ATL Film Watch: August 27th–September 2nd

Here’s what’s happening in Atlanta film this week:

Monday, August 27Sunday, September 2: Cinefest is screening Prometheus (2012) four times daily. Details here.

Tuesday, August 28: As they do every month, the Plaza Theatre once again screens cult sensation, The Room (2003). Details here.

Wednesday, August 29: Emory Cinematheque presents Hugo (2011) as the first film of their fall series, Movie Magic: Special and Visual Effects from 1896 to Now. Details here.

Thursday, August 30: Cinefest kicks off its Italian Film Series with Notte Prima Degli Esami (2006), a film about the trials and tribulations of good-looking Italian high-schoolers in the 1980s. Details here.

Thursday, August 30: A big night for Cinefest, they’re also showing the Lady Terminator (1989) about “the spirit of an ancient evil queen that possesses the body of a young anthropological student, who then goes on a murderous rampage.” Details here.

Friday, August 31Sunday, September 2: The Plaza Theatre begins its month of Stanley Kubrick with The Killing (1956). Details here.

Friday, August 31Monday, September 3: Dragon Con Independent Film Festival will be running all weekend in conjunction with the weekend’s other Dragon Con events. Details here.

To put your film event on the weekly ATL Film Watch, email hmafilmprograms@woodruffcenter.org

This Saturday: The Projectionist

Screening: Saturday, August 25, 8 p.m., Rich Theatre

Archival Gotham: NYC on Film wraps up this Saturday with The Projectionist (1970), a film about a lonely cinephile whose imagination runs wild. We’ve been lucky to see big name classics like Taxi Driver (1976) and On the Waterfront (1954) as part of this series from MoMA, but a film like The Projectionist really shows us the depth and breadth of their archive. Rarely screened and impossible to find on the internet or in your local video store, this film is a testament to our ongoing (and ever increasing) need for film restoration and the celluloid archive. But besides any such lofty affirmations of the film strip’s 21st century importance, The Projectionist is also Rodney Dangerfield’s cinematic debut! And what’s more, he plays a villain named ‘The Bat’! Finally, we couldn’t ask for a better transition into our upcoming exhibition Fast Forward: Modern Moments 1913–2013, as The Projectionist literalizes a modernist, self-reflexive turn in film history to become a movie explicitly about movies (see clip above). On that note, keep a lookout for our film series that will screen in conjunction with Fast Forward; we’re cooking up some amazing titles to keep us all at the movies straight through the fall.

Reserve tickets for the Saturday, August 25 screening of The Projectionist here.

ATL Film Watch: August 20th-26th

Here’s what’s happening this week in Atlanta Film:

Monday August 20–Sunday August 26: After a brief hiatus, GSU’s Cinefest is back with The Avengers (2012) running all this week. Details here.

Thursday August 23: Cinefest puts on a midnight screening of Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988), a movie in which “an alien band of clowns descends from the cosmos to harvest victims, cocooning their prey in cotton candy to eat later. But the joke is on the clowns when two teens armed with an ice cream truck battle to save their friends in this cult favorite.” Details here.

Thursday August 23: Atlantic Station’s summer series comes to a close with Hugo (2011). Details here.

Saturday August 25: The Plaza Theatre screens The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) in addition to its other programming this week. Details here.

Emory University Cinematheque has announced its Fall film series. Movie Magic: Special and Visual Effects from 1896 to the Present will run from August 29th to December 5th and includes such classics as Metropolis (1927), Godzilla (1958), 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968), and Brazil (1985). All films free, open to the public, and screened on 35mm. Details here.

