Saturday, January 20, 2024

National Film Registry 2023

Merry Christmas, You Filthy Animals!
Every year around this time, The Library of Congress reveals the 25 new films that they are adding to the ever-increasing National Film Registry, the nation's own version of the Oscars, choosing films of artistic or historic value for the purpose of acknowledgment, but more especially for preservation. Film fades and scratch, it corrodes, it rusts, the early nitrate films burst into flames (the majority of silent films are irretrievable, despite the wonders of technology) and so, for a couple of decades, pains have been made by the studios and other archivists, to digitize and clean up the old prints and original negatives to try and restore these films to their original, pristine condition, never to fade again.
The films are nominated by anybody in the country, really, and the LoC committee of archivists, historians, and critics look at the numbers and boil it down to the Top 25 for their “cultural, historical or aesthetic” significance and that can mean anything from Hollywood blockbusters, independent films and documentaries, experimental films, to home movies of a distant, forgotten, or abandoned past. It's given the Library a chance to honor popular cinema, but also bring to the light films that were made by others than white corporate men. And one could also say that they're documenting the filmed history of America in all its varying shades.
The Registry's commentary is in standard Arial font in pearly white.  
My stuff is below in the off-gray Verdana.

¡Alambrista! (1977) “¡Alambrista!” is the powerfully emotional story of Roberto, a Mexican national working as a migrant laborer in the United States to send money back to his wife and newborn. Director Robert M. Young’s sensitive screenplay refuses to indulge in simplistic pieties, presenting us with a world in which exploitation and compassion coexist in equal measure. The film immerses us in Roberto’s world as he moves across vast landscapes, meeting people he can’t be sure are friend or threat, staying one step ahead of immigration officials. “¡Alambrista!” is as relevant today as it was on its 1977 release, a testament to its enduring humanity. In an essay for its Criterion DVD release, film scholar Charles Ramirez Berg called “¡Alambrista!” the “first and arguably best rendering of the Mexican American diaspora story.”
Also known as The Illegal, Young—whose The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez was voted in last year—shot it very cinema veritΓ© close to star Domingo Ambriz, and didn't compromise as far as language—Ambriz's dialog is all in Spanish—and depicting a migrant worker trying to catch any picking job he can while evading border police. Very brief cameos by Edward James Olmos, Julius Harris and Ned Beatty.

Apollo 13 (1995)
The extreme challenges involved in space travel present compelling cinema storylines, and one cannot imagine a more harrowing scenario than the near tragic Apollo 13 space mission. Director Ron Howard’s retelling is equally meticulous and emotional, a master class in enveloping the audience into a complicated technological exercise in life-and-death problem-solving. 
Based on the 1994 book “Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13” by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, “Apollo 13” blends skillful editing, crafty special effects, a James Horner score, and a well-paced script to detail the quick-thinking heroics of both the astronaut crew and NASA technicians as they improvise and work through unprecedented situations. 
The talented cast includes Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan.
They've got a problem...
A dramatic recreation of the perfect rejoinder to the whole "Moon Landing Was Faked" silliness ("Really? And "they" faked the one that FAILED?!") Both Howard and his Splash star Tom Hanks were kids who grew up fascinated with the 1960's space-race and wanted to make an undiluted movie about it, despite audience's lack of interest in the film of The Right Stuff. They took as their subject the closest NASA had ever come (at that time) to losing an astronaut crew in space—the flight of Apollo 13, which had previously been the subject of a TV movie that focused less on the astronauts and their plight, instead concentrating on some trumped up drama down at Mission Control (because astronauts in danger of suffocating and freezing to death wasn't dramatic enough). Howard and his script-writers Albert Broyles and and Al Reinert (with some doctoring by John Sayles—see his Matewan further down in the list) play it straight, basing it on Cmdr. Jim Lovell's account "Lost Moon." Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon play the crew, Gary Sinise the crewman left behind due to a potential risk of measles, and Ed Harris is a study in stalwart as flight director Gene Kranz. It's a great cast and Howard milks the drama for all its worth, creating a scary, creaking spacecraft, and filming many scenes in real zero gravity (through the use of astronaut-training planes) to create one of the most realistic simulations of real space missions on-screen. Nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, it lost to Braveheart—directed by the star of his next film.

