Friday, August 31, 2012

Cinema Notes From All Over

So the other day, as is often my wont, I found myself immersed in the great warm bath that is the New York Times' Arts & Leisure section, when I chanced across interesting and alarming news, of the upcoming New York Film Festival, that had at least some glancing relevance to the mission statement of the blog you're currently perusing.

To wit, premiering at the festival will be a restored director's cut of Michael Cimino's controversial 80s mega-flop Heaven's Gate, a film that I have been insisting -- for years, to anyone who would listen -- is a misunderstood masterpiece.

What is NOT controversial about the film, of course, is that it features an absolutely gorgeous Americana score by former Bob Dylan collaborator David Mansfield (seen below as the fiddler).

Also premiering at the festival (which begins Septmember 29th) is the director’s cut of Frank Oz’s adaptation of the off-Broadway rock musical hit Little Shop of Horrors, including the original, apocalyptic, talking-plants-eat-the-world ending (plant voice courtesy of Four Tops lead singer Levi Stubbs). To which I can only say -- woo hoo!

And, most intriguingly, look for the world premiere of a restored version of Charlie Is My Darling, Peter Whitehead’s documentary of the Rolling Stones’ two-day tour of Ireland in 1965.

Really crappy video prints of that one have been circulating for years, but apparently the restoration -- supervised by the same folks who did the Stones' Rock and Roll Circus film -- is pretty impressive, and includes previously unseen footage.

Tickets for all of the above go on sale (on-line, obviously) on September 9th; we are informed that the Stones themselves may attend the opening night screening of Charlie.

I should also add, for those of you outside the New York City area, that both the restored Heaven's Gate and the Stones documentary will make their DVD and Blu-ray debuts in early November, the former via Criterion and the latter courtesy of ABKCO.


Billy B said...

I really look forward to the Stones Irish Tour deal.


Harold Machiz said...

Steve, I worked at UA when this film was made and saw the director's cut before the film was released. We were all amazed how boring this film was. We had expected so much more from Cimino especially after he had just done Deerhunter. At UA he was given carte-blanche to make Heaven's Gate. The production ended up costing over 75 million, which was a lot for 1979. This film also caused the end of UA because Trans-America immediately sold the company to MGM. But that's another story.

steve simels said...

Harold --

I didn't find it boring in the least, although the ending is kind of a mess. But most of it is visually gorgeous, the political parables are even more pertinent than ever, and two more words:

Isabelle Huppert.

And as for the 75 million, all I can say is that you can see every dime of it on the screen.

Harold Machiz said...

Steve: Did the Harvard Graduation (filmed at Oxford) and lasting almost one hour hold your attention? Have you ever read the book "Final Cut" by Steven Bach. This tells it like it really was.

steve simels said...

Yes (that Harvard sequence is long, but it's not even close to an hour). And yes I've read the book, and I think Bach is a philistine.

I'll reserve judgement until I see the restored version in November, but my memory of the film is that it's mostly brilliant.

And I think the reason the critics were so savage to it is because they were still pissed at Cimino for having suggested, in THE DEERHUNTER, that the Viet Cong might have been kind of bad guys.

This despite the fact that HEAVEN'S GATE, which is about evil oligarchs literally murdering innocent immigrant farmers, is one of the most profoundly left wing films ever made in Hollywood.

Harold Machiz said...

At UA, I saw the film months before the critics did. The top execs did not like what they saw. I was only a second level exec. A wide release in November had been canceled because everyone assumed that the film would get nominations. After screening it, it was too late to reschedule the wide release. I agree that it was great to see a film about the Johnson County Range Wars and how the government was complicate it helping the cattle barons. I wish that Cimino had made it more realistic. Montana is not Wyoming. I also felt that Kris Kristofferson was miscast but I always did love Isabelle Huppert. It was a very interesting time to be at UA. I guess I am prejudiced because Heavens Gate caused huge budget cuts at UA and I got caught in one of those cuts.