This Week At The New Beverly: Robert Altman, Andrei Tarkovsky, Musical Classics, TMNT, Grindhouse Film Fest & More!

Posted by phil blankenship, February 17, 2011 11:25am | Post a Comment
This Week At The New Beverly

Our full upcoming schedule is available online:

Thursday, February 17

Ghost World editor Michael R. Miller will appear IN PERSON, schedule permitting, on Thursday to discuss!

Finally, yet another 2010 release that didn't get a fair-shake theatrical run writer-director Lena Dunham's shoestring debut feature Tiny Furniture nonetheless captivated critics to a certain degree even if audiences had no idea that it was even playing, let alone where. The central idea sounds almost forbiddingly familiar: a recent college grad, played by the auteur herself, returns to her claustrophobic home world without a clue as to where to direct her life. Ostensibly a piquant addition to the D.I.Y. Mumblecore aesthetic, Dunham's picture is more assured than what usually comes from this neck of the woods, offering a certain comic charm and naiveté to replace what some might call the calculated restlessness of the typical Mumblecore character type. Ultimately, Tiny Furniture is more satisfying than what you might expect because Dunham herself is as sharp a writer as she is a somewhat recessive camera subject, and you get the sense that she's critiquing her character's self-indulgence a touch more than she celebrates it. Tiny Furniture may be most valuable, however, for the glimpse it affords into the promise of even more lovely and detailed comedies to come from this talented navel-gazer. On the same bill, more youthful attitude, suppressed uncertainty and way-cool blues (among a multitude of off-the-chart musically hip selections) by way of Terry Zwigoff's brilliant observed, sensitive recreation of the too-cool-for-school (or anything else) outsiders at the beating heart of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World (2001). Here is the rare graphic novel adaptation not centered on superheroes or displaced noir tropes or even a particular visual signature. Clowes' panels are clean and completely unfussy, and Zwigoff has translated that sense keenly without tipping into the mundane. And his actors-Thora Birch and Scarlet Johanssen-communicate the fear barely contained beneath their snarky indifference and the sense of their insecurity at the prospect of having no idea how to adapt to a world that won't slow down. Best of all is Steve Buscemi, who becomes a cultural and emotional touchstone for Birch, a real person conjured from what would have only previously been the object of her ridicule. Ghost World plays with hilarious specificity in its design and satirically youthful bent, but there's sadness about its reconciliation with maturity that is surprisingly, though never sentimentally heartfelt.

Tiny Furniture

2010, USA, 98 minutes
written & directed by Lena Dunham; starring Lena Dunham, Laurie Simmons, Grace Dunham
Thurs: 7:30, Trailer

It's a find - funny and rueful and verbally dexterous, leavening a quippy screenplay with just enough honesty to make it stick.
- Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

It's the work of a filmmaker with a stunning future.
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

- plus on the same bill -

Ghost World

2001, USA / UK / Germany, 111 minutes
directed by Terry Zwigoff, written by Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff; starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban
Thurs: 9:30, Trailer

4 Stars - I wanted to hug this movie. It takes such a risky journey and never steps wrong. - Roger Ebert

Friday & Saturday, February 18 & 19

Two by Robert Altman

"Attention. Tonight's movie has been M*A*S*H. Follow the zany antics of our combat surgeons as they cut and stitch their way along the front lines, operating as bombs-- operating as bombs and bullets burst around them, snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin..." By the time audiences in 1970 first heard the P.A. announcement that ends Robert Altman's lacerating, troubling and hilarious antiwar comedy, American movies would already be forever changed and the career of one of the movies' great directors would be, after a decade and a half of false starts, officially launched. What's interesting about M*A*S*H the film, as opposed to its far easier to pin down TV cousin, is that it has the ability to offend even the choir to whom it's presumably preaching. As I wrote on the occasion of Altman's 81st birthday in 2006, "I've always loved (M*A*S*H's) shaggy improvisatory aesthetic and its caustic humor, but that causticity often merges with a progressive's particular brand of intolerance-- here, for spiritual belief, whether sincerely or hypocritically undertaken, or for anyone else who doesn't knuckle under to the iconoclastic impulses of its main antiheroes, Trapper John and Hawkeye. M*A*S*H is a hilarious, maddening movie that proves stubborn intolerance is not the exclusive province of the self-righteous right, that social and political liberals can be boors and bullies too." Maddening or not, it's an exhilarating piece of work that somehow, after 41 years and scores of imitations, still feels new. And the beautiful newly minted 35mm print showing at the New Beverly this weekend will make it look as fresh as ever too.


On the same bill, what makes this double feature the biggest bargain of the weekend, in fact, in this inclusion  of Altman's underseen masterpiece California Split (1974), again starring Elliot Gould, this time paired with George Segal as two gamblers shambling their way through a series of misadventures as they try to stay solvent and out of trouble. The movie is a brilliantly downbeat, nonchalant buddy comedy infused with a combination of desperation, compulsion and a series of amiable hucksters' poses, and it's full of the kind of glancing humor that had by now become a hallmark of Altman's signature style. The sonic experimentalism of Altman's previous films came to true fruition on California Split's pioneering multi-track stereo soundtrack as well. The technique allowed Altman the freedom to manipulate the levels of overlapping conversation for the first time. And here on the big screen you'll see the movie Altman intended, not the version on DVD that has been cut and altered due to music rights concerns. This movie came at the tail end of Gould's unlikely run of early '70s stardom, but Altman was himself was just getting up to speed. His next movie? Nashville.


1970, USA, 115 minutes - New 35mm print!
directed by Robert Altman; starring Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Jo Ann Pflug, Robert Duvall, Roger Bowen, Gary Burghoff, David Arkin, Fred Williamson, Michael Murphy
Fri: 7:30; Sat: 3:00 & 7:30, Trailer

4 Stars - We laugh, not because "M*A*S*H" is Sgt. Bilko for adults, but because it is so true to the unadmitted sadist in all of us. There is perhaps nothing so exquisite as achieving (as the country song has it) sweet mental revenge against someone we hate with particular dedication. And it is the flat-out, poker-faced hatred in "M*A*S*H" that makes it work. Most comedies want us to laugh at things that aren't really funny; in this one we laugh precisely because they're not funny. We laugh, that we may not cry. - Roger Ebert

- plus on the same bill -

California Split

1974, USA, 108 minutes
directed by Robert Altman; written by Joseph Walsh; starring George Segal, Elliott Gould, Ann Prentiss, Gwen Welles, Edward Walsh, Joseph Walsh
Fri: 9:45; Sat: 5:20 & 9:45

A fascinating, vivid movie, not quite comparable to any other movie that I can immediately think of. Nor is it easily categorized.
- Vincent Canby, New York Times

Altman feels rather than thinks his way into a subject, with a special interest in how people relate to one another in moments of crisis.
- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

Saturday, February 19

New Beverly Midnights presents

TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman will appear IN PERSON, schedule permitting, to discuss!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

1990, USA / Hong Kong, 93 minutes
They're mean, green and on the screen.
directed by Steve Barron, starring everyone's favorite turtles: Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello & Raphael!
Sat: 11:59pm (Midnight), All Tickets $7, Trailer

A well-rounded, unpretentious, very funny, knockabout adventure - subtly blended so that it's fun for all the family.
- Lloyd Bradley, Empire Magazine

Sunday & Monday, February 20 & 21

Don't miss the exuberant musical double feature has in store this coming Sunday and Monday. Both films are rarely projected and are great showcases for the multitude of African-American talent at Hollywood's fingertips that was rarely if ever allowed to flourish in the manner it does in these two pictures. First up, Ethel Waters shines in Cabin in the Sky (1942) as Petunia Jackson, wife of the inveterate gambling rascal Little Joe (Eddie "Rochester" Anderson), whose prayers are put to the test when she negotiates a six-month reprieve from eternity for him after he gets shot during a crap game. It all comes down to a battle between Heaven and Hell for Joe's soul, which simply cues the great good time directed with sparkle and elegance (and just a little fire and brimstone) by Vincente Minnelli. The director marshals a spectacular cast supporting cast, including Duke Ellington, Lena Horne, Rex Ingram, Louis Armstrong, Oscar Polk and Butterfly McQueen, for the forces of grand entertainment. If this doesn't put a gigantic smile on your face, see Lucifer Jr. Next, King Vidor's Hallelujah (1929) showcases an ebullient cast in an early musical that showcases the talent waiting burst out of typical racial stereotypes of the time, but also one that serves as a fascinating time capsule of the racial attitudes of the time and what was expected of African-American performers and stories. Of great historical interest as well as a dynamic entertainment, Vidor's movie has grace to counterbalance its occasional crudity, located primarily in the work of Daniel Hayes and Nina Mae McKinney as the movie's romantic leads.

Cabin in the Sky

1943, USA, 98 minutes
directed by Vincente Minnelli; starring Ethel Waters, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Rex Ingram, Willie Best, Butterfly McQueen, Duke Ellington
Sun: 3:30 & 7:30; Mon: 7:30, Trailer

Cabin in the Sky was an auspicious directorial debut for the young Vincente Minelli and provided Ethel Waters and Lena Horne with an excellent showcase for their considerable talents.
- Craig Butler, All Movie Guide

It develops a jazzy, infectious rhythm (especially in its third act), and it's a rare treat to see so many supernovas of the black entertainment universe together in one movie.
- Nathan Rabin, The Onion AV Club

- plus on the same bill -


1929, USA, 100 minutes
directed by King Vidor; starring Daniel L. Haynes, Nina Mae McKinney, William E. Fountaine, Harry Gray
Sun: 5:30 & 9:30; Mon: 9:30

In 1929, MGM released Hallelujah, the first all-black feature to be made by a major movie studio. In "silent" films, whites had mostly "played" black characters in blackface, a tradition Al Jolson brought to talkies when he sang "Mammy" in the The Jazz Singer. But Hallelujah was different. Black audiences could see and, for the first time, hear themselves on screen. That proved revelatory, even when the plots traded heavily in stereotypes. - Bob Mondello, NPR

Tuesday, February 22

Eric Caidin and Brian Quinn
with Grindhouse Releasing present

The Grindhouse Film Festival

Special 'Black History Month' Event
Admission: $8.00

The Black Six

1973, USA, 94 minutes
directed by Matt Cimber; starring Robert Howard, Eddie Daniels, Cindy Daly, Carl Eller, Mikel Angel, Lem Barney, John Isenbarger, Mercury Morris, 'Mean' Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Gene Washington

- plus on the same bill -

The Black Gestapo

1975, USA, 88 minutes
directed by Lee Frost; written by Lee Frost and Wes Bishop; starring Rod Perry, Charles Robinson, Phil Hoover, Ed Cross, Angela Brent, Wes Bishop, Lee Frost
9:30, Trailer

Wednesday & Thursday, February 23 & 24

Two by Andrei Tarkovsky

A chance to take a glimpse at the early career of Andrei Tartovsky is on tap on Wednesday and Thursday at the New Beverly. First up, the 1975 classic The Mirror,in which the director mixes flashbacks, documentary footage and original poetry to illustrate the journey taken by a dying man who revisits his childhood during World War II, his troubled adolescence and the painful familial strife that marked his life. The story interweaves Tartovsky's often critical reflections about Russian history and society, and as such the Soviet authorities did their best to limit the availability of the film in Russian movie theaters. Even Tartovsky himself expressed doubts that the movie would work for audiences who might be unprepared for its stark yet wistful realism and stylistic challenging melancholy. But for filmgoers who already love and respect his body of work, cut short by his untimely death in 1986, as well as audiences unfamiliar with this Russia master, The Mirror is a staggering work of emotional truth. The New Beverly brings Tartovsky into further focus and context by pairing The Mirror with a very rare opportunity to see the director's first feature, Ivan's Childhood (1962) on the big screen. It's a devastatingly lyrical and assured debut, chronicling the struggles of a 12 year-old boy that crosses German lines as a spy on the Eastern Front and the three Russian soldiers who try to care for him. Tartovsky shows unusual mastery of the form even in this early film, and the pairing is an excellent opportunity to familiarize or reacquaint yourself with two of this great filmmaker's finest, least screened works. 

The Mirror

1975, Soviet Union, 108 minutes
written & directed by Andrei Tarkovsky; starring Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovsky, Ignat Daniltsev
Wed/Thurs: 7:30

Mirror is his most wildly ambitious film - an attempt to filter a potted-history of Russia through his own foggy childhood memories. Visually stunning, baffling and intensely personal, the result is also impossibly ambiguous - but stick with it. Cinema rarely gets this close to poetry in motion. - Jonathan Crocker, BBC

- plus on the same bill -

Ivan's Childhood

1962, Soviet Union, 95 minutes
Andrei Tarkovsky's directorial debut!
directed by Andrei Tarkovsky; starring Nikolay Burlyaev, Valentin Zubkov, Yevgeni Zharikov, Stepan Krylov
Wed/Thurs: 9:40

A visionary indictment of war - Film 4

This is Tarkovsky before his peasant sentimentality and sense of self-importance got the better of him, and it still looks hugely impressive. - Time Out Film Guide


Advance tickets may be purchased online through Brown Paper Tickets by clicking HERE. Advance tickets are not sold at the box office.

Currently, only general admission tickets may be purchased via this link. Discounted student, senior, etc. tickets may not be purchased in advance at this time. As always, any available tickets will also be sold at the theater box office the day of the event. Purchasing advance tickets is generally unnecessary for most shows, as the only programs that ever come close to selling out are special event shows with special guests, etc. Plenty of tickets are available at the door for nearly all of our programs.

Coming Soon:

25 & 26: The African Queen & The Desperate Hours
26: Demolition Man

Film notes by Dennis Cozzalio
Schedule subject to change

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