Thursday, September 29, 2011

October revivals: first half

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for October's first half. But first, let me address what I see as possible upcoming revivals that I may or may not post over the next few months. First, Ghostbusters, which will be re-released in about 500 AMC theaters in the U.S for one screening only on 3 Thursday nights in October. I'll let you look it up on your own, because I won't post them. I saw it as a Midnight screening around 2004 or 2005. I like it, fun not-so-little New York movie, which gave me pleasant throwback memories to childhood. But the visual effects don't hold up, it feels longer than it felt back then, and though there are quite a few good supporting performances, the film is held together by Bill Murray. A believable X factor whose unpredictability, even if you know the film by heart, keeps you interested and laughing. Hard to believe what this could have looked like if John Belushi lived to tackle the role. Anyway, Ghostbusters is a 3 out of 4 star, 7 out of 10, thumbs up for me. But if I ever thought to put together a top 10 of 1984 list and this is on it, it must because there's a steep drop for me in quality after A Solider's Story, Amadeus, This Is Spinal Tap, The Killing Fields and Greystoke. It's similar release pattern done earlier this year by Taxi Driver and Top Gun. But the former is in my personal top 100 and the later is cheesy fun, and Ghostbusters is right in the middle. Not enough to post however.

Next, the Museum of the Moving Image will start of a retrospective of films under the title See It Big! Basically, in the age of being able to see films on newer, smaller viewing platforms, some films just won't play as well there. So with the ability to show screen films as large as 70mm or in digital 3-D, the Museum will screen films best viewed on a large screen. This excited me, until I saw that most of films in the retrospective are revivals I saw pre-blog list format (Lawrence of Arabia, Close Encounters), blog list format (Gone With the Wind), or both (Fantasia, Alien, The Shining), plus Avatar. I've taken a little heat for repeat listing of certain films, especially those I've seen on the big screen more then twice. If I didn't like the film at all, I wouldn't post them at all. But I promise if I post any films I caught and dragged others to see, it will be tied in to see some other film or special playing there, probably something from the Jim Henson retrospective. Point is, for most of these films, to combine them with both the Henson retrospective and the Henson exhibit for one price, is well worth it. Now on with the current list, here we go:

THE LION KING in 3-D- Now until at least Thurs October 6- Different theaters with their own times, check your newspapers or websites for your own areas- The Lion King has been so popular in its 3-D re-release, that its been extended for another week. This has been credited for not only making flops out of films such as Drive and whatever that thing Sarah Jessica Parker is starring in, but its making studios consider the idea of re-releasing films (a successful business idea that became rare after 1991). And as for the idea of "Why should we see it, we have a 3-D version of Lion King, its called BROADWAY", piss off. There are 40 plus other states without a stage version of Lion King, and they have spoken. God, no wonder a lot of people seem to hate New York City/ Long Island . . . sorry, I digress . . .

Anyway, this re-release should play at least through Thursday, October 6. But considering the blu-ray disc comes out on Tuesday October 4th, I wouldn't wait too long.

BEN-HUR (1959)- Sat Oct 1 at 10:30am, introduced by William Wyler's daughter Catherine, and Charlton Heston's son Frasor- Alice Tully Hall- 185 W. 65th st, 4th floor- The 11 time Oscar winner and one of the highest grossing films ever mad (don't look at the regular list; check the adjusted for inflation list and be surprised), Ben-Hur gets a special screening. In time for its Blu-Ray release this week, the Charlton Heston-William Wyler classic gets a digital screening. An upgraded 8K Digital screening in its original 2.76 Aspect Ratio. Miklos Roza's score, among the best ever for a film, will heard in 6.0 Dolby Stereo.

I went a long time without seeing Ben-Hur. It played frequently on the 4:30 Movie here in NYC. But it was chopped into what, 4 or 5 parts maybe, and if I was ever going to watch a Heston film back then, it would be Planet of the Apes. Once cable came along in the household, I still wouldn't pay much attention to it. The only time would be sequences of the famous chariot scene in a documentary about Wyler, or spots on TCM where the chariot scene was used as an example of the virtues or widescreen, as opposed to fullscreen or pan-and-scan.

This changed in February 2006, when I saw it on the Ziegfeld's big screen. The story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince betrayed and sold into slavery by his Roman best friend, is the kind of epic film others aspire/aspired to be. Heston's broad style of acting results in a career performance here, as he seeks revenge throughout the year. A drive for revenge that does more to separate him from his love and his leprosy-plagued family than slavery ever did. Coming to a head with the kind of chariot race/ action scene that Gladiator and all its CGI could dream about.

Melodrama and sentiment are abound here, but I'm not opposed to a little excess, especially when its done this well. And yet the scenes involving Jesus, especially the crucifixion, were done with such sensitivity . . . . My feelings regarding The Passion of the Christ changed from being in my top Ten of 2004 just missing the top Five, to just barely in my Top 10 with no need to ever see it again. That's how good a job of direction I thought Wyler did. You might disagree, but I'm guessing you've never seen Ben-Hur on the big screen and hey, I'm not offering an answer, just a response to what I saw.

