PLEASE NOTE….THIS MONTH we are screening on WEDNESDAY, Sept 14!
PLEASE NOTE….THIS MONTH we are screening on WEDNESDAY, Sept 14!
REEL NEW MEXICO, for THURSDAY, JULY 14th- 7 PM
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.
REEL NEW MEXICO, JUNE 2016
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)
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.
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
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
Screening at La Tienda Performance Space on Thursday, Feb 11 at 7 PM is ‘Santa Fe’, a drama/comedy/parody of all things Santa Fe in the 1990’s.
This 1997 release follows Paul Thomas who has survived an odd cult experience and returns to his hometown of Santa Fe to reunite with his wife and daughter only to learn that they have become deeply involved in New Age philosophies. Weary of anything remotely cultish after his near-fatal experience, he still manages to fall in love with a local self-help guru.
The movie was filmed entirely in and around Santa Fe and played at the Sundance Film Festival.
Please help to keep REEL NEW MEXICO alive and kicking by attending our screenings. There is a suggested admission of $5 and you are welcome to bring food and drink from La Plancha, our good friends just outside our door!
For more information, please contact Jeff Berg at 466-1634
Coming in March- the amazing documentary, ‘AMARGOSA’.