FEBRUARY 2013! Richard Pryor, 1933 and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre! They all fit somehow!

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To those whose mirth, enthusiasm and indeed perhaps spirit were sapped by that foul demon that greets us as dubious hurdle at the commencement of each new year, that wickedness christened January, I salute you my fallen comrades. I'll even pour one out for ya.

To the survivors I bellow HEY! We made it suckahz! To fight and frolic anew and most importantly to dig the classic cinema screening in our fair 5 boroughs and mere minutes outside them. February will be as easy to endure as it is to pronounce. So no meat feat assured. However there is cause aplenty for Cinegeek merry, as the usual suspects have programmed some choice retrospectives in their respective venues. Allow me to navigate thusly.

Once again Bruce Goldstein and Co. over at Film Forum win the MVP of the month award with their comprehensive retrospective dedicated to the year 1933, a celebration of a special twelve months that saw art and commerce merge happily once more as Hollywood continued to figure out the sound era, and also of the films that both caused and responded to the then newly minted Production Code. Among the highlights you'll find are gems like Busby Berkeley's GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933, FOOTLIGHT PARADE and of course 42ND STREET, comic gems like Laurel and Hardy's SONS OF THE DESERT and the immortal DUCK SOUP from the brothers Marx, sublime works of great style like Rouben Mamoulian's QUEEN CHRISTINA and THE SONG OF SONGS, fantasy and horror landmarks such as THE INVISIBLE MAN and ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, notorious pre-code dustups like Jean Harlow's BOMBSHELL and Barbara Stanwyck's notorious BABYFACE, and selections from Warner Brothers' socially conscious "headline" melodramas like "Wild Bill" Wellmann's HEROES FOR SALE, Archie Mayo's THE MAYOR OF HELL and Michael Curtiz' 20,000 YEARS IN SING SING. The Forum makes time for films made outside of Hollywood that same year deemed equally significant. Chief amongst these are the great Fritz Lang's THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE, Jean Vigo's ZERO FOR CONDUCT and Yasujiro Ozu's PASSING FANCY. Dedicated to the memory of Elliot Stein, film historian and geek extraordinaire, this retrospective serves not merely as reminder of cinema's rich past but of a life spent enriching ours. Again, there simply is no better way to honor a life like his than to head out to the movies and sink deep into the communal dream.

Also at the Forum this month is coda to their newly wrapped New Yawk New Wave series, celebrating the city's cinematic revival postwar as a hotbed of experimental and underground cinema. Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, husband and wife titans of the photography world, embarked on ther debut feature film by employing the new aesthetic of Italian neorealism and translating its techniques for shores American, specifically Coney Island. THE LITTLE FUGTIVE was the result, about a Brooklyn tyke fooled into thinking he committed a murder who then takes it on the lam to the aforementioned locale's crowded boardwalk. Kid's guilty of something, thinks me...

Of special note this month is the Forum's staging of the latest known "lost film", CONVENTION CITY, which by all accounts had as much to do with the invocation of the Hays Code as Babs Stanwyck's sleeping her way up the social ladder. Perhaps moreso, according to some. A select cast will be reading from the uncensored shooting script, so like Geraldo bustin' open Al Capone's vault there may or may not be treasure aplenty to be had this night. Take the gamble, sez this guy.

Finally the Forum screens THE MARRYING KIND, the classic follow-up to BORN YESTERDAY featuring that film's director, George Cukor, screenwriters Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon, and star, the luminous Judy Holliday. One of these days they'll get around to providing me a link for you...

Across the pond in sunny Fort Greene the ostentatious BAM provides us with this month's other great fest, a loving trib to one of the great comic game-changers of New Hollywood cinema and American popular culture in general. Richard Pryor was a genius whether on stage, with a pen, or in front of the camera. In some cases he performed all three functions at once. During a time of social upheavel his critique and commentary proved invaluable, and his contributions to the cinema of his time, whether provocative or meditative, are long overdue this retrospective. His works comedic screening which I implore you to attend include CAR WASH, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT and SILVER STREAK. His works dramatic and underrated I urge upon you include LADY SINGS THE BLUES, THE BINGO LONG TRAVELLING ALL-STARS AND MOTOR KINGS, and his absolute flat out best perf in BLUE COLLAR. I'm grateful to BAM for programming this loving tribute. Pryor deserves it.

BAM also screens a couple of date night flick classics, one on Hallmark's fave day and one a little later. ROMAN HOLIDAY screens on Valentine's Day, and what better nabe than Fort Greene to escort your lady love on this most hallowed eve of restaurant checks costly? Norman Jewison's MOONSTRUCK screens near month's end on the 25th. Two adorable movies. Yep, even guys are allowed to say that.

Anthology Film Archives ofers a pair of low key but very welcome series this month, one dedicated to recently deceased critic Andrew Sarris, the man who imported and championed the auteur theory, and the other to how much love sucks. Did I mention this is Anthology Film Archives?

ANDREW SARRIS: EXPRESSIVE ESOTERICA delves into the mind of the man who first dared establish a hierarchy of cinematic importance, based on directors alone, that literally read like Dante's circles of Hell, with entries like Pantheon Directors and The Far Side Of Paradise. And almost no one in Hollywood would argue with the Dante's Hell assessment. Thing was that idea took hold, and in a lot of ways proved bedrock to the founding of the 70's New Hollywood. Chief works to catch this month include Andre De Toth's DARK WATERS and Alan Dan's THE RIVER'S EDGE. Then start ranking, Roger.

AFA reps the romance month's Hallmark card roots as well with its warm and fuzzy VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE mini-fest, which pretty much consists of multiple screenings of Maurice Pialat's WE WON'T GROW OLD TOGETHER paired with Albert Brooks' understated yet manic MODERN ROMANCE. Guess which of these two I endorse?

The Rubin Museum kicks off a new series under their Cabaret Cinema banner. ILLUSIONS REVEALED focuses on cinema trickery and trickery in cinema. Not neccesarily the same thing. Coming this month are treasures like Ingmar Bergman's THE MAGICIAN, Big Al's NORTH BY NORTHWEST and David Lean's BLITHE SPIRT. Guest speakers connect the dots, and the price of a drink is PREREQUISITE to your attendance. I love this place. I hear there's a museum attached...

MOMA's Auteurist History of Film series continues this month with screenings of Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR, Louis Malle's sophmore effort THE LOVERS and Stanley Kramer's seminal 50's message flick THE DEFIANT ONES. Make sure you don't blink too loudly, they're a tough audience...

Museum of the Moving Image offers two early works from American auteur Charles Burnett, documenting in various degrees of unflich the African-American experience in urban California. The director's debut, KILLER OF SHEEP, what some argue remains his masterpiece, focuses on children of a slaughterhouse worker who struggle to define their ever encroaching reality. MY BROTHER'S WEDDING shifts focus slightly to a middle class family, one son of which refuses to grow up and must deal with the slowly approaching event. Important to the maturity of Black cinema in the U.S., Burnett stands out most prominently as master filmmaker in the modern indie era. Period.

The French Institute devotes a month to fractured auteur Leos Carax, unspooling two of his earliest efforts, debut BOY MEETS GIRL and follow-up LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE. The Allaince Francais' screening space is par excellence. But still, this ain't gonna be pretty...

Nitehawk Cinema serves up the delectables both cinematic and kitchen oriented with their brunch and midnight screenings. For some reason the wretched Brian De Palma is not delegated to the kitchen end of that deal this month, but rather serves as focus of a weekend midnight series. For the masochistically inclined both BLOW OUT and OBSESSION are on display. Order plenty of beer. That's how they made them, why not watch 'em that way?

Other shenanigans in my new fave movie theater include a special Valentine's Day night viewing of Buster Keaton's THE NAVIGATOR, complete with live music from experidub outfit GERSH/REED/KNOCHE, brunch screenings of Edgar G. Ulmer's THE BLACK CAT, and midnight screenings of DEMON SEED and ROBOCOP as part of the theater's Robots Will Kill series. Though in retrospect wouldn't ya think Verhoeven and Cammell had directed the other film? Discuss...

The Clearview Chelsea dials up the melodrama to its perennial setting of 11 with its ongoing Thursday series, as yet still untitled but eminently understood. This month offers screenings of Robert Aldrich's WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, Danny De Vito's WAR OF THE ROSES, William Wyler's THE LETTER and Daniel Mann's BUTTERFIELD 8. I sense a trend but can't quite put my finger on it. As it were.

Midnight at IFC Center splits its focus between 70's horror and 70's bugfuck. Notable screenings include ALIEN, JAWS and EL TOPO. So? You're too good to watch these filcks again?

92YTribeca exhumes a couple of time capsules from a culture in tumult. Roger Corman's seminal THE TRIP offers a view of drug induced transcendance not too far removed from The Man's vision of the same substance's degrading qualities. Dennis Hopper offers proof of both. Marlon Brando delved into a fair amount of high profile trash in his wilderness years preceding THE GODFATHER's redemption, but none may be cheesier and more enjoyable than THE NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY, where he portrays a yeah who am I kidding this is sleazy Brando with a bad dye job. Need I sell ya more?

Finally a pair of notable screenings from normally quiet venues. The Guggenheim unspools Satyajit Ray's THE CHESS PLAYERS twice this month, while my second fave out-of-town venue Tarrytown Music Hall employs their awesome theater space in the too-rare exercise of a film screening, offering James Whale's brilliant THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN as precursor to true Valentine's Day horror. What could be more appropriate?

There's yer month, Stockahz. As new things come to light I'll do my best to keep you informed. Otherwise check the calendar and plan accordingly, and support the classic screenings in New York City.


Follow me on Twitter @NitrateStock! Like the page at Facebook.com/NitrateStock! Be safe and sound and make sure the next guy is too! Excelsior, Knucklehedz! And see you at the movies!

-Joe Walsh