Posted by Pablo Kjolseth on August 26, 2012
In my last post I provided a look behind the curtain for the first five weeks of film programming for my fall film calendar. This week we look at the remaining 24 titles that round out the schedule. It features everything from classics such as Vertigo to the state premiere of the latest uncompromising and visually arresting film by Bruno Dumont, Outside Satan (a scene of which is pictured above).
WEEK SIX: While being feted at the last Durango Film Festival, Alex Cox and Tod Davies came back with a glowing report for More Than Frybread (Travis Holt Hamilton, 2011), a faux-documentary about a Native American competition to produce the tastiest fry-bread around. It will be preceded by a 17-minute short titled Run Red Walk: A Navajo Sheepdog (Melissa Henry, 2010). These two truly independent productions will be followed by the film that has now been declared by Sight & Sound as “the Best Film of All Time.” A lot of people are all abuzz (or grousing) about how Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958) has bumped Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) for this particular honor, but I’ll have to be honest: Alex had asked me to show it several months before Sight & Sound released the list simply because it has great acting by James Stewart and Kim Novak, and we both wanted to see it on the big screen. Special kudos should also go to the next film: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Ben Zeitlin, 2012) – it was one of the few titles at the last Sundance Film Festival that was both shot and projected on film.
It still pains me to talk about film as a vanishing medium, but my ongoing love for film explains why I was adamant about adding a print The Frightened Woman (aka: Femina Ridens, aka: The Laughing Woman, Piero Schivazappa, 1969) to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema series, despite the fact that this 35mm print has lost some color - folks at the Alamo told me that I should let the audience know that it would be presented in amazing “Magenta-Scope!” Anyone who has read my previous post on this film can easily surmise my excitement at getting access to this rare print from the American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) collection – no matter what shape it’s in. (Jeff also covered this previously, links to both articles are below):
WEEK SEVEN: This will be interesting. Kubrick’s Odyssey: Secrets Hidden in the Films of Stanley Kubrick: Part One & Two (Jay Weidner, 2011) is a D.I.Y. documentary that puts forth a hypothesis about how several of Kubrick most beloved films may actually carry within them imbedded messages that have alternate narratives that go far beyond the main plots that are perceived by most viewers. Weidner will attend in-person for a Q&A session that – regardless of whether you believe his theories or not – it will assuredly increase the audiences’ interest to revisit the Kubrick films which Weidner takes apart. The perfect companion piece to this would have been the recent documentary, Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, 2012), which takes a comprehensive view of five different prevailing theories regarding the hidden meanings that can be found in The Shining (1980). Unfortunately, that doc was not yet available to me by the distributor.
This all gets topped off by a new 35mm print of Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981), which should get people in the mood for the dark stuff to come that builds up towards the pending Halloween weekend. Here’s what Variety had to say upon the film’s release: “Possession starts on a hysterical note, stays there and surpasses it as the film progresses. There are excesses on all fronts: in supposedly ordinary married life and then occult happenings, intricate political skulduggery, with the infamous Berlin Wall as background – they all abound in this horror-cum-political-cum-psychological tale.”
WEEK EIGHT: Detropia (Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, 2012) is a look at the financial devastation and shrinking city of Detroit. The documentary also gets a slight boost of optimism thanks to colorful locals and new hipster transplants attracted by low rent and the possibilities inherent within the landscape of industrial decay. The salient point made by the filmmakers is that what is happening to Detroit is not an isolated case, but rather the tip of a rapidly melting iceberg that could include many other cities. It seemed appropriate to balance this out with a view of Paris in the summer: Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974) comes to us courtesy of a new 35mm print provided by New Yorker Films and will hopefully soften the blow that comes from another NYer release: Outside Satan (Bruno Dumont, 2011). Rob Nelson at Variety sums things up nicely:
Personally, I was transfixed by Outside Satan and I thought it was a top-shelf cinematic experience. I cannot say the same for this next title…
WEEK NINE: Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present (Matthew Akers, 2012) screened at Sundance and then went straight to HBO where it’s also available as a VOD title. So why bother bringing it to the theater? Performance artists have always gotten short shrift, and to the uninitiated Abramovic’s act of sitting in a chair at the Museum of Modern Art for three grueling months in 2010, for six days out of every week, without food or water, will probably seem a not-so-dynamic subject for a film – and they couldn’t be more wrong. Much like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) took the life of a paralyzed man and made it into one of the most visually stunning films of that year, The Artist is Present is riveting from beginning to end.
The Godfather was picked by Alex to showcase excellent acting, and following it with the sequel was an obvious choice. Although depressing to consider, these two screenings of Coppola’s masterpiece might be the last time they are screened on 35mm film in my area. From the amazingly complex cinematography Gordon Willis provided Coppola, we switch gears to Don Hertzfeldt’s hilarious and animated minimalism. It’s Such A Beautiful Day is both the name of his last short, and the name of this compilation that sews together previous shorts into one seamless package with a couple extra surprises.
Anyone who saw Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (Mark Hartley, 2008) will undoubtedly remember the excerpts shown in that documentary for the amazing and relentless Wake in Fright (aka: Outback, Ted Kotcheff, 1971). A new 35mm print of this overlooked and now resurrected gem has been picked up by Drafthouse Films and will be making the rounds to a few and highly selective arthouse theaters this year. It is not to be missed! Jeff recently gave this film some great coverage, which you can read here
WEEK TEN: The Invisible War (Kirby Dick, 2012) is the kind of documentary that both wins awards and is playing a pivotal role in shaping the unfolding conversation about Military Sexual Trauma. “More than half a million service men and women have been sexually assaulted since World War II,” says the director. He adds that “If you’re in the military, you can’t speak to the press without approval or you could be court-martialed. And you can’t sue the military for anything that happens to you while in service, so civil courts are not an option to get the truth out.” The filmmakers found their subjects by putting up a Facebook page where they were invited to share their stories off the record, and this set the stage for contact with over 150 respondents, followed by travel, and deeper investigations.
Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970) tops off the selection of classic films that highlight great acting. It remains one of Jack Nicholson’s best performances and is hailed by many (Roger Ebert included) as one of the best American films ever made. It’s hard to find quality films nowadays about struggling middle-class Americans that populate shabby landscapes, although occasionally something does break through (Blue Valentine comes to mind). This will be followed by a 35mm print of Alex Cox’s original ode to Spaghetti Westerns: Straight to Hell (1987), with both Alex and composer Dan Wool (aka: Pray for Rain) in attendance. Dubbed “a story of blood, money, guns, coffee, and sexual tension,” Straight to Hell is one hell of a fun romp that was originally meant to raise money for Elvis Costello and The Clash to tour Nicaragua.
I can not think of a more diametrically opposite subject matter than that which follows: a documentary about Donald Trump as he sets out to build the world’s greatest golf course in Scotland. As it turns out, You’ve Been Trumped (Anthony Baxter, 2011) end ups being a persuasive environmental documentary that couples up nicely with the plot of Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983) – footage of which Baxter uses to cut into proceedings.
I like to end things on a fun note, and to that end my partnership with the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema provides just the ticket, a Signature Event, as they call it, which will be hosted with a live M.C. for a joyous Labyrinth Quote-Along which will encourage audience members to repeat their favorite lines from this Jim Henson-directed fantasy-musical featuring David Bowie as the Goblin King, and a teenage Jennifer Connelly, who at one point says: “I don’t know why, but every now and again in my life – for no reason at all – I need you. All of you.” And with that, the party begins.
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