Thursday, September 29, 2016

Film clips from the East Coast

My working sojourn on the US East Coast continues with, of course, attendance at as many films – and art house theatres – as I can squeeze in. In Providence, Rhode Island this has meant the Cable Car Cinema, where I took in Wim Wenders’s Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, an exploration of the wonder and dark side of the Internet. In the film we get to visit the private room where the first version of the Internet, or ARPANET, was created in the 1960s, and learn that no science fiction writer ever gets the future right, since even The Jetsons didn’t have the Internet…..Then there was The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger (2016) at New York’s Film Forum. Scheduling had me skip out during the third short but the best of what I saw was the first, featuring Tilda Swinton and her 30-year friendship with the art historian and philosopher. The almost 90-year-old Berger is as mentally alert and intellectually inquisitive as ever, still brimming with a rage at what he views as the material corruption (aka capitalism) all around him. I’d like to have seen more on his interpretations of art, frankly…..There were French New Wave revivals of Claude Chabrol’s Betty (1992) and Eric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse (1967) at New York’s Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Film Society of New York, respectively, comments about which are in the Sept. 19 post above……Back in Providence at the Avon Cinema,  in the heart of the Brown University student ghetto, I caught Ira Sachs’s Little Men (2016), a film with potential but ultimately unfulfilling, about family and Brooklyn’s gentrification wars…..Also at the Avon I saw Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre (2015) (photo above left), a film about a mother-daughter relationship that never quite hits its mark…..Then last Sunday, at New York’s Film Forum, another revival, Louis Malle’s 1958 Elevator to the Gallows. Funny how so many of these classics seem almost amateurish, as Elevator does, from a hardly plausible plot to some pretty dumb dialogue. Yet the film was absorbing all the same.

A politically correct The Magnificent Seven.....Remember the original 1960 version (John Sturges, director) of this movie? The bad guy was a Mexican bandit (Calvera played by Eli Wallach). The villagers at his mercy were Mexican villagers. In the newly released 2016 remake by Antoine Fuqua the bad guy is mine owner Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) who slaughters and otherwise exploits the locals. Given the politics of the day surrounding immigration and capitalism, the film’s plot makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

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