Bamboozled (2000)
Mixing elements of “A Face in the Crowd,” “The Producers,” “Network” and “Putney Swope,” Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled” showcases his unique talents, here blending dark comedy and satire exposing hypocrisy. An African American TV executive (Damon Wayans) grows tired of his ideas being rejected by his insincere white boss, who touts himself with an “I am Black People” type of vibe. To get out of this untenable situation, Wayans proposes an idea he feels will surely get him fired: a racist minstrel show featuring African American performers donning blackface. The show becomes a smash hit while at the same time sparking outrage, including militant groups leading to violence. As with the best satire, the focus is not on believable plot but rather how the story reveals the ills of society, in this case how Hollywood and television have mistreated African Americans over the decades.
Bamboozled shows up between Summer of Sam and 25th Hour in Lee's feature-filmography (he was also busy making TV-movies and music videos as well as the Original Kings of Comedy concert film, the man is tireless), and it is, indeed, a pastiche of several other movies—most notably Network. Ivy-league graduate Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans), in an attempt to get fired from his job as a writer at the Continental Network System creates an outlandishly racist TV show—think "Amos 'n Andy" only worse—"Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show," which, to his horror, becomes a hit. But, the horror goes away when he garners some prestige. Lee's approach is very scatter-shot—he even takes a shot at himself—but it's is one of those extreme projects born of rage where you actually feel the heat. And it may be satire, but it doesn't mean it isn't true. You see a lot of Black comedies on TV, but not many Black dramas. This is Lee's fifth film in the Registry.
Bamboozled is in desperate need of restoration as it was an early consumer digital film and some image-upgrading needs to be done.

Bohulano Family Film Collection (1950s-1970s) Delfin Paderes Bohulano and Concepcion Moreno Bohulano recorded their family life for more than 20 years. Shot primarily in Stockton, California, their collection documents the history of the Filipino community during a period of significant immigration. They were involved in the local Filipino American community, including the building of Stockton's new Filipino Center in the early 1970s. The movies record community events, family gatherings, trips to New York City, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C., as well as the family's 1967 visit to the Philippines. Preserved by the Center for Asian American Media. 
Cruisin’ J-Town (1975) Duane Kubo’s documentary tells the story of the jazz fusion band Hiroshima, including their attempts to blend art and identity, the group’s roots and influence in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles, and the burgeoning pulse of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in the early 1970s. A highlight in the film is a cross-cultural jam with Hiroshima and the Chicano performing arts company El Teatro Campesino. Preserved by the Academy Film Archive in collaboration with Visual Communications. 
Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) As a follow-up to her acclaimed low-budget indie “Smithereens,” Susan Seidelman directed this hip screwball romp involving personal ads, mistaken identity and only-in-New-York characters. The film features Rosanna Arquette as an unhappy New Jersey housewife and Madonna as a Lower East Side bohemian free spirit named Susan; Arquette’s deep immersion into Susan’s strange world helps Arquette recharge her life and cure its ills. As critics noted, the wacky plot serves as adventure thriller therapy for Arquette as she careens from one unlikely bizarre event to another. The film also shines as a historical snapshot, offering vignettes into parts of New York City that no longer exist, as well as glimpses into 80s fashion and music, especially Madonna’s personal style and her renowned dance single “Into the Groove.”
A major stepping-stone in Madonna Louise Ciccone's pursuit of fame and fortune as Queen of All Media—she'd already appeared in two features, a short, and scads of music videos (this came after "Material Girl" in her timeline). Initially intended as a Barbra Streisand vehicle (yeah, you can see it) then for Diane Keaton and Goldie Hawn, director Seidelman wanted to make the film, which has the air of a screwball comedy with its McGuffin earrings, convenient amnesia, and mistaken identities, to "skew" a bit younger and play things a bit more current. Hence Arquette (whose most significant role had been in John Sayles' Baby, It's You>) and Madonna. The stylistics help hide the fustiness of the material, and as a slice of 80's MTV fashion-sense, it deserves to be a part of the Registry.

