It has been a pretty exciting year for restorations. Earlier this year, a new cut of Sergio Leone‘s “Once Upon A Time In America” screened at the Cannes Film Festival (but is currently headed back into the lab for more work), while in just a few days, Michael Cimino‘s infamous “Heaven’s Gate” will unveil at the Venice Film Festival in a new director’s cut and now, New York cinephiles will get their shot to see it on the big screen.
The New York Film Festival has announced a batch of new programming, and leading their Masterworks slate is Cimino’s film, giving festival goers a chance to see the epic as it was intended, on a massive screen, before Criterion drops their meticulous DVD and BluRay versions in December. This is undoubedly one of those opportunities that comes along very rarely, and it should be a hot ticket for sure. A total trainwreck? An unfairly maligned masterpiece? Or something in the middle? See for youself.
Meanwhile another restoration to keep an eye out for is “Little Shop Of Horrors.” Frank Oz‘s film will screen at NYFF with its long long, 23 minute original ending now intact (it will also debut on home video this fall as well). The original ending hewed closely to the stage version, but was dumped after poor audience test scores. But it’s now back for fans of the movie to enjoy and Oz will be in attendance.
Rouding out the highlights: “The Rolling Stone — Charlie Is My Darling — Ireland, 1965” a never before seen documentary of the band’s tour in the titular country shot by Paul Whitehead, featuring the boys rockin’ and rollin’ before “(I Can’t Get No) Sastisfaction” launched them into the stratosphere; a 40th anniversary screening of “The King Of Marvin Gardens” with Bob Rafelson in attendance; Laurence Olivier‘s “Richard III“; Alfred Hitchcock‘s “Marnie“; Manoel de Oliveria‘s 410-minute 1985 film “The Satin Slipper” which should be a must see for anyone who is a fan of his work (it’s not on home video) and much more.
Check it all out below. The New York Film Festival runs from September 28th to October 14th.
NYFF Masterworks Added Films and Descriptions
Restorations, revivals and rediscoveries from cinema’s past, as they were meant to be seen on the big screen.
COUSIN JULES (Le cousin Jules) (1972) 91min
Director: Dominique Benicheti
A lost masterpiece of cinema, now beautifully restored and available for the first time in years, COUSIN JULES was the result of five years of painstaking work by director Dominique Benichetti and cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn. Over that period, the team photographed and recorded the daily lives of Jules (Benichetti’s cousin) and his wife, French farmers living alone in the countryside. The result is a ravishing, totally immersive work, in which we not only enter into the subjects’ world but also into the very rhythms of their lives, captured with a wonderful sensitivity that never feels condescending or clinical. Highly and widely praised when first seen in 1972, the film slipped from view after Benichetti turned his attention and talents to a host of other projects. Yet the memory of COUSIN JULES lingered for its small but devoted cult of admirers, and now thanks to the generosity of the Gould Family Foundation, and the restoration work done by Arane/Gulliver Laboratories in Paris, this extraordinary film is with us once again.
DOWNPOUR (Ragbar) (1972) 128min
Director: Bahram Beyza’i
A major figure in both pre- and post-revolutionary Iranian cinema, Bahram Beyza’i burst onto the scene with DOWNPOUR, his remarkable debut feature that won a Special Jury Prize at the First Tehran International Film Festival. Mr. Hekmati (Parviz Fanizadeh) arrives in the poor southern part of Tehran to take up a teaching post. When his students misbehave, he expels one of them. The next day, the boy’s older sister Atefeh comes to the school to plead her brother’s case. Smitten by her beauty, Mr. Hekmati is nevertheless reluctant to approach her, especially after he learns that her hand has already been promised to the local butcher. Beyza’i creates a powerful sense of a closed community still ruled by tradition, where custom always trumps individual desire. Thanks to its restoration by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, this key Iranian classic can now be discovered by new generations of filmgoers. In person: Bahram Beyza’i.
FELLINI SATYRICON (1969) 128min
Director: Federico Fellini
Better late than never, perpetual NYFF bridesmaid Federico Fellini makes his very first festival appearance with this new restoration of his outrageous 1969 classic. In adapting the fragmented novel Satyricon by 1st Century AD author Petronius, Fellini sought, in his own words, “to eliminate the borderline between dream and imagination: to invent everything and then to objectify the fantasy; to get some distance from it in order to explore it as something all of a piece and unknowable.” The result is a phantasmagoric odyssey through ancient Rome, following the misadventures of the student Encolpio and his on-again, off-again boy lover Gitone as they face imprisonment on a pirate ship, kidnap a hermaphrodite demi-god, fight a minotaur, and search for a cure for Encolpio’s impotence. And that’s not even the half of it! Earning Fellini the third of his four Best Director Oscar nominations, FELLINI SATYRICON has been restored to its original visual splendor under the supervision of legendary cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno. A restoration by the Cineteca Nazionale, with the contribution of Dolce & Gabbana, presented by Ka Studio and Edoardo Ponti.
