Rio Bravo: Take a Long Ride With Chance, The Colorado Kid, and the Dude…

rio_bravoLook, there’s no two ways about it: Leslie Halliwell, the English film critic, once described Rio Bravo as “cheerfully overlong”, and he was right. You want a tight, economical, brutal Western, one that doesn’t waste time and kicks you from your seat 80 minutes after the opening credits? That was Ride Lonesome, a few weeks back. Thursday night at the Heights, as part of our wonderful Howard Hawks series, we’re screening Rio Bravo, all 141 glorious minutes. Like a lot of Hawks’ movies, this one is about character. It’s about people talking. Sure, it’s got its gunplay and its chases and fisticuffs and Angie Dickinson dressed all sexy, but this thing meanders like the Mississippi River. And that’s what’s so damn great about it.

The plot is nothing new: bad guys are coming to the town of Rio Bravo, and John Wayne’s sheriff John T. Chance has to stop them. He is aided, pretty much against his better interests (and despite his complaints), by a drunk, Dude (or Borrachón, which is ‘drunk’ in Spanish)played by Dean Martin; by a Colorado Ryan, who is also a crooner, and played by TV heartthrob Ricky Nelson, of ABC’s  Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; and by an old dude named Stumpy, played with near toothless glee by Walter Brennan, who was lucky to live in a time when there were roles a-plenty for guys like him. Angie Dickinson’s Feathers is on hand to show off her acting chops (she’s fantastic, and has brilliant comic timing), and to show the world that John Wayne has no romantic chemistry at all. I mean, none.

Rio Bravo shouldn’t work. There’s so much talking, so much lovely, lovely talking. Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin both sing. That makes no sense, but it works. In fact, every God damn thing in this movie works. The sets, the  bad guy (who has a lot in common with the heroes as it turns out), the final dynamite showdown, the songs. This is where John Wayne learned to be funny, which served him really, really well. Imagine the camaraderie that supposedly makes those Ocean’s 11 movies work (so they say), and marvel here at how smoothly this can go, how sheer personality–but in service to well-written characters in a nice plot–can carry a film.

This movie also works in spite of its more nefarious motives. Hawks, a noted right-winger (along with John Wayne, natch), loathed the critically acclaimed High Noon, which was seen as a parable for the McCarthy witch-hunts. Wayne, in fact, gloated that he was proud to have run Noon’s screenwriter, Carl Foreman, out of town. Supposedly, Hawks scoffed that it was cowardly for the sheriff in High Noon to go around begging for help. “I didn’t think a good sheriff was going to go running around town like a chicken with his head off asking for help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him. That isn’t my idea of a good western sheriff,” he was noted as saying. Thus, he wanted to make a good movie about a “good western sheriff”, and Rio Bravo was it.

This strikes me as weird for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that in Rio Bravo, Wayne’s sheriff does get help, from an old man and a drunk, for cryin’ out loud. Secondly, Hawks typically didn’t rely on heroes who worked solo–usually his movies are ensemble numbers, or feature stars who work within a group, a team of heroes (usually men), struggling together. Third, High Noon stars Gary Cooper, a noted right-winger himself, and a friend of Howard Hawks, who worked in two of the director’s movies, and won an Oscar in one of them (Sergeant York.)

None of this matters because Rio Bravo is wonderful (and a hell of a lot more appealing to me than the dry High Noon) and worth seeing, especially in this restored digital edition. One show only, at 7:30 Thursday night, and tickets are available here.

 

Daimajin Inaugurates Giant Monsters Month at the Trylon!

wrath_of_daimajin_poster_01Monster movie fans! Godzilla, Mothra, Daimajin have finally arrived! Our GIANT MONSTERS ALL OUT ATTACK series is tearing through this city, crushing the model skyscrapers that are this year’s crappy summer movie fare!

Sorry to be so hyperbolic, but we really… oh screw this, you know, and I know, and we all know, that this is just about the coolest motherfucker we’ve programmed in our history. No, no, you don’t have to say a thing. You’re welcome.

This cavalcade of monsters begins tonight and tomorrow with Daimajin, which, in the words of Kathie Smith, who wrote our blurb: “Part samurai action and part supernatural daikaiju, this story of a vengeful god strikes a more serious tone than most monster movies. This spirit in the form of a giant stone warlord comes to life just in time to save the innocent villagers and destroy the evil doers!”

What are going to do, watch Pacific Rim again? Get in here, for Christ’s sake!

Daimajin shows tonight and tomorrow (Monday and Tuesday) at 7:00 and 8:45, tickets available here.

 

 

THE “LOST” WORLD OF PIERRE ETAIX

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Imagine if one of your favorite film comedians–Jacques Tati, Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis–had somehow, inexplicably, vanished from cinema history. All of a sudden, no Jour de Fête, no Steamboat Bill, no Disorderly Orderly (maybe that last one’s not such a bad idea.) They’d been popular films, hilarious, brought joy and surprise into your life, and then–wait a minute!–you realize you haven’t heard a single thing about the performer. What has it been, ten years?

That’s just about the story of Pierre Etaix (say it ay-TEX!) A gag writer for Tati, he set out on his own, and like the screwball comet Preston Sturges, blasted out four incredible movies from 1962-1969 that are little masterpieces–The Suitor, Yoyo (which is quite an epic), As Long As You’ve Got Your Health, and Le Grand Amour, plus a strange and lovely documentary called Land of Milk and Honey from 1971. Like Tati, his characters are graceful romantics, bumbling about in a world that baffles them as much as they perplex the world at large. Not only hilarious, the world of Pierre Etaix is also damned beautiful.

The Trylon is screening these five great movies this month, and we really hope you’ll check out these lost classics, especially since each is on 35mm film that has been beautifully restored by our friends at Janus.

The Suitor plays this weekend, 7:00 & 9:00 Friday and Saturday, and 5:00 & 7:00 on Sunday. Purchase tickets here.

 

Does “The Big Sleep” Prove That Hawks Was Our Greatest Director?

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I actually don’t think there’s an answer to the above question, though I do love The Big Sleep. In my mind, Sleep is a remarkable movie thanks to the fact that Hawks and screenwriters William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett made it their own. None of this “we have to put the words up there on the big screen”, no, this is a fun, sexy, slightly violent comedy (probably a disappointment to the bloodthirsty patrons lured in by the poster at the top) that is vastly different from Raymond Chandler’s sad, dark, fatalistic hardboiled detective story.

One thing: this movie sure is bookish. Faulkner wrote the script, it takes place in a library and two bookstores (yeah, one sells porn, but at least they’re reading.) And dig this trailer! See what reading’ll get you? A life of intrigue and a sexy book dealer who happens to have a hidden bottle…

THE BIG SLEEP plays tonight at 7:30 at the Heights Theatre. Tickets available at the box office, and Take-Up Productions punch cards are good there as well.

Don’t forget to check out all the movies in our Howard Hawks Series, each Thursday night at 7:30!

Del Toro’s Masterpiece Tonight and Tomorrow at the Trylon

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Del Toro’s passionate fan base may take umbrage at this post’s heading, but Pan’s Labyrinth certainly pushed the heretofore comic book/horror auteur into the critical spotlight. Labyrinth won three Oscars, was nominated for three more, and was actually upset at the Academy Awards when it failed to garnish Best Foreign Language Film (The Lives of Others walked away with that one instead.)

Creeping into the realm of the political, Pan’s Labyrinth brilliantly examines what appears on its surface to be a very simple question: what is horror? Here, the creatures and insects that frighten young Ofelia (Ivana Boquero) in the night become her allies, and also give way to the very real terror of her Fascist stepfather, Captain Vidal (Sergei López), a vile and vicious soldier who seems to enjoy tormenting both his enemies and his own family. So when you wonder to yourself about vampires and ogres and other beasts of the imagination, stop and remind yourself that Spain’s brutal Fascists actually won that war… and remained in power over three decades after this story took place. Ask yourself: how many Ofelia’s (and others) were hurt in those awful years? Makes the creatures of imagination seem a bit less menacing, doesn’t it?

In it’s examination of childhood fears and responsibilities, the film reminds me very much of Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter, albeit with a bunch of awesome special effects.

Pan’s Labyrinth screens Monday, July 29 and Tuesday, July 30 at 7:00 and 9:15pm. Advance tickets are available.

Sweet Smell of Success This Weekend at the Trylon

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Sweet Smell of Success (1957), directed by Alexander Mackendrick, written by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, and starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Showtimes: Friday and Saturday, 7:00 & 9:00; Sunday, 5:00 & 7:00. Purchase Tickets Here.

Review by Trylon volunteer David Berglund, who writes about the movies with his wife, Chelsea Berglund, at their Movie Matrimony blog.

With vibrant and confident strokes, Alexander Mackendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success captures the concurrent excitement and angst of life in an immense, overcrowded, and treacherous American metropolis. According to Mackendrick, the allure of the city is rooted in success and power. The film deftly displays that such pursuits are fraught with the temptations of pride, and the consequences of loneliness and anxiety. It is a warning to all prospective urban socialites that the road to glory is frequently marked by the abuse of inferiors and ends with an existential void.

Success tells the story of J.J. Hunsecker (a devilish turn from Burt Lancaster), a powerful gossip columnist, who uses the influence of his position to manipulate press agent Sidney Falco (a harried Tony Curtis) into being the middleman of a plot to halt his younger sister’s marriage to a lowly jazz musician. Hunsecker finds no joy in his work. He is simply a businessman who has found a rich and limitless market–the lives of others. In the words of King Solomon, “The words of gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” And with any such deep-seated urge, there is always a business opportunity to be exploited by those not tempted by its charms. Hunsecker’s industry is ironically impersonal, dispassionately dealing in the most personal realities of other lives. As with the darkest aspects of corporate America, his end goal is not money, but the esteem and respect this money brings.

Yet, just as Solomon succumbed to the wiles of his vices, Hunsecker also carries a fitting tragic flaw and falls into the snare of his own success. He, too, seeks for meaning and purpose in the lives of others, but unlike his readers, cannot escape the spotlight. As a gossip columnist thriving on the unseemly secrets of others, he must avoid having any secrets of his own. His attempts to control his sister indicate a deeper, more widespread dilemma – there is no rest when relying on others for contentment. For Hunsecker, this means a foolish desire for control that fuels an insatiable thirst for power, and for everyone else, this means they better watch their backs.

It is fitting that a British director would be able to tackle such an American story, for it is many times the outsider who has the best vantage point.  Mackendrick’s big city and its sensationalistic media outlets represent an insulating force that feeds on the deception of vanity and swiftly blinds its inhabitants to the needs of others.  Yet, there is something universal to learn from this – everyone, whether urban or rural, has felt the compulsion to find their worth in others.  The intrinsic sarcasm of the film’s title answers with a bold indictment – if success is defined in the admiration of others, the pursuit will only bring a bitter outcome.

Page One: Inside the New York Times this weekend at the Trylon

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This weekend, get an up close and personal look at the nation’s biggest, and some say best, newspaper, the august New York Times. Page One: Inside the New York Times is a thrilling documentary about the paper’s stuggles with the advent of online journalism, and specifically when the Times ran a story using material from the controversial website, Wikileaks. Sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, this is one flick that news junkies won’t want to miss!

Shows Friday and Saturday, 7:00 and 8:45; Sunday at 5:00 and 6:45. Get tickets here.

“It’s not quite the same thrill as glimpsing the man behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz, but for journalism junkies, the fascination of Page One: Inside The New York Times is something like that.” –Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwTMFXgf95c

Trash Film Debauchery’s Theresa Kay Defends the Indefensible

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You know all about The Defenders, the Trylon’s secret movie show, right? A noted local personality chooses a movie that is, well, near and dear to their hearts, while maybe not so near and dear to the hearts of the world at large. You pay your dough, wait for the movie, and then–Surprise!–it’s something amazing or something awful and when it’s done, the personality defends the living heck out of it. There’s been some doozies in the past, whose titles I’ll keep to myself, but we’ve seen movies involving heists, dragons, boxing, Barbara Streisand (ugh), exploding cappuccinos, fighting octopi, man-babies, Sharon Stone, Russian devils, and quite a bit of stomach-turning sex. How’s that suit you?

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Twin Cities Summer Movie Calendar

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While we love showing movies at the Trylon, we also enjoy checking out the cinematic goings-on around this movie-happy town. As you probably know, we often partner with the Heights and Riverview to show movies, but our pals at the Landmark theaters in town also have some great titles coming to the Uptown, Lagoon, and Edina moviehouses. So, when you’re not taking in our lineup of awesome Japanese monster movies, check out some of these as well, wouldya? Continue reading

Sign Painters at the Trylon!

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Tonight and tomorrow at the Trylon! The wonderful documentary Sign Painters, from directors Faythe Levine and Sam Macon, details the almost lost world of the sign painter. But did you know that one of the country’s best lives in the Trylon’s neighborhood? Yes, Phil Vandervoort, who made that beautiful Trylon microcinema and Moon Palace signs out back is a longtime resident of the Wonderland Park ‘hood, and is featured in the film, and in this lovely book.

Monday night, the directors will be present to discuss the movie and sign copies of their book, which are being sold by Moon Palace. Both 7:00 shows are SOLD OUT, and tonight’s 9:00 show is sure to follow suit. Get your tickets for Tuesday’s 9:00 show here.