Hey all. Mike here with some revivals for the month of December. Because there will be a glut of conflicting revival options from Christmas weekend thru a few days past New Year's Day, I'll have to split up the list a bit. Otherwise, I might spend everyday this week and this weekend, writing up a different post. No thank you, this particular list is good enough. Here we go, starting with a repeat from the last list:
REAR WINDOW introduced by photographer Lena Herzog- Fri Dec 7 at 9:30 for a $7.00 bar minimum- My personal favorite Hitchcock, and in my top 25. Also the best film in Jimmy Stewart's career, with a knockout entrance from Grace Kelly that matches or tops anything done today. On both AFI Top 100 lists. This film, just like Casablanca, can be seen at the Rubin Museum for a minimum $7.00 bar tab. But as popular as this film is, I don't think this requires major planning like with Casablanca. Simply eat beforehand, check out the museum (it's free starting at 6), then go to the bar around 8:50 to make your drink purchases (1 beer or 2 sodas is the minimum that will work), and bring it down to the screening room. Simple and comfortable:
Z- Fri Dec 14 at 1:30, 4, 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Jean-Louis Trintignant retrospective. I've posted both days/nights and all times the film is being screened. I'm not saying I can do all of them, but I rather include all and play it safe.
Exciting and well paced, when suspense thrillers and political corruption/cover-up films are brought up, Z belongs among the very top. While I think Arnold White's comment in the New York Press about this film being too politically grey and intolerable for the Clooneys "and their ilk" to be a little much (I'm not defending Syriana, but I will defend the qualities of Good Night and Good Luck); every decade or so, there will be revival screenings and renewed attention to Z. While it should be out there somewhere on DVD, you should not throw away the opportunity to see a thriller that on the big screen, almost moves a t the speed of light. One of the best films of 1969, and considering that year produced Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Army of Shadows, that's saying something. From director Costa Gavras, who has tackled controversial subjects through the filter of a thriller throughout his career, but rarely ignores the chase or the sugar, so that the medicine goes down better. Z has been so good, that the rest of his films, including the well done Missing, pale in comparison.
Here, we have a drama-thriller, shot in the style of a documentary, as the accidental killing of a rising politician, turns out not to be accidental. Basically, the viewer sees how a dictatorship flourishes, recedes, yet finds a way to survive. Sometimes in mundane ways, sometimes with the sacrifice of a few key components, yet survives nevertheless. Oscars for Foreign Language Film and Editing. Nominations for Picture, Director and Screenplay Adaptation. Won the Grand Jury prize at Cannes Unanimously, as well as Best Actor for Trintignant (The Conformist, 3 Colors: Red). There is more about the film, but I'm afraid I'll have to cut and paste from the Forum's website from a few years back:
(1969) Police general Pierre Dux (later head of the Comédie Française) lectures sunglassed-indoors cohorts on ideological mildew — “isms” — now “infecting” society; then, as Mikis Theodorakis’ music throbs, Dux’s helmeted and truncheon ed police studiously look elsewhere as a raging, chanting mob fills the city square awaiting the emergence of charismatic deputy Yves Montand from his SRO ban-the-bomb address — but what are those two punks doing careening in on that three-wheeled kamikaze? “Just an accident” exhales legal honcho François Périer as he leaves it to tinted-eye glassed magistrate Jean-Louis Trintignant (Best Actor, Cannes) to wrap things up nicely. But the crowds are painting big white Z’s in the street... Too much of a hot potato for French producers, Greek expat Costa-Gavras’s adaptation of Vassili Vassilikos’s novel of the real-life Lambrakos case was skillfully filmed on a shoestring in Algeria (doubling for Greece), and utilizing a pulsating score pieced together from previous Theodorakis works (with the composer’s blessing: he was under house arrest in Greece) and an incredible cast including Renato Salvatori (Rocco and his Brothers) and Marcel Bozzuffi (soon to be the shot-in-the-back poster boy for The French Connection) as the two punks; and the iconic Irene Papas, the only actual Greek in the cast, who’s told “He’s gone” by New Wave camera legend Raoul Coutard, cameoing in a break from his breakneck documentary-style shooting. All of which, combined with Costa-Gavras’ bullet-quick editing, gave Z an immediacy, authenticity, and excitement, that, along with perfect timing — premiering so soon after the right-wing colonels’ takeover in Greece — made it a worldwide smash and the winner of both the Cannes Jury Prize (awarded unanimously) and the Best Foreign Film Oscar (it was the official entry from Algeria).
