Monday, September 26, 2016

A CONTRADICTORY MAN: PAUL SCHRADER AND AMERICAN GIGOLO, by Jim Hemphill

Next month, the Aero Theatre is hosting a Paul Schrader retrospective, with the man himself appearing in person at several of the screenings. In addition, the Egyptian Theatre will be showing Taxi Driver alongside Schrader's new film Dog Eat Dog as part of Beyond Fest. 

Writer-director Paul Schrader was already on a roll when he made American Gigolo (1980), having already directed two terrific movies (Blue Collar and Hardcore) and written one flat-out masterpiece (Taxi Driver), but Gigolo represented a kind of cinematic alchemy unlike anything he had ever done before – or would be able to replicate afterward. A morally complex, idiosyncratic art film that’s also an unabashedly slick mainstream entertainment, it’s one of those rare movies like The Godfather or The Exorcist that manages to be all things to all people without being remotely compromised. The personal impulses that weave throughout Schrader’s work aren’t diluted by serving the conventions of a big Hollywood crowd-pleaser - they’re intensified by them. The movie works the other way too: the purity of Schrader’s vision infuses the pop surfaces with energy and meaning, resulting in a movie that’s chilly and scorching hot in equal measures. American Gigolo isn’t necessarily Schrader’s best film – I might save that designation for Light Sleeper or Affliction – but it’s the one that best embodies and is enlivened by his contradictory nature as a filmmaker.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

REMEMBERING JAMES DEAN BY WHAT HE DID, by Susan King

To commemorate the death of James Dean, the Aero Theatre will be showing Rebel Without a Cause on Friday, September 30. Writer Susan King recalls the impression that Dean made on her through the years.

I’ve been thinking a lot about James Dean lately.

I always do this time of year, because September 30 marks the anniversary of his death in a fatal car crash in 1955 at the age of 24 in Cholame, California.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ART HOUSE IS A VERY VERY VERY FINE HOUSE, by Gary Meyer

In honor of the upcoming Art House Theater Day, Landmark Theatres co-founder Gary Meyer reflects on the evolution and importance of art house theaters. You can see the Cinematheque's programming for this event here.

When did you see your first foreign or classic film?

I did not know that when my parents took a ten year-old to see Around the World in 80 Days, starring David Niven and an international cast, I would accidentally be introduced to French cinema, silent films, and George Méliès. That road show presentation started with television newsman Edward R. Murrow discussing the connection between Jules Verne and the movies followed by the showing of the 1902's "A Trip to the Moon."



What was this magical short film and who made it? We went to the library and I learned a little about Méliès’ work and did my best to see other silent films, especially work by this special effects wizard of early cinema.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

THE MAGIC OF STUDIO GHIBLI, by Quinn Johnson

Starting tonight, the Aero Theatre will be showing nine films from Studio Ghibli over the course of a weekend. Writer Quinn Johnson explains the special quality of Ghibli films and how he successfully converted his friends at a past retrospective.

“Look, I love you, but don’t waste my free time because I never have any of it. I’m not gonna waste it watching anime. “

I am sitting with my best friends Chris and Jane. Chris is an actor/writer and Jane is a bookkeeper and budding fashion designer. I have been trying to convince Jane (unsuccessfully) to come watch Studio Ghibli's Whisper Of the Heart with me at the American Cinematheque's retrospective. But as soon as she found out it was animated, it was a no-go.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

ART HOUSE DAY COMES TO A THEATER NEAR YOU, by Scott Nye

The “art house theater” is at this point as ingrained an American outpost of culture as the record store, comic book shop, and bookstore. For years, each of those establishments have had their own celebratory day. This year, Art House Theater Day joins them. On September 24th, these mostly-independent theaters across the country will host a series of special screenings, collectively spotlighting the value of the art house theater and the communities that keep them active. Most will do so through coordinated screenings of Phantasm, Time Bandits, Danny Says, or a children’s program from the team behind A Town Called Panic. The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre will show a 35mm double feature of Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939) and The River (1951), while the Egyptian will show Alan Tudyk’s web series Con Man. Both programs are free to current Cinematheque members!



While we all may have an idea of what an art house theater looks like, The Art House Convergence has a definition. “It is a community-based, mission-driven cinema,” Managing Director Barbara Twist told me. The group was founded through initially-informal gatherings at the Sundance Film Festival, formally establishing their yearly conference in 2008. Since then, it has grown twenty-fold and become a year-round organization.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STAR TREK, by Mark A. Altman

Next month, the Egyptian Theatre will host a 50th anniversary celebration of all things Star Trek, featuring films, documentaries, featurettes, discussions, and more. Filmmaker and author Mark A. Altman reflects on what Star Trek means to him.


The new trilogy of Star Trek movies has been called a “gateway drug” for new fans. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, Gen Z’ers (not to be confused with Doctor Z, Galactica fans) and even a sadly large percentage of millennials don’t have the same deep, abiding appreciation for Star Trek that many of us have. At 50 years old, Star Trek is as antediluvian and out of date to them as their grandparents (and, lo, even a fair share of their parents). Possibly because for over a decade after the inauspicious cancellation of Enterprise, Trek was off television and out of theaters. It didn't return until J.J. Abrams’ new films re-introduced the franchise to a contemporary movie audience that had vaguely heard of the exploits of Captain Kirk and his intergalactic exploits, but was acquainted with the iconic William Shatner as Denny Crane and the ubiquitous Priceline pitchman. Thankfully, the new films have helped lead the more curious of these new generations to boldly seek out the original-recipe Star Trek, hopefully ensuring that Trek will live long and prosper for another fifty years, as they discover the magic of this beloved franchise and why its unlike any other in genre history. There are certainly better movies than the Star Trek films and, arguably, better TV series as well (although they are far fewer and in between) and yet there is an indomitable spirit and ineffable quality to Star Trek that makes it a product of popular culture unlike any other ever produced. Some say that Star Trek’s appeal is minted in nostalgia, but I disagree. While I can hardly dispute that the roots of my passion for Star Trek were planted deep in my childhood, my love for the world of Star Trek has always been about looking forward and not backwards. It’s a deeply personal connection that I know many of my friends and colleagues, professionals and fans alike, share. Here’s a few thoughts on why.