Program for January 26 to May 24 2014 :
C-VA =Cinéma VA-114, 1395 René Levèsque O.
(Guy or Lucien l’Allier metro)
C-JA = Cinéma J.A. deSève, 1400 deMaisonneuve O.
(Guy or Lucien-l’Allier metro)
Doors: 6 :30 p.m.
Projection: 7 p.m.
Major partner: Mel Hoppenheim School Of Cinema (Concordia)
LET THE BULLETS FLY (Rang zi dan fei)
(2011, China , 132 min. English Subtitles.) Jiang Wen
In turbulent 1920s Sichuan, a bandit poses as a local governor in a dusty town but finds himself at odds with the local mobster, who is not eager to share his turf with another drifter. A complex and deadly series of mind-games ensues between the two crooks, which are as violent as they are hilarious.
Last year for the Chinese New Year we brought you the astounding LEGEND OF THE FIST (2010) and since everyone had such a fun time we decided to offer another very popular film from China. Action comedy hit LET THE BULLETS FLY was the #1 grossing film of all time in China until fairly recently and also attained universal acclaim, in particular with its satire, visual style and costume design.
International superstar and “King Of Cool” Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hard Boiled) appears alongside the brilliantly comedic Ge You (The Banquet – FANTASIA 2007), Carina Lau (Detective Dee – FANTASIA 2011) and actor-director Jiang Wen (Zhang Yimou’s Red Sorghum).
This film has never played a movie screen anywhere in Montreal but luckily we are now able to offer you a beautiful 35mm cinemascope print in the newly renovated deSève cinema. Nothing compares to watching it in this theatrical environment amongst fellow fans of the genre. We guarantee you’ll be flying… like exploding firecrackers!
The film will be introduced by our Asian action expert King-Wei Chu who will also supply some very rare vintage 35mm Shaw Brothers movie trailers to screen before the feature. In fact, we are dedicating this screening to movie mogul Sir Run Run Shaw who passed away this month at the age of 106. And like last year’s event, Chinese teas and sweet Asian delights will be offered at intermission along with some neat movie prizes. Trailer: LET THE BULLETS FLY
Official selection: London, Tribeca New York and Fantastic Fest Austin.
Adapted from a James M. Cain novel by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, this film represents the high-water mark of 1940s film noir urban crime dramas in which a greedy, weak man is seduced and trapped by a cold, evil woman amidst the dark shadows and Expressionist lighting of modern cities.
Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) seduces insurance agent Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) into murdering her husband to collect his accident policy. The murder goes as planned, but after the couple’s passion cools, each becomes suspicious of the other’s motives. The plan is further complicated when Neff’s boss Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson), a brilliant insurance investigator, takes over the investigation. Told in flashbacks from Neff’s perspective, the film moves with ruthless determinism as each character meets what seems to be a preordained fate.
The three seasoned leads give some of their best performances and Wilder’s cynical sensibility finds a perfect match in the story’s unsentimental perspective. All is heightened by John Seitz’s hard-edged cinematography. Often acclaimed as the best film noir ever, it can only be truly appreciated on a proper theatrical screen…in the dark.
To be preceded by a short film produced by Hal Roach, the king of 1930’s comedy.
“Who is Arne Skouen?” you may ask. He happens to be the most celebrated of all Norwegian film directors. There are even festivals, awards and institutes named after him in his native country. That should at least tell you that his films are worth checking out. Especially this one, an international multi-award winner from the early 1960′s. This is the 11th of 17 films he directed from 1949 to 1969. It is also his third and final drama dealing with the German Occupation. Shot quite mercilessly on mountain locations in mid-winter, it almost literally chills the blood with its theme of obsessive guilt, as a former Resistance leader tries to purge the ghosts of his past betrayals. Snow, silence and sub-Arctic scenery have never been more evocatively portrayed in beautiful black and white than in this probing of the dark Norwegian psyche.
If you are a fan of both Bergman and Hitchcock-type films, you will definitely enjoy this one. Shown at The Film Society twice in the last 15 years, some members still talk about it today as one of their most memorable. With an ending more jolting than the near final scene in Kubrick’s THE SHINING, it is haunting indeed. (Norwegian with English subtitles.)
Sunday March 9 7pm VA-114
(1985, U.S., 95 min.) Stuart Gordon
‘‘When clean-cut med student Dan Cain advertises for a roommate, little does he suspect how spectacularly his life – and the laws of creation – are about to be turned upside down. He soon wishes he’d heeded the caution of girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton), who can obviously spot a crazed re-animator when she sees one. In no time at all, Herbert West (Jeff Combs) has brought Dan’s dead cat twitching back to life with a syringe full of green gloop. The dean fails to see the beneficial side and expels Dan and West, who promptly turn Burke and Hare in the university morgue. Mayhem ensues as the dead run amok. Dr Hill, a rival for Megan’s affections, loses his head – and then finds it again. The injection of humour into HP Lovecraft’s 1922 tale is what saves this splatter-fest from being mere fodder for gore-hounds.’’ –Time Out Magazine.
