TCMFF 2017

April 24, 2017

I went back and looked at my tentative TCMFF schedule before doing this post and I actually laughed out loud. Oh sweet silly naive Kate, thinking she'd get up at 9am every morning and cram 5-6 films into each day. Overall I ended up attending a total of nine movies, four events, and two trivia competitions. It's still better than previous years but I'm never taking home the award for the most dedicated TCMFF trooper.

That being said, I had some really fantastic screening experiences this year. Cat People in 35mm was AMAZING, and I'd probably count it among my top movie-going experiences of all time. I fell in love with two new-to-me movies, What's Up Doc? and King of Hearts. I watched three films on nitrate and although my inadequate eyes failed to detect the thing that makes nitrate different, it was still an awesome experience to see such rare prints. And, miracle of miracles, I enjoyed a western???

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

I'm embarrassed to admit I'm one of those poor unfortunate souls who couldn't detect the difference between safety film and nitrate. I WANTED TO BELIEVE. I wanted it so badly. But my eyes just totally failed me. Whites didn't sparkle, blacks weren't deeper, it just looked like regular 35mm to me.

But I LOVE seeing movies on film, whether that film is nitrate or not. And if the movie being projected on that film is a British Hitchcock film, all the better! When this was first announced I glossed over it, thinking it was the Jimmy Stewart version, and then I did a double take "-- 1934?!?! HERE FOR THIS!"

Early Hitch is just so good. And it's been so long since I had seen this, it was like coming to it fresh. I totally forgot that George Curzon was in it!! He's in my favorite Hitchcock film, Young and Innocent, along with co-star Nova Pilbeam. And this ending is PERFECTION. I can't believe they changed it for the remake, ughhhhhh!

ps. Oh, and Martin Scorsese introduced the movie! I shouldn't admit this, but I've never seen one of his movies (I KNOW) but it was a really exciting surprise to kick off the festival with one of our most esteemed living directors.

Panique (1946)

I wish I had typed up a review as soon as I walked out of the theater, because I was absolutely pulsing with feelings. I loved it, it was just so powerful and the ending was flawless.

The film was based on the book Mr Hire's Engagement by Georges Simenon. Simenon's son introduced the film and mentioned that the book differed quite a bit from the film (the book is apparently less black-and-white, more ambiguous) so I ordered the book as soon as I got home to compare the two.

But the film is very clear where it stands on mob thought, bullying, and antisemitism, and I don't mind when films leave ambiguity behind in order to attack those topics. Especially in post-war France it's understandable -- and admirable -- that this film was made.

Cat People (1942)


I really wrestled with the TCMFF schedule for this time slot. It conflicted with Laura (on nitrate, to boot -- I know I just said that I can't tell the difference between nitrate and safety stock but the *fact* of it being nitrate, the rarity of the print, its fiery history, that alone makes me want to seize every opportunity to watch it) which I also love to death, but Cat People won out and I have never made a better decision in my life.

You haven't seen the swimming pool scene until you've seen it in a dark theater with the sound bouncing off the walls around you; until each cat noise sounds like it's coming right at you. Not to mention Simone Simon's face on a big screen, I mean... wow.

The film was introduced by William Joyce, whose enthusiasm for the movie was infectious. I was already excited about seeing Cat People but after his intro I was PUMPED.

Zardoz (1974)

Nope. Just... nope

Red River (1948)

On the third day of the festival, Deb from Sidewalk Crossings drove in to Hollywood to see a movie with me and Millie. Normally I'm pretty resistant to westerns but, martyr that I am, I made the sacrifice for Deb and Millie.

And I liked it????????

I think it's because it was more character driven than like "let's spend two hours riding horses and shooting at Native Americans!" driven. Also I like John Wayne (I know that seems incompatible with my aforementioned statement about the genre, but he reminds me of my grandfather so he gets a pass) and Montgomery Clift soooo there you go. I liked a western.

King of Hearts (1966)

Geneviève Bujold was present to introduce the film (!!!)

When I saw there was going to be a new-to-me French anti-war film starring Alan Bates screening at TCMFF I was like "sign me up!" I anticipated that this would be my favorite screening at the festival, and I was right. It's a fun, sweet, zany movie and I immediately tracked down a DVD when I got home so I can revisit it often.

Black Narcissus (1947)

psst! do you want to hear a secret? *leans in*

I didn't really like this movie that much.

I KNOW. Sacrilege!! Burn me at the stake, throw nitrate at my feet and watch me go up in flames! AHHH!

