bandit

Deadline posted a clip earlier today from Jesse Moss’s documentary, THE BANDIT, which premieres this weekend at SXSW in Austin. Word has it that none other than The Bandit himself — Burt Reynolds who recently turned 80 — will be there to intro the doc when it unspools at the historic Paramount Theater.

NOTE: It may have been changed by now, but in Deadline’s first post they listed the year of SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT’s release as 1997. We all know better. The movie was the runaway hit of 1977.

Here’s a clip from The Bandit

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I have a love/hate relationship with David Thomson’s writing. (I don’t know the man at all so there’s no reason I could have a love/hate relationship with him personally.) His writing seems to me to be preoccupied with sex. Or maybe he’s occupied with sex the normal amount but he writes about it more than  other film critics. It seems to take me longer to read his books than other books. Not because they’re necessarily harder to comprehend, they just hit stretches that fail to keep my attention. I’ve been reading Thomson’s The Big Screen off and on for over a year. Inevitably, after I pick it back up, I hit a patch that opens a newly discovered subject for me or gives a rich insight into something about which I thought I was completely conversant.

Shortly after this past Christmas, I wandered into Barnes & Noble with a  gift card I’d received in my stocking. I walked out with Thomson’s How To Watch A Movie — knowing full well that it would be more (and less) than advertised. The book is a collection of meditations (a little over a dozen) on the elements that make up a movie – and therefore shape the movie watching experience. Compared to previous experiences with his work this book is short and to the point. My copy is full of notes in the margin and lists of films scribbled on the flyleaf that I must see.

Just when I think Thomson will lose me again, he comes up with a line like this:

One might as well, in considering how to watch a movie, recognize the extent to which public life in America has itself become an untidy, unrated motion picture that has a captive but disenchanted audience. – How To Watch A Movie, David Thomson

A disenchanted audience, indeed. It may be more my problem than Thomson’s.

HOW TO WATCH A MOVIE | David Thomson | 2015 | Knopf 228 pgs

 

A nun walks into a movie theater… It’s not the beginning of a joke. It’s the beginning of an intriguing story and a remarkable bit of programming on Turner Classic Movies.

Every Thursday night March,  Sister Rose Pacatte is hosting a line up of movies once condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency. Twenty seven films in all with intros from Pacatte — a member of the Daughters of St. Paul and the founding director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies (Culver City, CA). Pacatte is a film fan and critic who teaches courses of media literacy from her home base in Culver City and as guest lecturer on the road.

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Barbara Stanwyck (r) and Theresa Harris in BABY FACE, a “pre code” film condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency in 1933

 

Turner Classic Movies is calling the series CONDEMNED and shining light on some of the forgotten history of the Catholic Legion of Decency. The Legion started around the time the Hays Office opened and continued to issue its own ratings through the 1970s. The strongest rating it gave was a “C” — for condemned. Enter TCM and Sister Rose.

Some of the films were campy then and just plain creaky now. Some of the films were breakthrough works of art then that have stood the test of time. BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) is a favorite of mine that’s on the list. You may have missed the first round (March 3) but you still have time to set your DVR for the rest of the festival.

Here’s the line up and info from TCM.

Here’s a great interview with Sister Rose on Flavorwire.

Here’s a blurb and handy list from L.A. Magazine’s Ask Chris.

Burt Reynolds. Eddie Murphy. And now Sylvester Stallone. I think it’s time we do away with the conventional wisdom that the Academy loves the sentimental win for acting awards. Yes, maybe Leo’s win for Best Actor was in many ways an “it’s his time” award but his team had plenty to back up his case for winning. (Even though Tom Hardy had the better role and better performance in that film.) Stallone was the sentimental favorite last night and all the pundits confidently called it for him. I make Oscar picks on a continuum of rarely-to-never but even I got caught up in the Rocky Balboa nostalgia. I told anyone who asked that the only lock at the Oscars this year was Stallone for Best Supporting Actor. Pundits pointed to Mark Rylance as a close second who would be back and win someday. Everyone recognized his performance as the best thing about BRIDGE OF SPIES. But those of us who picked Sylvester Stallone believed this was probably his last hurrah. (And Stallone’s performance is one of the many things to appreciate about CREED.) So, just like Burt who people thought was a lock for BOOGIE NIGHTS, and Eddie Murphy – a lock for  DREAMGIRLS, now Stallone goes home empty handed.

I didn’t watch the Oscars last night. Might scan through the DVR today and watch a few highlights. I saw posts on social media that indicated the broadcast was less than stellar but the awards themselves were fresh and surprising. What did you think? I’d be interested to know.

