Tuesday, March 04, 2014

March revivals: first half

Hey all, Mike here with a list of revivals for the first half of March. Actually one of them is a new release, but I digress. No new releases coming down the pike for me to run out for, except for when I eventually fulfill my parental obligation with Monuments Men. So let's enjoy these classics, near classic, and one interesting train wreck. Here we go:

ROPE- Wed March 5 at 8:30- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Complete Hitchcock retrospective. A DCP restoration from a few years back, so it looks better than you've ever seen it before. I wouldn't have posted Rope at all if someone didn't express interest in seeing it, and only at night. Since this is the only evening performance of Rope and I have no interest in I Confess (I'd rather sit through Torn Curtain), here's Rope at its only evening time in this retrospective.
Alfred Hitchcock shot this film in a series of 8-minute continuous takes, the maximum amount of film that a camera could hold. Yes, it feels unnatural at times, but the story is compelling enough, so you accept the experiment. The story is a variation of the real life Leopold and Loeb murder. Two men murder a classmate/ friend of theirs, just for the moral superiority of it. They then have a dinner party over his hidden body, which his friend, relatives and fiancee attend. Also in attendance is their former professor, played by Jimmy Stewart. Ruh-roh.

For years I have seen Rope on TV, semi-popular after it's return as part of the Hitchcock 5; films that disappeared for over a decade until Universal Studios were able to re-release them in the early-mid 1980s. Rear Window and Vertigo became instant classics, The Man Who Knew Too Much remake did ok with critics and audiences, The Trouble With Harry, not so well. And Rope was kinda in the middle. The experiment was tolerated by critics (less so as the years went by), the film didn't play well in theaters, but played like gangbusters on home video and syndicated TV broadcasts.
For me, I enjoy it. It's less cinema, more like filmed theater. Like a proto- Dial M For Murder. It's fun, even for the content: 

NOTORIOUS- Fri March 7 at 7:50- Film Forum-  From the Complete Hitchcock retrospective. The following comes from the Film Forum's website. They've been using the same description for at least 9 years. And you think I recycle descriptions . . . 
"Reluctant spy Ingrid Bergman complains “He wants to marry me” to lover/FBI contact Cary Grant, after Nazi fellow traveler Claude Rains (Oscar nominated) falls a little too hard for her undercover activities. Painful sexual politics underscore the high tension set pieces of suspense."

Basically, Grant pimps out the woman he loves, so that she can get secrets from a Nazi male with major mother issues. Yeah, try to get that film done by a major studio with a more than competent director, then or now. That's why he's Hitchcock, and we're not.
Not in my personal Top of Hitch's films. No way I put it over Rear Window, Psycho, Vertigo and North By Northwest. But I put Notorious over the rest of them: 
RUN AND JUMP and/or THE SHINING- Sun March 9 at 5 (Run) and 7 (Shining)- Museum of the Moving Image- A unique double feature at the Museum of the Moving Image. For one admission, you can see a new release and a revival at the Museum of the Moving Image.

First, Run and Jump, from the Museum's NY Disabilities Film Festival. Don't know it but I'm curious. Since I don't know it (did I just say I don't know this film), I'll just copy and paste from the Museum's website:

US. Dir. Steph Green. 2013, 105 mins, Digital projection. With Maxine Peake, Edward MacLiam, Will Forte. Steph Green’s remarkable feature film debut uncovers a tender portrait of family and its boundless, if emotionally turbulent capacity for healing. When Vanetia’s husband Conor returns home after suffering an incapacitating stroke, she must adapt to living with a changed and isolated man. Meanwhile, Ted, a gentle and handsome doctor—played by Will Forte of Saturday Night Live—moves in to observe Conor’s condition, forming a complicated and increasingly intense relationship with Vanetia and her family.

Next, The Shining. Yet another chance to catch this Kubrick-Nicholson film, a 35mm print, that concludes the Museum's Hotels on Film series. Sorry I don't have time for the previous entries, such as Barton Fink and Grand Hotel. I may not have considered posting this at all, if I hadn't seen the disappointing documentary, Room 237. Starts interesting, but let me put it this way; when the theory that the film is actually Stanley Kubrick's secret commentary on the genocide of the American Indian is the most thoughtful, well-reasoned theory in a film full of out-there theories, you know you're in for a long night. You know, Kubrick might be my favorite director, but he wasn't perfect, not at all. Sometimes a continuity error is just a continuity error. Sometimes a weak performance is just a weak performance; I'm referring to Barry Dennen's performance, though I have liked the actor in the past, particularly in Fiddler on the Roof. Sorry, I digressed . . .    

