by Matt Prigge
$4.50-$8, unless otherwise noted. 108 E. Butler Ave. 215.345.7855.
Saturday Night Fever (1977) (Shown on film): Remember: Not every dance-craze film becomes Gene Siskel's favorite movie. B+ Wed., June 30, 7pm.
Holes (2003) (Shown on DVD): Louis Sachar's tome has been described as the Catch-22 of kiddie novels, but let's not stop the highfalutin comparisons there. The influence of Roald Dahl, Kafka and Canadian ice king Atom Egoyan (at least with regard to the backflipping, flashback-heavy structure) is also evident in this tale of a wrongly accused juvenile delinquent (The Battle of Shaker Heights savior Shia LaBeouf) sent to a prison camp to dig desert hole after desert hole. Is it a metaphor? Definitely. But for what? Directed by two-time Steven Seagal helmsman Andrew Davis and adapted by Sachar himself, the film's a hair too ambitious for its own good (and the last-act revelation is simultaneously anticlimactic and disappointingly simple). But at least for the first hour, the film is literate and unique enough to make cohesion seem pretty overrated anyway. With adult support from a snarling Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson, Sigourney Weaver, a characteristically boring Patricia Arquette and--in full-on camp mode--Eartha Kitt. B- Sat., July 3, noon.
The Lady From Shanghai (1947) (Shown on film): Orson Welles was on the outs with wife Rita Hayworth when he directed her in this bizarro-world film noir, and sure enough, she's cast as the icily seductive wife of Everett Sloane's crippled criminal lawyer. There's a fairly simple James M. Cain knockoff plot here, with Welles as the Irishman suckered into a murder/ mystery by Hayworth's femme fatale. Welles, of course, has very little interest in the whole affair, apart from draping Shanghai in grotesque images and malignant bits of business. At times it's even his best-looking film--the famed house-of-mirrors climax is still hard to beat, no matter how many times it's been ripped off. That said, just try to hold your breath for the newly refurbished print of The Magnificent Ambersons, premiering next week. B+ Wed., July 7, 7pm.
$3. 21+ 1003 Arch St. 215.922.LIVE.
Bad Santa (2003) (Shown on video): In jazz dork Terry Zwigoff's follow-up to Ghost World, Billy Bob Thornton cusses, drinks, urinates, munches grotesquely on salad and eviscerates a set of plastic reindeer for 93 minutes. I swear to God this thing's subtle. A- Mon., June 28, 8pm.
$4.50-$7.75. 20 E. State St., Doylestown. 215.345.6789.
The Lady From Shanghai (1947) (Shown on film): See Ambler Theater. B+ Wed., June 30, 4:30pm; Mon., July 5, 7pm.
Elephant and Castle
$3. Crowne Plaza Philadelphia, 1800 Market St. 215.751.9977
The Undead/The Crawling Eye (1957/1958) (Shown on video): The latest from the Cinema Bizarre cadre starts with Roger Corman before heading off to Britain's rough equivalent. In the American shlockmeister's The Undead, a woman's time-traveling hijinks result in the alteration of the future, while The Crawling Eye introduces a rough equivalent to Fiend Without a Face's nefarious brains: telepathic, decapitation-prone alien creatures who live in a radioactive cloud. (Not reviewed.) Mon., July 5, 9pm.
Fleet Newark Black Film Festival
Free. Various locations, Newark and Trenton, N.J.
The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) (Shown on DVD): Making its second appearance in the area after popping up in "The Big Nothing," Ivan Dixon's highly controversial adaptation of an equally controversial Sam Greenlee novel finds an African-American working his way through the CIA so he can learn the agency's moves and apply them to a new American revolution. Star Tim Reid, co-scribe Richard Wesley and Greenlee will be present as guest speakers. (Not reviewed.) Wed., June 30, 7pm. Newark Museum, Billy Johnson Auditorium, 49 Washington St., Newark, N.J.; Thurs., July 1, 7:30pm. New Jersey State Museum, Auditorium, 205 W. State St., Trenton, N.J.
Jim Brown: All American (2002) (Shown on film): Spike Lee's little-seen two-and-a-half-hour documentary portrait of the athlete, actor and activist will be graced with an appearance by the film's subject. (Not reviewed.) Wed., July 7, 7pm. New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Hall, 99 Summit Street, Newark, N.J.
$5-$6. 3701 Chestnut St. 215.387.5125.
The Lady of the House (1999) (Shown on film): Can the Indian film industry really be neatly divided into flamboyant Bollywood musicals and the literate, moody work of Satyajit Ray? Let's hope that'll be answered in I-House's new mini-fest "Cinema India!," which takes off next week with five more films, most of them proving that some audiences don't mind average running times that spill well over the two-hour mark. In the meantime, House proves that most films borrow from both schools, even though they err more on the Ray side than Bollywood. A low-budget production by Rituparno Ghosh, The Lady of the House offers a simple, if odd, premise: A single middle-aged woman (Kiron Kher) lends out her country house as a set for a film whose director lets her hang out with big stars and casts her in a one-scene role. House, like many Ray films, sneaks up on you. What seems like a subdued melodrama for most of its run effortlessly morphs into a quietly heartbreaking portrait of loneliness, with the film crew only passing through the woman's life before heading off to other locations. Not that this conflict is so easily broken down. Much of the tension comes from wondering if the director is sincere in his interaction with Kher, and it's an ambiguity Ghosh tantalizingly never clears up. B+ Wed., July 7, 7pm.