Dinner at Eight (1933)
Director George Cukor has many works on the National Film Registry and the racy, pre-Code comedy/drama “Dinner at Eight” illustrates why. Cukor knew how to adapt plays into film, removing their staginess to make them work well on film and adding wit. Cukor also was a master on how best to use the strengths of his actors and handle egos. This ensemble film about high society features an all-star cast, arguably one of the greatest assembled to that point in cinema history, and it became a major attraction and event in the early sound era. Frances Marion and Herman J. Mankiewicz adapted the George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber play for the screen. 
A high society soiree goes a bit wrong during the economic crisis of The Great Depression. Directed by Cukor—this is his tenth film in the Registry—it is no doubt as influenced by its producer David O. Selznick, who delivered M-G-M's slogan of "More Stars than There are in Heaven" for this stage-to-screen adaptation, with two Barrymores, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow (giving it her all—"Nurtz!"), Lee Tracy, and the epitome of Cukor-style Marie Dressler, combing wit, style, flummery, a bit of decay and not-giving-a-fig about what society thinks. John Barrymore's depiction of a former matinee-idol-gone-to-seed is particularly surprising and would be just as effective if it was plopped into a modern-day drama. The writers come ever-so-close to the edge in this pre-Code Hollywood film.

Edge of the City (1957)
“Edge of the City” features superb performances by John Cassavetes and Sidney Poitier in a psychological drama set among New York City railroad workers. Based on a live television drama written expressly for Poitier by Robert Alan Aurthur, “Edge of the City” follows Cassavetes as a troubled Army deserter who finds trust in others, maturity in himself, and reintegration into society after Poitier, playing a stevedore foreman, befriends him. Praised by the NAACP for its message of racial brotherhood, this first feature of blacklisted television director Martin Ritt offers finely delineated performances by Ruby Dee, Kathleen Maguire and Jack Warden. Critic Stanley Crouch called the film “one of the highest of the high points in Poitier’s career,” noting “an almost heartbreaking effect in his absolute freedom from the stereotypic, moving with such vitality through so many more moods than would be expected of a Black character then or now.”
Originally directed by Robert Mulligan on Philco Television Playhouse, what started out as Arthur's teleplay "A Man is Ten Feet Tall" (and written expressly for Sidney Poitier—and anticipating such roles as the one he played in A Patch of Blue), Edge of the City features Poitier as an altruistic mentor and friend to Army deserter Cassavettes. It seems silly that this film, where there is a caring friendship between races, should have been seen as a landmark film, but it was a stepping stone for Poitier to get out of his "angry juvenile" roles or seem less than a token African-American (hey, why aren't there more blacks working in this railroad yard?). As strong as Poitier and Cassavettes are, the player who is absolutely amazing in this is Ruby Dee (but then she always was). Great score by Leonard Rosenman, too.
Fame (1980)
Alan Parker’s teen musical drama follows the lives of students at New York City’s High School of the Performing Arts as they tackle the demanding environment and the issues young students face. The musical numbers stylistically often resemble music videos in a pre-MTV world, and “Fame” influenced other classic 80’s musicals like “Footloose,” “Flashdance” and “Dirty Dancing.” Irene Cara belts out the rousing title song. Film critic Roger Ebert said “‘Fame’ is a genuine treasure, moving and entertaining, a movie that understands being a teen-ager…” The 1980s produced many classic movies on teen life, and “Fame” was a worthy prelude of great films to come. 
"The Dance Department is the hardest course in this school." "The Acting Department is the hardest course in this school." "The Music Department is the hardest course in this school." I don't know, with this particular student body, it seems pretty easy when a typical lunch hour can turn into a singing-dancing show-stopper led by Irene Cara. The story of a class going through the curriculum of New York's High School for the Performing Arts starts with registration and follows its clutch of students all the way through graduation. Inspired by "A Chorus Line" (and the lived-in feel of Saturday Night Fever), Alan Parker manages to juggle the stories—it was his first film after Midnight Express—but still manages to be a bit snarky about it when dealing with kids and their dreams. And the film is edited to a peripatetic rhythm, anticipating the pace of the typical musical video on MTV (which launched one year later).
Odd that Fame hadn't been voted in before.
Helen Keller in Her Story (1954) Nancy Hamilton’s Academy Award-winning documentary tells the story of Helen Keller from her birth to early 70s. Keller lived for 14 more years after the film. The documentary came about long after Keller became an international speaker on behalf of both disabled rights and the United States. It uses news footage, photographs, interviews and original sequences to tell her story, as well as a more day-in-the-life approach. 
Preserved by the Academy Film Archive. 
Also known as The Unconquered, it's a combination of newsreel footage, newly shot footage of Keller at home, and recreated sequences with narration by Katharine Cornell. In 1957, William Gibson would see his fictionalized teleplay on Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, "The Miracle Worker," broadcast on television, adapted for Broadway, and made into a feature film in 1962.
Home Alone (1990) The young and deeply expressive Macaulay Culkin became a superstar thanks to this 1990 mega-hit that has become embedded into American culture as a holiday classic. Left home alone at Christmas time, a plucky youngster uses his creativity and wit to stave off two bumbling burglars. John Hughes (at that time best known for his teen comedies) fashioned the inventive script while Chris Columbus directed the film for maximum cross-generational appeal. The cast also includes Daniel Stern, Joe Pesci, John Heard, Roberts Blossom and Catherine O’Hara. Composer John Williams contributes a memorable score, including the classic “Somewhere in My Memory.”
John Hughes wrote and Chris Columbus directed (only his third film...but his first involved directing kids in Adventures in Babysitting, so he knew what he was doing) and Macaulay Culkin—who'd garnered laughs in Hughes' Uncle Buck—got to be in the pilot's seat for this Holiday cartoon about the ultimate latchkey kid (he's forgotten during his family's Christmas vacation rush...understandable) and left to find for himself. It's every kid's fantasy/nightmare to be in control and yet be abandoned. And to top it off, his house has been targeted by thieves who double as the most stupid people on Earth. It's like a Looney Tunes film made in the McAllister home. It made Culkin a prominent child star, but, in the long run, it was the Number 1 box-office winner for 12 weeks in a row (during the log-jammed Christmas season!), and, for a time, was the third highest grossing film...of all time. It has very comfortably taken its place as a Christmas perennial alongside It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.

