanette Nolan making her screen debut as Lady MacBeth, Welles finally released his version in 1948.

While it was popular in most foreign countries, it was ripped apart in the U.S. and Britain. The attacks were aimed not only at Nolan's performance, but also at the actors' "incomprehensible" Scottish dialects (though considered fairly to completely accurate, depending on the actor.). Welles went back to the drawing board, raising more money for additional post-production, having the actors re-dub most of their dialogue, and cutting the film down to 89 minutes. Released in late 1950, it didn't make much of a dent, and respect was only given this decade, when it was restored to its original length and soundtrack. Now, its considered among the better Shakespeare screen adaptation. It had a healthy run at Film Forum earlier this decade, had a decent art house run, and plays in this retrospective. Try it.

THE GREAT DICTATOR- Sat Dec 26- Thurs Dec 31 at 3:55, 6:15 and 9:55- IFC Center- A week long screening of Charlie Chaplin's first talking picture. And a politically bold one for its time; a satire on Fascism and full scale attack on Hitler. Chaplin wrote, directed and starred as both the renamed Hitler and the dictator's double, who happens to be a Jewish barber. Then one day, the two are mistaken as one another. . . let the hilarity ensue. 5 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Chaplin for Actor and for the Screenplay.

Praised more for its audacity and willingness to be confrontational, years before we knew what exactly was going on with the Nazis, and it's place in history as one of the only films willing to do this back in 1940. Praised for all of this, as opposed to the quality of the film itself. So here is a chance to decide if this still holds up as entertainment, or works more as an important piece of film history and nothing more. Or both, minus the nothing more part.

SWEET CHARITY with or without MY SISTER EILEEN- Tues Dec 29 at 6:15 (Charity) and 9 (Eileen)- Film Forum- Part of the Madcap Manhattan series. Now My Sister Eileen, I don't care if I see it or not. Janet Leigh and Betty Garrett as Ohio sisters trying to live in New York, ok, whatever. Some curiosity to see Jack Lemmon in a musical, not a burning one on my end. Any interest from me would be to see Bob Fosse's first solo choreography film work, as well as see him perform on screen as well. My main interest would be to see Sweet Charity, or for you little kids, Pretty Woman with great dancing, but not a lot of fairy tale shit.

Released in 1969, right as audiences were staying away from most movie musicals in droves, Bob Fosse made his film directorial debut with this adaptation of his biggest Broadway hit up to that point. Shirley MacLaine rises above the hooker with the heart of gold cliche, with help of Fosse's terrific choreography and mostly playful direction, show stopping turns from MacLaine, Sammy Davis Jr., Chita Rivera and Paula Kelly, Cy Coleman's music, and good use of NYC locales. Then the film comes out to reviews that were mostly good or better . . . and becomes a flop at the box office. Not Ishtar levels, but enough to make sure it didn't make it's production budget back with any speed. Oscar nominations for Coleman's score, Edith Head's costumes and the Art Direction didn't help in the least. History has since been kind to the film, and the show itself has enjoyed successful revivals. But Fosse's death, short film career, and the idea that it SEEMS like an old fashioned (a.k.a. boring) musical, has led to little in the way of re-discovery. You can make up for that on the 29th. One day only, sorry it isn't playing longer.

THE HURT LOCKER- Wed Dec 30 at 3:30- Walter Reade in Lincoln Center- I brought this up last time. This time, instead of playing at MOMA, it will play over at Lincoln Center. The reason? It's part of an end of the year retrospective of the more popular films to play at the Walter Reade over the past year. And this, one of the best films of 2009, certainly qualifies. Whether you can do it on a Wednesday afternoon during the holiday season or not, it's still nicer than catching it at AMC Empire or the theater with the windshield-size screen, also known as the Quad.

I think of this as a very good action film, but for a even better one, the next film I bring up qualifies:

TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY with or without SUMMER HOURS- Wed Dec 30 at 4 (Terminator 2) and 8 (Summer)- MOMA- For one admission, you can see these two films. Different in almost every way, except for a concern for family. Believe it or not, family dynamics are about as key to T2 as it is to Summer Hours.

