TCMFF - Part 3

May 04, 2016

On Day 2 of the TCM Film Festival I started with a screening of The Way We Were. A few years ago TCM and Fathom re-released Christmas in Connecticut in theaters, and while I've always found it funny, there was something about seeing it on a big screen that made it ten times more hilarious. I had a very similar experience with The Way We Were.

I've watched this movie countless times over the years. I recorded it from TCM on VHS (clearly a long time ago, I'm basically a dinosaur) and practically wore out the tape. I obviously enjoyed watching it on my little tv screen, but this is one film whose magic intensifies when it's projected in a giant theater! Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand have so many subtle mannerisms that are lost on a small screen. And I always thought they made a good pair, but on a big screen their chemistry is absolutely electric! I hope that this one gets a Fathom release eventually, too, so people who didn't attend the festival can have the experience of seeing it at the movies!

Originally my plan was to follow that up with a screening of When You’re in Love with Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, in attendance. But the more I obsessively consulted my TCMFF schedule the more I realized that I really wanted to see The Conversation instead.

Confession: This was my first Francis Ford-Coppola movie. I KNOW. The Godfather is on my 30 Before 30 list this year, and there are so many others I need to catch up on as well! But I thought, what better way to introduce myself to his films than to see The Conversation at The Chinese Theater, preceded by a conversation (haha) with Francis Ford-Coppola himself!

As soon as he said that the film was influenced by Antonioni's Blow-Up I knew I had made the right decision! (Sidenote - he kept referring to Antonioni as "Michelangelo" and my heart practically exploded.) The Conversation was a slow-paced but riveting story about a surveillance man who becomes obsessed with one of the conversations he records for a client, certain that one of the parties is in mortal danger. I think this was also my first time seeing a movie with Gene Hackman, and I thought he was excellent! He was so quietly obsessive (a quality that reminded me a bit of the titular character in Mr. Klein) and paranoid, but in a very believable way. Oftentimes paranoia can be portrayed in a caricaturist way, but this was very real and sort of heartbreaking.

My Sophie's Choice of the festival was The Manchurian Candidate vs. Pride of the Yankees. I ended up deciding at the last minute to go with Pride of the Yankees. I love Angela Lansbury, but mostly because I love Mrs. Potts, and I didn't really want to potentially take a seat that could have gone to someone who loved her way more than I do.

And then there's Gary Cooper (sigh) I couldn't pass up Gary Cooper. And I'm a Yankee's fan (I'm pretty sure I was the only one in attendance, actually. When Ben Mankiewicz made the remark [I'm paraphrasing] "Come on, is anyone actually a Yankees fan?" I started to clap and then realized I was completely alone...) so it was the logical choice. And I'm so glad that I made this decision! I enjoyed the movie so much (although, if you're familiar with the story of Lou Gehrig then you'll understand why I didn't actually enjoy the last 20 minutes or so.) This movie always leaves me weepy, so in the end I was kind of glad that I was flying solo for this screening. I always feel so weird crying in front of people I know!

Anyone who joined me in the strange choice to skip The Manchurian Candidate was in for a treat, though -- Michael Uslan brought along the actual baseball bat that Gary Cooper used in the movie, the one that he gifted to Lou Gehrig's widow after shooting. As I was leaving the theater I passed by Uslan on the steps, wishing so badly that I had the nerve to ask if I could see the bat but feeling pretty confident that there was an invisible [yet glowing, blinking, neon] sign reading "DO NOT TOUCH!"

My last screening of the day was Roar. I honestly don't have any words to describe what I saw here. I'm hoping that Millie will do a write-up on it because I'm not sure anyone else could do it justice. It wasn't nearly as traumatizing a midnight screening as Eraserhead was in 2014, but it's definitely one of the strangest movies I've ever had the misfortune/pleasure (still not sure which) to watch.

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