DC Film Beat: Metro Area Cinema for 5 June – 12 June

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The film of the week for all you D.C.’ians (that sounds right) is playing at the West End Cinema – it’s Children of Paradise, director Marcel Carné’s seminal tragic romance.  Now, you may be asking, “Why, Josh, should I be interested in seeing a nearly seventy-year-old flick (in black and white, no less) on the big screen when it’s readily available on DVD and VHS?”

To which I would answer: Because it’s a great movie, and because you can’t watch it on DVD/VHS; both are out-of-print, so it might be a little harder than you think scoring a copy, Mr. Smarty Pants.

In all seriousness, we must yearn to see Children of Paradise in theaters because it’s the most fitting stage for Carné’s masterwork of love and woe.  He turns the relationship between two struggling actors into something vital and operatic; TV just doesn’t have the force to convey the emotions on display.

Unless you have a 65+ inch flatscreen at home.  That would certainly do it.  But I’ll do you one better in service to the West End: the theater is showcasing a newly restored print of Children of Paradise, which you won’t get on the small screen until the Criterion Collection graces the format with an HD version later this year.  Could be much later, so don’t wait it out.

Click HERE for more on the West End and Children of Paradise.

Next up, the AFI Silver is still cycling through its Jack Nicholson retrospective, and they’ve lit on two of his most underrated features. The Postman Always Rings Twice is the second movie adaptation of James M. Cain’s classic noir novel, and it reunites Nicholson with his Five Easy Pieces and The King of Marvin Gardens director, Bob Rafelson.  Their version is profane (David Mamet wrote the script) and sexually explicit, with some shocking love scenes between Nicholson and Jessica Lange.  It’s also (in my humble opinion) pretty great, swapping out the ambiguity of the 1945 James Garfield picture for cold, hard (pun intended) realism.

Better still is Nicholson’s work in the little-seen 1982 drama The Border.  The movie still feels frighteningly relevant; Nicholson plays a border patrol officer who hates the hypocrisy behind his job.  He can no longer stomach deporting illegal immigrants while the unscrupulous American businessmen who exploit these people face no legal setbacks, and this moral outrage sends Nicholson on a path of righteous, dangerous action.  This is Jack as you’ve never seen him before, his ample charisma turned down to a low and thrilling simmer.

Check out the AFI Silver’s programming roster HERE.

Finally, we end the day, as I often hope to, with Wes Anderson at the E Street and Bethesda Row Landmarks.  His new film, Moonrise Kingdom, focuses on the often-fraught relationship between two twelve-year-old kids who flee their summer camp to be together.  Because it’s Anderson, you can expect frightfully precise screen compositions, perfect needle drop selections, and an eclectic cast that includes Bill Murray (natch!), Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman (double natch!), Bob Balaban, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, and Mr. Whimsy Himself, Bruce Willis.  This is Wes’ first live-action work since 2007’s disappointing The Darjeeling Limited; here’s hoping this one skews more towards Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Get quirky HERE.

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has finally premiered (overseas, that is), and online critics are finally weighing in on it.  Most surprising detail gleaned: I did not expect that Alf would be our alien progenitor.

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