Friday, July 18, 2014

July revivals for the next week

Hey all, Mike here with another week of revivals. I wanted to do the rest of the month, but scheduling on my end doesn't allow me to do more than one week at a time. Pain in the ass, but that's the way it is right now. So here we go:

DUCK AMUCK and other Chuck Jones cartoons- Fri July 18 at 6 (members only), and Sat July 19 and Sun July 20 at 1 (Duck) and 6 (Foxes)- Museum of the Moving Image- This marks the beginning of the Museum of the Moving Image's Chuck Jones retrospective. After a popular run in D.C., it begins it's New York run from Friday July 18th, thru Martin Luther King Day 2015. The third floor exhibit includes cels, storyboards, influences, sketches, drawings, and how Jones and his associates put their work together. 

Jones did some good Tom And Jerry cartoons from the 1960s, some interesting TV specials with Dr. Seuss (Horton Hears A Who, The Lorax and The Grinch) and without him (including Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and The Cricket and Times Square), handled the animation on the original version of The Electric Company, and did work on films as varied as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Mrs. Doubtfire, Gremlins 2 and Gay-Purree (one of Judy Garland's last films). But Jones is best known for his work with the Looney Tunes characters; specifically the creation of the likes of Sylvester & Tweety, Speedy Gonzalez, and Wile E. Coyote & The Road Runner, as well as the perfecting of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

I get the impression that every weekend or so over the next 27 weeks, the Museum will screen Jones's works. This weekend, the Museum will screen the following cartoon shorts: 

Rabbit Seasoning (the second of the three Rabbit Season/ Duck Season cartoons, which doesn't end in the snow or with Elmer Season), 
Feed The Kitty (where a big bulldog unexpectedly bonds with a tiny stray kitten), 
Bully For Bugs (where Bugs ends up making the wrong turn at Albuquerque and ends up bull fighting), 
Duck Amuck (one of Jones's best, a 4th wall breaker where Daffy is tormented by his animator),
Hare-way to the Stars (the first time Bugs took on Marvin the Martian),
Zoom and Bored (Road Runner versus Wile E. Coyote),
One Froggy Evening (featuring Michigan J. Frog singing "Hello My Baby". Referenced in Spaceballs, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, South Park and referred to by Spielberg as the Citizen Kane of cartoons),
and What's Opera, Doc? (generally considered Jones's best cartoon, where Elmer hunts Bugs into a Wagnerian opera).

All cartoons will be 35mm screenings. The Friday screenings are for members only, but Saturday and Sunday screenings are for all. For one admission, you can do the cartoons, the Chuck Jones exhibit, the Museum's other exhibits, pieces of from shorts depicting the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs, and films as varied as The Little Foxes, Voyage To Italy, and The Trial of Muhammad Ali:   

A SUMMER'S TALE-  Fri July 18 and Tues July 22- Thurs July 24 at 7:35 and 9:50 at Quad Cinema, plus Fri July 18 and Tues July 22- Thurs July 24 at 9:30- The Eric Rohmer film that is receiving its first U.S. release plays for at least a few more days. I wrote about it 2 lists ago, go there. Have never seen it and I'm curious. If you're patient with dialogue-heavy films shot in long takes with attractive 20somethings, this might be for you. I don't know if this will play beyond July 16th at Lincoln Plaza Cinema, but at least some of their screenings are doable for me. Not so the afternoon only screenings at IFC Center, which is why I'm not posting them here:  

AMERICAN PSYCHO- Fri July 18 at 11- Howard Gillman Theater in Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's late night horror series, Freaky Fridays. This isn't horror per say. It certainly would have been had director Mary Harron chosen to make a more literal adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's controversial novel. But freaky, I'll buy that.

One of the best films of 2000, we follow one Patrick Bateman. A successful Wall Street banker-type with a lovely fiancee (Reese Witherspoon) and a respectable amount of wealth for someone so relatively young. But none of this satisfies Bateman. Becoming a Master of the Universe isn't satisfying either; not when something as small as a somewhat more attractive business card can send you into a tailspin. So he has a mistress and hires prostitutes from time to time. But none of this satisfies Bateman either, even if he beats his prostitutes. No, the only thing that seems to give poor Patrick any satisfaction is killing someone. Anyone who stands in his way. Anyway powerless to stop him. Anyone will do. Like any addiction, Bateman can only be satisfied by killing more and more. Like anyone with a few remaining twinges of a conscious, he wants to stop, or be stopped. But . . . . well the ending I leave to you to decide how you feel.

Controversial from the get-go, thanks to the source material. Ideas to humanize Patrick as opposed to giving him twinges of conscious (as was the plan in an attempted DiCaprio- Oliver Stone adaptation) were shot down by both fans and Gloria Steinem. The subdued approach and the aim to make this a comedy/satire of manners by director/ writer Harron and co-writer Guinevere Turner works. In part to give the violence consequences when it does occur/ threatens to occur. In a East Coast variation of Fight Club, we see him get everything he wants or "needs", it gives him nothing. And despite keeping it in the late 80s to maintain the attack on Reagan/ Bush 1 era yuppie/preppie-types, narcissism, and overall thinking, it felt just as relevant in 2000 as it did then. And unfortunately in 2014, this film feels as relevant as ever. Right down to the type of profession that has gotten away with financial crimes with slaps on the wrists, if even that much.

