Friday, July 31, 2009

Bigger Than Life @ the Charles Theatre this week

The Charles Theatre's Revival Series is proud to announce three screenings of a brand-new color cinemascope print of Nicholas Ray's legendary BIGGER THAN LIFE.

Saturday, August 1 at Noon
Monday, August 3 at 7 PM
Thursday, August 6 at 9 PM

(1956 Nicholas Ray) James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau. 95. Color. CinemaScope.

Mason's furrowed brow and brooding presence have rarely (never?) been used to better effect: 30 years on, his performance as the mild schoolteacher who is prescribed the wonder drug cortisone and becomes a raving megalomaniac addict remains profoundly disturbing. Suburbia is haunted by psychosis; family life torn apart by Oedipal bloodlust. Ray's direction (in 'Scope and Eastman Colour) is as moving as ever - delicate compositions and fluid camerawork contradicted by the image of weak men locked into obsessive self-destruction. At every level the banal props of '50s prosperity are turned into symbols of suffocation and trauma, from the X-ray machine used to diagnose Mason's 'disease' to the bathroom cabinet mirror shattering under a desperate blow. Trashed on first release, resurrected by Truffaut and Godard, lovingly imitated by Wim Wenders (in American Friend): this is Rebel Without a Cause for the grown-up world. (Time Out)

“One of the best, most radical, least known films in the 1950s. A canny retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story, Father Knows Best as Greek tragedy. Still terrifying!” (Village Voice)

"Ray’s most powerful film, and in some respects his most important. A profoundly upsetting exposure..” (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

“Under Ray’s masterful direction, James Mason is given three or four of the most beautiful close-ups I have had the chance to see since the advent of CinemaScope… The slightest detail has an overwhelming beauty. A film of implacable logic and sanity, Bigger than Life uses both those very qualities as targets, and scores a bull’s-eye in every frame.” (François Truffaut)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

ANTONIO GAUDÍ @ The Charles Theatre

Saturday, July 25 at Noon
Monday, July 27 at 7 PM
Thursday, July 30 at 9 PM.

1984 Hiroshi Teshigahara. 72M.

This 1984 documentary about the architect essentially lets Gaudi's work speak for itself, and it couldn't be more eloquent. The cinematography by Junichi Segawa, Yoshikazu Yanagida, and Ryu Segawa provides perspectives you couldn't get on-site in Barcelona, guiding you at a perfect pace through intimate interiors or whisking you to aerial vantage points, alternating between minute details and comprehensive views. The often gently moving camera and the lyrical editing unobtrusively yet decisively shape what you see. The acutely perceptive sound track doesn't have to compete with continual voice-over—much of the historical information is provided in on-screen titles that barely disrupt the enveloping beauty of the images. Produced and directed by Hiroshi Teshigahara (Woman in the Dunes). (Chicago Reader)

Friday, July 10, 2009

SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS @ The Charles Theatre

Saturday July 11 at Noon
Monday July 13 at 7 PM
Thursday July 16 at 9 PM.

1957 Alexander Mackendrick. Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner, Chico Hamilton, Barbara Nichols. 96m. bw.

A film noir from the Ealing funny man? But Mackendrick's involvement with cosy British humour was always less innocent than it looked: remember the anti-social wit of The Man in the White Suit, or the cruel cynicism of The Ladykillers? Sweet Smell of Success was the director's American debut, a rat trap of a film in which a vicious NY gossip hustler (Curtis) grovels for his 'Mr Big' (Lancaster), a monster newspaper columnist who is incestuously obsessed with destroying his kid sister's romance... and a figure as evil and memorable as Orson Welles in The Third Man or Mitchum in The Night of the Hunter. The dark streets gleam with the sweat of fear; Elmer Bernstein's limpid jazz score (courtesy of Chico Hamilton) whispers corruption in the Big City. The screen was rarely so dark or cruel. (Time Out)