Note: Due to Hurricane Sandy affecting many of our contributors, this will be a shorter than usual Filtered Excellence. It’s a good time to go back over past listings and check out somethings you missed. The Filtered Excellence.
The New York City Marathon. This always great event will be more interesting this year than ever, coming on the heels of Hurricane Sandy. If you’re in the area, walk out and watch and cheer these guys on. If you’re not, watch it on tv.
Flight starring Denzel Washington. Oscar buzz is heavy on this Robert Zemeckis-directed drama. Denzel Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a veteran pilot who is hailed as a hero after making a daring emergency landing that saves nearly everyone on board. But as investigators look into the event, there’s more questions than answers about who is really at fault – and what caused the crash in the first place. After a string of action-based dramas, Washington turns it up a notch as the pilot turns hero. He’s all but a lock for a Best Actor nomination. Flight also marks the return of Zemeckis, who also seems to be rejuvenated in his first live action feature in over a decade. Don Cheadle (reunited with his Devil With The Blue Dress co-star Washington), John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kelly Reilly, and Bruce Greenwood round out an outstanding cast. If you’re looking for a solid, adult-driven film, check out Flight. It opens nationwide tomorrow.
Quentin Tarantino Presents The Man With The Iron Fists. Starring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu. Directed by RZA. Die hard fans Eli Roth and RZA wrote the story which the official website describes as ‘the epic story of warriors, assassins and a lone outsider hero who all descend on one fabled village in China for a winner-take-all battle for a fortune in gold.’ Crowe plays Jack Knife, a solider who’s named after his weapon of choice who also has an opium addiction. Liu plays the kickass owner of the village brothel and mixed martial artists Cung Ye, Rick Yune, Byron Mann and Dave Bautista plays the combatants. RZA’s love for martial arts films is evident throughout the film and everyone seems to having a blast in this bloody MMA epic. The Man With The Iron Fists has cult classic written all over it. It opens tomorrow nationwide.
Rosemary’s Baby – The Criterion Collection. This faithful adaptation of the Ira Levin best-seller is still as creepy, eerie and packs quite an emotional punch today as it did when it was released back in 1968. Mia Farrow is perfect as Rosemary, the young, somewhat naive housewife who slowly comes to the realization that the child she’s carrying was spawned from Satan himself. Ruth Gordon won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Minnie, the eccentric, but meddlesome next door neighbor. John Cassavetes, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans and Ralph Bellamey are also terrific. How important was Rosemary’s Baby? It made Farrow and Polanski household names and put Paramount Pictures back on the Hollywood map. It also brought horror films back from the critical and commercial dead. In addition to the film, The Criterion Collection also contains new interviews with Polanski, Mia Farrow and producer Robert Evans; a full length documentary on Krzysztof Komeda, the composer who wrote the film’s haunting score; and a 1997 radio interview with author Ira Levin. An excellent way to rediscover an American film classic. Rosemary’s Baby – The Criterion Collection is available on Blu Ray/DVD through Amazon and all available outlets.
Talking Book by Macy Gray. We have to admit that news came down that Macy Gray was releasing another covers album – her 2nd in less than 6 months – we were skeptical. When it was revealed that it would be a song for song recreation of Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, we were REALLY skeptical. But much to our surprise, it works. Much of the material from the original album dealt with, directly and indirectly, with Stevie’s brief marriage to singer Syreeta Wright. Macy taps into this highly emotional songs like ‘Maybe Your Baby’, ‘I Believe When I Fall In Love’ and ‘Blame It On The Sun’ quite well, bringing a feminine perspective that hasn’t been approached before. She also takes liberties with Talking Book’s centerpiece songs. Splashes of bossa nova highlight her version of ‘You Are The Sunshine Of My Life’, while ‘Superstition’ gets a hazy blues-based makeover. Macy Gray deserves major props for taking on an endearing classic. Even more props for pulling it off. Talking Book is available now on Itunes and all major digital outlets.
New York, New York: NY Doc Fest at IFC Center and SVA Theater. New York’s documentary film festival is planned to begin next Thursday and should go on as scheduled but check in at their website to make sure they get their power running in time.
Austin Texas: Fun Fun Fun Fest. A weekend long music festival. Pretty sweet deal featuring a ton of smaller bands along with big acts, artwork, and skateboarding/BMX on a half-pipe. Sort of like a mini ACL.
Seattle, Washington: Universal Pictures, Celebrating 100 Years. The Northwest Film Forum presents this film festival starting November 2 going through the 14th. Saturday night catch Alfred Hitchock’s The Birds, see Frankenstein on Sunday.