Monday, October 26, 2009

Children's Halloween Matinee

On Saturday, October 31st at noon the Charles will host a special children's matinee of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. Children will be admitted free. Adults $6.

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN will screen again on Monday, November 2 and Thursday, November 5. (No free admission for children on Monday and Thursday)

ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948 Charles Barton) Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi, Glenn Strange, Lenore Aubert, Jane Randolph. 83m. bw. Archival 35 mm film print. Not Rated.

The comedy duo's finest onscreen hour comes in the shape of this wonderful horror spoof which also unites all of Universal's scariest horror heroes under the same cinematic roof. Here, the pair are at the mercy of Dracula, Frankenstein and the werewolf, after the neck-chomper (Lugosi) hatches a plan to resurrect the long-dead bolt-head with Abbott's brain. This works so well not only because of the tight comic control which builds to a hysterical finale (all the monsters on the loose), but because Lugosi and Chaney as the werewolf play the entire thing as straight as can be, leaving the truly wacky antics to Abbott And Costello. (Channel 4)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Revival: Amarcord

This week's revival: A new technicolor print of Federico Fellini's AMARCORD.

Saturday, October 24 at Noon
Monday, October 26 at 7 PM
Thursday, October 29 at 9PM

1973 Federico Fellini. Pupella Maggio, Armando Brancia, Magali Noël, Bruno Zanin, Ciccio Ingrassia.123m. In Italian and Greek with English subtitles. Technicolor.

"If ever there was a movie made entirely out of nostalgia and joy, by a filmmaker at the heedless height of his powers, that movie is Federico Fellini's AMARCORD. The title means "I remember" in the dialect of Rimini, the seaside town of his youth, but these are memories of memories, transformed by affection and fantasy and much improved in the telling. Here he gathers the legends of his youth, where all of the characters are at once larger and smaller than life -- flamboyant players on their own stages.

At the center is an overgrown young adolescent, the son of a large, loud family, who is dizzied by the life churning all around him -- the girls he idealizes, the tarts he lusts for, the rituals of the village year, the practical jokes he likes to play, the meals that always end in drama, the church's thrilling opportunities for sin and redemption, and the vaudeville of Italy itself -- the transient glories of grand hotels and great ocean liners, the play-acting of Mussolini's fascist costume party."
-Roger Ebert

Friday, October 16, 2009

Revival: Touch of Evil

A beautiful archival print of the restored version of TOUCH OF EVIL will be played as the Charles Theatre's revival for this week.

Saturday, October 17 at Noon
Monday, October 19 at 7 pm
Thursday, October 22 at 9 pm

1958 Orson Welles. Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Joseph Calleia, Akim Tamiroff, Dennis Weaver, Marlene Dietrich, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mercedes McCambridge, Keenan Wynn, Joseph Cotten. bw. 111 minute restored version from 1998.

After seeing the work print of his last Hollywood feature, Orson Welles wrote a lengthy memo requesting several changes in editing and sound—work that was carried out in 1998 by producer Rick Schmidlin and editor Walter Murch with myself as consultant. About the original 95-minute 1958 release (superseded since the mid-70s by a 108-minute preview version), Dave Kehr wrote, “Eternal damnation to the wretch at Universal who printed the opening titles over the most brilliant establishing shot in film history—a shot that establishes not only place and main characters in its continuous movement over several city blocks, but also the film's theme (crossing boundaries), spatial metaphors, and peculiar bolero rhythm.” These titles now appear at the film's end—yielding a final running time of 111 minutes—and in the opening shot Henry Mancini's music comes exclusively from speakers in front of the nightclubs and from a car radio. Other changes involve different sound and editing patterns and a few deletions, all of which add up to a narrative that's easier to follow, but there's no new or restored footage. To quote Kehr again, “Welles stars as the sheriff of a corrupt border town who finds his nemesis in visiting Mexican narcotics agent Charlton Heston; the witnesses to this weirdly gargantuan struggle include Janet Leigh, Marlene Dietrich, Akim Tamiroff, and Joseph Calleia, who holds the film's moral center with sublime uncertainty.” (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

