the general posterBuster Keaton in The General (1927) would be a top tip any week. He’s not just for movie buffs or folks who like to see folks fall on their ass, he’s for everyone. And unlike Chaplin, he never solicits our affection – he’s just a little guy trying to get done what needs to be done. It’s the civil war; he recovers a stolen train; love prevails. And the physical gags are almost, but just enough not quite, beyond belief. Revel in it at the Silent Movie Theatre this Sunday.

Everything else this week rather pales by comparison, but there are those who would no doubt prefer the mini-Mamet festival at the Aero. Personally, I found him a bit self-satisfied until I read his books on film-making, and my suspicions were confirmed. Admittedly, he has a certain amount about which to be justifiably self-satisfied, and there is a lot of filmic pleasure to be had from the tautness of House of Games (1987) or the American/masculine/corporate skin-prickling of Glengarry Glenn Ross (1992). I daresay that Thursday’s sneak preview of his latest opus, Redbelt (2008), will be prematurely ejaculatory for established fans.

UCLA, meanwhile, kicked off its “The Lifted Hem: Seduction and betrayal at the court of Versailles” season. This is a tie-in with the Getty’s ongoing Fragonard exhibition and both the screenings and the paintings are must for fans of the sumptuous gowns, gorgeous jewels and heaving-breast romanticism of the pre-revolutionary French high-life. They are also rather erotic, as perfectly personified by Pola Negri in Lubitsch’s Madame DuBarry (1919). The milieu is treated with comedic touch in When A Man Loves (1927) from Abbe Prevost’s Manon Lescaut, and the intrigues of the court resonate with real-life parallels in the Norma Schaerer-starrer Marie Antoinette (1938).

For the rest, Harmony Korine’s new movie Mister Lonely (2007) about celebrity impersonators on a Scottish island and Werner Herzog flying nuns in South America plays at the Silent Movie Theatre on Saturday night, tho stay there all day and catch the little and large Lorre/Greenstreet double bill – Don Siegel’s first, The Verdict (1946) and the rare Three Strangers (1946) adapted from a short story by John Huston – at 1pm.

The Egyptian continues its Film Noir fest with lots of hardboiled fun; the Starlight Studios screen the celebrated adaptation of Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge (1946) with the killer pairing of Ty Power and Gene Tierney; there was a decent Hitchcock double at the Academy on Friday. But for trash lovers, the real treat is Tuesday’s screening of Joe Dante’s crazy The Movie Orgy (1968); assembled while at college, it’s a pop culture time capsule, a frenetic mish-mash old movie clips, commercials, army training films, camp previews and anything else the makers felt like, with a strong anti-establishment that Dante and co-editor Jon Davison call “2001 a splice odessey”. Sadly this is not the full 7 hour version – it’ll run just over 4 – but it never screens so grab the chance!

Those highlights again:

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre:
  • Sunday 20 at 4.00: The General
Film Noir festival at the Egyptian:
  • Sunday 19 at 7.30: The Clay Pigeon / Nora Prentiss
Mamet at the Aero:
  • Wednesday 23 at 7.30: House of Games / Homicide (free!)
The New Beverly:
  • Tuesday 22 at 7.30: Movie Orgy

Photos by Wikipedia