Lady and the Tramp (1955)
This exquisitely animated love story between a spoiled cocker spaniel and a mutt was arguably the most mature animation and love story created until then by Disney Studios. It also marked a technological innovation for Disney. In addition to standard theatrical formats, Disney released the film in the wide screen CinemaScope process, in part to keep people going to the theaters following the advent of television. One of the studio’s most beloved animated works, this unlikely love story is made memorable by endearing songs, excellent voice talents (which included Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Bill Thompson, Verna Felton, Bob Baucom, Peggy Lee and Stan Freberg) and iconic moments including a kiss involving spaghetti.
As well as being Disney's first animated feature in wide-screen, Lady and the Tramp was the first cartoon film not released by RKO Pictures, but instead by a new arm of Disney called Buena Vista (which was dissolved in 2007 with the establishment of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures). Based on a 1937 treatment by Disney story artist Joe Grant, Disney didn't do anything with it until combining it with a story he'd read in Cosmopolitan—"Happy Dan, the Cynical Dog" by Ward Greene. The animation by the Disney team—eight of the "Nine Old Men" worked on it, Ward Kimball being absent doing some directing for Disney's television show—were experimenting with rougher principal animation, but their character work was no less stringent and nuanced. And it's most well-known sequence showing up all the time in "clip shows" is "the spaghetti scene" (that Disney wanted to cut! The animators took it upon themselves to make it longer and "The Boss" got charmed.) My memories from childhood are of Peggy Lee's substantial contributions to it.

The Lighted Field (1987)
“The Lighted Field” is one of the avant-garde masterworks from Andrew Noren.“I’m a light thief and a shadow bandit,” Noren (1943 - 2015) once said. “The lovers, light and shadow, and their offspring space and time are my themes, working with their particularities is my passion and delight.” “The Lighted Field” (1987, 62 mins, silent, B&W, 16mm) is a highly personal work in which Noren uses archival imagery combined with urban and domestic images that are infused with his love of light play and evoke a twinned sense of vitality and mortality. 