Projected will be a very nice uncut 35mm print. Preceded by vintage 35mm trailers of Eighties horror and a special 25th anniversary screening of a veritable masterpiece of disembodied stop-motion clay animation by Czech master Jan Svankmajer.
This is another member-sponsored screening (Our thanks to Peter Black, Éric Plouffe and Maurice Roy). See this website for how you too can sponsor a screening.
Sunday March 23 7pm VA-114
5000 FINGERS OF DR.T
(1953, U.S., 89 min.) Roy Rowland
This live-action Technicolor fantasy is essentially the extended dream sequence of a boy who doesn’t want to practice the piano. He imagines a cockeyed castle where his teacher, transformed into the evil Dr. Terwilliker, has hypnotized his mother and taken 500 boys prisoner so they can play music on his 5000-key piano.
Don’t we just love films that, upon their initial release, were flops but later came to be appreciated as great films ahead of their time whether they became widely acclaimed like Citizen Kane or drew smaller cult followings like this one? (It was regularly screened in Montreal repertory cinemas in the 1980s as a late night ‘‘head movie’’.) There are 5000 reasons to love this over-the-top musical oddity created and written for the screen by the famous Dr.Seuss. Here is a typical line: ‘‘Get me a shot of that pickle juice! If those twins want a fight on skates, I’ll give ‘em one!’’ Deemed by 1953 test audiences to be too scary for kids, the studio didn’t know how to market it and ended up rereleasing it as ‘‘CRAZY MUSIC’’ (?!) while keeping references to torture and dungeons intact.
Playing Dr.T is one-of-a-kind Hans Conried whose great voice is heard in films needing effective narration or as a cartoon voice. (Disney features, Rocky & Bullwinkle, Spiderman, Fractured Fairy tales) The main marvels of this film are the weird elaborate sets, goofy props and wild costumes that support the incredibly strange situations our young hero finds himself in. Also very impressive is the musical score by Friedrich Hollaender who began his career composing for 1930’s legendary BLUE ANGEL. Screened will be a vintage print that has color like nothing you’ve ever seen.
BONUS: Preceded by a Hans Conried-voiced animated Dr. Seuss cartoon and another surprise ‘toon that defines wacky that will make you glad you showed up! This is another member-sponsored screening (Our thanks to Daniel Yates). See this website for how you too can sponsor a screening. Trailer reviewed by Joe Dante: 5000 FINGERS
“If you’re curious about terror…” Adapted from the 1950s radio play by Giles Cooper, Unman, Wittering and Zigo, is a strange British thriller following John Ebony, played by 60s British icon David Hemmings, a school master arriving at a remote boarding school for young men to replace a recently deceased school teacher. Bright eyed and passionate to begin his teaching career, Ebony is met with the dread and jadedness of his fellow colleagues. From the first day in the classroom, he is met with the challenge of keeping his class, 5 Form B, on topic and in line. When the class members begin making odd claims about his predecessor’s death, the school master begins to realize that he may be in over his head and perhaps, in serious danger.
One of the Cineclub’s archival treasures, Unman, Wittering and Zigo will please thriller and horror fans looking for rare and overlooked gems. Hemmings’ performance as the increasingly perturbed and challenged Ebony is strong made all the better by the performances of the students, whose calm and poise is remarkably chilling. The remote British setting and deliberate pace of the Mackenzie’s piece only adds to the suspense that make Unman, Wittering, and Zigo a must see boarding school murder mystery.
This is a member-sponsored screening (Our thanks to Pamela Fillion). See this website for how you too can sponsor a screening.
Using stop-motion puppet animation to tell his story, Ivo Caprino has created an incredibly detailed and elaborate work featuring characters that are full of life and brilliant color. The director is considered a legend in Norway and this film is one of the biggest commercial successes ever to come out of that country. Since its premiere on 28 August 1975, the movie was shown at a cinema somewhere in the world every day of the week, for 30 years. (Mainly in theaters in Norway, Moscow and Tokyo.)
The compelling story involves an old inventor and his two animal friends who decide to enter a major auto race. And what a race! You’ve never seen such wild-looking machines in a heart-pounding climactic finale in an animated film. (Audiences have been known to cheer out loud for it.) The way the action cuts is truly impressive and the director’s perfectionist nature even extends to the animated band playing the correct notes in correct timing to the soundtrack!
The results of 5 animators working full time for 3 years, this film will surely become one of your greatest discoveries in animated features. Translated into 14 languages, screening for you will be the French version with an easy-to-follow narrative. This is partly a member-sponsored screening (Our thanks to MONDO QUÉBEC : mondoquebec.tumblr.com ). See the C/FS website for how you too can sponsor a screening.
To be preceded by some equally impressive animated works:
THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER – 1955 – This is an early work by Ivo Caprino and shows signs of his trademark style of big colourful eyes on the various animated puppets.
