Saturday, January 08, 2011

January revivals: 1st half

Hey, Mike here with the first list of revivals for the new year. Won't have a lot of time over the next few months, so I'll post it in a different way. I'll list titles, try to keep my description as minimal as possible. After the description, there's a link to the website with further info about the film and its location. Two exceptions; one film where IFC Center hasn't done an update, the other film is fairly unfamiliar, especially if you're not British, a Beatles fan, or if you're under 45. In the case of the later, I felt it necessary to be at least somewhat descriptive. Here we go:

THE THING (1982)-Sat Jan 8 at 12:05AM- IFC Center- One of the better horror films, possibly the best from the 1980s, gets a midnight screening, or 12:05AM in this case. One of only a few that I can think of, where a remake tops the original. Alien shape-shifting life crashes onto Earth, and in order to exist, it must live like a virus and wipe out or take over the life that already exists on whatever planet it exists on. Which in this case is us. And it's up to an isolated group from an American scientific station, desperately playing catch up and grasping for theories, to stop it. But when it starts taking them over, and becomes hard to tell which of them are human and which are not. Kurt Russell makes a great action lead, with character actors like Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Wilford Brimley filling out the talented cast. The make-up effects grossed out some audiences (damaging potential word of mouth) and most critics, but they don't feel too over the top and still hold up today. Especially one scene where one portion tries to escape from another part in a very memorable way. If you haven't seen it, I'm not spoiling this:

ELEVATORS TO THE GALLOWS- Tues Jan 11 at 7:30- Florence Gould Hall @ the French Institute: Alliance Francaise- 55 E. 59th St. bet. Park and Madison- Part of the Lino Ventura retrospective. A French actor who I've brought him up a few times I believe, as the lead in Army of Shadows. Louis Malle's first film. A man and a woman plot the murder of her husband, succeed, and then things begin to fall apart. An almost real time escape attempt from the police before they discover the body. Made stars out of director Malle and Jeanne Moreau as the descendant to Barbara Stanwyck's character in Double Indemnity, and the ancestor to Kathleen Turner's character in Body Heat. Ventura plays the police inspector:

RIVER'S EDGE preceded by A HERO OF OUR TIME with free beer afterwards- Fri Jan 14 at 7:30- the Walter Reade- A special screening the successful indie film from 1986, released in 87, set among a group of slacker teens. The bond is tested when one of them kills his girlfriend, and brings the group out to see their friend's dead naked body, left to rot on a hill. The different reactions from the teens in the group, make up the film. Ranging from unquestioned loyalty from Crispin Glover (far from from McFly in Back To The Future), to Keanu Reeves' confusion about whether or not to go to the police. With a performance from Dennis Hopper (as the adult you don't want around these teens) that continued the comeback path that Blue Velvet and Hoosiers started. A little more humorous than you might expect, but with a subject like this, expect a good, dark drama.

Preceded by a short, A Hero Of Our Time, featuring Hopper and directed by Michael Almereyda, of Deadwood and Hamlet (Ethan Hawke version). After River's Edge, there will be free beer and alcohol in the lobby, for those who want it:

Now a choice of two Midnight screenings during Martin Luther King weekend:

PAPER MOON- Fri Jan 14 and Sat Jan 15 at Midnight-ish - IFC Center- Oscar winning film that rarely gets a revival screening. With my luck, it would have to be at Midnight (ish?). A dramedy, where Ryan O'Neal and daughter Tatum are con artists during the Depression. They may or may not actually be father and daughter, they pose as such often enough for their various cons. The last film Peter Bogdanovich ever directed that audiences gave a crap about, at least until Mask.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK- Fri Jan 14- Sun Jan 16 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- Any of you ever hear of Indiana Jones? Ever see Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen? If you did, it might have been at a revival screening, usually at midnight. Well, here's another one, playing three nights, since it's Martin Luther King weekend. One of my all time favorites, on both AFI Top 100 lists, multiple Oscars, and holds up just as well today as in the early 80s.

MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE RE-OPENING with DUCK SOUP, THE HUSTLER and 2001 AMONG THE OPTIONS- Sat Jan 15 starting at noon- Museum of the Moving Image- 35th Ave at 37th St in Astoria- After almost 23 months where it was either closed or open on a small scale, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria reopens on Saturday, Jan 15th. The museum, formerly having the word American in its name and used to be known as AMMI, will have expanded exhibits, production workshops, gift shops, cafe and an area for live musical performances. But what interests me most is their 2 new screens; a 267 seater and a more intimate 68 seat screening room. This supposedly will give them the chance to screen things from 8mm to 70mm, as well as digital screenings. On Martin Luther King day, the museum will be free, and you can see Coraline in Digital 3-D, and/or King . . . A Filmed Record. I can't make that, so consider it an unofficial posting. What is official here is their lineup on opening day/night:

12:30PM: DUCK SOUP- The Marx Brothers classic. A flop in its day, a classic from the late 50s-early 60s on. An AFI Top 100 film, in my personal top 100, and one of the best comedies ever made. The museum recommends this film for families with children 8 and up.

