May 20, 2012


Leading into the Memorial Day weekend and Summer is about to get started, and the American Cinematheque has some great screenings to help you celebrate the long weekend in in style.

Pop culture favorites, a couple of live events and an amazing advanced member screening highlight the week.

One of the things that makes the American Cinematheque so great is their diversity in programming.  One week they will sscreen rare and popular movies from Hollywood's yesteryear, and the next great past and present European cinema, then follow that up with more populist fare, independent films and even have advanced screenings of brand new blockbuster movies.  Whether you're a cinema enthusiast or not, they have something for everyone.

And if this week isn't enticing enough, the Cinematheque has a JAMES BOND festival running throughout June that includes all 22 films in the series (with #23, SKYFALL, due in theaters in November).  I'll be doing a special blog entry on that in a week or so.

In the meantime, here are this week's great offerings.

THE EGYPTIAN - 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA  90028

Thursday, May 24th - 7:30pm - The Spielberg Theater

The Seminars for Filmmakers 2012 series continues with...


The Internet has changed the way short films are distributed in that short films in the past may have only been available at festivals or made as calling cards for filmmakers.  Now there is a booming market of these movies thanks to YouTube and a variety of other outlets.  While short films are no longer just made by film students, they still have the opportunity to lead to bigger and better things.

With more eyes on these films, and more and more people making them, this seminar is intended to help with your approach to short film-making - including the creation, exhibition and distribution.

As a former creative executive at a studio based production company that has watched several hundred short films for talent and project consideration, I can say that I have watched so many of these films that were over-thought to the point of being tedious and painful to watch - even with the shorter running time.  Shorts have a tendency to reveal rookie mistakes, so a seminar like this will be essential in helping avoid the usual pratfalls that amateur filmmakers tend to fall into when producing a short.

Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Thursday, May 24th - 7:30pm - Main Theater

Raj Kapoor: The Golden Age of Indian Cinema

AWAARA (1951; Directed by: Raj Kapoor)

Considered the most famous Indian film ever made (and this from Bollywood, whose content output rivals Hollywood's) the movie is about Raju (played by Kapoor), a derelict whose estrangement from his father (a judge) sends him into a life of crime - including an attempt to kill his own father.  Arrested, he finds himself in a trial presided over by - who else - his father who must put aside family loyalty.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, May 25th - 7:30pm

You will believe a man can fly.  With Zack Snyder's newest Superman movie (MAN OF STEEL) not released until 2013, get a double dose of the movies that brought the son of Krypton to movie screens.  As Bryan Singer put it during his SUPERMAN RETURNS Comic-con panel, the "ultimate American Immigrant story".

SUPERMAN (1978, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Richard Donner)

Comic book movies may be all the rage now, but here is the one that set the standard - and did it without the aid of CGI.

Hard to believe there was ever a day where studio executives questioned whether audiences would accept a flying man on screen - yet they did and Richard Donner made it work.  A very faithful adaptation of the Superman legend has (then unknown) Christopher Reeve stepping into the cape and boots of the most iconic superhero in comic book history, and breathing such life into the role that you can't imagine anyone else doing it.

Richard Donner's SUPERMAN is epic in every way possible.  It faithfully covers the full origin of the Superman legend (and takes its time doing it), has huge set piece scenes - like the destruction of Krypton, a series of rescues and the huge finale - and an outstanding all-star cast which includes Marlon Brando (!), Gene Hackman (truly great as Lex Luthor), Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder (as Lois Lane), Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford and Trevor Howard.  In fact, the cast has so many big names that in the opening credits, Christopher Reeve, the main character, gets third billing behind Brando and Hackman.

Donner has a great way of bringing eye winking humor into the story as well especially when it comes to transplanting a series from the 1940s into the 1970s.  For instance, Lois Lane (as played by Kidder) is definitely a modern career woman, one though that still needs saving from time to time, and can be swept off her feet (literally) by a strong dashing man in red and blue tights.  Scenes like where Clark Kent is faced with a modern phone booth that does not lend itself to changing into costume and a moment where a street-wise 1970s dude comments on the outrageousness of his suit are also nice touches.

A discussion of SUPERMAN is not complete without mention of the iconic score by John Williams.  Big and bold in the style that the maestro Williams is known for, thanks to the music the credits practically leap off the screen.  With great cues like THE PLANET KRYPTON and CAN YOU READ MY MIND, John Williams' full score for SUPERMAN is as super as the character it portrays.

And if you though that was great just wait because it is followed by...

