by Jen Chung
Danny riding his Big Wheel down halls of the Overlook Lodge. Rocky’s famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The famous Copacabana scene in Goodfellas. These and other famously smooth “tracking shots” were made possible thanks to the Steadicam, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and will be the subject of a film series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center next month.
Steadicam was invented by cinematographer Garrett Brown, who wanted a way for movie viewers to follow action intimately without the jerkiness of a handheld camera and without crews needed to assemble big cameras on dollies. Brown, who debuted Steadicam in 1976 for Bound for Glory (which won an Oscar for Best Cinematography), refined the camera for Rocky, another 1976 release, and made this test video of his then-girlfriend (now wife):
The Film Society said in a press release, Steadicam “has become an essential tool of filmmaking and has allowed cinematographers to execute some of their most astonishing camera movements. Steadicam enabled the camera to move with the same grace as the bodies, objects, and spaces that it films, expanding the medium’s visual possibilities in ways that many of the key filmmakers of the subsequent four decades have found indispensable.”
The series, “Going Steadi,” includes Rocky, Bound for Glory, The Shining and Goodfellas as well as Strange Days, Pulp Fiction and, on Christmas Day, Eyes Wide Shut. “Going Steadi” runs from December 16 through January 3.
Brown himself will be there in person on December 16 to introduce Bound for Glory at 6:30pm and John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man at 9:30pm, and on December 17 to introduce Rocky at 6:30pm and The Shining at 9:00pm. Tickets go on sale on Thursday, December 1. Here’s a list of the films being screened and their times:
All screenings take place at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St) unless otherwise noted
Martin Scorsese, USA, 1985, 35mm, 97m
Scorsese followed up his early 1980s classics The King of Comedy and Raging Bull with this equally enduring journey to the end of the New York night. Slightly uptight (and uptown-dwelling) typist Griffin Dunne improbably picks up Rosanna Arquette in a coffee shop when he spies her reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, and an invitation to come visit her bohemian loft in hip and dangerous downtown SoHo results in our hero embarking on a hilarious and nightmarish odyssey, in which he tries to get back home. But, channeling The Exterminating Angel, SoHo and its residents simply refuse to let him leave… Marauding Steadicam movements stalk Dunne through the dark, rain-drenched streets as time and again he fails to find sanctuary, a means of escape, or even one sane person.
Sunday, December 25, 6:00pm
Monday, January 2, 9:15pm
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Steven Spielberg, USA, 2001, 35mm, 146m
An unrealized Stanley Kubrick dream project brought to the screen by Steven Spielberg, this haunting science-fiction fairy tale stands as one of the first great movies of the 21st century. In a future ravaged by climate change, a robotic boy named David (Haley Joel Osment), aided by an android gigolo (Jude Law) and a talking teddy bear, travels to the end of the world (an underwater Manhattan) in a quest to become real and win back the love of the human mother who abandoned him. Spielberg employs Steadicam to heighten the impact of some of the film’s most emotionally charged moments—including what could be called the robot equivalent of a primal scene.
Saturday, December 31, 3:00pm
Monday, January 2, 6:30pm
Ken Russell, USA, 1980, 35mm, 102m
Ken Russell, the late, lamented master of freak-out fantasia, directed this 1980 head-trip, whose screenplay was adapted by Paddy Chayefsky (under a pseudonym) from his own novel. The result is a jarring hybrid, blending elements of sci-fi, horror, and psycho-expressionism. Fearless scientist Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) attempts to plumb nothing less than the unborn soul of mankind, using a sensory-deprivation tank and extra helpings of shroom stew. Russell takes us along for the phantasmagorical ride and transports us—thanks, in part, to the manic mobility of the camerawork—into Jessup’s subjective states, merging psychedelic special effects, hyperreal dream sequences, and the director’s typically dazzling and blasphemous take on Christian symbolism. The film features Blair Brown as Hurt’s smitten wife, and a timely use of “Light My Fire.”
