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.

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