Tuesday, May 05, 2015

May revivals: first half

Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the first half of May. An eclectic list to be sure. Let's not waste time, here we go:

RIFFTRAX presents THE ROOM (2003)- Wed May 6 at 8 and Tues May 12 at 7:30- Regal Union Square 14, College Point Multiplex in Whitestone, and UA Westbury Stadium 12- I've done this before, and enough time has passed that I'm ready to attempt this again. Only this time, the RiffTraxx crew (most of the men behind Mystery Science Theater 3000) will be mocking it left and right. The guys did a live mocking at the Tribeca Film Festival last month, but it cost over twenty dollars so no thanks. The May 8th screening will be a live simulcast (not sure from where), and the May 12th screening will be a sort of rebroadcast.

One of the best bad films of recent times, Tommy Wiseau's The Room continues playing at Landmark Sunshine Cinema at Midnight. This "Citizen Kane of bad movies" has to be seen to be believed. You can expect a Rocky Horror-esque experience, with lines quoted, talking back to the screen, flinging of spoons and tiny footballs. The only thing you may want to decide before seeing this, is whether or not you want to know the film before you attend a screening. Basically, do want to know what's coming and possibly be part of the audience participation aspect, or do you want to go in fairly cold?

As for The Room itself, the best I can say is, there is nothing quite like it. That's the best you're getting out of me. What? I didn't go into what it's about? Does it truly matter? Won't make it any better. Decide fast if you want to, because tickets will go fast, especially for the May 6th screening. And unlike your typical Midnight screening at Landmark Sunshine Cinema, you'll actually hear the unintentionally funny dialogue. Tommy Wiseau might not be any more comprehensible, but we can't have everything . . . :

MAD MAX (1979/80)-Fri May 8 at 9:25PM and 12:15AM and Sat May 9- Mon May 11 at 9:25PM- IFC Center- Originally this was going to be just a Midnight weekend screening of the first Mad Max film, in time for the release of Mad Max:Fury Road. But I guess IFC Center believes they can draw, so they've hastily put together a 9:25PM at least thru Tuesday May 12. If you want to do a Midnight (12:15AM) screening, I can do that, but only on Friday the 8th. I have more flexibility for the 9:25PM screenings, though not on the 12th; there are two other screenings on this list that conflict.

The film that made Mel Gibson an international star and put director George Miller into the big leagues. Note I said international and not U.S. Before films like Titanic and the Lord of the Rings series came along, you see the list of what was the highest grossing films in any country outside of North America, and chances are Star Wars, Mad Max and E.T. were in the top 4. But in America back in 1980 (it was released in most countries in 1979), it came out in a heavily dubbed form. Apparently there was no belief that we could understand all these Australian dialects. And to see this little film as opposed to say, Empire Strikes Back for the second or third time? Forget it. Several re-releases, including one a year after The Road Warrior's success, made no dent here.

One part post-apocalyptic film and one part Death Wish. Not as much action as you might think or remember, but still pretty good on a low budget. Apparently most of Australia can pass for a post- WW3 environment, and director Miller does a lot with a little. And Gibson practically screams Movie Star here. Good overall, with just that ever pleasant dollop of Grindhouse:

PURPLE RAIN (1984)- Sat May 9 at 4:30- Anthology Film Archives-  32 Second Ave, just off of E. 2nd St-  A special screening at Anthology Film Archives. For the rest, I'll repost what I wrote the last time I listed it:

"Pauline Kael once said in the late 60's that the time then was ripe to create more musicals with the present (then) rock stars like Janis Joplin. That's what made the musicals of the 30s, 40s and 50s successful: they were populated with the top recording artists of the day (Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Crosby et. al.). That's what the studios could do: setup a musical with one or many of today's contemporary recording artists."

I think that fits in the case of Once, where you had recording artists doing their songs. And it certainly applies to Prince with this film. Can't imagine a good actor from that period pulling off these kind of songs, no matter who wrote them. Not the greatest film ever made, and not what you call great acting by Prince. But with performances of songs like "When Doves Cry", "Let's Go Crazy" and the title track, the sleeper hit of the summer of 1984 literally rocks whenever the music comes up. Watch how Prince went from successful rock act to icon status. Granted, he would later throw it away with crap like "Under The Cherry Moon" and "Graffiti Bridge", change his name to a symbol with no real meaning, and basically become strange to the point of uninteresting. But watching and listening to him here, anything seemed possible back then. Prince did win an Oscar for music, in a category that no longer exists.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) introduced by Lisa Cohen with post-film wine reception- Tues May 12 at 7:30- Florence Gould Hall @ FIAF- 55 East 59th Street- It's been a while since I've attended a screening at the French Institute Alliance on the Upper East Side. Here's a film that can get me there. Part of the retrospective Haute Couture on Film, for the Christian Dior New Look dresses that Lauren Bacall wore. 

How To A Marry A Millionaire, a big hit, and the first film shot in Twentieth-Century Fox's Cinemascope process, from 1953. A comedy where single ladies Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe live in the luxury Manhattan penthouse of a man trying to avoid paying his taxes. The ladies intend to marry a rich man, and use the apartment as a partial enticement. Naturally, it's a lot harder for the ladies than expected . . . William Powell, Rory Calhoun and David Wayne are among the possible grooms. Funny, quick and a fun New York movie to boot.

The film will be introduced by Lisa Cohen, and followed by a free wine reception. Here is Professor Cohen's bio from the French Institute's website:

Lisa Cohen is the author of the critically acclaimed All We Know: Three Lives (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012). A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, All We Know is a series of intimate portraits of three women, as well as an exploration of modernism, style, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself. Cohen’s writing has also appeared in VogueThe New York Times, Women In Clothes, The Paris ReviewFashion TheoryBookforum, and other magazines and anthologies. She teaches in the English Department at Wesleyan University.

WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957) for 10 dollars- Thurs May 14 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- A cheap screening of a film I really enjoy. I told some of you when i had my CED collection in the mid 80's, there were films i would watch in heavy or semi-heavy rotation. This film from director Billy Wilder, was one of the later. I saw a revival screening of this 5 years ago, and it holds up quite well. A screening hosted by Hedda Lettuce.

Ailing attorney Sir Wilfrid Robarts (Charles Laughton-Oscar nominated) has been advised by his doctors to retire. When he's asked to take the case of murder suspect Leonard Vole (Tyrone Power, in his last completed film role), who stood to gain financially from the victim's death, his interest is piqued. But the case becomes even more of an uphill battle when the defendant's supposedly loving wife Christine (Marlene Dietrich) decides to testify as a witness for the prosecution. Wilder expanded Agatha Christie's play, creating the role of Robarts' housekeeper Miss Plimsoll (played by Laughton's wife Elsa Lanchester-Oscar nominated), whose back-and-forth with her employer provides a funny counterpoint to the film's melodrama. Also nominated for Picture and Director for Wilder. If you've never seen it, now would be a good time:

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

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