First, Terminator 2, arguably one of those examples of the sequel being better than the original. Definitely one of the best action films ever made. As of this writing, I haven't seen Avatar, but if that is better than T2, I would be most impressed and happy indeed. Here, John Connors is being threatened from the future by a shiny new, shape shifting Terminator model, but his adult future self sends a protector, an older model Terminator played by Ahu-nuld. With the help of John's chiseled and possibly slightly insane mom Sarah, the battle to change or delay the future begins again.

Linda Hamilton gained more notices for the 10-15 pounds of sinewy muscle she added than for her acting. But almost two decades since the hype, her performance as well as Edward Furlong as John help keep the human element front and center. Or at least keeps us from getting bored in-between some kick-ass action scenes. With visual effects that were as ground-breaking then, as Avatar supposedly is now. Oscars for the fx, sound and make-up, nominations for the cinematography and editing.

At the heart of the film, believe or not, is family. The biological and put-together kind. It's just not immediately obvious with all the gunfire and explosions. But it's blatantly obvious with Summer Hours. A French film from 2008, released in the U.S. this year. It seems that when putting together a best of 2009 list in film, Summer Hours will have to be at least considered.

Starring Juliette Binoche, two brothers and their sister, go through the family belongings as they put their late mother's estate in order. The siblings used to be close, but their own jobs and/or families keep them too busy to get together. And while going through the belongings triggers mostly pleasant flashbacks, there is the knowledge that this part of the past must be dealt with and then it's time to leave it behind in the past. And also to enjoy the time together now, because they might not meet up again like this until they reach the age of their late mother, if they're lucky.

So on this day, you can see a great action film, take an hour plus for a fast bite and maybe a coffee, then catch an unsentimental yet humane drama. Unique day, to be sure.

And now, two film options for New Year's Eve:

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S and THE APARTMENT- Thurs Dec 31 and Fri Jan 1 at 7:40 (Tiffany's) and 9:50 (Apartment)- Film Forum- A double feature of two romantic comedy/dramas set in New York, shot about a year apart, where a popular actor plays a lead who tries to jump start their status in life. Breakfast At Tiffany's starring Audrey Hepburn, if you can get through the repeated use of Moon River and the now painful Mickey Rooney performance as the Japanese neighbor, and The Apartment, the better film, with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and an appropriate ending for New Year's. For the Thursday screening, a complimentary glass of champagne will be available to toast the New Year, after The Apartment. If you want to see this pairing, but NOT so close to the ball drop, this double feature will play on New Year's Day as well. But if you prefer something livelier, there's always . . .

A New Year's show and post ball drop party featuring VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for 22 dollars- Thurs Dec 31 at 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- Now this one is has more than just a film going on. You have some brief pre-show entertainment from Hedda Lettuce, followed by a screening of Valley of the Dolls getting a full Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque treatment from Hedda, then you watch the ball drop live, then some kind of party. That's all the details I got, except that it costs 22 dollars, and the tickets do NOT go on sale until the box office opens on the 31st.

Now as for the film, Valley of the Dolls? Eeeehhh at best, terrible at worst. But at times, gloriously terrible. Barbara Perkins is the hot pure virgin. Patty Duke is the hot nice girl so damaged by Hollywood that every other joke about her character will probably be about either The Patty Duke Show or about Lindsay Lohan. Sharon Tate is the hot actress who can't act, but who has a bad fate in store for her. Throw in a cast that includes Lee Grant, Susan Hayward, Joey Bishop, and a bunch of actors who don't deserve mention but they play weaklings or jerks, mix in good music from Andre Previn and John Williams (Oscar nominated), and tell all of them to play this STRAIGHT?!?!?! Wow, this film is so stupidly full of shit, but oh so wonderfully full of shit. If any film deserves the full MST3K-type treatment, it is Valley of the Dolls. I'm not sure if this is how you want to spend your New Years, but something tells me that at worst, it won't be boring.

