Saturday, April 14, 2007

Revisit: Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

A Warner Brothers picture 1985

Directed by:
George Miller
George Ogilvie

Writing Credits:
Terry Hayes &
George Miller

Mad Max (Mel Gibson) is a former cop who finds himself in a post-apocolyptic desert town called Bartertown. He is hired by the leader of the city to fight in a gladiator like arena called Thunderdome, so he can kill Auntie's (Tina Turner) rival Master Mlaster. Later banished, Max finds a group of children that survived a plane crash during the war. Some of the children leave to find their fabled tomorrowmorrow land, so Mad Max has to save them from the desert and from Auntie's Bartertown.

Absurdity abounds in this third installment in Mel Gibson's post-apocalyptic Mad Max series. The Thunderdome sequence is cool as hell, and the car chases are sweet, but this thing starts sucking whenever it tries to go "Beyond Thunderdome". Coherence and logic are not one of the film's friends. And another thing - why do women find Mel Gibson attractive? The man grunts and groans his way through this flick looking like the missing link. I mean, I guess if you like illiterate drunk Australian douchebags you'd find him attractive. But at least its got some strange ideas (Tina Turner as the evil queen?!) and funny moments (Mel Gibson almost kills a retard!). They don't really make ridiculous action flicks like this anymore - insincere and totally insane - so the humor and spunk are definitely something to cherish.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Revisit: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

An MGM release 1954

Directed by Stanley Donen

Writing credits:
Stephen Vincent Benet (story The Sobbin' Women)
Albert Hackett
Frances Goodrich
Dorothy Kingsley

Adam (Howard Keel), the eldest of seven brothers, goes to town and convinces Milly (Jane Powell) to marry him. Milly sets out to reform the uncouth siblings, who are anxious to get wives of their own.

One of my top three favorite musicals, Seven Brides is an absurd exploration o love as filtered through hyper-accentuated representations of gender. Adam - the manliest man imaginable - marries Milly - the most hopless romantic of women imaginable - and they sing lovely backwoods songs about lonliness and love. The film is a great example of widescreen formatting - MGM crams somewhere upwards 15 characters on screen at once, dancing intensely. Makes a great case against adjusted TV formatting. Fantastic entertainment.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Rip Torn DUI Heads to Trial

A court clerk told The Journal News on Tuesday that Torn had decided on the nonjury trial, scheduled for June. The 76-year-old actor was charged Dec. 4 after a crash on Hardscrabble Road in North Salem, a suburb about 60 miles north of New York City. Torn, who lives in Lakeville, Conn., had lost control of his sedan and struck a tractor-trailer.

Frankly, I don't give a shit about this at all. I just wanted to share that excellent, excellent mug shot. Also, this hilarious video.

God, I love Rip Torn.

Barbarella to be Remade?

Casino Royale writers to remake Barbarella

A remake of Barbarella has been in the works for years now; originally Drew Barrymore had expressed interest in reviving the film, and now it seems like the writers from Casino Royale, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, are gonna be tackling the script. Personally, I wish they would leave this film alone - it's one of my favorite sci-fi flicks of all time, a sly mix of camp, eroticism, and absurdity. Part of the reason it works so well is because it's trapped in it's time. You can't recreate the cheesy, psychadelic special effects or recapture the sexuality of Barbarella. A remake would simply imply a sluttier, suped-up version, and that would be terrible. Not too mention that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade don't exactly have the best track record.

They just can't leave anything alone anymore, can they? Oh well. Go out and rent the original with a couple of friends - it makes a great group viewing experience, and is loads of fun. Plus, Jane Fonda is super hot.

Jacques Tati Retrospective

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Play Time, Jacques Tati's undisputed comedic masterpiece and possibly my favorite film of all time. The print was absolutely beautiful - restored for the 2002 Cannes Film Festival by Macha Makeïeff through her distribution company, Les films de mon oncle. Makeïeff was even there in person for a Q&A afterwards, in which she discussed the beauty in Tati's image, theatrical influences, Tatiland as a representation of the modern city (rather than an interpretation of circa-1967 Paris), and Tati's amazing comedic ability to transform objects into sources of tension.

A clip from Play Time

I can not stress enough how beautiful Tati's films are. Though he only made five in the span of thirty years, each one is rich with humor and a unique understanding of the world. Generally unknown to those outside of the academic cinema world, his work remains criminally underrated and unseen. Thankfully the French Institute is hosting a retrospective of all of Tati's films throughout the month of April. While it may be too late to catch Play Time (make sure to rent the fantastic Criterion release on DVD), you can still go see Mon Oncle, Parade, and M.Hulot's Holiday. Catching these films on print is rare, so if you're in NYC anytime soon, I highly suggest you check them out. Here are the dates:

Tuesday, April 17 at 12:30, 4 & 7:30pm
Four Short Films By Tati

Friday, April 20 at 7pm
Mon Oncle (My Uncle)

Tuesday, April 24 at 12:30 & 7:30pm

Tuesday, April 24 at 4 & 9pm
Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (Mr. Hulot's Holiday)

All screenings are at the Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Revisit: Gates of Heaven

An MGM release 1980
Directed by Errol Morris

A documentary about a pet cemetary in California, and the people who have pets buried there.

Werner Herzog once bet that he would eat his shoe if a young film student named Errol Morris could complete a film about pet cemeteries. In response, Morris crafted one of the most bizarre, beautiful, funny, and pathetic documentaries of all time. Gates of Heaven probes issues of life, death, and the human condition through pet lovers, and in doing so creates a cast of vivid, real characters who are at once compelling and yet utterly strange. Featuring beautiful cinematography by Ned Burgess, the film's washed out, painterly quality ensures that it will only be more beautiful with age. A must see.


The Projectionist's Revolution

But what if the fiasco in Holtsville was no accident? Imagine an elite corps of prankster projectionists, forcing people to widen their horizons a little. We know you've bought a ticket for 300, but instead here's a lovely new print of All Quiet on the Western Front. Sure, all your friends at school told you to see Meet the Robinsons, but we think you should see Alphaville. Why waste your time on Wild Hogs when instead you can watch Husbands? And there's no way in hell we're going to let you see The Reaping until you've watched Day of Wrath.

Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Revisit: Dead Poets Society

A Touchstone pictures release 1989

Directed by Peter Weir

Written by Tom Schulman

English professor John Keating (Robin Williams) inspires his students to love poetry and seize the day.

Before he donned a white coat and sickened audiences with extreme saccrine in Patch Adams, before he won an Oscar for portraying the hard-nosed mentor to Matt Damon's genius janitor in Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams tackled another inspirational role of sorts in this 1989 drama about prep-school students who step out of themselves and 'seize the day'. Something about dramas from the late 80s/early 90s make them so unmistakibly from that time period; the film hasn't aged poorly, per se, but you can tell that it's from that period right away. The script is good but not great (you can see a lot of the 'conflict' coming from a mile away), and Williams gives a surprisingly good, restrained performance (something he isn't very well known for, especially in such overly-affecting fare). One of his better films.