David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg’s THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (1976). Courtesy BFI.
“Are you Lithuanian?” After a space craft seemingly crashes to Earth, David Bowie walks off to sell a ring for twenty bucks in a dusty Southwestern town, then almost immediately hires high-priced, thick-spectacled patent attorney (Graduate screenwriter Buck Henry) to register ten world-changing patents. Orange-haired, pale-faced, minimally expressioned Bowie (the pop legend obviously well-cast as an alien in his first starring role) desperately yearns to return himself and water to his parched planet — but will the authorities let him? — with coed-shtupping professor Rip Torn providing technical help, and chambermaid Candy Clark providing distractions via overdoses of very terrestrial booze, church, sex, and television (“Get out of my mind, all of you!”). Roeg’s science fiction cult classic/cautionary moral tale is an assault of fragmented, non-linear narrative style, typically striking visuals, echt 70s soundtrack by John Phillips of The Mamas and Papas (along with period “needle drops”), with a pathbreaking no-comment depiction of a gay couple and multiple eye-brow-raising sexual romps — including one punctuated by gunshots. All too often seen in washed-out copies, this new 35mm print of the uncut director’s version allows Roeg’s dazzling visuals (Pauline Kael called him “the most visually seductive of directors”) to be seen as they were meant to be. [site]
Roman Polanski has, over the course of a half century, become recognized as one of the great modern masters of the cinema. Many of his films are infused with a mysterious, difficult-to-define sense of dread, which is understandable given much of his early life experience. Polanski’s parents were sent to a concentration camp, where his mother died, and he lived as a fugitive Jewish teenager in Nazi-occupied Poland. His 1984 autobiography begins, “For as far back as I can remember, the line between fantasy and reality has been hopelessly blurred,” and his films use the fantastical elements of cinema to make sense of the extraordinary reality he has experienced. Roman Polanski, a film retrospective at the NY MoMA, will run from September 7 to September 30.
A lost 1920s Alfred Hitchcock film that provides clues into the legendary director’s early working style has been discovered in New Zealand, archivists said on Wednesday. Recently uncovered film “The White Shadow” features a 24 year-old Hitchcock’s work as a writer, assistant director, art director and editor. The film was first released in 1924. It is considered to be the earliest surviving feature film in which Hitchcock received a credit, according to the U.S.-based National Film Preservation Foundation. Only the first three of the movie’s six reels survive. That adds to the movie’s mystery, which some film buffs see as fitting for Hitchcock, because he was famous for creating mysterious stories full of suspense.
Timothy Leary and Neal Cassady in MAGIC TRIP, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo © Allen Ginsberg, CORBIS.
right: Ken Kesey in MAGIC TRIP. Photo © Ted Streshinsky, CORBIS. right: The Bus in MAGIC TRIP. Photo © Ted Streshinsky, CORBIS.
In 1964, Ken Kesey, the famed author of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” set off on a legendary, LSD-fuelled cross-country road trip to the New York World’s Fair. He was joined by “The Merry Band of Pranksters,” a renegade group of counterculture truth-seekers, including Neal Cassady, the American icon immortalized in Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and the driver and painter of the psychedelic Magic Bus. Kesey and the Pranksters intended to make a documentary about their trip, shooting footage on 16MM, but the film was never finished and the footage has remained virtually unseen. With MAGIC TRIP, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney and Alison Ellwood were given unprecedented access to this raw footage by the Kesey family. They worked with the Film Foundation, HISTORY and the UCLA Film Archives to restore over 100 hours of film and audiotape, and have shaped an invaluable document of this extraordinary piece of American history. Magic Trip opens this month.
In 1946, Norma Jean, later known as Marilyn Monroe, starred along side an anonymous actor in a 6 minute long nudie flick. In the possession of a Spanish collector, no one knew of the film’s existence, until he died, and now his children have decided to auction it off. It is now on sale for a base price of half a million dollars and will premier this August at the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival in Argentina.
Leo (John Gilbert) kisses Felicitas (Greta Garbo) in Flesh and the Devil (1926)
Glamour of the Gods is a celebration of Hollywood portraiture from the industry’s ‘Golden Age’, the period 1920 to 1960. From Greta Garbo and Clark Gable to Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe, it is these portraits that transformed actors and actresses into international style icons. In many cases these are the career-defining images of Hollywood’s greatest names and help to illustrate their enduring appeal. Featuring over 70 photographs, most of which are exquisite vintage prints displayed for the first time, the exhibition is drawn from the extraordinary archive of the John Kobal Foundation and demonstrate photography’s decisive role in creating and marketing the stars central to the Hollywood mystique. Now on view at the National Portrait Gallery in London until October 23. www.npg.org.uk
A new exhibition at the Musée de l’Elysée reveals the sources of Fellini’s inspiration. Focussing on Fellini’s work through his obsessions by presenting the images that inspired him, those of which he dreamed and those he brought to life, Fellini, la Grande parade provides a new point of view on the maestro’s work. www.elysee.ch
It seems as though even California’s leading university is accepting pornography as art as UCLA currently exhibits a nearly month long retrospective of films by the legendary art house pornographer Radley Metzger–famous for such films as The Opening of Misty Beethoven and Therese and Isabelle. www.happenings.ucla.com
“Patti Astor” Photo by and courtesy of Maripol from Blank City