Stuff To See In LA: January 26th - February 1st
One of the best things about living in LA is the burgeoning revival scene that's been blowing up over the last couple of years. There's always room for it to be better, though, and the only way that's going to happen is if I use whatever platform I have to promote these screenings and, even more crucially, if you guys actually attend them.
I'm guilty of talking about the revival scene more than enjoying it. I get so caught up in the week-to-week schedule of press screenings and writing that I have very little free time left over to go check out what's happening at the Aero or the Egyptian or the New Beverly or the Silent Movie Theater. But I should go. It's an important part of a balanced cinema diet, going to see revivals of great films in the theater, and I rely too much on DVD to fill in the gaps in my own film knowledge.
So I think I'm going to start trying to round up some of these screening announcements once a week, and if there's stuff I'm missing, or smaller films that are playing special venues... let me know. Please.
For example, did you know there are two different venues where you can see Alfred Hitchcock films this week? Or that someone's doing an ongoing program of kid's movies that are totally f'ed up?
The New Beverly is the most authentically grindhouse place in town, and the programming is consistently good. When they have in guest programmers, it gets even more exciting, and this week Peter Bogdanovich is the man in charge. That's so cool that I don't even care what's playing. I'm tempted just to go and see whatever he's put together because this is a guy who deeply loves movies, and whose writing about them has always been so sharp.
Here's the schedule I was sent:
Monday & Tuesday - January 26 & 27
"North By Northwest" (1959)
dir. Alfred Hitchcock, written by Ernest Lehman, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
"To Have And Have Not" (1944)
dir. Howard Hawks, written by Jules Furthman & William Faulkner based on the Ernest Hemingway novel, starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall
Wednesday & Thursday - January 28 & 29
"Touch Of Evil" (1958)
dir. Orson Welles, starring Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles
"Rio Bravo" (1959) 50th Anniversary!
dir. Howard Hawks, starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan
Friday & Saturday - January 30 & 31
"High Sierra" (1941)
dir. Raoul Walsh, starring Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Joan Leslie
Fri: 7:30; Sat: 3:15 & 7:30
"Gaslight" (1944) 65th Anniversary!
dir. George Cukor, starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Angela Lansbury
Fri: 9:30; Sat: 5:15 & 9:30
Saturday January 31
Phil Blankenship & Amoeba Music present
New Beverly Midnights
"Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct" (1992)
dir. Paul Verhoeven, written by Joe Eszterhas, starring Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Jeanne Tripplehorn
11:59, All Tickets $7
Our weekly midnight movie button giver, Jackie, is celebrating her birthday by playing her favorite controversial thrillride. Join us for the fun & excitement!
For more information, visit our official site
Next up, we've got this coming week's events at the Aero, which sound amazing. I'm seriously considering that "Mad Max" triple feature.
Wednesday, January 28 - 7:30 PM
PSYCHO, 1960, Universal, 109 min.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.
Coming off the comparatively big-budget NORTH BY NORTHWEST, director Alfred Hitchcock decided he wanted to make a nice little, low-budget B&W film for a change of pace. PSYCHO was the result, and the shockwaves are still reverberating. Lovely embezzler Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) is forced to take refuge from a rainstorm off the beaten track of a lonely California highway. Unfortunately, she checks in at the Bates Motel, presided over by young Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a strange fellow living with his mother in a nearby mansion. Hitchcock used the small crew from his popular TV show for this hair-raising example of California Gothic, and it still remains one of the most influential thrillers ever made. With Vera Miles and John Gavin.
THE BIRDS, 1963, Universal, 119 min.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.
Director Alfred Hitchcock's love affair with northern California (begun in SHADOW OF A DOUBT and continued in VERTIGO) climaxed with this stunning shocker about the residents of picturesque coastal town Bodega Bay, who find themselves targeted by a murderous invasion of birds. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier's novelette. Starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Suzanne Pleshette, Jessica Tandy and Veronica Cartwright.
Thursday, January 29 - 7:30 PM
Underrated Double Feature:
I CONFESS, 1953, Warner Bros., 95 min.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.
