Friday, May 27, 2016

THE MARX BROTHERS AND THE ONE PERCENT, by Barry Gerber

In anticipation of the American Cinematheque’s screenings of the new restorations of the first five Paramount Pictures Marx Brothers films, we asked a local “Marxist” to comment on how the Marx Brothers took on the “one percent” to comic effect. The Marx Brothers Restored runs at the Aero Theatre June 16 – 19, 2016. 



“I am a Marxist of the Groucho tendency” reads a still-popular t-shirt, translating from the original anonymous French. The Marx Brothers’ films are a joy to watch just for the crazy, often absurd humor each has to offer. However, strong political, social, and economic themes run through the brothers’ films and they are worth noting along with their source. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

BRIAN DE PALMA, AMERICAN MASTER, by Jim Hemphill



It takes a lot of confidence to begin a movie with a clip from perhaps the most famous film noir of all time, as Brian De Palma does in the first scene of his 2002 erotic thriller Femme Fatale. That film’s opening scene, which unfolds via a virtuoso long take in which we're introduced to the lead character and major themes of the film without a cut, begins with an image from Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity on a television and ends with a hotel room curtain being pulled aside to reveal the Cannes Film Festival red carpet. Inviting comparison with Wilder and referencing the most prestigious film festival on earth makes a bold statement right off the bat, but De Palma doesn’t merely invite the comparisons he’s making – he earns them, and then goes beyond Wilder’s influence to create a film that is both a superb example of the film noir form and a commentary on it, as well as an evolutionary step forward in terms of the tradition’s approach to women. While it would be a stretch to call Femme Fatale a feminist manifesto, in its own sly way it answers the charges of misogyny often leveled against film noir by setting in motion a gleefully complicated puzzle of a plot in which one commanding man after another finds his sense of order disrupted by the female jewel thief at the movie’s center. It’s not just that Laure (Rebecca Romjin) undermines the guys and their world; De Palma himself subverts a century of established cinematic “rules” to place the audience in the position of the bewildered men stripped of their power – and he does it with so much pizzazz that we’re grateful to have the rug pulled out from under us. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

WALLY WOLODARSKY AT THE AERO FOR FANTASTIC MR. FOX, by Doug Sumner

On Sunday afternoon, April 24, a full house enjoyed a screening of the animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox. In attendance were many kids from Castle Heights Elementary on a school outing. After the screening there was an interview and Q&A with Wally Wolodarsky, the voice of Mr. Fox’s dim-witted sidekick Kylie. 


Friday, May 13, 2016

THE LEGACY OF COVER GIRL, by Susan King



I’m an unabashed Gene Kelly fan. The 1952 classic Singin’ in The Rain is my favorite musical and I’ve given up counting how many times I’ve seen it. Ditto 1949’s On the Town, 1951’s An American in Paris, and 1945’s Anchors Aweigh, for which Kelly earned his only Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

And I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Columbia’s endearing 1944 Technicolor musical comedy Cover Girl, which changed the careers of Kelly and his leading lady Rita Hayworth. It’s fun, frothy, and extremely romantic, especially when Kelly and Hayworth (dubbed by Martha Mears) sing the haunting ballad “Long Ago and Far Away.”

Friday, May 6, 2016

ADG PANEL - OLIVER SMITH REMEMBERED, by Lindsay Grossman

On April 17, 2016, patrons of the Cinematheques Aero Theatre were treated to a night in celebration of Oliver Smith, the acclaimed production designer of amazing Broadway musicals and films including (but not limited to) Guys and Dolls, The Band Wagon, Oklahoma!, and Porgy and Bess
 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

LAUREL AND HARDY RESTORED, by Susan King

The beloved comedy team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were in another fine mess. But this time, it was no laughing matter. The prints of the classic shorts and feature films they made for producer Hal Roach, including the 1932 Oscar-winning short “The Music Box” and the 1937 feature Way Out West, were worn and torn and had been cut to shreds for commercials. Mere shadows of their former selves.

Until now.
All images courtesy Randy Skretvedt