Reel New Mexico, October, 2016

Screening on Thursday, October 13 at the La Tienda Performance Space in El Dorado, is the 1991 comedy, ‘City Slickers’.  Filmed partially in New Mexico, in and around Abiquiu, Santa Fe, and the Santa Clara and Nambe Pueblos, City Slickers blends sight gags, one-liners, and sincerity, with both humor and drama arising from the characters and their situations. Mitch (Billy Crystal) is a radio station sales executive who finds himself in the throes of a mid-life crisis; accompanied by two friends, Phil (Daniel Stern) and Ed (Bruno Kirby) in the grip of similar problems, he heads to New Mexico for his birthday to participate in a two-week “vacation” cattle drive to Colorado.

The three friends are all urbanites- lost when it comes to herding cattle and surviving on the prairie; it’s up to authentic, almost mythic cowboy Curly (Jack Palance, who won an Oscar for the role), to whip them into shape. As various adventures occur along the way, including run-ins with outlaw cattle thieves, treacherous natural mishaps, and Mitch’s delivery of a newborn calf, the three “city slickers” open up to each other, learn to appreciate Curly’s Old West values, and begin to resolve their midlife dilemmas.

The film’s running time is about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Reel New Mexico is the state’s only ongoing film series that showcases New Mexico made movies.  There is a suggested donation of $5 and you can bring food and beverage into the performance space from our great neighbors at the La Plancha Restaurant, right across the hall.  For more information, please call 466.1634.  We rely on your support to keep this series going!

For more information, please call 466-1634.


PLEASE NOTE….THIS MONTH we are screening on WEDNESDAY, Sept 14!  

  Screening on WEDNESDAY, September 14, at the La Tienda Performance Space will be ‘Salt of the Earth’ (1954, 90 minutes). 
Salt of the Earth is a powerful, persuasive labor-management drama. With the exception of five actors (including future Walton’s star Will Geer), the cast is comprised of non-professionals, mostly participants of the real-life strike action upon which the film is based. It is one of three films that have been shot in part in NM that have been ‘banned’ or censored at some point. This will be part of our pre-movie discussion.
Set in and shot near Silver City, NM,  the film concerns the measures taken by the largely Hispanic union to improve working and especially living conditions for the poverty-stricken workers. Remarkably prescient, given that the film was made long before the women’s movement, is the fact that it is the wives who keep the strike alive while their husbands are beaten and otherwise oppressed by the owners.
Not that the miners wholeheartedly accept this; one of the script’s many on-target observations shows the macho workers resenting their wives’ intervention. The film focuses on breaking the strike with the authorities headed  by Geer at his most odious) & comes about as much from male-female solidarity as the workers’ pre-set determination.
Co-produced by the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers, Salt of the Earth was assembled under conditions of extreme duress by a group of Hollywood expatriates, all victims of the Blacklist: producer Paul Jarrico, director Herbert Biberman, screenwriter Michael Wilson and star Will Geer. “Freed” of the strictures of Hollywood pussyfooting and censorship, the film’s auteurs are able to explore several subjects previously considered taboo. As a result, Salt of the Earth seems even fresher and more pertinent now than it did when given its extremely limited first release in 1954.
PLEASE NOTE special date for this screening…there is a $5 suggested donation and you are welcome and encouraged to bring food and drink from our great neighbors at the La Plancha Café next door.
 For more information, please call 466.1634.




AROUND THE BEND (2004, 85 minutes, mostly shot in northern New Mexico)

Michael Caine and Christopher Walken breathe spirited life into debut writer/director Jordan Roberts’s road trip of family bonding in this independent movie with a big heart. The 85-year-old Henry Lair (Caine) lives in Los Angeles with his 32-year-old grandson Jason (Josh Lucas) and 6-year-old great grandson Zach (Jonah Bobo). Jason’s long lost father Turner (Walken) unexpectedly materializes for the first time in 30 years. Turner’s sudden appearance is especially surprising to Zach who has always been told that his outlaw grandfather is deceased. The four generations of men do soon drop in number however when the ailing Henry dies, immediately after writing his final requests on post-its in the comfort of a local Kentucky Fried Chicken. Henry’s circuitous instructions send his three male descendants on family history soul-searching road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque that culminates in a cathartic admission by Walken’s character that marks one of the actor’s finer cinematic moments. “Around The Bend” may be a “small” movie, but it’s better than Hollywood’s average dramatic fare.

