Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March revivals: first half

Hey all. Mike here with a list of revivals for the 1st half of March. One of my best lists in quite a while. I'll keep descriptions to a minimum and just get on it with it. Yes, I've heard complaints about going on to long, so I'll keep this as brief as possible. Here we go:

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD- Thursday March 1 at 7:30 (get on line outside by 5:30-6)- with a pre-film discussion/ Q and A between Robert Osbourne and Spike Lee- free with a flyer- The Ziegfeld Theater- 141 W. 54th St.- TCM continues its Classic Film Festival, with its only New York State screening. A free screening of the classic To Kill A Mockingbird at the Ziegfeld. Chances are you know the Gregory Peck classic, so I won't take up time now. Starts at 7:30 with a pre-film talk between TCM's Robert Osbourne and Spike Lee. So don't expect to get out before 10:10.

Now to do this, click the TCM link below this paragraph. If it doesn't work and you know, let me know and I'll forward you the PDF file. Each copy is good for 2 people. But admission isn't guaranteed. Get to the Ziegfeld, or at least have someone in your party with the flyer get to the Ziegfeld, sometime between 5:30-6. Probably sometime between 6:30-7, they'll start letting people in. If you're not there before then, the odds you'll get in isn't good. Hopefully the weather will be decent enough for this to be a reasonable outing:

4K DIGITAL SCREENINGS AT THE FILM FORUM- I get the idea that it's getting harder for the Film Forum to get new 35mm prints from movie studios for revival screenings. It's not exactly news that film is going away, from digital camera use to Kodak going bankrupt, to digital become an easier format to get your indie film out there, to preservation purposes where films like Jeff Bridges' Winter Kills now only exist on digital. So here's a week for the Forum to educated its members and customers of the inevitability of digital only revival screenings, as well as the quality of digital restorations. The claim is that the restorations from 35 and 70mm films have improved to the point that the restorers can duplicate the film's original look more successfully than what can be achieved with film labs today. So from Friday March 2nd through Thursday March 8th, the Forum will be screening some of the best films restored by Sony Pictures and their labs. I'm guessing all of the featured restoration has been done by Sony; the Forum makes no distinction. Now for my purposes, it's easier to list the films and times that I can do. Note that it's separate admission for these films, no double features I'm afraid:

DR. STRANGELOVE- Fri Mar 2 at 4 and 7
5 EASY PIECES- Sat Mar 3 at 7:50
GOLDFINGER- Sat Mar 3 at 9:50 (but only if 5 Easy Pieces sells out)
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE- Sun Mar 4 at 1 and 6:10
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY- Mon March 5 at 1 and 6:50
THE SHINING- Mon March 5 at 3:30 and 9:30
THE RED SHOES- Tuesday March 6 at 6:30
WEST SIDE STORY- Wed March 7 at 6:30
REAR WINDOW- Thurs March 8 at 4

The Dr. Strangelove screenings will be the ones where there will be a special guest and demonstration. Sony Pictures' Grover Crisp, a senior VP who has led the restoration teams that did a beautiful job recently on Taxi Driver, will be at the Strangelove screenings. Crisp will explain the process and the particulars on why what he does is different than the restoration is different elsewhere. Crisp will give a demonstration with Dr. Stranglove, showing it what it looks like in a good 35mm print and as its been digitally restored. As for myself, the only one I'm aiming for is Five Easy Pieces, only doing Goldfinger if Pieces sells out. But as you can see, there are other films I'm interested in, so you tell me if you want to what they look and sound like digitally restored:

PLAYTIME- Wed Mar 7 at 7:30- Cinema Arts Center in Huntington- For Long Island people, here's a bone tossed your way. A French comedy directed, co-written by, and starring Jacques Tati, as his famous M. Hulot character. If you saw one of this year's Oscar nominees for Animated Film, The Illusionist, based on an unproduced screenplay of Tati's, then you are familiar with the 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, but won't be screened that way here. The Cinema Arts Center doesn't have that large a screen, but they have the screen and sound system that's more than capable to screen this properly:

NORTH BY NORTHWEST- Fri Mar 9 at 7 and Sat Mar 10 at 6- Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Museum of the Moving Image's See It Big series, pushing people to see films that work best on 70mm or IMAX screens, as opposed to computer or iPad screens. Your choice of either a Friday night or Saturday night. Not making a major push, majority rules with regards to this one. The best of all the lightweight Alfred Hitchcock films. No big morals here. Just sit back and relax, as everyman Cary Grant gets confused as a secret agent by sinister forces led by James Mason. He runs from them and runs from the law, for a murder at the United Nations he didn't commit. Of course all this running around doesn't stop Grant from taking time to flirt with mysterious Eva Marie Saint, in some of the most fun innuendo that the remnants of the Production Code would allow.

I use the term everyman loosely when describing Grant. But according to Gene Wilder on his episode of Inside The Actors Studio, that's how Grant described himself during a chance meeting on a cruise ship, where the Northwest homage Silver Streak, was playing. Wilder was pleasantly stunned to here this description, as well as how Grant was nice enough to include Wilder as being on the same level, but I digress.

Fun film, with good performances, a snappy though unsubtle Herrmann score, with one of Saul Bass's best opening credit sequences. Oscar nominations for the great Editing, Art Direction, and Ernest Lehman's script. Have never seen this on the big screen. I missed my chance about 6 years back, when it was screened for several weekends at midnight at the Paris theater. I'm sorry I missed catching it on the Paris's large screen, but I blame a girl named Amanda for that. The Forum's screen will be adequate for the occasion, their sound system should rock the hell out of Herrmann's score, so to speak:

MOONLIGHTING- Tues Mar 13 at 6- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's series of films that made a big splash at the New York Film Festival. Moonlighting, from 1982 by writer/director Jerzy Skolimowski, made while he was in self-imposed exile in England while Poland was under martial law. Skolimowski's most successful film, both critically and commercially. Jeremy Irons is the young foreman of a group of older Polish workers, who have arrived illegally in London, to work on a house of a rich Polish businessman. They blow what little money they have early on the trip, so all they can really do is work in this strange land, where Irons' character is the only one who speaks English. But as it gets harder to keep the food supply for his workers running smoothly, the unthinkable happens. Martial law is imposed in Poland, where Irons worries for his wife and family back home. Trying to keep the workers satisfied, trying to keep them in the country to finish the job, trying to keep them from starving, Irons' character has to resort to almost any means necessary to keep things intact. Including shoplifting for stuff. Including forcing his men to work 18 hours a day. Including controlling every bit of news from the outside. Any comparisons between a Communist government and the foreman's tactics are intentional, but the strain it puts on this lone (and alone) man is just as palpable.

On almost every top 10 list from major critics back in 82, and was a minor art house hit. By the early 1990s, Moonlighting seemed to have almost disappeared from the face of the Earth. It is on DVD, but good luck finding it. This film contains proof that Irons doesn't have to play a villain or some sort of sleaze in order to be really good at his craft:

SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT with director/stuntman Hal Needham in person- Wed Mar 14 at 7- Cinema Arts Center in Huntington- Part of Cinema Arts Center's Action Heroes series. Not every film needs to be brain surgery. So just sit back and watch Burt Reynolds smuggle Coors across state lines (illegal at the time), pickup runaway bride Sally Field (sigh), and get chased throughout the Southeast by sheriff Jackie Gleason (politically incorrect by any standard in any era). Did well in the summer of 1977, even up against Star Wars. An Oscar nomination for its Editing. Director/ Smokey creator/ legendary stuntman Hal Needham will introduce the film, and do a post-film signing of his autobiography, Stuntman:

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

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