- Fri 24 at 7.30: The Leopard (1963)
Sumptuous decadence, decomposing aristocracy and emotional bankruptcy as only Marxist nobleman Luchino Visconti can conjure. The source novel is a sweeping encompassment of modern Italian history but despite the lavishness of presentation and setting, Burt Lancaster (an unlikely but, as it turns out, perfect choice) matters remain focused on a personal level. Burt Lancaster seems unlikely casting but is magnificently imperious. Cold of heart yet lovely and sad, and virtually not worth watching unless on a big screen, so don’t miss the chance.
- Sat 25 at 7.30: West Side Story (1961) in 70mm!
West Side Story is worth watching any time, but a 70mm opportunity is a rare treat to see those wonderful dances and colours in their most magnificent form. On the face of it, a strange movie, but the stylisation of story, form and decor are gloriously cohesive, with just enough trace of reality to imply violence, emotional and physical. Plus the songs are super!
Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre:
- Fri 24 at 10.30: Martin (1978)
After Night of the Living Dead, the most unsettling Romero film: Martin is a weird-looking guy of 20 or so who may or may not be a vampire. He certainly goes for blood, and has odd compunctions, but he seems unbothered by thresholds, light or garlic: in bland 70′s suburbia, he may just be a really freaky kid. The setting is most remarkable for being so ordinary and dour, and makes Martin’s behaviour (and the dire warnings of his old eastern European neighbor) all the more eerie, and the blood-letting all the more ghastly. It’s a funny thing, but you want him to be a vampire because the alternative is just too horrid.
- Sat 25 at 7.00: Curse of the Cat People (1944) / The Leopard Man (1943)
More Val Lewton – yay! Curse of the Cat People was the directorial debut of Robert Wise (editor of Kane, manipulator of the Welles-less Ambersons, future director of various rather excellent pictures, including West Side Story. And The Sound of Music). This isn’t a true sequel, but centres around the overactive imagination of a young girl and if not quite as splendid, is still a good little picture. The Leopard Man continues the theme, this time back in the hands of Jacques Tourneur; it’s less resonant, but’s tight and atmospheric (women get mauled by leopard; leopard man suspected; leopard found dead; killings continue). A nice rare double-bill.
Cinespia at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery:
- Sat 25 at 7.00 (gates 5.30): Carrie (1976)
For one night only, return to the cemetery! Carrie‘s great, from the freaky soft-core opening to the bloodbath finale; the bad kids are really obnoxious and Sissy Spacek is weird and perfect.
- Thu 23 at 9.20: Strait-Jacket (1964)
One more (rare) chance to see this late, great Joan Crawford movie. By this time she’d pretty much lost all shame, but her star qualities of doe-eyed sympathy-grabbing, borderline lunacy and an unassailable belief that she was the most wonderful person in the room, or even the world, have become well-honed second nature. Actually the lunacy is not so borderline here, as the title might imply. There’s some business with repressed memories and axe murdering and, if I recall, some really hideous floral prints on dresses and wallpaper. Directed by William Castle, whose method was always that of the carnival ghost train ride, it’s really good fun and yes, Joan wields an axe magnificently.
UCLA at the Hammer:
- Fri 24 at 7.30: Brief Encounter (1945)
Despite its reputation for representing a certain restraint and stuffiness in English cinema and personality, the excessively buttoned-down nature of this marvellous film is the whole point. The nation had had more important things to worry about than personal emotions for the last six years, and (emotional) adultery in the waiting room of a provincial railway station is too terrible and squalid to contemplate. And yet the young doctor and the housewife whose train journeys cross every week are powerless to resist the overwhelming force of love, that goes against every fibre of their being but the deepest, purest impulses of the heart. Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson are brilliant, each burning with passion and self-torment beneath the well-behaved exteriors; it was written by Noel Coward who knew a thing or two about how the English conducted themselves and whilst often rather precious in comedy, is totally clear-eyed in tragedy here; and it was directed by David Lean who showed that on a smaller scale than the ponderousness of much of his later filmography, the restraint of the chamber piece perfectly exhibits his skills of tone and rhythm. Heart-breakingly romantic.