Monday, September 09, 2013

September revivals: first half

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the first half of September. Yeah, I know we're deep into the first third of September, but what I can say: I really like the U.S. Open. Now that the tennis is over (YAY RAFA!), I can pay attention to some interesting films again. There are a few conflicts, but I'll let majority rules/ first come first served decide these things. Here we go:

RUSSIAN ARK- Tues Sept 10- Thurs Sept 12 at 7:30 and 9:30- Film Forum- A DCP screening. Ok, I don't know this film at all, but I'm very curious. From 2002, released in the U.S. in 2003. Nominated for the Palme d'Or, and apparently a big deal in Europe. Ok, let's try the American tagline to draw people: 2000 Actors. 300 years of Russian History. 33 Rooms at the Hermitage Museum. 3 Live Orchestras. 1 Single Continuous Shot. 

Ok, that won't do. Let's try the main description from IMDB. I'm sorry but I really don't know this film, so I'm trying to helpful by posting something from someone who knows this film better than I do, even if it's some IMDB user:

"An unseen man regains consciousness, not knowing who or where he is. No one seems to be able to see him, except the mysterious man dressed in black. He eventually learns through their discussions that this man is a 19th century French aristocrat, who he coins the "European". This turn of events is unusual as the unseen man has a knowledge of the present day. The two quickly learn that they are in the Winter Palace of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the European who has a comprehensive knowledge of Russian history to his time. As the two travel through the palace and its grounds, they interact with people from various eras of Russian history, either through events that have happened at the palace or through the viewing of artifacts housed in the museum. Ultimately, the unseen man's desired journey is to move forward, with or without his European companion."

Ok, a little dry. How about I cut and paste the Forum's description of it. At least that's written in a way to try to entice, from a source of at least liking the film:

"(2002) “Where am I?” wonders our disembodied narrator, as, along with his equally confused companion, displaced 19th-century diplomat Sergey Dreiden, he wanders through centuries of Russian history, from Peter the Great to Nicholas I to Catherine the Great to Pushkin to the last great ball of Nicholas II before the Great War — all in one shot! In the dream of many a filmmaker (Hitchcock’s Rope), Ark was recorded in one continuous, uncut shot by iron man cameraman Tilman B├╝ttner (Run Lola Run) as he Steadicamed 4/5 of a mile through thirty-three sets, all built within the Hermitage Museum in Petersburg, with 867 actors, hundreds more extras, three live orchestras, and hordes of techies waiting in the wings. Possible only thanks to a specially-developed portable hard drive recording system, Russian Ark is both an eye-popping technical achievement, a visually dazzling production, and a meditation on and elegy for the sweep of Russian history. Approx. 100 min. DCP."

Ok, did that work? I posted the dates and times I think I can do this so let me know. A risk, an out of the box choice, but why not? As I said, I'm curious about this:

THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS (1970)- Thurs Sept 12 at 9:30 for 7.50- Bow Ties Chelsea Cinema- A cheap screening of the original version of The Out of Towners. Sorry that I can only do the 9:30 screening, as opposed to the 7pm screening with the intro from Hedda Lettuce. An original screenplay from Neil Simon and directed by Arthur Hiller, where mid-Western married couple Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis come into New York when Lemmon gets an interview for a VP job with the plastics company he works for. Now this means uprooting his family from Ohio to Manhattan, but that's ok, "I'm a shoo-in.". Once they get on the plane, literally anything that can go wrong does go wrong. So with 15 hours to go, Lemmon and Dennis get lost, mugged, and overall get trounced by all things New York. Part of it comes from Lemmon's own hubris and his failure to communicate with his wife. But mainly, it's two people very lost much lost in the big city. Funny, of its time, and very New York. Ignore the lousy Steve Martin- Goldie Hawn remake and watch this instead:
CASABLANCA- Fri Sept 13 and Sat Sept 14 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A marginally cheaper screening than it was say, the recent AMC theaters screening or the non-free MOMA screenings this spring. Even though this is an "old movie, a great movie, but an old movie" (yeah Jerry Schwartz, I didn't forget that shit!!!), it's still one of the best ever, arguably the best ever. But anywhere this film plays in a one night/ two night situation, it sells out. In the situation of Landmark Sunshine Cinema, much like their screenings of Newsies or even The Room, if you get there by one hour prior to screening, you can get tickets. And hey, there's Katz's and a decent gelato place and a decent desserts place nearby you can kill time in.
As for the film itself. no point in breaking down the Bogart classic. On both AFI lists, (top 5 on both), multiple Oscars including Best Picture, in my personal Top 15, and if it isn't in yours, what the hell is wrong with you. Now this isn't the first time I've posted this film, so I'll try it again. Not the usual Midnight Movie fare, but not everything can be The Swarm: 

Due note that on Saturday September 14th, I would be interested in doing one revival, two if the second one happens to be Casablanca, assuming the 13th isn't possible. So majority rules between catching either this film which can also be done on the 13th, or the film directly below this one, or the one below that which can also be done on Wednesday September 18th:

SINGIN IN THE RAIN- Sat Sept 14 at 7- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- Part of the Museum of the Moving Image's See It Big retrospective, for films that must be seen on the big screen to get the desired effect of appreciation. Screened in an IB Technicolor print from George Eastman house. Which is different from restored prints or DCP restorations. Basically, if you come to this screening, you'll see the film just like filmgoers did back in 1952-53. Very few theaters are still equipped to handle the two strip process, but the Moving Image is so equipped, and they're the only ones who bother to screen the film as such. 

