Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feb revivals: second half

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

RAN- Wed Feb 17 and Thurs Feb 18 at 1:30, 4:30 and 7:30 - Film Forum- The end of the Akira Kurosawa retrospective, the last two days of Ran's two week run. If you haven't seen this on the big screen before, this is not what I would call a last chance anytime soon, but it's close. Anything else about it, just go to the last post and go from there.

WEST SIDE STORY or FUNNY GIRL- The Ziegfeld- Thurs Feb 19 at 4:30 (West Side) and 8 (Funny Girl)- Also, the last day of these two popular 1960s musicals run at the Ziegfeld. They will never ever look or possibly sound any better than here. Unless you have a 48 inch HD TV screen with a stereo sound system of some sort. But frankly, if you had such a thing, you wouldn't read posts like this, or own both films, so chances are, this is as good as it gets for you.

THE RED SHOES- Fri Feb 20- Thurs Feb 25 at 7 and 9:35- Film Forum- The new 35mm restoration that played to sellout or near sellout screenings at the Forum last November, returns for a one week engagement. Somebody asked me whether I'd catch this, not knowing that I went in November. I responded, then realized afterwards that the bulk of my response works in the context of this posting. I'll post it here, leaving out what isn't your business:

"Caught it back in November when it last played in at the Forum, and now that I have a membership, I'd go again. A great print, and a wonderful film. But I hate to break this to you, but unless you're into dance and/or theatre, it's considered more of a chick flick for one's mom or grandma. It outwardly seems too moldy for some women under 35 these days. Some negative attitudes seem to come for those who just hear its ballet and walk away, or were forced to watch it on commercial TV, where the running time is padded to 2 and a half to three hours. It kills the pacing, and I totally understand why someone would walk away from The Red Shoes based on that.

But on the big screen, the pacing is very good. The artistic risks taken are stunning, especially for something in the late 40s. Limiting what we know of people based mainly on what we see, with little in the way of exposition. Jamming a 15-plus minute ballet in the middle of the film. Unafraid to make the main characters unlikeable, or at least weak. But if one cares about film, just wait till they see this. The dancing is terrific as well."

So if you missed the restored print last November, or haven't seen an uninterrupted screening before, you have another great chance now.

STARSHIP TROOPERS- Fri Feb 19 and Sat Feb 20 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of the Paul Verhoeven retrospective. An over the top sci-fi action film from 1997. Less sci-fi and more dark satire. Imagine mixing an episode of 90210 with John Wayne's The Sands of Iwo Jima. Then set it in the future as the gung ho American Marine types go off into space to fighting evil killer CGI bugs, as we're informed of what happens via some global Fox News-like network. Wait a sec, does it seem like we actually started this war with the bugs? Oh never mind, let's see some kick ass action set pieces! Wait a sec. Why do the Earth leaders look like they're wearing Nazi uniforms, and why is Neil Patrick Harris wearing a pseudo-SS uniform? Whatever, go Earth!

I feel this is under-appreciated, but I also feel I'm in the minority. Mediocre acting, aside from the likes of Harris and the ever reliable Michael Ironside doesn't help. But the cool extended action scenes and sneaky satire, is pure Verhoeven. As to whether you'll like it or not, try it, if you can stay awake that is. It is a Midnight screening after all.

COFFY for 7 dollars- Thurs Feb 25 at 7 and 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- A cheap screening of the 1973 film that made Pam Grier a sex symbol and blaxploitation star. Simple tale, told in a somewhat cheesy, overlong manner. But fun. I mean, one can't survive on a film diet of Ran and West Side Story alone. Grier is a nurse, whose sister gets her mind destroyed by heroin addiction, and whose cop friend gets beaten into a coma. She goes undercover as a hooker, to take down the pimps, pushers, evil whiteys, and traitorous bruthas. Over the top by our standards, but if you're a fan of blaxploitation pics, this isn't Foxy Brown, but it will do. Can be seen either at 7, with intro and MST3K-like commentary by Hedda Lettuce, or at 9:30 without the commentary.

WHITE HEAT for 6 dollars- Fri Feb 26 at 8- Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre- 54 Journal Square in Jersey City- I step out of NYC, to potentially catch this Jimmy Cagney gangster classic. Yes, this is the film with "Top of the world, Ma! Top of the WOOOOORRRRRLLLLDDDD!!!!!!!"

Now I've never been to this theater, or to Jersey City for that matter. But it's a cheap price, and supposedly it's easy to get to by PATH train, so I'm willing to give it a go. As long as there's no snow to deal with, sure.

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY- Fri Feb 26 and Sat Feb 27 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The Gene Wilder cult classic gets a midnight screening. It may not be as loyal to the original Roald Dahl book as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it's a better film. Dahl wrote the original adaptation, but a massive re-write caused Dahl to badmouth the film every chance he got. And while there was better usage of the Oompa Loompas and the budget to go hog wild on the look, the family/daddy issues, especially in the last half-hour, drags the film down when compared to Willy Wonka. Maybe I like this film so much strictly for Wilder's performance. I'm ok with that.

Now considering this was not a hit back in 1971 but only became a cult classic thanks largely to NBC broadcasts in the late 70s into the 1980s, most people have no idea what this film looks like on the big screen. I include myself in that statement, but I would like to change that.

I'm leaving the screening of Five Easy Pieces,starting at the Forum on Friday February 26 for a week, until the March list. That's when I can get to it. Otherwise, let me know about the rest. Later all.

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