Thursday, October 24, 2013

TCM for November 2013

We haven't done a TCM preview for a while because it seemed like we were recommending the same films over and over. But there's some cool stuff coming up and, appropriate for November, a few turkeys in the mix as well. Full schedule available HERE. All times Eastern.

November 4th

8:00 PM
A proud young woman in early 20th century Australia must choose between marriage and independence.
Dir: Gillian Armstrong Cast:  Judy Davis , Sam Neill , Wendy Hughes .
C-100 mins, TV-PG, Letterbox Format

Mega creepy Picnic at Hanging Rock November 4th

10:15 PM
When a group of schoolgirls mysteriously disappear, the survivors find their lives changed forever.
Dir: Peter Weir Cast:  Martin Vaughan , Rachel Roberts , Dominic Guard .
C-107 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

12:15 AM
A journalist and a young girl travel through Europe to find her grandmother.
Dir: Wim Wenders Cast:  Rudiger Vogler , Yella Rottlander , Elisabeth Kreuzer .
BW-112 mins, TV-PG

November 6

11:15 AM
A big game hunter decides to stalk human prey.
Dir: Ernest B. Schoedsack Cast:  Joel McCrea , Fay Wray , Robert Armstrong .
BW-63 mins, TV-PG, CC,

2:00 AM
A tortured man reflects on past mistakes while "swimming" home through his neighbors' pools.
Dir: Frank Perry Cast:  Burt Lancaster , Janet Landgard , Janice Rule .
C-95 mins, TV-14, CC, Letterbox Format

4:00 AM
A trio of barnstorming skydivers finds love and heartache at one small-town stop.
Dir: John Frankenheimer Cast:  Burt Lancaster , Deborah Kerr , Gene Hackman .
C-107 mins, TV-MA,

November 9

Disco Godfather declares war on PCP

2:00 AM
A retired cop becomes a disco king when he switches careers and becomes a DJ.
Dir: J Robert Wagoner
C-98 mins,

November 12

3:00 AM
Over a ten-year period, a divorced couple work through their tormented relationship.
Dir: Ingmar Bergman Cast:  Liv Ullmann , Erland Josephson , Bibi Andersson .
C-170 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

November 19

8:00 PM
A schoolboy falls for a girl who wins a place on his school's soccer team.
Dir: Bill Forsyth Cast:  Gordon John Sinclair , Dee Hepburn , Jake D'Arcy .
C-91 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format

10:00 PM
A 19th-century doctor questions his motives for rescuing a sideshow freak.
Dir: David Lynch Cast:  Anthony Hopkins , John Hurt , John Gielgud .
BW-126 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

NOV 19

12:00 AM

Soylent Green. You probably know the last line.

A future cop uncovers the deadly secret behind a mysterious synthetic food.
Dir: Richard O. Fleischer Cast:  Charlton Heston , Leigh Taylor-Young , Edward G. Robinson .
C-97 mins, TV-MA, CC, Letterbox Format

November 20

8:00 PM
PRIMARY (1960)
The Wisconsin Primary of 1960 sets John Kennedy on the road to the White House.
BW-53 mins, TV-G,

9:15 PM
BW-52 mins, TV-PG,

10:30 PM
CRISIS (1963)
After years of segregation, the University of Alabama becomes the last U.S. college to open its doors to black students.
BW-52 mins, TV-PG,

Tons of Kennedy stuff November 20

11:45 PM
This short film examines reactions to President Kennedy's death.
BW-12 mins, TV-PG,

12:00 AM
The nation responds with shock and sorrow when President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.
Dir: Mel Stuart Cast:  Richard Basehart
BW-122 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

2:15 AM
PT 109 (1963)
Future president John Kennedy fights to save his crew when their PT boat sinks in the Pacific.
Dir: Leslie H. Martinson Cast:  Cliff Robertson , Ty Hardin , James Gregory .
C-140 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

November 22

Bringing Up Baby. You have to see it at least once.

10:00 PM
A madcap heiress upsets the staid existence of a straitlaced scientist.
Dir: Howard Hawks Cast:  Katharine Hepburn , Cary Grant , Charlie Ruggles .
BW-102 mins, TV-G, CC,

November 24

2:30 AM
The relationship between two cousins with different personalities is challenged when one falls in love with the other's friend.
Dir: Claude Chabrol Cast:  Gerard Blain , Jean-Claude Brialy , Juliette Mayniel .
BW-109 mins, TV-14,

4:30 AM
An ailing city dweller makes a therapeutic return visit to his home town in the country.
Dir: Claude Chabrol Cast:  Gerard Blain , Jean-Claude Brialy , Michele Meritz .
BW-95 mins, TV-PG,

November 25

Claire Denis' Beau Travail November 25

12:00 AM
An ex-Foreign Legion officer recalls his experiences in the Gulf of Djibouti.
Dir: Claire Denis Cast:  Denis Lavant , Michel Subor , Gregoire Colin .
C-89 mins, TV-MA, Letterbox Format

3:15 AM
Two psychotic young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic "games."
Dir: Michael Haneke Cast:  Susanne Lothar , Ulrich Muhe , Arno Frisch .
C-104 mins, Letterbox Format

November 27

Grown men weep during this movie.