Thursday, December 22, 7:00pm
Thursday, December 29, 1:30pm
Jonathan Glazer, USA/UK/Germany/France, 2004, 35mm, 100m
Glazer’s underrated metaphysical masterpiece—co-written by Jean-Claude Carrière and shot by Harris Savides—ranks among the most glorious head-scratchers of American cinema this century. Nicole Kidman stars as Anna, a Manhattan widow on the verge of remarrying Joseph (Danny Huston). But when a mysterious young boy (Cameron Bright) shows up out of nowhere claiming to be the reincarnation of Anna’s deceased husband, the film leaps into a gripping investigation of the uncanny, the possibility of miracles, and love’s refusal to die alongside the flesh. Steadicam—operated by Garrett Brown—is used in Birth to startling effect as Central Park is transformed into a haunted space where death and rebirth are one and the same.
Wednesday, December 28, 9:30pm
Friday, December 30, 4:00pm
Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 1997, 35mm, 155m
“This is the film I want them to remember me by,” declares porn auteur Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, in a career performance). Though there’s plenty of competition, Paul Thomas Anderson could easily claim this, his sophomore feature, as his bid for posterity. A sprawling mosaic of life in the adult-film industry, Horner’s surrogate “family”—uniquely qualified star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg), nurturing Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), sweetly pathetic boom operator Scotty J. (a poignant Philip Seymour Hoffman)—rides high in the late 1970s before changing tides and technologies render them has-beens in Reagan’s America. Brilliant acting by Anderson’s stock company and the writer-director’s sensitive approach make Boogie Nights “a big, bright, shining star” in the firmament of American film. An NYFF35 selection.
Saturday, December 24, 9:00pm
Sunday, January 1, 3:00pm
Bound for Glory
Hal Ashby, USA, 1976, 35mm, 148m
This visually dazzling biopic was the first feature to be shot using Garrett Brown’s newly invented Steadicam technology, and was immediately admired for its sweeping, dramatically fluid camerawork, for which cinematographer Haskell Wexler received an Academy Award. The film is a lightly fictionalized account of the politicization and nascent musical career of folk singer Woody Guthrie, brilliantly played by David Carradine: it follows young Guthrie’s artistically formative journey from the Texas Dust Bowl to California during the early years of the Great Depression. With a supporting cast that includes Melinda Dillon, Ronny Cox, and Randy Quaid, this is one of Ashby’s most heartfelt films, and one of the few in which he eschews his signature satirical mode, trading it for an earnest celebration of one of the great luminaries of the American folk art tradition.
Friday, December 16, 6:30pm (Introduction by Garrett Brown)
Wednesday, December 28, 6:30pm
Warren Beatty, USA, 1998, 35mm, 108m
This late-nineties touchstone—Warren Beatty’s first film since 1990’s Dick Tracy—unexpectedly yet profoundly speaks to the political climate of 2016. Beatty himself stars as Senator Jay Bulworth, a Democrat from California whose leftist convictions have slowly eroded and given way to corporate and right-wing pandering; losing to a brash young populist in a reelection bid, he becomes suicidal—but when he throws caution to the wind and gets brutally, recklessly frank on the stump, he becomes a media sensation and finds himself linked with an activist (Halle Berry), with whispers of assassination attempts lingering in the air. Beatty’s masterful satire offers a delightfully cynical perspective on mainstream politics, with Steadicam shots that slice through flashbulb-drenched hallways and around the bodies of lobbyists, paparazzi, journalists, and reinvigorated supporters.
Friday, December 23, 2:15pm
Tuesday, December 27, 6:45pm
Brian De Palma, USA, 1993, 35mm, 144m
De Palma has consistently used Steadicam to dazzling effect, and this 1993 crime classic is no exception. Named the best film of the 1990s by Cahiers du cinéma, Carlito’s Way is a kind of companion to his previous, more infamous Al Pacino vehicle, 1983’s Scarface, albeit chronicling not a rise to power but rather a failed attempt to go straight. Pacino is Carlito Brigante, a big-time crook freed by his slimeball lawyer (Sean Penn, captivatingly grotesque) after serving a mere five years on a thirty year bid. Carlito asserts that his days beyond the law are numbered, opening a nightclub and reigniting a romance with his stripper ex (Penelope Ann Miller)—but it’s only a matter of time before the world of vice and violence sucks him right back in….