A nomination for the Screenplay. 11 Oscars, including Picture, Heston for Actor, Wyler for Director, scene-stealing Hugh Griffith for Supporting Actor, and Score. A record for Oscars, tied by Titanic and Return of the King. On both AFI Top 100 lists. May or may not be in my own top 100, but if it isn't, it's very close. Close enough that I would actually drag myself to Lincoln Center on a Saturday morning to watch. Since this is a part of the New York Film Festival, you shouldn't waste time thinking about buying to get a ticket if you're interested. Buy ahead of time. The screening will be introduced by William Wyler's daughter Catherine, and Charlton Heston's son Frasor:

THE LAST PICTURE SHOW- Sat Oct 1, Sun Oct 2, and Wed Oct 5 at 4:30, 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of the 1971 film that doesn't get a revival screening too often. Two milieu are depicted here. Life in high school, as its seniors are finding their way into adulthood, however slow the emotional development. All taking placing in a dying small Texas town, circa early 1950s. Our entry into this world comes from two buddies: the wild jocular type played by Jeff Bridges and the more sensitive one played by Timothy Bottoms. College doesn't seem likely for them. More likely for them, unless they choose to move to larger towns like many before them, is reflected in the lonely, frustrated bitter adults around them. Whose dreams have long since died a quiet death. All here are not depicted as country bumpkins or idiots. Maybe some are more vain, or depressed than others, but such as life.

Peter Bogdanovich jumped to A list status with this film, a status that went bye-bye, thanks to pictures like Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love. But with a great script adaptation of Larry MacMurtry's novel from Bogdanovich and MacMurtry (anyone better in depicting Texas in print than Larry?), and wonderful cinematography from Robert Surtees (black and white, per the suggestion/demand of Orson Welles), you have cinema. If it wasn't for so many good, recognizable actors in the cast, you might think you were watching a documentary, what with the almost subliminal use of music and naturalistic performances. A cast that includes Bridges, Bottoms (Tim and Sam), Cybill Shepherd (ok performance, but perfect as an object of desire), Randy Quaid, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, and Ben Johnson (watch his monologue by the lake, very good indeed).

Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay Adaptation, Cinematography, Bridges for Supporting Actor and Burstyn for Supporting Actress. Oscars for Johnson for Supporting Actor and Leachman for Supporting Actress. On the second AFI Top 100 list. And with everything I said, this may be more of an acquired taste. I invite any and all to come watch this, but this might be better suited for cinephilles (or however you spell it) and those interested in quiet films. I'm not sure if this even has classic status. Two other films from 1971, The French Connection and A Clockwork Orange, may or may not have been loved by critics as much as Last Picture Show, but their classic status is unquestioned. Now I don't know which version of Last Picture Show will be screened: the 1 hour 59 minute theatrical release, or the 7 minutes longer version released in 1992. 7 minutes cut by Columbia Pictures, who insisted that the film had to have a running time under 2 hours. Whatever version is screened, I want to catch this:

SQUIRM- Thurs Oct 6 at 7:30- 92nd Y Tribeca- Part of the 92nd Y Tribeca's Ripoff Cinema. Here we have Squirm, a Southern Jaws on the ground, or the Ben-Hur of worm films, according to the 92nd Y's website. Worms get a shock of electricity down in a small Georgia town, and somehow become flesh eaters. Meanwhile, city slicker Don Scardino (best known for his off-screen work on 30 Rock) goes down to visit his girlfriend (Patricia Pearcy), and runs into some characters who not only appear to be either stereotypes or rejects from Deliverance, but also seem to have Worm Attack victim tattooed on their foreheads.

Trust me, it's more fun than I'm making it sound. Tongue is firmly planted in cheek here, when it isn't filled with rubber things passing for killer worms instead. Seriously, you can't take the threat of killer worms too seriously, and the filmmakers know this. Nobody got any acting awards for this, and once you see it, you'll know why. But I do have a fondness for our lead heroine Patricia Pearcy. Maybe she was a little too delicate looking, a little too close to say, Sissy Spacek for some casting directors tastes. Aside from the soap Ryan's Hope and a small role in The Goodbye Girl, she didn't seem to get much of a chance for substantial screen roles, except for this fun junk. She does well with it, just wish it was for something better. Nevertheless, this is fun, so if you don't mind sitting thru some cheap looking 70s fun, let's try it:

ROSEMARY'S BABY- Thurs Oct 6 at 7 and 9:30 for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- The classic Roman Polanski horror film plays for a cheap price at a convenient location. Though more psychological at times than anything else, as well as one of those quintessential New York films. Whether it's scarier for Mia Farrow to have the Devil's baby in your womb, to marry an actor, or to have a haircut that doesn't work on your head like that pixie cut, is up to you to decide. Oscar nomination for Polanski's adaptation of Ira Levin's novel, an Oscar for Ruth Gordon as one of the witches. Can see it at either 7 with pre-film and in-film commentary by Hedda Lettuce, or at 9:30 sans commentary.