But that didn't make the film a hit in 2000. Audiences and critics were divided. Even though the film toned down the book's brutality, the scenes that did stay in that avoided the dreaded NC-17 rating (the Hip to be Square scene, the chainsaw sequence), pissed some people off. And since some of the satire was subtle, I think some people from the day confused said subtlety with approval by the filmmakers. The ending didn't help. It made enough money to avoid being considered a flop and supposedly has developed a cult following. But if you're talking about films remembered from the year 2000, you're talking about say, Cast Away, Gladiator, Crouching Tiger, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, maybe X-Men because of Hugh Jackman's star-making turn. 
Speaking of star making turns, that might be the reason why anyone watches this film anymore. Christian Bale, rising from nearly forgotten child actor to British art house lead (and former Jesus of Nazareth) to leading man in American films. A few missteps and some underrated American art house films were to come before Batman Begins, but as far as I was concerned, American Psycho showed us an actor who would be around for a long while to come. Narcissistic yet occasionally empathetic, funny yet dangerous enough to make you think what he could have done as Hannibal Lecter. Able to switch on a dime; whether we're talking about the Hip To Be Square scene (opposite Jared Leto), or the scene were Bateman brings his smitten secretary (Chloe Sevigny) back to his apartment with some hard decisions to make . . . 

In some ways, it was appropriate for Christopher Nolan to cast Bale in his series of Batman films. Though with Bateman, he seems more akin to Harvey Two-Face Dent than Bruce Wayne. The monster gains more control over time, but that other face, clean, handsome, keeps popping up. Is it a mask? Is it that last sign of positive humanity left in him? Is it guilt mixed with the need to be punished? A face that contorts farther as his behavior goes ignored, possibly excused? No matter how bat shit the film gets (still more muted than the novel), Bale allows you to believe it and follow it. And even this performance polarized critics and audiences. Too on the nose, too over the top were some of the complaints. But it's not a complaint of mine. We got a three-dimensional person, whose heights tend to be on the bloody side (or are they?). Go see this if you've never seen it before. Unless you prefer the other Midnight movie playing below:

ROBOCOP (1987)- Fri July 18 at 12:25AM- IFC Center- The sleeper hit from the summer of 1987. One part kick in the teeth action film, one part kick in the teeth social commentary. Peter Weller is the poor schnook patrolman who gets killed in the line of duty lead by sadistic Kurtwood Smith, only to be rebuilt almost against his will by a multinational corporation as the title character, carrying out their contract to protect Old Detroit. The company thinks they erased or overrode his old identity and memories, but such human elements are hard to get rid of . . . Mix of sharp satire, tragedy, and good action scenes from director Paul Verhoven. Accept no substitutes, stick with the original:

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT- Mon July 21- Thurs July 24 at Film Forum at 8:30 and at Cinema Arts Centre (423 Park Avenue in Huntington) at 7:40 and 9:30- A 50th anniversary digital restoration that was supposed to finish its Forum run on Thursday July 17, was given an extension of at least one more week. Limited screening times, but extended none the less. But now the film will also play for at least a week at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, so now you Long Islanders don't have to consider travelling into the city for this. 

A Hard Day's Night from 1964. The Richard Lester classic that defined Beatlemania, influenced MTV until it became a place for reality shows, made most musicals that told their stories in stodgy ways to become Dead Musicals Walking, and briefly made the Beatles the seeming heir to the Marx Bros in comedy. Ok, Paul is stiffer then a tree in Yellowstone here, but John, Ringo, and especially George, make up for that. And oh yeah, there are few decent songs. All My Loving, And I Love Her, Can't Buy Me Love, the title song, and others. C'mon folks, this film is fun:

NIAGARA and ANGEL FACE- Tues July 22 at 7 (Niagara) and 9:15 (Angel)- Film Forum- Two films from the Film Forum's Femme Fatale series, showing film-noirs where one of the more important characters, is a bad, bad, woman. First, a DCP restoration of Niagara, a rare Technicolor noir. A young couple takes a delayed honeymoon at Niagara Falls. There, they get to know another married couple, young vivacious Marilyn Monroe, and older, depressed and seething Joseph Cotton. Monroe and Cotton's marriage is on the rocks to put it mildly. But this troubled marriage will lead to murder, draw the young married couple into this mess, and to reveal more would spoil surprises if you've never seen this. Underrated, successful back in the day, though praised more for the look of the falls and the look of Marilyn. But her performance and the film itself was reevaluated after her death. Give it a try.

Next, Angel Face. From 1952, directed by Otto Preminger. Ambulance driver Robert Mitchum is not the world's best boyfriend, and is happy to trade up to rich girl Jean Simmons. But she's not what she appears to be, and if you've seen The Postman Always Rings Twice, then you have an idea about what will go right, and what will go very wrong. Never seen it, but I'm curious:

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

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