The subject of estranged fathers is a recurring theme in American movies. “Around The Bend” goes a long way toward articulating the destructive nature of such abandonment within a comic narrative structure. Jason is a banker with a limp who has recently separated from his wife. He cares for the couple’s even-tempered son Zach with a fierce loyalty that springs from the  resentment he harbors against his own absent father. Jason’s live-in grandfather Henry serves as a perfectly eccentric guiding force for Jason and Zach. Michael Caine brings a complex degree of domestic intimacy to Henry’s character that denotes the emotional core of the story–even after he passes away–through his spontaneously written instructions. An extra zip of comic energy comes from Henry’s live-in-sex-pot Danish nurse Katrina (Glenn Headly) who provides brief intimate council to Turner as she watches slasher movies on television.

“Around The Bend” is a deceptively simple film  in which director Roberts seamlessly transfers the essential grains of emotional logic that Jason misses, from his father’s exhibitionist behavior, to the guileless Zach when the little boy dances like his grandfather on a giant rock in New Mexico at sunset. The sequence is unpredictably touching and makes you feel a kind of paternal bliss that no amount of description can do justice. It eloquently speaks to the attributes of emotional closure as containing a necessary aspect of hope. There’s nothing general about that.

Suggested donation for REEL NEW MEXICO is $5…you are welcome to bring food and drink into the performance space thanks to our great neighbors at La Plancha.



Screening on Thursday, June 9, 7 PM at the La Tienda Performance Space in El Dorado-

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, 110 minutes, shot partially in and around Socorro, NM)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” opens with a parody of the Hollywood dream world little girls were expected to carry around in their intellectual baggage a generation ago. The screen is awash with a fake sunset, and a sweet little thing comes strolling along home past sets that seem rescued from “The Wizard of Oz.” But her dreams and dialogue are decidedly not made of sugar, spice, or anything nice: This little girl is going to do things her way.
That was her defiant childhood notion, anyway. But by the time she’s thirty-five, Alice Hyatt has more or less fallen into society’s rhythms. She’s married to an incommunicative truck driver, she has a precocious twelve-year-old son, she kills time chatting with the neighbors. And then her husband is unexpectedly killed in a traffic accident and she’s left widowed and — almost worse than that — independent. After all those years of having someone there, can she cope by herself?

She can, she says. When she was a little girl, she idolized Alice Faye and determined to be a singer when she grew up. Well, she’s thirty-five, and that’s grown-up. She has a garage sale, sells the house, and sets off on an odyssey through the Southwest with her son and her dreams. What happens to her along the way provides one of the most perceptive, funny, occasionally painful portraits of an American woman ever put on screen.

A movie like this depends as much on performances as on direction, and there’s a fine performance by Ellen Burstyn (who won an Oscar for this role) as Alice.   She’s determined to find work as a singer, to “resume” a career that was mostly dreams to begin with, and she’s pretty enough (although not good enough) to almost pull it off. She meets some generally good people along the way, and they help her when they can. But she also meets some creeps, especially a deceptively nice guy named Ben (played by Harvey Keitel). The singing jobs don’t materialize much, and it’s while she’s waitressing that she runs into a divorced young rancher (Kris Kristofferson).

They fall warily in love, and there’s an interesting relationship between Kristofferson and Alfred Lutter, who does a very good job of playing a certain kind of twelve-year-old kid. Most women in Alice’s position probably wouldn’t run into a convenient, understanding, and eligible young man, but then a lot of the things in the film don’t work as pure logic.

The movie’s filled with brilliantly done individual scenes. Alice, for example, has a run-in with a fellow waitress with an inspired vocabulary (Diane Ladd, an Oscar nominee for this role). They fall into a friendship and have a frank and honest conversation one day while sunbathing. The scene works perfectly. There’s also the specific way her first employer backs into offering her a singing job, and the way Alice takes leave from her old neighbors, and the way her son persists in explaining a joke that could only be understood by a twelve-year-old. These are great moments in a film that gives us Alice Hyatt: female, thirty-five, undefeated.

