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  • November 6, 2015

    Staff Picks 11/06–11/12: “To Save and Project” at the MoMA; “Lonely Places: Film Noir and the American Landscape” at the Museum of the Moving Image

    Photo: Woman on the Run. 1950. USA. Directed by Norman Foster. Courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive

    Photo: Woman on the Run. 1950. USA. Directed by Norman Foster. Courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive

    MoMA
    To Save and Project
    November 4–25

    For both cinephiles and sentimentalists alike, the Museum of Modern Art’s annual international festival “To Save and Project” is an indispensable cinema event that celebrates the continued efforts and triumphs of the MoMA’s film preservation initiative. Now in its 13th year, the festival, running November 4th through the 25th, presents a packed slate of around 75 newly preserved and restored films, many of which will be seen for the first time in New York City since the film’s initial theatrical release.

    Constituting a sizable portion of this year’s lineup, “The Unknown Orson Welles” perhaps offers the most highly anticipated moments of the festival. Introduced by Munich Filmmuseum director Stefan Droessler, the program features an illustrated lecture of Welles’s Shakespeare adaptations, complete with ephemera and a reconstruction of Welles’s unfinished television special of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, along with his proposal for KING LEAR; scenes from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND; and a new version of JOURNEY INTO FEAR, which includes footage previously only seen by European audiences.

    While the festival may center on lost Welles material, for many, its heart lies in the programming surrounding the indomitable force of cinema genius, Chantal Akerman. In remembrance of the late filmmaker, cinematographer Babette Mangolte and Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique director Nicola Mazzanti will introduce a digital restoration of Akerman’s masterpiece, JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BUXELLES. Additionally will present JE TU IL ELLE and SAUTE MA VILLE, which Mazzanti, in addition to JEANNE DIELMAN, worked closely with Akerman to restore.

    If taking up temporary residency in the MoMA’s The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters is not an option for you, here are my top three films to check out this week:
    Photo: Profondo rosso (Deep Red). 1975. Italy. Directed by Dario Argento. Courtesy CSC–Cineteca Nazionale / RTI-Mediaset

    Photo: Profondo rosso (Deep Red). 1975. Italy. Directed by Dario Argento. Courtesy CSC–Cineteca Nazionale / RTI-Mediaset

    Photo: Profondo rosso (Deep Red). 1975. Italy. Directed by Dario Argento. Courtesy CSC–Cineteca Nazionale / RTI-Mediaset

    SHAMPOO (1975), USA
    Directed by Hal Ashby, with screenplay by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty.
    Friday, November 6, 8:30 PM

    With the unruly 1968 presidential election that ultimately brought Nixon into office as a backdrop, this post-Watergate social satire stars Warren Beatty as a restless Beverly Hills hairdresser who has an uncontrollable sexual hunger for his clientele. Presented as a 40th anniversary restoration, with introduction by Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

    PROFONDO ROSSO (DEEP RED) [original Italian release version] (1975), Italy
    Directed by Dario Argento, with screenplay by Argento and Bernardino Zapponi.
    Sunday, November 8, 5:00 PM

    Following his trilogy of Italian gialloi films, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, THE CAT O’NINE TAILS, and FOUR FLIES ON GRAY VELVET, Italian director Dario Argento’s PROFONDO ROSSO (DEEP RED) further solidified Argento as a master of physiological horror. Argento’s jarring and highly stylized cinematography work to hypnotize the audience as the story follows David Hemmings through a series of murders that unfold while he attempts to solve what he believes to be the murder of his psychic neighbor. Restored digitally by the CSC-Cineteca Nazionale with the collaboration of RTI-Mediaset.

    LIMITE (1931), Brazil
    Written and directed by Mário Peixoto.
    Wednesday, November 11, 4:00 PM and Thursday, November 12, 6:45 PM

    Until recently, LIMITE, the only film of the renowned Brazilian director Mário Peixoto existed to the public exclusively in badly worn prints; however, thanks to the meticulous work of The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in collaboration with Cinemateca Brasileira, Arquivo Mário Peixoto, and the contemporary Brazilian filmmaker Waler Salles, audiences may now enjoy Peixoto’s meditative cinema experiment as it was intended. Set to themes by Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, and others, Peixoto’s film works to disassociate itself from any sort of temporal reality, drifting instead into a dreamlike state.

