Thursday, March 15, 2012

March revivals: second half

Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the rest of March. Small list, so I have a little time for some writing. Specifically, about the recent free screening of To Kill A Mockingbird at the Ziegfeld theater on Thursday March 1, organized by TCM. For me, I loved it. This was the first time I'd ever seen it on the big screen, and maybe the second time I'd ever seen it without commercials. No Lawrence of Arabia, which came out the same, but still excellent. It wasn't as big a draw at the Ziegfeld compared to the TCM's screening of All About Eve in 2010; that film took up practically every seat there. Even New York screenings of The Birds and The Manchurian Candidate filled up higher percentages of their respective auditoriums than Mockingbird did. This Ziegfeld screening wasn't empty for sure; almost the entire center was filled with some side seating filled in the middle. Not sure why exactly beyond less comfortable weather and earlier in the year than the other screenings I just mentioned, but I won't take time here.

The screening was hosted by Robert Osbourne and Spike Lee; the only TCM free screening that doesn't have someone involved in the actual film being screened serve as a guest/ co-host. Osbourne offered tidbits about Mockingbird, but nothing you couldn't learn on IMDB beforehand. Spike had even less to offer about Mockingbird, aside from it being one of his favorite films. But Spike had stuff to say. Among the notable stuff:

His mom is the one who took the family out, to movies, to museums, whether they/he wanted to go through it or not. She's the one who turned Spike into a Cinephille.

He had a bit of fun with a junior high prep school boy, when the kid asked for the meaning behind 40 Acres in a Mule. A professor at NYU, Lee played teacher, having the kid give his interpretation. The nervous kid started ok, but then when off the rails and Lee had a little fun with him. Something tells me that as a teacher, Lee is the kind worth being taught by, though it may take years to get over the scar tissue from the process.

When Lee was asked who he imagined could do a remake of Mockingbird, Lee was apoplectic. To do one well? Through the studio system the way it is today (my paraphrasing)? Impossible, said Lee. Because if the best Hollywood can do in terms of race relations was The Help . . . At that point, Lee stood up and did a silent impersonation. I couldn't tell if Spike was doing Bojangles or doing Stepin Fetchit. Either way, his contempt for the film The Help was clear.

Lee was asked what he thought was the single best element of Mockingbird, whether it was in front of or behind the camera. Lee seemed to have a hard time with the question, so Osbourne jumped in and answered. Robert didn't and wouldn't single out one aspect. All aspects: source material, screenplay, writing, direction, casting, costuming, score, editing, all of these aspects are at their peak and if one element faltered . . . Osbourne then gave The Iron Lady as an example where there was one excellent element (Meryl Streep's performance), but with a screenplay that was "very unsatisfactory". Now on with the list. Here we go:

THE LADY VANISHES (1938)- Fri March 16 at 9:30 for a $7.00 bar minimum- introduced by author Brandon Morrow- Rubin Museum of Art- A showing of the 1938 film in the Rubin Museum of Art's screenings room. The 39 Steps may have gotten America's attention about Alfred Hitchcock, but The Lady Vanishes is what got Hollywood's attention. Or at least got David O'Selznick's attention and that's good enough. This also made a big star out of Michael Redgrave, as the only man a young flighty woman can trust in the disappearance of an elderly governess on a speeding train. A "governess" who happened to have her attention captured when a folk singer hummed a particular tune, and was soon found dead. The governess and the young woman get acquainted on the train, until a flower pot intended for the governess hits the young woman instead. When the young woman wakes up, the governess disappeared and all the passengers act like the old lady was never on the train to begin with. The young woman can only rely on Redgrave's character to find the governess, why so many people may be lying, and . . . wait . . . . why is this train going into hostile territory? Light, fun, Hitchcock. The film will be introduced by author Brandon Morrow. Don't know why he's doing an introduction, but he's doing an introduction nevertheless.

