Apr 15, 2012

NOIR CITY - 14th Annual Film Noir Festival - Screening This Week at the American Cinematheque - April 16 - 22

As a lover of cinema, there are a lot of events that one has to look forward to over the course of a year such as the Academy Awards, Sundance Film Festival, Summer Movie Season, Comic-con, Awards Movie Season - and very high on that list is the American Cinematheque's FILM NOIR FESTIVAL.

This week kicks off NOIR CITY - THE 14TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF FILM NOIR at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood, and again the Cinematheque programmers have it jam packed with great titles and guests.

NOIR CITY is co-sponsored by the FILM NOIR FOUNDATION, and features introductions and discussions with renowned experts on the genre.

And what better place to catch some great film noir programming than in Hollywood.  Can you think of a better evening than a double feature of Hollywood classics projected on the big screen, seen with an audience the way they were meant to after say a meal at Classic Hollywood institution MUSSO AND FRANK GRILL?  I sure can't.

In addition to that festival, there are some great other programming highlights including some advanced and free member screenings, Silent shorts and foreign films at the Aero and others.

THE EGYPTIAN - 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA  90028

Wednesday, April 18 - 7:30pm

DEATH ROW (2012, Investigation Discovery; Directed by: Werner Herzog)

One of the great Documentary Directors in Cinema will be on hand live at the Egyptian to screen and discuss a series of 47 minute-long documentaries which are case studies of individuals on death row.

These come on the heels of his feature length film, INTO THE ABYSS, which is an in-depth character study of Michael Perry, a death row inmate.  The film goes into why he did what he did, and whether the crime justifies the punishment - in this case death.

Werner Herzog has a very unique voice and his documentaries are always engaging and thought provoking.  One of my favorites is GRIZZLY MAN which details the life of a Bear activist who died at the paws of one of the creatures he loved so deeply.

I have not yet seen INTO THE ABYSS (which is now on Blu-Ray, DVD and also on Netflix Instant Streaming) but it is high on my viewing list.

Mr. Herzog will be signing DVDs of INTO THE ABYSS during the event.  I guarantee this is one event not to be missed.

NO TRAILERS AVAILABLE so I've included the trailer for INTO THE ABYSS instead:

Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Thursday, April 19 - 7:30pm

A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975, First Run Features; Directed by: L.Q. Jones)

The Cinematheque has been running a series of films on and off under the title MAYAN CALENDAR COUNTDOWN, and here they present a cult classic based on the short story by Harlan Ellison about the survivors of a Nuclear Holocaust.

Harlan Ellison is a Science Fiction writer who has contributed to many TV programs and Films over the years including BABYLON 5, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, THE STARLOST and most notably, the teleplay for the great STAR TREK episode CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER which had Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy time traveling to meet Joan Collins.

Harlan Ellison will be appearing to discuss, and this event is FREE FOR MEMBERS.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Also on Thursday the 19th, in the smaller SPIELBERG THEATER at the Egpytian...


If you are a writer or want to write for the movies, this program is for you.  Discussing the art of developing and writing characters this is a great discussion on the art of screenwriting.

Part of the SEMINARS FOR FILMMAKERS 2012 series.

Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, April 20 - 7:30pm


THE GREAT GATSBY (1949, Universal; Directed by: Elliott Nugent)

The classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel like you have never seen it before.  Noir regular Alan Ladd plays the title character in a film that has not been widely seen in some time.

Thanks to Universal Pictures, a new 35mm print has been struck specifically for this festival, and this movie is not available on DVD making this program one of those great events that cannot be missed by fans of the Film Noir genre.

Also very timely given a new adaptation is being released later this year from Director Baz Luhrmann (MOULIN ROUGE) and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher and Tobery MaGuire from Warner Bros.

Followed by Alan Ladd in...

THIS GUN FOR HIRE (1942, Paramount via Universal; Directed by: Frank Tuttle)

The first noir teaming of Alan Ladd with Veronica Lake, Ladd plays a cold assassin who teams up with Lake against a common enemy.

An absolute gem of a Noir that is worth seeing for the Ladd/Lake pairing alone.



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, April 21 - 10:30am

EGYPTIAN HISTORIC TOUR and FOREVER HOLLYWOOD (1999, American Cinematheque; Directed by: Todd McCarthy & Arnold Glassman)

Get a behind-the-scenes look with a walking tour of the historic Egytian Theater, followed by a Cinematheque produced film about the history of Hollywood and filmmaking.

Movies and Los Angeles have always been intertwined, and this is a great way to visit the Hollywood of yesteryear and celebrate the rich film history of the city and Hollywood.

Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, April 21 - 7:30pm

NOIR CITY continues with...

NAKED ALIBI (1954, Universal; Directed by: Jerry Hopper)

Another Film Noir regular, Sterling Hayden plays a police chief - dismissed from the force for his obsessive behavior - out to get Gene Berry who is suspected of murdering an officer who beat him brutally.  The tale of murder and obsession leads to a sleazy Mexican town, and screen siren Gloria Grahame.

Another rarely seen gem that is not available on DVD.

Followed by the newly restored...

SUDDENLY (1954, Lobster films; Directed by: Lewis Allen)

Assassin Frank Sintra hijacks cop Sterling Hayden in his home with the intent of killing the soon-to-visit President of the United States.

A very tense and exciting movie that I have seen several times, and Sintra is great as the cold-as-ice killer and the fact that this is a newly restored 35mm print makes this screening even more enticing.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, April 22 - 5:00pm

NOIR CITY continues with a program of films based on the writing of Noir author Cornell Woolrich with not just a Double feature, but a TRIPLE feature.

PHANTOM LADY (1944, Universal; Directed by: Robert Siodmak)

PHANTOM LADY has philandering husband (Alan Curtis) hooking up with a mysterious lady, only to come home and find his wife strangled and now he's the prime suspect.  Thankfully, he has a very dedicated secretary (this is the 40s remember, so not an assistant yet) in Ella Raines high ventures into the shadowy realm of Noir to get her boss off the hook.

This is a movie that proves that indeed you CAN find good help.

Followed by...

BLACK ANGEL (1945, Universal; Directed by: Roy William Neil)

It seems that it's a night for spouses getting a bad rap.  Here John Phillips is accused of strangling blackmailer Constance Dowling, and his wife (Juen Vincent) teams up with pianist (and Noir regular) Dan Duryea (who also happens to be the murdered Blackmailer's ex-husband) to go undercover at a sleazy nightclub owner's (Peter Lorre) joint to get the goods and clear her husband's name.

Peter Lorre and Broderick Crawford (playing a cop) are at their usual best in this fantastic and suspenseful noir.

And just when you thought the night couldn't get any better, it's followed by a new 35mm print of...

THE WINDOW (1949, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Ted Tetzlaff)

Based on Woolrich's THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF, Young Bobby Driscoll is known for telling tall tales, so when he sees a murder of course he can't get anyone to believe him.  Well ok, someone at least will listen to him, too bad it's the killers who want to shut him up for good.

I've only seen this movie once and it was some time ago, but remember loving.  Great idea - kid sees murder, nobody believes him but murderers come after him anyway - that is super suspenseful and you'll great frustrated by all the adults brushing off the kid's story even if you get that he hasn't been the best at telling the truth.




Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

That's the week at the Egyptian, but not to worry as there will be plenty more Noir programming as NOIR CITY continues over the weeks to come.

Now over to Santa Monica where there may not be any dark shadows, but there is definitely some great film programming going on nonetheless.

THE AERO - 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, CA  90403

Tuesday, April 17 - 7:30pm

SHAME (2011, Fox Searchlight; Directed by: Steve McQueen)

Michael Fassbender is secretly addicted to sex, and his private world is about to be thrown into chaos when sister Carey Mulligan shows up at his door looking for a place to crash.

Hit with the Box-office killing NC-17 rating, SHAME is an acting tour-de-force that is a must see.

Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion about Sex Addiction with experts Alexandra Katehakis, Chris Donaghue, Ethlie Ann Vare as well as three anonymous sex addicts.  See the movie, and then hear from real life sufferers and experts.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Wednesday, April 18 - 7:30pm


Ok like last week, I'm going to steal the write-up from the Cinematheque website as I don't know anything about this film, and I am guessing that not many others do as well making it an ideal chance to see a film you might not see or even have thought about seeing.

LAST WINTER (2011, Cineart; Directed by: John Shank)

27-year-old Johan (Vincent Rottiers) lives alone on his father’s farm in south-central France, tending to the land and shuttling his mentally unstable sister between the countryside and a nearby institution. As winter sets in, Johan becomes increasingly isolated, neglecting his girlfriend and fixating on a wolf that has never been seen but that he is certain is endangering his livestock. John Shank’s elegant drama, hailed by Variety as “stunningly shot, languidly paced… assembled with impressive confidence and featuring quietly powerful performances,” follows the solemn alienation of a man desperately holding on to a bygone rural existence. “A carefully crafted visual poem set on an unforgiving landscape.” - 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. In French with English subtitles.

Presented by the Consulate General of Belgium in Los Angeles, in cooperation with Flanders Image and Wallonie Bruxelles Images, and with the support of E.L.M.A. (European Languages and Movies in America).


