Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Rocky (1976)

WHO: John Avildsen directed this.

WHAT Won the best picture and best director Oscar in 1977. Launched a franchise and a bona fide star career for an actor previously relegated to small roles in films like Death Race 2000 (never mind that that's a better movie in some of the most interesting ways). Inspired countless imitators and parodies. It's a cultural phenomenon not without some charm 37 years later. The Talia Shire character always gets on my nerves but Burgess Meredith is almost always worth watching.

WHERE/WHEN: Today only at the Castro Theatre at 4:35 and 9:25.

WHY The Castro's July calendar kicks off with this screening, and they've already got previews of August on their website. That month will start with the last day of a eight-day stand for the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (more on this fest in a future post). Other highlights of the month include double-bills devoted to John Milus (Apocalypse Now, which he wrote, with perhaps the best film he directed, Big Wednesday August 10), Fritz Lang (Metropolis and M August 11) and Al Pacino (The Godfather Part 11 with Heat August 25, the latter at least in 35mm), and a reprise of last Labor Day weekend's 70mm booking of Hitchcock's Vertigo (August 30-September 2). This is on top of already-known events like the booking of a sing-along version of one of the strangest pop culture artifacts of the past ten years: R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet (August 2-4), and Peaches Christ's annual Showgirls screening (August 24)

But one of the most intriguing double-bills is surely the August 22 pairing of David Lynch's Blue Velvet and a lesser-known John Avildsen film called Neighbors, starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Cathy Moriarty. Blue Velvet is one of those films which I'd mildly appreciated but never really understood the total appeal of until seeing it on the big screen. Neighbors I've never seen at all, but its darkly comic scenario about suburb-dwellers having to contend with strange additions to their 'hood seems promising as a thematic mirror for Lynch's film. And Roger Ebert, at least, preferred it to Blue Velvet.

HOW: Rocky shows via a 35mm print, on a double-bill with a 35mm print of Jaws.

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