Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Screening Room

Life Throws a 'Curve'

Todd Verow's film follows a woman's misadventure in New York's East Village.

April 22, 1999|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The American Cinematheque presents at 7:30 tonight at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Todd Verow's "Shucking the Curve," a swift-moving account of a pretty, small-town bank teller (Bonnie Dickenson) who decides to experience life in the East Village with the vague goal of becoming an actress. Her adventures among the most bizarre denizens of the neighborhood are pretty funny, but she's becoming caught up in drugs. Verow, who previously pulled off the formidable challenge of bringing Dennis Cooper's "Frisk" to the screen, invites us to laugh at, and reflect upon, the ultimately absurd excesses of his heroine. The film owes much of its force to Verow's shooting on tape, which heightens the movie's immediacy while allowing Verow to work with minimal expense and maximum flexibility. (323) 466-FILM.

*

No one could have watched the Apollo 11 moon landing on TV in July 1969 with greater excitement than Fritz Lang. Forty years before, in 1929, he made "Woman in the Moon" (tonight at 7 at the Goethe Institute, 5750 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 100), his last silent, a film so prophetically accurate and technically dazzling that in 1937 the Gestapo confiscated not only all models of its spaceship but also prints of the picture. Lang's elation, however, was mixed with sorrow, for only 27 days earlier his friend Dr. Willy Ley, the pioneer rocket enthusiast and one of the film's technical advisors, had died of a heart attack.

Based on a novel by Lang's then-wife and co-scenarist, Thea von Harbou, "Woman in the Moon," apart from its stunning visuals, is a typically exaggerated silent melodrama, a kind of vintage "Star Wars" played straight.

While freely acknowledging the film's weaknesses in plot and characterization, Lang nonetheless was proud of "Woman in the Moon," especially of inadvertently "inventing" the countdown to dramatize the spaceship's takeoff. Years later Willy Ley was to write that, in thinking back, he realized--"to my own surprise"--that the countdown had first been used in "Woman in the Moon." With piano accompaniment by Robert Israel. (323) 525-3388.

Israel conducts a full orchestra Friday at 8 p.m. at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, to accompany Ernst Lubitsch's enchanting "Madame DuBarry" (1919), released in the U.S. as "Passion," which offers a sly boudoir view of history in which a radiant Pola Negri plays Madame DuBarry to Emil Jannings' ungainly, petulant Louis XV. In the immediate wake of World War I, the French were so taken aback by this sophisticated, though tragic, romp made by their recent enemies that they banned it for five years; in the meantime, stars and director proceeded to Hollywood and even greater fame and glory. (310) 247-3600.

*

French New Wave pioneer Agnes Varda will appear Friday and Saturday after the screenings of her "One Hundred and One Nights" (American Cinematheque at the Egyptian, Friday through April 29), a poignant, witty salute to the 100th anniversary of the movies.

It's a film buff's delight, crammed with references, clips from old films and appearances by hallowed international stars. On another level it's a reverie, a contemplation of love and loss, of youth and old age, of dreams and memories, of mortality and the eternal nature of the cinema. Michel Piccoli plays Monsieur Cinema, who embodies the history and spirit of film, and in particular, that Fabulous Invalid, the French motion picture industry itself. (Since Varda is such a playful director, Piccoli is sometimes simply himself.) Monsieur Cinema may have been inspired by the director of the landmark "Napoleon," the late Abel Gance, whom Piccoli resembles when he puts on a long silver-white wig.

In any event, Simon Cinema is bedridden in his cha^teau-museum, and has hired a pretty young cineaste, Camille (Julie Gayet), to keep his memory sharp. The word is out that as his 100th birthday approaches he's ailing, which prompts a flood of visits by stars, starting with the late Marcello Mastroianni, who settles in as a regular visitor. Other stars include Jeanne Moreau, Hanna Schygulla, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Gina Lollobrigida, Catherine Deneuve, Robert De Niro, Gerard Depardieu, Alain Delon, Anouk Aimee and Harrison Ford. (323) 466-FILM.

*

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|