Friday, August 15, 2014

August revivals: second half

Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the second half of August. Not as large a list as I can put together mind you. But with the U.S. Open coming up, I will be spending most of my time waking time there, and not at any films, whether they be new releases or revivals. Which means I won't be posting the upcoming re-release of Ghostbusters starting August 25th. Sony/Columbia says this will only be a one week re-release. Similar things were said about the recent re-releases of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Top Gun, Titanic, and The Wizard of Oz. All of them lasted more than a week, and I'm hoping for the same with Ghostbusters. If it lasts a second week, I'll be able to post it on the next list (dates and locations TBD). In the meantime, on with the list:

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) for 10 dollars- Fri Aug 15 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- A cheap-ish Midnight screening of the best of all the Indiana Jones sequels/prequel. Also one of the best summer blockbusters of the past 25 years. The good visual effects may have dated a smidge, but nothing has dulled the pace, John Williams's Oscar nominated score, the wish we could see more of the late River Phoenix, and especially the chemistry between Harrison Ford and one of the few on-screen dads Ford would ever have, Sean Connery. The last standout "light and fun" film Spielberg has directed. Yes, over Jurassic Park: 

THE KILLING (1956) and GUN CRAZY (1950)- Sat Aug 16 at 2:30 (Killing) 4:10 (Gun) 6:10 (Killing) and 8 (Gun), and Mon Aug 18 at 2:30 (Killing) and 4:10 (Gun)- Film Forum- A double feature of what was supposedly the most successful double feature the Forum had in its recent Femme Noir series, where the action is determined or permanently changed by a very bad dame. Both films are DCP restorations and plays for a week. I'm posting the only days I know I can probably do.

First, The Killing from 1956. Before Tarantino was making crime films that twisted the timeline back and forth, Stanley Kubrick made this film noir very early in his career. A film that made his reputation forever more. Kubrick adapted the novel "Clean Break", with additional dialogue from pulp author Jim Thompson. Sterling Hayden is the leader of a group robbing a race track. Of course, things go wrong, with a memorable ending. Among the standout performances, take note of Elisha Cook Jr. as Sap Incarnate, and Marie Windsor as his scheming wife.

United Artists had no faith in The Killing, and threw it out there as part of a B movie double feature. But critics took notice, and so did Kirk Douglas, who desperately needed a director for Paths of Glory. A classic of the genre, with one of the most memorable endings of all of Kubrick's films. And don't worry, its only 84 minutes long.

Next, Gun Crazy, from 1950. A quickie film-noir, where a former juvenile delinquent grows up and tries to be an upstanding citizen. When he gets out of reform school, he soon falls in love with what seems to be a good girl. They get married, but she turns to robbery when the money runs low. He doesn't think this is a good thing to do, but she loves the money and adrenaline rush, and threatens to leave him if he doesn't help her rob stores and banks. Thus a crime spree begins and the body count begins to rise . . . 

A film that was merely suppose to be a B picture, but became a critical and box office hit. Chosen to be preserved by the Library of Congress in 1998, and once you see this, you'll see how much Arthur Penn used of Gun Crazy to make Bonnie and Clyde:

THE SHINING (1980) for free at Bryant Park at sundown on Mon Aug 18- Yet another chance to catch this Kubrick-Nicholson film, this time for free, as the concluding film of the Bryant Park series. Everything starts at sundown, around 8:20 , with a Looney Tunes/ Merrie Melodies cartoon of some sort, followed by some HBO feature presentation tag, and then The Shining itself. So expect to leave the park a little before or a little after 11.

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.

ZULU (1964)- Tues Aug 19 at 6:15- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- A DCP 50th anniversary restoration. Zulu, one of the best war films ever made. Consider this an early (slightly embellished) variation of Black Hawk Down. Both are true stories, both set up the conflict in the first half-hour or so, and the rest of the film is a brutal, well-edited battle between the sides. Stanley Baker and Michael Caine play the two officers in command of a small British outpost on Jan. 22 1879. Baker's character is an engineer, and not the upper class solider-gentleman Caine's character is. Neither has combat experience. But they must lead their 149 men (about a third were in the infirmary that day), against over 4000 Zulu warriors; who had just massacred over 1500 British soldiers earlier that morning, in the worst massacre the Army had ever suffered up to that point. The rest of the picture depicts the next 12 plus hours as the Zulus attack without relent, while the Brits desperately try to withstand the onslaught.

Despite the vast difference in accents and technology, both in the story and the storytelling, it compares quite favorably to the similar Black Hawk Down. Considering how macho the film gets and how important the big success Zulu was to the British Film Industry, I wouldn't be surprised if Ridley Scott knew and loved this film. Never are the Zulus depicted as evil savages. We don't get to know them as well as most of the British soldiers and the misguided missionaries, but they are people, and brutal adversaries. Good cast; Baker was the star and co-producer, but Michael Caine became a leading man forever because of this. Narration by Richard Burton. Also, take note of John Barry's very good score, who incorporated actual Zulu chants and songs into his music.

POLA X (1999/2000)- Wed Aug 20 at 9:15- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Leos Carax retrospective. Didn't know his name until Holy Motors came out last year. Now I'm curious. Pola X, an adaptation of Melville's Pierre from 1999 (released in the U.S. in 2000). Guillaume Depardeiu plays the title role; a big time novelist who kinda loves his fiancee, and has an unusually close relationship with his mother (Catherine Deneuve). But then a young woman emerges from the forest connected to his mansion, claims to be his half-sister, and boom goes the emotional and sexual dynamite. Haven't seem it, but I'm curious:

LES AMANTS DU PONT NEUF or LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE (1991/1999)- Sat Aug 16 at 4:40 and Thurs Aug 21 at 9:15- Film Forum- Part of the Forum's Leos Carax retro. Carax's most successful film in France, from 1991 though not released in the U.S. until 1999. The story of two homeless lovers of questionable sanity that live under the title bridge; a drug and alcohol addicted street performer (Holy Motor's Denis Lavant) and an artist (Juliette Binoche) who's damaged by both a failed relationship and her deteriorating eyesight. But with her family desperately searching to get her to a surgeon who could restore her sight, her boyfriend will go to great lengths for them to go undiscovered. Never seen it, sounds subtle as a brick, still curious:  

BLUE VELVET (1986)- Fri Aug 22 or Sat Aug 23 at Midnight- IFC Center- David Lynch's Blue Velvet gets another DCP Midnight movie screening. Not sure which screening I can do and won't until the 18th. So I'll list both dates for now.

In my top 5 ever, possibly higher. I saw Blue Velvet when it was released back in 1986. Ok, 1987, thanks to critical acclaim. I was WAY too young to get all of what was going on, but what I did get was disturbing, fascinating, and told me that movies could be very different from Star Wars or The Wizard of Oz, or Casablanca. Now yes, the journey depicted here is somewhat similar to Dorothy's journey through Oz (intentional). But this precursor to Twin Peaks is it's own world. The shock factor may not be nearly the same for you compared to what 1986/87 audiences endured, but the story, the performances and Angelo Baldalamenti's beautiful score has endured.

What Shadow of a Doubt pushed in terms of evil in a small town Americana, Blue Velvet cranked to 11 and turned it on its (severed) ear. A very 50s town, with a very 50s kinda young man (Kyle MacLachlan) dealing with the kind of dark crisis a 50s era hero isn't obviously equipped to handle. Not without help, love and support that is. But oh what a dark journey to get to that point . . . This mystery/neo-noir/romantic drama got Lynch a Best Director nomination, and brought both his and MacLachlan's career back from the dead. Isabella Rossellini established herself as an actress once and for all, and Dennis Hopper became a working character actor forever, in a career performance. Also drew major controversy in its day for its, let's just say, sexual connotations, and what was required of Rossellini in her role. I believe it was Ebert who called this film the most vile thing he had ever seen (or something along those lines) and Rosselini attacked him (verbally) in response. A bit of a Rorschach test, this hauntingly beautiful film is. Decide for yourself:

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

No comments: