April 8, 2013
I couldn't be happier to be returning to the TCM Classic Film Festival for the third time! They recently released the full festival schedule and I've been pouring over it in a state of anxiety that's part ecstasy, part heartbreak and 100% nervous excitement. It's always a bummer to have to choose between films at the fest, and now with more awesome Club TCM events than ever, those choices go from difficult to me in a whiny voice simpering like a sad puppy. Still, it's hard to complain about the greatest that is the TCM Classic Film Festival. I should just be grateful I'm going, right? Right. Without further ado, below is my tentative schedule for the festival, (as ever) jam-packed with great films, awesome special screenings and impossible choices.
THURSDAY APRIL 25TH
Luckily the first night is always the easiest. Since I'm not going to the FUNNY GIRL red carpet premiere, that frees me up for an awesome night of noir and pre-code movies. First up is Stanley Kubrick's THE KILLING, with star Colleen Gray in person! This was a film made in 1956, so to have the star there to tell stories about the making of a classic is pretty exciting. It'll be in DCP, which is not ideal, but you take what you can get.
Luckily, the next film screens in 35mm. It's the William Wellman pre-code SAFE IN HELL, starring Dorothy Mackaill as a sassy prostitute who hides out on a tropical island to beat a murder rap back home in gangland Chicago. If that sounds awesome, it's because it is. Great movie and I can't wait to see it on the big screen.
FRIDAY APRIL 26TH
The next day features the toughest choices of the fest. Firstly, I can't decide between THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER in 35mm or 1968's THE SWIMMER with Burt Lancaster. The first I've seen several times but never on the big screen, and the second is a film I've wanted to see for a long time (and I love Burt Lancaster). I feel like because this is first thing in the morning, I'll be going wherever my friends are going (I'm easily swayed).
The second choice is, for me, the most difficult of the fest. I really, REALLY want to see the great, train-set film noir THE NARROW MARGIN. The only problem is that the evil, evil programming people scheduled it opposite the Club TCM talk with film preservation superstar Kevin Brownlow and silent movie score superstar Carl Davis. Brownlow & Davis contributed to the incredible, life-changing screening of Abel Gance's NAPOLEON at last year's San Francisco Silent Film Festival. I bought a poster. I want to get it signed. On the other hand, THE NARROW MARGIN is one of the greatest, underrated films noir of all-time (and I love movies about trains!). Plus, co-star Jacqueline White will appear in person. Ugh, I hate this decision, but I have a feeling Brownlow & Davis will win out. I think I'll start the Twitter campaign to screen THE NARROW MARGIN again in the Sunday TBA spot, now...
The next choice is obvious: NOTORIOUS. Hitchcock. Grant. Bergman. 35mm. Done.
Then it's time for my first silent film of the fest, Clara Bow in her star-making role as the IT girl. (Yes, that's where the phrase comes from.) Carl Davis will be conducting the score. Bonus awesome.
Now for a classic Hollywood confession: I've never seen ON THE TOWN. I know, I know. Gene Kelly in a sailor uniform. I KNOW. But I'll be seeing it on the big screen, so that kind of makes up for my previous ignorance?
After a full day of movie-going, the lovely, lovely programming people have planned a treat for all us humans with "stupid minds--stupid, stupid!" Yes, my friends, it's Ed Wood's masterpiece, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE! Obviously, I can quote almost all the bad lines from PLAN 9. As an ardent lover of Tim Burton's ED WOOD (and the marvelously, sincerely, uniquely horrendous oeuvre of the master Edward D. Wood, Jr. himself), I am well-versed in the film. The only question is how to sneak in a bottle of something for an Ed Wood drinking game...?
SATURDAY APRIL 27TH
Saturday's shaping up to be the most diverse day of the festival, with offerings ranging from silents and Swedish, to noir and cartoons.
After yesterday's late night silliness with Ed Wood, Saturday morning should begin as all Saturday mornings should begin: with cartoons. (Amen.) Sex symbol Leonard Maltin presents BUGS BUNNY'S 75TH BIRTHDAY BASH, a collection to celebrate Bugs' silver anniversary this year. Sounds good, Doc.
It's a pretty big three-sixty from a rascally rabbit to rapey hillbillies, but, ah, such is the joy of the TCM Classic Film Festival. Next up is John Boorman's DELIVERANCE, one of several '70s classics that, through the inexorable passage of time, now share billing with Greta Garbo, Ernest Lubitsch and Bob Hope. And I'm all for it. With respect to the traditional "classic Hollywood" era fans, the 1970s were probably the all-time greatest decade for American film (certainly, the '40s give the '70s some stiff competition). Heck, it's been 40 years. Yes, the '70s is classic. And Jon Voight will be there in person! C'mon, TCM, you couldn't get Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty? What are they doing that's better than this? Their loss.
