Category Archives: Classics

“Godfather” Reunion at Tribeca 2017

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From left to right, Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Francis Ford Coppola, James Caan, Al Pacino and Talia Shire at the “Godfather Reunion” at Radio City Music Hall, as part of the Tribeca Film Festival, 2017

April 30, 2017.  On Saturday, April 29, the Tribeca Film Festival presented an incredible historical event at Radio City Music Hall. “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather: Part II” (1974) were screened, followed by a reunion Q & A with the films’ director Francis Ford Coppola, actors Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire (no relation, but I was thrilled to see my tickets next to hers at the “will call” window). The talk was moderated by movie director Taylor Hackford. The event began at 1:00 and went until about 9:30. Read the rest of this entry

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Spartacus – restored in 4K at Film Forum, November 4 – 12, 2015

Stanley Kubrick’s SPARTACUS (1960). Courtesy Film Forum via Photofest. Playing November 4-12.

Stanley Kubrick’s SPARTACUS (1960). Courtesy Film Forum via Photofest. Playing November 4-12 at Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St.

November 4, 2015. From November 4 – 12 Film Forum will present a new, 4K restoration of director Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 masterpiece, “Spartacus” starring Kirk Douglas. “Spartacus” is an all out big budget Hollywood “sword and sandals” epic that more than holds up. Its battle scenes are nothing short of spectacular and its political maneuvering just as relevant as ever.

It boasts a magnificent cast, the likes of which we will never see again. In addition to Douglas the cast includes Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton (incapable of giving an even remotely bad performance), Peter Ustinov (who won an Oscar for his role in “Spartacus”), Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons and John Gavin.

I remember seeing the 1991 70mm restoration of “Spartacus” at the Ziegfeld theater. I actually snuck into its premiere and was so struck by this 197 minute long Hollywood epic about a slave revolt in ancient Rome, that I returned a week later to see the film again. Prior to this I had attempted to watch “Spartacus” on a VHS cassette and found it unwatchable. Therefore the 1991 restoration was, for me, a revelation and I have been a fan ever since. The 1991 restoration, done prior to the strides that we now have in digital technology was done photochemically by film restorer Robert Harris, who also restored “Lawrence of Arabia,” among other films. Read the rest of this entry

“Scarecrow” (’73) at Film Forum, May 17-23

Gene Hackman and Al Pacino in "Scarecrow."

Gene Hackman and Al Pacino in “Scarecrow.”

“Scarecrow,” the 1973 road movie directed by Jerry Schatzberg, will be having a run at Film Forum from May 17 – 23.  The film stars Al Pacino (fresh off “The Godfather”) and Gene Hackman, both in their primes.

“Scarecrow” will be shown in a clean, beautiful, anamorphic (really wide screen) print which, for me, was a revelation.  I first saw “Scarecrow” many years ago when I taped it off of channel 5 at 2:00 am using the EP (lowest picture quality, but more time on a VHS tape) setting on my VCR.   The film’s original wide screen dimensions were blown up to fill the space of square shaped TVs.  In other words I was losing 50% of the picture.  Now that home video users are used to the concept of letterboxing this problem has become less and less frequent. Commercial breaks were thrown in for good measure but, despite all of this, I liked the film.  Now, seeing “Scarecrow” in its correct, widescreen aspect ratio, I can properly appreciate Schatzberg’s use of long takes as the characters amble about aimlessly toward objectives that they are probably not going to achieve, dwarfed by the wide open spaces through which they travel. Read the rest of this entry

Fritz Lang on Netflix

Director Fritz Lang

Director Fritz Lang came to America, from Germany, in 1934.  The story he liked to tell, which may be true or which he may have told because it made for a good story, is that Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich’s Minister of Propaganda, met with him to talk about Lang making movies for the Third Reich.  Lang said he accepted the offer but that, following the meeting, he caught the next train to Paris, eventually making his way to America.

Once in America Lang began working within the studio system in Hollywood.  An autocrat, used to having his way in all things movie-wise, Lang quickly made enemies and burned bridges left and right.    After all, in Germany he was “the man” with access to big budgets and casts of thousands.  He was frustrated with the constraints placed upon him by American studios and what he perceived to be the overly simplistic nature of American story telling in movies. Read the rest of this entry

“The Good the Bad and the Ugly” returns to Film Forum, August 29 – September 4

Eli Wallach and Clint Eastwood in “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)

Back by popular demand, following sold out screenings at its recent “Spaghetti Westerns” series, Film Forum presents director Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western masterpiece “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966) in a restored DCP (Digital Cinema Package) version.   TGTBTU will run from August 29 – September 4.

If you have not seen TGTBTU on the big screen all I can say is “go.”  It is tremendous fun and one of my favorite movies.  Plus, Film Forum’s screening is a rare opportunity to experience it under ideal circumstances.  DCP means is that TGTBTU will be screened in high definition video, projected from a hard drive, as opposed to a traditional 35mm film print. Read the rest of this entry

“The Battle of Algiers” comes to Film Forum, July 6 – 12

“The Battle of Algiers,” a realistic view of a seemingly never ending conflict.

