Aug 19, 2012

From David Cronenberg to Samuel Fuller – Screening This Week at the American Cinematheque (August 20 – 26, 2012)

Summer is starting to wind down and the box office blockbusters are slowing as well.  Soon the Toronto International Film Festival will be happening and awards season will be in full swing.

If you're a filmmaker looking to get your film into a festival such as TIFF the Cinematheque this week has a seminar about navigating the sometimes confusing and frustrating world of Film Festivals.

The Cinematheque always has great programming no matter what time of year it is and this week is no exception.  From Foreign classics such as GRAND ILLUSION to a David Cronenberg Double Feature, a retrospective of Samuel Fuller movies and even a screening of the recently remade TOTAL RECALL in 70mm with Paul Verhoeven on hand to introduce the screening.  There's something for everyone at the American Cinematheque.

THE EGYPTIAN – 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA 90028

Wednesday, August 22nd, 7:30pm

GRAND ILLUSION (1937, Rialto Pictures; Directed by: Jean Renoir)

This is a film that is on many top movies of all-time lists - and deservedly so. Jean Renoir's WWI classic sees French Officers taken as Prisoners of War from different walks of life (an aristocrat, a mechanic, etc.) who after escape attempts find themselves as "guests" in a impenetrable German fortress.  

Most intriguing is the relationship that develops between Jean Gabin's aristocrat and German Commendant Erich von Stroheim.



Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Thursday, August 23rd, 7:30pm


HOLLYWOOD CAVALCADE (1939, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: Irving Cummings and Malcolm St. Clair)

As part of the 90th birthday celebration for the Egyptian theater, the Cinematheque has been screening films that made their debut run at the historic theater. This movie did not get it's premiere at the Egyptian but instead features the theater in the movie.

Alice Fay plays an actress lured from the New York stage to the very new Silent Picture business growing in 1913 Hollywood by director Don Ameche (he's young here, so doesn't need the swimming pool of alien Cocoons yet - nor does he break dance). While she finds success, his career falls off as the picture business moves from the Silent era to Sound. Many silent stars make cameo appearances including Buster Keaton, Al Jolson and Rin Tin Tin.

Some fun OUTTAKES featuring BUSTER KEATON:

Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Friday, August 24th, 7:30pm


TOTAL RECALL (1990, Carolco; Directed by: Paul Verhoeven)

You've (maybe) seen the remake, now see the original. Director Paul Verhoeven will be on hand to introduce a rare 70mm screening of the 1990 Science Fiction-Action blockbuster starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Ironside, Ronny Cox and a sultry Sharon Stone who kick's Arnold's butt and looks hot doing it. Even more convenient timing given the recent landing of the rover CURIOSITY on Mars where the majority of this movie is set.

I'm also a big fan of the Jerry Goldsmith score.

For the memories of a lifetime...recall, recall, recall.



Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Saturday, August 25th, 7:30pm

One of Canada's most significant contributions to Hollywood in terms of directors is David Cronenberg, and the American Cinematheque has 2 of his more bizarre films that have strong cult followings.

VIDEODROME (1983, Universal; Directed by: David Cronenberg)

James Woods is hooked on a TV program that may be a snuff video and in his attempt to locate the source of it experiences some bizarre hallucinations which send his concept of reality spiraling out of control.

It took me a couple of viewings to finally warm up to this movie, which I expect would be best seen on a big screen with an audience (then again, what movie wouldn't?).

Followed by…

EXISTENZ (1999, MGM; Directed by: David Cronenberg)

Jennifer Jason Leigh is a game designer who while on the run from assassins enters into her virtual game creation. Perfect pairing with VIDEODROME as characters find themselves torn between fantasy and reality.



Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Sunday, August 26th, 3:00pm



From the Cinematheque website:

"The picture business owes the better part of its existence to Sam Rothafel." - The Hollywood Reporter, 1936

Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel built an enormously influential career as a film exhibitor, radio broadcaster, musical arranger, stage producer, war propagandist and international celebrity. Between 1908 and 1935, Rothafel crafted a global reputation and brand name for his elaborate motion picture presentations; helped launch the Rockettes and other stage performers and musicians to stardom; arranged Movietone scores for films such as SUNRISE, STREET ANGEL and FOUR SONS; became one of NBC's biggest stars during the 1920s and 1930s; and helped make motion pictures and radio the dominant forms of mass entertainment.

Ross Melnick, assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the author of American Showman: Samuel 'Roxy' Rothafel and the Birth of the Entertainment Industry (Columbia University Press, 2012), will discuss Rothafel's multi-faceted and multimedia career and his contributions to film exhibition and American popular culture. A book signing and screening of 7TH HEAVEN will follow the lecture.

