Thursday, April 10, 2014


Hello all. Mike here giving thanks. Thank you to those of you who've come out to join me in my revival film outings. Whether you came out once or came out multiple times, thanks for coming out to see the following films over the past 12 months:
DIAL M FOR MURDER in 3-D- the second time I saw it in a wonderful looking 3-D restoration, which is why I chose not to do it a third time this month when it became available in the Forum's Complete Hitchcock retrospective,
HOUSE OF BAMBOO- mixed reaction to it. The Cinemascope photography is never boring, the amusement park rooftop sequence deserves all the attention it can get, and I get what Robert Ryan was trying to do as a possibly gay crime boss (a concept a studio film couldn't articulate back then, even with the Production Code almost over). But my God, Robert Stack is wooden to the point of being petrified,
UN FLIC- Jean-Pierre Melville's last film. Even merely passable Melville is better than some other director's best work,
BADLANDS- even as I watch and re-watch Malick, and still feel Days of Heaven is his best work, this stands out. Possibly the best debut film for a director ever. At least in the conversation of best debut films NOT named Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon,
VOYAGE TO ITALY- the forced, unconvincing happy ending aside, very good. Feels like a film that one can appreciate more as the years go by, 
SCARECROW- for those who prefer small character pieces, here's a little gem from the 70s, waiting to be discovered. I completely get why this was Gene Hackman's favorite work, and why he was depressed for years when the audiences didn't come,
THE SWARM- the largest revival group outing of the year for me, and it happened completely by accident. I convinced someone, and he convinced someone, and he convinced someone, and he convinced someone . . . By the time we all met up at IFC Center, we were a party of 12 and made up about 75 percent of the "crowd". All for a gloriously awful movie. To paraphrase one member of our group who would fall asleep every 15 minutes or so for two minutes for almost half the movie, only to wake up to see something horrifyingly stupid/funny: Technically it's competently made with a Jerry Goldsmith score that's far better than it deserves, but the script is God awful. The only thing to make this outing less than perfect, was two of our group that we didn't really know, shushing us after we make a low whisper reaction to whatever atrocity in filmmaking had just occurred. Treating the dialogue from this notoriously awful film from the late 1970s like Holy Scripture is not the way to go. This ain't The Room, folks. I'm looking forward to introducing this hideously fun film to others, 
SINGIN IN THE RAIN- If I needed any more confirmation that this is still the best movie musical I've ever seen, yet another screening at the Museum of the Moving Image confirmed it,
THE WIZARD OF OZ in IMAX 3-D- the first time I've ever seen this from beginning to end without commercial interruption. What can I say, decades of seeing it on CBS or TNT, but not on TCM or on video. Worth every effort I made to get into Manhattan for this,
RUSSIAN ARK- not sure if I'll ever watch this film again, especially on TV. But this experimental, at times artistically dazzling partial look back at Russian history is worth seeing once. Especially if you have some knowledge or interest in Russian history, and if you ever wish to see the Hermitage but don't think you'll ever get to go in person,
A DOG'S LIFE: A ROWLF RETROSPECTIVE- technically a revival, even if it was more a compilation of clips, skits, scenes and commercials,
FAR FROM HEAVEN- the first time I saw it on the big screen. The Douglas Sirk-like touches throughout the film make a much larger impact on screen than it ever would on TV, regardless of whether you're familiar with Mr. Sirk's work,
BOOGIE NIGHTS- I'll never put this above L.A. Confidential as best film of 1997, but it's getting harder to think of any other film that was better that year. Even Kundun, Scorsese's film about the current Dalai Lama when he was young, that I've pushed on people from time to time,
THEY LIVE- the better of the two John Carpenter revivals I did at IFC Center last year. More successful in mixing quality B-movie action with still potent social/political satire. And oh that wonderful almost- neverending fight between Roddy Piper and Keith David . . . ,
STORIES WE TELL- yes it came out last year, but it was technically a revival by the time I caught it at Lincoln Center,
ALL THAT JAZZ- my favorite revival outing of the year, even if meant traveling around during the worst of the Polar Vortex. A group of 6 of us, with three people having never seen it before, and one who saw pieces of it on TV over the course of 25+ years. They might not have agreed with me about All That Jazz being the best film of 1979 (just over Apocalypse Now, but only because of the quality of the end of their respective journeys), but a great time was had by all,
RUN AND JUMP- I'm counting it as a revival here. I'm guessing this has received a release somewhere in the U.S., but I don't remember this screening in NYC at any point between when I caught it at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria and when it screened last spring at the Tribeca Film Festival. Ok drama, but frankly nothing more than ok,
27 revivals in total. 28 if I count a revival screening of Museum Hours in Astoria, which I won't because I didn't post it prior. Much smaller than the previous number of revivals I caught last year, 43. I expected a lower total once my life got busy from early January thru right now, attempts to catch Casablanca and Cabaret fell apart for different reasons, and if I didn't get sick just before a Fahrenheit 451 screening, plus a bit more concentration on my end with current films as well. But I didn't expect below 30 revivals. Oh well, hope I do better next year.
Thank you to all who joined me for these outings I hold dear, whether it was once, a ton of times, or somewhere in between. Special thanks again to Ed for catching the most revivals with me. But I thank you all who did this at least once with me, this number of you  were a lot more than I'm used to. A pleasant surprise. I know some of you look at stuff I post, if you look at all, and think the idea of catching "old movies" is almost an anathema to you. In the era of Netflix and with the occasional selection of mine coming within days or hours of a TCM screening of same, some films can be a hard sell. Never mind having to grapple with the idea that a film made as late as 1997 can now be considered "old". So that some of you are willing to take a chance is very gratifying to me, thank you.

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