"Touch of Evil is a sensational calling card Welles is almost touchingly eager to demonstrate what he can do. The dialogue is as intricately overlapped as the lighting is cross-hatched; the cameos are as vivid as possible in a black-and-white movie; the camera work and blocking have the coordination of an Olympic pole vaulter. The very first day of shooting, Welles choreographed an astoundingly efficient 12-minute expository shot in which his camera glided from room to room to room while an assortment of cops, lawyers, and suspects pace in and out, yelling, fencing, and looking for evidence. ("Twelve pages in one take," Heston noted in his journal that night.)....Unable to shoot on location in Tijuana, Welles came up with a wonderful alternative (and an implicit metaphor for Hollywood) by using the once fashionable seaside neighborhood of Venice a designed community which, after oil was discovered there in 1927, deteriorated from a fantasy Europe to a wide-open sailor town to a beatnik slum of scummy canals and crumbling colonnades. As Welles's set, the place has no normal life. It has been imbued with the sinister clutter of a derelict amusement park tattered posters, windblown detritus, cars careening through the empty streets."
- J. Hoberman

"A disreputable classic whose brave sensibility more than matches its towering bravura." (Michael Sragow)
Read Michael Sragow on Touch of Evil

"Marvellously garish...a terrific entertainment...
the cast is assembled as perversely as in a nightmare."
- Pauline Kael

Friday, October 9, 2009

Leave Her To Heaven at the Charles Theatre

A new restored 35mm print of John Stahl’s LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN Starring Gene Tierney and Cornel Wilde will be the Charles Revival Series' film for this week.

Saturday, October 10 at Noon
Monday, October 12 at 7 PM
Thursday, October 15 at 9PM

(1945 John M. Stahl) Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price. Chill WIlls. 110 m. Technicolor.

"Gene Tierney as the most fatale femme in movie history provides the red-hot center to John Stahl's magnificently obsessive 'Leave Her to Heaven' (1945), a delirious Technicolor film noir and a hot pick for the Charles' revival series in a superb 35 mm restoration. From the moment Tierney and Cornel Wilde (playing a best-selling writer) meet as strangers on a train, the film exerts a hypnotic pull as murderous romance, courtroom spectacular (with Vincent Price as the DA) and dysfunctional-family tragicomedy: 'There's nothing wrong with [her], it's just that she loves too much!' says Mom."
-Michael Sragow

"STAGGERINGLY BEAUTIFUL... There's neither a bland nor trivial frame in the whole thing. And it was perhaps never more gorgeous since its release than it is now, in the wonderful restoration... A strangely heartening reminder of just how exhilaratingly bizarre Hollywood moviemaking could get!”
-Glenn Kenny

"Mesmerizing! A very special film! A glorious restoration!"
-Martin Scorsese

"(LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is) a noir from the classic era, only photographed in rococo color and draped in baroque melodrama."
-Bret McCabe

“A MASTERPIECE OF AMERICAN CINEMA. The onscreen melo boils, but Stahl's gaze remains spare and precise,
like an acidic fusion of Ozu and Naruse. The glamour of the film's palette is but a bandage on a festering canker...
God is in the details, but he remains tauntingly at the margins.”
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“Stahl's purpose unfolds only on the big screen, where the blue-velvet skies and the lethally smooth waters
acquire the unquestioned clarity of a fever dream. Color is the lifeblood of the film, Stahl takes the time to feel his way
into the more vivid hues of the heart... Technicolor reaches its astounding apogee in the lips of Gene Tierney, as red as a witch's apple. Each frame of her seems to be hand-tinted.”
– Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

"SPECTACULAR! Pure drama and pure cine noir, all at the same time, with brilliant, deceptive photography
which knocks the spectator out when he discovers that those pastel shades conceal vast amounts of madness and sordidness. A forerunner of Sirk, but more turbulent... The most frightening film that cinema has given us about the evil of jealousy.”
– Pedro Almodóvar

“Gothic pyschologizing melodrama, so preposterously full-blown and straight-faced that it's a juicy entertainment.”
-Pauline Kael

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hand-Made Experimental Animation at the Charles Theatre

This week's revival: Hand-made experimental ANIMATION programmed by animator Karen Yasinsky and sponsored in part by the MICA Animation Department and JHU Film/Media Studies.