7th HEAVEN (1927, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: Frank Borzage)

A very rare screening of this 1927 film which won 3 Academy Awards (Best Actress – Janet Gaynor, Best Director and Best Writing – Adaptation).

A sewer worker rescues a young prostitute from a dispute, and then claims she is his wife. The couple falls in love, but the looming World War threatens their happiness.


Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Sunday, August 26th, 6:30pm – Spielberg Theater



In their continuing series of seminars for filmmakers, the Cinematheque this week discusses how to deal with the ever growing and sometimes frustrating Film Festival circuit.

From the Cinematheque website:

Save money on pesky submission fees!

Figure out a festival strategy that is right for your film!

For most emerging filmmakers, the goal of launching a film on the film festival circuit begins with one singular dream: Sundance! But what lies beyond Sundance for you and your film? In this informative seminar, film festival programmer/film consultant Thomas Ethan Harris (former Director Of Programming Los Angeles Film Festival and Palm Springs International Festival Of Short Films) offers filmmakers practical tips and keen guidance to navigating the world of film festivals to maximum effect.

What are the most significant film festivals and showcases you should be considering right now before that ultimate Sundance dream fades and you are left with a very good film with no place to show it?
Discussion topics will include:

-A survey of the most important film festivals in both the United States and the international community.
-A breakdown and discussion of what particular film festivals are looking for and what individual film festivals respond to as they build their yearly slate of selected films.
-How to strategize the best festival release for your film.
-The growing importance of community and genre film festivals.
-Why establishing a good "perception" for your film in the film festival world may be the most valuable strategy of all.
-What do I do with my "work-in-process" film with festival deadlines quickly approaching. Is it worth submitting a WIP to Sundance or South By Southwest?
-Film Festival Diagnosis For Your Film: Do I have a "festival" movie? Before you spend all that money on submission fees, what is the primary definition of today's "film festival" content?
-Secret "insider tips" on submitting your film that will improve your chances of getting selected!
-A list of film festivals to avoid, and why!

Whether you are currently submitting your film to festivals, in production on your film, or even just prepping or writing your first film, everyone is encourage to check out this insightful, stimulating and empowering discussion of film festivals and film festival release strategy.

Special Ticket Prices: $20 General, $15 Student/Senior, $12 Member.

180 min.

Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


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

Monday, August 20th, 7:30pm


THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973, Warner Bros.; Directed by: Herbert Ross)

You know when a group of people are invited to take part in an evening of murder mystery games, things are not going to remain pretend for too long. Director Herbert Ross' puzzle of a movie has a group of people invited onto a yacht for just such an event, and as expected the game gets very real.


Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Tuesday, August 21st, 7:30pm

A night of documentary and discussion – from the Cinematheque website:

Co-presented by Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community, Transition CC, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club

Now a hot topic in Los Angeles, "fracking" is the focus of an evening featuring Josh Fox's documentaries "The Sky Is Pink" and GASLAND, followed by a panel discussion with environment experts.

What is Fracking?

Our country is in the midst of an unprecedented gas drilling boom brought on by a controversial technology called horizontal hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" into our domestic shale rock formations. Seeking ways to squeeze a yield from depleted oil fields, natural gas producers all over the country are forcing trapped natural gas up & out via high-pressure injecting millions of gallons of water, sand & toxic chemicals. Read more from Food & Water Watch

You may have heard about it on the east coast or midwest. Now intensive drilling and horizontal fracking has come to California, and our very own Inglewood/Baldwin Hills oil field (the largest contiguous urban oil field in America) is at the heart of the debate. Culver City Council recently took a bold step in sending a message to Governor Brown. So what's next?

Come be a part of a fully informed public!

Before the feature, Josh Fox's new documentary short and follow-up to GASLAND "The Sky Is Pink" will screen.

Following GASLAND, join us for a panel discussion and Q&A session with experts including:
Paul Ferrazzi, Executive Director, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community
Dr. Clyde Tom Williams, Retired Oil/Gas Field Specialist and Sierra Club-California, CalFrack Coordinator
Meghan Sahli-Wells, Culver City Council Member

THE SKY IS PINK (2012, Short Film; Directed by: Josh Fox)

Followed by…

GASLAND (2010, HBO; Directed by: Josh Fox)

Josh Fox digs deep (ok bad pun I know – couldn't help it) into the subject of fracking and its application by the "Big Gas" companies and uncovers some startling and disturbing revelations.


Link to Tickets and Information HERE.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 7:30pm


To celebrate the birthday of renowned Science Fiction author Ray Bradbury (who passed away recently) the Cinematheque presents a double feature of movies based on his work.

