Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August revivals: second half

Hey, all. Mike here with a revival list for the second half of August. With the U.S. Open, my favorite time of summer in NYC, starting soon, it's hard to schedule some stuff. Not just the tournament, but the free qualifying round and the practices by top players that starts on August 24. Most revivals take a backseat for me, but I'll post a few. A lot of them conflict, but that's not my worry. Here we go:

FLYING DOWN TO RIO and SWING TIME- Tues Aug 17 at 6:45 (Rio), 8:30 (Swing) and 10:30 (Rio)- Film Forum- The start of the Astaire-Rogers retrospective. I brought it up last time. Go to the last list and review what I wrote there if you're interested. Not too closely, since I don't claim great writing there, just gleam for the info if interested.

ORLANDO- Now until whenever the Quad decides otherwise- Probably Thurs Aug 19 or Thurs Aug 26- The restored print of the film that has kept essentially kept Tilda Swinton employed ever since it's released, continues to play at the Quad. It's last day will probably be either Thursday August 19, or Thursday August 26. The Quad's website hasn't said when, but I can't wait. I'll just post and move on.

PAULINE AT THE BEACH- Wed Aug 18 at 6:45 and Sat Aug 28 at 8:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Eric Rohmer retrospective. A famous French director who seemed to be working straight up to his death last year, at age 89. To steal a line from an imdb poster, Rohmer seemed to be a writer, who wrote with a film camera, as opposed to a pen. Similar to Woody Allen, but Allen can be more experimental and has done more with the camera, while Rohmer wrote his human drams or comedies, concentrating always on his very talkative characters. I won't post them all, but I'll post a few, starting with Pauline On The Beach, my favorite of his work. Probably his most accessible as well, which it explains why it did well on the art house circuit back in 1983. Raves from Siskel and Ebert, and other critics, helped I'm sure.

Pauline is a 15 year old who gets to spend summer vacation at a beach house, with her older cousin. The cousin, freshly divorced and a hot-to-trot blue eyed blond, thinks she gets to chose, between a friend who's always loved her, and an old boyfriend who prefers living in the moment, and checking out every female he sees. Pauline seems mature for her age, and observes all of this. But she's uninterested in it all, until she develops a crush on a boy her own age. And as the summer winds down, both females are surprised with what they've learned, and what they still don't know and understand.

No true villains in this film (depending on your point of view?), and very little moralizing here. Just a slice of life picture, of a summer both women won't forget. Not a big film, but a gentle, well paced and interesting one.

SHADOW OF A DOUBT for 7 dollars- Thurs Aug 19 at 9- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- A cheap screening of the classic Hitchcock film. As wealthy widows keep disappearing, Joseph Cotten's lovable Uncle Charlie visits his niece "Young Charlie" (Teresa Wright) in her very average middle-American town (shot-on-location in Santa Rosa, California), but when someone mentions "The Merry Widow Murderer" . . . Often claimed as Hitchcock's own favorite, he must have got a big kick out the idea of small town Americana having evil nestled in its bosom. "Authentic Americana" (my quotes) from the screenwriters, Thornton Wilder (Our Town) and Sally Benson (Meet Me In St. Louis). As good as Theresa Wright is, I come away admiring Cotten's performance more. Some times pleasant and gentle, sometimes incapable of keeping his hair-trigger emotions in check, with practically every shade in between.

DIAL M FOR MURDER in 3-D- Fri Aug 20 and Sat Aug 21 (extreme maybe for me as of this writing) at 2, 4:30, 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the 3-D retrospective the Forum is having. And we're talking the original 3-D method; with two projectors as it was back in the 50s, not Real 3-D like with Avatar. A Hitchcock classic, that may not have strayed all that successfully from its stage roots, but is still quite good. Ray Milland finds out his wife, Grace Kelly, is cheating on him and is getting ready to dump him. Seeing his wealthy lifestyle about to be taken away from him, he plots his wife's murder. Complications ensue, etc. . . .

Cool performances from Milland, Kelly, and character actor John Williams, reprising his Tony winning role as the dogged Chief Inspector. Talkier then usual from a Hitchcock film. I'd argue it's about as talky as Hitchcock and Kelly's other 1954 film together, Rear Window. Window had a better script, with sly insights and a somewhat better realized film. Dial M is a more straight forward, ably executed mystery, with a great scene involving Kelly and a large shiny pair of scissors.

Now at about this time, 3-D was enjoying about the same kind of popularity it's having at the moment. You had studio heads pushing to have films made in 3-D, but unlike now, where pressure can be applied to have films that were never shot in 3-D converted (Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender), the pressure in the 50s had to be applied in pre-production. So while Hitch was forced to shoot it in 3-D he must have said something along the lines of "Screw them", and did as little as possible in terms of 3-D. Playing a little with perspective, a few low angles, some objects blocking some actors, not much. Hitch basically looked at 3-D as a fad, shot in 2-D and 3-D simultaneously, and just tried to make a good film, which he did. The 3-D version was released first but didn't play too long, followed by the 2-D classic version. It was re-released in 3-D in 1980 (I thought it was 81, but imdb disagrees), but in a flat version that wasn't popular, and different from how it was screened back in 1954, and different than how it will be screened in the Forum. If you want to experience what it was like to watch a 3-D film in the 50s, but with coffee brownies and air conditioning, catch Dial M.

