The Cinema Classics series is one of my favorite film events in Atlanta, and this fall Landmark has pulled together another stellar lineup. The nine films, presented by Landmark Theatres and Criminal Records, run the gamut in terms of geography (U.S., France, Germany, Italy and Japan are all represented) and time period (the earliest film is nearly 85 years old; the newest, less than 25 years).
While they’re virtually all worth a look, here are five selections to put at the top of your must-see list.
1) This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Screens Sept. 16
8.0 IMDB user rating, #29 on the AFI’s Top 100 Comedies List
Thirty years after its release, this uproarious satire of hard rock music still goes all the way to 11. While popular music trends have gone every which way in the 30 years since this mockumentary’s release, dunderheaded antics by musicians never seem to go out of style. Rob Reiner (The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally) directs, and the hapless headbangers are played by the winning comedic trio of Christopher Guest (Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman), Michael McKean and Harry Shearer.
2) M (1931)
Screens Oct. 7
8.5 IMDB user rating (#69 all-time)
If you think serial killer movies are played out (true enough), you might think you could skip one that’s 80-plus years old without missing much. But you’d be wrong. Peter Lorre (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon) is chilling as a whistling maniac with a thing for killing young children, and master director Fritz Lang (Metropolis) puts all his brilliance on display in this riveting psychological thriller.
3) Tokyo Story (1953)
Screens Oct. 14
8.3 IMDB user rating; #3 all-time in Sight & Sound’s 2012 Critics’ Poll
Despite consistently ranking in Sight & Sound’s Critics’ Top 10 list, this Japanese pic remains underseen, currently logging less than 20,000 votes at IMDB. Now’s the time to check out director Yasujirô Ozu’s (Late Spring, Early Summer) powerhouse drama about an aging couple who journey from to visit their children and grandkids in the big city, only to discover they don’t have a lot of time for them. For those who groove to its subtle direction and slower pacing, Tokyo Story is a poignant meditation on family, aging and mortality.
4) Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Screens Oct. 28
8.0 IMDB user rating
Speaking of little seen, this French thriller is the least well known of this fall’s Cinema Classics lineup. It’s a rare opportunity to see this Hitchcockian tale about an adulterous couple who conspire to murder the third-wheel husband — with disastrous results — on the big screen. Directed by Louis Malle (Au Revoir Les Enfants, My Dinner with Andre) with an original music score by jazz legend Miles Davis.
5) I Vitelloni (1953)
Screens Nov. 4
8.0 IMDB user rating; one of Francis Ford Coppola’s Top 10 films of all-time
Legendary Italian director Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 8-1/2) had a couple of notable big-screen credits to his name when he helmed I Vitelloni at the age of 33. But this dramatic comedy about the wastrels of a small provincial Italian town who gradually become disenchanted with the city’s suffocating atmosphere propelled him to stardom, winning him a Silver Lion at the 1953 Venice Film Festival and eventually scoring him an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. Don’t miss this chance to see some early Fellini via a spiffy 35mm print.
More on Fellini:
- “Classic Italian Movie Scenes: The Opening Dream Sequence in 8-1/2”
- “Italy and the Oscars: Revisiting the Italian Movies That Won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award”
- “The 10 Best Italian Director and Actor Teams of All-Time”
The Fall 2014 Cinema Classics Series kicks off in Atlanta on Sept. 16 and runs through Nov. 11 at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. Screenings occur on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. For more information on the series and a full screening list, visit the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema website.
Follow me @ATLFilmExaminer and @VivaItalyMovies.