Tuesday, December 6, 2016

FROM TECHNOLOGY TO SPIRITUALITY: THE EPIC CONTRADICTIONS AND PLEASURES OF 2001, by Jim Hemphill

Editor’s note: 2001: A Space Odyssey will screen in a brand new 70mm print that was made exclusively for the American Cinematheque, on December 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 26 & 27, 2017 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.



Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a rarity in the history of Hollywood movies: one of the few films that appears regularly on lists of the all-time greatest that was appreciated right from the start (and appreciated by virtually everybody). It was an enormous box office success that was largely well-reviewed; a few influential New York critics didn't care for it (a fact that is largely responsible for the misconception that it was poorly received), but they were in the minority. The movie was embraced in its time, and its reputation only improved with every passing year – by 1972, just four years after its release, it was already polling among the top twenty-five films ever made in Sight & Sound magazine. Five years after that, its influence changed the American cinema forever in the form of two films made by Kubrick disciples (George Lucas’ Star Wars and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind). Some literal-minded viewers may complain that it’s too open to interpretation – Pauline Kael once compared it to the experience of watching a blank screen – or even “difficult,” but it wasn’t too difficult for mass audiences in 1968, and its influence can be felt in many of the most successful movies of all time – not just the aforementioned Star Wars and Close Encounters, but The Terminator, E.T., and Avatar.



Friday, December 2, 2016

ROMEO AND JULIET REVISITED, by Susan King

I’ll always remember my first time.

The first time I ever saw a nude love scene on screen, that is. And for a lot of baby boomers my age, they had the same experience watching Franco Zeffirelli’s glorious 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet, starring two of the most stunning then-teenagers to ever grace the screen: Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting.




The film was rated PG and is very tame by today’s standards, including the scene in which they consummate their marriage. The poster, which was shot by Princess Margaret’s husband Lord Snowden, features the two deliciously naked, but covered by a sheet and her long hair, so not to upset parents of young girls eager to see the film.

THE RETURN OF 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY IN 70MM!

The American Cinematheque entered into a five-year deal with Warner Bros. to have the exclusive exhibition rights to a new 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The American Cinematheque will schedule two extended runs per year, one at the Aero Theatre and one at the Egyptian Theatre. The first of these runs will take place starting December 9, 2016 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. The Aero and Egyptian Theatres are among a very small number of theaters in the country that can run 70mm film.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

THE MIND OF BILLY WILDER, by Dennis Bartok

On the eve of showing Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (#1 on the AFI’s list of “The 100 Best Comedies”) we are publishing this excerpt from A Thousand Cuts: the Bizarre Underground World of Collectors and Dealers Who Saved the Movies by Dennis Bartok and Jeff Joseph (University Press of Mississippi). Bartok’s experience gives a glimpse into what the masterful writer director was thinking about in his final years. You can see Some Like It Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at the Aero Theatre. 


If you live in L.A. and you love the movies it’s hard not to think about the two Sunset Boulevards: the actual street, and the classic 1950 film directed and co-written by Billy Wilder. There have been any number of great films made about the movie business, but none that captures the awful, perverse blurring of past and present, youth and age, celebrity and anonymity like Sunset Boulevard. At the end of the film, Gloria Swanson descends the stairs with the weird grace of an aging ballerina and a look of frozen madness on her face before delivering the famed closing line, “All right, Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my closeup.” Then as she glides towards the camera, half-Cobra Woman, half-Vampira, the image literally blurs and dissolves, as if Wilder were acknowledging that she was slipping into that terrible gray zone between the actual making of a movie called Sunset Boulevard and the myth that would become Norma Desmond.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NITRATE RETURNS TO THE EGYPTIAN, by Kim Luperi

The Egyptian Theater’s nitrate retrofit debuted the evening of November 7, 2016, making it possible for the theater to show every film format possible, from 35mm to 70mm to digital. The extensive renovation included fireproofing and installation of metal fire shutters, to safely allow nitrate projection.



Rick Nicita, Chairman of the American Cinematheque, introduced the proceedings and thanked the Cinematheque's partners who contributed to the projection booth's retrofitting, including the Film Foundation, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, TCM, and the Academy Film Archive. Nicita also expressed thanks to Warner Brothers and the Museum of Modern Art for allowing this screening of Casablanca to take place. "A state-of-the-art digital projector sits side-by-side with our 35mm/70mm machines - representing the rich history of cinema, as well as the future of the art form," he added. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

TIPPI HEDREN LOOKS BACK, by Susan King

Tippi Hedren has had a pretty remarkable life. She was a highly paid fashion model. She was “The Girl” for Alfred Hitchcock in two of his classic films - 1963’s The Birds and 1964’s Marnie. She’s a passionate animal activist who rescues big cats and gives them a loving home at her Shambala Preserve in Acton, CA. And she’s also the mother of Oscar-nominated actress Melanie Griffith and grandmother to Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey fame.

At 86, she has written her candid autobiography Tippi: A Memoir. She is set to sign copies of the book Sunday, November 13, 2016 at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre screening of The Birds. The still-stunning actress will also be in conversation with film historian Alan K. Rode.