Friday, May 22, 2015

May revivals: the rest of the month

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the rest of May. Ok, so one of the films extends into June, but whatever. Here we go:

LOST HIGHWAY (1997)- Fri May 22 and Sun May 24 at Midnight- IFC Center- IFC Film Center will have a midnight screening of David Lynch's 1997 film, part of  a series of films selected by staff members. Because this is a four day weekend, it will also play on Sunday at Midnight as well. Similar to Mulholland Drive, where dreams push the film and put the "plot" on the back burner, not that far in the case of Highway. Better clarity of dreams and reality that combine more effectively I think. The best I've heard this described, was that this was Lynch's idea of "O.J's dreams after he committed the murders" (it came out about a year and a half after the criminal trial's verdict). Note that Lynch himself never said this, but judge for yourself.

Strong cast includes Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, Balthazar Getty, Richard Pryor, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Robert Loggia, and in a post-film ironic twist, Robert Blake. He has the most outlandish role, and he is good. But since then, you could now replace O.J's name from the previous paragraph with Blake's. Gives the film an additional edge:

PEEPING TOM (1960/62) and BURDEN OF DREAMS (1982)- Sat May 23 at 3 (Peeping) and 5:30 (Burden)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- A last minute double feature set up by the museum. Two out of three films that are significant in the upcoming indie film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. No time on my end for Rashomon on Friday May 22, but you can on your own and enjoy. Two films for one admission, plus you still have a chance to see the Museum's Mad Men exhibit.

First, Peeping Tom from 1960, released in the U.S. in 1962. A British horror film from director Michael Powell (Red Shoes, Colonel Blimp), about a young man, damaged by years of experimentation by his psychologist father, who hires attractive models and simultaneously tries to kill them and film their fearful expressions. The kind of film the young man can enjoy at home when he's not killing. But who has it worse; the models hired, or the young female neighbor who tries to make friends with the young man, and stumbles into this mess.

Because the weapon of choice is (in a way) the camera, Powell gets us the audience, even closer to the murders than its contemporary of which it was usually compared to, Psycho. And that was probably the aspect that pissed off critics back in the day, made Peeping Tom controversial, got banned in some countries and edited prior to release in others. All of which damaged Powell's career in the U.K., forcing to spend most of the rest of his life working away from home. History has been much kinder to Peeping Tom, thanks to the film's biggest fan, Martin Scorsese, funding a proper re-release back in the late 70s. Yet this isn't screened often, either on TV or revival houses. The film still has those elements of perversion and danger that interest some and repulse others, sight unseen. So if you've never seen Peeping Tom, take advantage of this.

Next, Burden of Dreams, from 1982. A 16mm screening of Les Blank's documentary of the making of Fitzcarraldo. The four years  it took Werner Herzog to make the film. 4 hard years shooting in and around the Brazilian rainforest. Dealing with Indians occasionally trying to kill him and his cast and crew, having to replace his leads Jason Robards and Mick Jagger (the former due to illness), reshooting with insane Klaus Kinski as the new lead, and an accident that injured crew members with little to no explanation. Plus, oh yeah, the difficulty of  pushing a 3000 ton steamboat up a hill with a bulldozer and capturing said effort on film.

This is similar to the Apocalypse Now documentary, Hearts of Darkness. Both feature difficult shoots in jungle terrains that drove their director to the edge of insanity. But unlike Hearts of Darkness, Burden of Dreams was released around the same time as Fitzcarraldo. It didn't have the chance to look back and see if director Herzog would keep his vow of never directing another film (he directed plenty more) or if the film would be successful (respected, but I believe only moderately successful). If nothing else, an interesting time capsule:

SUNSET BLVD (1950) for 10 dollars- Thurs May 28 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- A cheap-ish screening of the classic film, with an intro from Hedda Lettuce. Now I'm not going into Sunset Blvd here. If you look at sites like this for any length of time, then you know this classic and I don't need to take up a lot of time. For those who haven't seen this on the big screen, you now have a chance to catch this. An AFI Top 100 film, 3 Oscars including Best Screenplay, 8 other nominations including Picture, Director for Billy Wilder, Actor for William Holden and Actress for Gloria Swanson. It lost Best Picture to All About Eve, another favorite of mine; please don't ask me to pick one over the other. In my personal top 40. Go, just go:

PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953)- Fri May 29 and Mon June 1- Thurs June 4 at 5:40, 7:20 and 9, plus Sun May 31 at 5:20, 7 and 8:40- Film Forum- A 4K digital restoration. A week-long run of arguably the best film of director Samuel Fuller's career. Jean Peters plays a woman who delivers a wallet for her creep of an ex-boyfriend (Richard Kiley). She doesn't know the ex is a Commie spy or that the wallet contains microfilm of some kind of American government info. Richard Widmark, as the low life pickpocket that steals said wallet, could care less. As far as he's concerned, "Who cares? Your money's as good as anybody else's.".  Quick, gritty film noir, with scene stealing Thelma Ritter (Oscar nominated) as a kind of salt-of-the-earth professional snitch:

Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

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