Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Jan revivals: first half

Hey all. Mike here with the first set of revivals for the New Year. Before I go into them, let me bring my viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey on Friday, December 21st.  A new 70mm print of the classic film. Sold out, I was lucky to get in via the cancellation line. Overall, a quality restoration, but I feel a better job was done with the Hello, Dolly! restoration I saw this past summer (not sure who did the respective restorations). Sound quality was equally superior, but there were noticeable image issues with the 2001 print that didn't crop up with Dolly. In particular the colors red and white were difficult to pull off without some sort of cloudy distortion. Not every time mind, you. No issues with the color red when it came to anything involving Hal, but with the trip at the end. And as for white, there were no issues with say, the space station or the various shuttles.  But anything lit with what appears to white halogen lighting (or the mid-1960s British equivalent), such as the lighting in the station, the moon base meeting room, and especially the French suite environment the Monolith creates, the restoration wasn't that effective. Or the restoration wasn't able to fix all the problems of the original negative, not sure what the reasons are. The colors were more effective overall with the Digital restoration of 2001 that I saw in March. Sound quality was about equal, but I consider the 70mm print superior to the DCP print in one section: The Dawn of Man. For some reason all of it looked completely fake on the DCP, even the leopard and the second unit footage. Not so with the 70mm, the textures of everything, the sets, the matte paintings and the incredible make-up, all looked more realistic. Enough texture to allow one to believe the illusion quickly, without distraction.

In attendance at the screening was the film's lead, Keir Duella. Based on what was written on the filmlinc website, I expected just an introduction. Not an explanation mind you, just an introduction. But we got a post-film Q and A instead, the first one Mr. Duella ever gave in NYC regarding 2001.  A few my pics of the event are here as well. Among the excerpts:

Keir received news of his being cast in 2001 from his wife, when he came from working on the set of Otto Preminger's Bunny Lake Is Missing. He described Preminger as a yeller on his best days, and a bully on his worst. In fact, the more people on set, whether it was crew or visitors, the bigger the bully Otto would become. Almost as though he enjoyed it. Working with Stanley, a man whose work he admired since seeing Paths of Glory when he was an acting student, was something Keir had hoped would happen. And on his follow-up to Dr. Strangelove no less! Working with Stanley after working with Otto was like night and day.

Stanley was always open to questions from both Keir and co-star Gary Lockwood. Both were invited off and on throughout the shoot at Stanley's house for dinner. His wife was a lovely hostess. But while he did answer questions, Kubrick wouldn't break down most of the film's mysteries. That was a major problem with the sequel to 2001 that Keir was in, 2010. It wasn't a bad film, but it went too far to try to explain the mysteries, part of the reason why the film hasn't held up.

It was only a few years ago did Keir understand his favorite sequence in the only film: the famous jump cut from the bone Moonwalker throws in the air to the satellite in space. Only that wasn't a satellite, it was a design for an atomic missile that would be fired from space. It wasn't a cut from the Dawn of Man to a completely different, brighter future. It was a jump from the world's first weapon, to the most recent weapon. It blew Keir away.
Stanley wasn't a 50 takes kind of guy on the set of 2001. Nine takes would be unusual, but would occasionally happen. What would be time-consuming was the setting up. Lighting could take up to nine hours in some cases. The heavy old age make-up Keir wore in his final scene took about 12 hours to apply.

And no, no one who made the film smoked "funny cigarettes" when they worked. Although it was Lockwood who gave him his first "funny cigarette".  To quote him, "Since Gary isn't here to deny it, he was the one who made me smoke my first funny cigarette" (Laughed).

There was more, but you had to be there, so forget it. So on with the list, here we go:  

NINOTCHKA- Wed Jan 2 and Thurs Jan 3 at 7:30 and 9:40- Film Forum- A new 35mm print of the Ernest Lubitsch comedy classic, where Greta Garbo plays a stern commie woman, who falls for decadent capitalist Melvyn Douglas. With Bela Lugosi. Oscar nominations for Picture, Garbo, Story and Screenplay, co-written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.


ALL ABOUT EVE for 7.50- Thurs Jan 3 at 7 and 9:30- Chelsea Clearview Cinemas- A cheap screening All About Eve, one of the few films to be on both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my own personal top 35. There are a few of you out there who have yet to experience this on the big screen, and until you do, I'll keep posting this and pushing it. The acclaimed bitch fest starring Bette Davis that beat Sunset Blvd. for Best Picture. A life in the theater (soft of) kind of film with terrific performances and some of the bitchiest dialogue known to man. I mean, my God, more acid drips out of say, Bette Davis's and George Sanders's tongue, than from the creatures in Aliens. 14 Oscar nominations, 6 Oscars, including for Picture, Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Sanders for Supporting Actor and for the Screenplay. Most nominations in Oscar history, Titanic could only tie it. Your choices of screenings; either the 7PM screening with an intro from Hedda Lettuce (unknown if they'll be a running commentary), or the 9:30 screening without Hedda:


BLACK NARCISSUS- Fri Jan 4, Tues Jan 8 and Wed Jan 9 at 7:30 and 9:40, plus Mon Jan 7 at 9:10- Film Forum- A new DCP restoration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's  1947 film. The restoration supervised by the film's Cinematographer Jack Cardiff and Powell's widow, editor Thelma Schoonmaker. Adapted by Rummer Godden's 1939 novel, a group of Anglican nuns go to their new order, up in the Himalayan mountains, to establish a school and a hospital. But it's hard to do when you're tempted by the land and the people around you, and you've dragged issues like failed romances and possible insanity up the mountain with you. You can go with those statements, or accept this as an allegory of Britain's last glory days as an Empire, and the dignified way the Empire comes to an end. Starring Deborah Kerr as the head Sister whose escaped one failed romance,and might get tempted into another, and Jean Simmons as, in the words of author Godden, "a basket of fruit, piled high and luscious and ready to eat.". Oscar nominations for Cardiff's Cinematography and Art Direction. I think I saw this a long time ago. I don't remember it clearly, but I could have sworn I've seen it and liked what I saw. And even if I haven't, a film from the directors of The Red Shoes and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp becomes a must-see in my book: 


I was thinking of including a cheap screening of Rome, Open City at the Rubin Museum of Art on Friday, January 4th, at 7PM. But I changed my mind; I prefer something cheerier right now, even Black Narcissus. Go figure. But you can catch Rome, Open City on your own if you like. It's tough but good. In the meantime, take care.

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