Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April revivals: second half

Hey all, Mike here with what's worth catching revival-wise,for the rest of April. Unfortunately, it's seems more like the next 9 days, but that's the way it appears to be. If I was able to catch any of the Bill Forsyth mini-festival, I'd post it. But I can't. If you can find the time to see Housekeeping on Thursday night, April 15, or Gregory's Girl or (my favorite) Local Hero on Thursday, April 22, go for it. Look them up on imdb if you don't know, and go. As for the films I can catch, here we go:

DERSU UZALA- Fri Apr 16- Mon Apr 19 and Wed Apr 21 at 3:45, 6:30 and 9:15- Film Forum- Brought back by popular demand from the Forum's Akira Kurosawa retrospective. I brought it up on the last list, and won't continue now. I'll move on to the best film on this list:

CITIZEN KANE- Fri Apr 16 at 7 and 9:40, and Sat Apr 17 at 4:20, 7 and 9:40, the last two are very tentative on my end- Film Forum- Part of the newspaper film retrospective. Ok people, show of hands, how many of you have ever heard of Citizen Kane? Ok, good. If you even bother to look at this list at all, you at least know of Orson Welles' film. Didn't expect to see any hands from those under 18 anyway. Now, how many of you know more about Kane than just Rosebud, even if it's aided by memories of HBO's passable version of the making of Kane, RKO 281? Similar number of hands, fine.

Now, how many of you have actually seen Citizen Kane from beginning to end? Ok, the number of hands have dropped, but I'll let you decide if that would be a fairly low number. I mean, some of have seen it through the very occasional airings on TCM. Maybe 1 or 2 of have seen it/ own it on DVD. New York/ New Jersey people as recent as the early 80s saw this on one of Channel 9's Million Dollar Movie airings. Or maybe 1 or 2 of you saw it in a film class or some sort. Now, how many of you have actually seen this on the big screen? Yeah, that's what I thought. The 1 or 2 of you who saw this with me at the Forum, when Kane ran for a week back in March 2004.

Seeing this on the big screen as opposed to watching it on TV no matter what size screen you own, to use an old Larry Miller joke I'm found of using for different subjects, is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. In terms of storytelling, pacing and emotional depth (as well as innovative in its use of visual effects, make-up and music), as modern a film as what we have now in release, and a lot better than all but a hand full (I'm trying to be nice and not be considered a snob. I probably failed at that a long time ago).

A flop in its day (when you do a thinly veiled attack on William Randolph Hearst, and he still wields considerable influence, it's amazing no one burned the negatives behind RKO's backs), a classic today. First, in France, where it was screened shortly after WW 2, and had the praise and backing of filmmakers like Goddard. Then in the mid to late 50s, when it aired on TV and had a major re-release. 9 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Welles for Actor and Director, Bernard Herrmann for his Score, and Editing for Robert Wise. An Oscar to Welles and Joseph J. Mankiewicz for the Screenplay. Number one on both AFI Top 100 lists, and along with Casablanca and The Godfather, always in the conversation for greatest American films ever made. That it's in my personal top 100 should be a little obvious.

For the record, Friday night is easy for me to do, Saturday is up in the air right now, specifically Saturday night. But mid-Saturday afternoon is doable.

BONJOUR TRISTESSE- Fri Apr 16 at 8 for free (subject to availability)- MOMA- If you rather not spend money to see a film on Friday, even if it's for Citizen Kane. Part of a David Niven retrospective. Due to time constraints, this will probably be the only other one I can catch. And it's for free, subject to ticket availability. An Otto Preminger film I've never seen from beginning to end. Niven and Jean Seberg play play self-interested father and daughter who vacation on the French Riviera with his girlfriend. An Oedipus attachment develops between parent and daughter, but things get worse when old girlfriend Deborah Kerr comes to visit. Liked the parts I saw on TCM, curious about the rest, and wouldn't mind trying it.

HAIR Sing-a-long- Sat Apr 17 at 10:30 for 13 dollars plus 1 beer- 92nd Street Y Tribeca- 200 Hudson St.- 1, A, C or E to Canal St.- Milos Forman's 1979 attempt to depict the late 60s and what was going on in the country he had, at that point, recently began to call home. So the combination of an outsider's perspective and the attempt to make the story as linear as the stage musical is not, makes this to me, a noble failure. I find 1979 full of cinematic noble failures: Herzog's Nosferatu, The Black Hole, 1941, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Frank Langella version of Dracula, and Neil Simon's Chapter Two are the films I can think of that you probably know. I don't hate this film, unlike the musical's creators, who felt Forman "didn't get it". It took big chances, and has many good moments; thanks to choreography by Twyla Tharp, impressive cinematography (done by three different people) and a standout lead performance from Treat Williams as Berger. Good reviews didn't save it, and only movie musical fans give any respect.

But as part of a sing-a-long, this might be a fun night. And that's not a typo above, you get a beer at the screening. No clue what brand. Have never been to the 92nd street Y's film screen, but they've been having screenings for months now. Would like to try it. Unless you prefer to catch one of the midnight screenings at IFC Center below:

ALIENS- Fri Apr 16 and Sat Apr 17 at 11:40PM- IFC Center- One of two James Cameron films being shown around midnight. Aliens has played for two weekends straight. I've brought it up before, and like with Dersa Uzula, I won't continue now. This may or may not have a fourth weekend or not. We won't know until probably until Monday night, April 19. My favorite Cameron film from the 1980s, though others seem to prefer . . .

THE TERMINATOR- Fri Apr 16 and Sat Apr 17 at 12:10 AM- IFC Center- The last of the Cameron/ Kathryn Bigelow retrospective. Not Cameron's first full-length film, that would be the awful Piranha 2: The Spawning. Hey, it was a Roger Corman production, Cameron was lucky to get to direct at all. But I'm sure The Terminator is the earliest work he would like us to remember. And working under Corman probably taught Cameron how far one can stretch a dollar. Cameron never work with a budget this small for any other non-documentary picture I'm sure, but this doesn't look like it. It's been a few years, since I've seen this, but it's the storytelling I remember far better.

From 1984, you probably know the story. Killer robot from the future tries to kill a woman from the past who is important to said future, and her only hope is a human time traveler sent to stop the relentless killer. Successful in relation to its budget, but didn't get a ton of respect in theaters, or play for a long while either. Not exactly blow-out business overseas either. It took home video to put The Terminator on the road to becoming a sci-fi classic, though I'm not sure how often we would talk about it if Terminator 2 hadn't been so phenomenal. And, it provided Schwarzenegger with his classic role, and it at least kept him out of making Conan the Barbarian 3.

Now, I wouldn't be surprised if this ran a second weekend. But there's no guarantee that it will, and I don't plan on doing a special post just for a midnight screening. So I'll work on the idea that this will be a one and done. Now it's possible to do a double feature on Saturday with Citizen Kane if interested. Two admissions would be required, but I'm game if you are. It can be set-up like this:

Citizen Kane at 7, followed by Hair at 10:30. The 1 train is half a block away from the Forum, the C is just a 2-3 minute walk from there as well. Little time to get dinner; better eat a big lunch. Or:

Citizen Kane at 7 followed by plenty of time for dinner and dessert, then either Aliens at 11:40 or The Terminator at 12:10AM a few blocks over at IFC Center. Or:

Citizen Kane at 9:40, followed by The Terminator at 12:10AM. Eat dinner before Citizen Kane. And if you must have popcorn, have it at the Forum, it's much better there. That's all for now. Later all.