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, April 20 - 7:30pm

A series of SILENT FILM shorts are being screened at the Aero complete with Live Musical Accompaniment.  The movies feature Silent stars such as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd, and there is even a cartoon and a short directed by early French Film pioneer Georges Méliès (who featured prominently in the plot of Martin Scorsese's HUGO last year).

I absolutely love seeing projected silent movies, especially comedies.  There is nothing more exciting than seeing these rare snapshots of a bygone era, many of which were made almost 100 years ago.

A listing of the shorts and descriptions borrowed from the Cinematheque website.

"French Interpreter Policeman" (1908, 7 min). A group of local French cops take private English lessons at the school of Miss Blacford in this charming short from early cinema wizard Georges Méliès.

The Rink” (1916, 30 min). Charlie Chaplin stars as a busboy posing as hoity-toity Sir Cecil Seltzer in this riotous early gem. Includes a “ballet” on a roller-skating rink!

The Frozen North” (1922, 17 min). Buster Keaton’s at “the last stop on the subway,” i.e. Alaska, in this hilarious short. Touches of surrealism and Buster playing the bad guy make this a unique film in Keaton’s work.

Gertie the Dinosaur” (1914, 12 min). Winsor McKay’s animated delight features the popular cartoonist drawing a dinosaur (Gertie), and then climbing in the frame with the brontosaurus and going for a ride. The first animated film to star a “personality” animal, this short paved the way for Mickey Mouse and countless others.

Music, Forward!” (1907, 3 min). Segundo de Chomón has heads turning into music notes and Lilliputian people forming a marching band in this whimsical wizardry short. If you love Georges Méliès, you’ll love this!

An Eastern Westerner” (1920, 20 min). Harold Lloyd stars as a New York city slicker tending his uncle’s ranch in the West. Little does Harold know that the nearby outpost of Piute Pass is being terrorized by Tiger Lip Tompkins and his gang, the Masked Angels.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, April 21 - 3:00pm

Get a sneak peek at the new Aardman Animation newest feature film...

THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS (2012, Columbia; Directed by: Peter Lord & Jeff Newitt)

Opening officially on April 27, Hugh Grant plays a pirate out to become the Pirate of the Year who runs into some problems in his quest for the coveted title.

Aardman animation is most noted for the amazing WALLACE & GROMIT series as well as the feature films CHICKEN RUN and FLUSHED AWAY.  I am a huge fan of CHICKEN RUN and am really looking forward to seeing PIRATES.  

Also features the voice talents of Brendan Gleeson, Jeremy Piven and Selma Hayek.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, April 21 - 7:30pm

A double feature of director Peter Rosen documentaries chronicling the lives and struggles of two different musicians.

Again sadly I don't know enough about these films to comment on them personally, so am borrowing from the American Cinematheque website.

Peter Rosen's visionary documentary traces the tumultuous career of Armenian-Soviet composer Aram Khachaturian while also exposing the harsh realities of the Soviet regime for artists. It is a story rich in contradictions: Was Khachaturian playing the fool for Stalinism, or composing music that cried out against its evils? Was he a Soviet favorite musical son, or a sacrificial lamb? An Armenian composer, rooted to his heritage, or the New Socialist Man? Among his many works, he is known for the “Gayane Ballet Suite,” featured in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and for the iconic “Sabre Dance.” Shot in Yerevan, Armenia. Tiblisi, Georgia, Moscow and New York, KHACHATURIAN won Best Documentary at the Hollywood Film Festival and was an official selection of the Biarritz, Haifa and Montreal International film festivals.

World-renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz was a legendary but mysterious figure whose story embodies the dual nature of artistic genius: the paradox of how a mortal man lives with immortal gifts that he must honor, but which extract a life-long price. Are the man and the artist the same person? What is the price each pays? And who was the man behind the music? Not since Paganini had there been such a magician on the violin. The first modern violin virtuoso, about whom Itzhak Perlman says in the film, “When I spoke with him, I thought, ‘I can’t believe it. I’m talking with God.’” “Fascinating… one of the top 10 classical music films of 2011.” - WQXR



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, April 22 - 4:00pm

FIRST POSITION (2011, Sundance Selects; Directed by: Bess Kargman)

Director Bess Kargman will be on hand to discuss and screen her Documentary which enters the world of professional ballet as 6 young dancers go through the intense struggle that it takes to become a dancer, where perfection is a requirement.

A hit on the Festival circuit, this is Bess Kargman's first feature, and what a first film it is!


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

That's it for this week.  Next week - Wednesdays with Robert Altman continues at the Aero, and as I mentioned above, NOIR CITY: THE 14TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF FILM NOIR will continue with more dark and shadowy programming at the Egyptian.