Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Revivals: Memorial Day to June 2nd edition.

Hey all, Mike here with a new revival list. It starts on Memorial Day weekend, but I cheat a little by extending the post into June 2nd. But once you see what I extended it for, then you'll understand why. Let's not waste time, here we go:

MIDNIGHT MOVIE CHOICES OF RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and/or THE LAST WALTZ and/or THE WARRIORS- Fri May 25 and Sun May 27 at Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema (Raiders and Waltz)- Fri and Sun at Midnight at IFC Center-  Since all three films play at Midnight this Memorial Day weekend, including Sunday the 27th, I'll just combine them as one listing. Sorry that I'm not including Saturday the 26th here because I can't make any of the films that night. But if you can do it, go ahead and enjoy. 

Your choice of three films: either Raiders of the Lost Ark (one of my all time favorites), The Last Waltz (Martin Scorsese's documentary of The Band's farewell concert), or The Warriors (Walter Hill's bat-crazy gang action film). Whichever film you want to do will be a good time. The Last Waltz will fit for music fans, and the closest thing I have to a Midnight movie (attempts were made in the late 70s/ early 80s to make a cult film in the NYC area). Raiders is kick-ass fun no matter what time. The Warriors is the shortest and admittedly the weakest; but its a fun NYC film and did I mention it was bat-shit nuts? The Warriors is in the easiest theater to get via mass transit and with the most comfortable environment, but the other 2 are a little cheaper, a little easier to park, and its not a bad theater at all. Whatever choice(s) you make will be good, so let's do it ok:

ALIEN (1979)- Mon May 28 at 3:45- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Yep, I'm posting Alien again, in part because there are still people who haven't experienced it on the big screen, in part because it's being screened at a decent afternoon time on Memorial Day, and in part because I need no excuse to catch this on the big screen. This time on the Walter Reade at Lincoln Center's large screen and quality sound system, as part of their Ridley Scott retrospective. Sorry that there won't be anymore posts from this particular retrospective by me; either I've seen them once and good bad or indifferent I'm not going again (American Gangster, Matchstick Men, 1492), or I've seen enough times that while I like it a lot, just not now (Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down). But the rest, no time. Disappointing in the cases of Thelma and Louise, The Duelists or the good but forgotten Someone To Watch Over Me. Actually I glance at their schedule and I'm shocked at how many I went to see in their original release, and yet have neither the time and/or inclination to re-watch at a full price screening. Oh well . . . 

A print of the original 1979 release, as opposed to the "director's cut" from about 8-9 years ago will be screened. It means we don't get more establishment shots of the soon-to-be claustrophobic ship interiors, more signs of dislike and/or disrespect of Ripley, and the final fates of a few characters. All worked when restored to the film, but not essential to its enjoyment. Especially the extra interiors. I've seen this with several of you before, but that doesn't stop me from posting this again. This film works, better than anything Ridley Scott as ever done. Excellent combo of look, pace and sound all of which should play well on the Walter Reade's near 70mm screen and quality sound system. In my personal top 100. C'mon, it's fun:   

ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT- Mon May 28 at 4:30 and 9:30, and Tues May 29 and Wed May 30 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of the classic 1930 anti-war film, right up there with Dr. Strangelove and Paths of Glory. Ok, it's seems to be more commonplace to refer to Strangelove more as anti-stupidity than anti-war. But there's no doubt about which way Western Front leans. Adapted from World War 1 veteran Erich Remarque's novel, we see a group of young German men practically excited about going to war, thanks to the oratory of their no-nothing teacher. We follow these young men, and one in particular played by Lew Ayres, through their journey. First, we see them being drilled by their despot of a drill Sargent, even though it's little more than marching in formation. None of which helps them once they get sent into the trenches. Thrown into the fight with little training. Where the rats eating their food and equipment and the disease all around them seem deadlier than the  actual warfare around them. Which is true, until the enemy start overtaking their trenches in large numbers. But if you manage to survive and not go insane, unlike some of your buddies, you get to go home on leave. And feel completely disconnected to the civilians, who are equally disconnected and ignorant about how poorly the war effort is going.

