Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Revivals: mostly Memorial Day weekend edition

Hey all, Mike here with a revival list for the Memorial Day weekend. Well one film is playing next week, in June. But I'm not leaving it out, and I'm not doing a special write-up just for one film. So here we go, starting with a film I enjoy:

HARD BOILED (1992/93)- Fri May 27 at 7- Metrograph-  For the record, I liked attending Fast Times at Ridgemont High at the Metrograph. A little on the expensive side compared to other places, the in-house restaurant especially so. But the screening room is comfortable. what with stadium seating and a quality sound system. The kind of screen that can handle both 35mm and digital. Not as big as say the Walter Reade screen, but one I can imagine seeing Barry Lyndon, if I grow the balls to see it again that is. But if I can consider that one, you know I'll consider Hard Boiled.

Now if you're an American of a certain age who enjoy action films, you were introduced to John Woo before his American films, the darn good Face Off and the mediocre Hard Target, were released. You were probably introduced to one of two films, either via cable or bootleg VHS. Whichever film you were introduced to first, is probably one of your favorite action films. It could have been The Killer for you, but for me it was Hard Boiled,from 1992. Chow Yun-Fat secured his status as action hero extraordinaire, as a Dirty Harry-like cop, trying to avenge the death of his partner, while investigating gun runners who are fighting over territory. Tony Leung (The Lover, Infernal Affairs) plays a hit man with a secret, who sides against the more violent gun runner. Both men collide, when said gun runner and his mob hold a hospital full of people hostage. This mob has superior fire power that keeps the police helpless, and the cop and the hitman with a secret can only rely on each to take out the gang. One floor at a time, one room at a time.

The film is pretty good before you get to the hospital. Yun-Fat and Leung are charismatic, the gun fights are stylized and interestingly shot. But the last hour takes place in the hospital, and that's when Woo ratchets everything up another level. The firefights are incredibly complicated at the start and increase in complications as it goes on. The mix of quick edits and single shot extended action scenes have to be seen to be believed. And oh yeah, there's a little humor in there too. No one will ever confuse John Woo with say, Woody or Mel Brooks or even Judd Apatow. But Woo sneaks it in throughout, and is a pleasant surprise during the second half. So yes, on Memorial Day Friday, I'll go out of my way to the Metrograph, if it means I get to enjoy Hard Boiled in all its glory:

JAWS (1975) Fri May 27 and (maybe for me) Sat May 28 at 12:05AM- IFC Center- I don't care if I've posted this before and done it before. Jaws is one of my all time faves, the big screen is a great place to catch it, and summertime is the perfect time period to do it. If you've heard of it, then i don't need to go into it. If you've never seen it on the big screen, this is as good a time as any. And if you've never seen on the big screen and can stay up late, why won't you?

THE PASSIONATE THIEF (1960/63)- Sat May 28 at 8:45- Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's Anna Magnani retrospective. From 1960, released in the U.S. in 1963. Magnani is a delusional and lonely actress working background. When the crew takes a holiday break, she jumps into a New Years Eve party with a blonde wig, brassy dress, and silver fox (with head), and throws herself at any available man. This includes her fellow performer and friend (Toto, a big name in Italian comedy) and a good looking American (Ben Gazzara). Both men are trying to steal from the party guests and she keeps interfering. Don't know the film, but curious:

THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987)- Thurs June 2 at 7- Metrograph- Since I don't see myself posting any revivals during the first 5 days of June, and since I don't want to do a write-up of just one film, here it is on this list. From the Brian de Palma retrospective. I may not post many films from this retrospective, I'm warning you now. Partly due to time, partly because I have no interest in Mission Impossible, Snake Eyes, and Bonfire of the Vanities (not making the same mistake twice). And partly because I've seen both Wise Guys and Femme Fetale  before, never again.

The Untouchables, from 1987. David Mamet reinvented the 50s TV hit as a morality tale, with naive and saintly Elliot Ness having to go into grey areas in order to stop evil, in the form of Robert De Niro's Al Capone. But aided by Ennio Morricone's terrific, Oscar-nominated score, this is more Brian De Palma's triumph. High opera, directed to near perfection. The train station sequence is a classic, the bridge by the Canadian border and the rooftop sequences, are very close. Amazing this almost didn't happen, based on Mamet's far talkier early drafts. According to producer Art Linson, it was De Niro who gently forced Mamet to make massive re-writes, for which Linson and De Palma are eternally grateful.

Part of the one-two punch in the summer of 87 that elevated Kevin Costner, as Ness, to A list status. Introduced us to both Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson. But putting Sean Connery back to A list status in the U.S. might be what's best remembered here. His scene in the church with Costner and his death scene (sorry for the spoiler, but if you don't know the film by now . . . . ), probably won him his Oscar. 

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

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