Marathon on the Square
Free. 1839 Spruce St. 215.731.0800.
Spider-Man (2002) (Shown on DVD): Bone up on your Spidey knowledge before he takes on Alfred Molina. B+ Wed., June 30, 9pm.
Jerry Maguire (1996) (Shown on DVD): Count 'em up: "Show me the money!" "Help me help you!" "I love him for the man he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is." "Who's coming with me?" "You complete me." "You had me at 'Hello.'" It's a testament to Cameron Crowe that so many cringe-inducing howlers can't derail his otherwise agreeably ambling character study. B- Wed., July 7, 9pm.
Free. Third and Brown sts. 215.413.3666.
Fancypants Cinema The Northern Liberties hole-in-the-wall hosts an evening of locally made short films. No word on what's showing, so just go and be pleasantly surprised. Tues., July 6, 9pm.
Prince Music Theater
$6-$8.50, unless otherwise noted. 1412 Chestnut St. 215.569.9700.
The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners (2003) (Shown on video): In the early '70s the Irish Republican Army went through a restructuring that allowed women to hold positions of all kinds. But the media--and films like In the Name of the Father and Some Mother's Son--have suspiciously ignored these gender advances. Temple alum Melissa Thompson takes steps to correct that imbalance with her doc. The stories of the IRA's former prisoners are roughly the same as what you've heard before. Shown in an unfinished version a year ago (the fantastically rare archival footage was not yet made available by the budget), the completed Road to Women plays like an especially evocative treatment of a nigh-Orwellian era. Thompson's subjects, represented both in interviews and in letters, speak lucidly and calmly of their harried experiences as interns in Ireland's prisons. After being picked up for minor offenses (if that), women like Roseleen Walsh and Martina Anderson joined their male peers in being abused as though they were regular prisoners. Naturally, they rebelled. Hunger strikes were prevalent, while the lack of toilets meant that the walls became a suitable equivalent. Thompson swipes a page or two from Alain Resnais' seminal Night and Fog--she likes to show images of empty rooms in the abandoned prisons. Even more effectively, Thompson shows how little has changed. As one of the prisoners--who was released a mere 11 months before she was interviewed--says, there's still poverty and political duress in Ireland, while the court of human rights still hasn't vilified those who imprisoned her. (See "Prison Hell," p. 37.) B Wed., June 30, 7:30pm. $5 (free for Prince members).
Free. 40th Street Field, 40th and Walnut sts.
Arabian Nights (1942) (Shown on film): Made in the wake of the Sabu-plus-fantastical-stories craze begun with Thief of Baghdad, John Rawlins' take on the Sherazade yarns reportedly takes great liberties with the text, not the least of which being the inclusion of Shemp Howard in the cast. As always with SC's summery outdoor deal, the latest chapter in the sci-fi serial Mystery Mountain will precede the feature. (Not reviewed.) Thurs., July 1, 9pm (rain date: Mon., July 5, 9pm).
$4. Marian Anderson Rec Center, 744 S. 17th St. 215.300.7089
Shake Yr ASSthetic Time was that a filmmaker who moved up to feature films from music videos was derided, their output viewed as a problem of style over substance. Now that folks like David Fincher, Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry have managed to supply both, the tide has--with many exceptions--turned: Music videos are at last viewed as a substantial artform. The latest Small Change event plumbs the realm of DIY music-video making, in which obscure bands hire obscure filmmakers to do justice to their tunes (if they don't just do it themselves). As with any collection, the evening's a hit-and-miss affair, with concept often outweighing craft. Johnne Eschelman's video for art-rockers the Vanishing Point vies to be a Brakhageesque collection of film leader and archaic 8 mm home movies but never seems to come up with a raison d'etre. Others, like Greg Brunkalla's take on Deerhoof's "Cooper" or the Exelar's hardcore punk "Witness Relocation Program," never exceed a minute and hardly make more than a quickie visceral impact. On the other hand, University of the Arts student Pablo C. applies some nifty processed visuals to Wrist and Pistols' "Winter." Inevitably, the bigger the band, the better the video, as with the idle Midwestern landscape fetishism Matt McCormick lends to the Shins' meditative "The Past and Pending." But it's Divya Srinivasan's video for Spoon's "Everything Hits at Once" that makes the biggest impression, with its rotoscope animation that looks suspiciously like Waking Life--until you discover that Srinivasan was in fact one of Life's animators. The evening will also include two videos from Small Change members Leah Giblin and Ted Passon, as well as a second appearance from the Big Picture Alliance's "It's All About the Lead," in which girls rap about the importance of having your water pipes tested. Thurs., July 1, 7:30pm.
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