Let me know. Later all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

December revivals through Christmas Eve

Hey all, Mike here wish all a happy festivus, and posting films to catch from now through Christmas Eve. Actually, I could post something everyday from Friday the 18th through New Years Day. But to keep things semi-clear, I'll chop it in2, and only post stuff through December 24. Trust me, this damn list is long enough. Here we go:

THE THIRD MAN- Fri Dec 18- Tues Dec 29 at 5:30, 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- The Forum brings back this classic, just under the wire for its 60th anniversary. Though in America, it came out in 1950, where it would rise to classic status at about the exact same time as Sunset Blvd., All About Eve and Harvey. Talk about when being the third or fourth best film of that particular year meant a lot more than usual. Seriously, it's seems to me to be among the least seen of all the post silent flim era flicks I would label classic, at least stateside. As the older audience dies out, younger ones may not know it. But once they see it, boom, it's got them, and they'll probably see it everytime it comes on TCM as well. Film students must also have to see this at least once I would imagine. If not, then it's probably not all that reputable.

Simple fish out of water story, where American Joseph Cotton, who seems to hold black belts in screwups and stumbling blindly into situations, attends a funeral for his friend in post-war divided Vienna. And yet things, as usual in these kind of film noirs, are not what they appear to be. Thus, what I said about the story being simple, eeeeehhhhh, not so much. The film seems to exist entirely in states of gray, with camera angles that seem to have made it the Blair Witch Project of its day.

Standing out in the colorful supporting cast are Trevor Howard with what appears to be a permanent British stiff upper lip, and Alida Valli, who can keep many men's interest, but keeps pining for the one who treats her like shit. And, oh yeah, Orson Welles; who brought charm, gravitas, and the memorable, though historically inaccurate, cuckoo clock monologue. The only part of the film not written by Graham Greene, who adapted his book with some uncredited help.

Oh yeah, he didn't write the ending either. Director Carol Reed didn't like the book's ending, but still wasn't sure what to do. But he came up with a solution, over Greene's objections. At the end of shooting, just placed his camera and himself far away so the actors couldn't hear him say cut, and let it roll. Whatever would be, would be. Hey, it worked.

An Oscar for the black and white cinematography, nominations for Editing and Reed for Director. Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes, on the first AFI Top 100 list (though not the second!), number one on Britain's similar film list, Japan's number one film on it's own similar list of non-Japanese films, and in my personal top 100. Not sure where exactly, but it's somewhere. It would be higher in my mind if there wasn't so much zither music. Yes, it fits, and after 60 years, we can't exactly do anything about that now, but still. That damn zither theme can still pop into my head from time to time. Despite that, you will enjoy it, whether you've seen it a bunch of times, or for the first time. And you have 12 days to catch it.

7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS- for free, subject to availability- Fri Dec 18 at 7- MOMA- A simple story for this musical from director Stanley Donen, a huge hit from 1954. In 1850 Oregon, Howard Keel brings home a wife, Jane Powell. Surprise, her new husband lives with his six brothers, all of whom expect her to take care of them. Well, it might be over a century before women's lib, but honey, she's gonna make sure things are gonna change. An Oscar for the Score, nominations for Picture, Screenplay, Cinematography, and Editing.

Which kind of gets us closer to why one should pay attention to this film at all. Michael Kidd's Choreography on the big screen makes this worth the price of admission, which in this case is free (subject to availability). It's used as a constant example, along with Lawrence of Arabia, as to why films on TV should be seen in widescreen, as opposed to pan and scan. Kidd's highly athletic dances, with quality editing, music and cinematography, makes it a worthy addition to any revival list. Even one as crowded as this.