SUPERMAN II (1980, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Richard Lester)


The original SUPERMAN movie is unique in that at the opening scene even before introducing the character of Superman and before the main story gets started, it sets up the sequel.  Three villains of Krypton played by Terence Stamp (General Zod), Sarah Douglas (Ursa) and Jack O'Halloran (Non) are banished into a "phantom zone" by Superman's dad (which was of course Marlon Brando, but his voice or likeness are not used in the sequel due to high salary demands and some crazy politics which I will touch on in a bit).

This is because SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II were shot back-to-back and also is known for the fact that the producers fired Richard Donner from SUPERMAN II, even while SUPERMAN was destined to be a hit, and replaced him with director Richard Lester.  This screening is of the original theatrical version, but there is a re-envisioned version of SUPERMAN II available on Blu-Ray and DVD by Richard Donner.  Both versions have their merits, but this is the one that I - and most people - are most familiar with.

In SUPERMAN II, those same three seen in the opening scenes of the original have a score to settle with Superman and also plan to take control of planet Earth (which they think is called planet "Houston" thanks to a run-in with a NASA space mission).

SUPERMAN II manages to up the stakes considerably from SUPERMAN by giving Superman an opponent - actually, make that 3 opponents - that are a true challenge, three very angry beings from his own planet with an ax to grind with powers equal to his own.  There is also a great adult element to this comic book story where (SPOILER ALERT) Superman falls very much in love with Lois Lane and even goes so far as to give up his powers to be with her.

As a kid, I absolutely LOVED this movie, and it has aged very well.  The epic battle between Superman and his three opponents is just pure awesome, and as an adult, I have grown to appreciate the conflict between his destiny and his relationship with the very human Lois Lane.

As General Zod, Terence Stamp truly chews up the screen in a villainous role that is beyond great putting SUPERMAN II into that rare category of a sequel that is in some ways better than the original.

SUPERMAN II on the big screen. awesome is that!



Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 26th - 7:30pm

A members-only event of a sneak peek of one of this summer's most anticipated movies.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (2012, Universal; Directed by: Rupert Sanders)

If there was ever a reason to become a member of the American Cinematheque, screenings such as this one are it.  Check out one of the most anticipated movies of the summer before it hits general cineplexes, and as a bonus, three-time Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood will be on hand to discuss her work on the film with many of her costumes on display in the lobby.  Here's the deal though, this screening is only available to members of the Cinematheque.

There is also a very interesting story behind this movie.  As is common in Hollywood, Universal (this film) and Relativity (MIRROR, MIRROR which opened in March) were both developing Snow White movies and the two studios attempted to one-up each other by trying to get theirs on the screen first.  It became quite the marketing battle with release dates changing, and trailer placement battles, etc.  Both have huge star power (the evil queen in MIRROR, MIRROR is Julia Roberts, and it is Charlize Theron in SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN) but both movies have such a different take on the material it's worth checking them both out, and the controversy that was raging pre-release seems to have disappeared.

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is a more gothic, action-oriented telling of the Snow White tale. Kristen Stewart (fresh from playing Bella in the TWILIGHT series) is Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth (also fresh from a hit film as he is Thor in the now ginormous box office smash that is THE AVENGERS).

The movie officially opens June 1st, so members of the Cinematheque are getting a good week advance on the general audience.


Links to Information, Tickets and Membership HERE.

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

Wednesday, May 23rd - 8:00pm


Last week it was musician Gregg Allman, this week filmmaker Garry Marshall takes the stage for a night of lively conversation with a true creative Hollywood force in both film and television.

Garry Marshall's credits are nothing short of impressive with iconic TV hits like HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY and MORK & MINDY, and the director of hit films like PRETTY WOMAN, RUNAWAY BRIDE and THE PRINCESS DIAIRIES.

Mr. Marshall has been around Hollywood for a while, and shows no signs of quitting any time soon (he was a producer on the recent NEW YEAR'S EVE) - and is guaranteed to have some great stories and insights to share.

Co-sponsored by KPCC and KCET.

Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Thursday, May 24th - 7:30pm

Going into Memorial Day, how about a movie to honor those veterans who died fighting for their country.

SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (1998, Dreamworks/Paramount; Directed by: Steven Spielberg)

With one of the most realistic and bloody battle scenes ever put on film director Steven Spielberg (who won his second Best Director Academy Award for this movie) instantly drops you in the middle of the D-Day invasion and pulls no punches.  Soldiers are shot down instantly upon leaving boats, dead bodies strewn as far as the eye can see and body parts and guts spill out everywhere.  There was no denying what a powerhouse movie SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was destined to be from the opening moments.

Tom Hanks leads his troop on a mission to save a guy whose other three brothers have died in combat and their mother has gotten word of their deaths all at once - a fool's mission as far as Hanks is concerned as he question why so much effort is put into saving a guy like Ryan.

