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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Turan on Film

Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week: '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea' & Stephin Merritt

July 8, 2010 |  7:59 am


Though the executives at Disney who quashed a recent remake attempt may not think so, there is something eternally appealing about Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," and Sunday night offers an opportunity to see the 1916 silent version in a really special way.

Providing the live musical accompaniment at the Cinefamily at 611 North Fairfax is the gifted Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields. Merritt, whose music enlivened the indie hit "Pieces of April," starring Katie Holmes and Derek Luke, will be working from a score commissioned by the San Francisco Film Society.

I've personally never seen this rare 1916 version, complete with then-state-of-the-art underwater photography, but I do have the movie tie-in edition of the novel dating from when the film came out, and it makes this "20,000 Leagues" look truly exciting. "Special Submarine Edition" it says right on the cover, with the words "Actually Photographed Under the Sea" appearing on the spine.

The tickets are expensive -- $35 apiece -- but this event, happening at both 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. is worth it.

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: A scene from the 1916 film "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Credit: Courtesy of Cinefamily

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Critics' picks: the best movies to see (or rent) this week

January 7, 2010 | 10:04 am

The freedom to choose is not only overwhelming -- it's overrated. So don't strain your brain. When it comes to picking the best movies to see each week, let Times critics Kenneth Turan and Betsy Sharkey do the thinking for you. Honestly. We're all better off this way.

Tickle_me_movie_poster-244x360 KENNETH TURAN: It’s hard to believe, but if Elvis Presley were still alive, Friday would be his 75th birthday. Equally hard to credit is the fact that the King made 31 movies during his time in Hollywood. To celebrate both facts, the American Cinematheque is hosting an Elvis birthday extravaganza Sunday with a 7:30 p.m. double bill at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. First up is “Elvis ’56,” a documentary on the year  Presley went through the roof, followed by one of his most memorable features, 1957’s “Jailhouse Rock.” Francine York," an Elvis costar in “Tickle Me,” is scheduled to make an appearance, and Elvis-related food will be available in the courtyard from 5:30 p.m.

Lion_in_winter BETSY SHARKEY: If you’re in the mood for a fight of the familial sort, there is no better squabble to be had than the faceoff between Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn at the searing core of 1968’s “The Lion in Winter.” It’s never been lonelier at the top than it is for O’Toole’s Henry II, and the little woman has never loomed larger than Hepburn’s hellcat, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Watching, it’s a wonder the screen doesn’t combust right in front of you. The role would win Hepburn her third lead actress Oscar and earn O’Toole his third lead actor nomination. If it’s King Henry who intrigues you, stick around for the second half of the Egyptian Theatre’s Friday night double bill, “Becket,” with O’Toole’s Henry tangling with Richard Burton and religion. Powerful and potent too, but really nothing beats the wrath of Kate.


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