Thursday, December 24, 2015

Revivals: holiday season edition

Happy Festivus everyone. Mike here with a holiday season revival list. Not Christmas films mind you, but this list takes us thru New Years Day weekend. Here we go:

THE WILD BUNCH (1969) with or without SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE (2015) and/or THE LAST PICTURE SHOW (1971)- Sat Dec 26 and Sun Dec 27 at 12:30 (Shaun) 3:30 (Wild) and 7 (Picture)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- A potential triple feature at the Museum of the Moving Image, all for one admission. An insanely long day into night, and one I'm not exactly up to. Now this is someone who not too long ago, did a triple feature of a compilation of Rowlf the Dog clips, Far From Heaven, and Boogie Nights. I also did a double feature at the Museum pf Godfathers 1 and 2. So just because I'm not planning about doing it, or I'm complaining right now about doing such a thing, doesn't mean I won't do if talked into it properly. This triple feature will be done on both Saturday December 26th, and Sunday December 27th. I prefer to do Saturday, but I post Sunday as well.

First you have Shaun The Sheep, which came out to critical praise and audience indifference this summer here in the States. Not sure how it did in the U.K., where the character is used in a TV series of the same name, and was originally from a Wallace and Gromit short. The same Wallace and Gromit company made this film, where Shaun and his flock decide to vacation in the big city, and get into trouble. Especially when the Farmer who looks for them is missing. For the Wallace and Gromit/ Chicken Run fans, this gets attention for not only the critical praise and Oscar nomination talk for Best Animated Film, but the Museum will also do hands-on Claymation Creatures workshops after the film. If you can't do Shaun and the Workshops on either the 26th or the 27th, it will play every afternoon after that, thru New Year's Day.

Next is The Wild Bunch, from 1969. For months, in anticipation of Quentin Tarantino's upcoming 70mm release of The Hateful 8, the Museum had been touting their own 70mm screening of the Sam Peckinpah classic. Thematically, they're of kindred spirits, so it makes sense to whet the cinematic appetite this way. However, the Museum recently announced (sometime between the morning of the 21st and the afternoon of the 22nd) that the 70mm print of The Wild Bunch is in such poor condition, it has been pulled from distribution, and the Museum will screen a 35mm print instead. Wow, not even a DCP. Oh well, it still works seeing before Tarantino's new film.

The Wild Bunch, the film that John Wayne complained destroyed the myth of the Old West. Follows a group of older outlaws, still robbing and shooting to make a living. The times have changed, they've gotten a lot older and their foes are seemingly younger and stronger. They want to rob to retire, but that only gets a group of bounty hunters after them, led by a former member of the group. They escape to Mexico for one last go. But dealing with the corrupt forces there and the bounty hunters on their tail, the old group of outlaws basically to go out on their own terms. Violent, bloody, and taking hundreds of the enemy with them. Holden is the leader of the Bunch, Ernest Borgnine is his best friend, and Robert Ryan is their former friend; a bounty hunter forced to pursue them without relent. Plus Western stalwarts like Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson, Strother Martin and future director Alfonso Arau (A Walk In The Clouds) in the cast as well.

Sam Peckinpah's film was approved mainly to compete with what they thought was the similar Buthch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Similar, Warner Bros.? Oops. He wanted to show a certain macho code that was not holding up in the start of the 20th Century. But no matter what code you live by, betrayal is unacceptable. From others and especially from yourself. Another thing Peckinpah wanted to show was the violent world of this time. Not sanitized like in most Westerns, nor in TV Westerns of the time like Gunsmoke, but closer to what was shown on the news in Vietnam. He wanted to horrify his audience with its brutality. The climatic shootout was supposed to convey this. With 6 different cameras all shooting at different speeds, its an amazing combination of choreography, cinematography and editing. Despite about 20 minutes cut before its release to avoid an X rating, the violence was still considered controversial. But what shocked Peckinpah was how much of his audience was thrilled by the violence as opposed to being repulsed by it. Oops for Sam. When Warner Bros tried to re-release the film back in 1994 with 10 extra minutes, the MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating, complaining about the violence! It took a year of resubmission before an R rating was finally granted.

2 Oscar nominations, including Screenplay, but NOT for Editing. On both AFI Top 100 lists. May or may not be on my Top 100 list, but very close. If you don't know it, this is a great chance to change that, even if it's only with a 35mm print.

Next is The Last Picture Show. A new DCP restoration of the 1971 film. I saw the last 35mm restoration of it back in 2011, so I have high hopes for the quality of the look. This doesn't get a revival screening too often. Two milieu are depicted here. Life in high school, as its seniors are finding their way into adulthood, however slow the emotional development. All taking placing in a dying small Texas town, circa early 1950s. Our entry into this world comes from two buddies: the wild jocular type played by Jeff Bridges and the more sensitive one played by Timothy Bottoms. College doesn't seem likely for them. More likely for them, unless they choose to move to larger towns like many before them, is reflected in the lonely, frustrated bitter adults around them. Whose dreams have long since died a quiet death. All here are not depicted as country bumpkins or idiots. Maybe some are more vain, or depressed than others, but such as life.

Peter Bogdanovich jumped to A list status with this film, a status that went bye-bye, thanks to pictures like Daisy Miller and At Long Last Love. But with a great script adaptation of Larry MacMurtry's novel from Bogdanovich and MacMurtry (anyone better in depicting Texas in print than Larry?), and wonderful cinematography from Robert Surtees (black and white, per the suggestion/demand of Orson Welles), you have cinema. If it wasn't for so many good, recognizable actors in the cast, you might think you were watching a documentary, what with the almost subliminal use of music and naturalistic performances. A cast that includes Bridges, Bottoms (Tim and Sam), Cybill Shepherd (ok performance, but perfect as an object of desire), Randy Quaid, Eileen Brennan, Ellen Burstyn, Cloris Leachman, and Ben Johnson (watch his monologue by the lake, very good indeed).

Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, Screenplay Adaptation, Cinematography, Bridges for Supporting Actor and Burstyn for Supporting Actress. Oscars for Johnson for Supporting Actor and Leachman for Supporting Actress. On the second AFI Top 100 list. And with everything I said, this may be more of an acquired taste. I invite any and all to come watch this, but this might be better suited for cinephilles (or however you spell it) and those interested in quiet films. I'm not sure if this even has classic status. Two other films from 1971, The French Connection and A Clockwork Orange, may or may not have been loved by critics as much as Last Picture Show, but their classic status is unquestioned. We will be getting the two hours six minute Director's Cut released in 1992, as opposed to the 1 hour 59 minute theatrical release. 7 minutes cut by Columbia Pictures, who insisted that the film had to have a running time under 2 hours. Whatever version is screened, I want to catch this:

BALL OF FIRE (1941)- Mon Dec 28- Wed Dec 30 at 5:15, 7:30 and 9:45- Film Forum- An archival print of the hit screwball comedy from 1941. Professor Gary Cooper is working on a new encyclopedia with 6 other, mostly bachelor, professors (including Max from Sound of Music, Clarence from It's A Wonderful Life, and Sacha and Carl the Waiter from Casablanca). They're on a deadline, but they're distracted by dancer Barbara Stanwyck (stripper? Burlesque dancer? Who knows). She's hiding from evil mobster Dana Andrews (Laura), and seeks sanctuary with the 7 professors, much like Snow White hiding with the Seven Dwarfs (DO YA GET IT?!?!?!). But unlike Disney's version, this not so Snow White falls for a rather Dopey tall professor.

Co-written by Billy Wilder. Based on his short story which was a take on the Snow White story, it would be the last Screenplay Wilder would write without directing the film as well. Luckily for Wilder, the director of Ball of Fire, Howard Hawks, was willing to mentor him and  let Wilder observe how he worked. 4 Oscar nominations, including Stanwyck for Best Actress, and Wilder for Best Writing, Original Story:

CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1965-67)- Fri Jan 1, Sat Jan 2, Mon Jan 4-Sat Jan 9, and Tues Jan 12-Thurs Jan 14 at 5:10, 7:30 and 9:50- Film Forum- A rarely screened Orson Welles film gets a DCP restoration and a twelve day run (at least) at the Film Forum. Released in Europe in 1965 and 66, released briefly in the U.S. in 67. Welles combined Henry IV Part 1 and 2, Richard II, Henry V and The Merry Wives of Windsor to concoct this film. A film where Prince Hal must choose to give his loyalty to either his father, King Henry IV (John Gielgud) or his father figure, Sir John Falstaff (Welles). With Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet, Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly, and Fernando Rey as Worcester.

The film was a big deal at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, winning two awards for Welles and a nomination for the Palme D'or. But with most American film critics ripping it a new one, led by Time Magazine and the New York Times's Bosley Crowther, film distributor Harry Saltzman (as in the co-producer of the James Bond films of the 60s-mid 70s) lost faith. Chimes of Midnight barely received a theatrical release in America, and tanked bad. Critical re-evaluation has since occurred over the decades with the likes Camby, Kael, and Ebert praising the film. Welles himself considered it his favorite of all his films, as well as one of his most personal. But ownership rights to the picture has made it very difficult to see the film here in the States. Available on Blu-ray and DVD in Europe, but not here. Two long out-of-print VHS versions is all the home video distribution Chimes of Midnight has had, so forget about finding it on Netflix. But with this DCP restoration, maybe this can be the start of the film finally finding an audience: 

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pre-Christmas revivals

Hey, Mike here with a list of revivals for the month of December, pre Christmas Eve. All of them are Christmas movies, except for one or two. Three, if you include the one I have that IFC Center has in their Christmas film retrospective that begins this list:

EYES WIDE SHUT (1999)- Tues Dec 15 and (maybe) Thurs Dec 17 at 9:40- IFC Center- Stanley Kubrick's final film, as part of IFC Center's Christmas film series. Films that are obvious Christmas movies, and those that are not that obvious. Or perhaps far from obvious, in the case of Eyes Wide Shut. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman played a shallow married couple. They're bored with their life together, perhaps more Kidman's character more than Cruise's. He barely pays attention to her except thru sex, she's seems more interested in something else, anything else. A night of intimacy and pot smoking, turns into a near-monologue by Kidman full of resentment over her life, him as a man and a s a lover, as well as an admission (possibly invented, possibly not), of near-adultery. And while Kidman's character is named Alice, it's Cruise's character that goes down the rabbit hole. A NYC rabbit hole of potential trysts, infidelities and more. 

If you've never seen the film before, or read the Austrian novella that it is based on, and are unaware of the stories and analysis about it, then you won't get where the twists are. If at a certain point, you decide the film follows a more imagined, dream-like path as opposed to a reality based one, it'll work for you that way as well. But why would this be considered a Christmas film, as IFC Center is trying to pitch it? Yes this film is set days/weeks before Christmas, but so what? Maybe the setting and the ideals of the holiday is in contrast to the materialism and attempted hedonism run rampant. Good will to men and women is rarely practiced here, and the possibility of redemption might be cynically thought of as temporary. At least as until one of them achieves orgasm. Or not, the interpretation is our to make. Thanks, Stanley:   

IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)- Wed Dec 16 at 7, Fri Dec 18 at 4:15 and 7, Mon Dec 21 at 4:10 and 7, Tues Dec 22 at 7 (introduced by Mary Owen) and Wed Dec 23 at 9:40- IFC Center- plus Thurs Dec 17 at 7 for 10 dollars at Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- plus Sun Dec 20 at 9 at Cinema 1 2 3 on 1001 3rd Ave-A 35mm projection at IFC Center, a digital screening at Cinema 1 2 3, I'm guess some kind of projection at the Chelsea Cinema. Once again, IFC Center shows the Frank Capra-Jimmy Stewart-Donna Reed classic for about two weeks. It's only shown once or twice a year on NBC and I believe it will be screened only once on TCM, and not much more after that, if at all. So if you're in the mood, here it is. I'm sorry that you don't get a little bell with the title of the film on it, like you do with the recent DVD release, but how bad do need to give out angel wings?

As for the film itself, you probably know it, and your familiarity is probably why you're hesitant to go out and see it on the big screen. Don't worry, unless you're one of those who've made it a tradition to come out and see it in a venue like IFC Center every year or every other year, relatively few people know what it's like to experience this on the big screen, without commercial interruption. So maybe this is the year you'll do it? This holiday season, it will screen at three different Manhattan locations. Alongside the IFC, we have one night only on the Upper East Side, One cheap-ish screening introduced by Hedda Lettuce in Chelsea. 

Once again, Mary Owens, Reed's daughter will make introductions to selected screenings, but only at IFC Center. Tuesday December 22 at 7, would probably be the only screening I could make:

CHINATOWN (1974) with or without DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)- Sat Dec 19 at 1:30 (Double) and 4 (Chinatown)- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- A special DCP screening, as part of the Museum's The Hollywood Classics behind Walkers series. Where Classic films are paired with an exhibit of movie scripts and memorabilia, as well as art work inspired by or incorporating the classic films. Don't know what they have in the exhibit related to Chinatown. But if you get there no later than say, 2:15, that should give you plenty of time to see the exhibit before Chinatown. A little earlier, you can see the rest of the Museum's exhibits or catch one of the classic serials that plays in rotation at 2 and 3:30. All for one admission. The Museum itself closes at 7 on Saturdays, so you won't have much time to check out the sights inside after the film.

Chinatown, the last of the great film-noirs. Ok, it's more of a modern or neo-noir. While there would be some very good to excellent modern noirs afterwards (L.A. Confidential, Blue Velvet and Fargo chief among them), none would go the dark paths Roman Polanski's film would travel, not even Lynch's film.  Based on events from the California Water Wars of the 1930s, Jack Nicholson's private eye (the role that made him a star forever) is hired by Faye Dunaway to spy on her husband. But nothing is as it seems, and if you don't know the film, I won't spoil it for you here. One of the great period films, one of the great mysteries, and if wasn't for Paramount's own Godfather Part 2, it might have been the best film from that year. An Oscar for Robert Towne's Screenplay; 10 other nominations including Picture, Polanski for Director (who also turns in a memorable performance as a thug), Nicholson for Actor, and Dunaway for Actress. Sorry there was no room for John Huston for Supporting Actor, but boy does he make a memorably repellent villain. On both AFI Top 100 films and in my personal top 100. 

Also for the record, Double Indemnity plays prior to Chinatown, at 1:30. Another of the great film-noirs. I've done it earlier this summer, and I'd rather take the time to check out the Museum than do the film again. But I like it enough that I'm open to doing it if you really want to:

MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947) for 10 dollars- Wed Dec 23 at 7- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema- A special Wednesday night screening of the Christmas classic. Yes, there is a DCP screening going on at the same time at AMC Empire and Regal Union Square, sponsored by TCM. But let's go for a screening that's at least 4 dollars cheaper, and throw in a Hedda Lettuce intro as well. Smart screenplay, sentimental without getting sugary sweet. Appealing performance; from the main roles filled by the likes of Edmund Gwen Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood, to character actors in early film roles like Thelma Ritter Jack Albertson and William Frawley, and everyone else in-between whose names escape me. All of whom helped to make this a classic, among both Christmas films and in films set in NYC. Oscars for Gwen for Supporting Actor, Valentine Davis for Best Writing- Original Story, and to the film's director, George Seaton, for Best Writing- Screenplay. An Oscar nomination for Best Picture: 

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

Thursday, December 03, 2015

December revivals: first third

Hey all. Mike here with a revival list for the first third of December. Overall I would go see every film, but there are a few that standout more than others. I think those films will be obvious. Here we go:

THE GODFATHER (1972) introduced by Tom Sachs with Robert M. Rubin and THE GODFATHER PART 2 (1974)- Sun Dec 6 at 2 and 6:30- Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria- The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2 will screen together at the Museum of the Moving Image, as of the Museum's exhibit: Walkers: Hollywood Afterlives in Art and Artifact exhibit. Not sure what it is entirely, beyond 40 artists reconfiguring or dissecting key cinema moments alongside items like the costume designs for Rosemary's Baby and the original key book stills of The 39 Steps. The only other work I'm aware of is Tom Sachs sculpture/video station The Godfather Viewing Station, stationed outside the Museum's main screening area, The Redstone Theater. Sachs himself and the main curator for the Walkers exhibit, Robert M. Rubin, will introduce the film 

Both Godfather and Godfather 2 will be DCP screenings. Much like the restoration for Apocalypse Now Redux, these Francis Ford Coppola films received a major cleanup and improvement of sight and sound. This restoration is what we will get, and get for 1 admission price. If you think you can stay until 10PM, you have a  great day/night ahead. Now for most of the rest of this post, I'm staying with The Godfather. 

Now that I've said all that, do I really need to pitch this? Brando comeback, blah blah blah, rise of Pacino, blah blah blah, great cast that I'm not in the mood to breakdown, blah blah blah, on all great films lists worth a damn and most that are not, blah blah blah . . . I can at least say that this was the fastest 3 hours or so I ever spent watching a film. No excess fat, no wasted shots, perfection.

10 Oscar nominations, 11 if you include the one for Nino Rota's score that was later ruled ineligible because he supposedly reused his score from the film Fortunella. Among the nominations it lost was Supporting Actor for Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall, Coppola for Director, Editing and Sound. It lost all those noms to Cabaret. If this shocks you, it's because you're not into musicals or you have no idea how good and how influential Cabaret director Bob Fosse was/is. What shocked the hell out of me was that The Godfather WASN'T nominated for Cinematography. No Art Direction nod, I could understand that; look it up and you'll know what I mean. But you mean to tell me 1776, Butterflies Are Free, Cabaret (the eventual winner), The Poseidon Adventure and Travels With My Aunt ALL deserved votes more than Godfather? I'm not saying it should have won. I had no problem if they thought Cabaret, the eventual winner, was better. But that's because I have a soft spot for the work of cinematographer Geoffrey Unsworth (2001, Murder on the Orient Express, Becket, Superman: The Movie, among other credits). But Gordon Willis not even being nominated for his work is Bullshit.

But it did win 3 key Oscars: Picture, Screenplay Adaptation for Coppola and Mario Puzo and Brando for Actor. No need to mention the Oscar controversy in this list about Brando that night. No need to mention its high place on both AFI lists. No need to mention its place in my personal top 35. Just need to say; unless you're over the age of 52, you saw its brief re-release in 1997 or saw a crappy print when it's played at Midnight at Landmark Sunshine Cinema or caught this restored version at either the Film Forum or the Ziegfeld back in 2008, you've only seen this on tv. And you've never seen it look as great or as intended. Now is a great time to correct this

I caught this restoration of Godfather twice, and the restoration looked, and especially sounded, great. The same restoration process has been done to The Godfather Part 2. I remember seeing an old 3 strip Technicolor print at AMMI almost ten years ago. A scratchy print, but the nostalgic color hues in the Vito Corleone scenes from Ellis Island through Robert de Niro's shooting scene blew me away. Totally different from every other time I've seen it on video or cable. If the quality of that is captured in this restoration, it should rock. It will anyway, but still. I think I prefer the first Godfather, but that's probably because the passion speaks to me a bit more. But we're talking such a tiny difference between the two and if you've never seen it on the big screen, this is a great chance.

On both AFI Top 100 lists, and in my personal top 35. 11 Oscar nominations, including Actor for Pacino and Supporting Actress for Talia Shire. 6 Oscars, including Picture, Director and Screenplay for Coppola. A Supporting Actor Oscar for De Niro in a career making turn, beating fellow nominated co-stars Lee Strasberg and Michael V. Gazzo:

HOME ALONE (1990)- Wed Dec 9 at 7:30- AMC Empire and Regal Union Square- A 25th anniversary screening of the holiday classic. If that doesn't make the Gen Xers out there feel old, I don't know what will. Not the best film ever made by a long shot, probably the weakest film on this list. And yes, some of Macaulay Culkin's line readings are on the awkward side. And yes, any one of the injuries inflicted on Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern's characters would have killed them. But I guess I fell for the sentiment, with just a few scattered humorous moments that lets the medicine, er, sentiment go down. John Williams' score helps. Besides, I know some of you John Hughes fans  who don't care for this. The same ones who give Curly Sue a pass. Oh give me a break, it's not like I'm pushing Home Alone 2, that film takes forever to tell its story:

GLORIA (1980) with post-film discussion and book signing with Garth Risk Hallberg- Thurs Dec 10 at 7- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's Print Screen series, where an invited author talks about a film that inspired at least part of their work. In this case, we have author Garth Risk Hallberg talking about his book City On Fire (and signing it afterwards), as well as the film it was inspired by: John Cassavetes' Gloria.

From 1980, the initial set-up (and probably this film as well) is something that had to have inspired Luc Besson when he created The Professional. But instead of the cinematic pyrotechnics we usual get from a Besson flick, we get some of the more grounded realism you'd expect from writer/director Cassavetes. Buck Henry, a mob accountant planning on going to the FBI with his books, is slaughtered alongside most of his family, by men under mob orders. But I said most of his family, because Dad helps his 6 year old son escape, to their only friend, their neighbor Gloria. She's an aging gun moll who doesn't like kids, and especially doesn't like this orphan, who doesn't care much for her either. But they need each other, because the kid has his dad's evidence on some mobsters, she knows these mobsters personally (and some intimately), and they're soon on her trail. So Gloria can't be blamed if she ends up taking a shoot first, ask questions later approach. It doesn't help that the police think Gloria's kidnapped the boy, so they're after her as well.

A bit on the melodramatic side, but I don't mind some melodrama excess, as long as I enjoyed the ride. I said Cassavetes tended to be more grounded in his own films, but if the passion and melodrama came from a realistic source, bring it on. And compared to the hideous Sharon Stone remake from 1999, this is a classic. A pretty good NYC film, with Gloria's confrontation with some hoods on a crowded subway possibly the highlight for me. And if gets a little much, Gena Rowlands' Oscar nominated performance is the glue that holds things together. To quote author Hallberg from the Lincoln Center film website:

“A novelist whose subject is New York in the ’70s has a wealth of cinematic sources at his disposal, from Mean Streets to Manhattan. And for the thrills it coaxes from the ruined city streets, John Cassavetes’ Gloria certainly belongs in that exalted company. But it was Cassavetes’ peculiar formal genius, and the mirroring genius of Gena Rowlands—the explosive sense that anything might happen—that I found the most illuminating as I tried to capture that time when ‘everything was on the verge.’ Fire up the popcorn and dim the lights: research has never been so fun.”

LAURA (1944) with or without IN A LONELY PLACE (1950)- Fri Dec 11 at 2 (Laura), 4:15 (Place), 6:10 (Laura, introduced by Megan Abbott) and 8 (Place, introduced by Megan Abbott) plus Sat Dec 12 at 1 (Laura)- Film Forum- The start of the Forum's Women Crime Writers, of films adapted from crime novels written by women. In A Lonely Place and Laura can be seen for one admission. If I can see only one of these films, Laura is my easy pick. But I like both films and thus post both.

First, In A Lonely Place, from 1950. Not necessarily an obvious film noir, but stay with it. Humphrey Bogart plays a washed up screenwriter, quick to temper and quicker to drink. But things get complicated, and I will Robert Sklar's quote handle the rest:

Humphrey Bogart a vicious killer? Okay, he’s a hard-drinking, log-sized-chip-on-his-shoulder screenwriter with a sardonic cynicism so deep he enlists a hatcheck girl as overnight novel summarizer so he doesn’t actually have to read the trashy book he’s agreed to adapt, stopping to take a poke at an asking-for-it producer’s son-in-law along the way. Even when she winds up dead, and he’s being grilled by old army buddy Frank Lovejoy, it turns into an occasion for girl-across-the-courtyard (an exact reproduction of Ray’s first Hollywood pad) Gloria Grahame to give Bogie an alibi — and to get to know better an “interesting” face. But as their love affair progresses, Bogie breaks his fussbudget longtime agent’s glasses, creeps out Lovejoy and wife Jeff Donnell with his too-real “imaginative” reenactment of the murder, and is barely prevented from braining a motorist he’d already sideswiped and beaten senseless. An agonizingly inevitable — but still surprising — resolution looms. Ray boasted “I took the gun out of Bogie’s hands” in altering his screen image (“a radical demystification of the classic Bogart hero” – Robert Sklar); while his own marriage with Grahame ended during the filming — they kept it a secret, fearing Ray would be kicked off the production. "Bogart's performance shares most of the characteristics of his classic performances except that the tie between the killer and the lover is laid bare, without the romanticism, the genre conventions, or the political ideology which underlay it in previous films.... There are no moments for audiences to cheer as he pumps lead into a noxious villain - surely not when he extols the wonderful feeling of crushing a throat, or with his hands around one. The role of Dixon Steele is among the most interesting examples of a performer's critical reevaluation of his screen persona, and surely belongs on the list of Bogart's great performances." – Robert Sklar. 

Next is Laura, in a DCP screening. A classic film noir; one of my favorites of the genre. Detective Dana Andrews is obsessed with murder victim Laura, played by Gene Tierney. Among the suspects are outwardly suave Vincent Price and ultra prissy, ultra acidic critic Clifton Webb (Oscar nominated). We see flashbacks from Laura's life that fascinate the detective more. And then . . . . sorry, if you never saw it, I'm not spoiling it. Though do look for a young (ish, kinda) Judith Anderson.

Among the best of the noirs. Amazing how much sexual tension there were able to get past the Production Code. An Oscar for the Cinematography, additional nominations for director Otto Preminger (a replacement from Rouben Mamoulian; Otto chucked Rouben's old footage, reshot everything and changed the ending- WOW!), Art Direction and the Screenplay (3 writers were nominated, not Ring Lardner Jr., who did some script doctoring). What I'm surprised wasn't nominated was David Raskin's score, which includes "Laura's Theme", which is hard to forget if you like the film. Not the best film noir I've ever seen, but the snappy dialogue, wonderful performances, and interesting shows of love (obsessive, requited, unrequited) have stayed with me. And make me want to get as many people as I can, who are unfamiliar with this film to see this.

Writer Megann Abbott will introduce the 6:10pm screening of Laura and the 8pm screening of In a Lonely Place on the 11th. Both films will also screen on the 12th, though I could only do the 1pm screening of Laura:

DIE HARD (1988) for 10 dollars- Sat Dec 12 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema-  A cheap-ish screening down at Landmark Sunshine Cinema. An offbeat choice for the holiday season, but since everything takes place on Christmas Eve, it fits. And one of the best action films of the past 30 years or so. Bruce Willis jumps from TV star to Superstar status with this film, as everyman cop John McClane, saving his wife and co-workers in a giant office tower, from the clutches of evil Alan Rickman and his machine gun toting cohorts. True, you might feel Paul Gleason, William Atherton and Hart Bochner slow down the fun a bit by playing variations of the American Asshole, but two out of three pay off.

Compared to a lot of action films made after say, True Lies (leaving Mad Max: Fury Road out of this conversation), Die Hard looks better and better each year. CGI alone does not make an action film exciting or even interesting. Yeah, I'm talking to you Transformers 1 and 2, just to pick on two films almost at random. Die Hard was just another above average hit from 1988. A little bigger in popularity than say, Beetlejuice, but not on the level of Crocodile Dundee 2. Home video and cable, plus the even bigger success of Die Hard 2, helped move Die Hard to the level of classic status. But if you're reading this, then you've probably only experienced this on TV. A large TV perhaps with an ok sound system, but not the big screen. Time to change that.

Let me know if there's interest. Take care.