This past Thursday night I got to attend the opening of the new Alex Israel & Bret Easton Ellis show at the Gagosian in Beverly Hills. Larry Gagosian opens a new exhibit at his space on Camden Drive every year on the Thursday before the Academy Awards. It’s a little bit of a scene. Yadda, yadda, yadda, I met Sir Elton John and then we ate at Nate & Al’s. Not Sir Elton and I but a few others of us who attended the event. Here’s THR’s profile on Alex Israel in connection with this opening. And here’s one of the pieces from the show:

 

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A piece from the Alex Israel / Bret Easton Ellis exhibit at the Gagosian Gallery Beverly Hills. 02.25.16

“…the transition between old and new is never elegant or seamless.” – from the Introduction to Pictures At A Revolution

The Academy Awards are often controversial — either legitimately or artificially. And since they’ve been around so long they tend to have an identity crisis every twenty years or so. Or, maybe more accurately, every couple of decades the Oscars reflect a generation gap and/or an identity crisis within the movie industry. Witness The 1967 Academy Awards. Held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on April 8, 1968 the 1967 Best Picture Nominees included a mix of movies that hardly seemed like a matched set.

Half of the nominees seemed to be sneering at the other half: The father-knows-best values of GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER were wittily trashed by THE GRADUATE; the hands-joined-in-brotherhood hopes expressed by IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT had little in common with the middle finger of insurrection extended by BONNIE AND CLYDE. (from Pictures At A Revolution)

Mark Harris’s wonderfully engaging book, Pictures At A Revolution, takes the five films nominated that year (BONNIE AND CLYDE, DOCTOR DOLITTLE, THE GRADUATE, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT ) and weaves together the stories of how those films came to be and with how they ended up reflecting the conflicted state of Hollywood’s body politic at the end of the 1960s. Harris is a seasoned writer with a strong commitment to research. He’s also not afraid to share a point of view. If you’re an Oscar buff this is a great book to dive into. If you’re a student of the American 1960s, Pictures At A Revolution, is also a great glimpse of that era through the lens of the USA’s biggest cultural export.

 
Pictures At A Revolution by Mark Harris | 2008 | The Penguin Press

(Los Angeles) I just drove by Hollywood Blvd. It’s a mess down there, as final preparations are underway for Oscar’s big night – his 88th. I don’t make Oscar predictions – wrote about  why last year in case you care to read. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the spectacle. I just enjoy it more when I’m not worried about keeping up with a ballot.

Still, I’m not unsympathetic toward you Academy Award® handicappers out there. If you still have a ballot to complete, check out my friend Chris Selby’s thoughtful analysis on his blog, Captions. And the Arkansas Democrat Gazette’s Philip Martin always curates an interesting group of lists from his cinephile friends far and wide. Here are their picks published in today’s Style section. (It’ll always be Movie Style to me.)

Forget everything you just read for a moment. The only lock I see this year is Sylvester Stallone for best supporting actor. And I think it’s well deserved. Has any actor played a single role longer and with greater affection for the character than Stallone has for Rocky? The symmetry of his breakthrough performance 40 years ago and his bittersweet performance in CREED are the stuff that Oscar dreams are made of. Good for him. He’s hit all the right notes in the campaign and I for one am buying what he’s selling.

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Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Ryan Coogler’s CREED (2015)

 

I was sure that Sir Ian McKellan was going to be nominated for MR. HOLMES this year. Beautiful film. Wonderful performance. Alas, it was not to be.

And speaking of #OscarsSoWhite, I don’t have much to say on the subject here but I do highly recommend THR’s Senior Editor Marc Bernardin‘s compelling article on why black movies have to be about MLK and white movies can be about a woman who invented a mop. Check it out here.

Featured Image: a casting for Oscar by artist Alex Israel. He made a sculpture of the cast because it’s illegal to make a copy of the statue. Clever boy. I snapped this at Thursday night at the Oscar Week Opening of a show by Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis at the Gagosain Gallery (Beverly Hills)

THE MALTESE FALCON is my favorite movie of all time. My Dad introduced it to me when it aired on some local TV Friday Night Late Movie long ago. My memory tells me I was 13 or 14 years old. The banter, the intrigue, the humor, the drama of greed and desperation – it gripped me and never let me go. I’ve seen it many times on broadcast television, cable, VHS, DVD and Blu-ray over the last 35+ years. Last night I finally saw it – a pristine print – on the big screen. Thank you TCM Classics, Fathom Events and my favorite theater on the planet, Regal 12 (Little Rock). I wrote a short piece about the film here. May try to catch it again in L. A. on Wednesday. Check out an encore performance if you missed it yesterday.

the comedians cover_1I’ve been diving into Kliph Nesteroff’s “The Comedians” every night for the last few days – it’s fantastic! If you’re a fan of comedy and/or showbiz history it is, as Joel Hodgman says, “essential!”

Tracy and I finally got into a showing of DEADPOOL – still the #1 movie in the land. The mega-meta superhero is as outrageous, shocking, dirty, and funny as billed. Jeffrey Wells is taking the contrarian view on the movie’s charms. Fox made a bet on smirk and smut and won big. I wonder though if there really is a franchise here once the bracing shock of the thing wears off. How will a second DEADPOOL movie feel fresh? We’ll just have to wait and see because there’s one coming whether it works or not.

Can’t wait to see BECOMING MIKE NICHOLS on HBO tonight. Kim Masters spoke with director Douglas McGrath about the documentary on KCRW’s The Business. It’s worth a listen.

I’ll be in L A the rest of this week. It’s Oscar week – which adds a level of crazy/fun to an already crazy/fun town. I’ll post something about it here for CineFriday.