So yeah, not a lot of hope going around here. But the film-making still packs a wallop. Dolly track shots that seem normal by Paths of Glory and feel modern today, yet were unusual in early sound movies. Also unafraid to use war sounds almost like a score on its own. One of the earliest war films and still among the best. Oscars for Picture and for Director Lewis Millstone. Nominations for the Cinematography and the Screenplay written by George Abbott, Maxwell Anderson and Del Andrews. Very good film:  

WALL-E for 6 dollars- Mon May 28 at 5:15- AMC Empire- This Memorial Day weekend, Disney/Pixar will re-release 4 of their big hits for one screening each day, at different times and at select AMC theaters throughout the country, and only for 6 dollars. The only one in the NYC/ Long Island area doing this, is the AMC Empire in Times Square. Each screening containing an extended preview of Pixar's upcoming film, Brave. I have neither the time nor the burning desire to re-do Ratatouille, Toy Story 3, or Up, regardless that each film was in my Top 10 list for the respective years they came out. But for Wall-E, my Best Film of 2008 as well as in my personal top 40, well if I can't get anyone interested in the other films, then this will do nicely. As for the rest about Wall-E, I'll repost a little of what in my Best of 2008 article:

Saying this is my favorite Pixar is redundant. Ranking it as the best of the dystopian genre (among my faves, Brazil, Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange, Blade Runner, and yes, Soylent Green), is also fairly redundant. One of the best films ever made, that sounds about right.

The first half hour plus is among the best silent film homages ever, especially with a nod toward Chaplin and action-wise, Keaton. A better use of Hello Dolly songs here then Gene Kelly did when he directed the film version, whose clips are seen in Wall-E! With a never uninteresting pessimism about our future, with just enough room for change via love that's believable. Yes, believable. The idea of two robots falling in love of course strains credibility. But the fact that this love is more believability depicted than in any studio romantic comedy is both a miracle and a damnation for recent films (go ahead, defend Bride Wars and the Sex In The City movie, morons.). All praise for the nominated screenplay from Jim Reardon, Pete Docter and the film's director, Andrew Stanton. This film will age quite well. Don't know if we need a Wall-E 2 like Toy Story 2 and the upcoming 3. This is sufficient.

BATTLE ROYALE- Mon May 28- Wed May 30 at 7 and 9:35- IFC Center- The controversial Japanese hit from 2000, that may seem A LOT like The Hunger Games even it takes more of a Lord of the Flies with violence approach, finally gets a North American theatrical release. This is the ultra violent film, set in a dystopian future, where society is kept in line by having a random 9th grade class is sent without notice to a deserted island, where they must fight to the death. If there isn't one survivor only after 3 days, all remaining survivors will be exterminated. Some students prefer suicide. Others are gung-ho to take part. And others try to fight the system from within the game itself. All watched by the actor best known as Zatoichi, which means he's damn good with a sword, and not afraid to use it against those breaking the rules.

This will be a HD video projection. IFC Center has claimed this will only play for 1 week, from May 25- May 31. But I'm thinking that if this is as successful for IFC Center as say, the 1977 cult Japanese horror cult film House, that Battle Royale will play for a longer engagement . But after awhile it would probably only play as a midnight movie, so we probably don't have a lot of time to catch this at a normal time. Never saw this, but supposedly not for the squeamish, and I'm willing to take a chance:


THE GODFATHER and/or THE GODFATHER PART 2- Sat June 2 at 2 (Godfather 1) and 6 (Godfather 2)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2 kick off the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria's Paramount Pictures of the 1970s retrospective. In time for the company's 100th year in existence, Paramount had a very good decade in the 1980s, and some of the others weren't shabby at all. But the combination of artistic success, cult films, and mega-hits that were released or at least shot by this company from 1970-79/80 is frankly staggering. Maybe United Artists come close in the 60s or 70s. I'll be posting more films from this retrospective over the next 2 lists. Now I feel they could have added films like Love Story, The Gambler, Pretty Baby, Star Trek The Motion Picture and Friday the 13th, to give an overall better history lesson to viewers. But still, with the selections made here, all I can say is DAAAAAMMMMMNNNNN!

