Memo to Secretary's distributors: No one really likes a tease. Those risqué trailers for the new James Spader- Maggie Gyllenhaal comedy about S&M in the workplace have been whetting local art-house habitués' appetites for at least a month now.
So sorry. At the last minute, Morris Projects, the distribution agent for most of the region's art houses, has decided to indulge in its own little version of, um, delayed gratification. Although their trailers have been playing local houses, they still refuse to close the deal on a booking anywhere in the region--even though Duke playwright Erin Cressida Wilson (author of such steamy stage fare as The Erotica Project and The Trail of Her Inner Thigh) did the screenplay. Though Carolina Theater's programming director Jim Carl professes confidence that the film will ultimately arrive, without a contract Secretary remains at best an October question-mark at this point.
Missing, Part Two: By now local Star Wars buffs know that 20th-Century Fox has announced a November IMAX release of Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. But don't prepare to jump to hyperspace just yet. The studio is only striking 70 prints--enough to cover a quarter of the nation's IMAX screens -- and at this point, we're not one of the favored few. Exploris spokesman Chris Schmidt told The Independent that their IMAX theater won't be among the first to screen the supersized Clones--but that museum officials are trying to procure a print.
Fall is usually the best time of year for new releases, as studios save their quality stuff for the awards season. But given the slimmer pickings this season promises thus far (as recorded in our Fall preview last week), the diverse and adventurous alternatives from our local screening societies will likely be more than usually welcome in the months ahead.
Longtime shorts programs Glitter Films in Raleigh and Flicker in Carrboro will continue apace, and Skip Elsheimer's A/V Geeks will be surfacing in more venues than ever. Look for their shows this week and next at LUMP gallery and Kings Barcade in Raleigh, and the Center for Documentary Studies in Durham. For more info, consult
As usual, Freewater Films at Duke has the best rep schedule in the Triangle, mixing second-run art house hits from last year with thoughtfully selected classics. Friday nights are reserved for the recent hits, including In the Bedroom, Gosford Park and Y Tu Mama Tambien. But we'll also see several lesser-known flicks that deserve special recommendation. Donnie Darko makes its belated Triangle theatrical premiere Oct. 11. Written and directed by 25-year-old wünderkind Richard Kelly, this is a haunting, frequently cryptic film that packs a huge, devastating wallop. No Man's Land, is another must-see the following Friday: It won this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, but had an all-too-brief run earlier this year. Sadly, this absurdist anti-war film also marks the last major appearance of one of its stars, Katrin Cartlidge. Earlier this month, this tough, late-blooming actress (Naked, Breaking the Waves, Topsy-Turvy) died suddenly at the age of 41.
Tuesdays at Freewater are given over to two separate programs. The first half of the season is devoted to the inimitable Boris Karloff. Films will include the frequently name-checked, rarely seen original Mummy and The Bride of Frankenstein. Some will be surprised to learn Karloff's characters occasionally appeared in the land of the living. We'll also see him in Howard Hawks' early gangster epic, Scarface, which screens Sept. 24. Later in the season, the Tuesday programs feature French New Wave chestnuts, although the relatively obscure debut of Claude Chabrol's Le Beau Serge is also on the slate.
Thursdays are about star power--old and slightly less old. Several Al Pacino classics get a fresh airing in September and October. His coke-addled Scarface remake screens two days after the Hawks original, on Sept. 26. The other samplings of 1970s grit include Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon and that classic junkie romance, Panic in Needle Park.
Before there was heroin, coke and Al Pacino, there was Cary Grant. Several of his most famous films will screen on the Thursdays later in the fall, including Notorious, His Girl Friday and Charade. The latter has been remade by Jonathan Demme, and is also due out in October. For the complete fall schedule, go online to: www.duke.edu and search for Freewater Presentations.
Over in Raleigh, the N.C. State fall film series includes a couple of recent and noteworthy Iranian films. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Kandahar is a lightly fictionalized Taliban exposé made shortly before the current hostilities, and Majid Majidi's well-regarded Baran tells a story of two young construction workers in Tehran. Another interesting offering is The Lady and the Duke, a rare period piece from Eric Rohmer (An Autumn Tale, Claire's Knee) set during the French Revolution. Those who missed its brief run a couple of months ago can catch it Oct. 10.
N.C. State's College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHASS) will celebrate its 40th anniversary with "Where were you in '62?", a year-long retrospective of films and presentations from that seminal year. The next installment in this monthly series is John Ford's late classic, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence. It's a study of the ways that history is shaped by myth. It also manages to bury John Wayne--and the classic Western movie genre--in the same film. N.C. State film studies prof Sarah Stein introduces this one, Sept. 28. For more on NCSU's film offerings, go online to www.ncsu.edu/cinema/.
Elsewhere in Raleigh, the region's premier subscription film society, Cinema Inc., has begun a new and particularly eclectic season at the Rialto. This year's monthly screenings include such 20th-century ideological artifacts as Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will and Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky. Next up, on Oct. 13, is John Schlesinger's Billy Liar, a little-remembered British film from 1963 that Roger Ebert has been trumpeting lately. This season's subscriptions are sold out, so start pestering your member-friends to slip you some unused tickets.
This Halloween, cinematic frights will be found at the Carolina Theater in Durham. On Oct. 18, as part of their popular bi-monthly series, Retrofantasma, the Carolina shows a double bill of Brian De Palma's Carrie, and a 1976 schlocker called Alice, Sweet Alice. The latter film boasts the screen debut of Brooke Shields, then only 11 years old. (A word to the wise: Don't be late.) On Halloween itself, Duke's Freewater will indulge in a midnight screening of Sam Raimi's much-loved jokefest, Evil Dead 2.
Contact David Fellerath at fellerath@indy week.com, or fax press releases to (919) 530-8281.