Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The More The Merrier

Hey, all you classic film buffs out there! Hey, all you folks who enjoy seeing films set in our very own city! Tomorrow’s TCM “Road to Hollywood” event is made just for you.

As companion events to its Classic Film Festival that’s taking place in Hollywood, Turner Classic Movies has organized several one-night-only screenings around the country, with each city showing a film set there. So, Bostonians can watch The Verdict, or Chicagoans can watch The Lady from Shanghai.

But we here in DC might be the luckiest of all! Tomorrow night at the Avalon Theatre, TCM will be showing The More The Merrier (1943). This classic of the screwball comedy genre stars the always hilarious Jean Arthur (whom you’ll recognize from that other DC-based classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and Joel McCrea, and features an Oscar-winning performance by Charles Coburn. They’re all jammed together in one tiny apartment, when DC was stuffed full to the gills with war workers and soldiers during World War II. Naturally, hijinks ensue!  If you’ve ever lived in those thousands of housing units that popped up all over the District and its immediate environs during the war, you’ll have a special appreciation.

The More The Merrier is hilarious, but it’s all in service of a great love story. It’s famous for one of the most romantic and sexy scenes in all of classic cinema:

We’ve all had a moment like that, right?  When you don’t want to say goodbye, or hang up the phone, or close the door at the end of the night.

The screening will be hosted by TCM’s weekend host, Ben Mankiewicz and George Stevens, Jr. Tickets can be downloaded for free here, but seating is limited and first-come, first served so get there early! I know I won’t miss it.

What’s Your Neighbor Renting?

Have you ever wondered what those noises coming from under the door of your neighbor down the hall really were?  Was he watching a Rob Zombie film, or trying to create a real zombie?  Well, the New York Times has created this awesome and engrossing interactive map of Netflix’ most rented films of 2009 to satisfy your curiosity!  You can check it out by zip code or by title.

Netflix Popularity Heat Map, courtesy NYT

Netflix Popularity Heat Map, courtesy NYT

While The Curious Case of Benjamin Button seems to have been near-universal in its appeal (that’s near-universal…it’s certainly not in my queue!), other films were…not so universal.  The different stats on Rachel Getting Married versus Lakeview Terrace, for example, provide an intriguing glimpse at the DC area’s demographics.

Truly fascinating!

Nine Lives of Marion Barry Finds New Relevence On HBO

nine-lives-of-marion-barryIt was only a week or two after viewing The Nine Lives Of Marion Barry at AFI Silverdocs earlier this summer, that the story told in the film took another turn. When Barry was arrested for stalking his mistress last month, I took in the event with new-found insight on the life of Marion Barry.

For youngsters like me, the former mayor of Washington DC is mostly known for scandal and drug use- the subject of many Weekend Update jokes. However to others Marion Barry was a civil rights leader, and the man who transformed some of the worst neighborhoods of Washington DC.

Fresh off it’s Silverdocs run, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry premiered on HBO this past Monday. The film directed by Dana Flor and produced by Toby Oppenheimer, intertwines Barry’s start in DC with his 2004 campaign for city council. The 78 minute profile depics Barry as a social leader who constantly battles scandal after scandal, but like the film’s title, manages to bounce back every time.

While film shows an inside look of Barry’s life, from riding down the streets of his Ward to his humble apartment in what looks like the middle of the projects, there’s nothing special with the production values- what really makes the film is the subject and story that is almost too spectacular to believe.

Before you write Barry’s latest scandal off, I encourage you to check out the film and learn more about where Barry truly came from- I assure you it’ll change what you originally thought of the current Ward 8 councilman and DC icon. The film is scheduled to re-air at various times throughout the month, check HBO for more details.

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

I know it’s hot outside, but don’t let that stop you.  Tonight’s entry in the Capitol Riverfront 80s Film Series is that classic story of star-crossed love and merengue, Dirty Dancing.

As a person who hails from the Catskill region, where the film is set (but was not actually filmed), I always get a kick out of this one.  Not to mention that it co-stars the inestimable Jerry Orbach, who was a pleasure to watch in anything he did, from Guys & Dolls to Law & Order.

The film will be shown at Tingey Plaza, near Nationals Park, starting when the sun goes down (about 8:45 PM).

In The Loop Takes Politics For A Spin

In The Loop

Peter Capaldi and James Gandolfini in "In The Loop" (Courtesy IFC Films)

Tomorrow night IFC Films will premiere In The Loop over at E-Street Cinema. The political farce originally premiered at Sundance in 2008 and I got a chance to check it out last Wednesday.

Much like many political blunders in DC, the film starts with a, “miscommunication” on England’s position on a “war in the middle east.” Secretary of State for International Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) makes a grave miscue during a radio interview that quickly spills out into the international political scene. The follies that follow paint the power struggles, political gaming, and diplomacy that could easily be ripped from the headlines. While the premise makes for a thrilling drama, the film takes on a much lighter tone, using the premise as a chance to poke some fun at how government works, not from the White House, but from the cubicles and offices where the rank and file get their work done.

Anybody that has ever worked for a government agency or knows someone that works in a government agency will easily relate and find In The Loop a witty and smart take on politics as usual.

The film is a spin-off of the BBC Comedy series, The Thick of It, a satire of the inner workings of a fictitious British government department, and features Peter Capaldi reprising his TV role of Malcolm Tucker. Tucker is an aggressive  Communications director who plays the role of enforcer to those that stray from the party line. His lack of tact and dirty language easily compares him to a certain Chief of Staff. That being said you probably don’t want to bring the children to this film.

In The Loop is the perfect film for Washingtonians (insider or not) to enjoy, it delivers laughs and makes you wonder if they wrote the script based on the DC Intern two cubes down from you.


In The Loop
E-Street Cinema
555 11th Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 452-7672

Before You Go To Screen On The Green Tonight…

Courtesy Flickr user Voteprime

Courtesy Flickr user Voteprime

Make sure you catch the tips offered by The Washingtonian, useful stuff especially for the newbie who’ve never camped out on The Mall before. The one tip I think they left out is the insider info on these weird dances I hear they do before the screening. I wouldn’t know- I still haven’t gone (I know I’m a loser.)

I’m enjoying  baseball game tonight so I hope the rest y’all have fun!

Arlington Drafthouse Bankrupt

photos-marquee1If Obama bails anybody else out this year, I hope it’s the Arlington Drafthouse.

The Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse has been a frequent destination of mine for cheap flicks and drinks. In fact I recently went there earlier this month to take in a screening of Adventureland. The place is a little out of the way in Arlington, located on Columbia Pike, a good distance from the Metro, but it always attracts crowds looking to enjoy the second-run screenings, stand-up comedy, or Redskins games during football season.

That being said, it was sad to learn that the Arlington Draft House has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the Washington Business Journal, “Arlington Cinema Inc. listed assets of less than $100,000 and debt between $1 million and $10 million.” The report cites that the biggest chunk of that change is $5 million owed to landlord of the Montgomery Drafthouse, the failed expansion that was closed seven months ago.

While the lawyers representing the Drafthouse say that operations will continue under reorganization, I hope that the Arlington Drafthouse remains open for years to come. Like drive-in movies, the Drafthouse represents a unique movie-going experience that provides a needed alternative to the commercial monsters of AMC and Regal.

With everyone so down in the dumps over the economy we need entertainment more than ever, and that’s the value The Arlington Drafthouse provides to Arlington and the community.

Screen On The Green 2009 Schedule Released

closeencounters-introI was excited to break the news that Screen On The Green will be back this year, and now we have confirmation on the four film schedule that starts on Monday July 20th and will run on Mondays til August 10th:

Looks like the film slate will mirror the Bryant Park’s Screen on the Green series also sponsored by HBO as rumored earlier in the Post. For more information check out the festival’s official website.

