PDXFilm: (U) The Red Shoes Restoration, Truffaut’s Small Change & more!

16 05 2010


Showtimes have been posted for THE RED SHOES RESTORATION (M.P. & E.P., U.K., 1948), which was a SMASH HIT at last year’s Cannes…turns out it’s only screening ONCE A DAY for one week.

What time is it showing?  4pm.

So who’s gonna be able to go?  Not you.  You have a day job.  If you’re retired, on the other hand…you are a lucky, undeserving bastard because the people who most need to see this film are the people who still have fire and passion in their heart, like the main characters who will do anything for art and love.

As for the rest of us, we will have to take a day off of work to see this special screening.  But you never know…maybe it will come back…on fucking Blu-Ray or some shit.

Poor The Red Shoes…

Click HERE for Cinema 21’s website.

Wasn’t the film scene last week just so dreamy?

There was CABARET ( Bob Fosse, U.S., 1972) starring a lovable, adorable sexual Liza Minelli as Sally Bowles at The 5th Avenue Cinema (This is the Czech film poster, artwork by Wiktor Gorka):

A pristine archival print of the always spooky and magical NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (Charles Laughton, U.S., 1955) at The Laurelhurst Theater (Here’s a rare publicity photo):

A special encore screening, thanks to Dan Halsted, of THE MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING (Joseph Kuo, H.K., 1979):

And a new print of the Italian neorealist classic, THE BICYCLE THIEF (Vittorio De Sica, It., 1948):


The Bicycle Thief Continues

THE BICYCLE THIEF continues at The Hollywood Theatre for one more week!  And listen, if you haven’t seen this film, just go.  GO.  It’s impossible how much this is worth stressing.  It’s considered one of the greatest films made ever.  In its day, Sight & Sound, a film magazine published by The British Film Institute, called it the greatest film of all time.

Amos Vogel of Film as a Subversive describes it as follows, “Non-professionals, actual locales, the plight of the people: this total rejection of decadent fascist cinema is at the heart of Italian Neorealism.  In De Sica’s humanist masterpiece, the unemployed father, unable to work because his bike has been stolen, attempts to retrieve it, but, after endless heart-break, is himself forced into stealing one to live.  Caught, he is degraded in front of his son, with him throughout; instead of rejecting him, the boy takes his hand as they disappear into the multitude.”

Some of you may have taken a film class and seen a lousy DVD projection of it.  Just go see it properly, the way audiences saw it in 1948, it will put your life in perspective.  SHOWTIMES:  http://hollywoodtheatre.org/engaging/index.html

Truffaut’s Small Change

Also at The Hollywood Theatre through the end of the week, SMALL CHANGE (Francois Truffaut, Fr., 1976)!  What a delightful surprise!  This isn’t one of Truffaut’s better known films, like the Antoine Doinel cycle or Jules et Jim, but it’s a great film to kick off your summer!  SMALL CHANGE is hopeful, gently funny and full of wonder.

Here is an adorable British quad of Truffaut’s film for which I’d give anything to add to my collection:

The New York Times called Truffaut’s film, “An original and major work in minor keys.”  In 1976, Roger Ebert called it his favorite film of the year and Leonard Maltin called it “wise, witty and perceptive.”  I’ve been waiting to see this film on the big screen, particularly for the baby and cat on the windowsill scene, which Ebert had called “Truffaut at his best.”

What’s so delightful about the film is that it is comprised of tiny events, not a linear story, and so there is a loose, organic flow from one episode to the next.

Francois Truffaut’s SMALL CHANGE and Vittorio De Sica’s BICYCLE THIEF play for one week at The Hollywood Theatre.  Regular admission is an affordable $6.50 and Monday nights are only FOUR BUCKS!!

The Red Shoes Restoration


If you are going to choose to see only one film this week, It’s gotta be this one.  The gorgeous, the magical, the passionate, the balletic British masterpiece, THE RED SHOES (Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger, U.K., 1948).  There is a reason why Martin Scorsese named THE RED SHOES his all time favorite film.  There is a dizzying hysteria for cinema in every edit, every composition and every shadow and light.  THE RED SHOES is PURE CINEMA.

“Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger created a vision in THE RED SHOES, one that has never really been matched,” said Martin Scorsese, founder and Chair of The Film Foundation. “There’s no question that it’s one of the most beautiful color films ever made, and one of the truest to the experience of the artist, the joy and pain of devoting yourself to a life of creation.”

Cinematographer, Jack Cardiff, pioneered early three-strip Technicolor technology with this and other collaborations with Powell & Pressburger and every single element of production design, from the dancing cellophane to the painterly backdrops to the red shoes themselves POP! off the screen with a vivid saturation like you can only see in a cinema.  The choreography of both the dancing and of the camera is worth repeated viewing for anyone interested in learning the magic of film editing.  This film is dizzyingly alive and in love with the creative process and the narrative itself is a polemic between art and love.

Roger Ebert accurately wrote, “The film is voluptuous in its beauty and passionate in its storytelling. You don’t watch it, you bathe in it.”  The New Yorker writes of this newly released print from The Janus Films archive, “No wonder Britain, still rationed in color, food, and feeling in the wake of an exhausting war, could not cope with what the movie proposed. Catch it here now, and you will not just be seeing an old film made new; you will have your vision restored.”


Also note this is a very special restoration print on tour for the very first time.   The restored version had its world premiere at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and opened commercially at New York’s Film Forum to a triumphant reception for both the technical brilliance of the restoration and the re–discovery of the greatest dance film ever made.

The restoration began in 2006. Earlier, in the 1980s, the film had been optically copied from flammable nitrate and acetate materials, including vintage Technicolor dye transfer prints, nitrate and acetate protection master positive copies, original soundtrack elements, and — most important of all — the still–extant three–strip Technicolor camera negatives.

These original nitrate three–strip camera negatives have been utilised for this restoration to obtain the highest possible image quality. The negatives, which were damaged and suffered differential shrinkage, were scanned at 4K resolution; the three strips were re–aligned, frame–by–frame, producing perfect colour registration.

The new digital negative has been used to strike beautiful new 35mm prints at Cinetech Labs, one of which premiered in Cannes, and one of which was acquired by Chapel Distribution for screening here at Cinema 21. These newly–restored elements ensure that the film is now properly preserved for posterity.

“The late Richard Franklin, an enthusiastic champion of the Technicolor process, always maintained The Red Shoeswas the perfect Technicolor film, technically and aesthetically.” — Ross Campbell

THE RED SHOES plays for ONE WEEK ONLY at Cinema 21.  For those who have never been to Cinema 21, their projectors are regularly maintained, their lenses are balanced and sharp and their bulbs are bright.  PLEASE go see this film during its first run at a state of the art cinema like Cinema 21.  This is a very, very special tour of this restoration print and this will be your only opportunity to see THE RED SHOES!

I’m not including the trailer because it doesn’t compare.  The stills above may cause skepticism about the films majesty enough as it is.

Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps

By the way, for those of you who may be new to PDXFilm.org, although there is often an emphasis on repertory programming, my objective is to offer what I consider to be the best cinema Portland has to offer in any given week.  It just so happens that the most exciting cinema programming in Portland right now IS re-released and rare, older cinema.  But to me, anything can be great cinema, current or otherwise.

At the Laurelhurst this week as they continue their Classics Month, Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 STEPS (U.K., 1935).

“At 35, with more than a dozen features already under his belt,” writes Time Out New York, “the director triumphed with this dazzling mixture of spycraft, banter, expository nonsense and manic chases along the Scottish Highlands.”  The U.K.’s Film4 writes, “With its great turns by Donat, Carroll (the original Hitchcock blonde) and all the cast, and immaculate direction of a cracking script, this is timelessly enjoyable. A true classic.”  Total Film writes, “All the fun of North By Northwest in a little over half the time, The 39 Steps is – even for the umpteenth viewing – absolutely unmissable.”

It’s great that Laurelhurst is playing these older films, but based upon the last few screenings I’ve seen there, it appears that Portland audiences are looking for excuses to act like drunken assholes more than fall into the abyss of great cinema.  THE 39 STEPS does not have an ounce of kitsch to it, and so perhaps the film is so old that it will survive unscathed by clattering plastic cups rolling down the aisle and moronic guffaws at any nuance which doesn’t relate to our immediate culture.  It is becoming more and more difficult to watch cinema in this town as the focus becomes on the beer.  As much as I respect Laurelhurst for its choices, it may be too late to teach these poorly behaved knuckle dragging sorts that there is more to cinema than kitsch, and maybe that’s why films like The Big Lebowski and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Labyrinth are in constant circulation; Portland is forever in arrested development.

Good luck to those of you who brave the beery screening of this early Hitchcock classic, THE 39 STEPS.  Plays for one wee and show times are on their website.  Worst case scenario, you can refund your ticket to see the powerful A PROPHET (Jacques Audiard, Fr., 2009) as I guarantee no one will be laughing at this violent genre masterpiece.  A PROPHET is as good as the great American genre films of the seventies and won the prestigious Grand Prix at Cannes, 2009.

A PROPHET plays nightly at 9:10pm (Jesus, really!?  It’s 150 minutes long!) at The Laurelhurst Theater.

*     *     *     *

Speaking of great new cinema, as we become berated with 3-D everything this summer, there is a simple and effective animated film capturing the hearts of millions called THE SECRET OF KELLS (Tomm Moore, Nora Tworney, Fr./Belgium/Ireland, 2009).

You may decide to wait for it to leave the shoddily managed Fox Tower, operated by Regal Cinemas.  Last time I saw a film there was Michael Haneke’s THE WHITE RIBBON on opening day and the print was scratched for the first twenty minutes, and yet they didn’t bother to let the audience know.

THE SECRET OF KELLS will be around, so you might want to wait for it to hit second run than to pay $10 to see it in a shoebox projected by an automated platter system.

Wilder’s The Apartment

Lastly, The 5th Ave Cinema presents for one weekend only, the American comedy classic, THE APARTMENT (Billy Wilder, 1960) starring an adorable Shirley McClaine and Jack Lemmon.

In 1960, the French had Godard’s Breathless and the Americans had THE APARTMENT, which won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (two others as well with five other nominations).  THE APARTMENT was selected for preservation by The Library of Congress Film Registry and is considered one of the great comedies by many.  Of note, it is the last film to have won best picture that was shot in black and white.

THE APARTMENT plays next weekend at 5th Ave. Cinema.



For some shameless self promotion!

PDXFilm.org and Laughing Planet Present a 35mm film print of FRANK ZAPPA’S 200 MOTELS (FZ, U.S., 1968)!

This is a very special screening and plays ONE NIGHT ONLY, SATURDAY JUNE 12th, 11pm at Cinema 21.  More details to come, but tell all the Zappa fans you know.  The next night, Dweezil Zappa is playing at The Roseland Theater so make it a Zappa weekend!





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