As for the film itself, I'll be quick. No lengthy breakdown about the simple/ deceivingly simple screenplay, or the great songs and dancing. If you even sniff blogs like this, you know the film. When Singin came out, it was successful, and yet 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.

Now I've seen this print back in 2004 I believe, so I can attest to the probable quality. I don't mind catching this on the big screen again, especially in this format. How much do I like this film? Let me put it this way: Before I caught it on the big screen, I respected it. Once I caught it on a big movie screen, it entered a permanent spot on my personal top 30. If you have the chance to go, go:

CHINATOWN- Sat Sept 14 at 9 and Wed Sept 18 at 6:45- Anthology Film Archives- Generally I don't post films from Anthology Film Archives. Occasionally but not usually. Not a convenient location, not always the kind of film I'm interested in. I posted a summer or so ago their modern musicals like Purple Rain and True Stories, and earlier this summer I posted Fahrenheit 451, but time constraints on my end was the main culprit there. And while I'm kicking myself for not making it out for any Russ Meyer film there (all those actresses that make me say Thank You God), time wasn't on my side there either.   

In case you haven't noticed, it takes a real interesting film to get me to post a listing here. And this one qualifies: Chinatown, the last of the great film-noirs. Ok, it's more of a modern or neo-noir. While there would be some very good to excellent modern noirs afterwards (L.A. Confidential, Blue Velvet and Fargo chief among them), none would go the dark paths Roman Polanski's film would travel, not even Lynch's film.  Based on events from the California Water Wars of the 1930s, Jack Nicholson's private eye (the role that made him a star forever)is hired by Faye Dunaway to spy on her husband. But nothing is as it seems, and if you don't know the film, I won't spoil it for you here.   

One of the great period films, one of the great mysteries, and if wasn't for Paramount's own Godfather Part 2, it might have been the best film from that year. An Oscar for Robert Towne's Screenplay; 10 other nominations including Picture, Polanski for Director (who also turns in a memorable performance as a thug), Nicholson for Actor, and Dunaway for Actress. Sorry there was no room for John Huston for Supporting Actor, but boy does he make a memorably repellent villain. On both AFI Top 100 films and in my personal top 100:    

INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION- Sun Sept 15 at 9- Anthology Film Archive- Hey, look at that, two posts for something from Anthology Film Archives, they're on a roll here. Winner for Best Foreign Language Oscar in 1971, and nominated for its Screenplay in 1972. A famous detective from Rome (Gian Maria Volonte from the first two Eastwood-Leone Spaghetti Westerns), who specializes in cracking political dissidents, accidentally kills his mistress. He's put in charge of the murder investigation, but how much of his guilt and how much of his ego will come out? And will it interfere with his crackdown on radicals? Obviously not a whodunit but more of a whydunnit, with its heavy critique of police corruption. Volonte is terrific and the film has a great Ennio Morricone score. NOT available on DVD in this country and is rarely screened on American TV, so you make want to take the time to go downtown:

PLAY MISTY FOR ME- Thurs Sept 19 at 9:30 for 7.50- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema- A cheap screening of the 1971 film, Play Misty For Me. Sorry I don't have time to do the 7pm screening with an intro from Hedda Lettuce. The 9:30 is the best I can do. Starring Clint Eastwood in his directorial debut. If you know Fatal Attraction, you basically know the story. Do note that this film was the one of, if not the first to tell this kind of story in a thriller format, decades before other studios would do this kind of film ad nauseum. Eastwood is a DJ who has a brief fling with an obsessed fan (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), who won't take no for an answer. Even when it's obvious that he's staying with his girlfriend (Knots Landing's Donna Mills), the stalker won't say no. 
Filmed in a gentle pace until things become intense, yet completed in a short amount of time (21 days) and under budget- hallmarks of Eastwood's direction. Think about it, could you imagine Fatal Attraction or Obsessed (the piece of shit version of this story with Beyonce and Ali Larter) take time away from the story to spend time at the Monterey Jazz Festival. But Clint made it work. Eastwood is a DJ who has a brief fling with an obsessed fan (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), who won't take no for an answer. A few years ago, Lincoln Center did a Clint Eastwood-as-director retrospective. I'm sorry I only had the time to catch High Plains Drifter from the first half of his directorial career, having caught most of his films from Unforgiven on when they were first released. It's only a matter of time when another organization in NYC does a similar retrospective. Everything in this future retro springs from Play Misty for Me, so do try to catch this:   
Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

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