film forum

You are currently browsing articles tagged film forum.

For those in the NYC area, I highly recommend catching ‘The Gang’s All Here’ at Film Forum, showing until this Thursday. Directed by choreographer extraordinaire Busby Berkeley, the film’s described as “some sort of apotheosis in vulgarity”, “like a male hairdresser’s acid trip”, and begs the question, “what can you say about a film that features 60 girls waving gigantic bananas?”

What indeed, except it’s a nonsensical Technicolor delight. The disorientation starts with a disembodied head singing ‘Brazil’, which turns into a scene at a Brazilian port introducing the living cartoon that is Carmen Miranda before turning into a song number about thinking you’re in Brazil when really you’re in New York! Because they are in New York! At a swanky nightclub called Club New York, that’s Brazilian-themed!

We’re introduced in short measure to the fathers of two wealthy families and the leading man- what with the War going on I guess leading men were in short supply, as this one’s only a looker at exactly the right angle. Most angles, and his uniform, made his head look like David Byrne’s wearing The Big Suit. But who cares about the men when Carmen Miranda’s shaking her stuff in 6-inch gold wedge heels, 20 lbs. of ruffles, and 3 foot eyelashes!

The ‘plot’ is a wafer-thin confection existing solely to leap from one musical number to the next, and sometimes even that pretext is thrown to the wind. In typical Berkeley fashion, several numbers have no ties to the plot or reality – here it’s ‘Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat’ featuring the aforementioned giant bananas -NO FREUDIAN SYMBOLISM HERE, NO SIR!

http://oldhollywood.tumblr.com/post/1481837658/banana-wielding-chorus-girls-on-the-set-of-busby
…and the grand finale, ‘Polka-Dot Polka’, where the lovers’ reuniting is brushed aside in favor of an extended tribute to the Polka Dot. An extended, head-floating, TRON-neon, redheaded children dancing tribute to the Polka Dot.

http://altscreen.com/04/18/2012/tuesday-editors-pick-the-gangs-all-here-1943/

I don’t think ‘The Gang’s All Here’ has Berkeley’s most successful dance numbers- he’s used neon and abstracted the human body much more interestingly in ‘Shadow Waltz’, for example. Then again, this was a film he didn’t just choreograph, but directed – the difference can be similarly seen in the far-superior ‘Gold Diggers of 1933′, which he only did dance numbers for, vs. ‘Gold Diggers of 1935′, which he directed. While the latter had the immortal (and surprisingly dark and depressing) ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ number, again featuring his pet disembodied heads, ’1933′ had a plot that made sense, and actors acting. Still, ‘The Gang’s All Here’ absolutely delivers on sheer ridiculousness, all in glorious color. Check it out while you can! BUY WAR BONDS!

Tags: , ,

Once again Film Forum outdoes itself with a wonderful program of dual-projection 3-D movies sans anaglyphic viewers. For the layman, that means gorgeous prints without the red/blue glasses. I caught ‘The Mad Magician’, featuring, as was required of B-grade horror-schlock from that time, Mr. Vincent Price.

If you only saw him in later years, it’s easy to forget Vincent Price had the build of a quarterback and height of a basketball player. In this film, described as a ‘low-rent ‘House of Wax’, he plays a magic show prop-builder for a cruel boss who stole and married his now-ex-wife. Denied a chance to shine on stage, he snaps, and subsequently kills again and again to hide his crimes. There’s plenty of ‘comin’ at ya!’ 3-D effects, including water squirted out at the audience and a fight where objects are thrown more than punches, usually directly at the camera.

For sheer 3-D exploitation though, nothing topped the Three Stooges short preceding the movie, ‘Spooks’. Foot-long needles, squirting water, flamethrowers, knives, axes, pies, all were shot out at the audience, with a healthy helping of angry gorilla and physical abuse thrown in. Admittedly, it’s not the Stooges at their best (Shemp’s looking a little rougher for the wear), but the charm of an added dimension makes it work.

It’s hard to state without being able to show how amazing Film Forum’s 3-D setup is. The theater’s size and distance make for a perfect experience of the intended depth of field, and the lack of color filters emphasizes the space you’re seeing on screen, without modern movies’ loss of brightness and clarity (not to mention Film Forum doesn’t have modern vinyl screens, which also dilute image quality. Hey, if it’s good enough for Martin Scorsese it’s good enough for you).


This fellow greeted me on the way in and out, and reminded that right after the 3-D Classic screenings end, the William Castle screenings BEGIN! Percepto! Emergo! The Coward’s Corner! ALL WILL BE PRESENTED AT FILM FORUM! That’s right, they’re even wiring up the seats for ‘The Tingler’ so you too can ‘Scream! Scream for your lives!’

En route home this was all over the subway:

This ‘Jim Joe’ is quite the upstart. The tag started appearing in Bed Stuy and the Lower East Side here and there, on a dumpster and the occasional wall. In less than a month they were all over Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, and now something this scale!

Lest you think all graffiti is dudes writing names on stuff, here is a tagged Fibonacci sequence. Yep.

Tags: , , ,

Man, every time I think ‘oh, I don’t see movies enough to justify a Film Forum membership’, something like this and this pop up. Oh, it’s just a Tod Browning retrospective and a great double feature series of 30′s gangster and prison movies featuring TWO double features of ‘women in prison’ flicks. Just that. Oh, and down the road in the summer they’re showing ‘You The Living’, the latest from the fellow who brought us ‘Songs From The Second Floor’, and are screening ‘In A Lonely Place’, the most heartbreaking movie I have seen, second only perhaps to ‘The Misfits’.

Crap. I may as well fill out that form card now.

Tags: , ,

Sweet mercy, Film Forum’s latest lineup is absolutely perfect. They’ve just announced their ‘NYC Noir’ lineup, starting next week, and right off the bat they’ve a double feature of my two favorite silent-era comedians. There’s classic dramas, two Val Lewton flicks, some seedy noirs, and a Superfly/Warriors double feature!!! Heck, I’ll just post some highlights; if you’d like to join me do let me know.

JULY 29 SUN: LAURA/THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

JULY 30 MON: THE CAMERAMAN/SPEEDY

AUGUST 2 THU: A DOUBLE LIFE/THE SEVENTH VICTIM

AUGUST 8 WED: THE NAKED CITY/FORCE OF EVIL

AUGUST 15 WED: CAT PEOPLE/PHANTOM LADY

AUGUST 17/18 FRI/SAT: THE WARRIORS/SUPERFLY

AUGUST 19/20 SUN/MON: SCARLET STREET/SIDE STREET

AUGUST 22/23 WED/THU: KILLER’S KISS/SOMETHING WILD

AUGUST 30 THU: WAIT UNTIL DARK/CRY TERROR!

Tags: , ,