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE- Fri Dec 18- Thurs Dec 24 at 12:50, 3:55 and 7 - With an introduction from Donna Reed's daughter, Mary Owen on Friday Dec 18th at 7- IFC Center- Once again, IFC Center shows the Frank Capra-Jimmy Stewart classic for a week. It will be screened on its own, as opposed to what the theater usually does, which is to pair it with Bad Santa and charge separate admissions. It's only shown once or twice a year on NBC, and not much more after that, if at all. So if you're in the mood, here it is. I'm sorry that you don't get a little bell with the title of the film on it, like you do with the recent DVD release, but how bad do need to give out angel wings?

I listed all three times of its week-long run. I wouldn't be available for all of them, but it's easier to just list them all and move on. Donna Reed's daughter, Mary Owen will introduce the 7pm screening on Friday the 18th.

THE SHINING- Fri Dec 18 and Sat Dec 19 at Midnight- IFC Center- Once again, they show the Kubrick horror flick at midnight. Now that IFC Center has expanded to 5 screens, stuff like this, A Clockwork Orange, El Topo, The Holy Mountain, and anything the theater has done at midnight, will probably be constantly shown. Like it's the 70s or early 80s all over again. Anyway, now this is holiday fare. Yeah, yeah, because there's SNOW in the film, yeah, that's it . . . Oh just go with it, and if you haven't seen it, just go. M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY- Sat Dec 19 at 8- MOMA- The French comedy classic that had a successful two week run at the Forum, plays for two days at MOMA. But this is the one screening I can catch. Anything else about the film, go back a couple of lists ago.

THE HURT LOCKER- Mon Dec 21 at 7- MOMA- This film gets a one night screening. This Iraq War set action film found a bit of an art house audience, but sorry to say, I know very few people personally who took the time this summer to see Kathryn Bigelow's film. But for the next few months, with winning critics awards for at least Picture and Director from to New York to Boston to L.A. and other cities in between, a bunch of Golden Globe nominations (not a sign of excellence, but I'll take what I can leach on), upcoming critics' best of 2009 lists and the Oscars with their expanded Best Picture nominee slots; the point is, The Hurt Locker will be brought up quite a bit. When I get into my own top 10 of 2009, let's just say this film will be ranked quite high. This is screening at the moment at AMC Empire (barely) and the Quad, and later this month on the Sunday night and Wednesday afternoon after Christmas. So this won't be the only chance you'll have to catch this. But at least it will be better than the Quad's windshield of a screen.

THE KING OF COMEDY- Tues Dec 22 at 7:40 and 9:50- Film Forum- Part of the Madcap Manhattan retro, from director Martin Scorsese, for one night only. Not an obvious choice, but trust me, it fits. For those who haven't complained about people getting famous without doing much of anything, like the Salahis who crashed the White House dinner. They are the type who rather be Kings and Queens for a day, then 'schmucks' for a lifetime. Thus they seem to make this film as relevant as ever. Big flop from early 1982, but also one of that year's best film.

Similar to a musical where the songs all happen in the context of a show or in fantasy. Here, most of the comedy is in the context of the talk show or in fantasy. Mostly it's a dark drama. Robert de Niro plays an obsessed fan, who takes a chance encounter with his talk show host idol too much to heart. This lets his fantasies of becoming a comedy icon grow bigger than usual, and his behavior becomes more irrational, and potentially dangerous.

De Niro is loser incarnate, and it cuts close to the bone. It's almost like Willy Loman never did anything, then kidnapped his brother for those riches. But most critical attention went to Jerry Lewis, in his first serious role of note, as the talk show icon. A role Johnny Carson turned down after much deliberation, because the role was written to close to his reality (at least when he hosted The Tonight Show in NYC). Lewis was long dismissed at this point, and this role gave his career a whole new lease on life. We see him in de Niro's fantasy scenes, and is just as impressive as someone not happy with his celebrity status, and even less happy by his privacy being interrupted by this nut. Stealing scenes from both de Niro and Lewis was Sandra Bernhard, as an even more obsessed fan.

