For those who missed it…
A video of our event with Leonard and Jessie Maltin at the Jean Cocteau is now available. Enjoy it at:
A selection of SIGNED books by Leonard Maltin is available from the JCC bookshop:
Current Mood: bouncy
Modern fantasy would not exist without J.R.R. Tolkien and LORD OF THE RINGS… and that most definitely includes my own A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE. Tolkien’s work redefined fantasy, and all of us who have followed in his footsteps owe him a profound debt.
But who was the man behind the Shire, the Hobbits, and the One Ring?
TOLKIEN, the new motion picture about JRRT’s early life, aspires to answer that question.
I’m thrilled to say that I’m heading out to LA for the premiere, May 8 at the Regency Westwood Village. After the film, I will be moderating a discussion and Q-and-A with stars Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, and director Dome Karukoski.
For those of you who cannot make it to the premiere in person, have no fear. We’ll be streaming the Q&A on Facebook.
Head to the TOLKIEN Facebook page (@TolkienFilm) and tune into the Live Stream that will start at 9PM PST. Here is the link to the Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/TolkienFilm/
See you in the Shire!
Current Mood: bouncy
A few posts down you’ll find my Hugo Award ruminations for the Dramatic Presentation categories, where I opine at some length about the best films and television shows I saw last year.
Much as I love SF and fantasy, however, not everything I read or view falls into those categories. I wanted to say a few words about another movie I saw recently, and loved.
It’s a film called GENIUS, a period piece set in the 1930s about the relationship between Maxwell Perkins, the legendary Scribners editor, and his most troubled (and troubling) writer, Thomas Wolfe. (No, not Tom Wolfe, the 60s journalist of THE RIGHT STUFF fame, Thomas Wolfe, the doomed 30s novelist of YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN). Stars Colin Firth and Jude Law, both of whom gave brilliant performances. Scripted by John Logan, directed by Michael Grandage.
GENIUS came and went last year almost unnoticed. It was certainly unnoticed by me, else I would have tried to book it for the Jean Cocteau. But it’s running on HBO right now, so all those who missed it (virtually everyone) now has another chance to see it.
I hope you do. Especially if you’re a writer, or an editor, or have any interest in 20th Century American literature, Thomas Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Maxwell Perkins.
The movie got very little notice from the world at large, but I loved loved loved it. Maybe because it’s a writer’s movie. The period is wonderfully evoked, the acting is fine, and there’s one ten minute scene in the middle of the movie… from when Wolfe delivers OF TIME AND THE RIVER till when Perkins gets on that train… that I thought was just hilarious, heart-breaking, poetic, painful, and just all-around… blue. A blue that was deeper than blue, a blue such as never before…
Well, let’s just say it was a great scene in a fine movie.
Lots of fine movies came out last year, in our genre and out of it. Many of them have been nominated for various Oscars. GENIUS was not, but if I were in the Academy I would certainly have nominated it. Much I loved ARRIVAL and MOANA and some of the other big movies of 2016, I think GENIUS was my favorite film from last year.
Another Christmas has come and gone.
I have to admit, Halloween and Thanksgiving are my favorite holidays. Christmas has always been too stressful, at least since I became an adult (a long long time ago). But this year’s was relatively mellow. I spent it at home with Parris, friends, and cats, and a good time was had by all.
There are things I like about Christmas, though. Watching Christmas movies, especially. A CHRISTMAS STORY is a favorite, and I also like to binge watch all the various versions of the Dickens classic CHRISTMAS CAROL. Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Reginald Owen, Mickey Mouse, Albert Finney, Bill Murray… they all have their points, and it’s fun to compare and contrast. On balance, I still think the Sim is the best of the adaptations. And when you cross over to the parody side of the ledger, there’s nothing but nothing comes close to the Blackadder version.
This year we also watched FOOTLIGHT PARADE, which has nothing to do with Christmas but is a fun film. One of the last of the great pre-Code films, it’s amazing to see how risque it is compared to what Hollywood would be making a year later and for decades to follow. And the musical numbers are unforgettable, especially Cagney in “Looking for My Shanghai Lil.”
Anyway… merry merry to all my friends, fans, and readers out there. I hope Santa was good to you. At least those of you who were nice. As for those of you who were naughty.. come sit here next to me.
… to the Jean Cocteau Cinema.
Opening tonight at the JCC for a one-week LIMITED ENGAGEMENT, we have TRUMPLAND, the latest film from Michael Moore.
TRUMPLAND is the latest from the Academy Award winning director of SICKO, BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, FAHRENHEIT 9/11, and many more.
And the Jean Cocteau is the only theatre in all of New Mexico showing TRUMPLAND. We’re a small theatre, so if you want to catch this one, I’d get my tickets now:
See you at the movies… and at the polls, I hope.
The United States is a nation of immigrants.
The vast majority of you reading this are descended from immigrants (aside from those few who are Native American). I know I am. My paternal grandfather came over from Italy as a child. My maternal grandfather was Irish-American, a Brady whose own ancestors hailed from Oldcastle in County Meath. My paternal grandmother was half German and half Welsh. My maternal grandmother had French and English ancestry. I am a mongrel to the bone. In short, American.
Wherever they came from, and whenever they made the crossing, all of my immigrant ancestors faced hardships, poverty, and discrimination when they came here. They came looking for freedom, they came looking for a better life. And they found it, or made it… and in the process they stopped being Irish or Italian or German and became Americans.
The process is still going on today. Men and women dreaming of a better life still look to America, and cross oceans and deserts by whatever means they can to find that better life. They face hardships and discrimination as well. Not everyone welcomes them. Some talk of walls, of keeping people out, of sending them back. My ancestors faced the same sort of talk. So did yours. It’s an old old story, as old as our republic. Millard Fillmore is dead and forgotten, but the Know Nothing Party is alive and well today, under other names. They still know nothing.
But some of us remember where we came from. Some of us remember that it was the immigrants, those tired poor huddled masses, who made America great to begin with.
From September 23 to September 30, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will proudly be screening five great films about immigration and the immigrant experience. A mix of old films and new films, featuring a wide range of actors of all races, colors, and ethnicities, by some of cinema’s finest writers and directors. Comedy, drama, terror; immigrants have known it all, and these movies will reflect that. Some are among my own favorite movies. Others I have yet to see.
Here are the trailers for the films we’ll be screening:
MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON
THE LOST CITY
Check the Jean Cocteau website for dates and showtimes.
In addition to the films themselves, we plan to feature some appearances by the actors, directors, and some of our local political figures, talking about the movies, their own families, the issues surrounding immigration, and the like. We’ll have more details on that as the dates firm up. But I know I will be kicking things off myself on Friday, September 23.
And as a way of welcoming our newest Americans, during the entire week, admission to all shows will be FREE for anyone who can show us a green card.
(And while I cannot promise a taco truck on every corner, we do hope to have a wide variety of food trucks turning up in front of the JCC at peak times, offering all sorts of tasty treats).
I used to have a couple pages on my website called “What I’m Watching” and “What I’m Reading.” They’re still there, actually, but they’re years out of date. I just don’t have the time to keep them up any longer, with all the other things on my plate.
But that doesn’t mean I have stopped watching movies or television, or that I don’t read. I still read voraciously, watch lots of television, and go to a movie a week, on the average. So I thought I’d say a few very brief words about stuff I’ve enjoyed recently.
Most of the films I see are the ones I’m playing at my own theatre, the Jean Cocteau… but not all. A few days ago, Parris and I caught the new JUNGLE BOOK at the Violet Crown down the street from the JCC, and I loved loved loved it. A magnificent production. Supposedly it’s a remake of the old Disney cartoon version, but it’s about ten thousand times better for hardcore Kipling fans like yours truly (Kiplers?) Not completely faithful to the books, which I count as an enduring masterpiece, but it certainly captures much of their flavor, which the cartoon did not. Gorgeous to look at (CGI has come a long way), genuinely exciting… Shere Khan is scary. My only quibble is Baloo. Much as I love Bill Murray, and I do love Bill Murray, I wanted a lot more of Kipling’s Baloo. Murray’s version is so very Bill Murray he could have wandered into the jungle straight from GHOSTBUSTERS. That’s minor, though; the other voice actors did a marvelous job of becoming their animals, and the kid playing Mowgli (who has gotten some mixed reviews) struck me as charming and unaffected, a natural and believable performance. If you like Kipling, see this one. If you like good movies, ditto. (I wonder if talking animals make this fantasy enough to be eligible for a Hugo next year? I’d certainly be willing to nominate it).