8:00 PM
Mysterious voices tell an Iowa farmer to build a baseball diamond in his backyard.
Dir: Phil Alden Robinson Cast:  Kevin Costner , Amy Madigan , James Earl Jones .
C-105 mins, TV-14, Letterbox Format

November 30

8:00 PM
An Indian-hating Civil War veteran tracks down the tribe that slaughtered his family and kidnapped his niece.
Dir: John Ford Cast:  John Wayne , Jeffrey Hunter , Vera Miles .
C-119 mins, TV-PG, CC, Letterbox Format

A salute to the trashy cinema of Ted V. Mikels November 30

2:15 AM
A squad of beautiful government agents tries to catch saboteurs.
Dir: Ted V. Mikels Cast:  Michael Ansara , Francine York , Anthony Eisley .
C-101 mins, Letterbox Format

4:15 AM
Dir: Ted V. Mikels Cast:  Sherri Vernon , Dixie Lauren , Georgia Morgan .
BW-97 mins,

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In the City of Sylvia (2007)****1/2


Filmmaking is usually a quest for reduction. Whether it’s a sprawling historical epic, a suspenseful crime drama or an abstract essay on the mysteries of existence, typically the trick is to externalize the story into small chunks that can be coherently told through character interactions. If those interactions have the ring of truth, sparkle with wit, simmer with sexual tension, or portray a universal humanity – or any combination of the above – then that’s just icing on the cake. 

In the City of Sylvia takes the opposite approach. It enlarges what appears to be a simple case of mistaken identity into a bewildering, hypnotic meditation on romance, voyeurism and the deceptive power of embellished memories. Through languid pacing and a dearth of dialogue, the film approaches the deep psychological reverie of a novel. But instead of reading a character’s innermost thoughts, we are forced into our own mental constructions. Director Jose Luis Guerin tantalizes the viewer with scraps of disconnected information; tidbits that our minds scramble to neatly sort and order. But it’s not really a conscious effort; rather an innate desire to fill in the blanks. In the City of Sylvia presents settings and situations so familiar and banal, so full of memory triggers, that our own experiences and hazy recollections are recruited to flesh out the narrative. It’s only natural; when presented with a vacuum, we tend to fill it with ourselves. 

Without giving too much away, In the City of Sylvia concerns a young man with steely blue eyes (Xavier Lafitte) who has come to the ancient city of Strasbourg for a solitary summer holiday. Much of the film is spent following the young man on leisurely strolls down Strasbourg’s quiet, narrow streets. He usually ends up at an outdoor café near the National Theatre, where he spends his afternoons nursing beers while engaging in an unusually intense form of people watching. While he makes quick sketches of his fellow patrons in a thick notebook, his gaze shifts from table to table; his attention randomly focusing on an ever changing variety of young women. From inside the theatre, a willowy brunette emerges (Pilar Lopez de Ayala), and our young man closes his sketchbook and secretly follows her into the bright sun of a lazy French afternoon.

These sequences play as a sensualist’s delight, with Guerin capturing a resonant sense of the quietly giddy interaction of public loafing; that peaceful timelessness that comes when the sun and the wine and the weather all blissfully combine. Editor Núria Esquerra has an exquisite sense of rhythm and backtimes her entry points perfectly from a shot’s payoff. The effect is a relaxing, some could say torpid, tempo that never actually dawdles. As Lafitte’s ambling pursuit is eventually discovered by de Ayala, the film confounds our expectations with a resolution that only muddles the situation, and the viewer is forced to supply the jagged pieces required to complete the mosaic. But our knowledge is fractional and incomplete, and for the remainder of Lafitte’s dreamy sojourn we are immersed in a deeply meditative sort of whodunit.

