|Title:||Rulers of the City|
|Director:||Fernando Di Leo|
|05.16.13||Marchesa|| AKA Mister Scarface.|
Sooooo.... I don't know if you know this about me but i used to watch a lot of movies.
No, wait. that's a terrible way to start this.
Back when I was watching a lot of movies, I obtained a few via the internet. It was a major phase of discovery for me and, with the help of the Alamo and its staff, new friends like Jarrette and Micah, and a lot of free time, i tore through a lot of them. Some of my newfound favorite genres were blaxploitation and italian crime so I watched pretty much anything I could find of either of those. The thing with a lot of the IItalian crime movies of the 70s was that they were often pretty slow and tedious. I mean not just the Italian stuff but the American stuff as well. For instance, I remember watching Across 110th Street (which by all accounts should've been a grand slam since Bobby Womack did the score and Yaphet Koto's a badass as is Anthony Quinn so it's kind of a blaxploitation crime film) and thinking the song was waaaaay better than the movie. Anyway, this long rambling paragraph is supposed to say that I first watched this movie on my computer with not exactly stellar expectations and it really impressed me.
Now, thanks to Lars and the AFS I get to see it again, this time in glorious 35mm and in a new space (to me) called the Marchesa.
Since I'm inspired to write a decent amount about this, let me spend a minute with my first impressions of the theater.
So, Apparently a long while back it used to be the Lincoln Village Cinema or something along those lines. I believe it was closed by the time I moved to town. Now it's back on its feet as a venue space (I guess for wedding ceremonies and stuff) and it has a 278-seat auditorium. It's in a strip mall butting up against an Italian restaurant that used to be a Carabba's so there's absolutely no pomp or circumstance. The marquee was stark and simple when I drove up: AFS. It almost seemed like a secret. It's also maybe 2 miles from my house. It took me about ten minutes to get there at 7:00 and five minutes to get home at 9:40. The lobby is large and open but also not fancy at all. Snacks and drinks are available but a step below the Paramount. I saw a few random closed doors that I didn't try peeking in, have no clue where the restrooms are, but the theater is big and outfitted with a simple stage.
I really hope none of that comes off as negative because the space immediately clicked with me as something special. In Rochester they have the Little theater as their primary arthouse. It's small and barely finished and the Dobie reminded me a lot of it. For all my problems with the Dobie the thing I liked most about both of those theaters is their sense that the money went on the screen not the lobby. They, and really I mean the Marchesa here if you're not picking up on my inference, convey a sense that the people who run it really want to be there. It's a labor of love. There may not be a budget there but there's definitely love.
The Marchesa is bare and sloppy and feels like everyone there belongs to a club that's just started. Not in an elitist way at all, but more like... passion. Muchlike how the scratches and splices in the reels contribute to a movie's charm, the theater made me feel like I was where I belonged. It gave me a few major vibes of my first visit to the Alamo on Colorado, which I very much appreciated.
Tonight was sparsely attended with about 30 people there. This sounds terrible a lot of my favorite Alamo memories are not the nights when it was crazy sold out and exciting (although I hold a few of those in my deck) but the nights when it was pretty slow and I got the feeling that everyone else who didn't show up really missed something because I had just seen something special and the fact that I saw it with so few others bonded those of us who were there. Turkeython is an excellent example as is their Blaxploitation programming in February of... 2006? 2007?. Anyway, tonight felt like that. I caught up with a handful of familiar faces and there were a handful of unfamiliar as well, but we were all pretty cool for being there.
So I watched a movie there didn't I? well almost. Let me take ANOTHER minute talking about Lars and his goddamned intros.
Going back to Rochester, the first time I went to the Little it was to see In the Company of Men with a girl and her film class. He was either the manager or the professor (I wasn't in the class) but either way someone got up beforehand to introduce the film and afterward a couple people got up in front and actually talked ABOUT what we had just seen. Again, I'm kind of sure it was just because a film class was in attendance but the students were not the only people to stay after and contribute to the conversation. That experience then became my gold standard for cinematic exhibition. Tonight Lars got up and introduced himself and the film society and referred to his mini dissertation as a lecture. In essence it was what I remember of his Weird Wednesday intros extended to fit more about di Leo, his work, and the cast. Lars is so knowledgeable and articulate that I feel like he could have gone on for another twenty minutes without complaint. I really hope his decision to present his thoughts a bit more formally continues. If he had the time or inclination I would welcome any kind of written notes he felt like putting down as well. I found it to be really great.
