24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Children's movies

Around Town: Superman flies again and the New Wave returns

December 1, 2011 |  7:00 am


A Francois Truffaut retrospective, an animation festival and a screening of 1978’s “Superman” are among this week’s highlights.

The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre celebrates the legacy of one of the founders of France’s New Wave cinema, Francois Truffaut, who died at the age of 52 in 1984. “The Film Lover: A Francois Truffaut Retrospective” commences Friday evening with his first feature film, 1959’s “The 400 Blows,” his critically acclaimed autobiographical drama about a troubled young boy, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud in a stunning performance). The second feature is Truffaut’s third entry in the Antoine Doinel series, the 1968 romantic comedy “Stolen Kisses,” with Leaud and Delphine Seyrig.

Truffaut pays homage to one of his icons, Alfred Hitchcock, in his 1968 mystery thriller “The Bride Wore Black,” starring Jeanne Moreau in the title role, which screens Saturday. Also on tap is his 1962 masterwork, “Jules and Jim” with Moreau and Oskar Werner. The retrospective concludes Sunday with his 1960 film noir, “Shoot the Piano Player” with Charles Aznavour, and 1980’s World War II drama “The Last Metro,” with Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. http://www.americancinematheque.com

Cinefamily’s Silent Movie Theatre gets highly animated this week. The “Animation Breakdown” begins with “An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt” on Thursday, featuring the L.A. premiere of his latest animated short, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” The filmmaker will be appearing in person. On Friday, Cinefamily shines the spotlight on Polish animation with several shorts by noted animators including an exclusive presentation of the Brothers Quays’ latest film, “Maska.” Saturday afternoon’s offering is a sneak preview of Pixar’s newest short film, “La Luna,” six months before its theatrical release. Later in the afternoon, Cinefamily presents a cast and crew reunion of the Cartoon Network series “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.”

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Around Town: The Stooges ride back to town

November 24, 2011 |  6:00 am


The Three Stooges, a Gary Cooper double bill and a tribute to Japan’s Studio Ghibli are among the Thanksgiving week film offerings.

Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! The Alex Film Society presents its 14th annual “Three Stooges Big Screen Event” Saturday afternoon and evening at the venerable Alex Theatre in Glendale. The slapstick, eye-poking comedy shorts starring Moe, Curly, Larry and Shemp are presented in glorious 35mm. Among the shorts scheduled are 1937’s “Back to the Woods” and “Goofs and Saddles,” 1948’s “Mummies Dummies,” with Shemp, 1943’s “Higher Than a Kite” and 1938’s “Wee Wee Monsieur.” http://www.alexfilmsociety.org

The New Beverly celebrates Turkey Day with a Gary Cooper double bill Thursday and Friday: 1930’s melodrama “Morocco,” directed by Josef Von Sternberg and also starring Marlene Dietrich in her only Oscar-nominated performance, and 1940’s “The Westerner,” directed by William Wyler and co-starring Walter Brennan, who picked up his third supporting actor Oscar as the infamous Judge Roy Bean.

Two seminal films from former cinematographer-turned-director Nicolas Roeg are screening Tuesday and Wednesday at the theater-1971’s Australian adventure “Walkabout,” with Jenny Agutter and David Gulpilil and the 1976 sci-fi fantasy “The Man Who Fell to Earth” with David Bowie. http://www.newbevcinema.com

Film Independent at LACMA shines a “Spotlight on Studio Ghibli” Saturday at the Leo S. Bing Theater. The Japanese animation studio was created in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki. Screening late Saturday afternoon is 1986’s “Castle in the Sky,” Miyazaki’s debut film for the studio, followed in the evening by Miyazaki’s 2001 “Spirited Away,” which earned the Oscar for best animated feature. This week’s Tuesday matinee feature at the Bing is the 1936 screwball comedy “Theodora Goes Wild,” for which Irene Dunne earned a lead actress Oscar nomination. Melvyn Douglas also stars. http://www.lacma.org/series/film-independent-lacma

The American Cinematheque’s Aero Theatre screens 1952’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” which is widely considered the greatest movie musical ever made, on Friday evening. Gene Kelly, who co-directed with Stanley Donen, stars with Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor and Jean Hagen in this effusive musical farce about the early days of the talkies in Hollywood. On tap for Saturday afternoon at the theater is “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The beloved 1939 musical fantasy “The Wizard of Oz” is set for late Sunday afternoon. And Wim Wenders’ 1999 musical documentary “Buena Vista Social Club” is on tap for Wednesday.

The Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre presents “French Female Directors Shorts Showcase” Saturday evening at its intimate Spielberg Theatre, while the main theater will be presenting the 1939 Oscar-winning epic “Gone With the Wind,” starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. http://www.americancinematheque.com

Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre presents the 1972 rock documentary “Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii” and 1976’s “Led Zeppelin: The Song Remains the Same” Friday evening. The Silent Movie Theatre offers a free sneak preview Sunday afternoon of the film “The Death and Return of Superman,” starring Elijah Wood and Mandy Moore. Writer/director Max Landis, as well as several of the stars, schedule permitting, are set to appear for a post-screening Q&A. You must preregister for the screening.

