I Know Where I'm Going!
If not for the retrospectives -- Pasolini, Kubrick, Fellini, Bergman, Suzuki, Gaumont, Renoir, film noir -- that regularly roll through the Castro, Pacific Film Archive and Roxie -- it would be slim pickings indeed for filmgoers. God knows there's precious little in the way of current movies that's worth a venture to the 'plex. (Lite stars like Sandra Bullock and Julia Ormond and visionaries like Lawrence Kasdan and Rob Reiner notwithstanding.) I keep scanning the horizon for the Merchant Ivory-sponsored revival of Satyajit Ray's magnificent body of work, complete with new prints. Add another reason to live: the British Film Institute's touring retrospective of 17 Michael Powell films, tentatively scheduled to brighten our lives in the fall. In the meantime, if one is properly equipped, he or she can watch these landmarks from a lost era on laserdisc, thanks to Voyager's just-released set. For the true experience on the big screen, run to the Castro May 3 -- or the U.C. May 5-10 and surrender to the complex pleasures of Powell's brilliant A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway to Heaven). The man's quicksilver wit and fearless intelligence are also on plentiful display in Million Dollar Movie, Powell's huge and fascinating second volume of memoirs that just hit bookstores. Powell very nearly had a career in Hollywood at the end of his life, as "senior director in residence" at Francis Ford Coppola's short-lived Zoetrope Studios. Wim Wenders was shooting Hammett simultaneously in L.A. and S.F., and Powell writes, "It was a glorious muddle. Half the unit were in San Francisco cleaning up, and people were continually taking fast airplanes to meet someone else where they weren't wanted." It's just as well that Zoetrope imploded before Powell got started here.
If I ran the Villain Dept. in Hollywood, I'd give Dennis Hopper et al. long vacations. Then I'd cast Faye Dunaway, a truly scary woman, as the evil mastermind in the next Die Hard clone. Sure, Mickey Rourke and Crispin Glover are also inspired suggestions, but imagine all the free publicity among the literati provoked by the simple act of making a woman the heavy. Thoughtful op-ed pieces by Camille Paglia et al. will clog the New York Times, while Norman Mailer rambles for 15 pages in Esquire. Here's the silver lining: a 300 percent increase overnight in the number of roles for actresses over 40 ... Casting about, did you hear the news that Quentin Tarantino is negotiating to direct The Wild Brady Bunch, an action-comedy starring Ernest Borgnine as a bank robber leading a gang of children in plaid bellbottoms into a violent Mexican standoff, uh, I mean a standoff in Mexico.
By Michael Fox