Not sure if Godfather and Godfather 2 will be a print or digital. But either way, much like the restoration for Apocalypse Now Redux, these Francis Ford Coppola films received a major cleanup and improvement of sight and sound. This restoration is what we will get, and get for 1 admission price. Now for the rest of this post, I'm staying with The Godfather, the film I know I can make. 

Now that I've said all that, do I really need to pitch this? Brando comeback, blah blah blah, rise of Pacino, blah blah blah, great cast that I'm not in the mood to breakdown, blah blah blah, on all great films lists worth a damn and most that are not, blah blah blah . . . I can at least say that this was the fastest 3 hours or so I ever spent watching a film. No excess fat, no wasted shots, perfection.

10 Oscar nominations, 11 if you include the one for Nino Rota's score that was later ruled ineligible because he supposedly reused his score from the film Fortunella. Among the nominations it lost was Supporting Actor for Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola for Director, Editing and Sound. It lost all those noms to Cabaret. If this shocks you, it's because you're not into musicals or you have no idea how good and how influential Cabaret director Bob Fosse was/is. What shocked the hell out of me was that The Godfather WASN'T nominated for Cinematography. No Art Direction nod, I could understand that; look it up and you'll know what I mean. But you mean to tell me 1776, Butterflies Are Free, Cabaret (the eventual winner), The Poseidon Adventure and Travels With My Aunt ALL deserved votes more than Godfather? I'm not saying it should have won. I had no problem if they thought Cabaret, the eventual winner, was better. But that's because I have a soft spot for the work of cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (2001, Murder on the Orient Express, Becket, Superman: The Movie, among other credits). But Gordon Willis not even being nominated for his work is Bullshit.

But it did win 3 key Oscars: Picture, Screenplay Adaptation for Coppola and Mario Puzo and Brando for Actor. No need to mention the Oscar controversy in this list about Brando that night. No need to mention its high place on both AFI lists. No need to mention its place in my personal top 35 (pretty high, yet not as high as Godfather 2). Just need to say; unless you're over the age of 49, you saw its brief re-release in 1997 or saw a crappy print when it's played at Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema or caught this restored version at either the Film Forum or the Ziegfeld back in 2008, you've only seen this on tv. And you've never seen it look as great or as intended. Now is a great time to correct this.

If you can't make it on Saturday June 2nd, it will play again at the same time on Sunday June 3rd. Make time for this people:

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

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Mid-May revivals

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for Mid-May. Sorry I didn't have a list for the first ten days of May, but a combination of lack of time and mostly Midnight options made me put off posting a list until now. Here we have some interesting options, and all at reasonable times. I'll try to keep things as brief as possible. Here we go:

BONJOUR TRISTESSE- Thurs May 10 at 7:45 and 9:40- Film Forum- The David Niven-Jean Seberg- Deborah Kerr film is so popular at the Film Forum, it's engagement had been extended. Thursday, May 10 is its final night as of around May 6th. Since then, it's engagement was extended yet another week. Can't do it most of them, but I will post Saturday May 12 and Tuesday May 15. Never seen it and would like to try it. A restored Digital screening; the Riviera exteriors and the actresses should look great:

MARNIE and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN- Sat May 12 at 2 (Marnie) and 7 (Heaven)- Museum of the Moving Image- Another double feature at the Museum from their Fashion in Film: If Looks Could Kill series. First, Marnie; not one of Hitchcock's classics, but an underrated film whose reputation has grown somewhat over the years. Tippi Hedren is a thief who steals from the wrong man, millionaire  Sean Connery. But instead of having her arrested, he marries her. It is then that he sees her psychological problems, and they are numerous. Not the least of which is a massive fear and distrust of men, to the point where she seemingly reverts to a child. 