Friday, December 23, 6:30pm
Coup de torchon
Bertrand Tavernier, France, 1981, 35mm, 128m
English and French with English subtitles
Bertrand Tavernier relocates Jim Thompson’s 1964 Texas-set pulp novel Pop. 1280 to a sunbaked, dirt-caked Senegalese village, where its burnout, publicly mocked police chief Lucien Cordier (a magnificent Philippe Noiret) suddenly decides to start killing his enemies. Within the palpable racist climate of French West Africa, Tavernier blends the restrained absurdity of Camus’s The Stranger with the keyed-up violence of Taxi Driver into a damning critique of French Imperialism and bourgeois society. In addition to its macabre sense of humor, and the brilliant performances all around—especially a young Isabelle Huppert as Cordier’s mistress—Tavernier’s use of the lingering Steadicam gives an effortless precision to Coup de torchon’s tense and awkward energy.
Wednesday, December 28, 4:00pm
Friday, December 30, 6:00pm
Gus Van Sant, USA, 2003, 35mm, 81m
In a typical American high school, typical teenagers—the jock, the arty kid, the misfit—go about a typical autumn day, their small personal dramas and adolescent social rituals captured via endlessly gliding Steadicam shots that impart a hypnotic, vaguely unsettling sense of serenity. Then suddenly, horribly, violence erupts. Hauntingly lensed by ace cinematographer Harris Savides, Gus Van Sant’s chilling, Palme d’Or-winning meditation on Columbine and America’s school shooting epidemic is a mysterious, shattering work of art. An NYFF41 selection.
Wednesday, December 21, 9:00pm
Tuesday, December 27, 4:45pm
Eyes Wide Shut
Stanley Kubrick, UK/USA, 1999, 35mm, 159m
Among Kubrick’s most transcendent and polarizing achievements was his last film, freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler’s Dream Story, an epic and paranoiac dive into a shadowy underworld where desire and power reign. New York doctor Bill (Tom Cruise) is having marital problems with his art curator wife Alice (Nicole Kidman), born mostly of his jealous imagination. After she admits that she once nearly cheated on him, he sets off into the night, plunging ever deeper into a hallucinatory, nocturnal realm controlled by a menacing and secretive cabal. Kubrick’s graceful use of Steadicam accentuates Bill’s phantasmagorical journey from an eminently seedy version of Greenwich Village to a country mansion where he comes face to face with the masked elites who control his fate.
Sunday, December 25, 8:15pm
Saturday, December 31, 9:00pm
Martin Scorsese, USA, 1990, 35mm, 146m
Martin Scorsese’s wickedly entertaining gangster saga is a master class in virtuoso filmmaking. It charts the rise and fall of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a Brooklyn kid who dreams of being a wiseguy, as he works his way up through Murder, Inc., from parking Cadillacs to pulling million dollar heists alongside Robert De Niro’s high-rolling “Jimmy the Gent” and an Oscar-winning Joe Pesci’s don’t-call-him-funny loose cannon. Spanning 1955 to 1980, the film captures the changing eras and fashions via spot-on period detail and a golden oldies soundtrack that bounces from the Ronettes to the Rolling Stones. Visually, he pulls out all the stops, never more impressively than in an intricate, three-minute Steadicam shot that follows the characters as they wind their way through the back corridors of a bustling nightclub.
Sunday, December 25, 3:00pm
Sunday, January 1, 6:00pm
Mathieu Kassovitz, France, 1995, 35mm, 98m
French with English subtitles
Paris is burning: in the city’s banlieue housing projects, tensions between residents and authorities simmer in the wake of a brutal police beating. Among the angry are three young men—Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—who, amped up on rage and armed with a handgun, embark on a wild 24-hour odyssey through the city, with violence threatening to explode at any minute. An international arthouse sensation that has lost none of its urgency, La haine counterpoints its gritty milieu with flights of poetic surrealism and elegant Steadicam tracking shots, which immerse the viewer in the boys’ world of chaos and violence. An NYFF33 selection.
Tuesday, December 27, 9:00pm
Thursday, December 29, 9:15pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
Tony Scott, UK/USA, 1983, 35mm, 97m
In this outrageously sleek cult classic directed by Tony Scott, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie are perfectly cast as Miriam and John, a pair of vampire lovers who have been together since the 18th century, and who now spend their nights stalking New York’s downtown club scene in search of fresh blood. Reeling from the discovery of a terrible betrayal, John seeks the help of a mortal doctor (Susan Sarandon) who soon finds herself drawn into an erotically charged and seductively sinister power struggle with Miriam. With its famously bold visual aesthetic—featuring high-intensity lighting, expressionistic production design, and thrillingly intimate perspectives—and the melodramatic intensity of the three lead performances, the film is an ultra-stylish time capsule, an archetype of the high-gloss, high-concept storytelling mode that prevailed in early 1980s Hollywood.
