Thursday, March 23, 2017

NOIR CITY COMES TO HOLLYWOOD, by Kim Luperi

So, what is film noir? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop? The world may never know on both counts, but there are certainly several legitimate postulations for the former.





Film still from THIS GUN FOR HIRE, our NOIR CITY '17 opening night film.
Film noir, translating to “black film” in French, was a term bestowed retroactively to features generally referred to as melodramas or crime dramas at the time of their production; at first, the moniker was usually reserved for American titles that fit the bill made after World War II. Coined in Nino Frank’s 1946 essay and explored in depth by French critics Raymond Borde and √Čtienne Chaumeton in their 1955 work Panorama du film noir am√©ricain 1941–1953 (A Panorama of American Film Noir) the label has, in the ensuring six decades, been alternatively referred to as a genre, style, cycle, period, mood and so on. Certainly, some of these identifiers hold more water than others, but overall, film noir tends to transcend boundaries placed upon it. That goes for time, as well; with a plethora of visual and story influences including German Expressionism, hardboiled detective fiction (Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain), neo-realism and the anguish of the war years, traces of noir can be recognized across a multitude of genres stretching from today back to a century ago. Despite the range attributed to films noir, many scholars have settled on 1940's Stranger on the Third Floor as the first full-fledged noir picture.

Friday, March 17, 2017

THE LEGACY OF CHARLTON HESTON, by Susan King

Growing up in the 1960s, I always though Charlton Heston was the epitome of a movie star. He was tall and handsome, with a granite chin and a sonorous voice full of gravitas. And his films were big and important: from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 The Ten Commandments to his Oscar-winning turn in 1959’s epic Ben-Hur.



And when I got a little older, I realized he had a great body, which he showed off in nude scenes in the 1968 sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes (which I actually saw twice upon its release). And when I worked at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Los Angeles Times I interviewed him several times. He could be intimidating. There was something very Moses-esque about him. He didn’t want to be kept waiting. When I was two minutes late calling him for an 8:30 a.m. interview, I apologized profusely that my toilet had overflowed that morning and I didn’t leave my apartment on time. He said in that famous voice, “That’s okay, Miss King. You are only two minutes late.” Gulp.

Friday, March 10, 2017

THE GLORY AND GRANDEUR OF 70MM IN A DIGITAL AGE: THE MASTER, INTERSTELLAR, AND THE HATEFUL EIGHT, by Jim Hemphill

The series "70MM: The Next Generation" begins Thursday, March 16 at the Aero Theatre.

When word started trickling out in early 2012 that director Paul Thomas Anderson was shooting some, if not all, of his latest feature The Master with 65mm cameras, excitement among cinephiles was palpable. Though Terrence Malick and Christopher Nolan, among others, had recently captured selected shots and scenes in 65mm, the format hadn’t been used extensively on a major American theatrical release since Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet in 1996, and before that there had been exactly one film shot in 65mm and released in 70mm (the extra 5mm is used for the soundtrack) in 25 years: Ron Howard’s Far and Away. (The 1993 film Map of the Human Heart was shot in 65mm but released only via 35mm prints.) Even the once-widespread practice of shooting on 35mm and blowing up to 70mm had more or less died after the 1997 release of Titanic, given that one of 70mm’s big selling points – the six-track magnetic sound – was no longer so unique in the age of digital audio. By the time The Master went into production, the American film industry hadn’t just moved away from 70mm, it was moving away from celluloid in general in favor of digital capture and exhibition – a transition that made the gossip about Anderson’s latest venture all the more intriguing.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

GASLIGHTING AND TORMENTING: FROM HITCH TO THE LOVE WITCH, by Heidi Honeycutt

From March 9- 12, 2017, the American Cinematheque at, the Aero theatre will host a film series dedicated to shedding light on “gaslighting.” If you don’t know how to play this cruel, deceptive mind game, consider this a primer. We asked co-founder of Etheria Film Night Heidi Honeycutt to go over the elements of a good “gaslighting.”

Love is a lie!

Wait, bear with me, I’ll explain through my discussion of this new series at the Aero Theatre that gathers together, under one program, the best of the worst people to fall in love with.


Anna Biller is more than just a filmmaker: she’s what the pretentious (myself included) call an “auteur.” Though her films have meticulously designed period settings and pay homage to established art and cinema styles, her work is distinctly, and always, recognizable as hers. To watch an Anna Biller film is to immediately sense her unmistakable touch. The Love Witch, her second feature-length film, is a seductive thriller about a woman who uses witchcraft to make men fall in love with her. A beautiful deconstruction of narcissism, feminism, and new-age magical imagery, The Love Witch perfectly balances all the necessary elements, including Technicolor, to achieve something akin to perfection in independent, period filmmaking. Samantha Robinson’s portrayal of Elaine, the unstable protagonist, is mesmerizing, while Biller’s costumes, art design, and palette add an ethereal quality to her performance.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

L.A.'S LEGENDARY RESTAURANTS, REMEMBERED AND CELEBRATED, by Elina Shatkin

Dinner and the movies are natural companions, so the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles and the American Cinematheque organized an event featuring an illustrated presentation with Chef George Geary, based on his new book L.A.'s Legendary Restaurants: Celebrating the Famous Places Where Hollywood Ate, Drank, and Played (Santa Monica Press). Following Geary's talk and booksigning (presided over by the 1938 Larry Edmunds Book Shop) is an 80th anniversary screening of the 1937 version of A Star Is Born starring Janet Gaynor and Frederic March (who surely dined at some of these classic eateries and nightclubs in Golden Age Hollywood). Come "table hop" with us Sunday, March 12 at 2:00 pm at the Egyptian Theatre and take home a signed book in your "doggy bag."

In anticipation of Chef Geary's talk, before diving into the main dish, we asked L.A. food writer Elina Shatkin to give us an appetizer course in an exclusive interview with author/chef George Geary.



Back in the day, if you wanted to see a celebrity in Los Angeles and couldn't finagle your way onto a studio lot, your best bet was to dine at one of the restaurants they frequented — if you could get in.

Friday, February 24, 2017

AN EVENING WITH MEL GIBSON, by Stephen Troth

It is perhaps inevitable that Hacksaw Ridge has transcended being a movie and has instead become a kind of metaphor for the resurrection of Mel Gibson. An industry driven by narrative can’t help but see them everywhere. And make no bones about it, one is here: Mad Max is back. Gibson (minus the beard, unfortunately) graced the Aero Theatre on February 16, 2017, following a showing of his Academy Award Best Picture nominee, Hacksaw Ridge.

Photo by Robert Enger

The movie itself is astonishing, simply because it’s true. Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist from Virginia (played by Andrew Garfield), enlists in the army after the attack on Pearl Harbor, but owing to his strict religious beliefs refuses to carry a weapon. Instead he plans to serve as a field medic.