Club Indigo to feature Citizen Kane
HOUGHTON -- CITIZEN KANE, regarded as the greatest single movie ever made, will be featured at this month's Club Indigo at the Calumet Theatre. Anyone not familiar with the film (as well as anyone who has seen it and would naturally leap at the opportunity to see it again) should head for the theatre on Friday, July
19, without fail!
This is the film that put Orson Welles on the filmic map. After a banner
success with his Mercury Theatre on radio (Remember the infamous "War of the Worlds" broadcast that sent thousands of Eastern
United States residents into the streets in panic?), he headed for Hollywood, took a crash course in film
making and in typical enfant terrible fashion, co-authored, directed and starred in his initial opus -- with disastrous results.
Citizen Kane hit too close to the nub; it smacked of a biting take-off on newspaper tycoon William Randoph Hearst's life, angered the guy enough to cause him to forbid advertising the movie in his papers across the country and nearly killed attendance.
But a good movie can't be held down forever. Once film critics and lovers of the avant garde alike discovered the movie, it shot to
stardom. It has been hailed globally as the greatest movie ever made and has been
imitated in one way or another -- admittedly -- by film-making celebs everywhere ever since.
What's it about? A dying man's final word, "Rosebud," is explored for its significance, the key to the man's highly eccentric life. Five interviews are made, each one moving the story chronologically from his childhood roots to the day of his death -- but without success. Only at the final moment are we privy to the secret.
But it isn't the plot that made Citizen Kane famous; it's the whole bevy of cinematic tricks invented by Welles, the brilliant casting (from his radio casts) and the total entertaining effect the movie has on its audiences even today. The movie is endlessly entertaining, endlessly timely, endlessly unforgettable.
It can be seen at 7:15 p.m. for $3.50. There will be the usual Club Indigo gourmet buffet beforehand (Keweenaw
Co-op chefs will create a "Hollywood New Wave" cuisine) at 6 p.m. -- reservation needed, for $9.50. Call the theatre for the reservation: 337-2610.
The movie has been made possible by a generous financial contribution by the Mariner North restaurant and cabins, Copper Harbor.
More movies in town
REIGN OF FIRE (Rated PG-13 for violence): The corny title alone should condemn this film, and yet it really isn't all that bad.
I kept thinking of the Australian "Mad Max" films in that this one is also a morbid depiction of life of desperate survival after a world disaster. This setting is in Northumberland's bleak hills, where the few remaining people and their meager vegetation are potential burnt offerings for huge fire-belching dragons that feed off ashes for their survival.
It's also, on the human level, an ongoing contest between the surviving Brits and a band of Americans; they join forces only out of necessity, but their animosity for one another is ever present.
I guess there's room on the screen for such survival-type movies providing they are made with tact and talent, and providing they make no pretense at creating a great statement on one hand or offer nothing more than a sleazy money-maker on the other. This one fits right in the middle -- just an entertaining monster movie with an occasional twist and delivered with just enough digital FX to make it exciting. (The dragons are amazingly realistic, frightening things that zip around with amazing speed and exhibit none of the phony, overblown characteristics found in lesser monster flicks.)
The film begins beautifully, with pigeons fluttering around London's Trafalgar Square; later, it leaps 20 years into the future when the world barely exists after the arousal of the fiery dragons. The first of them was found early on, in an underground cave underneath London, which,
along with the rest of the world, is almost totally decimated. The combined band of men return from the north to a badly shattered London where they commence and conclude their all-out battle with the monsters amid familiar, ruined buildings along the Thames.
Unlike most monster-related movies, director Rob Bowman forces you to take this one, if not profoundly, at least seriously; there are none of the usual tongue-in-cheek stereotypes in stock situations that rely purely on FX for their effect. His cast, including Matthew McConaughey as a beefy American tough guy with a Clint Eastwood voice and Christian Bale as the Brit leader with a scarred past, perform equally seriously while Izabella Scorupco is introduced as an American helicopter pilot who becomes interested in and abets
No doubt about it, this flick is on par with those Aussie movies of the early 80s, but there's a better one from New Zealand which pushes the envelope still farther with a band of survivors plunging into deep earth. It also plays with time in a far more interesting manner. For an electrifying experience, check out
The Navigator as an exciting alternative. (Grade: B-)
THE CROCODILE HUNTER: COLLISION COURSE (PG for mild, obviously staged
violence): There's a daily half hour on PBS that features a pair of brothers who use exaggeration and wild antics to teach kids about creatures of the world. They border on the ridiculous and yet they're popular because they know how to reach their youthful audience.
This film, I guess, is supposed to play mainly to adults, but it uses many of the same devices. OK, this heroic savior is charmingly disarming, even if he does go overboard with the kid stuff, so maybe he's fun watching, too.
Forget the silly plot for this thinly disguised plea for the preservation of nature and its creatures in their native habitats -- a plot that needlessly inserts a CIA search into the heart of Australia for a
croc that swallows a valuable metal container dropped on it from outer space -- and concentrate on the real pleasure this silly movie has to offer: the over-the-top personality of real life star of the TV show, "The
Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin. Irwin, with his wife Terri, doesn't just play around with the croc; he also fondles deadly snakes and spiders, as he booms with a carnival barker's voice how lovely they are. To one deadly snake dangling before his face, he coos as he mugs, "I love ya, darlin'; yer beautiful!" When he "accidentally" falls into the water and battles the croc, the air is filled with thrashing accompanied by more grunts and groans than at a pro wrestling match. In khaki shirt and shorts (more often soaked than not), he wallows in mud and filthy water, oblivious to the mess he's making as he renders unnecessary commentaries: "Oh, this is one fierce croc, it is; look at how he twists and tries to hit me with his vicious tail. But I've got a good hold on him, so he won't do me any harm -- unless he gets the better of me with those razor-sharp teeth and then, oh, bolly, I could be in trouble..."
His wife remains politely in the background, allowing Irwin nearly constant screen time. That's fine; after all, he's the main reason for seeing this otherwise terrible movie -- well, that and frequently interesting on-location settings and an occasionally interesting critter. One can't help but admire Irwin's unending derring-do as he flits from dangerous situation to dangerous situation with goofy enthusiasm. It begins to wear thin after nearly 90-minutes, but for the most part is the only reason to see and be amused by this thinly veiled environmental "educational" film. (Grade: B-)
HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (R for profanity, typical gore and violence for a slice-em-dice-em film and some suggestive sexual situations): So you thought that after a quarter of a century and seven previous movies about Michael Myers and his heavy breathing, that we were rid of him once and for all. But, nooooo, he's back, like a Phoenix too frequent, rising healthily and viciously from the last time (Sure, he was decapitated then, but, heck, don't ask. It's only a movie.)
Jamie Lee Curtis opens the film; this time it doesn't take long for Michael before he does her in. Apparently she forgot that you never climb stairs in a horror film to escape a killer without suffering the inevitable consequence.
The rest of the film follows all the slasher characteristics: the roller coaster up/down plot from screams to laughs to screams. It also has its fill of false scares, thudding John Carpenter inspired music, creepy backlit shots of Myers (heavily breathing, butcher knife ever dangling at his side), isolating the "bad" characters so that they can be slaughtered one at a time, while the "good" ones not only escape but fight back, cute sexy girls who don't know when to stop flirting and smarty guys who spout lines like, "You got great legs; what time do they open?"
The plot's familiar, too. A group of students are paid to spend a Halloween night in Myers' crumbling home --
updating the movie to the present with each of them wearing a minicam that records what they see -- so that an
Internet audience can watch whatever occurs. What does occur bears no surprises. By film's end, we're left with Myers and two "good" people. I'm not giving away any surprises to say they are pretty, sensitive Bianca Kajlich (no Sandra Bullock look-alike could possibly be done in) and rap star Busta Rhymes who, despite his brash in-your-face attitude, insisting that "fear is good," is passed off as a "goodie."
(I keep wondering, isn't there a role for youthful African American on our screens that permits more than the stereotyped angry or hip hop noisy attitudes in lieu of real acting talent? Sidney
Poitier, where are you when we need you?)
For that matter, where's John Carpenter when we need him? Director Rick Rosenthal with little material to work with does his best -- at least in the first half hour of the film -- to make the most of an uninspired script. But it doesn't take long for him to give up and just present the grizzly stuff by the numbers without bothering to crank up any involving, innovative moments.
Perhaps the greatest horror in this flick is the fact that the ending leaves it wide open for yet another sequel. Heaven spare us! (Grade: D)
Learn more about the author of this guest column, Joe
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