February 6th 2013. Pick Of The Day.

New York City's premiere resource for classic film screenings in the metropolitan area. Offering reviews, recommendations, venues and a host of links keeping classic film and the silver screens alive.

Slow start to the month for classic film screenings, and yet what's on display is no less attendance worthy.

THE LITTLE FUGITIVE, Film Forum's addendum to its late great January fest New Yawk New Wave, was the feature debut from husband and wife photography greats Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin. Importing the sensibility of Italian Neorealism to shores decidedly West, specifically Coney Island, it played a pivotal role in redefining NYC's role in world cinema. The once proud Mecca of film production had practically overnight seen that status fly west to the newfound kingdom christened Hollywood. Nearly two decades would pass until new sensibilities would emerge to repurpose the city, utilizing cheaper film stock and equipment, and a restless artistic postwar fringe to experiment with the medium and create narratives modern, daring and in some cases still incomprehensible. It all coalesced into an avant garde aesthetic that only this city could provoke. And it all started, more or less, with this tale of a kid tricked into thinking he's commited a murder and lams it to the slowly dilapidating amusement park for cover. Metaphor anyone? Good flick, screens all day. Not my Pick.

MOMA offers three chances to catch Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR as part of its Auteurist Histiry of Film series this week. Becker served as the great Jean Renoir's 1st AD for classics such as BODOU SAVED FROM DROWNING & GRAND ILLUSION while maintaining a journeyman career for himself as director. Postwar he shone, and his first great film was this Simone Signoret starrer set during the Belle Epoque, about what else a prostitute's love traingle with two gangsters. Tres Francais. Brilliant, but not my Pick.

And my Pick today goes to a man I despise, yet brutal honesty compels, so I acquiesce.

Time was men ran this world. Not any more. Time was guy flick directors like John Struges, Robert Aldrich and Sam Peckinpah ruled with impunity. An era long gone. Time was children became men, and left behind childish things. Nowadays, due to the advents of the transistor and the VCR and the Internet, we never need grow up again. The Geek has inherited the Earth. Pity sez me, but also hooray 'cause I'm geek through and through and could never fend for myself in a Sturges/Aldrich/Peckinpah world. Full disclosure.

One of the more egregious exploiters of the modern phenomenon of never having to grow up, never having to lose people or things for good, and never never having to apologize for the imperfection willfull or otherwise in recording history both personal and collective also directed my Pick today early in his career, when he held real promise and not merely the allure of Spielberg's shadow. There are virtues to be had serving as cultural preservationist. There are charges to be answered for as cultural pillager. Robert Zemeckis has literally taken the worst aspects of our simultaneous devotion to nostalgia and innovation and produced some of the most wretched, soulless cinema of our generation. His tenure as ILM's pet director produced some of the most impressive advances in the realm of SFX. Unlike Speilberg and Lucas and Donner the technical innovations he oversaw never resulted in narrative innovation. In other words looks amazing, but the film sucks. Try me try me try me.

Which leads me to today's Pick, a gem from an earlier time when Bobby Z actually cared about the script he was filming and the cats populating the world he created. Working with early screenwriting partner Bob Gale he concoted a black comedy aimed squarely at the heart of modern capitalism, and gave the great Kurt Russell his first non-Disney comedic role. Which he knocked out of the park. Two feuding Texas brothers played by Jack Warden will stop at nothing in their escalating war to drive the other out of business, and when one suddenly kicks the bucket, Kurt and company do everything in their collective powers to convince the courts their particular Warden still walks the Earth. Then his daughter shows up. And hilarity ensues. One of the great early 80's ensemble comedies, up there with CADDYSHACK and STRIPES, but without Bill Murray. Which may be the only thing wrong with it.

USED CARS screens today at the Wakter Reade Theater. Let's remember this cat for the good he did and not anything else, agreed? PBBPBPBPPBBPBPBPPBBPBPleasee???


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


-Joe Walsh