As temperatures and humidity began their uncomfortable ascent last week in New York, some took respite inside cool theaters throughout the city, including special programming hosted by various venues. The Film Society of Lincoln Center gave a serious nod to mother Earth with a screening of the upcoming Leonardo DiCaprio-produced environmental doc "The 11th Hour," which had its world debut in Cannes in May. The Museum of the Moving Image, meanwhile focused on political turmoil of the '70s with its series "Uneasy Riders" with selections from Alan Arkin and John Cassavetes. And, BAM went horror retro with a showing of "Night of the Living Dead."
"11th Hour" Screens at Lincoln Center
On Thursday night at the Walter Reed Theater, The Film Society of Lincoln Center launched their new environmental program with a special preview screening of Warner Independent's fall release, "The 11th Hour". Directed by Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen and produced by superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, "11th Hour" expands on the themes of last year's Oscar-winning doc, "An Inconvenient Truth," and even goes further then the global warming issue, which the film argues is just one symptom of humanity's overarching influence on the planet.
The film surveys a large cross-section of of politicians, scientists and others who give their dire warnings, but also provide hope for change. DiCaprio narrates the feature-length doc which will be in theaters beginning next Friday, August 17, and contrary to perhaps first though, is not entirely doom and gloom as long as action is taken soon--very soon. Or as one scientist in the film said, "it's not only the 11th hour, it's 11:59."
Reincarnating "Dawn of the Dead" at BAM
BAM continued their "Paul Giamatti Selects" series Tuesday with a special screening of George Romero's 1978 zombie masterpiece "Dawn of the Dead." The diversely talented actor Giamatti, a resident of Brooklyn and chair of the BAM Cinema Club, was selected to pick some of his favorites in cinema history and Romero's follow up the legendary "Night of the Living Dead" fit the bill. Often considered Romero's masterpiece, "Dawn of the Dead" takes the fear of the first film and ups the camp factor providing the requisite shock and jolts along with humor and cultural satire. To date, it is monetarily one of the most successful horror movies ever made and gave way to a remake in 2004.
Producer Richard Rubenstein introduced the film at BAM, which hosted a significant number of the pic's cult fans and talked about the constraints the production had while shooting. Though certainly higher in budget than the shoestring of "Night of the Living Dead," "Dawn of the Dead" was nevertheless shot for a modest sum. He provided anecdotes such as one where they needed many bills as props so he had the local bank cash a $30,000 check in ones. "I told the cast and crew, don't pick it up. Don't take any of it. Because that check is no good." The print was remarkably clean and played as fresh and exciting as ever to an audience who reacted as they must have the first time. It's good to know, some things never die.
Museum of the Moving Image Recalls '70s Turmoil in "Uneasy Riders" series
The Museum of the Moving Image is going strong with their new series "Uneasy Riders: American Film in the Nixon Years, 1970 - 1974." The program focuses on a Hollywood undergoing serious adversity during the economic recession following the go-go '60s. Like the museum's previous program "It's Only a Movie" focusing on war paranoia today and in the past, the series spotlights the political anxieties of the time and their influence on film. In some ways, the two programs are perfect companion pieces, with the latest going further in depth in the '70s.
Selections from this weekend included Alan Arkin's dark and mildly sadistic comic piece "Little Murders." Starring Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd, the film is the story of a man reluctantly building a new relationship under the disturbing backdrop of societal turmoil. Originated as a stage play, it lasted only seven performances before being yanked into a black hole, only to return later as a brutally fascinating film.
Also at Moving Image last weekend was a screening of John Cassavetes' 1970 film "Husbands." Cassavetes stars alongside real life friends Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara as a group of drunken buddies mourning their suburban lives, though teetering on the brink of gaining of what they consider "personal freedom." One of the most existential of Cassavetes' work, it is one of the quintessential pieces of the era.
Next weekend, however, is sure to herald in the most intriguing addition to "Uneasy Riders," a special screening of Bob Rafelson's "Five Easy Pieces" follow-up, "The King of Marvin Gardens." Starring Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern and Ellen Burstyn, the film is a much more mature and sophisticated work than "Pieces" and one that deserves more attention. Screenwriter Jacob Brackman is scheduled for post-screening Q&A, which certainly shouldn't be missed.
Opening this week in limited release:
"2 Days in Paris" (August 10), directed by Julie Delpy. Distributor: Red Envelope and Samuel Goldwyn Films. Official website
"Dans Paris" (August 8), directed by Christophe Honore. Distributor: IFC First Take. Distributor website
"Rocket Science" (August 10), directed by Jeffrey Blitz. Distributor: Picturehouse. Official website