Finally the movie!
It was great!
OK More than that. This movie fell a bit more on the comedy side than I remembered. The Napoli character really serves that purpose. I feel like I remember the surprisingly decent fight scenes and end shootout being longer and the peppy wry humor a little less. I also remember the score (excellent Brazilian-inspired rythm-heavy score provided by Luis Bacalov) being more present. I absolutely love the bassline in the beginning titles as Tony tools around in his dune buggy making collections and staring at women, and the clicking of whatever that latin instrument is came in a few times making me salivate for it to return, but it ended up coming in sparingly and never enough, leaving me wanting more forever.
A few key scenes stuck out as much this time as in my memory. The scene where Beppy meets Luigi really turns the movie for me from some run-of-the-mill flick to something where gears are turning and the plot is actually well thought-out. The scene where Palance throws down a check, in essence daring his small-time adversary to cash it in, was a great gangster thing to do. Palance is actually a lot better than he has to be in this movie. I have to imagine that if you're an American actor over in Italy making these movies that you figure will never get seen by anyone you know, with some Italian dude yelling incomprehensible direction at you while they roll film and the whole schedule is only two weeks or whatever, it would be awfully easy to tune out and just go through the motions. Not Jack Palance though. There's one scene in particular where he's rolling into a slaughteryard where, on one level he could be surveying his surrounding for possible ambushes and tactical exits or something, but also remembering that he'd been there before a long time ago. There's a lingering shot watching his face as his eyes shift from building to building where he's really burning some calories there. No phoning it in for him.
And I also want to completely steal the idea of someone storing their guns in a "first-aid cabinet" (I might call it a medicine chest). Having a cat be in there was funny too. That kind of sums this movie up. There's a laugh and an amazing tough-guy moment seconds apart.
So... yeah I really loved it. I loved seeing it in 35 where the alternate title frames didn't quite match, I loved getting the subconciouss pacing with each reel change, and most of all I loved watching a movie again. It flooded back a bunch of fondness from my days before TG.
|11.14.07||Weird Wednesday|| There were three of you. Now there's none.|
That guy's so tough just looking at him makes my asshole twitch
Fuck them all and fuck you too
There sure are some great lines in this movie (AKA Mister Scarface). Also some great turns. I still love Palance's method of standing up for his people and the reveal of Beppe's sedition. The movie isn't so much a Weird Wednesday ha-ha bizarrity but a real solid crime film. I also loved how the guys had porno up on their walls just like Silva in Wipeout. That Di Leo... hah hah hah.
I wish I could track down a copy of The Italian Connection. Want to see that.
|04.22.06||Internet|| This film took a few turns in its first half that really really impressed me. Even though this certainly isn't the first or last rise-to-power crime story, the way it's done here is pretty freakin cool. So cool in fact that I think I'll do a plot synopsis (which I usually hate doing). Skip the next... 3 paragraphs if you don't want any spoilers.|
Jack Palance plays the big Don in town. He strolls into a smaller Don's gambling joint and covers a losing bet with a check that he knows no one will dare to cash. Tony, a small-time loan collector, takes it upon himself to get the money to prove that he's worth a promotion. In order to do so, he allies with a newly-outcast enforcer from Palance's mob and they hire an actor to impersonate a government official. Palance's right hand tries to bribe said official, Tony takes the money and leaves the check in its place. Two little hitches: Palance's bribe was 10 million Lire and the check was only for 3, and Tony's Don freaks out when he actually gets the money because this means Palance will come after him.
What a cool way for a big Don to throw around his power... imagine if Palance did that intentionally in a bid to rub out his competition. It's basically him spitting on the little guy's shoes or sleeping with his woman and daring him to do something about it.
So the little Don blows town, his right hand gives up Tony then, in his own bid for power, knocks the little Don out and makes a deal with Palance! Of course, Tony and the ex-enforcer have their own plan going and proceed to outsmart them all to become Rulers of the City... or something.
So yeah, even though I was watching this alone on my computer, I felt no need to check my email or anything like that and when one particular twist twisted I whooped it up a bit... then felt dumb for getting vocal about a movie that I was watching alone. The music's also pretty great but mostly I was impressed with the story, man. What a kickass crime tale. There were a few things though... like an awful lot ofkarate kicks early on in the movie... and the comic relief guy gets a bit much toward the end when all I want the movie to do is overwhelm me with its badassocity, but for the most part I really got a kick out of this... now I'm REALLY looking forward to Wipeout! at QTfest.