"I’m a light thief and a shadow bandit. I deal in retinal phantoms. Film is illusion, period, however you choose to see it — shadows of human delights and adversities or raging conflicts of emulsion grains. We see only “films” of films, as all of our sight and sensing is illusion, the phantom movies of our encounter with the world, which, remember, is equally phantom, trompe l’oeil of that clown and ghostmeister, the sun."

"The lovers, light and shadow, and their offspring space and time are my themes, working with their particularities is my passion and delight." — Andrew Noren

Love & Basketball (2000) For her feature film directorial debut, Gina Prince-Bythewood wrote and directed the engaging “Love and Basketball,” which follows a boy and girl as they pursue their basketball careers from childhood to adults, sharing a mutual affection for the game and an eventual love for each other. Unforgettable and inspiring, the film has been praised as a refreshing new take on the rom-com genre and has had an enduring impact and ongoing resonance with women athletes and young people. Spike Lee served as one of the producers.
The first film by the director of The Woman King is still surprising for all the top-flight acting talent on hand. But, that everybody works so seamlessly and the basketball scenes feel real and the two leads Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps...(young Omar Epps!!!) have a natural chemistry that feels like they grew up next door to each other. But, then how could they not be a couple when the first time they meet, he marks her for life by slinging a basketball at her head after she shows him up on the neighborhood court, and they have to learn to be team-players on and off the court. Once the real basketball starts, Prince-Blythewood does some interesting cross-cutting between slowed-down footage and regular-speed court action. Also featuring Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, Debbi Morgan, Harry Lennix, Gabrielle Union and Regina Hall.

Matewan (1987)
Bringing to light a little-remembered moment in labor history, John Sayles’ “Matewan” dramatizes efforts in 1920 to unionize a West Virginia company town and the bloody battle that followed between strikers and coal company thugs. Sayles incorporates elements from related labor struggles into the story to show how Black migrants and European immigrants hired as scabs often united with local miners. Structured as a Western, the film examines collective nonviolence as a strategy to combat ruthless exploitation within an individualistic culture animated by blood feuds. “‘Matewan’ offers a meditation on broad philosophical questions rarely confronted directly in American films,” historian Eric Foner has written. Expertly filmed by Haskell Wexler and featuring engaging ensemble acting by Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn, Will Oldham and many West Virginia locals, this low-budget gem illuminates remote Appalachian cultural attitudes at a turning point in labor union history. Photochemically preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in collaboration with Anarchists' Convention. Laboratory services by Monaco Labs/Video/Digital. Sound services by Audio Mechanics, DJ Audio. Digital restoration work by Criterion. Special thanks to Suzanne Ceresko, Maggie Renzi, Scott Smerdon, John Sayles.
"You don't want to go there, Mister. Ain't nothin' but crazy people there." There is a marker in Matewan that reads: ""MATEWAN MASSACRE. In 1920 area miners went on strike to gain recognition of UMWA. On May 19 of the same year, twelve Baldwin-Felts Agency guards came from Bluefield to evict the miners from company houses. As guards left town, they argued with town police chief Sid Hatfield and Mayor Testerman. Shooting of undetermined origins resulted in the deaths of two coal miners, seven agents, and the mayor. None of the 19 men indicted were convicted." And the police chief (played by David Strathairn in the film) was gunned down in broad daylight on the town's courthouse steps by coal company agents and a local spy and evidence planted to make it look like he was shot in self-defense. It was the film debut of Chris Cooper and the second feature of Mary McDonnell. It's a great film.

Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision (1994)
Freida Lee Mock’s Oscar-winning documentary tells the story of Chinese American artist and architect Maya Lin. As a Yale University student, Lin won a nationwide design competition to create the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall. A firestorm of controversy erupted over the selection of Lin’s design, with critics citing her age, lack of architectural experience, her Asian American ancestry, the design’s black granite, and what they saw as something overly bleak, buried in the ground, rather than a heroic tribute. Lin eloquently defended herself, and the stark, simple elegant beauty of her V-shaped design pointing toward the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument won the day. The highly visited site has become a cathartic, emotional experience for countless Americans. The film explores themes about artistic freedom, creativity, public art and politics.
Maybe inclusion in the National Film Registry will allow greater access to this fine documentary, which is being held tight to the vest by its corporate owners. I guess winning an Oscar will do that for you. I saw it when it was broadcast on the PBS grab-bag "POV" and one is struck by Lin's rigorous design sense...and by her quiet reticence to talk anything but aesthetics. Her work is all the more amazing for how it draws out emotions from her designs, something that most soulless corporate architecture doesn't even seem to consider. She's a magician as well as an artist.

A Movie Trip Through Filmland (1921) This educational and highly informative film about the production of motion picture film stock and the impact of movies on a global audience was shot at Kodak Park, the headquarters of the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. The film begins with a gathering of animated multi-national characters as they attend the “International Convention of Movie Fans.” The animated curtains part, and the audience sees Kodak Park and a short movie detailing every step of the film manufacturing process, including statistics on how much raw cotton, silver and water is used to create the 147,000 miles of film stock produced in 1921 (enough to circle the globe). Preserved by the George Eastman Museum in 2005 from two tinted and toned diacetate prints in collaboration with the Eastman Kodak laboratory in Rochester, funded by Eastman Kodak Company. 
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) The king of dark whimsy, Tim Burton won over an even larger (and decidedly younger) crowd with this delightful stop-motion animated offering. Jack Skellington, whose giant pumpkin head rests precariously on top of his rail-thin body, is the king of Halloween Town; one year he dreams of bringing a little Christmas magic to his humble hamlet. Conceived and produced by Burton (with direction by Henry Selick), “Nightmare” features creative set design to construct an imaginary world, songs by Danny Elfman and the voice talents of Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Ken Page, Paul Reubens and Glenn Shadix. It has become both a Yuletide and Halloween tradition for adults, kids, hipsters and many Halloween fanatics. 
Part of the DNA of Tim Burton's creative process is a deep-rooted nostalgia for the past, of which this film is a prime example. Begun as a Disney-project along the lines of the Rankin-Bass Holiday specials he loved as a child, Burton, flush with success from his Batman and Edward Scissorhands films, went back to his old haunt from his animator days, Disney, to resurrect this sublimely weird musical by way of 'The Addams Family" as Jack Skellington, first citizen of Halloween-town discovers another Holiday town (very reminiscent of Chuck Jones' "Whoville" from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas.") themed around Christmas. It is one of the most fully realized of Burton-visions, despite the fact that it's one of his least "hands-on" movies. Longtime collaborator Danny Elfman created the tent-pole songs that advance the story, and animator, most especially, Henry Selik directed the arduous day-to-day work of putting the 88 minute piece together It's an amazing film, created with old movie-making techniques at the dawn of CGI. It is never less than accomplished or assured and delightfully awash with great ideas, sick, twisted and even sweet.
Passing Through (1977) A key figure in the LA Rebellion film movement, director Larry Clark uses “Passing Through” as a rumination on the central importance of jazz in African American culture and the attempts of others to appropriate this legacy for profit. Released from prison, an African American jazz artist refuses to rejoin the music industry he feels is controlled by white mobsters and corporate interests. Instead, he seeks to find his grandfather and musician mentor in order to preserve his artistic integrity and rediscover the creative and social possibilities of jazz. In a 2023 interview with the British Film Institute, Clark said: “Jazz is the sum total of the Black American experience. It is an expression of our history here in the United States.” Rarely seen but of seminal importance, “Passing Through” ranks near the top of the greatest jazz films. Screenplay by Clark and Ted Lange. Music by Horace Tapscott. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive as part of its initiative LA Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. Special Thanks to Larry Clark.
I haven't seen this and the reason I haven't is part of the film's uniqueness. Director Larry Clark will only show it projected in theaters. It is not on DVD or Blu-Ray and it certainly won't appear on any streaming service. Why has Clark made this decision? One reason is technical—Clark has never been impressed with how films look on video. The other is aesthetic—he wants it to be seen by an audience for the communal experience. He financed the film himself and argues that he is under no financial pressure to make more money off of it. He doesn't owe anybody anything...other than the exhibition of his film in the best, purest way possible. Its inclusion in the Registry and with its emphasis on preservation makes that a reality.