Came out in Feb. 1982 to major praise. When it expanded beyond 2 or 3 screens, it was DOA. I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of love for an ending that neither went to the comfortable Hollywood route, nor did it go a Taxi Driver-esque route. Maybe the stalker story was too close after John Lennon's murder by a crazed fan. Maybe a film that looks like a comedy but isn't AND is very much a New York film, turned off the rest of the country as a whole. Home video and TV could only do so much. Not the coolest in comparison to other Scorsese-de Niro pictures, and because it was made by Fox instead of Warner Bros, it doesn't get packaged with their other works. But I'm guessing most of you haven't seen this ever, or since the 80s or early 90s. Now is the chance to change that.

THE THIN MAN with or without MY MAN GODFREY- Wed Dec 23 at 6:30 (Godfrey), 8:20 (Thin Man), and 10 (Godfrey) and Thurs Dec 24 at 1 (Thin Man) and 2:50 (Godfrey)- Film Forum- Part of the Madcap Manhattan retro. Now this is closer to what people would probably think of in terms of madcap Manhattan, as opposed to King of Comedy. A William Powell double feature of the biggest hits he ever starred in. Both very good, and if isn't wasn't for the fact that I saw the second half of the double feature earlier this year at the Forum, I would push catching this hard. As is, if it's only the first film I get to catch, I'm ok with that, but you're probably missing out.

First, The Thin Man. What was supposed to be a quick programming filler for MGM would become so much more. A classic screwball comedy/ mystery with Nick and Nora Charles, drinking and laughing their way through, when a murder case falls into their laps. Though not very interested at first (they are on their honeymoon and Nick is either drunk or hungover), the case still goes on around them. So let's have some fun, let's solve it! There's more to it than that, but the mystery is mostly secondary. Perhaps not as easy to solve at first, this was an adaptation of a Dashiell Hammett novel after all. The pacing and mixture of comedy, mystery and romance, especially between detectives of the opposite sex working on the same case, brings stuff like Moonlighting to mind.
But we're not remembering this film today unless the dialog was snappy, and if the chemistry between Powell and Myrna Loy wasn't there. And we get both in spades. While Powell is the more physical comedian, Loy (one of my favorite actresses of all time in every way), as the difficult task of playing someone not very bright in terms of sleuthing, and yet be a completely irresistible partner that can keep her husband intrigued and interested forever. The best acting partners the other would ever have.

The first of a series of Thin Man films. They were basically the same, except this is the only one with Nick visibly inebriated for the majority of the film. Blame the Production Code on that one. Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, Powell for Actor and for the script.

Followed by My Man Godfrey. Caught the screwball comedy earlier in the year and loved it. In this screwball comedy classic, Carole Lombard's rich girl character (think Paris Hilton, minus STDs and plus 100+ I.Q. points), on a whim and in scavenger hunt mode, brings in homeless man William Powell to become the family butler. He turns out to be more than meets the eye, not the least of which being brighter then the rest of the family. Why Powell's a hobo probably wouldn't hold up today, not without a big storyline about him getting treatment, put on medication, etc. But the rest of the comedy holds up quite well. Powell may always seem to have the upper hand on Lombard, but that's the script, and not for lack of trying. But Powell has the advantage of playing a straight man while also going into depth with his character, while everyone else around him are batshit nuts.
6 Oscar nominations; Powell for Actor, Lombard for Actress, Gregory La Cava for Director, plus 2 for Supporting Actress and one for the Screenplay.

Just enough digs into the differences between the poor and the mostly blissfully out of touch rich, without the feeling of a soapbox. Wonderful cast; afterwards it's difficult not to wonder what if in terms of how Lombard's career would have been if a plane crash hadn't taken her life. Like I said, if I don't get to see only The Thin Man in this double feature, I'm ok with that. But the two together would make a great night.

