Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Brothers Rico Phil Karlson
The Brothers Rico (1957)
Directed by Phil Karlson
Moving at a brisk clip, this isn't the kind of noir that needs to be explained afterward. It's clear pretty much from the start that the eldest Rico (Richard Conte, later The Godfather's Don Barzini), a mob accountant gone straight-ish, is being manipulated by his old boss and family friend Kubick (Larry Gates), and that the rest of the Ricos, intuitive as they may be, are in trouble. Like Conte, though, the movie's got good bones: some nice subtext on family and faith, and enough tough-talkers and lunch counters to call up a yearning for the tough, grimy Gotham-that-was. Elina Mishuris (Sep 12 at MoMA, part of its An Auteurist History of Film Reprise)

The Mechanic Michael Winner Charles Bronson
The Mechanic (1972)
Directed by Michael Winner
“Everyone has a jelly spot,” believes hitman Arthur Bishop (Charles Bronson), and his turns out to be for a protégé/companion, the quarterback-blandsome son (Jan-Michael Vincent) of a victim (Keenan Wynn, poorly dubbed). The forthright homosexuality in Lewis John Carlino’s original script was scrubbed out, but the relationship remains fraught. The dandy Bishop, with his red robe, goblets of claret and Bosch-bedecked bachelor pad, looks genuinely hurt when he sniffs betrayal (Bronson’s only evinced emotion). The 16-minute, dialogue-free hit that opens the film might be more elaborate than functionally necessary, but it's riveting for its attention to the minutest details of swapped teabags and one precisely placed book. Justin Stewart (Sep 13, 15 at Anthology, part of its John Zorn Selects)

The Store Frederick Wiseman Neiman Marcus
The Store (1983)
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
Wiseman’s first color film (screening in 16mm) presents management, training, and labor at every level of the central Neiman Marcus store and corporate headquarters in Dallas as its employees work during the Christmas season. “I first watched The Store on a bus trip from New York to Washington, DC. Pitch for a future Frederick Wiseman movie: The Bus,” White Reindeer director Zach Clark—who selected The Store for this year’s La Di Da Film Festival—tells us by email. “Wiseman’s films about affluent society are all pretty funny, and The Store is possibly the funniest of them. The movie’s Christmastime setting might make it a metaphor for all the corrupting powers of consumerism, but if you can find magic and beauty in the commodification of the holidays (like I can), then The Store is as much of a love letter to the season as Miracle on 34th Street and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are.” Aaron Cutler (Sep 14 at Anthology, part of the La Di Da Festival)

Skateboarding is Not a Crime BAM
Skateboarding Is Not a Crime
For those of you who, like some of us here, grew up skateboarding when it was significantly less mainstream than it is today—indeed when the "Skateboarding is Not a Crime" slogan came about because the sport was widely considered both a nuisance and a menace (which was, admittedly, sometimes quite true)—then this series will allow you to revisit some titles you first saw on a VHS tape that had two or three others on it too (SLP!). But these films are for everyone, even if you’ve never (perhaps wisely) stepped on a skateboard. You needn’t recall Animal Chin, for instance, to be enthusiastic about these variably campy, hilarious, traumatic and exhilarating films from the 1960s to 2013. Paul D'Agostino (Through Sep 23 at BAM)

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