Monday, February 1, 2010

40 Years, 40 Movies Wrap up

What a month! We exceeded 201 for our total attendance, far more than I had ever imagined might partake in our foolish errand when we came up with the idea last summer. I'd love to read any comments you have - whether you attended or followed along at home. Please feel free to post them to this article.

Not really knowing what to expect, my personal goal was to have at least one other person with me for  each and every screening. And while Vonna was prepared to join me in the event that I was alone for any screening, we never had to resort to that (she was able to watch only the films she really wanted to see). To average 4 other attendees for every screening was a huge success. 

I knew I would enjoy myself, as we were lined up to watch 40 of my personal favorite films. But even more than that, I was looking forward to finding out what other people's favorites were in our line-up, as well as the opportunity to introduce folks to some great films they may not have seen on the big screen, if at all.

Special recognition goes out to Kyle, who not only was present for the majority of the films in the series, but who also made an effort to watch those films he wasn't able to see during the series at home. I think at last count, he was only down 2001: A Space Odyssey... although if he's going to watch that, I'll arrange for another screening on the big screen, as that's the only way that one should be experienced.

Best supporting recognition goes to Vonna, who ended up catering elaborate meals for each night of the series, much to the delight of the early arrivals. I think she'll welcome the return to our weekly series, as it's quite an effort in planning to come up with new and interesting meals for a large group night after night.

Other interesting tidbits: 
• Our most senior attendee was 71, and he not only made it to a good number of screenings - he actually watched the entire Star Wars series on the opening day of the series - all of them for the first time!
• Our youngest attendee was just under six months old. Years from now we'll tell our goddaughter about her first exposure to John Carpenter's Starman.
No promises - but you might want to mark your calendars for January 2020...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

40/40 Day 30 Report

There's something about David Lynch's work that I respond to. He manages to showcase beauty in even the darkest situations. Tonight, we closed our our 40 Years, 40 Movies series with two of my favorites: Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, both in High Definition.

A filmmaker like Lynch is well served by the higher resolution video as well as digital audio. Both films gave the SLC sound system a workout, and I think we did the films justice at the volume we were playing them. You can check with our neighbors to see if the agree.

Kudos to Naomi Watts and Sheryl Lee for tour de force performances in their respective films. I am a huge fan of both actresses, in large part due to their work in these two films. And I'm glad that we screened the films in the order that we did, as the night truly ended on a positive note with Laura Palmer's redemption.

I'll be back soon with a retrospective look at the entire series, but for now I just wanted to thank everyone who participated, both to the 28 of you who made it out to screenings, as well as those of you who followed along at home. I wish the distance between us didn't prelude so many of our friends and family from being able to participate.

On Deck: With the 40/40 behind us, we return to our Western Wednesdays with Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead!

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 30
Movies Watched: 40
Number of unique attendees: 28
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 201

Friday, January 29, 2010

40/40 Day 29 Report

Eyes Wide Shut is definitely another acquired taste.  It's strange, creepy and mysterious. It has an interesting color palette, is beautifully shot, and has a unique score that heightens the tension throughout the film. I also think there was a certain brilliance in casting - from the real husband and wife team of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, to his use of talented actor/directors Sydney Pollack and Todd Field. 


While not the kind of movie you can just throw in and watch at any time, Eyes Wide Shut is interesting to revisit from time to time. For such an intimate film, I think it plays very well on the big screen, and I'm glad to have programmed it for our penultimate film in the 40 Years, 40 Movies series.

On Deck: The closing night of the series brings us a double dose of David Lynch: Mulholland Drive and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 29
Movies Watched: 38
Number of unique attendees: 28
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 193

Thursday, January 28, 2010

40/40 Day 28 Report

I have a special fondness for The Crow. The screenplay was written by one of my favorite writers and a good friend, David J. Schow. Through a fortunate series of events, Vonna and I were able to attend the first public screening in Phoenix, as we were there for the World Horror Convention.

I still remember walking out of the 11:30pm screening blown away by the film, with a strong feeling that the film was going to connect with audiences, and that it would serve as a lasting reminder of what an amazing talent Brandon Lee was. It's a shame he left behind such a limited body of work, yet one could ask for a more powerful film for his last.

I think one of the reasons I enjoy the film so much is because it is not purely dark and depressing - there are some incredibly funny (at times blackly comic) bits throughout. Everyone had a great time revisiting it on the big screen tonight, and we couldn't have asked for a better audio/video presentation than the Japanese Blu Ray.
On Deck: My favorite film of 1999, and favorite Stanley Kubrick film: Eyes Wide Shut.

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 28
Movies Watched: 37
Number of unique attendees: 28
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 190

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

40/40 Day 27 Report

Dawn of the Dead is considered by many to be the greatest zombie film of all time. While I remain partial to Night of the Living Dead when it comes to my all-time favorite, there's no denying the lasting impact Dawn had on the zombie sub-genre of horror films.

Contemporary viewers may find it quaint, and often nit-pick about the simplistic blueish zombie make-up or crayola red blood, but the real strength of the film (and what was so sorely lacking in the remake) is in its depth. People like to talk about the symbolism and Romero's take on consumerism, but frankly he crafts an entertaining film populated with a cast of characters who you care about. And while scholars like to dwell on its take on consumerism, it's not so heavy handed that you can ever lose sight of it being a great adventure.
On Deck: We follow up three days of zombies with a different take on returning from the grave, featuring Brandon Lee in The Crow.

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 27
Movies Watched: 36
Number of unique attendees: 26
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 183

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

40/40 Day 26 Report

Lucio Fulci films are definitely an acquired taste, but great fun in you're a fan. Zombie is a perfect introduction to the man and his films, from its outrageous gore effects, driving Fabio Frizzi score, shark vs zombie scene - it's got it all.

The crowd tonight had a great time (even if one was expecting a 40s-era B&W zombie classic - oops! - he only averted his eyes during the famous eye-gouging scene...), and it was fun watching Fulci on the big screen for the first time.

On Deck: The dawn of the contemporary zombie film - the Cannes cut of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead.

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 26
Movies Watched: 35
Number of unique attendees: 26
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 179

Monday, January 25, 2010

40/40 Day 25 Report

It should come as no surprise that we'd get one of our best turnouts for Shaun of the Dead. We even had four first time attendees for the series!

From the first screening we held for Shaun of the Dead (before it's domestic release, and long before The Slaughtered Lamb was born), we recognized it as an instant classic. It instantly rose my personal top ten list comedies. Not since Young Frankenstein (screened two weeks ago) had a film so deftly and lovingly parodied its source material (Dawn of the Dead - to be screened on Wednesday). And in addition to succeeding as a comedy, it's one of the best non-Romero zombie films, period.

You won't find a better film to initiate someone who's otherwise not interested in zombie cinema.

On Deck: The zombies stick around, this time from Italy, with Lucio Fulci's Zombie 2.

40 Years/40 Movies Series Tally:
Days Completed: 25
Movies Watched: 34
Number of unique attendees: 25
Total Attendance (cumulative number of attendees for all movies): 174