8 1/2 for a $7.00 bar admission minimum- Fri Oct 7 at 9:30- Rubin Museum of Art- Here's how you can spend a night with minimal expense. The Rubin Museum's gallery is free on Fridays, starting at 6pm. That's good for an hour, maybe more if you're really into the exhibits. You can eat out beforehand or eat from their cafe, which is right next to their bar area. The prices aren't bad at all, though the portions and/or food (lots of Himalayan and Vegetarian) may not be to your liking, so best to plan ahead. Either way the bar is there and wherever you go in that space, it's overly loud. Anyway, one beer or two ginger ales/cokes/seltzers will do the trick in terms of admission. Ask for the girl with the tickets, approach her for a film ticket. The drinks in your hands will be obvious to her. You bring yourself your ticket and your drinks down one floor sometime after 9pm, and you drink while you watch the film. You can also go back up to the bar, get another drink and bring it back to the film if you wish. I did all this with Dogtooth this summer, and liked the experience. I wouldn't mind repeating the experience with 8 1/2.

Fellini's classic film mixes reality and fantasy, as Marcello Mastroianni tries to overcome a form of director's block, while living his life in a fishbowl as a celebrity as well as trying to get his new film off the ground. The film mixes flashback, fantasy and reality, and is also a love letter to not only film in general, but the idea of a director as a kind-of Master of his little Universe. And when surrounded by classic beauties like Anouk Aimee, Claudia Cardinale and Barbara Steele, yeah man, you got it tough. Nominations for Fellini for Director and Screenplay plus Art Direction. Oscars for Best Foreign Film and the Costume Design:

WEEKEND- Sat Oct 8, Wed Oct 12, Fri Oct 15, Sat Oct 16, Wed Oct 19 and Thurs Oct 20 at 5:30, 7:40 and 10- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of Goddard's black comedy. I wasn't the biggest fan in the world of Goddard, but Breathless broke the ice. Now having seen both Every Man For Himself and Band of Outsiders over the past year, I'm ready to take on Weekend. Don't know a lot about it aside from the little I've read just so i could cough up a post. Doing my best to avoid learning many particulars so I don't spoil it for myself, though any dark comedy with a title card that says "a film adrift in the cosmos" tells me this won't be a happy trip. A married couple take her trip to the wife's sick father to secure her inheritance, by any means necessary. Their trip on the highway is chaotic, filled with road rage, sometimes brutal, with a famous tracking shot regarding a traffic jam and what's causing it. That part at least I knew about, but not the rest. Very curious to go down this dark rabbit hole and I invite you to join me:

THE GOLD RUSH- Mon Oct 10 at 2pm at Alice Tully Hall- Part of the New York Film Festival, the Charlie Chaplin classic, where the Little Tramp attempts to strike it rich during the Klondike Gold Rush, despite being unprepared for the harsh conditions. With the famous boot eating scene, including the dance with the dinner rolls. On both AFI Top 100 lists. With a restored score and live accompaniment by members of the New York Philharmonic at Alice Tully Hall. Probably the score Chaplin added to its 1942 re-release, recieving an Oscar nomination despite being an addition to a seventeen year old. If you're interested, don't waste time. Get your tickets quickly. New York Festival stuff tends to go fast you know:

CARRIE- Thurs Oct 13 at 9:30 for 7.50- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- The Brian De Palma classic where Sissy Spacek (Oscar nominated) plays the awkward girl who goes nuts, and wont be laughed at anymore. With John Travolta, Amy Irving, William Katt and Nancy Allen when they were all quite young, and Piper Laurie (also Oscar nominated) as the mother of all demented mothers. It's Brian De Palma, so we not talking subtle here. But it is among his better films. For once it's not playing at Midnight, but I rather do the screening without commentary and jokes than with.

GIORIGO MORODER'S METROPOLIS (1984)- Fri Oct 14 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A midnight screening of something that's getting something of an underground resurgence. Maybe it's just curiosity, but whatever the reason, here's another chance to catch Giorigo Moroder's edit version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Not on DVD.
By the mid-late 80s, there was a few versions of Fritz Lang's Metropolis out there, all around 90 minutes or so, and each missing a ton of footage. In 1984, Moroder released his own cut of Metropolis. He supposedly found footage different from the other prints, but he also trimmed existing footage from his edit to make the picture run faster. 80-something minutes in length, some shots colorized or tinted, subtitles instead of title cards, and Moroder's own music running throughout. Some of it was his own score, and some of it were songs performed by acts such as Queen, Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Adam Ant, Loverboy and Bonnie Tyler.

Some critics like this version, Siskel and Ebert in particular. But even in his thumbs up review, Gene Siskel ripped the Moroder songs, calling the lyrics "stupid". And that, was the rallying point for those who hated this version. The best that can be said is that it introduced a generation from 1984 to about 1989 (when the last laserdisc version was released) to Lang's film. In my case it took Queen's song "Radio Ga-Ga", a top 5 hit that gave Queen American success after the Flash Gordon debacle, for me to even hear of Metropolis. The video contained clips of the Moroder cut. Now, you have another chance to judge for yourself.

Let me know. Later all.

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