Montgomery Clift plays a priest who undergoes a crisis of faith when he hears a murderer's confession; as the film progresses, he takes on the man's guilt as his own, both literally (as police wrongly suspect him of the murder) and psychologically. The French critics of the 1950s considered this to be one of Hitchcock's major works, and it remains among his most underrated masterpieces.
STAGE FRIGHT, 1950, Warner Bros. 110 min.
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.
Jane Wyman is a struggling actress who helps hide fellow student Richard Todd when he's accused of killing his lover's husband. Marlene Dietrich co-stars in this murder mystery set in the world of the theater, a setting that allows Hitchcock to explore deception from varying perspectives in every scene.
Friday, January 30 - 7:30 PM
Michael Crichton Tribute - Double Feature:
Novelist, screenwriter, producer and director (and doctor!) Michael Crichton was one of the most beloved and visionary entertainers of the late 20th century. From popular entertainments (JURASSIC PARK) to provocative social button-pushers (RISING SUN, DISCLOSURE), he never failed to rivet his audience.
WESTWORLD, 1973, Warner Bros., 88 min.
Dir. Michael Crichton.
Bored suburbanites Richard Benjamin and James Brolin embark on a weekend at a new fangled amusement park offering a deceptively "real," idealized fantasy experience. It just so happens they've chosen Westworld, where immersion in the cowboy experience of frontier times is the order of the day. Unhappily, they've picked a weekend where electronic glitches in the park's security suddenly make the park's androids go on the fritz. Once things go haywire, there's one very aggressive gunslinger robot in particular (a maniacal Yul Brynner) that seems to have it in for the boys. And he pursues them relentlessly as fantasy devolves into a nightmarish reality.
THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK, 1997, Universal, 129 min.
Dir. Steven Spielberg.
Jeff Goldblum returns from JURASSIC PARK and is joined by Julianne Moore and Pete Postlethwaite in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Michael Crichton's bestselling sequel. This time, an expedition of scientists, businessmen and game hunters travels to the island where the dinosaurs of the first film were bred, with predictably terrifying results. Both more action-packed and more playful than its predecessor (with plenty of tributes to Howard Hawks and HATARI!), this is one of those rare sequels that equals and at times even surpasses the original.
Saturday, January 31 - 6:30 PM
Mad Max Special Triple Feature:
MAD MAX, 1979, MGM Repertory, 93 min.
Dir. George Miller.
In 1979, audiences were stunned by this nihilistic road-rage sci-fi action film about violent car gangs taking over the highways and awed by the daring car chases and the grim sadistic tone, reminiscent of spaghetti westerns. As with the rest of the cast, future international star Mel Gibson's voice was dubbed at the time of the release because the American distributor was afraid U.S. audiences would not understand Australian accents. Shown here in all its uncut and undubbed glory, this dark revenge tale still manages to impress audiences.
MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR, 1981, Warner Bros., 94 min.
Dir. George Miller.
Hockey mask-wearing Lord Humongous whips his speed-freaks into a frenzy, while Road Warrior Mel Gibson tries to save the remnants of civilization, in director George Miller's lean, mean, thrill machine - along with James Cameron's ALIENS, the finest action film of the decade.
MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, 1985, Warner Bros., 107 min.
Dir. George Miller and George Ogilvie.
The third and most ambitious of George Miller's MAD MAX movies is less action-oriented and more politically allegorical, as Max (Mel Gibson) finds himself among a group of children being oppressed by matriarchal uber-capitalist Tina Turner. The deeper thematic resonance doesn't get in the way of some spectacular set pieces, however, particularly in the Thunderdome of the title, a gladiatorial theatre that is a triumph of visionary production design. Discussion following MAD MAX 2 with cinematogrpaher Dean Semler. One of our patrons has kindly offered to bring his replica Interceptor by the Aero for display!!
At the Egyptian, the Aero's sister theater, they're in the middle of a festival of requested '60s and '70s titles that aren't available on video, which is exactly why you can't just sit the revival scene out. I've missed several of these already because of Sundance and not paying attention, and some of these are movies that you just can't see otherwise.
