Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sept revivals: second half. Small list edition.

Hey all. Mike here, apparently late with regards to posting revivals for the rest of September. But that's only for two reasons. First, I lost the desire to try to catch On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. Maybe another time, sorry Streisand fans. No, sincerely, I would consider catching it at some point, no sarcasm here. But if I don't feel any kind of burning desire, there's no point in pushing it. And second, the little Tornado/ Macroburst thingie. I'm ok, despite Time Warner Cable's insistence that I share the pain with their half-assed repair efforts. If they are not half assed, then they let the perception form as such, and that is not my problem. Seriously, I know it could have been far worse. It was a few blocks in different directions, and I know I dodged a bullet here.

But I'm just fine with the list being small: 2 AFI Top 100 films and a fun flick to catch at Midnight. Pretty respectable I think. Here we go:

DOUBLE INDEMNITY for 7.50- Thurs Sept 23 at 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- A cheap screening of the Billy Wilder film noir that's on both AFI Top 100 lists. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck are both cool as they plot her husband for the insurance money, but pesky investigator/moral compass Edward G. Robinson keeps getting in the way. I shouldn't be that way; if Eddie G. didn't turn in such a humane performance as basically both the audience's stand-in and the incorruptible everyman (as opposed to MacMurray's fine performance as the corrupted everyman), maybe this film would be slightly less better remembered. That last sentence probably made little grammatical sense, but I have little time, so I'm just moving on. Except that it's not like Eddie G. created the performance out of a vacuum. He did Wilder as a director, and Wilder and Raymond Chandler as screenwriters (the screenwriters detested each other. Reading a little about makes me think it was karma that Wilder had to deal with Monroe for Some Like It Hot). And let me not forget the source material: James M. Cain's novel, based on actual murder case from the 1920s.

7 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Wilder for Director, Stanwyck for Actress, and Wilder and Chandler for Screenplay. Surprisingly nothing for MacMurray or Robinson. No wins, since Going My Way was a juggernaut that year. On the short list for the best film noirs ever made. While I can't put this above Laura, which was released the same year as this, I enjoy the dance Wilder and cast do around the Production Code. And only for 7.50.

THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI- Fri Sept 24, Sat Sept 25, and Tues Sept 28 - Thurs Sept 30 at 4:30 and 7:30- Film Forum- The classic David Lean film, the first of his big epics, gets a one week run at the Forum. A 4k digital restoration with 5.1 Dolby Sound that supposedly shows the picture in its original aspect ratio, unseen either on screen TV or video since its original 1957-58 release. I'm just parroting what it says on the Forum website. Those with knowledge about aspect ratios and why Bridge's was messed with so often can tell me at their leisure, I'd appreciate it in layman's terms, please.

Kwai follows the stories of two men. Alec Guinness, in his best known role before Star Wars, is Colonel Nicholson, whose British stiff upper lip demeanor is beaten out of in a Japanese POW camp. Though not really; it seems to get twisted with more than a little insanity, as he takes his Japanese commander's orders to have the prisoners build a bridge further then anyone might expect. William Holden plays a cynical American, who recovers from his physical wounds from the camp in a hospital, and his psychic wounds by falling in love with a nurse there. But all that optimism is crushed, when Holden is forced to lead a commando group in a borderline suicide mission. To lead them back to the POW he just escaped from, and blow up any bridge that might be built nearby. Fascinating and powerful.

Oscars for Picture, Director, Guinness for Actor, Cinematography, Editing and Score. Also an Oscar for Screenplay Adaptation. But the two screenwriters, Michael Wilson and Carl Foreman, were blacklisted and credit went instead to the author of the book this was based on, Pierre Boulle, who didn't speak or write in English. It took until 1984 for the Academy to award them their Oscars. Wilson had already died and Foreman died the day after the announcement. The film is also on both AFI Top 100 lists and in my personal top 100. Only available on DVD with good sound but with a sub par picture (even on widescreen, you don't see the entire picture). Now if you prefer TV, it comes out on blu-ray on November 2, but seeing something like this on TV (no matter how large your screen is) as opposed to the big screen is, to quote Larry Miller, the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it, and you are therefore, useless to me. Just go already.

PURPLE RAIN- Fri Sept 24 and Sat Sept 25 at Midnight for 9.99- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- The only midnight screening I had any interest in catching this month, screened at a cheaper price than at IFC Center. For the rest, I'll repost what I wrote the last time I listed it:

"Pauline Kael once said in the late 60's that the time then was ripe to create more musicals with the present (then) rock stars like Janis Joplin. That's what made the musicals of the 30s, 40s and 50s successful: they were populated with the top recording artists of the day (Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Crosby et. al.). That's what the studios could do: setup a musical with one or many of today's contemporary recording artists."

I think that fits in the case of Once, where you had recording artists doing their songs. And it certainly applies to Prince with this film. Can't imagine a good actor from that period pulling off these kind of songs, no matter who wrote them. Not the greatest film ever made, and not what you call great acting by Prince. But with performances of songs like "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy" and the title track, the sleeper hit of the summer of 1984 literally rocks whenever the music comes up. Watch how Prince went from successful rock act to icon status. Granted, he would later throw it away with crap like "Under The Cherry Moon" and "Graffiti Bridge", change his name to a symbol with no real meaning, and basically become strange to the point of uninteresting. But watching and listening to him here, anything seemed possible back then. Prince did win an Oscar for music, in a category that no longer exists.

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

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