I just couldn't really get into it. The plot and everything wouldn't normally interest me to begin with, but I was lured in by the sultry promise of seeing one of the most luscious color palettes in film on sparkling nitrate stock. Like my experience a few days prior, I just couldn't see it. I feel like a fraud, a failure, a heathen, but I just can't see whatever it is that makes nitrate look different. And compound that with a movie about nuns and I felt kind of "meh." The color is definitely intoxicating, though, it just wasn't enough to sell me on the movie as a whole.

But check out that Polish poster. Now THAT I can get on board with.

What's Up Doc? (1972)

Introduced by Peter Bogdanovich, who wowed us with some impressions (he does a mean Jimmy Stewart)

I loved this WAY more than I probably should. I'm not sure if I would have laughed quite as much if I had seen this alone, but surrounded by a receptive audience I was very much enchanted by the frantic, goofy humor. And OH. MY. GOSH. I adored Madeline Kahn. And her wardrobe. I already bought a vintage floral quilted robe as soon as I got home because I want to be her.

Lady in the Dark (1944)

The sets, costumes, and art design were all very impressive. Ginger Rogers wears a sparkly red dress with a mink skirt that was nothing short of hypnotizing.

But it's dated in that way that's kind of uncomfortable to watch, like "now that I'm giving up my job to get married I can finally be a REAL woman!" dated. Like "leading man is sexist to the point of cruelty but you know that he's going to end up with the leading lady anyway" dated. Like "I watch classic movies all the time and I'm used to old fashioned misogyny but I still groaned multiple times" dated.

Hey, there are tons of movies that are kind of backwards and I still love them. Sometimes I can overlook it and I'm sure a lot of people were able to overlook it here. In Sunday in New York - one of my favorite movies - Jane Fonda casually accepts the fact that she has to give up her writing job because she's getting married. It's a throwaway line towards the end, but it's indicative of what normal life was like for women in 1963. Films are products of the times in which they were made, and I get that. But this one was just kind of yucky to me -- I can't entirely pinpoint what it was that made this one less okay than other relics of dated morals, but that's just how I felt.

That dress though 💃

TCMFF souvenir giveaway!

April 18, 2017

I'll be posting my recap from the 2017 TCM Film Festival shortly, but I wanted to share this first. I picked up some souvenirs from the TCM Gift Shop at the festival for a little giveaway! I'm a bit of a souvenir junkie, so shopping in the TCM Boutique is always one of my favorite parts of the trip. When I stayed home during the 2015 fest I definitely felt like I was missing out, since the items aren't available online. So if you missed the festival or just were too busy at TCMFF to drop by the Boutique, this is your chance to get your hands on some festival goodies!

If you win you'll receive a magnet with an image from The Palm Beach Story, the official 2017 festival enamel pin, and a set of postcards featuring the poster artwork from the festival (includes Born Yesterday, The Palm Beach Story, The Jerk, The Graduate, and an image of the Chinese Theater.)

To enter, leave a comment letting me know what you would pick if you could have any movie play at the TCM Film Festival. I'd have a hard time answering this question myself so if you can't narrow it down to one, that's totally okay ;) You can also gain an extra entry by retweeting the giveaway on twitter here. Just leave a second comment letting me know that you retweeted the giveaway. I'll be choosing a winner based on the comments on this post, so if you RT on twitter but don't comment on this post, that entry will not be counted.

I'll randomly select a winner on April 26th. The winner is Lê! Congratulations!

My 2017 TCMFF schedule

April 01, 2017

Me trying to plan my TCMFF schedule

This is all bound to change at the drop of a hat, but I've planned out a tentative schedule for my 2017 TCMFF movie-going. Last year I made a lot of last minute decisions, like deciding to get in line for The Conversation (1974) while I was on my way to a different movie, and that impulsiveness has never failed me. There's something almost exhilarating about throwing caution to the wind and lining up for a movie you know absolutely nothing about, and had zero intention of watching until that very moment.

That being said, I still spent an inordinate amount of time circling, crossing things out, double-checking, and rethinking. I have actual anxiety about skipping some of my favorites. When I think about the fact that I'm choosing Panique, a new-to-me French film, over Barefoot in the Park, one of my favorite movies, my heart starts racing and I need to breathe in deeply and repeat my mantra "you care way too much about movies, you care way too much about movies" to calm myself down.

As a Backlot member, I'll be starting Thursday with a Q&A with Ben Mankiewicz at the Chinese Multiplex, House 1, at 9AM. Any Backlot member with a festival pass can attend, so this might be a good time to join up if you haven't already. I asked Ben a question on the 2015 TCM Cruise and he said he needed time to think about it, so if I get to ask a question this time I'm going to see if two years was enough time to come up with an answer ;) After that I'm going to try to get into the 12:30PM tribute to Robert Osborne, also in House 1 at the Multiplex. I'm sure this is going to be a pretty packed house so I hope everyone who wants to attend is able to!