That's all for now. The second half of this list is about twice as big as this one, with some good choices as well. Later all, and Happy Chrismukkah.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

December revivals: first half

Mike here with a list of what to catch for the first half of December. This month is always crowded with many revival choices. So crowded, that I may have to break up this month in 3 installments. Choosing films that are doable and, with the exception of the 15th, don't conflict, was ok this time. But the rest of the month will prove difficult. And that means, lots of quality flicks, and more then a few difficult choices. But for now, on with the list. Here we go:

FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)- Fri Dec 4 at 6:40 (Frankenstein), 8 (Invisible), and 9:25 (Frankenstein)- Film Forum- The start of the James Whale retrospective. The film Gods and Monsters starred Ian McKellen as Whale in his last days. Now a week of his films will play at the Forum, starting with two of his three most famous pictures. Frankenstein, often remade, but never topped. Mostly serious, as opposed to almost all the sequels, with iconic scenes and the popular image of Boris Karloff as the misunderstood creation. Originally on the AFI top 100, and still a classic American film.

Followed by The Invisible Man, which is not quite as good, but a lot of fun. Follow Claude Raines (in his screen debut) as the title role. Yes, I know I just wrote that you should follow an invisible man, but stay with me. Little more than a voiceover job, but an incredible job, as he slides into madness, wrecking havoc along the way. Some of the visual effects don't hold up with age, but some of them, like the footprints in the snow, still work. And the mad unveiling is still a hoot. As a double feature, Frankenstein and the Invisible Man should be fun. And at 71 minutes each, it doesn't take up all night. Unless you prefer the double feature going on the next night, . . . .

BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and (if you want) THE OLD DARK HOUSE- Sat Dec 5 at 5:30 (Bride), 7 (House), and 8:30 (Bride)- Film Forum- Another James Whale double feature. First, Bride of Frankenstein, one of the few sequels considered better than the first one. I'm not sure if I'm willing to go that far, since it's been a long while since I've seen both. But the humor and campiness has been ratcheted up, enough to please but not interfere. Remembered best for Elsa Lancaster's ultra frizzy title role. If for any reason you don't know this film, now is a good time to learn.

Next, The Old Dark House. Never saw, don't have to see it, but I'm real curious. Raymond Massey, wife Gloria Stuart (from Titanic, she made The Invisible Man a year later), their friend Melvyn Douglas, and eccentric Charles Laughton, get out of a storm in a house, where Boris Karloff is the mute,scarred butler. Yeah, this can't be good for these people. Never seen it, but it's only 72 minutes, so at worst, it will be quick. In fact, both films barely break the seventy minute mark, so it won't swallow up your afternoon or evening.

THE MAN WHO LOVED WOMEN (1977)- Tues Dec 8 at 9:30- French Institute @ Florence Gould Hall- 55 E. 59th St.- Part of a Francois Truffaut retrospective going on over at the Upper East Side, every Tuesday through the rest of the year. Don't know if I'll be posting the rest of the retrospective, but after enjoying Small Change, I'm sure there will be at least one more posted this month.

This film, a romantic dramedy that, never mind found an audience back in 77, it found more of an overall audience than the Burt Reynolds remake. And if you don't remember that film from 1983, I'm not surprised in the least.

A funeral of a man, brings all the women he ever "loved" there. And that's a lot of women. Over twenty of them, all with great legs (if they didn't have them, they'd never be picked up by this guy). Through flashback, the last girlfriend thinking back to his autobiography, we see how he managed to be with all these women. And how much of it was truly love. A lot of fun, but not necessarily any fulfillment.

It's a lot funnier than I'm making this sound. And considering some of the women include such French stars as Brigitte Fossey, Nathalie Baye, and Leslie Caron, that's impressive. Impressive cast too.

