Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pre-Thanksgiving revivals

Hey all. Mike here, with my first revival list in a while. Life and Mother Nature interfered in this regard, though I feel very lucky that a few down trees that surprisingly DIDN'T take down power lines was the worst thing to happen to me. Very lucky indeed. Best I can do at this precise moment is offer some relief in terms of some unique film choices. About as diverse a list as I can cough up at the moment.

At a late date like this, I would probably have a list covering the entire month of November. But considering how crowded the last ten days of November will be in terms of revival options, and how some of that will overlap into early December, best for me to give a small list for the next week or so. Here we go:

COCKSUCKER BLUES with S-8 Footage from Exile From Main Street- Thurs Nov 15 at 7- MOMA- 11 W. 53rd Street- Part of the Rolling Stones onscreen retrospective at MOMA. I won't post many film from this series I'm afraid. I've done Gimme Shelter once before at MOMA, Performance isn't playing at a time I can do, and most of the other screenings are ones that I'm massively indifferent toward.

Cocksucker Blues: a rare screening of The Rolling Stones concert film, when they were touring in North America for the first time since the concert at Altamont (as depicted in Gimme Shelter). The film takes a no-holds barred look at what the Stones did on tour, on and off stage. Arguably, it captures the debauchery of the band at it's highest. It was the off stage antics that led to a clash between the Stones and director Robert Frank over whether the film can be screened or not. It lead to an unusual court ruling, where it was decided that the film can only be screened if the director is physically present. So I suppose director Frank will be at this screening on Thursday. As for more about the film itself, here's a description from the Anthology Film Archives's website when they screened this on November 9th, 2008:

1972, 35mm, b&w/color. With the Rolling Stones.
“With COCKSUCKER BLUES, Frank bids a final adieu to the utopia of the Beat generation. What did the Rolling Stones expect when they hired him to make a film about their 1972 North American tour? There are scenes of groupie sex in private jets, cocaine snorting, and even a masturbation scene in which Jagger reveals himself to be the cameraman in a reflected image. But ultimately Frank focuses on the lonely spaces that permeate the rock-and-roll machine. This is the ultimate direct cinema. The camera movement infects the images with an unbelievable filmic energy, and Frank ignores all orientation guidelines. Populated by the living dead, COCKSUCKER BLUES is a zombie film with no refuge.”

Preceding the film will be S-8 Stones Footage from Exile on Main Street, director Frank's Super 8 film on the process of his shooting the cover for the Stones' classic album. It's only 5 minutes long, I presume it's not under any court orders with regards to its distribution, but not many have seen this either. Overall, for the hardcore Stones fan, for documentary film fanatics, and for the very curious:

THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT- Fri Nov 16- Wed Nov 21 at 6:15, 8 and 9:50- Film Forum- A DCP screening of one of the better Alec Guinness/Ealing Studios comedies. From 1951 (released in the U.S. in 1952), Guinness plays a Cambridge graduate, whose obsession to build an everlasting fabric gets him drummed out of textile jobs up and down Northern England, reducing him to washing dishes. But he never gives up his dreams and he soon succeeds in his creation: a white suit that doesn't crease, won't stink, keeps dirt from clinging on, and never needs to be washed dry-cleaned or even vacuumed. Guinness' character is celebrated, for a while. But business owners get nervous over the idea of the companies going bankrupt once demand is (permanently) satisfied. Meantime, labor unions and their brethren get very nervous about their fabric making/repairing/cleaning jobs disappearing if the fabric becomes a big seller. So like the Peter Lorre film M, where the Law and the Mob go through different methods to get rid of a common threat, Business and Labor do the same thing here. Therefore, if you don't see the political satire going on here, then you must be laughing too hard. Or enjoying Guinness' naive-yet-energetic performance. 

An Oscar nomination for its Screenplay, which somehow lost to The Bad and the Beautiful. SAY WHAT?!?!? I can understand losing to fellow nominee High Noon, but to the Kirk Douglas film that hasn't aged very well, EEK! Anyway, The Man in The White Suit might not on the same level of previous Guinness/Ealing films like say, Kind Hearts and Coronets or The Lavender Hill Mob. But it's still pretty darn good: 

RED DAWN- Fri Nov 16 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of IFC's "America, F*** YEAH!" Series. Films chosen for their particular attack of jingoistic, over-the-top support of America. Films that either did it well and found an audience (MASH, the original Manchurian Candidate), or films that did it well yet had trouble finding an audience (Election, Dr. Strangelove, Team America), or films that went bust but are not uninteresting (1941, Southland Tales) The original Red Dawn, from 1984, is a little of all three: successful at the box office, with a storytelling style that sometimes go way off the rails, but it's never dull. Chosen as a post election "special". Which for me, is kind of like going to see Plan 9 From Outer Space after the launching of a Space Shuttle, but anyway . . . .Some people had problems in Superman Returns when Frank Langella, as Perry White , said Truth Justice all that stuff, while ignoring The American Way. There was also a major complaint why not enough people weren't complaining about it. Here's one way out theory: maybe some of those people grew with the ridiculously awful Red Dawn and have rebelled against anyone pushing rah-rah stuff ever since.

Let me be clear, Red Dawn is FUCKING AWFUL, but GLORIOUSLY FUCKING AWFUL. Kind of gives a barometer as to what the feeling was in this country during the Cold War, that this was actually considered possible. It might have even been considered as believable, if Red Dawn wasn't over the top. From 1984, World War 3 begins, as Soviet paratroopers land in a small Colorado town. But they are held at bay as high schoolers Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell and Charlie Sheen (in his screen debut; can't wait for the naked on coke jokes) do something about it. With the aid of Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey (years before the nose job, Ferris Bueller and Dirty Dancing), plus help from veterans Ben Johnson and Powers Boothe (pre 24), they form the Wolverines, and go guerrilla warfare on them Commie bastards. WOLVERINES! Or as they tend to say it, WWOOOOOLLLLVERIIIIIINNES!

Directed and co-written by the very macho John Millus (Conan The Barbarian and Dillinger, the less artful, the less-full-of-shit version of Public Enemies). Over the top, from the start of the invasion, to Harry Dean Stanton's monologue (ending with AVENGE ME! AVEEEENNNGE ME!), to the final battle. As subtle as a brick, or the giant Soviet armored helicopter that goes after them. And though it was nice to see the late Ron O'Neal get a job, I can only think "Holy Shit! They got Superfly leading the Commies!". Millus actually does do a good job with the action scenes. So good, that you wish he hadn't approved/created some of the other bullshit that follows. If you want a cheesy example of Reagan era action movies/Rambo division, this is it. Hard to believe this was actually PG-13, the first PG-13 film ever. Before the remake comes out on Thanksgiving weekend (when the Chinese/North Koreans/whatever bullshit they came up with in post-production and re-shoots become the invaders), here 's the original:

That's all for now. I promise a larger list, featuring a few classics, next time. Later all, stay safe.

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