SilverDocs 2009: Interview With Facing Ali Producer Derik Murray

I also had the chance to talk with Facing Ali producer Derik Murray, you can listen to the poorly recorded phone interview here (hey I’m a blogger- not an audio engineer!)

In the interview Murray talks about his past work doing Hockey films, “you’re based in Vancouver, you’re based in Canada and you don’t do Hockey- you don’t get a lot of work.”

He also talks about his relationship with director Peter McCormack and how the two came together to make Facing Ali a reality. Besides McCormack, Murray put together a dedicated crew, “the people I select to work on the project were passionate about and they never left my side… they are passionate about the project to this day,” and tackled the challenge of contacting families and acquiring the archival footage that em compasses the majority of the film. Murray says after SilverDocs, the film will be going to LA and NY and with luck it could reach a wider audience release.

Facing Ali premiered to a sold out crowd at SilverDocs last week, for those that haven’t had a chance to see it can catch it tonight as the festival wraps up.


Facing Ali
Showing at AFI SilverDocs
Monday June 22nd, 8:00 PM
AFI Silver Theater

SilverDocs 2009: Q&A With The Filmmakers Of "The Shutdown"

shutdownThis past week I met Scottish filmmakers Adam Stafford and Peter Gerard. They were excited to have their short The Shutdown, screen earlier at SilverDocs. The piece is described as, “a mesmerizing portrait of the influence of an oil refinery in a Scottish town.” What really interested me was the fact two quarter-lifers were already running a production company making films, so we exchanged some e-mails and here’s a little Q&A I had with the duo:

Patrick: Reading Adam’s Q&A on SilverDocs it looks like you’ve always wanted to be involved and work in film- what led you two to choose this kind of career?
Adam Stafford: To me it’s not a career; there are career film makers, but for me it’s something more than that, it’s a case of finding the truth and the narrative and bringing the two together. It’s a case of pushing the framing of the images to a point of unacceptability. Werner Herzog said you should work as a bouncer at a sex club or a car park attendant to raise money to make films. I work as an operator for the emergency services to raise funds to make mine, and that won’t stop until someone comes along and offers us money for the next project. Until then, I will work and build up my projects from the dirt.

Patrick: You talked to me last night about the unique story and approach of The Shutdown, but what do you hope audiences walk away with after they see your short?

Adam Stafford: With a sense of something that they’ve never seen before: a documentary featuring no people, but with a stunning narrative coupled with a soundtrack of ambient drone and pink smoke.

Patrick: I also commented talked how I was impressed that two young guys like yourself decided to start a production company and push stuff out there- what led you two to decide to form this group of artists? This kind of work isn’t guaranteed to pay at all and I’m sure it’s not the 9-5 job that most people do after college…

Peter Gerard: I started Accidental Media while I was still in high school in Missouri. I moved to Scotland in 2000 and eventually turned Accidental Media into a full-on production company with a focus on documentaries, short films, and innovative shorts. “The Shutdown” is our first collaboration with Adam and we see a lot of potential in developing his talents along with his collaborator, the writer Alan Bissett.

Patrick: What kind of advice would you give a person looking to get into film making but doesn’t exactly know where to start?

Peter Gerard: Always start with a good story, and make sure it’s well told. It’s also essential to create a film with cinematic beauty. There are too many films these days that ignore visual aesthetics, and really that’s what film making is all about.

Adam Stafford: I agree with the above. But I would also recommend just watching films. Don’t sit around reading books about how you should construct a narrative, or how this person did that, or what this person recommends you to do to better yourself as a filmmaker. Watch films by the masters! Go out and experiment and then decide for yourself! Listen to every kind of weird music! Look at art and photography! Read Richard Brautigan, William Burroughs and Flannery O’Conner. You can be as surreal and as experimental as you like, as long as there is an honesty in your vision.

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