February 2nd 2013. Pick Of The Day.

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Yesterday January, tomorrow the NFL. Within a space of 72 hours two of my most hated foes will lie slumbering in deep if temporary graves.

Which brings a smile to this guy's face. For February offers the infrequent sight of a dominant Knicks team, the over familiar handicapping of the Oscar nominees, and the prospect of catching some of the greatest classic flicks ever made in their proper venue. So let's toast the death of football by devouring foods genocidal to the human heart and hopefully laughing more often than scratching our heads at the commercials we've really tuned in to watch. On the eve of this activity I offer my Pick.

Not my Super Bowl Pick. My Pick Of the Day. Oh, whatever. Keep reading.

Nitehawk Cinema in B-Burg serves up Sergio Corbucci's seminal Spag West classic DJANGO for their Country Brunchin' screening this crisp day. Pre-show live music from Morricone Youth sets the appropriate ambiance. An all-time fave. Not my Pick.

Photography greats Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin collaborated on their joint debut feature THE LITTLE FUGITIVE, transposing Italian Neo-Realism to NYC's experimental postwar film scene, in service to a story not as dire as ROME OPEN CITY or BICYCLE THIEVES but unique to the vernacular of the Empire state. Screens all day today at Film Forum. Pisser, but not my Pick.

The great Jean Renoir is repped at Anthology Film Archives today with what may well be his masterpiece, the class skewering farce THE RULES OF THE GAME. One of the great humanists of the cinema sums up his major theme, indeed the words come from his very mouth, portraying a character in the film; Everyone has their reasons. Scary. As I've chosen this in the past I abide by my rules and pass this up as today's Pick. But it hurts.

Roberto Rossellini's THE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS also unspools at AFA today. The Neo-Realist great's post-Mussolini take on the values that thus far had carried civilization through the worst of times landed with a thud in its day, as critics who'd praised the filmmaker's ability to present the stark brutality of humanity now rebuffed the same man's take on mankind at its best. It's a spare and gentle focus on a life lived in hope. Spielberg should catch this sometime. Not my Pick.

Midnight at IFC Center offers two wacky examples of 70's era revisionism. The ZAZ team's AIRPLANE! reworked the pin straight execution of the AIRPORT films, Quinn/Martin 70's TV series and 50's B-movie melodrama, ZERO HOUR in particular, into the glorious sacred cow grilling that still serves as the model for modern film parody. Phil Kaufman's remake of Don Seigel's INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS may have been attempting the same goal. I've never been sure. Neither my Pick today.

And midnight at the Nitehawk puts paid to the old adage, Ahnuld will be back. James Cameron's career-making sophmore effort THE TERMINATOR remains a defining work of 80's action cinema, and like its antagonist its influence on modern day blow-'em-up cinema refuses to die. I take a pass only because it's screened so frequently, and a rarer unspooling occurs this afternoon from another master of the medium. A quieter and more contemplative one. Arigato.

Yasujiro Ozu decided as a teen film fan that he wanted to be a director, and after many battles waged with his family joined the ranks of Japan's Shochiku studios as an assistant DP a mere two years into that studio's convergenge from live theater to cinema. Graduating to director's chair he helmed several of the two reel comedies that came to dominate the studio's output, but in 1932 he put a spin on the serve. I WAS BORN BUT...took the Shochiku comedy into areas poingnant and downright dramatic, and proved incredibly sucessful. Here it is said Ozu embarked on the more socially serious works that would come to define him, among his chief themes would be the everyday plight of the middle and lower classes, the impossible gap betwen our dreams and our reach, and the stolen moments that eventually form our memories. John Lennon may have been referring to the works of Ozu when he sang "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Ozu and his father never really got along. Get in line, Ozu-san. So of course this early exemplar of restrained and sober social drama eventually got around to dealing with this problem. I've never ascertained the status of his father around the time of this film's making, but this is generally the age when men re-evaluate the men who made them. A widowed schoolteacher sends his son off to boarding school, breaking a bond and cementing a distance that is more than physical. Upon graduation the two reunite for a fishing trip. And here our issues unfold. Who knew the Japanese and the Irish had so much in common. I've never seen this flick so if ya spot a whiskey drinker with a box of Kleenex, well, let's just say keep an open mind...

THERE WAS A FATHER screens today at Anthology Film Archives at 4:45pm. I'll try to keep it bottled up. Ba dum dum.

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-Joe Walsh