Actor Adam Goldberg will be on hand for a Q&A as will author Steven Jay Rubin who will be signing copies of his book COMBAT FILMS: AMERICAN REALISM 1945-2010 in the lobby beginning at 6:30pm.

I absolutely loved the original teaser for this movie which is attached below.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Friday, May 25th - 7:30pm

When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way!

WEST SIDE STORY (1961, United Artists; Directed by: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)

When I was in high school, I had a strong debate with a friend of mine (which still rages on today) about how he didn't quite get the concept of gang members who sing and dance while acting tough and getting into knife fights.

Whatever you may think of tough guys dancing in the streets, WEST SIDE STORY (the Academy Award winner for Best Picture of 1961 as well as 9 others) is a cinematic splendor, with a ROMEO & JULIET-like plot set in the rough and tumble streets of New York.

Immigration, Racism and juvenile delinquency are front and center with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The American Cinematheque presents WEST SIDE STORY in a 70mm print!  Not to be missed.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 26th - 7:30pm

More 70mm love, this time an Alfred Hitchcock masterpiece.

VERTIGO (1958, Paramount; Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock)

VERTIGO is hands down my favorite Hitchcock film.  Stunning Saul Bass visuals, a hypnotic Bernard Herrmann score and James Stewart with a very unhealthy sexual obsession for bombshell Kim Novak.  There is so much going on under the surface of VERTIGO it's one of those movies that just keeps better upon repeat viewings.  More "recent" sexual thrillers such as BASIC INSTINCT (ok I guess it's 20 years old now, but more recent than 1958 for sure) owe a lot to this film not to mention visual homages in movies like THE MATRIX which definitely channels a significant rooftop chase.

Makes great use of San Francisco locales and I once took a full trip visiting most of those locations.  The movie was restored in the mid-late 1990s and thankfully the Cinematheque is screening a 70mm print which should aid in giving the audience a dose of their own Vertigo as well.


Link to Information and Tickets HERE.

Sunday, May 27th - 5:00pm

A Jurassic Triple Feature!

Directors Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston take you to a theme park where the term "don't feed the animals" takes on a whole new meaning.

JURASSIC PARK (1993, Universal; Directed by: Steven Spielberg)

"But, John.  If the Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists"
       - Jeff Goldblum

Hard to believe that JURASSIC PARK is nearly 20 years old!  Steven Spielberg brought Dinosaurs to life in this thrill ride of a movie that I retain a fondness for from my youth.  I remember seeing this movie in an advanced screening the night before opening, and being blown away by the fact that Steven Spielberg was once again making my jaw drop.  I wanted to go to the real Jurassic Park after seeing the movie and didn't care if the chances of coming back alive were slim or not, and it was one of those titles I went to see several times during the first week of release.

Nearly 20 years later and the Cinematheque gives you the opportunity to revisit this classic on the big screen.

Followed by...

THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997, Universal; Directed by: Steven Spielberg)

The big movie released over the Memorial Day weekend in 1997 was this sequel to JURASSIC PARK, so only fitting that it should play again on a Memorial Day weekend.

The big moment from this movie is of course (SPOILER ALERT) when the T-Rex rampages through San Diego, a scene that springs to mind each year I attend the San Diego Comic-con (and make sure the score is on my iPod to accompany the memories).

THE LOST WORLD may not be the strongest of movies, but it is one that I consider a guilty pleasure, especially the scene that I mention in the paragraph above.  Also, I love the John Williams score which you can tell he is channeling Max Steiner from the 1933 KING KONG score.

I also have a connection to this movie in that in 1996, I was interning for a production company on the Universal lot and had to walk by the stages where they were shooting this on my way to work.  I would constantly see the two T-Rexs being worked on by Stan Winston and his crew, passed by Spielberg several times as well as Julianne Moore in full make-up and costume.  Also that year, Universal Studios Theme Park added the JURASSIC PARK ride and one day airlifted "dinosaurs" in with a huge helicopter complete with dinosaur growls coming from the animatronics being lowered into the park.  For this young movie geek, it was a moment that I will remember for ever, and one of those great remembrances of my early days working in Hollywood and feeling like I was where I was supposed to be.

Followed by...

JURASSIC PARK III (2001, Universal; Directed by: Joe Johnston)

Sam Neill returns, but Spielberg exits - instead it's directed by Joe Johnston (THE ROCKETEER, CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER).  In the usual sequel fashion, there are bigger dinosaurs, bigger stakes and even a scene or 2 from the original book that didn't make it into the first film that find their way here.

Catch this triple feature now and start preparing for JURASSIC PARK IV which Steven Spielberg revealed at last year's San Diego Comic-con (no T-Rex rampaging through the city that time though) is in the works.




Link to Information and Tickets HERE.