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE- Mon Dec 17- Thurs Dec 20 at 7 and 9:45- IFC Center- If you're not sick of this AFI Top 100 Christmas classic (to the post WW2-era people what A Christmas Story is today), it gets a rare weeklong screening for you to catch here. It's becoming a tradition for IFC Center to screen this, and I'm sorry I haven't been able to do this prior to now. This year maybe? In a 35mm print, no DVD projections here! Evenings only is the best I can do:
MY NIGHT AT MAUD'S- Mon Dec 17 at 9:30- Film Forum- Part of the Jean-Louis Trintignant retrospective. For me, Pauline at the Beach was a good gateway to writer/director's Eric Rohmer's work. But the film generally thought to be the best gateway option to Rohmer's work is this, My Night at Maud's. An art house hit, from 1969 though released in the U.S. in 1970. Consider it more of a primer for My Dinner with Andre; lots of talk, but it's what makes the film go. Only add sexual tension with Maud's (no offense Wallace Shawn, you little minx you). Trintignant plays a devout Catholic engineer (therefore logical), who moves into a new little town, and instantly falls in love (lust?) with young Marie-Christine Barrault (Cousin Cousine, Stardust Memories). Yet he agrees to a visit to slighter older and divorced (Heavens No!) Maud. He's not interested in her, and yet they have a conversation that lasts a night. Intellectual foreplay perhaps? The film is mostly talk, but oh what talk. Oscar nominations for Rohmer's Screenplay, and Foreign Language Film, losing the later category to Z, which I find completely understandable. Still, worth catching:
MONSTERS, INC in 3-D- At a theater near you, locations and times TBA- The Pixar classic gets a re-release, in a newly converted 3-D format. One part stab for money, and one part promotion for Pixar's upcoming prequel, Monsters University, starring the voice of leads from the prior film, Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Re-release success for Disney have been spotty. Granted the costs for 3-D conversion and promotion (plus whatever hidden costs/ profit sharing that we the Public are unaware of), won't cut into the profit line to these films' re-release. But after the spotty business of the re-releases of The Nightmare Before Christmas and the first two Toy Story flicks, many were stunned with the success of The Lion King, and then surprised that both Beauty & the Beast and Finding Nemo failed to measure up in terms of business, 3-D conversion and pop culture love. And jammed in there between The Hobbit and 6 other studio releases, Monsters Inc may suffer a similar fate. Being the only release for kids during the month of December might help it, who knows.
That said, this was my favorite Pixar until Wall-E, Toy Story 3, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles (in my order of preference) came along. Yes, I liked the first two Toy Story flicks and A Bug's Life is alright; not my favorite but I certainly like it more than any Pixar with Cars in the title. Monsters, Inc had action about as good as the last section of Toy Story. But maybe the combination of the fantastical world inhabited by non-human creatures, earned sentiment, humor that almost ventured into Borscht Belt territory, and the most perfect casting of vocal leads in Crystal and Goodman (Incredibles comes close), maybe all of this suits my personal tastes more. Enough that I want to make an effort to catch this. Though with a lot of major releases flooding the marketplace, if a lot of people don't come out for this re-release, watch Monsters Inc get chucked out of most 3-D screens in favor of Texas Chainsaw 3-D on January 4th. I kid you not, that's probably what will happen. So basically, you have 16 days and everyday afterwards is borrowed time.
MEET ME IN ST LOUIS for $7.00- Thurs Dec 20 at 7 and 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- First, Meet Me in St. Louis, with possibly the only happy family ever depicted on film. Second happiest if you count Leatherface's family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Directed by Vincente Minnelli, we see a family enjoying their last days of togetherness, before a potential move to New York. Your choice if you want to see at 7(with a Hedda Lettuce intro) or at 9:30 (without Hedda).
Yes, the film is a color feast for the eye. But this film should be considered the best showcase of Judy Garland's talents. Is it her best performance? Probably not. That would be the last film on this list. Her most memorable performance? No, that would be the next film on the list. But for the full package, catch Judy here. With The Maltese Falcon's Mary Astor as the loving mother, Margaret O'Brien as the scene stealing kid sister, and Leon Ames as the epitome of the loving patriarch.
4 Nominations for Meet Me: for Screenplay (based on the stories written by Sally Benson about her and her family), Score, Color Cinematography (It lost to a film about Woodrow Wilson?!?!? A film that is only seen by 10 people a year on Fox Movie Channel), and for Song (The Trolley Song- "Clang Clang Clang Went The Trolley . . .". Shot in one take!) Also featuring the holiday favorite "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". But this film should be considered the best showcase of Judy Garland's talents. Is it her best performance? Probably not. Her most memorable performance? No, that would be Oz. But for the full package, catch Judy here. With The Maltese Falcon's Mary Astor as the loving mother, Margaret O'Brien as the scene stealing kid sister, and Leon Ames as the epitome of the loving patriarch. 4 Nominations for Meet Me: for Screenplay (based on the stories written by Sally Benson about her and her family), Score, Color Cinematography (It lost to a film about Woodrow Wilson?!?!? A film that is only seen by 10 people a year on Fox Movie Channel), and for Song (The Trolley Song- "Clang Clang Clang Went The Trolley . . .". Shot in one take!) Also featuring the holiday favorite "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".
Let me know if there's interest. Later all, and Happy Hanukkah and Happy Festivus.