Queen of Diamonds (1991)
This landmark work by experimental filmmaker Nina Menkes was filmed on location in Las Vegas. Menkes’ sister and collaborator, Tinka Menkes, plays an alienated blackjack dealer living and working in Sin City. The film takes a close look at the desolation of daytime Vegas, contrasting the lights, noise and life of the city to the quiet, lonely reality of its residents. Nina expresses her unique style through the use of long takes and extended periods of silence to convey her character’s solitary life in the Nevada desert. Restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.
Not so much a narrative as a study of a place. Queen of Diamonds follows a Vegas blackjack dealer dealing as a caretaker for the elderly, working the casinos, wondering where her missing husband is, going on dead-end dates, and attending a wedding ("Did you like the wedding?" "Not really..."). All done in long takes, precious little dialog and an unerring eye for finding a telling detail amid the hub-bub or an effect that a long lens or low-light conditions can produce in a camera. The effect is slightly surreal, but it does feel like least the Vegas of 1990.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Science fiction film sequels sometimes fail because the original reveals the stunning main secrets, thus reducing the awe and surprise factors in future installments. 
Not so with “Terminator 2.” Director James Cameron retained the many virtues of the original and added a deft script with more nuanced characters and plot twists, a large budget and cutting-edge special effects for an even more chilling story revealing the bleak future portended in the original. 
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s mission changes from ending the future of humanity to ensuring its survival, from killing the mother to protecting the son from an assassin adept at quicksilver. 
The film also marked somewhat of a technical milestone in the transition from practical to CGI special effects
Terminator sleight-of-hand
Terminator 2 naturally features the return of another T-800—the model we saw from the first film—but now with a different mission—killing their Hitler in the crib. It's a few years later, but those pesky robots are still sending their own back in time to kill human rebel leader John Connor. This time, though, the target is the young version of Connor himself (played by Edward Furlong), a particularly troubled 'tween who even at this age is a little rebel—Mom's in a mental institution for her foreknowledge of the coming events and young John is living with the lamest of foster-parents. So, the robots send their latest model, a T-1000 (played by a particularly lizard-like Robert Patrick), a liquid-metal chameleon of a cyborg that can take on any shape and is seemingly unstoppable. Sent back to protect John is another T-800 (Schwarzenegger again) who must battle trust issues with his charges, fend off the T-1000 and destroy the cause of the future Holocaust—purloined parts from the original Terminator assassin.
Cameron pulled out all the stops for this one
(at the time, T-2 was the most expensive film ever made), but the results are impressive, including the many transformations of the T-1000 (often created by using twin actors—including Linda Hamilton and her sister), and a particularly gruesome dream sequence where Los Angeles is obliterated in a SFX nuclear explosion (while the live-action sequences just blow up little portions of L.A.). Not Cameron's best, but you'll never find a better "Rock 'em, Sock 'em Robots" movie.

12 Years a Slave (2013) One of the key films of the 2000s and winner of the Best Picture Oscar, “12 Years a Slave” offers a raw, visceral look at slavery on a Louisiana plantation. Directed by Steve McQueen, the film is based on the 1853 memoir of the same name by Solomon Northup, an African American free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years before regaining his freedom. In addition to the Best Picture Oscar, the film also won for Best Adapted Screenplay (John Ridley), and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong’o). Bill Pohlad’s River Road and Plan B, Brad Pitt’s company, produced the film
From my review: "(The hanging of Northup is) an incredible sequence, done in long uninterrupted takes, like many of the episodes of cruelty and torture dramatized in the film, that illustrate, very vividly, the absence of any hope in the life of a slave, of the system of property that was imposed on living, thinking human beings, and the thin thread that constituted the difference between survival and the grave. It's a world devoid of charity, of any stripe, and belies any claims to the label of civilization. This is done so well that even a long shot of Northup just looking out around him, that comes deep in the film, with only the sounds of the birds, winds and insects in the background still imposes a feeling of dread, the expectation that the normal will explode in the next second and end you. It's amazing work, done in ways both screaming and subtle, but makes those moments of quiet anything but peaceful. There's a lot of 12 Years a Slave seared into my head. It will surely win a lot of awards, but hopefully won't be forgotten once the gold is exchanged." Now, it's part of American cinema glory. Deservedly.