Do I really need to go into the film's story, people? You either know it, or you're a 20 year old who accidentally clicked on this, instead of one of the 1500 Project Runway blogs. Stephen King was not thrilled with the way Stanley Kubrick adapted his novel. And while I don't recall this film being wrecked by critics back in 1980, there was no out pour to proclaim this a classic then, as opposed to now. Nicholson's already mildly eccentric performance at the start before he goes into complete psychosis, was quite different from the book, and in most forms of reality. But I'll stop comparing the book with the film now. Especially when Stephen King got to make his own version of The Shining; that 1997 mini-series was borderline unwatchable. I saw most of it, scattered over 8 years, out of curiosity. Don't do the same. Watch this film instead.

The film has its own creepy build up that pays off well. Jack does psychosis better then most actors around. You may not believe Shelley Duvall could have ever been married to Jack, but you buy her as a mother isolated and at her wits end, only to find inner strength. The best performance in the film was pulled out of child actor Danny Lloyd, protected from knowing this was a scary movie until it was released. Not the best film of that year, or even among horror flicks, but still pretty good.

VERTIGO- Fri March 14 at 7 and Sat March 15 at 9:45- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Complete Hitchcock retrospective, in the glorious DCP restoration that premiered at the Forum a few years back. If you're the kind of person who looks at sites like this, than you're familiar with the Hitchcock classic. A tragic romance with poor guy Jimmy Stewart, going down the emotional Rabbit Hole of Doom as he falls for Kim Novack, and tries not to literally fall due to his vertigo. The story of obsessive love that has never been done better than this. Not on the big screen anyway.
A film that was ignored at best and derided at worst in its initial release, but attained instant classic status upon its 1984 re-release. a near permanent fixture on most AFI Top 100 lists. In some recent film articles listing best movies, Vertigo has made the leap to 1st or 2nd. Not quite sure about that, but on my own Top 40 for sure.
Now again, note that I haven't written much at all about the story itself. To paraphrase Martin Scorsese when he wrote about Vertigo, not only is Vertigo required viewing, it also requires a Personal Response. Your life experiences will determine how you will take it. I'm guessing anyone who looks at my lists has seen Vertigo before. Therefore, you jumped past following the plot and can get to the heart (figuratively and literally) of the story.

1941- Sun March 16 at 6:30 (1941)- Museum of the Moving Image- Part of the Museum of the Moving Image's See it Big series: Comedy edition. Not the first Steven Spielberg film not to make a profit theatrically, but the only mega-flop, from 1979. High expectations for Spielberg's follow-up to Close Encounters. But it was crushed in Christmas 1979; both critically, and at the box office against the likes of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Kramer Vs. Kramer, The Rose, even the flop-ish The Black Hole. Three Oscar nominations, for Cinematography Visual Effects and Sound, did nothing to help.  

The hysteria in L.A. that they'll be invaded next after Pearl Harbor, running thru both the civilian and military population alike. Simple plot, bring on the laughs, or so they thought. You'd never know Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale (Back to the Future) EVER WROTE THIS SCRIPT. The cast includes Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Lee, Warren Oates, Toshiro Mifune, Ned Beatty, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Nancy Allen, Treat Williams, Tim Matheson, Murray Hamilton, Nancy Allen, John Candy, Patti LuPone, Joe Flaherty, Michael McKean, James Caan, Penny Marshall, a lot of 1970s/ 1980s actors, and a young Mickey Rourke. Yet the only actor guaranteed to get laughs every time? John Belushi, as a VERY overzealous fighter pilot.    

Not as good as The Lost World, and yet more watchable for me somehow. After the first 5 or so minutes which I liked, oh boy. John Belushi is funny every time he's onscreen. But your next funniest person is Robert Stack?!?!? Are we kidding? A tone-deaf comedy, yet a fascinating, watchable train wreck. I posted it once as a midnight screening, and I'd do it again. Luckily, this is a reasonable time. So am I being too hard? Is this a forgotten, flawed little gem that I think Spielberg has been saying since 1979? You can decide for yourself:


Let me know if there's interest, later all.

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