Reel New Mexico for May, 2016

Screening on Thursday, May 12, 7 PM at the La Tienda Performance Space in El Dorado-
‘THE ATOMIC CITY‘ (1952, 85 minutes, filmed in Santa Fe, Los Alamos, and at Puye Cliffs)
After the dawning of the nuclear age with the unveiling of the atomic bomb and the subsequent “Cold War” that developed between the United States and Russia, American movies began to reflect the growing fear of nuclear annihilation, Communist infiltration and the paranoia generated by the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations of the late forties. Among the many features inspired by these concerns in the early fifties is one of the most overlooked and underrated features, The Atomic City a superior melodrama set in Los Alamos, New Mexico, within the high security and insular community of working scientists and their families.
 Nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay, The Atomic City stars Gene Barry as Dr. Frank Addison, a top physicist whose demanding work is creating a strain on his marriage and his relationship with his son Tommy. Frank’s wife Martha (Lydia Clarke) has already expressed her distress to him about living in the unnatural environment of Los Alamos while noting that Tommy has started using the phrase “if I grow up” instead of “when I grow up” in conversations about the future. Frank’s promise to spend more time with his wife and son, however, coincides with an unexpected and frightening development – his son is kidnapped during a school field trip by enemy agents who pressure Frank for top secret data on his current nuclear project. If he doesn’t deliver the information in a timely manner, his son will die.
The Atomic City is like two films in one, with the first half offering an intriguing look at the day to day life and pressures of living in a government financed and patrolled community with limited access to the outside world. After establishing the emotional estrangement between Frank and his family, however, the second half of the movie shifts gears and becomes a chase thriller with Frank and the FBI in pursuit of the kidnappers who have Tommy imprisoned inside an Indian pueblo dwelling in a remote part of New Mexico.
 During production, the film had several working titles, including Los Alamos and Los Alamos Story. The Atomic City has location shooting in Los Alamos and Santa Fe and at the nearby Puye ruins. It also marked the first time a major film studio (Paramount) was allowed to film inside the Los Alamos plant for a feature film; the latter footage is featured in the opening of The Atomic City, accompanied by voiceover narration and a title card that states that the plant’s personnel have been “masked for security reasons.”
The Atomic City was promoted as a “sleeper” by Paramount Studio publicists in the hopes that it would generate a major word-of-mouth campaign. While it never became anything more than a modest box office success for the studio, it did receive uniformly positive reviews from most major film critics with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times highlighting the film’s strengths in his review: “It is made for suspense and excitement, and those are what it gives.”
REEL NEW MEXICO needs your support in order for the film series to continue. Suggested donation is $5 and you are welcome to bring food and drink into the space from our helpful neighbors at La Plancha, right across the hallway! For more information, please call Jeff at 466.1634.


April 14, 2016, 7 pm, at the La Tienda Performance Space in El Dorado–Suggested donation is $5…you are welcome to bring food/drink from La Plancha, our great next door neighbor!


THE GREY FOX (1982, 100 minutes)

 Long time New Mexico resident the late Richard Farnsworth stars in this gently paced and quietly told turn of the century Western, based on the true story of Canadian train robber, Bill Miner. 

THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT The Grey Fox.  The first thing you notice is something special about the light. Nominally a Western, The Grey Fox lacks the sunbaked look that we’ve come to associate with films that feature a frontier setting.

Director Phillip Borsos invites us to look at a new and different frontier. This is a Northwestern, filmed in a land of golden browns and velvet greens. Here, the light caresses the eye instead of attacking it.
For generations, filmmakers have used the harsh, barren wastelands of the American southwest as the setting for gritty, violent action. Borsos, by contrast, uses the softer, life-laden landscapes of our own province to tell a gentle, almost contemplative tale.

There’s something special about the story, too. The Grey Fox opens with the announcement that “on June 17, 1901, after 33 years in San Quentin Prison, Bill Miner was released into the Twentieth Century.”
A former stagecoach robber, Miner had been a part of the Old West celebrated in all of those conventional dusters. On his release, he sets out for the new frontier, and along the way he discovers a new world.    

Miner is a sophisticated, intelligent individual suddenly abandoned to his own devices.   His story derives much of its enchantment from Borsos’s remarkable ability to make us see the world through eyes at once knowing and naïve, to see the familiar with a startling freshness.  As portrayed by Genie Award-winner Richard Farnsworth, he is a generous old grandfather; alert, aware and not about to give in to despair.