I'm on a Backlot trivia team, so I'll be heading over to The Roosevelt to participate in the first competition at 2PM (wish me luck!) After that I'll be camping out across the street from the red carpet with Millie. It's turned into an annual tradition, trying to guess who's inside each of the blacked-out SUVs pulling up outside the TCL theater. I even bought binoculars this year so maybe I'll catch a zoomed-in view of Sidney Poitier through my specs!

After the red carpet sight-seeing, I'll be high-tailing it over to The Egyptian to catch Love Crazy (1941), a film I haven't seen in ages. I can't think of a better way to start my festival than with William Powell and Myrna Loy on 35mm! And what better way to end the evening than with Hitchcock ON NITRATE?! And early Hitchcock, to boot (my favorite kind of Hitchcock!) The original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) will be playing at The Egyptian and there's no place I'd rather be.

On to Friday! I'm being ambitious and assuming throughout this whole schedule that I'll be able to drag myself out of bed early enough for 9AM activities every day. Since I'll still be running on Eastern Standard Time I'm holding out hope that my body will believe 9AM is noon. If all goes according to plan, I'll be seated at The Egyptian (again!) bright and early for Rafter Romance (1933). I remember when this lost film was found and broadcast on TCM for the first time several years ago, so getting to see it on a big screen (and in 35mm!) is such a treat! And it's being introduced by Leonard Maltin, who I haven't had the pleasure of seeing at TCMFF yet. After Rafter Romance I'll be staying at The Egyptian (I feel like this is the new Theater 4 this year!) for One Hour With You (1932) a Lubitsch pre-code celebrating its 85th anniversary! Also, another 35mm print! Huzzah!

Next up is the aforementioned movie block that is actually destroying my soul -- Panique vs. Barefoot in the Park. I'm going with Panique (1946) because, as a die-hard Francophile, I can't pass up one of the few foreign films at the festival. But considering Barefoot in the Park was the one film on this year's lineup that made my heart do cartwheels when I saw it on the schedule, this is pretty tough. Panique will be showing at the Multiplex in House 6, and it'll be introduced by Bruce Goldstein, the repertory programmer at my beloved Film Forum. (Sidenote: The Film Forum is going to be doing a Jean-Pierre Melville retrospective this spring and I am legitimately considering booking a hotel room for the week to make sure I don't miss a single film. Melville made just over a dozen films and assuming they play all of them that means THREE Alain Delon films. le sigh!)

But back to TCMFF! After Panique I'll be heading back to ... wait for it... The Egyptian! My rarities research and some recommendations from twitter friends completely sold me on So This is Paris (1926) the silent Lubitsch movie that's never seen a home-video release (not even VHS!) which makes it one of this year's rarest screenings. It'll be showing in 35mm with live piano accompaniment, so it should be a fun experience!

I have a sizable window between this film and the next, so I'll be taking a little dinner break. Food at the festival is a point of contention for me -- a lot of attendees choose to forgo meals in favor of popcorn, snacks, or starvation, but I'd be a miserable movie-goer (not to mention a noisy one!) if my stomach was growling the whole time. If you're eating solo and want some company, use the hashtag #TCMFFdinnerparty on twitter to see if anyone else is free to join you for a meal!

After grabbing a quick bite, I'll be off to that tiniest of theaters, Multiplex House 4, for the Carole Lombard drama Vigil in the Night (1940), being screened on 35mm. I haven't seen this one before but my dad caught it on TCM a few years ago and has been raving about it ever since. I'm looking forward to seeing what the fuss was all about! Plus I get to see my underrated fave Brian Aherne on the big screen! After I exit the theater I'll be circling around and getting right back in line for Cat People (1942), showing an hour later in the same theater. Seeing as how House 4 has a history of interested passholders exceeding the number of available seats, I don't want to take my chances! Cat People is one of my favorites, and I'm making the tough choice to sacrifice Laura (1944) on nitrate to see this spooky delight in 35mm.

I'll be wrapping things up with the midnight screening of Zardoz (1974), a film that I have literally zero interest in seeing, but I've loved the midnight movie experience so much in previous years I simply cannot pass this up. Eraserhead (1977) and Roar (1981) both scarred me for life... I'll report back and let you know how I fare with Zardoz.

