Friday, May 31, 2013

June revivals: first half

Hi there, Mike here with a revival list for the first half of June. I'll keep it short since this is a short list:

JAWS- Fri May 31 and Sat June 1 at 11:10PM- IFC Center- Jaws, a popular film over at IFC Center (file under Yeah: No Kidding), plays once again late at night this coming Friday and Saturday.  But this weekend, it's actually playing at a semi-reasonable time: 11:10PM. For a two hour-plus movie, very reasonable. Don't know if it'll play again next weekend, and if so, at about the same time. We'll have to wait for the night of Tuesday June 4th, and see on IFC Center's website.
On both AFI Top 100 lists, but higher up for me. Also in my personal Top 35 as opposed to just one of one hundred. Don't underestimate the quality of this Spielberg film on the big screen, and IFC Center tends to get good prints. It's not just another fish film. 3 Oscars including John Williams's memorable score, and a nomination for Best Picture (along with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville; not shabby:  

THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ- Mon June 3- Thurs June 6 at 7 and 9:30- Film Forum- A DCP restoration of the little known 1974 Canadian film. The same restoration I believe that has been screened at this year's Cannes Film Festival. If American Graffiti launched Richard Dreyfuss's career, then this film shows his range as an actor. It didn't make him a leading man of the 1970s; Jaws, Close Encounters and The Goodbye Girl did that. The Apprenticeship would be his least-seen best performance from that decade, more so than The Big Fix from 1978. In fact Dreyfuss wouldn't have done Jaws if it hadn't been for this film; he was horrified by his performance in either a rough cut or a later edit, that he took Jaws in fear of permanent unemployment once this was released. He has since warmed up to both his performance and the film, at least since the late 1980s anyway. 
Dreyfuss plays the title character Duddy Kravitz, in a story set in 1940s working class-poor Montreal. The attention in this Jewish family is paid to his brother in medical school by their cab driver father (Jack Warden) and rich uncle (Joseph Wiseman), not to him. Hustling left and right and not caring who he hurts and alienates in the process (except for his grandfather, the only relative that takes interest in him), Duddy gets a summer job in a hotel. After some initial trouble, he gets himself a shiksa girlfriend, and new friends and associates to manipulate. All so he can bring himself onto a road to success and finally be seen by his father and uncle as someone to pay attention to. But since this includes a friend with epilepsy, an alcoholic and a gangster, the story is bound to hit some dark corners.
Not a hit when it came out at all. If a dark American character study from one year prior, Scarecrow which was on my last list of revivals, couldn't draw an audience, then The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, with lesser known actors, was practically DOA at the American box office. Critics liked it and it did get an Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay, but audiences stayed away in droves. Not so in Canada, where it's not only a hit at the box office, but considered a landmark in Canadian cinema, I kid you not. And this is despite there being no Canadian actors in any of the major roles. For box office purposes, director Ted Kotcheff not only went with Dreyfuss (right off of Graffiti), Warden and Wiseman, but also Randy Quaid (off of The Last Detail and The Last Picture Show) as the epileptic friend and Denholm Elliott as the alcoholic American director Duddy uses, er I MEAN befriends, yeah that's it . . .
Overall, we're not dealing with Death of a Salesman here, though we are dealing with a man desperate to be known and successful by whatever means necessary. He may end up in a similar dark place like Loman at the end of his life, and he may not have a family around him when he gets there. All this while getting an idea of life for a poor Jewish family in Montreal during the 40s. Of course this would have trouble finding a place with the other films Paramount Pictures released in 1974. Of course little Duddy Kravitz would have trouble getting noticed next to the likes of Godfather Part 2, Chinatown, The Conversation and The Parallax View. But this isn't 1974 and you do have a choice. I hope you choose to go:

THE RAZOR'S EDGE for 7.50- Thurs June 6 at 9:30 will probably start closer to 9:45- Chelsea Clearview Cinema- A cheap screening of the Tyrone Power original, not the Bill Murray remake of Somerset Maugham's novel. Power plays a millionaire/ unhappy World War I veteran, who dumps his materialistic fiancee (Gene Tierney) to find spiritual enlightenment. When he comes back, he tries to help an old friend (Anne Baxter), who, having lost her family in an accident, is in a place of spiritual misery similar to what he was suffering. But those efforts are stymied by the ex-fiance, who wants him back, and will do anything to do it. Oscar nominations for Picture, Clifton Webb for Supporting Actor (as the snobby uncle of Tierney), and Art Direction. An Oscar for Supporting Actress for Anne Baxter, as the woman who seems to either try to deaden the pain of losing her husband and child through alcohol, opium and empty affairs, or trying to become dead herself.