JUKEBAR –1989- Enjoy our 25th anniversary screening of another very impressive stop-motion film by Quebec’s Martin Barry. Cockroaches and swing music were never more exciting! (35mm print)
Undeterred by the censorship difficulties of his lusty western THE OUTLAW (1943), multi-billionaire Howard Hughes spent his 1950s tenure with RKO studios churning out a string of glossy, fetishistic entertainments culminating in SON OF SINBAD which was originally planned as a 3-D spectacle with acres of cleavage spilling out of the screen but unfortunately arrived at the end of that craze. Nevertheless, the film offers plenty of visual appeal, largely thanks to its rosters of aspiring actresses and Vegas showgirls filling the screen including a lead role for notorious burlesque queen Lili St.Cyr and Sally Forrest whose exotic dance routine was one of the film’s greatest stumbling blocks with the censors and is cinema’s first pole dance. As for the bulk of the female cast, credit is usually attributed to Hughes’ insatiable womanizing; though only credited as executive producer, his influence extended to offering roles to the countless would-be starlets he romanced and plied with promises of big screen roles. From that hilly vantage point alone, the film stands as a unique cinematic experience by offering the contents of one man’s little black book spilled out across an entire film. Its voluptuous camp exercise guarantees vintage thrills for any viewer. Oh, and did we mention it stars Vincent Price?
The film’s striking look can largely be attributed to director Ted Tetzlaff, a former cinematographer from such films as Hitchcock’s NOTORIOUS (1946) Cinematographer William E. Snyder, already a 3-D veteran from the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), again proved his compositional ingenuity while composer Victor Young offers a superb exotic score.
The vintage print to be screened is one of the last remaining 35mm Superscope Technicolor prints in the world. It was rescued in 2013 from rusty cans and reels in a tool shed in rural Québec and was physically restored by a Concordia cinema student and C/FS intern, Dominique Leger, who will give a short presentation on the restoration process. Her talk will be followed by a special live stage performance by a few of Montreal’s top burlesque dancers and rare 16mm footage of the iconic Betty Page.
Superscope. Technicolor. 35mm restoration. Burlesque dancers on screen and live on stage! Film events don’t get much better than this!
The idea of apes as rulers of man has captured the public imagination ever since French author Pierre Boulle wrote ‘‘La Planète des Singes’’ in 1963. Or even as far back as 1933’s KING KONG for that matter.
To date, no less than seven feature films have been made in the series and RISE is second only to the first earth-shattering version from back in 1968 which starred Charlton Heston. In RISE, we learn just how the simians began their ascent to power. James Franco plays a scientist out to cure his father’s mental decomposition by using apes as test subjects. Eventually, his super-drug empowers a violent ape revolt. Caesar, leader of the ape revolution, is effectively played by Andy Serkis who is best known for his role as Golem in LORD OF THE RINGS.
All previous installments, including the 1975 TV series were remarkable for their Oscar-winning prosthetic make-up effects but the 2011 version began using computer-generated graphics to create the apes’ faces. This seems sacreligious to any hard-core fan of the series but with such a compelling story and wonderful characterizations, we quickly forget the makeup.
One key element in the final work is its impressive production design by Montreal’s Claude Paré. He was also responsible for the look of such films as NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM, THE AVIATOR and BARNEY’S VERSION. We are privileged to have Mr. Paré appear in person as our guest speaker revealing ‘‘secret’’ behind-the-scenes images of his craft.
This screening is a perfect way to get this movie fresh in your mind before this summer’s release of the much anticipated sequel; DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. And what better way than to view a pristine 35mm print on a large theatrical screen? Also expect a few surprises that you simply cannot see anywhere else. (Home-made banana cake will be available at intermission, of course.)
Saturday May 24 7pm W.P.U.C.*
BEN HUR -1925 with live musicians!
(1925, U.S., approx.. 145 min.) Fred Niblo
The biggest-budget epic of the 1920s is also one of the greatest films of the silent era and is still very affecting on audiences today. What’s not to like in this legendary film? There’s a handsome hero that battles the greatest odds, bitter rivalries, a quest to find lost love, a spectacular sea battle, fatal stunts, monumental sets, exotic locales and a cast of literally thousands in ancient Roman attire. And let’s not forget the legendary chariot race that surpasses even that of the 1959 version in its scope and audacity. (no soulless computer images here!)
Starring Ramon Novarro as Judah Ben Hur, Francis X. Bushman as Messala and May McAvoy (THE JAZZ SINGER) as Esther. Together they put in excellent performances that help elevate the work to a masterpiece.
For your overwhelming pleasure, we offer a crisp vintage 16mm b&w print that will look truly fantastic on our big screen installed above the altar in a stunning gothic church setting. Talented musicians will accompany on piano, violin, percussion and organ.
Coffee, tea, popcorn, sweet treats, beer and more will be offered before show time and at intermission. Our previous screenings there in the last two years have been hugely popular so arrive early.
*Westmount Park United Church: 4695 boul. deMaisonneueve W. (métro Vendôme)