“The Battle of Algiers” (1965), director Gillo Pontecorvo’s documentary like recreation of Algeria’s struggle against 130 years of French rule, during the years 1954 – 1957, will have a run at Film Forum from July 6 – 12.  It is valid to think that the Film Forum’s timing in showing “The Battle of Algiers” so close to July 4 is a patriotic gesture.  There are definite parallels to be drawn between the American Revolution and the situation in Algeria.  They are both stories about colonies rebelling against governing bodies.  In fact, as fate would have it, there is only a one day difference in the respective dates of independence.  July 5 marks the 50th anniversary of Algerian Independence, which did not actually happen until 1962.  As a result one could have two legitimate interpretations for the Film Forum’s screening, although the comparisons do not stop there.  The story is one that, while the players may change, history seems doomed to repeat. Read the rest of this entry

“Barry Lyndon” at Film Society of Lincoln Center – Digital Presentation – DCP

Ryan O’Neal and Marisa Berenson in Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 masterpiece “Barry Lyndon”

On June 22, 25 and 27 at 12:15, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will present a digitally restored showing of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 film “Barry Lyndon.”  The presentation will be in DCP (Digital Cinema Package) which is becoming the industry standard for projection of new and classic films.  DCP uses cutting-edge technology to scan 35mm film negatives into digital files and then plays them back, from a computer hard drive, at stunning 2K or 4K resolution. The result is sound and image that rivals or surpasses even the best quality 35mm prints.

I am often asked to name my favorite movie, a formidable question considering how many movies I have seen.  I always come up with the same answer, “Barry Lyndon.”  I first saw “Barry Lyndon” at the age of 13 when my parents took me to see it during its opening week at the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan.  The Ziegfeld, along with the Paris, and thankfully the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theatre, is one of the last of the city’s great single screen movie theatres.  I had never seen a movie like “Barry Lyndon” before and I certainly had never seen a movie theatre like the Ziegfeld.  If you have not seen a movie there, go. Read the rest of this entry

“An Officer and a Gentleman” – Academy Screening with Richard Gere

Actor Richard Gere at The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening of “An Officer and a Gentleman” on June 13, 2012.           Photo by Peter Dressel

Richard Gere and Dave Carter following the Academy’s screening of “An Officer and a Gentleman” at Lighthouse, in New York. Photo by Peter Dressel

Movie star Richard Gere was in attendance on June 13 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented a 30th anniversary screening of Gere’s star making turn in 1982’s “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  The screening took place in the Academy’s beautiful screening room at the Lighthouse at 111 East 59 Street, in New York.

Following the screening Gere took the stage where he was interviewed by Dave Carter.  Carter is the official Red Carpet Greeter for the Oscars, as well as a prolific journalist and author in his own right. Carter pointed out that “An Officer and a Gentleman” was the third top grossing movie of 1982 behind “E.T.” and “Tootsie.” “If that’s not the definition of a word of mouth phenomenon I don’t know what is,” Carter told the audience.

Gere, who was charming, down to earth and gracious, said it was the first time in 30 years that he had actually watched the entire film of  “An Officer and a Gentleman.”  Gere said that he does not like to watch his movies but that he was very moved by the experience.  He explained that, “I remember everything about making this movie, everything you can’t see, what we went through to make the movie and the initial meetings we had and the time of my life when we did this.  I’m being flooded. It’s very emotional.”

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Ruggles of Red Gap

From April 4 – 10 Film Forum will present a 35mm archival print of director Leo McCarey’s charming 1935 comedy “Ruggles of Red Gap.”  The film stars Charles Laughton in one of his rare comedic roles.

“Ruggles” is a “fish out of water” story with Laughton as the fish.  Laughton’s Marmaduke Ruggles is a proper English butler traveling with his employer, Lord Burnstead (Roland Young), in 1908 Paris.  Burnstead loses Ruggles in a poker game to loud talking (and dressing) uncouth American millionaire Egbert Floud (Charlie Ruggles, no relation to the eponymous title character).  Egburt, forever henpecked and disapproved of by his nouveau riche, high society wannabe wife Effie (Mary Boland), takes Ruggles under his wing.  Za Su Pitts appears as Ruggles romantic interest, Mrs. Judson.  Read the rest of this entry

“Barry Lyndon” at Museum of the Moving Image

Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson in "Barry Lyndon."

On December 30 at 7:00 and January 1 at 6:00 the Museum of the Moving Image, in Astoria, will present a restored 35mm print of Stanley Kubrick’s 1975  film “Barry Lyndon.”  The presentation is part of “See it Big,” the museum’s screening series of movies meant to be seen on a big screen. (more…)