Friday, December 23, 9:30pm
Quentin Tarantino, USA, 1997, 35mm, 154m
One of the great American films of the 1990s (not to mention one of its most surprising and touching love stories), Tarantino’s L.A.-set crime thriller was adapted from a novel by the great Elmore Leonard and abounds with cinematic pleasures. The iconic Pam Grier stars as the titular flight attendant who finds herself embroiled in the schemes and machinations of a uniquely coiffed gangster (Samuel L. Jackson), his fresh-out-of-the-joint accomplice (Robert De Niro), a gum-chewing gumshoe (Michael Keaton) and a lonely bail-bondsman (Robert Forster). But Jackie’s no pushover, and the myriad ways in which she seizes control of her situation are rendered with gleeful visual style (Steadicam turns the film’s mall-set climax into a breathless heist in a house of mirrors), rapid-fire repartee, and a soul soundtrack that itself is worth the price of admission.
Monday, December 26, 9:00pm
Tuesday, January 3, 2:00pm
Kaili Blues / Lu bian ye can
Bi Gan, China, 2015, 113m
Mandarin with English subtitles
A multiple prizewinner at the Locarno Film Festival and one of the most audacious and innovative debuts of recent years, Bi Gan’s endlessly surprising shape-shifter comes to assume the uncanny quality of a waking dream as it poetically and mysteriously interweaves the past, present, and future. Chen Sheng, a country doctor in the Guizhou province who has served time in prison, is concerned for the well-being of his nephew, Weiwei, whom he believes his thug brother Crazy Face intends to sell. Weiwei soon vanishes, and Chen sets out to find him, embarking on a mystical quest that takes him to the riverside city of Kaili and the town of Dang Mai. Through a remarkable arsenal of stylistic techniques, the film develops into a one-of-a-kind road movie, at once magical and materialist, traversing both space and time. A 2016 New Directors/New Films selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
Friday, December 30, 1:30pm
Let Each One Go Where He May
Ben Russell, USA/Suriname, 2009, 16mm, 135m
Russell’s virtuosic sort-of road movie (and feature-length debut) hinges upon ten extended, free-roaming Steadicam takes that put this technology, most commonly associated with big-budget Hollywood cinema, in the service of a radical, unorthodox approach to documentary. Russell chronicles the trek of two unnamed brothers as they roam from the Surinamese capital of Paramaribo, retracing the journey undertaken by their ancestors to escape Dutch slavery some 300 years prior. In this almost uncategorizable act of nonfiction filmmaking, ethnography and mythology fuse to conjure a vision at once historical and cosmic.
Thursday, December 29, 6:30pm*
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
Paul Thomas Anderson, USA, 1999, 35mm, 188m
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Altmanesque portrait of a day in the crisscrossing lives of various San Fernando Valley residents—including a sleazy motivational speaker (Tom Cruise); a distraught, pill-popping, soon-to-be widow (Julianne Moore); a has-been former quiz kid phenom turned sad sack (William H. Macy); a lovelorn cop (John C. Reilly); and a troubled, coke-addicted young woman (Melora Walters)—is a gloriously sprawling, dizzyingly ambitious roulette wheel of chance encounters, freak occurrences, and emotional extremes. Throughout, the director creates a whirlwind sense of visual dynamism via relentlessly roving Steadicam work, including an epic, tour-de-force tracking shot through the backstage buzz of a television game show in the moments leading up to showtime.
Saturday, December 24, 5:30pm
Monday, January 2, 3:00pm
John Schlesinger, USA, 1976, 35mm, 125m
The second feature film to use Steadicam, Schlesinger’s classic thriller stars Dustin Hoffman as Babe, a PhD candidate whose life is turned upside down when his brother Doc (Roy Scheider) shows up in New York City and reveals he’s not the oil exec Babe had always thought he was. As it turns out, Doc is a secret agent mixed up with a vast scheme to sell diamonds stolen from German Jews during WWII to compensate a sadistic ex-Nazi dentist, Christian Szell (Laurence Olivier), who in turn helps to track down other Third Reich renegades. Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before Babe is in grave, unrelenting danger. One of cinema’s tensest urban nightmares, Marathon Man is a masterwork of paranoia and post-Holocaust unrest.
Friday, December 16, 9:30pm (Introduction by Garrett Brown)
Tuesday, December 20, 9:15pm
Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan, 2001, 35mm, 119m
Mandarin with English subtitles
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s entrancing film delves into Taipei’s nightlife with style and atmosphere to spare. Disaffected bar hostess Vicky (Shu Qi) is bored with the life she shares with her overbearing, jealous boyfriend Hao-Hao, and she soon finds herself gravitating toward a cool gangster named Jack (Jack Kao)—but this enigmatic new connection can only go so far toward lending a sense of purpose and belonging to her drifting, neon-lit existence. Alternating between quiet, intimate moments and group scenes saturated with overwhelming techno, Hou trains his focus more than ever before on one actor in one space, best exemplified by the film’s first and most indelible image: Vicky skipping through a tunnel in slow-motion, strikingly rendered with the help of Steadicam, fully immersing the viewer in her nocturnal world.
Wednesday, December 21, 6:30pm
The New World
Terrence Malick, USA/UK, 2005, 35mm, 172m
English and Algonquin with English subtitles
Malick’s take on the story of Pocahontas, John Smith, and the founding of Jamestown is one of his most fully realized works, a poetic meditation on love, colonialism, and the eternal duel between civilization and nature. Upon arriving in the New World, Smith (Colin Farrell) is sentenced to death for mutinous behavior but is pardoned by Captain Christopher Newport (Christopher Plummer), then captured by natives and once again has his life spared, this time by young Pocahontas (Q’orianka Kilcher). Smith soon falls in love with her and wins the trust of her tribe, but violent conflict between the English settlers and the region’s natives seems all but fated. Emmanuel Lubezki’s swirling camera captures the majesty and sensuality of the natural world, yielding an enthralling epic that’s both historical and metaphysical.
Monday, December 26, 2:30pm
Quentin Tarantino, USA, 1994, 35mm, 154m
There are a million stories in the City of Angels, and the craziest seem to revolve around John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s deadpan-deadly duo of contract killers, who wax philosophical in between pulling jobs for crime kingpin Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Along the way there’s Uma Thurman as a coke-sniffing gangster’s moll; Bruce Willis as a prizefighter having a really, really bad day; and a lovey-dovey pair of bandits who pick the wrong diner to hold up. Quentin Tarantino’s ingeniously plotted instant classic crackles with spot-the-reference pop-culture allusions, a retro-cool soundtrack, and endlessly quotable dialogue, delivered rapid-fire and uninterrupted in seamless walk-and-talk Steadicam shots. An NYFF32 selection.
Saturday, December 24, 2:30pm
Sunday, January 1, 9:00pm
Brian De Palma, USA, 1992, 35mm, 91m
Brian De Palma’s darkly comic, hall-of-mirrors thriller stars a deliciously deranged John Lithgow in a diabolical double role: as a mild-mannered child psychiatrist and his evil twin brother, who both take to kidnapping and murder in order to procure toddlers for a bizarre psychological study. Out-of-left-field plot twists, electrifying set pieces, and Hitchcockian doubles (and triples and quadruples) abound, while the film’s labyrinthine plot and disorienting, dreamlike tone are enhanced by the intricate, maze-like Steadicam shots.
Sunday, December 18, 8:45pm
Friday, December 23, 4:30pm
John G. Avildsen, USA, 1976, 119m
“Yo, Adrian!” The film that launched a franchise and a career was the third to use Steadicam. Winning three Academy Awards—best film editing, best director, and best picture—Rocky endures as arguably cinema’s greatest underdog story: hard-luck tomato can Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, immortal) improbably finds himself lined up to fight world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, fearsome) after another title contender gets injured. The Italian Stallion has a mere five weeks to prepare for the fight of his life, and slowly but surely things fall into place for what should be the upset of the century. Steadicam steals the show when Rocky makes his iconic run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Art Museum, rendering this transcendent moment as no other filmmaking technology could. 4K restoration!
