A handful of fun events happening in the city this week, so let’s get right down to it.
Tuesday, August 13th: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans on Blu-ray
Available online here.
This is one of the best movies ever made. As simple as that. Originally only available on DVD as part of a Oscar-winning collection (so involved due to its netting a special Oscar for “Unique and Artistic Production” at the inaugural Academy Awards), this is the first time stateside we’re getting the opportunity to see F.W. Murnau’s visually astonishing masterwork on Blu-ray. Operating on an elemental level, the film follows Man (George O’Brien) and Wife (Janet Gaynor) as their idyllic country life is fractured by the arrival of Margaret Livingston’s Woman from the City. Man is tempted into an affair with her, and a plan is hatched to kill Wife in order for them to be together. To spoil where the movie goes from there would be folly; I’ll only say it moves unexpectedly, and with an immense emotional power. If you haven’t seen this movie yet (currently sitting on the BFI top 100 list at #5!), do yourself a favor and pick up this Blu-ray.
Wednesday, August 14th: Road to Morocco
7:30 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.) @ Charles Allis Art Museum ($7/5/free for General Admission/Seniors and Students/Museum members)
Charles Allis’ Bing Crosby film series is now making its way towards the Hope and Crosby road comedies (perhaps we can convince the Times to run an Ishtar midnight screening concurrently in celebration?) and they’re starting with one of the best: after making their way across desert on camel, Bing sells Bob into slavery for a quick buck to Dorothy Lamour’s luscious princess who has designs on marrying him. Bing soon discovers sinister intentions behind these nuptials and works towards stopping them. Filled with great songs and even greater chemistry, Road to Morocco is a great window into one of the great cinematic comedy duos of our time.
Thursday, August 15th: Starship Troopers (Rifftrax Live!)
7:00 PM @ Marcus Majestic Cinema, Marcus North Shore, Marcus Ridge and Marcus South Shore ($12.50, purchase tickets here)
I love the Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys, and am very happy that their work has found a posthumous existence in its wake through Rifftrax and Cinematic Titanic. I’m very happy to present this one-night-only event for you to check out, but I feel as though I have to present it with a caveat. Starship Troopers is one of the great acts of cinematic subversion in American mainstream movie-making history; Paul Verhoven managed a miracle here, sneaking his political allegory so snugly and overtly into this tale of a fascist future that people interpreted a movie 100 percent assured of its own doings (look no further that the pitch-perfect casting of the most vacuous young leads humanly possible) as being a vacuous summer blockbuster instead of a supremely exciting and witty refutation both of the jingoistic impulse and the cinema that celebrates it. So again, I’m sure the Rifftrax guys will have a field day with this movie, but also know that the movie itself is completely aware of what its doing (Nazi Neil Patrick Harris!!!) and deserves a modern reappraisal from any who think otherwise.
Friday, August 16th: Kick-Ass 2
Opens wide, check local listings for showtimes and prices
The first Kick-Ass was a fun summer movie surprise: a violent and colorful look at what might happen if young people suddenly decided to ‘suit up’ and embrace vigilantism to rid the streets of crime was bolstered by kinetic energy (Matthew Vaughn, director of X-Men: First Class and Stardust, and one of the most underrated directors of perfectly solid genre film working today) and some wonderfully bonkers performances (none more so than Nicholas Cage’s Big Daddy, with his Adam West voice and emanating genuine paternal warmth). Kick-Ass 2 has unfortunately lost Vaughn from the director’s chair; substituting Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down’s Jeff Wadlow, a definite step down and reason for pause. I’ll have a review up later this week to see if it lives up to its predecessor.
Friday, August 16th: Hot Fuzz*
Midnight @ Times Cinema ($4!)
Get ready for the imminent release of the last film in the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost triumvirate’s Cornetto Trilogy with this midnight screening of their second cinematic collaboration, the magnificent Hot Fuzz. Pegg plays Sergeant Nicholas Angel, reassigned to the sleepy countryside village of Sanford in an effort to hide the supreme efficacy that has been making the London police force look bad. Teaming up with Frost’s Danny Butterman to uncover the truth behind a series of grisly murders mistaken for accidents, Hot Fuzz is a wonderful celebration and refutation of the buddy cop blockbuster formula, all the way down to its thoroughly polite dust-up of a conclusion where, for all its carnage and mayhem, nobody actually dies!
Pegg and Frost are my favorite modern comedic duo and when they work together with Edgar Wright, magic occurs. I will argue vehemently for Shaun of the Dead as being the best movie of the aughts, and Hot Fuzz is a wonderful continuation of their amazing attention to detail, crafting screenplays that establish the premise briskly and proceed to deliver a series of payoffs by each film’s end that leave you awed by their ability to craft immaculate narrative. Must see in order to gear up for The World’s End dropping on Aug. 23rd.
That’s all for this week, happy movie-going!
Main image courtesy of Kick Ass 2.