Monday, March 28, 2011

New screening date for Manchurian Candidate

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE- hosted by Robert Osbourne with a post-film Q and A by Osbourne with Angela Lansbury- School of Visual Arts- 333 West 23rd st.- Saturday April 2 at 7- The Frank Sinatra brainwashing classic, gets a special screening, courtesy of TCM and their travelling Film Festival, highlighting classic films. It was originally scheduled for Monday April 4th at 7:30 as of March 16th. But sometime within the last 10 days, the screening was moved up by 48 and 1/2 hours. The link needed to print out a pass good for two people will be at the end of this post.

I've done one TCM sponsored screening before: All About Eve last spring. I made sure to get there 2 hours before the screening, because those passes, like the ones here for Manchurian Candidate, didn't guarantee seating. Getting there at least ninety minutes early did the trick. But this was at the Ziegfeld, and this Saturday's screening will be at the smaller of School of Visual Arts.

Also there's a bigger special guest. For All About Eve, we had Elaine Stritch. But for this screening, we get the infamous mother herself, Angela Lansbury, who will be there for a post film Q and A. That should definetly help attract a crowd willing to show up a little sooner than usual.

Oh, did I mention IT'S FREE? If you want to go, print now and plan on a long night, and maybe a late dinner, or a meal to go and have while you're on line. If you're thinking maybe, print now, because TCM won't keep the link up forever. Hope you say yes, because it's a great film; and unless you're over 60 from back when this film came out in 1962, or you caught it during its 1988 re-release, you've never experienced this on the big screen. Here's a great chance to change that. Later:

Friday, March 18, 2011

March revivals: second half

Hey all. Mike with a list of revivals. Not only for the second half of March, but one film in April that I need to speak up about now, because tickets might go fast for this. The first film I'm posting here, is not only playing here in NYC, but it will also play in a few other cities in the country. So if you live in say, Upstate New York or the cities of San Francisco L.A. Miami Pittsburgh Tampa or Columbus, please pay attention to the first film here:

TAXI DRIVER- Sat March 19 at 5:30, 7:45 and 10, Sun March 20 at 7:45, Tues March 22, Wed March 23, Fri March 25, and Mon March 28- Wed March 30 at 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- also Sat March 19 and Tues March 22 at 8- AMC Loews Raceway in Westbury, AMC Loews Nassau Metroplex in Levvitown and other AMC theaters in Sony Digital 4K around the country- Taxi Driver, a film that could only have come from the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate 70s. A film that gets all the respect it deserves, except for losing the Best Picture Oscar to Rocky. Is on both AFI top 100 lists, and in my own personal top 100. New York at its scuzziest looking, even it was reflecting a national mentality, as far as Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader were concerned. The areas of New York depicted may have been cleaned up a long time ago, but the fetish-like love for guns and violence, the possibilities for sexual degradation and the idea of a lone nut ready to misinterpret the forces around them? Afraid that's a alive and well, and certainly not just a New York issue, thanks.

Why am I not writing more about this? One, if you look at this blog in even in passing, you know the film. And if you don't, just make the time and go. Two, I've done this film at the Forum already. I'll gladly go again, because seeing this on the big screen is completely different from TV. A beast of a film that, when given your full concentration in the dark, just burrows into you. Make time to catch it.

Now if you live in NYC, you can come to the Forum and see its newest 35mm restoration, presumably for the blu-ray. If you live in Nassau County, the following is for you . At the AMC Loews Raceway in Westbury and the AMC theatre in Levittown, there will be a Sony Digital 4K at 8pm on Saturday March 19th, and Monday March 22 at 8pm. So if you have a spare AMC pass, that should work for you.

If you live in Upstate New York, or in cities such as San Francisco, L.A., Miami, Pittsburgh, Tampa, and Columbus, Ohio, Taxi Driver will also play in those places on the 19th and 22nd of March at 9 as well. Scroll down and click the Taxi Driver/AMC theatres link below for the exact theaters, and you'll have a chance to see what I'm talking about as well:

SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER- Thurs March 24 at 1- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Francois Truffaut's version of a gangster film, where thriller and comedy aspects are thrown into the genre in uneven amounts. A concert pianist, burned out and widowed, works in a dive. Has 2 hot chicks who want him, but he's closer to Spock than to an emotionally expressive person, except when he plays the piano. But now that his brothers are in trouble with (amateur) criminals, things can't stay good forever. Never seen this, but the mixture of comedy, drama, thriller aspects, homages to Warner Bros B crime flicks, and a passing resemblance to Vertigo (more than just passing?!?!?), it's sounds very interesting.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986)- Thurs March 24 for 7.50 at 7 and 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- A cheap screening of this 1986 musical, an adaptation of the hit Off-Broadway show. Might be the best musical of the 1980s, but when your only competition in that decade is The Little Mermaid, The Blues Brothers, Pennies From Heaven, A Chorus Line, Breakin, and Breakin 2: Electric Bugaloo, and you'll have to excuse me if I'm not impressed. Let me not be a hater here. It's a wonderful upgrade of the Roger Corman original, where nebbish Seymour tries to get his dream girl Audrey to pay, eh, close attention to him. But he makes the flower shop with the popularity of the alien plant named Audrey 2, who has an appetite for blood, and grows far beyond its original plant pot. Director Frank Oz's best film.

Rick Moranis doesn't have the best singing voice but beyond that, he's the perfect Seymour. Ellen Greene (Pushing Daises) does sing well, and successfully transferred her stage performance to screen. Vincent Gardenia makes an appropriate Mr. Mushnik. But back in 86, to draw audiences who tended to avoid movie musicals, a lot of Warner Bros.' advertising push was to promote the cameos/extended cameos of comics associated with SNL or SCTV. Yes, Christopher Guest, John Candy and James Belushi are there. But the ones who pack the film with energy and elevate the material are Steve Martin (as the abusive dentist; his Be A Dentist" is a standout) and Bill Murray (who steals the film as the depraved dental patient; not an improvement of Jack Nicholson's original take, so much as a hysterical variation). Personally, I feel a chunk of the film's high energy departs when Murray and Martin leave the screen for good, even with Levi Stubbs' inspired vocals as Audrey 2. But the film is a pleasant enough ride, even with an ending that was changed to please preview audiences who hated the original end. Oscar noms for Visual Effects, and to Howard Ashman and Alan Menken for Best Song (Mean Green Mother from Outer Space).

I post both the 7 and 9:30 screenings. I don't feel the film is so sacred that comments like from Mystery Science Theater 3000 are uncalled for, so I'm fine catching the 7pm screening hosted by Hedda Lettuce. Hedda is fun, does pre-show stuff and then comments on it as it plays, but won't intrude on Little Shop too much. For that screening, best to purchase tix at the box office by 5:45-6, and get a good seat by about 6:30 or so. If you rather just see the show sans comments, there's the 9:30 screening which you could buy tix with no worries of sellout.

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) and/or THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE- Sat Mar 26 at 12:30 (Day) and 7 (Obscure)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- The movies at the Museum of the Moving Image are free WITH museum admission, which is 10 dollars. I prefer going to both films, and frankly, unless there's a film coming up on their free Friday late afternoons/early evenings schedule, I'm going to push to see both films until further notice. It shouldn't be that hard to push both films.

At 12:30, we have the original The Day The Earth Stood Still. I didn't dislike the remake on cable, but can understand why one would be pissed if they spent full price at a theater, or over 20 dollars for an IMAX screening. A couple hundred million in visual effects doesn't improve a mediocre script. Especially when it runs almost one hour fifty minutes, and feels like it goes two hours and counting. No worries with the efficient Robert Wise classic original. The state of science fiction on whatever size screen has changed tremendously. Whether you lean to the hope for humanity side, like in 2001 or the Battlestar Galactica reboot, or stay with the pessimism of most of Wall-E or Terminator 2 ("It is in your nature to destroy yourselves".) This film straddles both sides; that goes it beyond the Red Scare going on in that film's era, seems incredible, a little unfortunate and great film making all at once. Go Gort go.

Also playing on Saturday is a complete change of pace: the French film That Obscure Object of Desire, from 1977. Luis Buenel's last film, that plays with fantasy and reality like a lot of his other films like, say, Belle de Jour for example. A comedy/drama with something that resembles romance, but not the way we might expect it. Fernando Rey (The French Connection) plays a pompous rich man who tells, mostly in flashback (or dream?) while your typical terrorist insurgency occurs in the background(!), the story of his obsession with a beautiful lower-class woman, who frustrates his romantic advances at every turn. That the woman in question is played in completely different ways by two different actresses (high couture Carole Bouquet and earthy Angela Molina), only further messes with our heads as to what is real and what might not be. Granted, the plan wasn't to have two actresses in the role. But apparently, when the recently deceased Maria Schneider quit after a heated argument 3 days into shooting, the idea of using 2 actresses came out as a joke, then as the only way to save the movie.