One of the must-see screenings is the world premiere restoration of THE BIG PARADE, presented by rock star/sexiest film preservationist alive Kevin Brownlow. King Vidor's 1925 epic about WWI features (another!) new score by Carl Davis. It's a match made in silent cinema heaven.
Speaking of cinema heavens, how about a discussion with Max von Sydow about THE SEVENTH SEAL? Kind of amazing, right? Ingmar Bergman's stone cold classic with the star in person? Okay, you twisted my arm. And screening it in 35mm as to preserve Sven Nyquist's perfect cinematography? Oh, my heart, be still.
Next up is a film I know nothing about: Cy Endfield's TRY AND GET ME. But I trust Eddie Muller, the czar of noir, to pick out gems for the festival. And the film--about mob justice in light of a kidnapping that ends in murder--sounds like a winner.
Now it's time to take a breath. It's Saturday night at midnight. Am I still awake and alive enough to sit through ISLAND OF LOST SOULS? I sincerely hope so, because it's an awesome film that I've been meaning to see forever. I mean, Charles Loughton and Bela Lugosi in a pre-code horror flick about half-human monsters? Perfect midnight movie fodder. Here's to the coffee I will require to make it through this awesome slate of movies.
SUNDAY APRIL 28TH
Sunday I am running completely on fumes. Luckily for me, it's kind of an easy day because, baby, we're spending it in the '70s.
First up is the digital restoration of Terrence Malick's amazing first feature, BADLANDS. No Sissy Spacek or Martin Sheen for the Q&A, though, which is a bummer. But it's an amazing film and I'm psyched to finally see it on the big screen.
Ditto for the next film: an oft-overlooked New Hollywood gem called SCARECROW, which co-stars Al Pacino and Gene Hackman. The pair play drifters who hook up to travel together, but beyond that (and the fact it was photographed by Vilmos Zsigmond), I don't know much about it. This will be the U.S. premiere of a new digital restoration, however, so that's cause for excitement.
We continue the Max von Sydow tribute with Sydney Pollack's thriller, THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. And '70s Robert Redford on the big screen? Me-ow.
Which brings us to the end. But what a finale! It's my bf Buster Keaton's masterpiece, THE GENERAL! Screened in a world premiere digital restoration with musical accompaniment from the terrific Alloy Orchestra, this will be an amazing end to what's sure to be an amazing festival.
And then, oh yes, the infamous Club TCM after party. What happens at the Club TCM after party stays at the Club TCM after party. Happy festival, everyone!
January 25, 2013
Washboard abs. Male butts in thong underwear. Male sexuality being worshiped by women in a playful, consensual environment (and men loving it). Magic Mike is something of a mainstream movie miracle in regards to gender relations. Simply the amount of naked male flesh in this film makes me wanna pen feminist odes to Steven Soderbergh. But perhaps my favorite part of Magic Mike isn't the skin, so much as the reactions to this hidden world of male stripping. Most of these reactions mix surprise and disbelief with the expected excitement and titillation. I know for a fact the accuracy of these faces--it's what theatrical audiences looked and sounded like when the film was released last summer.
So, please, enjoy the feminine side of Magic Mike. "Laaadies of Tampaaa..."
October 11, 2012
Celebrating the cityscapes of the late cinematographer Harris Savides.
Previously: Los Angeles
From Fincher's obsessively dark land of murder and mystery to the scruffy '70s of Harvey Milk's gay rights revolution, San Francisco through the lens of Savides always focuses on the architecture of the city. Bridges, tunnels and windows make mazes for Michael Douglas in The Game; the Bay Area's network of interconnected cities and suburbs make it impossible for the police to track the Zodiac killer, whose knowledge of puzzles and codes is matched by his mastery of urban design and transportation. The story of Milk is the story of San Francisco--the two are inseparable. The life, death, and legacy of a man and a city.
The Game (David Fincher, 1997)
Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008)
It is with great sadness that I learned of the death of Harris Savides today at the young age of 55.
I first took note of Savides' work while watching Somewhere & Greenberg (both 2010) almost back to back in early 2011. Both bring a kind of hazy, wrapped-in-smog kind of indecipherability to L.A. His view of Los Angeles is essentially isolationist: a single palm tree, a single neon sign, a single commuter in impenetrable traffic; a city that utterly lacks connection.
These films turned out to be near the end of Savides' career, which began in music videos and included lensing for Gus Van Sant, David Fincher, and Sophia Coppola.
Enjoy these shots from Harris Savides' LOS ANGELES: