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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best rep experiences of 2014

 Having forgotten what i saw approx the first 6 months of 2014, here is what i recall from primarily the 2nd half :

SCORE Radley Metzger.
(digital projection.  Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

Intoxicating, in on the joke, sophisticated, hip, sexy. A story that fits within its setting.  Smart filmmaking, add sex.  A classic.

(35mm Anthology Film Archives

Personal favorite for years, I've been known to play my 90 dollar ebayed VHS of it for injured hot guys trapped in my apartment so they can't help but fall in love with Jerry Lewis' undervalued masterpiece (and me?)
I dont think that sad ploy really work(ed)s but i can tell you this: Jerry's film contains flat out hilarity interspersed with pacing as awkwardly pensive as Jerry's maudlin moments. ALL of it is terrific because the film acutely fits and evokes the tension of Jerry as performer and conscious art and entertainment maker: the laughs arise amidst the same kind of drama and intensity of a tortured artist who is desperate to be taken (deservedly) seriously.

52 PICK -UP John Frankenheimer
(35mm Anthology Film Archives)

Wow, until i started searching old rep calendars i almost forgot about a true highlight of the moviegoing year. Never having seen 52 PICK UP projected on film before is to never know how the film pushes beyond the limits of expectations, morality, and all writ large. A winning summer night this was.

BODY HEAT Lawrence Kasdan.
(35mm.  Film Forum)

Having only seen this (decades ago) on VHS with my parents, I had no idea how indulgent and over the top this film was. Truly meant for the big screen, I was also shocked to find out how flamboyant and painterly the colors and art design are. Looking like a drunk De Palma's OBSESSION this film was a revelatory visual experience in 35mm.

VIGILANTE William Lustig.
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

Posture, humor, attitude. This film reacts to the mood of turmoil and crime in new york with the economy of physical retribution.
Added plus:  a trademark Bill Lustig performance post screening, with Skype calls to Robert Forster, and Frank Pesce.

KING KONG (1976-77) John Guillermin
(35mm Nitehawk, DEUCE series)

A favorite film  from childhood (videodisc rental?), my elementary era bedroom was also briefly adorned w a puzzle of the trade towers with king kong on it.
This film did not disappoint after revisiting it some 15 yrs later, having never experienced it on 35 before. the first scenes on the (tropical) island are as well filmed, seductive and dramatic as i recall. The last scenes on our (nyc) island are as ugly, romantic and direct as i wanted them to be.  Bonus: screening occurred on 9/11, and film was preceded by awesome video essay of Twin Towers on Film, by Jonathan Hertzberg. Link:  http://knifeinthehead.blogspot.com/2014/09/troika-towers-forty-deuce-kong.html

MOON IN THE GUTTER Jean -Jacques Beineix
(35mm Walter Reade, Lincoln Center)

I have never seen the entire film before, and i'm glad i was sober enough to stick with it the one chance I've had to see an actual film print. All i recall is the large VHS box for rent at Kims, and that id always fallen asleep when i rented it, giving up and returning it to obtain something else i was itching for.  Committing to letting the story unravel, as well as come apart, is a very rewarding few hours. This is total commitment to artistic vision, and it is a visual, grand  enterprise, yet as small and basically romantic as it is in its beginning and end. A 'what if' idea that is fully, if messily,wildly realized. props, jean -jacques.

SEMI-TOUGH Michael Ritchie
((faded) 35mm Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally seeing this Ritchie film promotes my thoughts pre viewing that the man made some of the most revealing American films of the 70s. Burt Reynolds is stunning to see and to hear.

THE NICKEL RIDE Robert Mulligan
(35mm , BAMCinematek)

Tight, slightly playful heist/ genre film with an unmissable star turn by Jason Miller.  The city here is dirty, familial, playful and unforgiving.

(35mm, IFC Center)

John Heard has always been a favorite of mine, if only for his too brief presence in AFTER HOURS.  Heard's performance is a bit more unhinged in Micklin Silver's terrific early 80s tale of  amour fou, but the real breakout of this one is the pace and personality of the filmmaking, along with the small and devastatingly affective choices of Mary Beth Hurt.

(35 mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Finally caught a Duras i'd yet to see, and  in the nick of time, the night i'd returned from a trip out of town. It was worth the hustle. Duras' film finds creative ways to open up space and time for a viewer to connect with the subject and the characters' psyche.

(35mm, Beale Theater, Lincoln Center)

Benjamin is truly insufferable and hard to watch onscreen, so luckily there were many other delights and loopy things to distract. Perry elevates the 70s  independent women's film with his own style and sensibility. Snodgress is flat out fantastic.

TWO FOR THE ROAD Stanley Donen
(DVD viewings)

Another great discovery this year was a rediscovery.  I had recollections of Donen's film, and it was always the one i preferred to CHARADE. Beyond that, i hadnt ever had much of a connection with it.  2014 was the year i had the chance to revisit it, with multiple DVD viewings, and i found myself inside the film, obsessed with the film, and personally (romantically...) inspired by it. The irreverent version of Nichols' HEARTBURN? I think so. Coming round again..
and coming to a blu ray near you in January, from Masters of Cinema.

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