Now, how can you see all this? You can go to the Rubin Museum as early as 6pm, when admission is free. You can check the Museum out, which I highly recommend. You can get a bite to eat on the ground floor area to your left when you enter the Museum, but you can find cheaper food and/or more filling food elsewhere in Union Square. But make sure you get to the bar, order your drink or drinks, and find the person giving the tickets. If you can't find the person, just ask the bartender, he'll know. You get your free ticket, and you can bring your drink(s) to the screening room. It worked out well with a dark film like Dogtooth, it should work even better with a concert film like this:

CASABLANCA- Wed Mar 21 at 7- AMC Empire, College Point Multiplex, and AMC Kips Bay on E. 32nd St, plus elsewhere in S.F., Denver, Miami, Columbus, parts of New Jersey, upstate NY and elsewhere- No point in breaking down the Bogart classic. On both AFI lists, (top 5 on both), Multiple Oscars including Best Picture, in my personal Top 15, and if it isn't in yours, what the hell is wrong with you. Preceding the film will be a special about the making and I believe history of Casablanca, hosted by Robert Osbourne and featuring some talking heads. So expect about 2 hr- 2hr 15 minute night:

ARMY OF SHADOWS- Mon Mar 26 at 3:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- I'll will make time for one of my favorites, especially if you've never seen it. Which is most of you. Basically, a war film about members of the French Resistance battling the Nazis and traitors within. But it was shot thru the filter and style of a film noir. Some Resistance members come off more as ordinary people or gangsters, as opposed to downtrodden soldiers.

Apparently, art house distributors had little interest in Melville as a director, the thought was there would be no American audience for this during the heights of Vietnam. The initial lack of positive reaction in France didn't help. Never released in the US until April 2006. It's found somewhat of an art house/cult audience, every critic who's seen it seems to have put it in their top 5 of 2006, and it was the surprise winner of Best Foreign Film by the New York Film Critics (a funny story how the critics managed to unintentionally pull that off, but you can find some other film bloggers to tell you if you look hard enough.). The kind of film that stays with you days after it ends. I have no problem making plans to catch this again:

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER- Thurs Mar 29 at 7 and 9:30 for 7 and Sat Mar 31 at 10 for 10- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- 3 total screenings of the 1977 classic starring John Travolta in his star-making, Oscar nominated performance. Yes, I have the poster of the PG rated version poster here, but it's the original R rated cut so no worries.

Watch John go from TV sitcom guy, to Disco icon, then Movie icon, as the king of Brooklyn disco, who wants more out of life, and out of Brooklyn. The film is specifically structured where if Tony doesn't see it happen, the audience doesn't experience it. At least three quarters of it is basically Tony slowly growing up, which is why the film survived the "Disco Sucks" backlash. The rest is at the disco, where director John Badham's visuals, Travolta's dancing, and The Bee Gees' music is what's remembered and loved the most. One of the first films to ever use the Steadicam.

Your choice of a 7.50 screening with Hedda Lettuce at 7pm on Thursday the 29th, a 7.50 9:30 screening on the 29th without Hedda, or a 10pm screening on Saturday the 31st for 10 dollars. Yes the Saturday screening is more expensive than the Thursday screenings, but it is cheaper than current, mostly mediocre films playing now, so there's still value:

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


Gini said...

Hi, Mike —

Do you know about the upcoming one-week revival of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" at the Sunshine Cinema at 143 East Houston in NYC?

• One week only, Fri 3/30 - Thurs 4/5
• Fully re-mastered for hi-def
• Includes a new 12-minute feature, “Terry Gilliam’s Lost Animations”
• Midnight shows on Friday and Saturday

Contact for more information.



mike said...

Sorry it took so long, just noticed your comment now. Yes I knew about Holy Grail. I chose not to post having caught it on 3 prior occasions (2005 at the late Two Boots Pioneer, 2007 at Film Forum and 2010 at Bryant Park), and felt I couldn't gather any further interest from others, even with the additional Gilliam short. If I'm pretty sure I can't make a revival and/or can't get someone interested, I don't post the film, and I'm afraid that's what happened here. Thanks for your comment!