Doug Benson’s “Movie Interruption” presentation at Monday evening Cinefamily’s is the acclaimed “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” http://www.cinefamily.org

Film Courage presents the L.A. premiere of “Missing Pieces” Monday evening at the Downtown Independent. Schedule permitting, there will be a Q&A with director Kenton Barlett and his stars after the movie. http://www.filmcourage.com

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “2011-2012 Contemporary Documentaries” series continues Wednesday evening at the Linwood Dunn Theater with Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” and Madeleine Sackler’s “The Lottery,” both released in 2010. http://www.oscars.org

UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Wednesday evening presentations at the Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles offers two collaborations between Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson: 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces,” for which Nicholson earned his first lead actor Oscar nomination, and the underrated 1972 drama “The King of Marvin Gardens,” which also stars Bruce Dern and Ellen Burstyn. http://www.cinema.ucla.edu


Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli enters ‘The Secret World of Arrietty’

-- Susan King

Photo: The Three Stooges, from left, Moe, Curly and Larry. Credit: Alex Film Society

Around Town: Italian Neorealism, the comedy of Albert Brooks, Terrence Malick and more

May 19, 2011 |  5:00 am

GardenItaly's Vittorio De Sica earned a reputation as one of Neorealism's most accomplished filmmakers, a man who frequently collaborated with screen siren Sophia Loren. His Academy Award-winning 1971 film "The Garden of the Finzi-Continis," screens Thursday at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The screening marks the premiere of a newly restored print of the film, which follows the lives of a wealthy Italian Jewish family oblivious to the fact that fascism is engulfing their lives. The film's producer, Arthur Cohn, is the special guest. www.oscars.org

The Bigfoot Crest Theater this weekend adds repertory programming to its schedule with two new monthly series. The first, Singafest Asian Film Nights, begins Thursday with a screening of a 35-millimeter print of the Akira Kurosawa 1961 classic "Yojimbo," with Toshiro Mifune. That will be followed by the first installment of another new monthly series, "Spirits in the Dark: Horror at the Crest," which kicks off with a sneak preview of the horror thriller "The Whisperer in Darkness." www.bigfootcrest.com

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A broad-comedy version of 'Mr. Popper's Penguins'?

June 22, 2010 |  1:25 pm

We've previously wondered what kind of direction Fox was going to take with "Mr. Popper's Penguins," the adaptation of the illustrated children's classic originally published on the eve of World War II.

For a while, it looked like the studio/producers would take a Spike Jonze-y "Where the Wild Things Are" tack, with Noah Baumbach writing and directing and Ben Stiller looking to star. Then the "Greenberg" duo parted ways with "Popper's Penguins," and it was back to asking what kind of film the studio had mind.

Pengu Now we have something of a clue. In recent days, Hollywood circles have been filled with talk that Mark Waters, the "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" and "Freaky Friday" director who has a few commercial comedies under his belt, was talking to the studio, as was Jim Carrey, the actor who has more than a few commercial comedies under his belt.

Waters and Carrey also have something else going for them -- both have made hit movies involving animals, literal or figurative (Carrey with the "Ace Ventura" movies and Waters with "Mean Girls.")

Representatives and the studio aren't confirming any talks with the two, and it could well end up being another pair that gets the gig. (Owen Wilson and Jack Black, for instance, are in the mix, and don't rule out a Stiller comeback, though almost certainly without Baumbach). But the fact that Waters and Carrey are being associated with "Popper's Penguins" tells us a little bit more about what the studio wants (it is the concept-driven Fox) --- and, maybe, what the project needs.

This, after all, is a story about a couple that takes in a few penguins and before they know it have a veritable zoo on their hands. You could plumb the depths of the soul with it, as Baumbach might have done. But more likely you're going to want to plumb the depths of kid-friendly animal jokes, the kind of thing that's right in Carrey's hen house. And given how family films are tearing it up at the box office, it would hard to argue with the studio waddling that way.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Jacket of 'Mr. Popper's Penguins.' Credit: Little, Brown & Co.


Mr. Popper's Penguins could reshuffle its flock

Is a multiplex full of family films the future of moviegoing?

Noah Baumbach shows 'Greenberg' how he sees it

Jim Carrey's 'I Love You Philip Morris' back on the shelf

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'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' could augur a post-Harry Potter boom

March 22, 2010 |  1:37 pm

The surprise success of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" at the box office this weekend -- it earned nearly $22 million, beating out the blazing originality of "The Bounty Hunter" and "Repo Men" -- shows much about the state of contemporary box office (and not just that a well-made movie can actually come out this time of year).

For one thing, it demonstrates that audiences may finally be getting tired of Jennifer Aniston (we've heard that before, so fingers crossed). For another, it shows that a well-known title or brand -- the movie is based on Jeff Kinney's wildly bestselling children's graphic-novel series -- is these days increasingly likely to trump a well-known actor, as several pundits have noted.

But maybe most strikingly, it proves that books aimed at pre-adolescents can be turned into successful movies.

We've heard that one before too. Observers have spent the better part of this past decade of "Harry Potter" touting a post-Potter boom at the movies. But children's books -- especially those aimed at the pre-teen set -- generally haven't caught on at the multiplex. "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events," based on the literary mega-phenomenon, flopped.  "The Golden Compass" helped sink New Line as a studio. And just last month, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," based on Rick Riordan's bestselling fantasy series, generated more rain than thunder (though it fared far better overseas).

With "Diary" (and, in a somewhat different sense, with "Alice in Wonderland"), there are signs that the post-Potter boom is finally here. "Diary" producers pulled off a well-regarded pre-teen film despite a smaller budget than many of their more action-oriented counterparts. And they did so by showcasing a central character who's roughly the same age as much of the film's target audience. (The conventional wisdom among producers of youth-skewing movies is that most kids in elementary school and junior high want to see older characters, a la "Twilight" and "Pirates of the Caribbean").

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