Latest Ken Classics Week Looks Mainly To 1960s
A new week of classic films screen at Landmark's Ken Cinema
Landmark’s Ken Cinema kicks off another week of classics, this time there’s an emphasis on films from the 1960s.
Although I am very sad to see the tasty “Ramen Heads” documentary leave the Ken Cinema (you still have two days savor it and hit up Tajima down the street for a real bowl of ramen), I am thrilled that there is another week of classics coming up.
The week gets off to a fast start on Friday with “Bullitt.”
Steve McQueen, the essence of cool in the '60s, gets behind the wheel for one of the best car chases ever filmed. The rest of the film is pretty standard police thriller fare but the chase and McQueen’s minimalist acting are worth the price of admission. McQueen does more with silence and a look than most actors can do with hours of histrionics. You can see “Bullitt” (released in 1968) as a kind of precursor to the grittier, darker “Dirty Harry” (that would come out three years later and also be set in San Francisco). The film also boasts a great score by Lalo Schifrin (who would also compose for “Dirty Harry”) and the lovely presence of Jacqueline Bisset.
The '60s are also represented by “A Hard Day’s Night,” Richard Lester’s 1964 movie that featured the Beatles film debut. Shot in black and white with a cinema verite feel, the film captured what a day in the life of the world’s most popular band might be like. The film was fresh, funny and with a sly sense of satire. The Beatles were never more appealing and Lester brought a new sensibility to film editing. The film screens at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Prepare for a drastic change of pace from the mainstream appeal of “Bullitt” and “A Hard Day’s Night” as Luis Bunuel unleashes his cerebral and twisted “Belle Du Jour.” Also from the 1960s, the film casts the coolly elegant Catherine Denueve as a frigid housewife who spends her spare time as a prostitute. Bunuel, ever the provocative filmmaker, presents Deneuve as Severine who indulges in recurrent masochistic fantasies ranging from being tied to a post and pelted with dung to lying in a coffin for a necrophiliac Duke. But nothing seems to crack this ice queen’s sophisticated façade. The biggest surprise of the film might be how unsensational Bunuel makes the film. He and cinematographer Sacha Vierney give the film a surface elegance that matches his star and they render her story without a hint of moral judgment.
You will find much lighter and more conventional fare on Sunday with “Auntie Mame,” the film adaptation of Patrick Dennis’ novel about his aunt. Rosalind Russell is the star and the main attraction as the eccentric aunt who instills a zest for life in her young ward.
Then start the work week off with a classic from the 1940s with “Laura” on Monday. Otto Preminger’s “Laura” is a classic film noir although it may not have a traditional femme fatale in Gene Tierney’s title character. The film stars Dana Andrews as a police detective who falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating, thanks to a portrait of her that he finds mesmerizing. The scene stealer in the film is Clifton Webb as Waldo Lydecker, an acerbic columnist whose pen is more lethal than any murder weapon. Shot in glorious black and white from a sharp script by Jay Dratler, Samuel Hoffenstein and Betty Reinhardt, the film is irresistible. Plus a young Vincent Price as a gigolo of sorts.
Then jump to the 1950s for the epic melodrama of Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind.” Just look at this IMDB description of the plot: “Alcoholic playboy Kyle Hadley marries the woman secretly loved by his poor but hard-working best friend, who in turn is pursued by Kyle's nymphomaniac sister.” Wow! That could fuel a whole season of a soap opera but Sirk packs it into 99 minutes of emotion filled drama. Sirk raises soap opera to the level of high art through his meticulous filmmaking craft.
Then we head back to the '60s to round out the week with Philippe De Broca’s enchanting “King of Hearts” with Alan Bates hiding out in a French insane asylum during World War I; and David Lean’s “Doctor Zhivago” mixing romance and the Russian revolution.
All these films, although in different ways, merit viewing on the big screen with an audience. So take advantage of the latest week of Ken Classics and treat yourself to some big screen cinematic fun.