With Diane Baker, Mariette Hartley and Bruce Dern in supporting roles. Not sure how much of the machismo of Connery's character will fly with modern audiences; the blackmail and the rape scene doesn't help. A flawed film but an interesting one. And as for the fashions on display, we have Hedren and Baker dressed in Edith Head designs. Actually I don't know if Head actually designed them or just bought them in Paris or elsewhere and took credit for them like with Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, but the clothes and make-up are on full display here. 

Next is Leave Her To Heaven. I tried to get people to see at the Forum sometime back, with no success. I'll try again as part of one admission with Marnie. For the rest, I'll just copy and paste what I wrote about a year or so ago, which admittedly isn't much:

Heard of the film, don't know much about it, but it looks interesting. A little over the top and melodramatic, but interesting. An Oscar for its early color Cinematography, nominations for Actress Gene Tierney, and Art Direction. After that, I don't know much else, so once again, I'll cut and paste from the Forum's website:

(1945) Always elegantly coiffed Gene Tierney (in Oscar-nominated role and fresh from her starring role in Preminger’s Laura) and best-selling author Cornel Wilde meet cute — she’s reading his latest book — in a super-luxurious railroad car lounge and, despite her engagement ring, it’s instant attraction. And next thing Wilde knows, he’s on horseback watching as she strews her father’s ashes on a New Mexico mountaintop — as Alfred Newman’s score thunders — and suddenly, he’s the new fiance of someone with a very possessive passion. Big Mistake? A drowning coldly watched from behind the screen’s most menacing pair of sunglasses, a miscarriage via intentional staircase fall, a death by poison, and a murder trial with a very surprising defendant getting hammered by relentless DA/spurned lover Vincent Price ensue, amid splendiferous settings, all viewed via sumptuous, Oscar-winning photography by Fox Technicolor specialist Leon Shamroy. Screenplay by Jo Swerling with a colorful cast including Jeanne Crain, Ray Collins (Citizen Kane, Perry Mason), and Darryl Hickman. 110 min.

GRAND ILLUSION- Tues May 15 and Mon May 20- Wed May 23 at 7:45 and 10- Film Forum- One of the classics, of French and world cinema, gets a 2 week run at the Forum; sorry that I'm only posting the days and times I think I can catch this. The other famous film from writer/ director Jean Renoir; the other being The Rules of the Game, a favorite of mine.

During World War 1, 2 French officers are moved about different German POW camps. But there are 2 constants: first, the two officers are from different social classes, and second, the more aristocratic French officer is considerably more comfortable with the aristocratic German officer (Erich von Stroheim) in charge than with his fellow countrymen/ prisoners. But this is war, and will this soldier stick with his fellow countrymen/prisoners or with his class?

More than just the typical prison escape movie. Less The Great Escape, more like The Rules of the Game with Great Escape elements, plus a scene that the makers of Casablanca ripped off and moved from a POW camp to Rick's. Also, there's a sequence where the 2 aristocrats speak English so that the others don't understand what they're saying; a scene that I swear Tarantino ripped off and re-tooled for the start of Inglorious Basterds.

Never seen this, but have wanted to for a quite a while. The first foreign film to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. The Forum is showing a new 35mm print of this in time for the film's 75th anniversary. But this print, from a 4k restoration took an interesting journey. A few years after its release, the Nazis rolled into France. Goebbels declared the film, with its positive Jewish depictions and anti-war stance, "cinema enemy number 1", and confiscated the silver nitrate negative and had it sent to the Reich's film archive. There it stayed until 1945 when the Russians rolled into Berlin. The Red Army confiscated the negative and shipped it to the Soviet Union. It stayed for decades, while new prints where made from decaying dupes. An agreement made in the mid60s between France and the Soviets respective state film archives, finally brought the film back to France. But the negative again sat in a vault, until British money funded a 1999 restoration. A British/French restoration last year digitized it and payed closer attention to the sound quality. A 35mm negative was made from the digital, and a print of this is what we will see. I really want to go:

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