This week brings us a bundle of eclectic repertory programming thanks in part to the first Wordstock Book-to-Film Festival. More on that later. But first…
Starting Friday, May 22nd, The Northwest Film Center presents Jean Luc Godard’s MADE IN U.S.A. (France, 1967) starring Anna Karina in her final collaboration with ex-husband Godard, long time Truffaut collaborator Jean-Pierre Léaud and singer Marianne Faithfull.
This is a brand new restored widescreen 35mm film print and is currently not available on DVD. More importantly, the film was never released in the United States because Godard and the producer never got the rights to adapt the book into a film. So this is THE FIRST U.S. release of this Godard film.
Last week I quoted Godard, “All you need in the movies is a gun and a girl” in the context of the new Jarmusch film, The Limits of Control (which plays for another week at Cinema 21), and so it goes with Godard’s MADE IN U.S.A. about as successfully.
Karina is Paula Nelson, a female version of Humphrey Bogart (the film itself was inspired by Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep), wrapped in the trademark trench coat with the necessary gun in hand. When her former fiancé turns up dead, both the cops and the underworld take an interest in her. Boldly cartoonish, from its color schemes to its quotation-marked characters to its treatment of screen violence, MADE IN U.S.A. is dedicated to American crime movies (specifically those of Sam Fuller and Nicolas Ray), and is a politically fueled deconstruction of the genre.
MADE IN U.S.A. is mostly a curiosity more than a true Godard film as he made the film as a favor to the producer after he ran up against a backlash from the last film he produced, the subversive and brilliant Jacques Rivette film, The Nun, also starring Karina.
Godard made MADE IN U.S.A. at the same time as he was shooting Two Or Three Things I Know About Her and so perhaps because it was made so quickly, it pales compared to other Godard films of this era. Regardless, you will never get a chance to see a premiere of a Godard film from the Nouvelle Vague era again, so this is a special screening not to be missed.
MADE IN U.S.A. plays THIS WEEKEND ONLY!!!
Friday at 7pm and 9pm, Saturday at 7pm and 9pm and Sunday at 5pm and 7:15pm at The Whitsell Auditorium. This is one of the big film events in Portland this year. DO NOT MISS THIS CHANCE TO BE PART OF HISTORY!
The Wordstock Book-to-Film Festival plays this weekend only. All the films playing are book adaptations and that’s about all they have in common other than being mostly great cinema. This is a list of highlight films only but for a complete list, check out the Wordstock website HERE.
Also, all films listed here are confirmed to be 35mm film prints by the film coordinator at McMenamins.
UPDATE: McMenamins is showing a DVD of A Clockwork Orange! Do NOT attend!
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Stanley Kubrick, U.K., 1971). In the U.S., the film was given an X-rating and in the U.K., Kubrick himself had the film removed from distribution because of the copycat crimes that were being committed. The ban was vigorously pursued during Kubrick’s lifetime.
While I was at film school in London, one of the most infamous repertory art house cinemas, The Scala Cinema at Kings Cross, scheduled a “mystery screening” and advertised it on their March 1993 schedule as “Droogs in the Dock!” A mere 150 people showed up and the film was A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. The Scala Cinema was sued because they defied the ban and lost forcing one of the greatest cinemas in London, if not the world, into receivership, breaking the hearts of cinephiles throughout the city.
Kubrick refused to lift the ban to save the cinema.
If you have never seen A CLOCKWORK ORANGE at a cinema, it is essential. I cannot stress this enough. I realize for many the film has become a staple of cult cinema, but please revisit this film whenever you get the chance not just because it’s great cinema, but because (roll out the bunting) we live in a country where censorship is not tolerated, even if it’s self-enforced.
At the very least, turn off the lights and watch this amazing trailer in full screen:
A CLOCKWORK ORANGE plays at The Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan) Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 7:30pm.
Also playing at The Mission is another film originally given an X-rating yet won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, MIDNIGHT COWBOY (John Schlesinger, U.S., 1969) starring Dustin Hoffman and John Voight.
By the way, Kubrick’s A CLOCKWORK ORANGE was the only other X-rated film to be nominated for Best Picture.
MIDNIGHT COWBOY plays at The Mission Theater on Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm.
One more film of note playing at Wordstock, only because it rarely ever gets a theatrical screening is FAHRENHEIT 451 (Francois Truffaut, France, 1966) starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie, adapted from the Ray Bradbury novel. There will be one other obscure Truffaut film playing next week, so if you are a completist, you’ll want to see this as well.
FAHRENHEIT 451 was Truffaut’s first film in color and his only English language film. That said, this is a minor Truffaut flm and was mostly shrugged off upon its release.
FAHRENHEIT 451 plays at The Bagdad Theater Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 7:45pm.
All tickets to Wordstock films are only THREE BUCKS! WOW! Again, check out their website for info on other films!
Yet again, theauteurs.com is creating some very exciting online programming. In addition to a month long run of free documentaries (as reported in previous PDXFilm entries and can be seen HERE), they are offering free films from the World Cinema Foundation!
The World Cinema Foundation was created in 2007 with the purpose of rescuing and distributing obscure international cinema, films that would otherwise have been lost forever. To view the films, CLICK HERE.
For more information about how YOU can get involved in the preservation and restoration of cinema, please visit the World Cinema Foundation website HERE.
That’s it for this week! Check last week’s entry for a list of newer independent cinema in first run like Jarmusch’s THE LIMITS OF CONTROL!
COMING SOON…Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER, Fellini’s AMARCORD, Orson Welles’ THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, another baadasssss Grindhouse screening, TRUCK TURNER starring Isaac Hayes and MUCH MUCH MORE!