July 26, 2017
Blue HawaiiJuly 27, 2017
Classic / 1961 / 102 minutes
Cashing in on the surf craze of the early 60s, the Elvis Presley vehicle Blue Hawaii also serves as a nice piece of marketing synergy, tying in to the King’s remake of Bing Crosby’s 1937 song which also serves as the film’s title. As breezy and enjoyable as the Hawaiian isles on which it is set, the story concerns a young Presley returning from the army to his island home for some surf and fun, but finding himself pressured into the family business by his mother (Angela Lansbury, who was in fact only 9 years Elvis’ senior). It’s just an excuse to show off the King of Rock n’ Roll’s swivel-hips in swim trunks and have him perform the prerequisite island-themed musical numbers, and on that level Norman Taurog’s film is an unequivocal success. If you’re a fan of surfin’ fun and vintage Elvis, this is one luau you don’t wanna miss.
The Cotton ClubJuly 27, 2017
Crime / 1984 / 128 minutes
Infamous producer Robert Evans had a hell of a time getting the jazz age epic The Cotton Club into cinemas, even with the sure-fire, home run re-teaming of Godfather visionaries Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo. Despite the off-screen travails, Coppola’s film is a triumphant return to form, one that bears his artistic stamp while still managing to be a well-crafted big screen entertainment. Richard Gere, at the height of his hunkiness, plays a jazz musician working at New York’s notorious Cotton Club, who falls for a mobster’s girlfriend (Diane Lane), while in a parallel story Gregory Hines’ tap-dancing performer carries on a romance with a member of the club’s chorus line (Lonette McKee). In giving equal thrift to both sides of the racial divide Coppola casts a wider lens than a typical blockbuster historical piece – certainly one released in 1984 – aided in no small part by a vast cast of notables and John Barry’s era appropriate jazz score.
Gimme ShelterJuly 28, 2017
Documentary / 1970 / 91 minutes
The Maysles Brothers 1970 documentary detailing the Rolling Stones’ catastrophic benefit concert at San Francisco’s Altamont Speedway is one of the definitive book-closers on sixties countercultural idealism. What starts as a documentary of the band’s wildly successful 1969 tour devolves into a portentous confluence of bad omens, culminating in the most harrowing concert footage ever put to film as Hells Angels menace performers and peace-loving hippy trippers alike, building to a tragic, avoidable death. The Maysles’ capturing of the event feels almost prescient; the concert is mostly shown from behind the performers, keeping the viewer’s eye on the horror rather than the band. Still, some performance makes the final cut; Stones fans can at least catch in-their-prime versions of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Satisfaction” and a chilling “Sympathy for the Devil”.
The DuellistsJuly 28, 2017
War / 1977 / 100 minutes
Emerging from the world of TV commercials a fully-formed visionary, Ridley Scott’s 1977 The Duellists set the tone for his career, the sort of impeccably realized world-construction and attention to detail that would catapult him into the big leagues two years later with Alien. Set over a period of years during the reign of Napoleon, the story concerns a fervent Bonapartist (Harvey Keitel, stepping outside his usual wheelhouse) and the decades-spanning duel he is locked in with a fellow French officer (Keith Carradine).The passionate performances of the leads breathes life into Scott’s naturalistic, painterly images (influenced by Kubrick’s similarly themed Barry Lyndon and stunningly realized for a low budget endeavor), establishing early on the director’s unquestioned mastery of historical cinema, a genre he would return to again and again. With Albert Finney and Tom Conti.