    This year’s festival is organized by Joshua Siegel and Dave Kehr. An entire schedule of screenings can be found at the MoMA’s website.

    Brittany Stigler

    Museum of the Moving Image Series
    Lonely Places: Film Noir and the American Landscape
    November 13–December 20

    Noir films contain a landscape that exists in living memory, not of an actual real-life experience for me, but of my earliest recollection of feeling genuinely moved by a movie. Most of the films I had seen in my formative years contained stories rooted in fantasy and imagination, and while entertaining, were also inaccessible at a certain point when I would halt midway down the rabbit-hole.

    Film noir was different. It was physical. It was palpable: the reek of cigarette smoke, the cold of a dark alley, the shade of a silhouette, the grumble of a voiceover. The chance to view these movies again on the big screen would truly be a feast for the senses as well as a refresher of how a narrative from postwar America remains timeless in showing how violence and temptation corrupt any individual.

    The Museum of the Moving Image provides such an opportunity with their upcoming series Lonely Places: Film Noir and the American Landscape, beginning Friday, November 13 with OUT OF THE PAST (1947). In this quintessential noir, Robert Mitchum’s character wanders through various physical environments as well as the troubled recesses of his own mind. Maybe he thought he was through with the past, but the past certainly isn’t through with him. Mitchum and the crime boss played by Kirk Douglas seem to be in an alpha-male face off, but it is really the femme fatale who pulls the strings.

    For a noir with more of a suburban dynamic, you could see THE RECKLESS MOMENT (1949) on Saturday, November 14. In Max Ophuls’ final Hollywood film, Joan Bennett plays an all-American housewife remaining quietly emotional in the face of stoic James Mason and through increasingly desperate circumstances involving her family life. The pace and use of space in Ophuls’ long takes and mobile camera create slow burning suspense instead of melodramatic cliches.

    The series runs on weekends until December 20 with 17 screenings of 15 different films from this long gone chapter of American cinema. Imogene Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City and guest curator at Museum of the Moving Image, organized the series.

    http://www.movingimage.us/films/2015/11/13/detail/lonely-places-film-noir-and-the-american-landscape/

    Aaron Linskens

  • October 30, 2015

    Screen Notes: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD Rundown

    In attempt to grease the gears that drive your desire for Halloween thrills and chills, and as general preparation for our special midnight Halloween broadcast of George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), the following is a rundown of relevant and possibly interesting tidbits concerning this cult classic. Low on budget but high on body count, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD arguably paved the way for a swarm of aesthetically-similar independent films.

    Unknown

    Although Night of the Living Dead is thought by many to have launched the zombie genre, the word “zombie” is never used in the movie. Instead, the infected are referred to as “ghouls,” “those things,” and other terms by the characters.

    Unknown-1The material to simulate blood in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was Bosco chocolate syrup. There is no record of Bosco chocolate also being provided for craft services during the shoot of this movie.

    All told, the budget for the movie was only $114,000. The film was shot in black and white not to add atmosphere, but to save money on film stock since it was more expensive to shoot in color at the time.

    Actor/co-producer Karl Hardman (who played Harry Cooper, the father in the basement) also worked a number of other roles in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: makeup artist, electronic sound effects engineer, and set photographer for closing credits stills.

    The character of Ben was originally written to be an angry and rude truck driver, but actor Duane Jones was a well-educated, well-spoken man, and the part was ultimately re-written with that in mind. Jones was concerned with the depiction of another “Angry Black Man” cliché, and he lobbied for the removal of the scene in which his character hits Barbara.

    Unknown-2The music for the film was from a Capital Records Hi-Q stock music library, originally used in TEENAGERS FROM OUTERSPACE (1959). The filmmakers paid $1500 for the rights.

    As a publicity stunt, the Walter Reade Organization distributed the film with a $50,000 insurance policy against anyone who died of a heart attack while viewing it.