Check out the remainder of the line-up.
Thursday, January 29 - 7:30 PM
THE STERILE CUCKOO, 1969, Paramount, 107 min.
Director Alan J. Pakula adapts John Nichols' novel into this bittersweet story of awkward first love in the college world of upstate New York. Liza Minnelli is Pookie, a needy, neurotic young girl who attaches herself to retiring bookworm Jerry (Wendell Burton). Gradually, she seduces him with her offbeat, abrasive humor, her sweetness and tireless pursuit. But Jerry proves only a fuzzy symbol of what Pookie needs and is not ready or able to supply the love-starved girl with constant validation. "...an affecting film about a vulnerable girl...who hides behind a facade of outrageous kookiness... Pakula, in his directorial debut, gives unobtrusive support to Liza's highly charged performance which in one scene - on the telephone to the boy while he makes lame excuses - is a tour de force..." - Channel 4 Film (U.K.) NOT ON DVD
THE SWIMMER, 1968, Sony Repertory, 94 min.
One of the most unjustly neglected figures of the New Hollywood, director Frank Perry made 10 low-key, razor-sharp dissections of modern morals and relationships between 1962 and 1975. Based on John Cheever's acclaimed novel, THE SWIMMER follows vigorous, middle-aged, upper-middle-class Burt Lancaster on a metaphoric journey swimming from backyard pool to backyard pool in his lush, upscale suburban neighborhood, headed towards a "home" that may no longer exist. A nostalgic portrait of regret and despair lying beneath the gemlike surface of suburbia - here represented by the sprawling, outlying suburbs of Connecticut -- featuring one of Lancaster's finest performances.
Friday, January 30 - 7:30 PM
Jane Fonda Double Feature:
Re-Release Premiere! Ultra-Rare! F.T.A. (aka FREE THE ARMY aka FUN, TRAVEL, ADVENTURE), 1972, Displaced Films, 97 min.
Dir. Francine Parker.
The years 1971 and 1972 saw stars Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland lead a kind of mutant USO troupe on a tour of American West Coast military bases as well as outposts in the Pacific. Fonda reportedly referred to the tour as "political vaudeville," and we see performances of a number of sketches and musical numbers in front of live audiences of the U.S. armed services. There are also a multitude of interviews with soldiers, sailors and marines, soliciting their opinions on the Vietnam conflict F.T.A. was originally released by American-International but pulled from distribution after only one week, with rumors of pressure from the Pentagon. It has been almost impossible to see ever since. "...a fascinating slice of a fractious period in American history. Having a filmed record of the discontent of that era makes this an important documentary...the rare production to question the Vietnam War at a time when Hollywood preferred to look the other way." - Phil Hall, Film Threat NOT ON DVD
COMING HOME, 1978, MGM Repertory, 126 min.
Dir. Hal Ashby.
As timely as ever, this moving and uncompromising film about the Vietnam War and the brutal struggle at home won Best Actor and Actress Oscars for stars Jane Fonda and Jon Voight. Fonda is left alone for the first time as her husband, Bruce Dern, is fighting in Vietnam. She falls in love with Voight, a paraplegic vet whom she had known briefly in high school. Highlighted by one of the most tender and emotional love scenes in film history, with performances so real you almost want to look away from the screen. Nominated for eight Academy Awards and winner of three, it also took home a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Nancy Dowd, Waldo Salt and Robert C. Jones (who was also Ashby's longtime editor). Beautifully shot by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler. Also featuring Robert Carradine and Penelope Milford. Discussion in between films with F.T.A. performers Michael Alaimo, Holly Near and Rita Martinson.
Saturday, January 31 - 7:30 PM
Rare! SECRET CEREMONY, 1968, Universal, 109 min.
