Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By , and on Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Chimes at Midnight movie Orson Welles Shakespeare Falstaff
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
Directed by Orson Welles
Welles spent his life immersed in the works of Shakespeare, from a schoolboy production of Julius Caesar he mounted to an unrealized King Lear film whose script he was writing at the time of his death. In between were radio adaptations, Broadway spectacles, and three complete Shakespeare movies, two of which will be screened in 35mm at Anthology along with other filmmakers'. Chimes at Midnight in particular is a rare, indelible treasure, long kept out of circulation for rights reasons. Welles’s favorite among his own films stitches together historical chronicles with parts of Shakespeare’s four-play Henriad to show the end of Merrie Olde England through the doomed friendship between young king-to-be Prince Hal (a poised Keith Baxter) and the old fat thief and tavern-dweller Sir John Falstaff (Welles himself). Even though Welles was barely 50 years old at the time of Chimes’ making, he strongly identified with Falstaff, whom he had twice previously played onstage. He focused Chimes on a melancholy clown’s awareness that his time and his world had passed. Aaron Cutler (Nov 22 at Anthology, part of its Middle Ages on Film: Shakespeare)

french lieutenants woman movie meryl streep jeremy irons karel reisz
The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981)
Directed by Karel Reisz
Call a novel "unfilmable," and the hypersensitive ears of directors everywhere prick up. Thus John Fowles’s 1969 postmodern Victorian tale became Reisz’s 1981 Academy Award nominee, with a screenplay by Harold Pinter and a turn by Meryl Streep as a woman of endless ambiguity. Dispensing with Fowles’s narrative musings, Pinter grafted on a contemporary frame: Streep and Jeremy Irons are actors making a movie of that very same Victorian romance—and, in a Method twist, having an affair. There’s more at stake for the 19th-century unfortunates than for the 20th-century thespians, but deep pools of feeling stand all over. Luckily, there’s also the Lyme Regis sea wall. Elina Mishuris (Nov 23, 24 and 27 at Lincoln Center, part of its Harold Pinter series)

king of marvin gardens movie jack nicholson bob rafelson bruce dern
King of Marvin Gardens (1972)
Directed by Bob Rafelson
O Brother! Rafelson's third feature is eminently watchable and melancholic as a mutha. This time donning the spectacles and playing the square, Jack Nicholson plays a late-night talk-radio host whose down-in-the-mouth introspection reflects the film's general tone. Fraternal obligation sends him to wintry Atlantic City (shot by Lazlo Kovács as Siberia with a boardwalk) to help his conman older bro (Dern, never better, nor so well dressed—that sky blue turtleneck!) carry out an ill-conceived real estate scam alongside Dern's inexplicable accomplices (Ellen Burstyn and Julia Anne Robinson). Writer Jacob Brackman's script is a masterpiece of familial fear and/or loathing. Dan Sullivan (Nov 23 at BAM, part of its Bruce Dern series)

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