Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The following “Revival Pick of the Week” is the first installment of what I intend to be a weekly feature here at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. As much as I would love to be able to post a giant monthly guide to what’s happening around the city on the Los Angeles revival and museum screening circuit, it’s just not a practical plan with my resources and my available time being what they are. So for the foreseeable future, look for weekly installments of this post which will point the way toward several worthy screenings for the week and pick one for special highlighting.

This week look for the series on ”The Apocalyptic Cinema of Andrei Tarovsky” to continue at LACMA with screenings of The Mirror (1974; 7:30 p.m.) and Nostalghia (1984; 9:30 p.m.) on Friday, January 29, and Andrei Rublev (1966-69; 7:30 p.m.), to be preceded at 5:30 p.m. by Dmitri Trakovsky’s documentary The Apocalyptic Cinema of Andrei Tartovsky (2008). Dmitri Trakovsky will be in attendance to discuss the film and Tartovsky’s work before the Andrei Rublev screening.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive concludes its series on “Two Western Myths: Billy the Kid and Jesse James” with the exhibition of two westerns that should look spectacular on the Billy Wilder Theater screen. Friday, January 29, you can see Philip Kaufman’s rarely screened The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972), a revisionist look at the James-Younger gang’s final robbery, starring Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger and Robert Duvall as a religious psychopathic Jesse James. The film is paired with Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973), the director’s painfully beautiful and fevered vision of a West that exists exclusively within, yet resonates beyond the boundaries of the Peckinpah myth. The film stars James Coburn and Kris Kiristofferson in title roles, with memorable support from Bob Dylan, Slim Pickens and Katy Jurado. And Sunday the Billy Wilder is given over to Andrew Dominick’s gorgeous and elliptical The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck.

Finally, the New Beverly Cinema has a great line-up all week. A double bill of Robert Bresson classics make for an excellent film school opportunity for those unfamiliar with the director’s work. Pickpocket (1959) and Diary of a Country Priest (1951) screen tonight and Wednesday. And on Friday and Saturday, an inspired double feature—Federico Fellini’s warm and masterful remembrance Amarcord (1974), winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, paired with Fellini admirer Woody Allen’s own nostalgic look back at the Rockaway Beach of his youth, Radio Days (1987). The doubling is a great opportunity to consider these masterpieces through how each director utilizes memory embroidered by artful elaboration as a theme, and also the nature of how nostalgia works to inform, bolster, and sometimes even weaken narrative storytelling.

But the SLIFR Revival Pick of the Week goes to the series of events surrounding legendary film composer David Shire, who will be making three exciting and unique appearances around town to highlight and talk about his work. First, and perhaps foremost, Film Music magazine’s CD review editor Daniel Schweiger will moderate a discussion and an audience Q& A Thursday night at the New Beverly Cinema when David Shire visits the theater in person to screen two films which feature two of his most memorable, beautiful and most-imitated scores. First up is the breathless original version of The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974), highlighted by a percussive Shire score that one-ups even the drive of Lalo Schifrin’s best as it pulsates and reflects the chaos and vitality of a mid-‘70s New York City in moral and practical upheaval. Shire’s music for Robert Wise’s docudrama disaster picture The Hindenburg (1975) is borne aloft by soaring melodic lines and orchestration that belie the unwieldiness of the Hindenburg zeppelin while locating its unusual and unlikely grace. The two scores provide contrapuntal musical evidence of Shire’s versatility, and the composer will discuss both films and how he managed to find exactly the right musical accompaniment for them. The event, con-sponsored by Film Music magazine, has a special early start time to accommodate the length of the films and to ensure that Shire, Schweiger and the audience have plenty of time to spend together. Get to the New Beverly early for a 7:00 p.m. start time for the evening’s programming.

Friday and Saturday nights at REDCAT, Steve Horowitz and the Code Ensemble present The Re-taking of Pelham 1-2-3, a multimedia presentation in which Horowitz and the CE provide an imaginative contemporary rethink of Shire’s original jazz-inflected score performed simultaneously beside a projection of artist Jane Brill’s provocative meditation on the underground reverberations of 9/11. Shire is apparently enthusiastic about the results—“If I were hired to score the picture today, I would hope that my score would come out sounding the way that Steve’s does,” says the veteran musician—and will discuss the revamped score with Horowitz, Brill and graphic artist Zig Gron, whose own Invasion of the Chicken Planet, a science-fiction movie mash-up, will provide extra musical inspiration for the Ensemble on both nights. Visit the REDCAT web site for ticket information, times and prices.

Finally, Saturday, January 30, David Shire will appear in person at the Dark Delicacies book and collectibles shop in Burbank for his first ever Los Angeles signing appearance. The store will have Shire scores like Pelham, The Hindenburg, The Conversation and Zodiac in stock and available for purchase. See the Dark Delicacies web site for more details.



Jeffrey Goodman said...

Great post, Dennis! Really makes me remember all the great cinephile options I used to have when I lived in L.A. I look forward to following your picks every week.

Don Mancini said...

I love Shire's HINDENBURG score, especially the cue "Up Ship" on the album. I also love that the film features a performed-on-screen song, as was required of all disaster pic's of the era. HINDENBURG's was the satirical "There's a Lot to Be Said for the Fuhrer." Funny to imagine that the Universal execs must have had hopes for an Oscar nomination: "And now, to perform the love theme from THE HINDENBURG, 'There's a Lot to Be Said for the Fuhrer,' Miss Maureen McGovern!"

Kevin Deany said...

Love David Shire, he's one of my favorites. I wish I lived in L.A., I'd be at all the events in a heartbeat. His "Return to Oz" score is one of the greatest in the last 25 years.

With the revival of musicals going on now, I've always wondered why no one has considered doing "Baby", his Broadway show co-written with Richard Maltby Jr. It's a fabulous show with great songs and a lot of heart. It wouldn't be a budget buster like "Nine" either. Get an appealing cast together, don't make the material bigger than it needs to be, and you'd have a real winnner.

There's a song called "I Chose Right" which if more people knew about it would be a natural at weddings; comedy songs like "Fatherhood Blues" and "The Ladies Singing Their Song"; and one of Shire and one of Maltby's greatest creations, "The Story Goes On."

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