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.