BONNIE AND CLYDE- with a Q and A with Paul Schneider- Thurs Dec 10 at 7:30- Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington- The best film on this list, and unfortunately, the one furthest away from the city. The classic Warren Beatty-Faye Dunaway crime drama, with its great acting, period feel and violent ending, gets a one night only screening, if you're willing to make the long drive to the Cinema Arts Centre out in Huntington. It's lovely on the outside, with a comparable film line-up with what's in Manhattan. But for this screening, to flesh out the history (just the idea of having attractive people play Bonnie and Clyde ought to give you the hint that the flick MIGHT NOT be completely accurate), there will be a post film Q and A with Paul Schneider. He wrote a book about the bank robbing duo, with supposedly recent declassified FBI files and lots of research, and will clarify, fill in the blanks, and answers questions.

THE AWFUL TRUTH and HOLIDAY- Fri Dec 11 and Sat Dec 12 at 4:40 (Holiday), 6:30 (Truth), 8:20 (Holiday), and 10:10 (Truth)- The start of the Forum's MADCAP MANHATTAN series. Most of the films have their stories taking place mostly in Manhattan. Now just because it's madcap, doesn't mean its a comedy. Just because it's MADCAP doesn't mean some dark territory isn't entered. But the darkness happens later in the series, and it certainly doesn't happen with the first two films here. Two Cary Grant screwball comedies, both in new 35mm prints.

First, The Awful Truth. Possibly the funniest screwball comedy of 1937. Definetly a huge hit that year, both commercially and critically, that elevated Grant to superstar status for the rest of his life. He and Irene Dunne play a married couple who break up over presumed infidelity. They get new partners, but Grant and Dunne just look at each other . . . Let the misunderstandings, innuendo and sexual tension begin. Oscar nominations for Picture, the Screenplay, Dunne for Actress, Ralph Bellamy for Supporting Actor (being the embodiment of a "Baxter"); an Oscar to Leo McCarey for Director.

Next, Holiday. A remake of the 1930 film, where Grant must decide whether to stick with marrying his fiancee and enjoy life on Easy Street, or marry his fiancee's sister, a poorer free spirit. Did I mention the free spirit is played by Katharine Hepburn? Can you guess what happens next? Not a box office hit in it's day, keeping the term about Hepburn, "Box Office Poison", alive. But the critics liked it back then, and while I wouldn't say it's considered a classic today, it is thought of well today.

Would be a good double feature to catch, and it plays for 2 days, so the chances of catching this are high.

A GORGEOUS GIRL LIKE ME- introduced by lead Bernadette Lafont- French Institute @ Florence Gould Hall- Tues Dec 15 at 7:30- Another in the Truffaut retro. Supposedly never received a full U.S. release, though popular elsewhere. A young sociologist, studying killers, goes to a prison to interview a Black Widow type, charged with killing both her husband and her lover. But this sociologist gets too close and falls for his subject. Uh-oh . . . Believe it or not, this is more or less a comedy. The film's star, Bernadette Lafont, will introduce the screening. If some reason we can't get it, there's always . . .

REPO MAN- Tues Dec 15 at 7:30 with post film party/open bar- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- The 1984 film gets a one night only screening. A film that it seemed at the time, only Siskel and Ebert defended, but has had a cult following ever since. Alex Cox's first film, a satire of where he felt America was at the time. Emilio Estevez plays a punk turned repo man, by slimy Harry Dean Stanton. Boy, does Emilio get an eyeful of America in this job. Then, when he tries to get a hold of a 1964 Chevy Malibu (complete with glowing trunk - guess we know where Tarantino stole the idea of the suitcase in Pulp Fiction), everyone seems to come out of the woodwork. And from out of this world?!?!?!

Good luck keeping this film locked into any specific genre. Though at certain times, in terms of look and sound, it's a time capsule of the punk scene. Music from, among others, Iggy Pop, The Stooges, and The Circle Jerks (who perform in the movie). Probably not the best film on the list, but possibly the most daring. After the film, there will be music and an open bar. So if you don't like the film, you can drink. So there you go.

I'm definitely gunning for the Frankenstien/Invisible Man double feature. I'd like to catch the screwball comedy double feature, thank goodness it plays more than one day, and anything else I'm up for. Even the open bar film. Let me know. Later all.