20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
Morgan Neville directed this fascinating, Oscar-winning documentary on back-up singers, the unsung musical workhorse heroes who provide musical harmony and essential contributions to famous songs while lurking in the shadows. The film features interviews with prominent back-up singers such as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, and Judith Hill. interspersed with archival footage from artists such as David Bowie.
At one point in 20 Feet From Stardom, Merry Clayton's voice breaks when she says "I thought if I just gave my heart to what I was doing, I would automatically be a star." Hers is the high haunting woman's voice on The Stones' "Gimme Shelter." Darlene Love talks about doing the lead vocal on Phil Spector-produced records only to find them released as singles by Spector's girl-group The Crystals (when none of them had sung a note). Lisa Fischer is a singer of almost ethereal power who regularly backs up Sting...and also toured with the Stones recreating that "Gimme Shelter" vocal by Merry Clayton. Claudia Lennear started as an Ikette backing up Tina Turner and became a darling for super-groups in England and now teaches Spanish. Documentarean Morgan Neville (They'll Love Me When I'm Dead and Best of Enemies) maximizes the potential with long interviews among recording artists and producers and the women themselves to give context and tribute—and some heart-buzzing "That was them?" moments. Favorite moment? Darlene Love talking about resorting to cleaning houses to make a living...until one day she hears her "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" on the radio and decides that she's better than just cleaning houses and quits.
 Darlene Love, Jo Lawry, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer
The Wedding Banquet (1993)
A ground-breaking romantic comedy, Ang Lee’s second film focuses on the cultural clashes between East and West, traditional vs. modern lifestyles. To satisfy his parents back in Taiwan and their desire that he get married, a gay Taiwanese American immigrant in New York has a marriage of convenience with a mainland Chinese woman. Complications ensue when the parents decide to visit and meet the bride. The unconventional family trio (gay couple/paper wife) works to create a believable faΓ§ade. Both hilarious and poignant, the film glides effortlessly between various genres. In a 1993 Los Angeles Times interview, Lee said he wanted the film to be both funny and provocative: “I love stirring things up rather than sticking to the Chinese ideal, which is to appeal for calm.” 
Director Ang Lee's second feature is a bit of "La Cage Aux Folles," but one generation removed and featuring Taiwanese characters (The Wisdom of the Tribe is that Sense and Sensibility is Lee's first English language film, but The Wedding Banquet segues deftly between English and Mandarin, and gets a couple of laughs out of it. The clashes between Taiwanese manners and etiquette and the American lack of them, as well as the clashes between modern and traditional ways of doing things are the great sources of the comedy, which comes quite organically (When the mock-bride bohemian artist starts to cry during the parents' pre-wedding advice, she's admonished to "Don't cry! You'll ruin three hours of make-up!") and guilt, which also produces some ironic comedy. But, the film turns serious with some complications, but by that time Lee has managed to make you care about the characters. Lee rarely plays it safe, no matter what genre he tackles.

We're Alive (1974)
In 1974, three female UCLA graduate students, Michie Gleason, Christine Lesiak and Kathy Levitt, led a video workshop at the California Institution for Women, then the largest women’s prison in the U.S. 
What emerged from six months of round-table discussions — taped by the incarcerated participants — is “We’re Alive,” a 49-minute documentary of astonishing power. Simultaneously anonymous and intimate, the women are unsparing in their condemnation of the dehumanization of the carceral state while at the same time exemplifying a triumphal dignity (alive, indeed). The film is a blueprint for prison reform and thus, unfortunately, as timely today as it was then. 
Digitally restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Funding provided by the Columbia Motion Picture Research Fund. Laboratory services by illuminate Hollywood, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Endpoint Audio Labs. Special thanks to UCLA Women’s Collective, Michie Gleason, Kathy Levitt, Chris Mohanna Lesiak, and the British Film Institute.

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