Film Forum celebrates UA

A fantastic five-week Film Forum series celebrating the 90th anniversary of United Artists — March 28th to May 1st. I own 75% of these films on DVD; the likelihood that they’ll look better at the FF (even with the promise of new prints) than they do on my Sony flat-screen is not high. But I love the thought of under-30s catching and enjoying Kiss Me Deadly or Red River or Night of the Hunter or Manhattan or Tom Jones or Orphans of the Storm or Douglas FairbanksRobin Hood for the first time during this series.

24 thoughts on “Film Forum celebrates UA

  1. JHRussell on said:

    I only saw “The Knack, and How to Get It” for the first time about a year ago…what a hoot!
    That is a great lineup.

  2. “the likelihood that they’ll look better at the FF (even with the promise of new prints) than they do on my Sony flat-screen is not high.”
    Remember you wrote that the next time you write about the death of the cinema experience.

  3. Dang Burma, your point is better than my sarcasm.
    Yeah, Jeff– if you, filmlover extraordinaire, is willing to stay home and watch these movies on a *crappy* TV, what about all the millions of people and families who choose to do the same with their big screen TVs and surround sound systems?
    Are you a Gorilla Nation citizen if you wait six months to see No Country for Old Men at home vs. going out to the theater? What if you see the movie at home but fall in love with it, what then?
    Would your head explode like the guy in “Scanners” when confronted with that Escher-like situation?
    No, really Jeff. We’d love to know.

  4. I only wish I could afford a new t.v.
    I saw Crimes & Misdemeanors at the FF last year and got sat 3 rows away from my date due to the overcrowding. It’s just a shame that there’s not a bigger, more modern theater that cares about revivals.

  5. My favorite soundtrack is the double lp UA put out in the 60′s to celebrate their work of the decade. I grew up on that thing as it had new John Barry orchestrations for Bond and an utterly incredible version of THE KNACK theme that I have never been able to find on disc. It even included Monty Norman’s version of DR. NO.
    Anybody have a lead on where to get this on disc? I have two copies of the album, and you can still find then occasionally in used record stores…

  6. With all due respect, Wells, most under-30s who will have the ability to attend the Film Forum to see these movies simply will not. If I were a betting man, I’d put good money on the over/under for median age attending these screenings at 55.

  7. Remember a few years ago when Wells wrote a preposterous article about how Sony’s beautiful restoration of IN A LONELY PLACE looks too grainy on DVD and they should have taken their cue from Paramount’s wretched SUNSET BLVD. restoration in which Paramount removed grain and turned Wilder’s film into plastic?

    And then film restoration expert Robert Harris tore Wells’s asshole open and wrote:

    “What you seem to be saying is that a painting by impressionist Georges Seurat would look better if it didn’t have all those annoying dots. The dots are the painting… You are a corrupted video viewer. You have been won over by the dark side. When one removes grain, there can be a certain amount of image interpolation, much like line-doubling. There is also a loss of resolution as at a certain point, there is no information… Why not digitally correct the Picassos? Changing a film’s grain structure, which is its prime atomic particle, is precisely the same as colorizing.”

    To claim that new 35mm prints are inferior to DVD is monumentally ignorant and completely nonsensical. You’d have to be braindead to keep pushing this argument as Wells has done.

  8. Edward Havens, your comment about under-30′s isn’t quite as silly as Jeff’s comment about DVD’s looking better than 35mm, but it’s silly nonetheless. As an under-30, I can attest that quite a high percentage of under-30′s attend the rep screenings at Film Forum. Film Forum attracts folks of all ages, and I’m sure, as usual, most of these screenings will be completely packed and sold-out, as Gordie pointed out. Luckily they recently installed newer, comfier seats.

  9. I can imagine Jeff’s response:
    “Hey, it’s the 21st century. Only an unhip-go-to-the-revival-house-geek doesn’t want digital perfection over an old-fogey print. You have to roll with punches not get swept out to sea. Get with the new program.”

  10. The grain issue is a valid argument, I think. The fact is, grain does not translate well to digital. Digital always had a difficult time rendering celluloid grain. I’m not against a reasonable amount of polishing for DVD/HD so long as it’s not a functionally different image. After all, most repertory prints are old, damaged and deteriorating, therefore grainier than the original prints.
    I’m not sure the Seurat analogy is apt. It’s not that he painted with “dots,” it’s that when you see an actual painting up close you can see the artist’s brushstrokes and the texture of the canvas, whereas in a photo or print often the image has been flattened in the translation.
    The real problem is when a movie intentionally pushes the grain (Eyes Wide Shut, ’70s Altman, etc.), and then that image is “cleaned up” for video. Often, seeing a rep screening can be like watching a movie anew.
    All that said, our viewing habits have been altered because of TV and video. We’ve become accustomed to grainless images. And as we get more used to watching HD on our TVs, it will translate and coincide with the continued growth of digital production/distribution.

  11. So where is Michael Mann’s “Thief”?
    And yes, they should also be showing Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” — a stunning film to experience on the big screen.
    Oh well…for those who are in San Francisco, the amazing Castro Theater is showing “Thief” and “The Driver” on 3/11/08. Walter Hill and Michael Mann taking it to the streets!

  12. You raise some fair points, mutinyco. But we’re not talking about “old, damaged and deteriorating” repertory prints (which are actually the minority, not the majority as you claim). We’re talking about good condition and newly struck repertory prints, which Wells has unfavorably compared to DVDs twice in the past 24hrs. Does anyone here not find that completely ludicrous?

  13. Fuckin’ A. Well there goes all my money this spring. Honestly, even though the Film Forum is a shoe box with unfortunately placed columns it’s still my favorite theater in the city, simply because it affords me the the opportunity to see so many films with a respectful audience off of 35mm film prints. I don’t care how good your home theater is, nothing recreates that feeling.

  14. Standard DVD resolution = 720 x 480
    35 mm film resolution = approx. 4096 x 4096
    To suggest that DVD (or even the highest quality HD projectors) can even approach the quality of 35mm film is preposterous.

  15. Havens to JeffGP… I cannot tell you how many times I went to Film Forum with my wife during the five years we lived in New York City to one their many themed series, only to discover we were the youngest two in the theatre. My “silly” comment comes from personal experiences at Film Forum over the course of several dozen screenings.

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