Director Joseph Losey's bizarre psychological suspenser features Mia Farrow as a disturbed, orphaned young woman and Elizabeth Taylor as the prostitute who pretends to be her mother. At first, the two find only a superficial resemblance to lost loved ones (as Farrow also looks like Taylor's daughter), but gradually the pair assume their roles for real. However, when Robert Mitchum as Farrow's stepfather is stirred into the brew, things get considerably stranger. Everyday habits and household items gradually assume a ritual significance, and Taylor and Farrow's weird relationship lurches toward a frightening and uncertain future. A creepy modern Gothic, impeccably fine-tuned by director Losey's customary attention to character detail. With Peggy Ashcroft and Pamela Brown. "...makes for a memorable film." - Time Out Film Guide; "Joseph Losey's best film in years..." - Renata Adler, The New York Times NOT ON DVD
Rare! New 35mm Print! DEEP END, 1971, Paramount, 88 min.
One of the great lost films of the early 1970s, from Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski, captures the sense of impending dread and spiritual breakdown at the end of the '60s like no other movie. John Moulder-Brown stars as an innocent teenage psychopath working in a public bathhouse who becomes obsessed with doe-eyed Jane Asher, with shocking results. Terrific score by krautrock great Canand British songwriter Cat Stevens. "Jerzy Skolimowski's directorial career...began with this offbeat tale of obsessive, destructive love...haunting...An increasingly tense, dreamlike drama from an...uncompromising filmmaker." - Steven Puchalski, Shock Cinema NOT ON DVD
If you need information on either the Aero or the Egyptian, check out the official website of the American Cinematheque.
Over at the Silent Movie Theater, the Cinefamily does probably the most eclectic and oddball programming in town, and you have to love them for it. They have themed nights each month, like every Wednesday in January is an avant-garde silent film, while every Thursday has to do with rock'n'roll, and so on. What I really love about the Cinefamily is the idea that you can pay a monthly fee and get into everything if that's what you want to do, and it seems reasonable in terms of price. I think that sort of loyalty is a great thing for a revival house, and it can make for a really interesting audience when everyone's a regular.
Here's what we can expect at the theater this week.
TV Tuesday: True Crime Edition
January 27 - 8pm, tickets - $10
For the month of January we've got a retrospective of great true crime movies, but there's no more rich vein of "based on a true story" exploitation than the TV movie-usually made within months of it happening, and with competing networks showing the same story! Heck, there's even a whole cable network devoted to TruCrime now. So, for this edition of TV Tuesday, we're focusing on the grisly and gruesome headline cash-ins that make up the fabric of our small-screen reality. As usual we'll have a mix of movie, commercials, specials, and more; a full four-hour program of empty calories from the glass teat. So bring your favorite snacks, join our couch and snuggle up, ‘cause it's TV Tuesday: The True Crime Edition!
January 28 - 8pm, tickets - $14
"A Page Of Madness"
Dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa, 1926, digital presentation, 60 min.
with live film score by The Gaslamp Killer
The most modern and challenging Japanese silent film to survive the firebombings of WWII, "A Page of Madness" throws the viewer into a maelstrom of hallucinations and obsession, and easily stands way out
amongst its kabuki and jidai-geki silent contemporaries. A haunted man takes a job as a janitor in an insane asylum where his wife is committed; his fantasies of liberating her blend into the mad, confounding visions of the inmates.
Told without intertitles, the narrative takes a back seat to pure visual expression. Director Teinosuke Kinugasa, already a connoisseur of world cinema when this film was made in 1927, synthesizes every available experimental technique known at the time: his use of superimpositions, flashbacks, rapid montage and complex subjective camerawork rival the innovations of Murnau and Gance for sheer audacity. Lost for half a century after its completion and rediscovered in the early ‘70s by Kinugasa himself in his own garden shed, "A Page Of Madness" is a stunning, singular work.
The evening's live musical accompaniment comes from psychedelic soundsmith The Gaslamp Killer.
January 29 - 8pm and 10pm, tickets
"Riot On Sunset Strip"
Dir. Arthur Dreifuss, 1967, 35mm, 87 min.
Dir. William Allen Castleman, 1973, 35mm, 90 min.
The real-life ‘66 Hollywood youth culture "hippie riots" formed the conveinent basis for Riot On Sunset Strip, an entertaining case of AIP producer Sam Katzman cashing in right at the crucial flashpoint of teenage fads. Aldo Ray stars as the cop stuck in the middle between obsequious peaceniks and bloodthirsty "Normals", and Mimsy Farmer is his long-lost rebellious daughter who, after getting dosed at a party, gets tossed into an transcendentally hardcore trip sequence, a fetishistic heaven for fans of the form.
