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 At 50 years old, Star Trek is as antediluvian and out of date to them as their grandparents (and, lo, even a fair share of their parents).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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

THE INNOVATOR: JERRY LEWIS AT PARAMOUNT PICTURES, by Jim Hemphill

The Aero Theatre will be hosting a Jerry Lewis retrospective August 25-28 that kicks off with a screening of his new film Max Rose, where the man himself will appear in person. Below, writer Jim Hemphill explores Lewis' unique genius.

As a general rule, I’m not a fan of cinematic litmus tests; the way we respond to movies is too personal and too subjective to make assumptions about someone based on their love or hate for any particular film or filmmaker. The only exception I make to this rule has to do with actor, writer, producer, and director Jerry Lewis. Basically, anytime I hear someone make a snide remark about the fact that the French love Lewis – making that remark in a way that's meant to cast aspersions on the French, Jerry Lewis, or both – I know one thing about that person. I know that that person is an idiot. Because Jerry Lewis is, quite simply, one of the greatest directors who ever lived, a philosopher and innovator whose complexity and audacity are especially remarkable considering the fact that he worked in the least respected of all genres: comedy. Even more remarkable is the fact that he created his most revolutionary works not as a Cassavetes-style outside-the-system maverick, but with the full resources and protection of Paramount Pictures. He bent the studio to his will and milked it for all it was worth, and just in time, too – only a few years after his extraordinary run at Paramount, the system that supported him would be gone forever.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

FELISSA ROSE AND CLEVE HALL IN PERSON FOR CAMP VOID, by Michael Rainey

“Which animal will you most likely be killed by in California?” This was one of the more challenging trivia questions posed to two groups of avid horror fans, volunteers in Camp Void’s pre-show contest. The two groups competed for desirable prizes including posters and a Scream Factory label Blu-Ray. “A dog?” “A horse?” No one answered correctly this round. Other rounds included questions about baseball and horror film trivia, questions answered with ease and enthusiasm by the fans. The moderators of this macabre contest, the hosts of Camp Void, held audience attention decked out in era-authentic 80’s summer camp attire of short-shorts, bright tees, and headbands. The wacky pre-show jovially introduced the night’s triple feature slate: 1981’s The Burning, one of the first projects realized with the involvement of Miramax and Bob and Harvey Weinstein, 1983’s Sleepaway Camp, the crowning achievement in the summer-camp themed 80’s slasher boom, and 1987’s Twisted Nightmare, a little-seen, low-budget, straight-to-video romp shot with the same sets used in Friday the 13th Part III.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

RAY HARRYHAUSEN SHOWS EVERYONE WHO'S BOSS; A REMEMBER OF WORKING WITH THE MASTER OF FANTASTIC CINEMA by Seamus Walsh & Mark Caballero

Ray Harryhausen possessed one of the greatest imaginations of the 20th century - and he never lost it. His passion for his work radiated from the screen and that passion is probably also what kept him going into his nineties. Ray was a true artist. You don’t plug someone like him into a “visual effects industry” - he needs to show you his visions in a direct and unfettered form, like DorĂ© or Goya. And his work affects your imagination in a manner more akin to painting than photorealism. Ray Harryhausen shows everyone who’s boss.


We were lucky enough to get to know Ray and help him complete an unfinished short film that he had been forced to abandon in the 1950’s – “The Story of the Tortoise & Hare." He had planned it to be the last in his series of Fairy Tale films, and it always bothered him that this final installment kept the series from being truly complete. We had no idea when we reached out to him about it that he would actually take us up on our offer to help get it finished – I guess you could say that the fates were smiling on us that day.

Friday, August 12, 2016

HOLLYWOOD FOREIGN PRESS ASSOCIATION FUNDS HALF-MILLION-DOLLAR RESTORATION AND UPGRADES TO THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has awarded the American Cinematheque, a $500,000 grant to fund maintenance and essential technical upgrades to the historic 1922 Egyptian Theatre, a designated historic cultural monument situated on iconic Hollywood Boulevard. News of this grant comes less than a week after the HFPA announced at their annual Grants Banquet a completely separate donation of $350,000 to help make the theatre capable of screening 35mm nitrate film prints, a grant that was made through The Film Foundation which is coordinating the project.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

SUSAN KING GOES APE OVER THE MONKEES ON THEIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

The American Cinematheque’s upcoming "Groovy Movies of 1966" series featuring Roman Polanski’s Cul-de-Sac, Lord Love a Duck, Our Man Flint, Modesty Blaise, and the 50th anniversary of the Emmy Award-winning series The Monkees, has me in a sentimental mood.

Talk about memories of things past.

That year was one of the watershed 12 months of my young life.



photo: Susan King's personal collection.