The past week my film society DALLAS CINEMANIA was invited to participate as a “community sponsor” for the AFI DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FEST here in Big D. AFI has been more than generous and allowed me to spread my word to a few more people than would otherwise hear about it.
There have been tons of docs, short films and new releases. I got to co-host a screening of the new ’50s sci-fi send up ALIEN TRESPASS this past Saturday. I’m co-hosting a showing of Duncan (David Bowie’s son) Jones’ MOON starring Sam Rockwell tomorrow night. The word on the street is that it’s really quite good.
I love film and I took the opportunity to check out some screenings of vintage movies they’ve been showing (very rare here in Dallas). Friday I took off of work early to catch a 3pm showing of Billy Wilder’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY in 35mm! I was really excited to check this out as I’m a big Noir fan and DI is THE granddaddy of the genre (OK, maybe THE MALTESE FALCON is the grandad…DOUBLE INDEMNITY is the actual…dad). I had an festival badge that got me in and around the AMC Northpark pretty easily and I was the first one in the theater…which had me kind of worried as it was about 30 minutes to the screening. Eventually people starting coming in and before long there were about 30 to 40 folks. The guest was Fred MacMurray’s daughter Kate who ended up presenting the film and answered questions afterwards (I asked about Fred’s reaction to DI’s inclusion into Steve Martin’s DEAD MEN DON’T WEAR PLAID…apparently he loved it). My only quibble about the show — and it was not a minor quibble — was that the projectionist showed it in the wrong aspect ratio. The film was blown up to fill the entire widescreen cutting off information on the top and bottom and making the otherwise fine print sorta mushy and out-of-focus. Widescreen didn’t exist in 1944 when DI came out…and it’s practically heresy to see it presented this way. It’s akin to going over to some dingbat’s house who has a widescreen and insists that EVERYTHING must be shown as such, even if that means distorting and stretching the image to fill his Bravia or whatever.
I hung around Northpark Mall for the next couple hours before the 35th anniversary screening of CHINATOWN with special guest, screenwriter Robert Towne. I had actually watched the movie at home just a month prior, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see it on the big screen. The print was fantastic. Great color and sound. This is one movie that benefits from repeat viewings, no doubt. But the question and answer session between Towne and critic Richard Schikel was a bit much for me and I had to scoot out after about an hour.
Our co-hosted screening of ALIEN TRESPASS the next day was a hoot. I got to get up and give my spiel about DALLAS CINEMANIA and the audience loved the movie — which looked great, btw. It was a little silly for my tastes but it was fun. I’ll be curious to see how this one does on it’s initial release.
I showed up after work tonight to see, what was advertised as a 35mm screening of Howard Hawks’ GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. After standing in line for 30 minutes (and boy, was I thirsty), I finally got in with a bag of popcorn and Diet Coke only to be treated to a — ulp! — video presentation! No thanks. I quickly downed my popcorn and exited. It looked awful and the sound was horrendous. I felt sorry for the saps that actually paid money to see this. It’s wrong to advertise this as 35mm and then show a…I guess a DVD? It looked like a VHS! Shame on AFI Dallas for letting this one pass by. I was sad that I didn’t get to see a Technicolor print. Hell, we’re showing one April 23rd at the Angelika…Marlon Brando’s ONE-EYED JACKS. See ya there.