30th Anniversary screening
FIELD DIARY (Yoman Sadeh) (1982) 83min
Director: Amos Gitai
In 1982, Amos Gitai took a small camera crew to the West Bank and started filming the day-to-day business of the Israeli occupation. The result was a landmark in Israeli cinema; Gitai has spoken about the film as portraying the end of the “myth of the good occupation”—the belief that, in the territories captured after the 1967 War, Israel would be a very different kind of occupying power; 15 years later, Gitai’s film shows the occupation in a very different light. FIELD DIARY also introduced what would become Gitai’s signature style: the long, lateral tracking shots that, as Yann Lardeau noted in Cahiers du cinéma, “become a question of morality…we never enter into the reality of the war, but we always remain on the edge of the scene.” Gitai will be on hand to introduce and discuss FIELD DIARY and its continuing relevance for Israel today.
In person: Amos Gitai.
HEAVEN’S GATE (1980) 219min
Director: Michael Cimino
How many viewers who think they know the whole story behind Michael Cimino’s legendary western epic have ever actually seen the film in in its full, uncut, big-screen glory? Hastily pulled from American theaters one week into its release and subsequently reissued in a butchered version shorn of some 70 minutes, HEAVEN’S GATE has rarely been revived in the three decades since, even as it has been duly re-appraised by critics as an innovative masterpiece. (Just last year, Time Out London ranked it twelfth in its list of the greatest westerns ever made, ahead of THE WILD BUNCH and UNFORGIVEN.) Now it returns in a stunning new restoration commissioned by The Criterion Collection and supervised by Cimino himself. Based on a despicable episode of rarely told American history, HEAVEN’S GATE recounts the 1892 land war between wealthy cattle barons and immigrant homesteaders in Johnson County, Wyoming—a textbook case of the 99 percent versus the one, and a stinging indictment of American capitalism run amok. Caught in the middle are the lawman James Averill (Kris Kristofferson), the hired gun Nate Champion (Christopher Walken) and the woman (Isabelle Huppert, in her first major Hollywood role) who loves them both, an intimate drama that plays out against the painterly canvases of Cimino and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond. Featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Joseph Cotten, Jeff Bridges, Sam Waterston and the young Mickey Rourke.
40th Anniversary screening
THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (1972) 103min
Director: Bob Rafelson
Director Bob Rafelson and actor Jack Nicholson’s follow-up to their Oscar-nominated FIVE EASY PIECES didn’t meet with the same level of critical or commercial success, but 40 years later it endures as an even darker, more bleakly poetic portrait of bottomed-out lives in Vietnam-era America. Set during winter in the run-down resort town of Atlantic City, New Jersey (in the days before legalized gambling), THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS stars the electrifying Bruce Dern as a small-time hustler who attempts to lure his estranged brother (Nicholson), an all-night Philadelphia radio DJ, into a sure-fire, get-rich-quick real estate scheme. The result is a real-life Monopoly game in which everyone goes bust and no one gets out of jail free. With ace support from Ellen Burstyn (as one half of the stepmother-stepdaughter act competing for Dern’s affections), the crackling dialogue of Rafelson and co-screenwriter Jacob Brackman, and the harshly beautiful cinematography of László Kovács, THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS stands as one of the great and largely unheralded American films of the ‘70s.
In person: Bob Rafelson.
LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (The Director’s Cut) (1986) 103min
Director: Frank Oz
Director Frank Oz’s ebullient film adaptation of the smash Off-Broadway musical—itself based on a 1960 Roger Corman quickie—developed an instant cult following for its gleefully macabre tale of star-crossed skid-row lovers (the incomparable Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene) brought together and nearly torn apart by a giant, man-eating plant from outer space. But the film that reached theaters differed from Oz and songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s original vision, chiefly in a newly invented happy ending added after test audiences rejected the stage version’s darker, apocalyptic finale. For years, that deleted footage was viewable only on a special edition DVD that went out of print (at the behest of producer David Geffen) nearly as soon as it hit stores—and then, only as degraded, black-and-white workprint footage. Now, three decades after its release, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS has been digitally restored to its original director’s cut, featuring 20 minutes of never-before-seen footage including the full original ending in glorious color! A Warner Home Video release.
In person: Frank Oz, Ellen Greene, film restorer Kurt Galvao.
THE MATTEI AFFAIR (Il caso Mattei) (1972) 116min
Director: Francesco Rosi
Just as Italy was beginning its industrial boom in the 1950s, businessman Enrico Mattei was developing the methane gas reserves found in the Po Valley—not simply to enrich himself, but to make Italy energy-efficient and free of the control of the multinational energy companies, the “seven sisters.” Working through public companies, Mattei struck deals with Middle East oil producers, with Russia, and had even begun initial talks with China, when, in October 1962, his private plane crashed just outside Milan Airport. Unfortunate accident—or assassination? Thanks to a beautiful restoration by Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, this masterpiece by the great Francesco Rosi can be seen once again. Co-winner of the Palme d’Or in Cannes, THE MATTEI AFFAIR is both a revealing investigation into Mattei’s death as well as a provocative assessment of his place in the postwar Italian economy. As Mattei, Gian Maria Volonté gives one of his greatest performances. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at the lab L’Immagine Ritrovata in collaboration with The Film Foundation, Paramount Pictures and Museo Nazionale del Cinema of Turin. Restoration financed by Gucci, Eni, and The Film Foundation.
NATIVE SON (1951) 104min
Director: Pierre Chenal
When the French director Pierre Chenal teamed with American novelist Richard Wright to create a film version of Wright’s controversial bestseller NATIVE SON, they quickly realized it would be impossible to make such a film in America. The year was 1950, with the Civil Rights Movement still in its infancy and Sidney Poitier just beginning to change the image of blacks in Hollywood movies—and Wright’s novel dealt with that most taboo of subjects: a poor black man charged with the murder of a wealthy white woman. So Chenal and Wright decamped for Buenos Aires, where the author was cast in the lead role of the persecuted Bigger Thomas, and the story’s Chicago setting was meticulously reconstructed on the stages of Argentina Sono Film studio. When it was released the following year, NATIVE SON became a local critical and commercial success, but upon export to the U.S. the film was shorn of nearly 30 minutes—including all of its most provocative racial content—by the New York State Board of Censors. For decades, Chenal’s original version was feared lost, until a complete print recently resurfaced in Argentina, which provided the standard for this restoration undertaken by the Library of Congress. The results reveal a flawed but fascinating film light years ahead of its time in its depiction of race, as well as a rare, very stylish example of African-American film noir. Special thanks for this screening to Edgardo Krebs (Smithsonian Institution) and Fernando Martin Peña (Malba Museo de Arte Latinoamerico de Buenos Aires), who teamed to recover the film and research its complicated history. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Edgardo Krebs and journalist Stanley Crouch.
NOTHING BUT A MAN (1964) 95min
Director: Michael Roemer
A true landmark of American cinema, NOTHING BUT A MAN brought to fiction filmmaking the look and style of the new “cinema vérité” documentary, from which both director Michael Roemer (THE PLOT AGAINST HARRY) and cinematographer Robert M. Young emerged. The film follows the relationship between the African-Americans Duff Anderson (Ivan Dixon) and Josie Dawson (Abby Lincoln). Duff decides it’s time to settle down with Josie, but her father, the local preacher, is opposed to the match. The two marry anyway, and then are forced to confront a host of problems, from illegitimate children to unemployment, racism and Duff’s drunken father. While never ignoring the social background, the film presents Duff and Josie as fully fleshed-out, complex and contradictory individuals, not merely archetypes or symbols. NOTHING BUT A MAN was added to the National Film Registry in 1993. A Cinema Conservancy Release of a Cinedigm/New Video Film. Restored by Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation. In person: Michael Roemer, Robert M. Young.
OLD CZECH LEGENDS (Staré povesti ceské) (1953) 91min
Director: Jiří Trnka
Among the many anniversaries to celebrate this year is the centenary of Jiří Trnka, the great master of puppet animation whose contributions to that special art were as essential as Walt Disney’s were for cel animation. For his OLD CZECH LEGENDS, Trnka chose six classic folktales, while being careful to vary their tone and tempo, and transformed the jaded heroes of national legends into living characters—incarnated, of course, by his specially made puppets. Yet beyond his mastery of puppetry was Trnka’s extraordinary grasp of cinema: his work is equally impressive for his innovative editing, lighting, and sound. Winner of just about every conceivable international film award, Trnka raised the bar for all puppet animators to come, and his influence can be powerfully felt in work by Jan Šjvankmayer and the Quay Brothers. Print courtesy of the Czech National Film Archive.
THE OVERCOAT (Shinel) (1926) 66min
Directors: Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg
The marvelous Alloy Orchestra returns to NYFF to accompany this rarely screened masterpiece of Soviet cinema. A product of the FEKS group, a radical arts collective led by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg (who co-directed this film), FEKS productions combined aspects of circus, music hall, puppet show and American silent comedy. With Gogol’s tragicomic story, THE OVERCOAT, FEKS found fertile ground for experimentation. A minor clerk, Bashmachkin, replaces his threadbare overcoat with one made from the finest materials he can afford. Then one evening ruffians beat him up and steal his cherished new garment. The actors’ highly stylized gestures border on modern dance, and Bashmachkin’s world, especially as he begins to lose his grasp on reality, is powerfully rendered with looming shadows, oblique camera angles and eccentric architecture.
FILMSTUDIE (1926) 7min
Director: Hans Richter
Hans Richter’s experimental Dadaist short, full of geometric shapes, seagulls, flying eyeballs and floating heads.
Re-Introducing Marnie: William Rothman on Hitchcock’s Last Masterpiece
MARNIE (1964) 130min
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
For even die-hard Hitchcock fans, MARNIE has long proved somewhat of an enigma, with its admittedly bizarre tale of a thief (played by Tippi Hedren) with an unnatural fear of thunderstorms, men and the color red, who’s forced into marriage with Sean Connery, who likes to watch. Yet seen today, MARNIE seems clearly one of Hitchcock’s most ambitious works, a journey into some of the most dangerous psychological territory Hitchcock ever dared to explore, and a film way ahead of his time. Prof. William Rothman, the dean of American Hitchcock scholars, will introduce and then analyze MARNIE after our screening, the first presentation of a new chapter in the updated edition of his book Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze.
RICHARD III (1955) 161min
Director: Laurence Olivier
The third and arguably finest entry in Laurence Olivier’s lauded trilogy of big-screen Shakespeare adaptations, RICHARD III stars the actor-director in a bravura performance as the eponymous hunchback duke—a role he first performed on stage at the Old Vic in 1944—who will stop at nothing to wrest the throne away from his brother King Edward IV (Cedric Hardwicke). Featuring one of the finest British casts ever assembled on film, including John Gielgud as the ill-fated Duke of Clarence, Claire Bloom as Lady Anne, Ralph Richardson as the Duke of Buckingham and Stanley Baker as the Earl of Richmond, RICHARD III has been immaculately restored to its full Technicolor glory (and 161-minute running time) from the original VistaVision negative.
THE ROLLING STONES – CHARLIE IS MY DARLING – IRELAND 1965 (1966/2012) 65min
Director: Peter Whitehead
In 1965 Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones svengali, asked filmmaker Peter Whitehead (THE FALL, TONITE, LET’S ALL MAKE LOVE IN LONDON) to accompany them on a quick tour of Ireland. Whitehead was astonished. Not only by the incredible power of the Stones’ performances but especially by the raw energy of the crowds of young people that rushed them everywhere. This new version of this behind-the scenes diary of the early Stones has never been seen; Mick Gochanour and Robin Klein, the team that brought The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus to the screen, have painstakingly restored over 90,000 frames of optical screen prints and negative, going back to the original sound tapes and 3-track live recordings. Included are electrifying performances of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “The Last Time,” and “Time is on My Side.” CHARLIE IS MY DARLING is an invaluable document, the unseen story of the band before they became a legend.
THE SATIN SLIPPER (Le soulier de satin) (1985) 410min
Director: Manoel de Oliveira
Countries: France/Portugal/West Germany/Switzerland
Manoel de Oliveira’s epic rendering of playwright Paul Claudel’s verse masterwork opens with a quote: “Everything happens for the glory of God, even sin.” Set during Spain’s “Golden Age,” the story then begins as Doña Prouhèze, the wife of a Spanish nobleman, falls in love with Don Rodrigo; Rodrigo is sent to be the Governor of New Spain in America, while Prouhèze becomes the ruler of Mogador in Africa. Yet despite their separation by oceans or continents, their love—of course totally forbidden, and thus impossible—continues to grow, sweeping up all those around them as well as the Spanish Empire in its wake. As always, Oliveira is a master at creating a sense of period and place from the most minimal of details, a talent well on display in a story of unrequited lovers that unfolds across several decades on four continents, the lovers’ separation only increasing the intensity of their feeling. Initially presented at the 1985 NYFF in a drastically edited version running two hours and 10 minutes, THE SATIN SLIPPER screens here at last in its full seven-hour cut. Print courtesy of the Cinemateca Portuguesa.