Performances by The Chocolate Watchband and The Standells bookend the madness.
Going toe-to-toe on the madness tip is Bummer, which thoroughly lives up to its title. "The Group", a scrungy go-nowhere L.A. band, features a
fat, ugly drunken bassist named Butz who's got more in common with De Sade than Dee Dee Ramone. No groupies will fuck him, so he starts raping them. Enjoy!
January 30 - 7:30pm and 10pm
The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer Dir. David R. Bowen,
1993, digital presentation, 99 min.
Made less than two years after Jeffrey Dahmer's arrest, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer is a case study-not just of the sick mind of a serial killer, but in how much more incredible a film can be just by sticking to the true story. Over a thousand hours of research went into this effective low-budget biopic, and the facts are presented almost flatly and without affectation, like a courtroom reenactment or a industrial training film. The most grisly details - the acid baths, the experiments in human zombification - are deadpanned to unnerving effect.
But what really tips the creep meter into the red is the incredible voiceover narration. Seamlessly collaged together from actual Dahmer quotes and set to a bathetic synth score, the range of emotions it evokes counterpoint and transform the visuals of Dahmer's murder spree at various times into Barry White-like love rhapsodies, macabre Hallmark cards, and the maudlin diary entries of a depressed teenager.
Writer/star Carl Crew will be in attendance to introduce the film and do a post-screening Q&A!
Deranged Dirs. Jeff Gillen & Alan Ormsby, 1974,
35mm, 82 min.
Also showing is the twisted little B-movie gem Deranged, AIP's version of the Ed Gein story (who was inspiration for horror movies as varied as Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
January 31 - 10pm
"Lost In The Desert"
Dir. Jamie Uys, 1970, 35mm, 90 min.
Lost in the Desert (aka Dirkie) is a South African film that's sadistic to the point of absurdity, submitting its lone boy protagonist Dirkie, poor eight-year old Dirkie, to a cavalcade of traumas and tribulations punishing in their accumulation, and positively Christ-like in their extremity. This movie is either the bleakest of godless nightmares, or the blackest, most hilarious comedy ever concocted - one made for children, no less. Mel Gibson would flinch at what happens to this kid. And, unbelievably, the film was directed by the wee actor's father.
Stranded in the Kalahari without water, Dirkie biblically wanders the desert with his pet terrier, and is harassed by hyenas, repeatedly injured, sleep-deprived, psychologically tortured, and finally left passed out and half buried in the sand, looking like an image from an Arrabal art film. Disturbing and relentless right up to its oblique, ambigous and haunting last shot...and, oh, those dead puppies in the sand...dead puppies in the sand...
January 30 - midnight, tickets - $10
Dir. John S. Rad, 2005, 35mm, 80 min.
Forget Troll 2, forget the collective works of Ed Wood, forget The Visitor - Dangerous Men is the holiest of all Holyfuckingshits. Trying to describe this film to those who haven't seen it is a nearly pointless exercise - even director John S. Rad himself relied on a cacophony of mixed adjectives in his great tagline "An unforgettable comedy suspense, mystery drama" (not our comma).
In its initial mysterious one-week L.A. theatrical run, in which it was booked into eight theaters in the same arthouse chain, this inexplicable-in-every-way film was viewed by literally about 50 people. These intrepid viewers, whenever they run into each other at a party or BBQ, will swap stories like veterans of a great war battle, eagerly recounting practically every scene in the picture in minute detail to each other, in no particular order of awesomeness, savoring every memory.
Just for you (and us), we've plucked the film from the clutches of oblivion to give to you one of the most singularly unique movie experiences you've had in years, so that you too may join the cult, and find yourself muttering the code words "Dangerous Men" to strangers.
Sounds like a great potential week in LA, and if you make it to any of these, drop me a line at my new e-mail address, and I'll publish the best account of a night out in revival-friendly LA in next week's column.