In one fleeting shot, Guerin offers up an explanation, at least a possible explanation, to the conundrum that eludes young Lafitte. The moment is handled in an offhand way and seems much too casual to be the profound answer he seeks. Or, his mind may be too jumbled to recognize truth when it materializes right in front of him, or right behind him; an image Guerin uses as a recurrent motif. As Lafitte’s visit draws to a close, he seeks out the mysterious de Ayala one last time. A lonely vigil on a train platform gives him, and the viewer, ample opportunity to speculate on the lives of the assembled strangers. The young man’s intense observation of his surroundings becomes an infinity mirror. As he attempts to put this milling throng of commuters into a logical context, viewers will be trying to do the same for this intriguingly stark and deceptively simple film. At least Lafitte is granted a reprieve when the end titles roll. We’re not as lucky. We’ll likely remain under In the City of Sylvia’s magic spell for quite some time.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Time Travel with Fred Herzog Part 1

Born in 1931, Fred Herzog's photographs capture extraordinary scenes of everyday life in the post-WWII era. Shot mainly in the environs of Vancouver, Herzog show us a place, time and subject matter we're not used to seeing in such vivid, lifelike color. Think of him as a latter-day Walker Evans with a roll of Kodachrome. We'll be posting a series of his images courtesy of Equinox Gallery.

Man with Bandage 1968

Boys Wrestling 1969

San Francisco 1962

2 White Cars 1969

Salvage Ass'n 1958

Man in Black Hat 1959

Red Stockings 1961

Foot of Main 1968

Prinz 1959

New World Confectionary 1965

Granville/Smyth 1959

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Quickies for October, 2013

Celeste and Jesse Forever (2012) ✭✭✭1/2

After a rocky start - you’ll be tempted to give up in the first ten minutes - this sunny romantic comedy settles into a pleasing rhythm. Rachida Jones carries much of the load here and she’s terrific. The script, which she co-authored, offers some sharp skewering of L.A.’s celebrity culture and the film’s supporting cast of Elijah Wood, Eric Christian Olsen and hilarious Will McCormick give the proceedings a lively bounce. Check out Rebecca Dayan as Veronica,; you’ll think she’s the doppelgänger of young Jennifer O’Neal. Celeste and Jesse Forever is funny, engaging and an infinitely better rom-com than Silver Linings Playbook

Dick Tracy (1990) ✭✭✭✭ 1/2

Warren Beatty’s great, neglected masterpiece. Ok maybe not a masterpiece but a huge colorful ball of entertainment. Complete with superb make-up, art direction and Vittorio Storaro’s sublime cinematography, Dick Tracy captures the spirit of the original comics better than a dozen Iron Men or Dark Knights. Let’s not forget Madonna, at the height of her career and hotter than a pistol, and spacey Glenne Healey as long suffering Tess Trueheart. Al Pacino gets to be a bit much as head gangster Big Boy however he’s clearly having a great time so what the hell.

Ginger and Rosa (2012) ✭✭✭

Saw this a few weeks ago remember very little about it. London in the 1960s and Christina Hendricks. Yep that’s about it. What more does one need?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) ✭✭✭✭

This formative work by Michael Haneke takes place in the autumn of 1993, when the talking heads of TV news were obsessed in equal measure with Bosnian War atrocities and Michael Jackson’s alleged pedophilia. The film concerns a random group of Viennese residents whose bleak lives mirror those confusing and unbalanced priorities.

We meet a runaway boy from Romania who hustles a living on the street, a professional couple attempting to adopt a withdrawn, and possibly abused, little girl, a middle-age Brinks driver in a crumbling marriage, a feeble pensioner ignored by his daughter and a computer science student whose pleasant demeanor hides a potentially violent inner turmoil. We get to know these characters through a series of seemingly banal vignettes, all presented in an early form of Haneke’s patented style of subjective hyper-realism.

That approach, made famous in such later films as Cache and Code Unknown, is not quite perfected here - there’s a bit of traditional coverage editing and virtually no camera movement – but we can clearly see its stylistic beginnings. Yet Haneke, who loves taking audiences out of their comfort zones, manages to find other ways to quietly alarm us.  The scenes are frequently interspersed with brutally abrupt cuts to black, often in the middle of a word of dialogue, which makes the characters seem strangely vulnerable and hints at an unseen malevolence.

A brain teaser continues the spiritual allusions, as a scene involving college students attempting to form a cross from bits of torn paper is used as a recurring motif. In what has to be one of the least subtle metaphors of Haneke’s career, the problem is ultimately solved, quickly and easily, by employing scientific principles on a computer. For those new to Haneke’s milieu, 71 Fragments is not a bad place to start. It’s accessible, socially relevant and contains none of the graphic shock imagery that causes wariness in even his most devoted fans.

Yet this film has the same complex humanism, stratified storytelling and grimy urban textures that characterize his best work. Seven years later, Haneke would have an international breakthrough hit with Code Unknown and, in many ways, 71 Fragments is like a dress rehearsal for that film.

Production Details