BLUE VELVET- Fri Aug 20 and Sat Aug 21 at Midnight for 9.99- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- In my top 5 ever, possibly higher. What Shadow of a Doubt pushed in terms of evil in a small town Americana, Blue Velvet cranked to 11 and turned it on its (severed) ear. This mystery/neo-noir/romantic drama got Lynch a Best Director nomination, and brought both his and Kyle MacLachlan's career back from the dead. Isabella Rossellini established herself as an actress once and for all, and Dennis Hopper became a working character actor forever, in a career performance. Also drew major controversy in its day for its, let's just say, sexual connotations, and what was required of Rossellini in her role. I believe it was Ebert who called this film the most vile thing he had ever seen (or something along those lines). Rosselini attacked him in response (verbally attacked I meant). A bit of a Rorschach test, this hauntingly beautiful film is. Decide for yourself.

HOUSE OF WAX (1953) in 3-D- Sun Aug 22 at 9:20- Film Forum- From the Forum's 3-D retrospective. I believe it was one of, if not the biggest hit from the 50s 3-D craze. A Vincent Price hit, where he plays a good man, a sculptor, left for dead in a fire surrounded by his wax sculptures. He miraculously lives, and opens a new museum, filled with remarkably life-like sculptures. But one woman suspects they're a little too life like. Especially when she sees a sculpture of her friend, the soon to be Morticia Adams, Carolyn Jones. And there are all these stories about corpses stolen from morgues. And why does Price look so strange. And why is she being chased on the creepy streets by Price's assistant Igor, played by Charles Bronson, back when he still used his real last name, Buchinsky. Not a great film, but a fun one. It has more screenings, but I'm sorry, this is the only one I can probably make, therefore, it's the only one I'm posting.

MY NIGHT AT MAUDE'S- Mon Aug 23 at 6:45 and Fri Aug 27 at 6:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Eric Rohmer retro from 1969, though released in the U.S. in '70. Jean-Louis Trintignant (Z, A Man and A Woman. After this, The Conformist) is a mathematician who has a way with the girls (don't they all). Francoise Fabian (Belle de Jour) is Maude, who has a way with the boys. They go to bed together, where they talk. And talk. And talk and philosophize. Mainly about God and religion, and what it takes to be a true believer, to be faithful, etc. Exactly the kind of stuff you talk about in bed. If you're familiar with Melville's "Leon Morin, Priest", you have an idea where the discussion goes. I have to think Louis Malle is familiar with both films when he made My Dinner With Andre; no facts behind this, just my guess. But anyway, you've just been given a primer of what to expect in My Night At Maude's, so if you complain there's nothing going on in this film, you can't say you weren't warned.

I'm not familiar enough with Rohmer's work to know if My Night At Maude's gave him international fame or just fame in the U.S. But the film does seem to have received the most awards and nominations in Rohmer's career (I'm in no mood to research it carefully; too little time). Nominated for the Golden Palm at Cannes, critics' awards for either the screenplay or the cinematography (not all of the film takes place in a bedroom), and Oscar nominations for Foreign Language Film and for Original Screenplay. Seems interesting enough to give it a chance.

CAREFREE and SHALL WE DANCE- Tues Aug 24 at 7:30 (Carefree) and 9:10 (Dance)- Film Forum- More Fred and Ginger. Again, who cares about plot, we care about the dancing, and I suppose the music and singing as well. With Carfree, Ralph Bellamy is the Baxter yet again, when his fiancee (Rogers) falls for his best friend (Astaire). There's stuff about the guys being doctors and hypnosis, but who cares. Oscar noms for Art Direction, the Score, and Irving Berlin's "Change Partners and Dance with Me". With Shall We Dance, ballet dancer star Astaire likes musical leading lady Rogers. But he doesn't know her, so he arranges to be on the same cruise ship as her. But once they dock in New York, people think they're married. Again, who cares, it's about the dancing, people!. An Oscar nom for the classic George and Ira Gershwin, "They Can't Take That Away from Me".

CLAIRE'S KNEE- Wed Aug 25 at 6:50 and Fri Aug 27 at 8:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Eric Rohmer retro. From 1970 though released in the U.S. in 71, consider this a lighter version of Dangerous Liaisons. A soon to be ex-bachelor, accepts a bet from his female friend, to flirt with an 18 year old girl and nothing more. The teen falls for him, but the guy falls instead, for the girl's older sister, Claire. He has to at least touch her knee, and is oblivious to the probable fact, that the perfect looking Claire, is probably a stuck up bitch. Talky, but seems interesting enough to post.

AVATAR- Extended version in both Real and IMAX 3-D- Starting Fri Aug 27- Times and locations TBA- One of the best films of 2009, that has been referred to either as Dances With Smurfs or James Cameron's Pocahontas, but with gunfire and a few moments of annoying 9/11 imagery, gets a re-release. Only this time 8 minutes longer; just like what James Cameron did with The Abyss and (luckily ignored and forgotten) Terminator 2. Now what is in these 8 extra minutes? A Na'vi sex scene? Stephen Lang's bad (and bad ass) Marine eating a Na'vi over an open flame? More of Sigourney Weaver being earnest? More Michelle Rodriguez doing whatever it is she does? I have no idea, I'm not sure what this could except for maybe another blatant cash grab. But since this isn't a film I'll have any interest in seeing on TV, except for maybe a 40 plus inch Blu-Ray TV with a kick ass sound system, the big screen will do.

It will be re-released in both Real 3-D and IMAX 3-D screens. Where exactly I'm not sure. I'm sure that info will come down by Wednesday, August 25, but I can't wait that long. And in the NYC area, I'm not sure if by IMAX they include the actual IMAX screen at AMC Lincoln Square, or the rip-off IMAX screens at 42nd, 34th, and 14th street theaters. We'll have to wait, but I'll go again if there's any interest.

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

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