Meanwhile, on television… this really IS the Golden Age of television, so much good stuff to watch. It’s hard to keep up. Parris and I are going to miss THE GOOD WIFE, but we’ve been enjoying the hell out of BETTER CALL SAUL and COLONY, and the new season of PENNY DREADFUL has been fun so far as well. The show that’s really knocking our (argyle) socks off, however, is the second season of OUTLANDER. Diana Gabaldon should be thrilled; they are really doing her books proud. This year the action moved to France, and the costumes, sets, and cinematography have all been fabulous. As have the performances. Both of the leads are terrific, and Tobias Menzies (who also appears in GAME OF THRONES from time to time) is sensational in his double role. They should nominate the guy for an Emmy twice, once for each character. OUTLANDER is one of the best shows on television, a wonderful blend of historical drama, science fiction, fantasy, and romance.
Books? Well, if you haven’t yet grabbed a copy of Joe Hill’s THE FIREMAN, you need to. Original and gripping, a page-turner… and I am looking forward to meeting Joe in person when he visits the Jean Cocteau on Monday for a reading and signing (tickets going fast! get yours now). I’ve also really enjoyed a non-fiction title from a couple of years ago called THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL, by Daniel Stashower, which is simultaneously a bio of Edgar Allan Poe and a “true crime” account of a sensational NYC murder case that inspired him to write “The Mystery of Marie Roget.” Call this one history or biography if you must, but it reads like a novel… and I especially loved the stuff about the New York City press, one of my obsessions.
Oh, and while the stack of ARCs and bound galleys and new books by my bedside waiting to be read is taller than I am, I’m especially excited by a couple of recent arrivals. HIGH GROUND, the first volume of Melinda Snodgrass’s new space opera series, is here, and I can’t wait to get into it… especially since one of her villains, BoHo, is actually my creation (he is not really villainous, he’s just misunderstood) from the days when Snod and I were making up characters for a new shared world series that never took off. ((Think of BoHo as the Flashman of Space; I loved George McDonald Fraser almost as much as I love Kipling)).
Also on hand is David Anthony Durham’s new historical novel, THE RISEN, his take on Spartacus. DAD never disappoints, and Spartacus is another fascination of mine… I look forward to seeing how Durham’s take on him differs from Howard Fast’s and Colleen McCullough’s.
Also just in is Lisa Tuttle’s THE SOMNAMUBIST AND THE PYSCHIC THIEF, featuring Miss Lane and Jasper Jesperson, the Victorian-era detectives she first introduced in her stories for DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS and ROGUES. Those were hugely entertaining stories, and I am eager to see what Lisa does with the characters at novel length. Fans of Sherlock Holmes should love this.
So… lots of good stuff.
Life is too short. So little time, so many books and movies and television shows.
The Jean Cocteau Cinema was Santa Fe’s first “arthouse” theatre (it opened in 1977, as the Collective Fantasy), and one of the hallmarks of so-called arthouses is that they show foreign films that the big multiplexes don’t touch.
And so it is with us. Today we like to say that we’re the most eclectic movie theatre in The City Different, but foreign films remain an important part of our mix. Only the foreign films we show are a little different than the ones you might catch at other arthouses.
This week, for instance, we’re showing MY BIG NIGHT, a hilarious romp by the Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia.
Coming up in the next few weeks we have two the biggest-grossing films in the entire world… but they’re two films you may never have heard of, if you’re in the US, since they have received almost no attention in America. I’m speaking of MERMAID and MONSTER HUNT, both out of China.
Have a taste:
Watch our website for showtimes.
See you at the movies.
We have a couple of interesting new films showing this week at the Jean Cocteau. They don’t have the benefit of huge Hollywood advertising campaigns behind them, so let me give a small tease for them here.
We have a few more showings of MAD MAX:FURY ROAD and BRIDGE OF SPIES on the schedule this week as well. Two amazing films.
See you at the movies!