To put your film event on the weekly ATL Film Watch, email hmafilmprograms@woodruffcenter.org

On the Waterfront: This is Why Brando is the Best

Screening: Saturday, August 18, 8:00 p.m. in the Rich Theatre

Winner of 8 Academy Awards and hailed one of the greatest films of all time, it is perhaps no great wonder that On the Waterfront (1954) still packs a punch. Made on the tail end of Hollywood’s traumatic bout with McCarthyism and directed by a key witness for the House Un-American Activities Committee–Elia Kazan–On the Waterfront navigates with a special urgency the ethical, political, and existential conflicts that arise amidst gangsters, a longshoreman labor union, a priest, a pair of lovers, and a lot of pigeons. Perhaps this story’s betrayals and heroism still ring true because we, in 2012, still haven’t figured out how to make all these divergent urban interests get along. Perhaps we still have a political and economic system which so often capitalizes on average Americans’ conflicting loyalties. Or perhaps On the Waterfront is just a classic story, so expertly told that it–like Shakespeare–seems to cast new light in whatever time and place it appears.

The one thing about this film that is unmistakably brilliant, almost jarringly timeless: Marlon Brando. As a gangster and a lover, a longshoreman and a pigeon keeper, an ex-prize-fighter and a loyal brother, he is the living breathing nexus of all conflicting forces in this film. But how then does he wear it so gracefully? Or more pointedly, how does he make us believe he really is all these things without falling prey to the actor’s darkest death: incoherence.

There is a famous scene in this film when Brando’s Terry Malloy first gets acquainted with his love interest, Edie Doyle (Eva Marie Saint). Terry is broad-shouldered, his brows look as though they’ve been pummeled for years, and he says “I don’t like the country; the crickets make me nervous” with the cadence of a tough guy–but his tone is gentle and he moves through the afternoon with the aimless sincerity and haphazard sweetness of a sleepy puppy. Edie drops a glove as they’re walking, he picks it up, but instead of giving it back he holds onto it and eventually slips it over his own weathered paw. It’s a little thing, like when he crosses his legs for a moment or takes a few beats before responding to a question, but it evidences Terry’s engagement with the materials of this world–the same peripheral realm of texture that hums alongside the plots and dialogues of all our days. He is one of us, it seems, and in this realization the whole miracle of the movies comes crashing forth all over again: he is real, just one of us, sitting there talking to a girl (me?) on a blustery day. And yet at the very same time, we know he is different. Not only does Terry wear a checkered jacket unlike the rest of his gangster / longshoreman crowd but he, like Brando, strolls with a self-assured comfort that everyone wants to be around and few possess. So memorable is this performance, so joyful an experience to be taken in by it, that there is a particular polyvalence at work when Marlon Brando’s endearingly brutish Terry says, “Well there’s some people, they just got faces that stick in your mind.”

ATL Film Watch: August 13th-19th

Check out film happenings around Atlanta this week

Wednesday August 15 and Saturday August 18: The Plaza Theatre screens Bloodsport (1988), a classic Jean-Claude Van Damme if ever there were one. Details here.

Thursday August 16: The Feminist Film Forum screens Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011). A powerful examination of the evolution of the Black Power Movement, the film combines music, startling footage and interviews from leading African-American artists, activists, musicians and scholars. RSVP required, details here.

Thursday August 16–Sunday August 19: Peachtree Village International Film Festival runs all weekend with screenings, panels, workshops, parties, and more. Details here.

Thursday August 16: Outdoor screening of The Blind Side (2009) in Atlantic Station’s Central Park. Details here.

Friday August 17: Film Love, a series curated by local avant-garde specialist Andy Ditzler, presents Plastic Haircuts and Good Times: A Tribute to Robert Nelson 1930-2012. Screening in 16mm at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Details here.

Saturday August 18: The Plaza Theatre screens 13th Sign (2011), a horror film about reality TV, satanic ritual, and so much more. Details here.

Emory University Cinematheque has announced its Fall film series. Movie Magic: Special and Visual Effects from 1896 to the Present will run from August 29th to December 5th and includes such classics as Metropolis (1927), Godzilla (1958), 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968), and Brazil (1985). All films free, open to the public, and screened on 35mm. Details here.

