Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Changes at the Charles

It should be noted that the nine o'clock round of film screenings on Mondays and Tuesdays at the Charles has been cut, starting this week. So, if you show up and the doors are locked, there is a reason.

Also, handmade posters for a series of midnight movies have been placed in the lobby of the theater. Robocop, Back to the Future, and Home Alone are the chosen films. They will be shown on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight over weekends in December. I did not jot down the order, but will edit when the information becomes available.

These three are certainly not traditional "midnight movie" picks. They may reflect the tastes of the current crop of college students who would be in a position to make it out to such screenings. Have such films been screened in New York and Los Angeles in such a way sucessfully? I am curious to know.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Film Exhibition in Baltimore (October 2008)

One thing I would like to improve upon in the future would be my coverage of other revivals and film series in Baltimore city. You would think that this aspect of Baltimore begins and ends with the Charles and the (gone but not forgotten) BMA series. There is more going around town, needless to say.

For example, there is a series at the Enoch Pratt Free Library which has been unearthing prints from their extensive archive and exhibiting them for free for some time. I have found the schedule a bit difficult to follow, but things seem to happen mostly on Saturdays, often putting the series in conflict with other things going on around town for me.

This Saturday, their "RARE REELS: The Best Films You've Never Seen" series will be showing a print of Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight), a film worth the time of any Orson Welles admirer or Shakespeare film buff. The film screens at the Central Branch on Saturday, November 15th at 2PM. Go here to learn more.

Another series I have been meaning to say more about would be the Fall Film series at MICA, with which the Maryland Film Festival is involved. I rarely make it out to this one as Tuesday nights are bad for me, but have made the time in the past for a Fassbinder series and the occasional film unavailable on the big screen anywhere else. The series this year has played a number of noteworthy films so far, and will be ending with two excellent selections.

I saw Medicine for Melancholy at the 2008 Maryland Film Festival, and have attempted to advocate heartily for the film ever since. Many more people know who Wyatt Cenac is now than they did then, as his star is clearly on the rise. The film is the best take on gentrification, modern love, and racial identity to come down the pike in a long time. The film screens Tuesday, November 18th, at 7:30.

The MICA series concludes on Tuesday, December 2nd at 7:30 with a screening of local gem Hamilton. The director, Matt Porterfield, will be in attendance. I have had the opportunity to see the film twice now, and have took away different things each time. As a former resident of that Baltimore neighborhood, I am astounded and inspired by the lyrical richness that the filmmaker has drawn from Baltimore workaday realities. As a filmgoer, I am proud that such an accomplished work has come from my hometown, something that can stand up next to the best work of Malick and Van Sant. If you haven't seen it yet, I say go for it.

In other news, the change at the Senator I spent so much time scrutinizing may be finally coming to some kind of frutiion. Several benefits are being held to help pay for the conversion of the Senator to a "not for profit" entity. The impact of this decision is hard to predict until the details emerge, but it hard for me to see the place operating in the manner that it has been once such a change comes to pass.

Also, we are back to "grab bag" revivals at the Charles, beginning with a screening of a restored print of Rosemary's Baby this Saturday, November 15th, at noon. After that, who knows?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Films Viewed (October 2008)

The Miracle of Morgan's Creek
I Served the King of England
Hail the Conquering Hero
Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist
Frozen River
Miracle at St. Anna
Momma's Man
Sunshine for Shady People
Easy Living
Passions Just Like Mine
Mall Crawlers
The Great McGinty
Sex Drive
The Charles
The Senator/ The Rotunda
The Landmark
Other (DVD, Suburban Multiplex, Wind-Up Space)
Total: 14 features, 2 short films (13 in theaters)
Notes: September turned into October so quickly I almost marked off Bill Mahr's film essay Religulous on the ledger for last month. The film, a scathing indictment of organized religion, had me highly entertained until the last few minutes, when the gut punch was delivered in no uncertain terms.
I spent quite a lot of time at Charles taking in their retrospective of the films of Preston Sturges in which the greatest hits as well as lesser known works were screened. Many films were checked off the list over the course of the month. The last film in the series screens this Saturday, and I do wonder what is next. Will we be getting another series with a clear thesis, or are we in store for another "grab bag" of great prints? I am game for either.
Quality films like Frozen River, Momma's Man, and (the overlong, still worthwhile) Miracle at St. Anna made quick bows but were worth catching. Michael Sragow championed two other films that came and went without me getting a chance to check them out. His article on the realities of current arthouse economics was appreciated.
The Windup Space screened a documentary investigating the phenomenon of Morrissey's fervent Latino fanbase entitled Passions Just Like Mine. I was glad to get a chance to see it, and hope that film screenings continue at the Windup. I also checked out Mall Crawlers by local filmmaker N.O. Smith, which featured the music of Human Host. It is available for sale at local music shops, and I would say it is worth tracking down if you have ever felt profoundly alienated at Towson Town Center.
One true oddity was Quigley, a movie that defies description. Essentially, Gary Busey plays a mean person who is brought back to earth after his apparent death as a cute, furry dog whose mission it is to right the wrongs for which he was responsible. Maybe clips will help? Totally mind-bending and available for rent at the Charles Village Video Americain in the New (to Us) section, if it has not been moved to the Cult Film section yet.
Up next, something to say about film exhibition in general this past month, as well as some great opportunities to see some little-seen films making the rounds of distribution.