Saturday, December 17, 6:30pm (Introduction by Garrett Brown)
Wednesday, December 28, 1:30pm
Russian Ark / Russkiy kovcheg
Alexander Sokurov, Russia, 2002, 99m
Steadicam, coupled with the rise of digital filmmaking technology, made possible the long-unrealized dream of many a director: a feature film consisting of a single, unbroken shot. Not just a dazzling technical feat, Alexander Sokurov’s masterpiece is a heady, hallucinatory tour through Russian history, in which a disembodied narrator and his companion wander the opulent, art-filled halls of St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, slipping through centuries as figures ranging from Pushkin to Catherine the Great swirl about them. The effect of the elaborately choreographed single take is of floating, ghost-like, through time, space, and eternity. An NYFF40 selection.
Sunday, December 18, 6:30pm
Tuesday, December 27, 2:30pm
Stanley Kubrick, USA/UK, 1980, 35mm, 146m
All work and no play makes blocked novelist cum hotel caretaker Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) a raging, murderous psychopath in Kubrick’s mordantly funny, genuinely terrifying riff on Stephen King’s bestselling novel—one that King himself disavowed, for so far did it stray from his decidedly more literal, straightforward text. Always an early adopter, Kubrick made extensive use of the newly developed Steadicam technology (and its inventor, Garrett Brown) to glide up, down, and around the Overlook Hotel’s cavernous corridors, where the ghosts of caretakers and lodgers past rest uneasily, and the line between waking and dreaming ceases to exist.
Saturday, December 17, 9:00pm (Introduction by Garrett Brown)
Saturday, December 31, 6:00pm
Kathryn Bigelow, USA, 1995, 35mm, 145m
Set in a dystopian Los Angeles during the last 48 hours of the twentieth century, Kathryn Bigelow’s hyperkinetic, cyberpunk brain-scrambler stars Ralph Fiennes as wiggy, two-bit hustler Lenny, who deals in SQUID, a black-market virtual reality technology that records and transmits experiences directly from one person’s consciousness to another’s. But when he receives a disturbing recording of a sadistic murder, Lenny and his partner (an ass-kicking Angela Bassett) find themselves caught up in a vast conspiracy that touches on racism and police brutality within the LAPD. Politically prescient and stylistically exhilarating, Strange Days deploys Steadicam to eerie effect in the bravura, point-of-view SQUID sequences, using the technology to create a visceral, voyeuristic sensation. An NYFF33 selection.
Tuesday, December 20, 6:30pm
Thursday, December 22, 9:15pm
Werckmeister Harmonies / Werckmeister harmóniák
Béla Tarr, Hungary/Italy/Germany/France, 2000, 35mm, 145m
Hungarian and Slovak with English subtitles
Three years in the making, Werckmeister Harmonies is a sustained, real-time immersion in the universe of weatherbeaten villages and full-contact metaphysics in which Béla Tarr and collaborator László Krasznahorkai specialize. A mysterious traveling circus (complete with a stuffed whale) disrupts the calm of the puszta (plains), and marks a sea change in relationships of all kinds—between families, lovers, peasants and royals. In this movie, voted as one of the best of its decade by Film Comment, each action, however small, carries the weight of revolution. With Fassbinder icon Hanna Schygulla.
Monday, December 26, 6:00pm
Thursday, December 29, 3:45pm
Robert Greenwald, USA, 1980, 35mm, 96m
Roller disco meets 1940s swing in this kitsch-classic of 1980s Hollywood, featuring Gene Kelly (in his final feature film appearance) as a former big-band sideman who teams up with a down-on-his-luck young artist (Michael Beck) and a beguilingly beautiful Olympian muse (Olivia Newton-John) to turn a decaying theater into a vibrant nightclub. The movie’s song-and-dance numbers include pastiche throwbacks to Kelly’s postwar heyday and glitzy disco-on-wheels set pieces, in which the dizzying mobility of the cinematography becomes integral to the choreography. Said to have inspired the creation of the Golden Raspberry Awards, which celebrate the year’s worst movies, Xanadu has gone down in Hollywood history as a memorably over-the-top genre hybrid, a fantasy-romance-musical with a wildly popular soundtrack performed by Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra.