We’re a lucky, lucky bunch to live in a city where we’re at the wellspring of new film and the source of cinematic reconsideration, where grind-house becomes art-house and a dum-dum boy can be made into a bandana-wearing teddy bear genius. See all that and more this week and beyond.
X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes
Friday August 21st, 8 pm at Anthology Film Archives: $15 general admission/ $12 for members
The plot line of X is so embedded in American culture, I’m convinced I was born with the story already planted in my skull. I mean, tell me this story isn’t as familiar as your own foot: A brilliant scientist discovers a way to imbue his eyes with X-ray vision. At first, this incredible ability brings him nothing but ecstatic joy and a sense of power, but eventually he finds some things are better left concealed.
At the screening of this 1963 pulp classic– part of the AIP series at Anthology in which the film archives delve into the work of this powerhouse B-movie production company– Roger Corman, pioneering indie filmmaker and conduit for the ’60s counterculture’s transfiguration to film, will be on hand for discussion. And we’re guessing he’s going to have some amazing answers to your questions.
Not only did Corman help kickstart the careers of a slew of legendary actors (Peter Fonda, Williams Shatner) and directors (Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese), but he helped create distribution channels into the US for foreign films made by the likes of Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman.
Corman’s renowned for his longevity as well as his efficiency– something essential to successful low-budget filmmaking. There are countless stories of Corman completing a film in just a few days and having time to spare, which he took advantage of to complete last-minute projects. The director/producer has made at least a film every year, and sometimes many more, almost consistently (save for a brief break in the late ’80s) since 1954. Dang. If he’s not a master, I dunno who is.
Thursday, August 20, 7 pm at Blue Stockings: FREE
This analog feature by performance artist Erica Shreiner stars the filmmaker as a woman on the edge. As far as I can tell, Shreiner isn’t actually a chicken, but she shares one essential characteristic with hens: she has (or maybe is cursed by) the ability to lay eggs. We’re not talking ova, we’re talking whites-yolk-n-shell kind of eggs.
Shreiner directed, produced, wrote, and starred in Satori, which is truly a solo effort, and appropriately so: it’s all about the artist’s existential crisis within a capitalist system. While Shreiner has to make a living somehow (and for now, she’s doing that by selling her own omelette-ready eggs) she’s having trouble balancing the time-consuming and exhausting activity of pooing out eggs with creating art, a process that requires just as much if not more of her psychic and physical energy.
Satori may be an ultra-low-budget film or rather no-budget film, an exercise in how much tinny background noise you can take, as well as a test of your abilities to withstand sloppy cuts and the other limitations posed by making a full-length film all by oneself without a trust fund. But the questions Shreiner poses are weighty ones and even if you’re not exactly a struggling artist, you’re likely to identify with Shreiner’s struggle.
Night of Noir
Wednesday Nights from August 26 to September 9, 7:30 pm at the Wythe Hotel: FREE, but best to RSVP
We’re kicking ourselves for missing out on this one. Last night marked the opening of a brief (just four weeks long, ugh!) Wednesday night noir series at the Wythe Hotel. Following each screening, film scholars will lead a discussion, so if you’ve been pining away for your college film history courses of yesteryear, audit these babies instead of freaking out your former profs.
Up next week (Wednesday, August 26) is Fritz Lang’s M (1931), an instant psychological crime thriller classic and 100 precent required viewing material if you give any shits about film history.
But we’re really, really pumped for The Hitchhiker (1953) a UK-made film with an entirely male cast. A group of bros on a fishing trip pick up a hitchhiker who, you guessed it, is kind of a whack job and embodiment of “the classic psycho” archetype. The plot line might sound totally banal but consider that the movie, directed by Ida Lupino, is among the first female-made noir films. And more so, it’s something of a critique of American masculinity. Wowzers. In 1953? You bet your booty.
The following week another noir classic, Pickup on South Street, graces the big screen. The film was made at the height of the second Red Scare, when anti-communist propaganda raged in the US, and is thus an early cultural artifact of the Cold War.
In Pickup, a young New York City prostitute named Candy is working both the streets and a gig as a low-level spy for the communists. She doesn’t know it, but the FBI’s been hot on her tail. When she falls victim to a crafty pickpocket named Skip McCoy, who snatches sensitive information from Candy instead of cash-money-jewels, things really get cray.
The End of the Tour
Through Thursday, August 27 at Nitehawk: $11
David Foster Wallace worship can be a little exhausting at times, but mostly because it seems to be part of a pattern that proceeds after someone truly talented expires, when an infinite number of less-interesting people line up to profit from said luminary.
Most of that stuff is self-serving and some of it borderline invasive, but once in a while some piece of RIP DFW emerges that actually adds to the conversations Wallace started. And some of these efforts succeed in painting a more complex (rather than simplistic) picture of the guy himself. Sure, everyone had a field day with DFW’s papers and obsessed over the fact the dude was really, really into self-help books, and for a moment analysis of that was interesting before it inevitably became over-analyzed. But can you really blame people? Suicide always leaves us searching.
To be completely honest I almost threw up in my mouth when I heard Jason Segel– the chunky frumpy leading man of many a rom-com in which both the level of rom and com quality are questionable at best– would be playing the super-brilliant scholar/ writer/ tennis player. Perhaps my sense of betrayal stemmed from the fact that Jason Segel and his cohorts invaded my college town for the better part of a semester, leaving hideous hookup stories and tales of keg-crashing and barstool horn-tooting in their wake. When I heard this would be playing a guy I admire, I simply could not abide.
But after seeing a glimpse of Segel as Wallace (with the Social Network kid type-cast as the fast-talking but hopelessly awkward smart dude, David Lipsky, who tries to interview DFW but is lost, lost himself) I tip my hat to the casting director and will actually consider seeing this movie. Because when it comes down to it, DFW was not that jabbering nerd guy who’s developed a certain way of speaking as a defense mechanism and is so awkward as to be confused for a perpetual teenager. As Wallace says in the film, “I treasure my regular-guy-ness.” And actually Jason Segel seems to have nailed that side of DFW.