I'm sorry I have no time for the 7pm screening with Hedda Lettuce, only the 9:30 screening. Note that the film is about 2 hours 25 minutes long and when you add the Hedda opening intro, I'm guessing the film will start by around 9:40 and end by Midnight. So be prepared:
The next three films are all playing on Friday, June 7th. Because of the screening times and different locations, I can only do one of these three films. I'll let majority rules decide which if any of these pictures I'll attend. But I recommend them all, so if we can't do them together, I encourage you to catch one of them anyway:

SINGIN IN THE RAIN for a 7.00 bar minimum- introduced by Sarah Ruhl- Fri June 7 at 9:30- A cheap screening of the classic musical, Singin' In The Rain, for a 7 dollar minimum. Due to the popularity of the film, I strongly advise make your bar purchases done at 6:45-7 so you can get your free ticket. Now I'm not suggesting you get drunk quickly or at all, in fact you don't need to purchase alcohol in order to reach the bar minimum. I'm only suggesting that this film will be more popular than some of the other screenings at the Rubin, and there have been some popular films there. 

Now onto the film itself. When Singin in the Rain came out, it was successful, but ignored. Yes it was nominated for it's score, and the only actor nominated from this was not Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds or Donald O'Connor, but Jean Hagen as the funny, bitch-on-wheels diva. But it was dismissed as fluff, and people moved on. People in 1952 wanted to go on and on about Ivanhoe, John Huston's Moulin Rouge, Son Of Paleface, and the Oscar winner for Best Picture, The Greatest Show On Earth (considered by some to be the biggest mistake the Academy ever made in that category). But when people ever bring up quality films released in the U.S. back in 1952, it's High Noon, Rashomon, Singin' In The Rain, and that's it. OK, maybe The Quiet Man, but you'd have to be Irish and drunk to do that.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl (In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play, Dead Man's Cell Phone) will introduce the screening:

LATE SPRING- Fri June 7 at 9:30- Film Forum- The first film in the Forum's three week long Yasujiro Ozu series, and possibly the only film in the series I can make. Ozu may not have created the genre of Shomingeki; depicting contemporary Japanese families in their everyday lives, through their small defeats and small triumphs. Where the difficulties and obstacles are small in the big picture, but important in their smaller world. Ozu was probably the master of this kind of filmmaking, and Late Spring tends to be considered his best work.
From 1949 though not released in the U.S. until 1972, it depicts a daughter in her late 20s taking care of her widowed father. He seems capable of living on his own, but his daughter not only enjoys doing the housework and taking care of her father, but it has reached the point where she considers marriage to be repugnant or "filthy". Matters come to ahead when Father not only arranges a marriage for her, but also makes plans to remarry herself.
During this time, Ozu was among the Japanese filmmakers to submit their synopsis to the censors for the American Occupation. Films made in Japan could not say or depict anything that were against American values of the day, while making no mention of the atomic bombs, the destruction caused by them and other bombs, and any mention of the war or of the Japanese military must be as minimal as possible. And any Japanese tradition that would appear unseemly in the Censors' eyes, such as ancestor worship or arranged marriage had to be either eliminated or tweaked so as to as though the individual wasn't being crushed by non-American values. That Ozu managed to pull this off and create a classic drama in his country is amazing, even if the film went unseen here until 1972:

THE THING (1982)- Fri June 7 at 11:59pm- Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center at Lincoln Center- Midnight movies return to Lincoln Center, but now they will play at the Center's newer Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center, as opposed to the Walter Reade. Sorry to say this will be the only June screening from this series that I'll post. I'm not in the mood for the original Omen at Midnight, little interest in Big Trouble in Little China and even less interest in Deadly Blessing. So until the July and August schedules are posted, John Carpenter's The Thing will have to do for a Midnight screening. Ok, 11:59PM, whatever . . .

One of the better horror films, possibly the best from the 1980s, gets a midnight screening. One of few that I can think of where a remake tops the original. An alien shape-shifting lifeform crashes onto Earth, and in order to exist, it must live like a virus and wipe out or take over the life that already exists on whatever planet it exists on. Which in this case is us. And it's up to an isolated group from an American scientific station, desperately playing catch up and grasping for theories, to stop it. But when it starts taking them over, and becomes hard to tell which of them are human and which are not . . . .

Kurt Russell makes a great action lead, with character actors like Keith David, Donald Moffat, and Wilford Brimley filling out the talented cast. The make-up effects grossed out some audiences (damaging potential word of mouth) and most critics, but they don't feel too over the top and still hold up today. Especially one scene where one portion tries to escape from another part in a very memorable way. If you haven't seen it, I'm not spoiling this.

The gross out factor, some brutal reviews, the R rating that made the PG rated Poltergeist more accessible, and just being released in the summer of 1982, where if you weren't E.T. (the happy alien movie released two weeks earlier), than you probably struggled at the box office. All of this helped make The Thing a high profile flop. But like another high profile flop released that very same day, Blade Runner, The Thing has also been re-evaluated and risen to both cult status and to the heights of its respective genre. Not AFI top 100 level like Blade Runner, but close enough:

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

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