A screening of experimental animations from some of the masters. Don't miss this chance to see magicians of the single frame, from Lewis Klahr's bursting collage of image and color to Robert Breer's sublime manipulation of our processing of image through time. Including long lost dolls, operatic divas, sausages and a few surprises. 16 mm.

2 Screenings Only!
Monday, October 5 at 7pm
Thursday, October 8 at 9pm
(No Saturday Show)

Including Lewis Klahr, Janie Geiser, Robert Breer, Adam Beckett and others.

Lewis Klahr: Lulu
"Lewis Klahr has developed a signature style of cutout animation using illustrations from old magazines and, occasionally, photographic cutouts. LULU was commissioned to be shown as an interlude for a Danish production of Alban Berg's opera, and it is a remarkably intricate piece of work. Berg's instructions call for an expository filmic sequence, but Klahr takes a more indirect approach, collaging stills of diva Constance Hauman with iconographic motifs and metaphoric condensations derived from the heroine's lurid fall from grace. A roulette wheel is a central image, at once a harbinger of chance and a catherine's wheel on which the body and soul of this femme fatale is broken. Intensities of color - predominantly gold, red, and blue - join with vertical movements into and out of frame in mirroring the rising and subsiding intensities of Berg's musical phrases. For those familiar with Lulu's dramatic trajectory, it is like watching an implosion of elements drawn to the center from opposite ends of her story, the moment at which Fate drops its mask of neutrality." - Paul Arthur, Film Comment
1996, 16mm, color/so, 3m,

Janie Geiser: The secret story
The Secret Story arose as a response to several beautifully decayed toy figures from the 1930s that were given to me as a gift. These figures, and other toys, objects and illustrations that I found from the period between the world wars, suggested a kind of unearthed hidden narrative which I have attempted to re-piece together, as if these figures were the hieroglyphics of a just-forgotten tongue. The Secret Story revolves around the central figure of the woman, and her girl-double, who look somewhat like versions of Snow White. She wanders through landscapes of rivers and floods, home and war, and memory and illness, culminating in an ecstatic walk in the forest, suggesting both the dark and cathartic trajectories of the richest fairy tales.
1996, 16mm, color/so, 8.5m,

Robert Breer: 69
"It's so absolutely beautiful, so perfect, so like nothing else. Forms, geometry, lines, movements, light, very basic, very pure, very surprising, very subtle." - Jonas Mekas, The Village Voice; "A dream of Euclid." - Donald Richie
Awards: NY Film Festival; London Film Festival; Tours Film Festival; Oberhausen Film Festival.
1968, 16mm, color/so, 5m

Robert Breer: Fuji
"A poetic, rhythmic, riveting achievement (in rotoscope and abstract animation), in which fragments of landscapes, passengers, and train interiors blend into a magical color dream of a voyage. One of the most important works by a master who - like Conner, Brakhage, Broughton - spans several avant-gardes in his ever more perfect explorations." - Amos Vogel, Film Comment
Awards: Oberhausen Film Festival, 1975; Film as Art, American Film/Video Festival.
1974, 16mm, color/so, 8.5m,

Adam Beckett: Sausage City
Newly preserved print courtesy Iota Center and Academy Film Archive, Music: Brillo
Starting with a white screen a city of interlocking boxes evolves, always moving, constantly changing perspective. After a while, this group of sausages begins to emerge. They are a thoroughly rendered (using fancy colored-pencil technique) bunch of sausages. As time passes there get to be a whole bunch of sausages; in fact, the screen becomes one mass of seething, throbbing, pullulating life. The ending is a surprise.
Awards: Humboldt Film Festival, 1974; Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1974.
1974, 16mm, color/so, 5.5m

Friday, October 2, 2009

Noetic Justice

Artists include Adam Beaver, Jennifer Strunge, Kristin Tata, Jessica Hans, John Jones, and Melody Often.  Special thanks to Sara Seidman.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Noetic Justice opens tonight!

Noetic Justice
October 1 - November 30 2009
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 1, 7 - 9pm
Charles Theatre Workers Art Wall

Featuring works by Adam Beaver, Shannon Fitzgerald, Jessica Hans, John Jones, Melody Nadia Often, Jennifer Strunge, and Kristin Tata.