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So Very Close

November 23rd, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Again, another fast and quick week. You don’t need me to tell you you have to see CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, especially since we’ve got a new 35mm print.

Let me just tell you a little story about when I saw this director’s cut as a young boy: it was scary. Remember, the blockbuster film that put Spielberg on the map right before this film? JAWS. He doesn’t lose it with this film, and I still remember his 2005 WAR OF THE WORLDS as being pretty damn good (as far as I was concerned, minus a little too much screeching from Miss Fanning). Spielberg has long been giving us incredible sci-fi, and it all started here. Can’t have those incredible dramatic tensions in WORLDS without the lights outside and the whole house shaking in ENCOUNTERS. And it was just plain weird, making the Devil’s Tower in mashed potatoes. That was something a kid could relate to!

The thought of this scene never fails to make me hungry. What can I say, I grew up in Idaho.

The thought of this scene never fails to make me hungry. What can I say, I grew up in Idaho.

I think JAWS is incredible (and the little seen DUEL even better), but ENCOUNTERS is the film where Spielberg really starts to show himself as an auteur and preludes his criminally underappreciated sci-fi films of the last decade (A.I., WAR OF THE WORLDS, MINORITY REPORT). Yes, his immediate sci-fi success following ENCOUNTERS is E.T., and his sci-fi legacy is undoubted, but there is something very compelling about ENCOUNTERS. I need to see it again…guess I will, I’m slinging reels tomorrow night!

—ready for Malick, dan

Divine Divinity

November 15th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

I don’t have to really say much here, do I? We had some John Waters flicks a couple years back on 35mm, and that’s when I discovered the magic of Divine. Talk about a truly magnetic screen personality! There’s lots to love and enjoy here, this superb doc having just won here in town at SLGFF. If you didn’t catch it, please do!

Glenn or Glennda?

Glenn or Glennda?

I’m sorry, been a bit ill of late and don’t have the energy to go crazy here. Luckily Divine is all the crazy you need and deserve, and we got it at the GI this week. Plus, FEMALE TROUBLE in 35mm! Wonderful!

—I’ve divined your future, it’s got Divine, dan

Motel Life

November 9th, 2013 § Leave a Comment

Goddamn what a beautiful movie! This film transcends what could be a very typical little indie film. Two brothers looking out for each other against the world. A hit and run that leaves a young boy dead, and our protagonists are on the lam. Heard this story before? Sure, I have too. But the Polsky brothers have wrought such an exquisite little rendering of the tale that this indie gem deserves to be treasured. Two reasons this film not only breaks away from the pack but laps them: 1) Mike Smith’s extraordinary charcoal style rendering of Emile’s made up stories, 2) the performances so masterfully subdued and subtle, they stand out for all these actors.

Dorff and Hirsch kill this film! More on that in a second.

Dorff and Hirsch kill this film! More on that in a mo…

First, the animation. Mike Smith has wrought some of the best animation I have seen in recent years, and its nestled inside a longer live action film where I’m sure it is rarely the focal point. Getting Smith on board turned out to be a coup for the Polsky brothers, because I can see the animated sequences being very jarring and distracting in the wrong hands. The charcoal style perfectly encapsulates the feeling of all the grey, grey skies filmed in this movie. And part of the time those grey skies are filtering through the curtains of the titular motels, furthering the thematic and chromatic similarities between the two.

Second, the performances. Hirsch and Dorff are so damn good I was tearing up by the end of the film. The archetypical response is to liken them to Lennie and George from OF MICE AND MEN, but I have to mention them because the comparison rings very true to me as I sit here reflecting on the film. I first really noticed Dorff as star of Sofia Coppola’s SOMEWHERE, and I wasn’t impressed with that film or that performance. A complete 180 here for me with Dorff! We already know Hirsch is a great actor, but his chemistry with the entire ensemble is crazy. Dakota Fanning as an adult here (Dorff was her younger’s sis Elle’s dad in SOMEWHERE) has come back around to being a great actress again, turning the acting dial back down from where it was set a few years back when she was in her tweens (the Amy Poehler SNL skit days) and coming into her own. And throw in a great few minutes from Kris Kristofferson and you’ve got yourself a helluva flick!

THE VISITOR continues for more craziness unearthed by our friends at Drafthouse films.

—getting ready for more Divine, dan

AKA Jerome Felder

November 1st, 2013 § Leave a Comment

We seem to have music documentaries coming out of left field so often perhaps we should just shift the whole field. I don’t know if that visual metaphor worked for anyone, I’m still working through the ramifications myself. What we the new left of field be? And why is nothing every right of field?

Anywho, another film about someone you’ve probably never heard of (and I hadn’t heard of) but you need to know about. I’m sure anyone with half a brain realizes that popular music is often not written by those performing it, but it is often hard to know who is the person behind the music. And when you think about some of the biggest hits of the 50s and 60s being sung by a whole slew of different performers you’d probably not make the jump that the same person wrote “This Magic Moment,” “Teenager In Love,” and “Save The Last Dance For Me.” Well, he did. Him being the eponymous Doc Pomus nee Jerome Felder.

Swell guy, that Mr. Pomus.

Swell guy, that Mr. Pomus.

The bigger and more human story the film tells is about all the musicians’ lives he touched and songwriters he mentored (including the recently departed Lou Reed, who appears in the film). It’s obvious that everyone interviewed in the film loved the man, and where documentary credit sequences usually feature something funny, this film opts to tug at your heartstrings with little bits of everyone singing their favorite songs he wrote. It’s hard to get through the story of who “Save The Last Dance For Me” came about without getting a little misty eyed. What a romantic!

Speaking of left field, there’s another moldy goldie that Drafthouse Films has dusted off and is giving the ol’ restoration and distribution treatment: THE VISITOR. This is a strange film, but it’s not the laugh-out-loud-so-bad-it’s-good of MIAMI CONNECTION. It’s a bizarre hodgepodge of creepy children with mystical powers and destinies (think THE OMEN) and aliens among us who look human and have secret agendas (think THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH). The strangest thing is, it’s not a empirically bad film: just really, really odd. It’s like the filmmakers just wanted to combine all their favorite types of movies and, not stopping at that, put their favorite directors in it as well (John Huston and Sam Peckinpah). A film that truly has to be seen to be believed.

We love you too, Space Jesus.

We love you too, Space Jesus.

—stay the course faithful film geeks, dan

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