Saturday morning I'll be hanging out with Michael Douglas at Multiplex House 1 for a screening of The China Syndrome (1979). I feel like nuclear safety is unfortunately becoming a very topical issue again, so my experience watching this might be much more emotional than it was when I saw it for the first time a few years ago. Next I'll be heading over to Club TCM for a discussion on "The Art of Subtitling" with Bruce Goldstein. I'm so excited about this event! As an obsessive foreign film fan, I'm always interested in different translations of the same dialogue or whoever decided that white text with no stroke on black and white movies would be a good idea! Hopefully I'll gain a lot of insight into the process during this event.

There's a nice long break between The Art of Subtitling and my next movie so I'll probably be hitting up the #TCMFFdinnerparty hashtag a little early to see if anyone wants to grab lunch. I'd like to get a bite to eat at Mel's drive-in on North Highland at least once. I don't see my favorites on their online menu (uh-oh!) but if they still have fresh strawberry shortcake and poached eggs with asparagus, I'll be a happy camper.

After filling up my stomach and possibly taking a small nap, I'll be back in line at the Multiplex (House 6 this time) for Le roi de coeur (King of Hearts) from 1966, one of the other foreign films on the lineup this year. This is a French import from the director of one of my favorite recent discoveries, That Man From Rio (available to rent on Amazon, here.) Star Genevieve Bujold will be in attendance and the print has been restored to celebrate the film's 50th anniversary! I don't want to make any predictions since movies can always catch you off-guard, but I have a feeling this will be one of my favorite new-to-me movies this year.

I'll be finishing up my day with a screening of Black Narcissus (1947) on nitrate at The Egyptian. I'm very excited about this one! I've never seen Black Narcissus, but one of the things that I've always noticed about clips or screenshots is the vibrant and stark use of color. Seeing a film this striking for the first time on nitrate is sure to be a beautiful experience!

On Sunday morning I might take a break from movie-going to do a little flea market shopping (to be determined when I discuss plans with friends, once I arrive in Hollywood) but if I do get to have another 9am date with celluloid, I'll be at Chinese Multiplex House 6 for Cock of the Air (1931). I mentioned this film in my last post, but it bears repeating -- censors cut 12 minutes from this movie, and it was recently restored with voice actors filling in the missing audio. The film isn't currently available on any form of home video, therefore along with 'So This is Paris' it's the rarest of the rare at the 2017 fest. If I miss out on it, I'm hoping it'll be programmed as one of the TBA titles that will be announced on Sunday.

At 11:15am it's Multiplex House 6 again, this time for a Douglas Sirk film starring... Boris Karloff and George Sanders? Count me in! Karloff's daughter, Sara Karloff, will be there in person to introduce Lured (1947). This is one of the "can't miss it!" titles on my schedule. After Lured I have a little over an hour until my next event at Club TCM so I'll be heading over there early to meet up with Raquel and hopefully snag some good seats for Dick Cavett's conversation and book signing. Want to guess my favorite Dick Cavett interview? Surprise, surprise, it's Alain Delon!

The timing is tight here, but assuming I can hop over from Club TCM to Multiplex House 6 quickly enough, my next screening will be Detective Story (1951) with Lee Grant in attendance. I'm trying to branch out and see a lot of films this year that I've never seen before (or even heard of, if possible.) Detective Story doesn't sound like something I'd DVR if it turned up on TCM, but I would never have taped The Conversation (1974) or All That Heaven Allows (1955) and I absolutely loved them both when I took a gamble on them at least year's festival.

And finally, my last movie of the festival will be Lady in the Dark (1944), screening on nitrate at The Egyptian. It seems fitting to end the festival the same way I started -- at The Egyptian with nitrate! My only regret is that Millie will be leaving on Sunday morning and won't get to see her namesake Ray Milland on the big screen.

And that's my tentative plan for next week! Regrets? I've had a few. Namely passing up the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) poolside screening at The Roosevelt with Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt), Rusty Goffe (the lead Oompa Loompa!), and Paris Themmen (Mike Tee Vee) in attendance, Cry, The Beloved Country (1951) which isn't available to stream or on DVD, Barefoot in the Park (1967) *crying buckets of tears*, and Laura (1944). Schedule conflicts are almost part of the fun at TCMFF though. And, to be honest, I did get to see Laura and Willy Wonka on the big screen recently, so I really can't complain!

Don't forget if you aren't able to attend the festival you can still watch along at home! Just use my handy dandy guide to which movies are streaming online, right here. Also, if you don't have a festival pass but you do live in the Hollywood area, most of the screenings have a standby line where you can buy a single ticket for ~$20 (Half price if you have a student ID or a Backlot membership card!) There's no guarantee that you'll get into a screening, but the chances are much higher at the larger venues like The Egyptian or the TCL Chinese Theater.

Hopefully I'll see you in sunny California in a few days! :)