Why is it that when I explain to people that I have seen a film multiple times at the cinema, people laugh like I’m crazy?
There’s a perplexing contrast between how people view cinema and how people listen to music. I often hear from people, “I need to listen to an album a couple of times before I know if I like it or not,” which of course makes sense. You do need to listen to music multiple times in order to become more open to what the music has to offer. And the more you listen to an album you like, the more you begin to anticipate the parts you like and then that like turns to LOVE. But why isn’t cinema viewed this way? Why is it that most people expect cinema to clearly expose all its components in a single viewing? Or why is it that people have been conditioned to this expectation of cinema? Just like with any art, you have to live with it, roll it around on your tongue for a while before you can really reach a symbiosis with cinema. Yet people only view a film once assuming that what the experienced the first time is all there is to the film. With music, there are notes, there are lyrics, there is performance and tone and mood and that’s a lot to process. But cinema is music AND images AND narrative AND where you were in your life when you saw it AND the audience AND AND AND. I think the reason is because people are conditioned to think of cinema as a distraction, not as an emotional tool or a mirror or a dream or art. It’s been on my mind a lot since THE LIMITS OF CONTROL was released. The people who get the film are also compelled to see the film more than once, myself included. And I have found that each time I see it, the more I love it. At first, because I’m seeing more and understanding more. But now it’s because I’m anticipating parts I adore and “singing along with” the film in my head at those parts, like how one would at a concert. I fully believe that cinema should be viewed multiple times. If something resonated for you, even if you really hated the film, it requires several viewings the same way you have to give an album another couple of tries. So that’s my lecture for today. My usual soapbox statement has been see more films at the cinema. My previous philosophy, which still holds true, is see more than one film in a row. But now I’d add to the sum total: See more films in a row at the cinema multiple times. You’ll be richer for it the same way it took you ten times before you realized how much you loved your favorite band. And think of each screening at the cinema the equivalent of getting to see that favorite band LIVE.
Alright. On with the week. The secret number for the week is SIX.
June 6th ONLY, Cinema Project presents RR (James Benning, U.S., 2007). RR Takes its name from an abbreviation for “railroad” and is the latest (and possibly last) 16mm work by the great American independent filmmaker James Benning, whose prolific output over the past five years has placed him at the apex of his four-decade career, and is indeed about trains traversing the expansive American landscape. Yet its deceivingly simple schema of forty-three trains chugging through the frame sets the stage for a film rich in historical allusion, articulated structure, surprise and photographic beauty. The American pastoral tradition contains its own fabled history. Benning peppers his synch-sound recording with excerpts and songs that provide a clever counterpoint to the images, obliquely invoking past events including the Vietnam War. The collaged soundtrack, which includes Karen Carpenter singing for a Coca-Cola commercial, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Eisenhower’s foreboding farewell speech warning about the military-industrial complex and Gregory Peck reading from Revelations, both digs into and participates in the American psyche. RR can be seen as a meditation on nostalgia, the unadulterated joys of waiting, Western over-consumption, and the cinema itself. Train-spotting has never been so rewarding.
Kent Jones of Film Comment, published by The Film Society of Lincoln Center, writes, “The train-watching experience itself has harmonized with cinema since its beginnings, but never as fully as it does here. Stopping to watch a train go by, to remove oneself from the constraints of planned and coordinated time as well as perceptual constancy, is indeed to ‘cede authority’—it’s one of the rare moments when we give ourselves over to purely poetic time.” Film Comment placed RR as the sixth best unreleased film of 2008.
As exciting as the film itself, I received an email from Cinema Project with details about this special screening that read, “Meet us at our screening space at 11 NW 13th Ave on Saturday at 9PM to be escorted to the secret outdoor location. And in the unfortunate event of rain, we will screen at our usual microcinema space.” Wow! A secret outdoor location to watch a film on FILM! That’s no easy stunt!
So really, don’t miss what will be a one time opportunity to see what may be your first (and only) screening by James Benning, RR! Saturday ,June 6th at 9pm.
June 6th ONLY at Cinema 21 at 3pm, Actress P.J. SOLES in attendance to introduce a DVD projection of The Ramones in ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (Allan Arkush, U.S., 1979)!!!
I asked Cinema 21 about why they’re showing a DVD and not a film print. Apparently, the only existing print is in the UCLA Film Archive and they aren’t renting it out. Additionally, the film is being hosted and sponsored by video store, Movie Madness, so this is partially a promotion for them. But gee, an opportunity to meet P.J. Soles who was also in Carrie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Halloween, Breaking Away, Private Benjamin AND Stripes! Ya can’t beat it.
ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL with P.J. Soles in attendance, Saturday, June 6th at 3pm ONLY at Cinema 21.
Also at Cinema 21 starting June 6th is Paul Newman in THE HUSTLER (Robert Rossen, U.S., 1961) co-starring Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott, Piper Laurie and cameo by the original Raging Bull himself, Jake LaMotta!
THE HUSTLER was nominated for nine Academy Awards and was selected by the Library of Congress Film Registry for preservation. Martin Scorsese directed a sequel with Paul Newman reprising his role as Fast Eddie Nelson for which he won Best Actor in a Leading Role.
THE HUSTLER plays one week at Cinema 21. Check website for showtimes.
Starting June 6th, A goddamn Grindhouse Double Feature! Of films from the Eighties, no less! Get groups of friends together and go! First up, LADY TERMINATOR, aka Nasty Hunter, aka Shooting Star, aka Pembalasan Ratu Pantai Selatan, which translates to The Revenge of the South Seas Queen (H. TJut Djalil, Indonesia, 1988), which was clearly renamed to appeal to American action fans, then addended with this tag line, “First she mates…then she TERMINATES!”
“The infamous Indonesian action/horror mind blower. A beautiful woman is possessed by an ancient mystical queen out for vengeance, turning her into an unstoppable killing machine! She takes off on a rampage across Indonesia, gunning down anyone who gets in her way, and blowing apart half of the country. She also sports a mean leather jacket…except when she’s naked…which is a lot. But for those foolish enough to try to put their hands on her, she also castrates men with an eel that lives in her vagina. Bullet-riddled mayhem, disco shootouts, mind-boggling dialogue, a mullet-headed cop who drives a tank, and so much more. All in full-throttle 80’s excess! This movie truly has to be seen to be believed.”
LADY TERMINATOR plays at 7pm nightly starting June 6th, followed by:
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (Amy Holden Jones, U.S., 1982). “A group of high school girls are throwing a slumber party. They have seemingly endless reasons to take off their clothes, before a maniac with a fondness for a power drill shows up to ruin the party. This is one of the best 80’s slasher films, from an incredibly rare 35mm print!”
SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE plays at 9pm following LADY TERMINATOR. Both films are $8.
June 5th (and 6th…as well as 7th, actually) are two films by Francois Truffaut!! SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER (France, 1960) and THE WILD CHILD (France, 1970).
“Often overlooked, SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, Truffaut’s wonderful second film—sandwiched between art-house evergreens The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim—stars Charles Aznavour, master of the chanson, in his only collaboration with the director. The slight singer-songwriter, playing Charlie, an ivory-tickler at a dive who abandoned his career as a celebrated concert pianist after a family tragedy, may not be so indelibly associated with Truffaut as Jean-Pierre Léaud’s Antoine Doinel, but he’s just as heartbreaking. An adaptation of David Goodis’ 1965 novel ‘Down There,’ this film more than nods to noir: Charlie is on the lam because he killed in self-defense. Truffaut said he made it in reaction to The 400 Blows, which he deemed ‘so French,’ adding that he ‘needed to show that he was influenced by American cinema.’”—Melissa Anderson, Time Out New York.
SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER plays Friday, June 5th at 7pm AND Saturday, June 6th at 9pm.
Check out how radically different the original French poster and the U.S. release poster for THE WILD CHILD are:
One of Truffaut’s most personal and widely admired films, THE WILD CHILD is based on the journals of Dr. Jean Itard (played by Truffaut himself), an 18th-century physician who set out to raise and educate a “wolf boy” found in the forests of southern France. Much of the film’s complexity and power derives from the way that Truffaut identifies with both the good doctor’s faith in civilization and the “noble savage’s” resistance to civilization. Nestor Almendros’s luminous black-and-white cinematography dazzles anew in this restored print.
THE WILD CHILD plays Friday 8:45pm, Saturday 7pm and Sunday at 5pm. Both Truffaut films presented by The NW Film Center and screening at The Whitsell Auditorium. FREE for PSU students!
And now for a personal guilty pleasure.
KUFO presents THE KARATE KID (John G. Avildsen, U.S., 1984) with Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Adventures in Babysitting’s Elisabeth Shue. Believe it or not, THE KARATE KID was nominated for both a Golden Globe AND an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Pat Morita.
THE KARATE KID plays Friday at 10pm only at The Bagdad. Undetermined if this will be a film print. In the past, when hosted by KUFO, it’s been film.
And again, if you can’t afford to go to the movies, you can see six incredible Cannes contenders made between 1959 and 1976 FOR FREE at http://www.theauteurs.com/criterion.