I have had the fortunate experience to hear Mr Bradbury speak on a couple of occasions at past San Diego Comic-con panels which had the effect of making me appreciate the man and his work even more.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983, Walt Disney; Directed by: Jack Clayton)

Ray Bradbury adapted his own book into the screenplay for this very creepy Disney movie (creepy and Disney in the same sentence…) that I guarantee gave most children (including yours truly) nightmares in their youth. Nightmares is an appropriate word given that the plot revolves around a mysterious and sinister figure (Jonathan Pryce) who comes to a small American town with his circus and strange things begin to happen to the citizens.

Followed by…

FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966, Universal; Directed by: Francois Truffaut)


It's a nasty future where books are not only banned but burned. A firefighter charged with this unfortunate duty falls for a rebellious book hoarder (Julie Christie) and finds himself enchanted with the very items he is supposed to destroy. French New Wave director and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS UFO expert Francois Truffaut directs.


A CLIP from FAHRENHEIT 451 can be accessed HERE.

Link to Tickets and Information HERE.

Thursday, August 23rd, 7:30pm

Discussion between films with directors Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr.

SEXUAL CHRONICLES OF A FRENCH FAMILY (2012, IFC; Directed by: Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr)

Sex – it's one of those things that is natural, but many families are afraid to confront it. When a young boy is caught filming himself masturbating during biology class (I wonder if his iPhone has an app for that?), the matriarch of a family decides to openly discuss the sexual experiences of the entire family – including a Grandfather's monthly visit to a prostitute, etc. You would think from the description that this would be a very vulgar and risqué film, but the way the material is handled it is anything but.

Followed by…

AMERICAN TRANSLATION (2011, TLA Releasing; Directed by: Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr)

A French man and American woman begin a passionate relationship that leads them down a very dark and dangerous path.



Link to Tickets and Information HERE.

Friday, August 24th, 7:30pm


I was first introduced to the cinema of Samuel Fuller thanks to a Saturday night with nothing to do, and a couple of titles I came across at the Los Angeles public library (on VHS but thankfully Letterboxed). Those were SHOCK CORRIDOR and THE NAKED KISS both screening as part of this retrospective series from the Cinematheque.

SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963, Allied Artists; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

Seeking out a Pulitzer prize, a journalist goes undercover in a psychiatric ward to solve a murder case, and gets in a little too deep with the inhabitants.

When I first saw this film, it inspired much of my short story work for a college creative writing class I was in (in particular one I wrote call WORLD OF MADNESS). I recently revisited this movie thanks to the CRITERION COLLECTION release, and found it to be even better than when I saw it the first time.

Followed by…

FORTY GUNS (1957, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

The intended title, WOMAN WITH A WHIP, had to be changed but this daring western featuring Barbara Stanwyck as a rancher who rules over an Arizona county and has what can best be described as a fetish for guns still packs quite a punch.  Imagine Barbara Stanwyck as a pistol toting Western style Dominatrix and's worth seeing to believe.





Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Saturday, August 25th, 7:30pm


PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953, 20th Century Fox; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

In this Noir thriller Richard Widmark is in familiar territory as a pickpocket who accidentally lifts a microfilm from a Communist spy and finds himself targeted by both Communists and the Feds. Thanks again to an amazing CRITERION COLLECTION release, I was introduced to this film during my films school years and never before has New York seemed so dark, dangerous and claustrophobic.

Followed by…

UNDERWORLD U.S.A. (1961, Columbia; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

Cliff Robertson is released from prison and has a score to settle with three hoods that beat his father to death years earlier. With a plan that involves playing all angles and both sides of the law, he manages to carry out his vendetta while caught in a war between the Mob and the Feds.






Link to Tickets and Information HERE.


Sunday, August 26th, 7:30pm


THE NAKED KISS (1964, Allied Artists; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

A prostitute tries to change her life by moving to a small town and becoming a nurse at a hospital for small children. However her new life is threatened when a kiss reveals a dark secret and the true nature of the man she has fallen for.

Followed by…

THE STEEL HELMET (1951, Lippert Pictures; Directed by: Samuel Fuller)

Trapped in a Buddhist Temple during the Korean War, a group of American soldiers try to hold off Communist forces – and are completely outmanned and outgunned. The hardened veteran Sergeant befriends a young Korean boy whom he nicknames SHORT ROUND (no doubt where Steven Spielberg got the name for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM) and the group struggles to stay focused while a captured North Korean solider tries to use their ethnic differences to divide them.



Link to Tickets and Information HERE.