The holidays at the Dryden have traditionally balanced Christmas classics with more unconventional contemporary discoveries, and this year is no exception. Please join us as we ring in the festive season with some of our new and old favorites. We begin the series with Terry Zwigoff’s brash, rude, and raucous ode to the unseemly side of Christmas with Bad Santa, in which Billy Bob Thornton stars as a con man–turned–mall Santa whose vices put Ebenezer Scrooge’s to shame. Following that very adult opening is Bob Clark’s beloved family comedy A Christmas Story, which details the misadventures of Ralphie Parker, a wide-eyed youngster whose only Christmas wish is to get his hands on a highly coveted BB gun. From the same year is Bill Cosby: Himself, an uproarious live account of one of the now-legendary comedian’s stand-up routines. Balancing Cosby’s modern family values is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, a holiday staple that has captivated audiences for over six decades. Ranked on many alternative holiday movie lists, Lethal Weapon is a crowd-pleasing blast, much like Joe Dante’s Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch, which will be shown as a special New Year’s Double Feature. Finally, we will celebrate the beginning of 2014 with Amélie, a whimsical French romp starring the wonderful Audrey Tautou, and a fitting way to welcome a new year of programming.
Friday, December 6, 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 8, 2 p.m.
(Terry Zwigoff, US 2003, 91 min., 35mm)
Friday, December 13, 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 15, 2 p.m.
A Christmas Story
(Bob Clark, US 1983, 93 min., 35mm)
Friday, December 20, 8 p.m.
Bill Cosby: Himself
(Bill Cosby, US 1983, 105 min., 35mm)
Saturday, December 21, 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 22, 2 p.m.
It’s a Wonderful Life
(Frank Capra, US 1946, 130 min., 35mm)
Tuesday, December 24, 8 p.m.
(Lloyd Bacon, US 1942, 95 min, 35mm)
Friday, December 27, 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 29, 2 p.m.
(Richard Donner, US 1987, 110 min., 35mm)
Tuesday, December 31, 7 p.m.
New Year’s Eve Double Feature: Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch
(Joe Dante, US 1984, 106 min., 35mm)
(Joe Dante, US 1990, 106 min., 35mm)
Wednesday, January 1, 2 p.m.
(Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France/Germany 2001, 123 min., French and Russian w/ subtitles, 35mm)
The Godfather. Goodfellas. Gremlins. The Silence of the Lambs. The Last Picture Show. Two Lane Blacktop. Titanic. Apollo 13. Beyond their status as some of the most successful and acclaimed motion pictures of the last half-century, these films have one figure in common: Roger Corman.
From the height of his directorial career in the 1960s, when he produced the earliest films by Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, and Peter Bogdanovich, to his days as the head of New World Pictures, whose stable included Jonathan Kaplan, George Armitage, Ron Howard, and James Cameron to name just a few, one of Corman’s major legacies to film culture has been the astonishing amount of talent he discovered and encouraged. “If you do a good job, you won’t have to work for me again,” is the oft-quoted (and perhaps apocryphal) Corman quip, but the chances he gave (and continues to give) to young directors, actors, and writers are real, as is the esteem in which the students of the “Roger Corman Film School” continue to hold their teacher.
Perhaps Corman’s most famous graduate, Martin Scorsese directed his second feature, Boxcar Bertha, in the wake of Corman’s own Bloody Mama both true-life tales of female-led, Depression-era crime sprees. Far from mere imitation, however, Scorsese gives an exhilarating rush to Barbara Hershey and David Carradine’s anti-authoritarian rebellion, with his trademark emphasis on moral ambiguity, violence, and cinephilic references present right from the start.
Another film with a strong female lead, Michael Miller’s Jackson County Jail pairs a revelatory Yvette Mimieux with Tommy Lee Jones in his first starring role, proving that Corman could sense talent in front of the camera as well as behind it. Like many of his productions of the 1970s, Jackson County Jail sneaks in subtlety and social critique amidst its thrills, as ad exec Mimieux and hardened criminal Jones take it on the lam from a crooked police force and form an unlikely, touching bond.
Sometimes, however, a Corman film put subtlety second and satire first, and there’s no more glorious example than Paul Bartel’s Death Race 2000, a hilarious, brutal takedown of America’s obsession with violence as well as Hollywood’s own obsession with dopey futuristic dystopias. Having started his career as a satirical underground filmmaker a la Robert Downey Sr., Bartel brings his comic chops to bear on this tale of a national road race that keeps the masses content through a point scale based on pedestrian body counts.
Finally, Joe Dante’s Piranha manages to combine the spirit of all three films into one wild cartoon of a movie with a screenplay by none other than John Sayles. A batch of mutant, government-bred piranhas have been unleashed and are on the swim, chomping their way through streams, resorts, and summer camps populated by Corman regulars giving their all to Sayles’s wickedly funny script and Dante’s cinemad direction. If Hollywood’s million-dollar nautical monster came from the ocean, it’s only fitting that New World’s came from a riverâ€”but it’s a lot more fun to roll down a river than float in an ocean. In other words, keep things moving: that’s the lesson of Piranha, New World Pictures, and the Corman School of Film–and we’re all the better for it.
Wednesday, December 4, 8 p.m.
Jackson County Jail
(Michael Miller, US 1976, 84 mins, 35mm)
Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m.
(Joe Dante, US 1978, 94 min, 35mm)
Wednesday, December 11, 8 p.m.
Death Race 2000
(Paul Bartel, US 1975, 80 min., 35mm)
Wednesday, December 18, 8 p.m.
(Martin Scorsese, US 1972, 88 min, 35mm)
In order to fully understand the work of Alfred Hitchcock, one must understand his early work. The Hitchcock 9 is a presentation of Hitchcock’s nine extant silent films. Although Hitchcock would go on to refine his filmmaking style, his touch is very much alive in these early films, whether it’s the “wrong man” plot of Downhill, the menacing ambiguities of The Lodger, the voyeuristic impulses of Champagne, or the exploration of guilt in Blackmail. In each of the nine films, Hitchcock experiments with points of view and begins to mirror his audience’s reactions on screen. The complex restoration process of the Hitchcock 9 was one of the British Film Institute’s largest projects to date. Decades worth of damage and decay were removed, the image sharpened, missing footage discovered, and intertitles and tinting restored. The Dryden Theatre is proud to bring these nine films to Rochester, where audiences can rediscover the master of suspense and admire the beautiful restorations of these important films. Live piano accompaniment by Philip C. Carli. No Take-10s or passes accepted.
Thursday, November 7, 8 p.m.
The Pleasure Garden
(Alfred Hitchcock, Germany/UK 1926, 90 min., 35mm)
Saturday, November 9, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1926, 90 min., 35mm)
Thursday, November 14, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1927, 105 min., 35mm)
Thursday, November 21, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1927, 70 min., 35mm)
Thursday, December 5, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1927, 108 min., DCP)
Thursday, December 12, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1928, 105 min., DCP)
Thursday, December 19, 8 p.m.
The Farmer’s Wife
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1928, 107 min., DCP)
Thursday, December 26, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1929, 100 min., DCP)
Saturday, December 28, 8 p.m.
(Alfred Hitchcock, UK 1929, 85 min., DCP)