    Director George A. Romero stated that CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962) was a major influence on the production of his movie. CARNIVAL OF SOULS was also a low-budget indie horror film, shot on a shoestring budget of $33,000. The crew consisted of director Herk Harvey and just five other people.Unknown-3

    Film critic Roger Ebert chronicled his first viewing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, which was a 40-cent matinee screening of the film attended mostly by young children. He described how midway through the movie, the audience’s (namely children’s) reaction changed from being delightfully scared to unexpectedly horrified as the plot transitioned into more gruesome episodes—ghouls ripping apart and eating corpses, a daughter turning into a ghoul and stabbing her mother to death, and policemen shooting the ghouls and burning the carcasses. Ebert went on to criticize the fact that the Chicago Police Censor Board rated the movie for general audiences.

    NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was produced before the Motion Picture Association of America film rating system went into effect.

    The Library of Congress selected the movie for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1999, despite being labeled as sadistic and exploitative upon its initial release.

    Unknown-4Nearly ten years passed between the release of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and its sequel DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). For the sequel, director George A. Romero teamed with Italian producer Dario Argento, who at the time was known for his work in the giallo genre, which includes film and literature of slasher-type stories.

    Following the foreign distribution of DAWN OF THE DEAD (under the title ZOMBI), many unofficial remakes and knockoffs were produced and the genre took off.

    Romero planned to have all the main characters die in DAWN OF THE DEAD, as he had done in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Even with that in the script, he decided halfway through the shoot to keep some characters alive and to leave some sort of order in the world of the story. He maintains that this wasn’t a plot device to leave room for another sequel, but rather to simply keep a few characters that he liked alive.

    Unknown-5
    In an interview, Romero described how director Edgar Wright arranged a screening of his film SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2004) for him. Romero was living on an island off the coast of Florida. A man from Universal showed up at his door chained to a print of the film in a briefcase. Romero was then escorted to the local theater with a 40-watt bulb projector, and he watched the film before it was released to the public. Immediately after viewing, he called Wright and the film’s co-writer and star Simon Pegg and told them he thought their film was “dark” but “hilarious.”

    Sources:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063350/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
    http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-night-of-the-living-dead-1968
    http://www.popmatters.com/column/159439-legacy-of-the-living-dead/
    http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Interview-George-A-Romero-On-Diary-Of-The-Dead-7818.html
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/carnivalofsoulsnrbrown_a0adb1.htm

    Aaron Linskens blogs and volunteers for Reel 13 / WNET. He was born on Halloween but does not consider himself to possess any insightful or revolutionary knowledge of horror, supernatural, or costume-related things.

    Unknown-6
    File photo of Aaron. Just kidding. Another still from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

  • May 15, 2015

    Richard Pena in conversation with filmmaker Chioke Nassor

    Reel 13 host Richard Pena and filmmaker Chioke Nassor talk about “How to Follow Strangers,” a film about a young man who fakes his own disappearance, inadvertently sparking the interest of a woman who shares his daily commute.

  • April 29, 2015

    Reel 13 Classic “I Want to Live!” Screenwriter Don Mankiewicz dies at 93

    Don Mankiewicz and Glenn Ford

    Screenwriter Don Mankiewicz, a member of one of Hollywood’s most famous families and scribe of the Reel 13 Classic “I Want to Live!,” died at his home in Monrovia, California at 93.

    He was the son of Herman Mankiewicz, who shared a best-original-screenplay Oscar with Orson Welles in 1942 for “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph Mankiewicz, who won Oscars for writing and Directing “All About Eve.”

    According to The New York Times, Don Mankiewicz wrote his first published story in less than two hours, an experience he recalled in a 2007 oral history interview with Stephen W. Bowie, a television historian. The story was about an experience in a prisoner-of-war camp and was bought by The New Yorker for $175.

    “So I said, ‘$175? Jesus Christ!’ ” he remembered. “I’d already noticed that my father seemed to live reasonably well, seemed to have money, didn’t fall down exhausted from doing any heavy lifting. So I decided that’s what I would do.”

    See the Times’ full obituary here.

  • April 17, 2015

    Richard Pena discusses GONE WITH THE WIND with Molly Haskell

    Reel 13 host Richard Pena sat down with celebrated film critic and author Molly Haskell at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center to discuss GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). Pena considers Haskell’s book on the film, Frankly My Dear, a “must-read!”

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

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