Friday, September 07, 2012

September revivals: first half

Hey, Mike here with a revival list for the first half of September. Since the U.S. Open is still going on, that's were my attention is focused. But here's a list anyway. Not as long as it could have been, and not with lengthy descriptions either. But films I want to see nevertheless. Here we go:

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK in IMAX- Fri Sept 7 thru Thurs Sept 13- AMC Empire, AMC Lowes 34th st and AMC Kips Bay (E. 32nd st)- 1, 4, 7 and 10pm at Empire and 34th st, 2, 5, 8 and 10:40 at Kips Bay- I brought this up on the last list, so I won't repeat what I wrote before. I did catch it in Bryant Park last month and I was glad I went, despite the nearly insane mass of humanity that made it initially difficult to see. Their print was respectable. But the chance to see a digital restoration in 5.1 Dolby stereo is too good to pass up. Yes, it sounds like the digital restoration that has played at Midnight at IFC Center off and on since last December. But this will be blown up to cover IMAX screens without distortion (supposedly). Granted it's fake IMAX; screens smaller than the one at the AMC Lincoln Square screen. Therefore Raiders will only play on 3 screens in Manhattan, the ones I've posted, and nowhere else in the city, or Long Island for that matter.

For the record, I'll be going to the 8pm screening at the largest of the fake IMAX screens, at Kips Bay on 32nd and 2nd. For the rest of you, the other times there and at AMC Empire and AMC Lowes 34th st are listed here. And no, I will not post the Indiana Jones marathon on Saturday Sept 15 at those 3 IMAX screens. No need for me to catch Temple of Doom or Crystal Screen on IMAX. The need for Raiders, yes. But those two, no way (sorry Last Crusade):

CITIZEN KANE- Sun Sept 10- Tues Sept 11 at 7 and 9:20 (Sunday tentative for me)- Film Forum- A new digital restoration of one of the greatest films ever made. Ok people, show of hands, how many of you have ever heard of Citizen Kane? Ok, good. If you even bother to look at this list at all, you at least know of Orson Welles' film. Didn't expect to see any hands from those under 18 anyway. Now, how many of you know more about Kane than just Rosebud, even if it's aided by memories of HBO's passable version of the making of Kane, RKO 281? Similar number of hands, fine.

Now, how many of you have actually seen Citizen Kane from beginning to end? Ok, the number of hands have dropped, but I'll let you decide if that would be a fairly low number. I mean, some of have seen it through the very occasional airings on TCM. Maybe 1 or 2 of have seen it/ own it on DVD. New York/ New Jersey people as recent as the early 80s saw this on one of Channel 9's Million Dollar Movie airings. Or maybe 1 or 2 of you saw it in a film class or some sort. Now, how many of you have actually seen this on the big screen? Yeah, that's what I thought. The 1 or 2 of you who saw this with me at the Forum, when Kane ran for a week back in March 2004. Then I saw it again in April 2010, and I can add one more to make it three in total. I'm determined to increase this number, and I think this digital restoration will help.

Seeing this on the big screen as opposed to watching it on TV no matter what size screen you own, to use an old Larry Miller joke I'm found of using for different subjects, is the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it. In terms of storytelling, pacing and emotional depth (as well as innovative in its use of visual effects, make-up and music), as modern a film as what we have now in release, and a lot better than all but a hand full (I'm trying to be nice and not be considered a snob. I probably failed at that a long time ago).

A flop in its day (when you do a thinly veiled attack on William Randolph Hearst, and he still wields considerable influence, it's amazing no one burned the negatives behind RKO's backs), a classic today. First in France, where it was screened shortly after WW 2 and had the praise and backing of filmmakers like Goddard. Then in the mid to late 50s, when it aired on TV and had a major re-release. 9 Oscar nominations, including Picture, Welles for Actor and Director, Bernard Herrmann for his Score, and Editing for Robert Wise. An Oscar to Welles and Joseph J. Mankiewicz for the Screenplay. Number one on both AFI Top 100 lists, and along with Casablanca and The Godfather, always in the conversation for greatest American films ever made. But basically, Welles took the skills he developed in theatre and radio, and (with a major assist from Mankiewicz's writing) changed film forever, without losing any theatrical flair or showmanship. See one of my top six favorite films of all time:

VERTIGO- Wed Sept 12, Sun Sept 16 and Tues Sept 18 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A new digital restoration of the Hitchcock classic. A last minute addition to the Forum's schedule, and a welcome one. One of the best love stories eve made: love in terms of Obsessive and Unrequited. Interesting how the appreciation of the film has grown. From box office disappointment and even getting laughed at in some critical circles upon it's release (2 minor Oscar nominations), to disappearing by 1970, to its 1984 re-release where it attained instant Classic status and art house success, to the years before and after both AFI Top 100 lists came out where it more people discovered and appreciated it, to the point where it's even been considered among the best 2 or 3 films of all time thanks to more recent film lists. While I won't go quite that high (hello, didn't you pay attention to what I wrote with Citizen Kane?), certainly in my top 100, and fairly high at that.

Now note that I haven't written much about the story itself. To paraphrase Martin Scorsese when he wrote about Vertigo, not only is Vertigo required viewing, it also requires a Personal Response. Your life experiences will determine how you will take it. I'm guessing anyone who looks at my lists as seen Vertigo before. Therefore, you jumped past following the plot and can get to the heart (figuratively and literally) of the story. Seeing it on the big screen will probably change it further, so see it:  

FOLLOWING- Sat Sept 15 at 1:30- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's Christopher Nolan retrospective. Yeah, it seems a little early to have one. I don't plan to see most of these films, since I caught most of them already. With one notable exception: Following. A restored 35mm print of his first feature film from 1998, released here in the States in 1999. Set in London, a young unemployed writer decides to follow complete strangers for material. One of those strangers is a cat burglar, who ends up making him a sort of protegee. Why not, since the burglar is equally interested in following strangers, the ones he steals from that is. But none of this can come to any good, and does the young writer truly think he's in control of the situation? Never saw it, never heard of it back in the day. But really curious to try this suspense thriller out, especially to get an idea how Nolan has grown, and how much has been there in terms of talent from the start. And it's only 69 minutes long, so you'll be done with it quickly: 

MEMENTO- Mon Sept 17 at 6- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of the Christopher Nolan retrospective. The 2001 arthouse hit, that made Nolan a writer/director to be reckoned with ever since. A film that forces you to pay attention or be left far behind, Guy Pierce plays an amnesiac seeking revenge against the killer of his wife. But this isn't any old amnesia; he can remember everything up to the accident/murder (except the murderer himself), but he literally can't remember any memory less than 5 minutes old. He writes clues down, takes multiple Polaroids, and even has tattoos to help with the biggest clues, but how reliable are they? With Carrie-Ann Moss as a woman who might be able to him, and Joe Pantoliano as a man who never seems to be who he is.

Before Memento, there was Rashomon, with it's story about how memory or truth can never be fully known. Memento pushed that further, with a narrator who may not be reliable and whose story is being told backwards, while another story is told forward, with flashbacks as well. But with an intriguing memory at the heart, some good action and even humor reminiscent of say Inception, this was a major eye-opener back in 2001. One of the best films of that year, with Oscar nominations for Nolan and his brother for Screenplay Adaptation and for Editing:      

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

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