In the wake of the Tribeca Film Festival, screenings with special guests are the main event at all of New York City’s major film venues. Paul Mazursky heads uptown for a complimentary retrospective at the Walter Reed, Barry Gifford pops up at BAM for a special screening of “Wild At Heart”, a host of celebrities accompany of the release of Guy Maddin’s “Brand Upon the Brain!” and the fresh faces behind indie feature “Day Night Day Night” appear at the opening at the IFC Center.
Lincoln Center Toasts Mazursky
All this week, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has been hosting The Magic of Paul Mazursky, a tribute to the prolific writer/director/actor responsible for such classics as “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice“, “Moon Over Parador” and “I Love You, Alice B. Toklas.” Compared to Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, Mazursky’s classic comedies will live on in archives and on TV for years to come. Mazursky himself was present for a large number of Q & As, including two shows of one his personal favorites “Moscow on the Hudson,” starring Robin Williams as a Russian circus saxophonist who defects during on tour in America. In a lengthy intro, Mazursky gave a shout-out to his co-writer Leon Capetanos saying, “Leon and I have gotten very close over the years. So close that he brought his wife and two kids to this screening. If those two kids make it all the way through this movie, I know we’ve made a masterpiece.”
X-rated “Wild At Heart” at BAM
Tuesday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music was a huge night for fans of David Lynch. An excited full house packed in to watch the mysterious “x-rated” cut of Lynch’s film “Wild At Heart” and here some stories of its creation from the author of both the screenplay and the novel behind the film, Barry Gifford. Though the print did not feature too much new footage, Gifford did delight the audience with tales of premiering at Cannes. “I hadn’t seen the film at the time and David said to me, ‘I want to know what you think in one word’… I saw him the next day and he said, ‘So?’ I said I had two words… ‘Not boring’.” The audience was very curious about the changes made from the novel and the film. Gifford kept stressing the point, “The book is the book and the movie is the movie. But David did shoot everything in the book.” Obviously, he was happy with the final product as he went on to co-write Lynch’s “Lost Highway” with him. Gifford did a book signing in the lobby after the Q & A.
Maddin’s New Orgazmatacular
On Wednesday night, crowds gathered for the non-festival world premier of Canadian lunatic wonder Guy Maddin‘s new extravaganza – or, as he claimed in his introduction, “orgazmatacular” – “Brand Upon the Brain!“, a silent mock-autobiographical fantasia whose theatrical run this week includes emphatic accompaniment by a live orchestra, a rotating crew of live narrators, a supposed castrati, and – most prominently – three foley artists who work tirelessly throughout the film providing sound effects with a wide assortment of improbable objects (the things that they can do with a stalk of celery are truly amazing). “Every sound you hear tonight will be generated live from within these four walls!” promised Guy Maddin in his opening statement, to begin the evening of exclamation points.
On its own merits, the film is captivating enough, bearing a strong resemblance to Maddin’s finest film, “Cowards Bend the Knee“, as a mock autobiography of wild fancy; the character “Guy Maddin”, in this case, remembers his childhood on an isolated island in a “mom and pop” orphanage, run by his totalitarian mother who spends her time squealing psychotically from a watchtower and letting her inventor husband sap the nectar of youth from the orphans’ brains so that she can occasionally return to her own childhood. The addition of the foley artists makes this a mind-blowing spectacle, as there is so much happening on stage one is never sure where to look. Added even more to this is the live narration (stemming from the Japanese tradition of ‘Benshi’, Maddin helpfully informed the audience), performed last night by a shockingly good Crispin Glover, who may have finally found his density as a silent film explicator. In the upcoming week in New York, other explicators will include Isabella Rossellini, Lou Reed, and Laurie Anderson; after this week, the film will play Los Angeles and Chicago.
“Day Night Day Night” Opens
Meanwhile, across town at the IFC Center, the theatrical opening of IFC First Take’s American Independent festival favorite “Day Night Day Night” was underway. The film, directed by Julia Loktev, is an intense and meditative story of a young girl who travels across the country to prepare to be a suicide bomber. Removing all traces of race, religion or motivation from the story, director Loktev produces a powerful character study. Easily one of the most original and well-crafted pieces of American cinema in years, “Day Night” begins its run at the IFC Center this week. Loktev and lead actress, Luisa Williams, were in attendance for an impassioned Q & A at the 7:45 PM screening and it was followed by a reception next door at The Waverly Cafe.
When asked about working with Loktev, Williams said, “She’s very tenacious. I learned that you really have to be tenacious to make a film because you come up against so many roadblocks along the way.” Williams, who had abandoned her dreams of acting after her education at the High School of the Performing Arts in New York, got involved in the project after being intrigued by a flyer she saw on the Coney Island ferry while she was working as a nanny. “It didn’t say much about the project,” Williams explained, “just about the character.” After her positive experience on the film – and it shows in her terrifically pointed performance – she plans continue on the acting track. Next up, Williams stars in a short directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu commissioned by the Cannes Film Festival for their 60th Anniversary.
In Theaters This Week
“The Hip Hop Project” (May 11), directed by Matt Ruskin and Scott K. Rosenberg. Distributor: THINKFilm. Official website
“The Ex” (May 11), directed by Jesse Peretz. Distributor: The Weinstein Company. Official website
“Provoked” (May 11), directed by Jag Mundhra. Distributor: Eros Entertainment. Official website
“Day Night Day Night” (May 9), directed by Julia Loktev. Distributor: IFC First Take. Distributor website
“I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone” (May 9), directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. Distributor: Strand Releasing. Official website
(Charlie Olsky contributed to this article.)