Sixty years old at the time of his release, Miner looks ahead to the life that is still before him, accepting and adapting to his new situation. For a time he visits with his sister Jennie (Samantha Langevin) who lives near Tacoma, and makes his way harvesting oysters on the Puget Sound mud flats.
One day, in the local nickelodeon, Miner sees a movie that seems to speak directly to him. It’s the world’s first Western, Edwin Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), and to a professional who “always specializes,” the message is clear.

In the flickering light from the screen, we see Miner’s eyes light up. A slow smile rearranges his rugged features, and the rest, as they say, is history.  Not an action picture in the accepted sense, The Grey Fox spends the bulk of its screen time with Miner in the B.C. Interior. In hiding, following his successful robbery of the CPR’s Transcontinental Express near  Mission, he becomes part of the growing community of Kamloops.

During this period he becomes a friend and something of a father figure to a local provincial police constable named Fernie (Timothy Webber). Much to his surprise, he discovers an unexpected soulmate in flamboyant frontier photographer Kate Flynn (Genie Award-winning actress Jackie Burroughs).

“In this country,” she blusters. “You’re not taken seriously unless you’re Caucasian, Protestant and, most of all, male.”  Inexorably, the forces tracking Miner — an arrogant Pinkerton detective named Seavey  and the North West Mounted Police  — are closing in.  

     Wistful without being overly sentimental, The Grey Fox is worth taking a special trip to the movies, just for the soundtrack!

More info needed? 466-1634



Screening on Thursday, March 10, at 7 PM at the La Tienda Performance Space
AMARGOSA– (2000, 90 minutes)
The courage necessary to forge down the artistic path has rarely been more passionately explored in documentary film than in Todd Robinson’s elegiac “Amargosa.” By any measure, it’s the definitive film portrait of dancer-choreographer-painter Marta Becket, whose escape from the New York art scene hubbub to ultra-remote Death Valley Junction in the 1960s has become a living chapter in California’s rich cultural lore. Perhaps due to the sheer distance of Becket’s Amargosa Opera House from any real burg, myth as much as fact has surrounded her, but Robinson’s supremely crafted and textured account places her achievement in proper context as the great adventure of an artist who has remained true to her muse.

One of the work’s most crucial contributions is to disprove the popular notion that septuagenarian Becket is a desert kook who long ago retreated from the mainstream to practice her primitive art. Limned with finely observed biographical detail, story underlines Becket’s roots in the vibrant New York performance scene, educated in all of the arts and skilled at an astonishing number of them. Robinson structures his film in a series of time shifts from Becket’s present world in Death Valley to a past that seems to have happened on a different planet, emphasized by astonishing aerial and ground footage of the harshly beautiful desert environment surrounding the opera house.

Certainly, this is the right place for Becket, who found that her life in New York didn’t allow her the freedom to pursue her dreams as a dancer and artist, and that a vacant auditorium in Death Valley provided her with a blank canvas to create her own brand of dance theater.

Key to Becket’s transcendence of her situation is her skill at translating life experiences into dance. Besides preserving many of Becket’s performances, the film situates them within a life whose art is itself the overcoming of obstacles, thereby placing “Amargosa” among prime examples of inspiring cinema about artists and art-making.

Not dwelling on the most famous aspect of Becket’s fashioning of her opera house — the wall and ceiling murals that create a marvelous effect of an audience watching Becket perform with partner Tom Willet, the film instead details the sacrifice she put into the project: namely, how her then-husband lost patience during the mural’s time-consuming creation, and left her for another woman.

Becket, who owns the dusty hamlet surrounding the opera house and adjacent haunted motel, seems to have fed off her environs, involving herself in local attempts to rescue wild horses and giving the area a kind of one-woman civic boost, while immersing herself in Death Valley lore including all those ghosts bumping around. Even this bit of eccentricity is given the utmost respect by Robinson, who employs it as part of the underlying theme that Becket, who is now 91, is reaching the winter of her life. Locals worry that the town will vanish along with her, which is an even higher compliment than admirer Ray Bradbury’s: “She represents the spirit of the individual, of creativity.”

There is a suggested donation of $5 for REEL NEW MEXICO and you can bring food and drink into the auditorium, thanks to our friends at La Plancha, located across the hall.

For more information, please call Jeff at 466.1634