To put your film event on the weekly ATL Film Watch, email hmafilmprograms@woodruffcenter.org

Culture Shock Presents: Taxi Driver

Screening: Saturday, August 11, Free and Outdoors on the Sifly Piazza. DJ Set and Video Projections by Ben “Bean” Worely Begin at 8:15 p.m. with Taxi Driver (1976) to Follow After Dark.

Taxi Driver was not just a hit but…an event in American popular culture—perhaps even an intervention,” wrote J. Hoberman just last year in the Village Voice. His essay, written on the occasion of Taxi Driver‘s restoration and 35th anniversary, contextualizes the film within New York history, film history, and American collective consciousness with the kind of linguistic and conceptual economy reserved for paradigm-shifting films. Like all of the movies in this summer’s Archival Gotham: NYC on Film series, Taxi Driver affords us the chance to see that city through the mediations of cinema and history, through a character’s eyes, and through our own eyes. Given Taxi Driver‘s groundbreaking content and landmark status, the rewards of re-watching and re-thinking this movie ever renew themselves.

As Hoberman points out, when Taxi Driver was released in 1976, we knew about Hitchcock and Godard and we knew about Robert Bresson’s ‘tortured loner’ film, Diary of a Country Priest (1951), but we didn’t know that an array of US filmmakers would combine and distill these cinematic influences (among others) to produce a string of ‘tortured man in a room’ films and an American New Wave.

In 1976 we knew about the 1972 shooting of presidential contender George Wallace (and the shooter, Arthur Bremer, whose meticulous journaling would in part inspire Paul Schrader to write the Taxi Driver script) but we didn’t know that in 1981 John Hinckley Jr. would watch the film 15 times and then attempt to assassinate President Reagan, all in an effort to win the affections of the film’s young star, Jodie Foster.

In 1976, we struggled with the omnifarious aftermath of the Vietnam War but we had yet to see wave after wave of veterans come home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 1976, film critic Vincent Canby could write of Taxi Driver’s protagonist Travis Bickle, “he is a projection of all our nightmares of urban alienation” with a certain immediacy. He was, after all, writing from a desk in the New York Times Headquarters building at Times Square… the same Times Square which Travis Bickle obsessively circles, attracted and unnerved as he is by its prostitutes, hoodlums, chaos, and filth. We didn’t yet know Times Square would be scrubbed of a particular grime, only to have the distopic fear pulsing through Taxi Driver still ring true 35 years later.

As Hoberman so succinctly concludes, “The movie is Scorsese’s hometown farewell… Like Nero, he torches the joint and picks up his lyre. Taxi Driver is a vision of a world that already knows it is lost. A third of a century later, the Checker cabs are gone, as are the taxi garages at the end of 57th Street and the all-night Belmore cafeteria. Times Square has been sanitized, the pestilent combat zone at Third Avenue and 13th Street where Iris peddles her underage charms has long since been gentrified. New York is no longer the planet’s designated Hell on Earth…No nostalgia, though: In other aspects, the world of Taxi Driver is recognizably ours. Libidinal politics, celebrity worship, sexual exploitation, the fetishization of guns and violence, racial stereotyping, the fear of foreigners—not to mention the promise of apocalyptic religion—all remain. Taxi Driver lives. See it again. And try to have a nice day.”

ATL Film Watch: August 6th–12th

Here’s what’s happening in ATL Film this week:

Wednesday August 8: A movie about Nazis from the dark side of the moon, Iron Sky (2012), plays at the Plaza Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Details here.

Thursday August 9: Wonderroot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Film Series screens at the Plaza Theatre at 9:30 p.m. Details here.

Thursday August 9: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) plays outdoors in Atlantic Station’s Central Park. Details here.

Saturday August 11: Our very own High Museum of Art presents Taxi Driver (1976) outdoors on the Sifly Piazza. Come at 8:15 p.m. for a DJ set and projections by Atlanta artist Ben “Bean” Worley before the film. Free, details here.