1PM: PLAY TIME- A French comedy directed, co-written by, and starring Jacques Tati, as his famous M. Hulot character. Imagine the klutzy M. Hulot going from typical Paris to not just any metropolis, but to an actual Metropolis. As in a place similar to the city from Fritz Lang's Metropolis, but with enough alienation and little use for individuality, that Tom Stoppard and/or Terry Gilliam had to know this film when making Brazil. A mega-flop in its day, but with ever growing appreciation for it as the years have gone by. The film shot in 70mm by Tati, this might be the only time a (restored) 70mm print has been shown in a revival house here.

2PM: THE HUSTLER- Classic Paul Newman film, as he plays "Fast" Eddie, cocky incarnate, and the rise and fall as he tries to become the best at pool. A lame synopsis, I admit. But to go further without spoiling the film for some, is bad form. And to go on about the snappy dialogue and the grimy ambiance of this sports noir, requires a better writer than myself. I just want you to go. In a 35mm print restored by Fox.

4PM: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY- I've seen it, I love it, and need no excuse to see Stanley Kubrick's classic. And if you've never seen it, maybe the Ziegfeld, the Walter Reade and the Paris are the only theaters to best see it. But this is as good as its gonna get to see it in Queens. A restored 70mm print from Warner Bros. I'm not sure if this is restoration from the year 2001 and it's a new print struck from that 9 year old restoration, or if its a new restoration from its recent conversion to Blu-ray and blown up to 70mm size. We'll see if you like. 2001, The Hustler and Play Time are all from the Museum's "Recovered Treasures: Great Films From World Archives" series.

5PM: 8mm FILMS FROM MIKE AND GEORGE KUCHAR- And now for a change of pace. Talk about independent cinema, a screening of films from the Kuchar brothers from the Bronx. 3 shorts, 16mm blown-up prints of 8mm film borrowed from Anthology Film Archives, Anita Needs Me, Sylvia's Promise, and A Town Called Tempest are the titles. A combined 58 minutes in length. Afraid I don't know much more about it.

The way it's structured, the best one can do is catch 2 films for one admission, or 3, if you choose to do Duck Soup, The Hustler and the Kuchar shorts. On your downtime, you can check out the museum itself. After the films, there will be some kind of multi media, partially interactive party called Signal To Noise, that will run from 8pm to 2am. The price is 15 dollars, which is museum entry and film admission combined. In the future, it may not be cost effective to go unless one can go to at least 2 films there in a day, unless one goes for membership. We'll see how that goes for future postings. No idea if the SAG card is still accepted:

HOW I WON THE WAR- Sat Jan 15 at 8- 92Y Tribeca Screening Room- Part of a Richard Lester mini-retrospective, in honor of the director's upcoming 79th birthday. For this retro, the 92ndY Tribeca has gone for some of his little known 60s British films, as opposed to pics like A Hard Day's Night, or one of those 70s Musketeer. How I Won The War is on DVD as part of MGM/UA's Avant Garde series, and boy does it fit. A different kind of anti-war black comedy. Set mostly in period of combined British WW 2 battles from 1942-1945, Lester didn't take the approach of war having noble purposes, but as being completely destructive, regardless of the purpose or task at hand. Throw in the idea of class, where incompetent upper class have the power to lead lower classes to their death (an oversimplification, but I have to keep going), and throw the rat-a-tat-tat editing and shooting style that was pioneering in A Hard Day's Night, and Lester is really pissed. Michael Crawford plays the incompetent braggart better skilled at talking then soldiering.

Suffice to say, critics destroyed it, and audiences stayed away. But it has a following of a kind. It's bitterness fit better in Catch-22 (book and film), and War's going back in forth in time doesn't seem strange to us after Memento or Lost or the new film Blue Valentine, and this doesn't count the amount of times characters talk directly into the camera. Plus there's the curiosity of having John Lennon, in his only non-Beatles acting role, as a solider. The picture/poster of him in costume, round glasses, either whistling or blowing a kiss to us, was probably more successful. Not the best film on this list, but I try to bring up things you may not be familiar with, and for most of you who are adventurous, How I Won The War certainly qualifies:

Let me know. Later all.

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