The film wasn't appreciated back then by audiences, but critics have always been backing this up. Oscar nominations for Foreign Film (expected), and Screenplay (pleasantly unexpected).

My idea is to get there by about noon, see Day/Earth Stood Still, check out the museum, grab a bite (whether inside their new cafe, the diner with the nice coffee across the street, or elsewhere), then see Obscure Object of Desire. Hopefully you want to go for that.

BLUE VELVET- Thurs March 31 at 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- A cheap screening of a darker variation of Shadow of a Doubt, with more than a little Wizard of Oz, in its way. 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 David 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.

Please excuse me if I post the non- Hedda Lettuce screening only. I like it too much, no comments during the film please.

THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE- hosted by Robert Osbourne with a post-film Q and A by Osbourne with Angela Lansbury- School of Visual Arts- 209 East 23rd St.- Mon April 4 at 7:30- The Frank Sinatra brainwashing classic, gets a special screening, courtesy of TCM and their travelling Film Festival, highlighting classic films. Was on the first AFI Top 100 list though not on the second one, and I'm not sure if it would be on my own Top 100 list, but if it isn't it's very VERY close. Normally I would post this on the next revival list, but the possible popularity (introduction by Robert Osbourne, and his interviewing Angela Lansbury post-film), and offbeat location (the School of Visual Arts) means that tickets could be scarce unless I say something now. So let me know ASAP. Tickets go onsale Friday, March 18.

Let me know ASAP, especially if you want to catch Manchurian Candidate. Also let me know if you live outside NYC and you can catch Taxi Driver. If it's your first time seeing it, first time unedited, first time on the big screen, first time since the late 70s, whatever. Otherwise, later all.

Friday, March 04, 2011

March revivals: first half.

Hey, Mike here with a list of revivals for the first half of March. Small list and I'll keep it brief, so here we go:

WHITE HEAT for 5 dollars- Mon March 7 at 7- Academy Theater at Lighthouse International- 111 E. 59th St.- A Jimmy Cagney gangster classic at cheap price thanks to the Academy (the Oscars people). Now that they don't have to deal with newly nominated films anymore, we get our monthly screenings back, and White Heat is the first. For the record, its nomination is for the Screenplay. The story aspect in particular. Yeah, the writing categories were broken up in a weird way back then. Cagney's last gangster film, and he went out with a bang. And yes, this is the film with "Top of the world, Ma! Top of the WOOOOORRRRRLLLLDDDD!!!!!!!". Richard LaGravenese, Oscar nominated writer for The Fisher King and a member of the Writers Branch of the Academy, will introduce the film. Follow the link below and on the bottom right side, you'll see how to order online:

DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST- Mon March 7, Wed March 9 and Thurs March 10 at 7 and 9:30, and Tues March 8 at 9:30- Film Forum- Robert Bresson's drama, one that heavily influenced Taxi Driver 25 years later, in a new 35 mm print. A young, sickly priest starts to work at his new parish. It's in a small town in Northern France, and the townspeople have no want of him. I barely know the film, so I can't tell you if it's a classic or nothing special. I can only say that I'm willing to take a chance:

THE SOFT SKIN- Sat March 12- Thurs March 18 at 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- Also a new 35mm print. A Francois Truffaut film I don't know at all, but would really like to see. A 40 year old man, with a successful career, and a beautiful wife and family, falls for a 20+ year old stewardess (Francoise Dorleac, Catherine Denuve's sister, who died 3 years after the films release). Is this a mid-life crisis or is there something more to this relationship? And once you commit to a double life, the mundane practical matters that come along with it (flight connections, the right hotel, money) cause a strain to the fantasy. But if with those issues, this man-boy still wants to be with this younger woman, now what? As his next film after the big success of Jules and Jim, Truffaut's The Soft Skin was, well, not a big success. Though the years since its 1964 release have been kind. Never seen it, and I'd like to:

Let me know if there's interest. Must know quickly regarding White Heat because the tickets will go fast. Not so quick about the other two are needed. Later all.