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‘The Wright Stuff Vol. 2’ (part 2)

by  |  February 16th, 2011  |  Blog

…and we’re back! So far 2011 has been a very busy year for AwesomeBMovies.com. But now the wrap up of… The Wright Stuff II, hosted by our good friends at The New Beverly Cinema!

As I mentioned, in ‘The Wright Stuff II, part 1’, in January, filmmaker Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs The World) presented a series of films that he personally curated, because he wanted to see them play on the big screen. Of course he and the Beverly Cinema opened the door to friends, movie goers and colleagues to participate in some rare screenings and guest Q&A’s. Here’s a further list of how it all went down the 2nd week.

Double Bill: Frenzy (1972) & Dressed to Kill (1980)

Wasn’t able to make it there for this one, but my god if it didn’t kill me inside to miss it! Frenzy is the 2nd to last film to be directed by the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. I love hearing all these old timers tell their Hitchcock stories, and they all have one.

A classic tale of Hitchcockian mistaken identity, Frenzy tells the story of a serial killer on the loose disposing of the fine women of London by way of a necktie. Michael Caine was offered the lead role, but turned it down, something Hitchcock didn’t forgive him for later. As the first film by Alfred Hitchcock to display nudity, Frenzy recieved an 18 certificate along with an X Rating. Patricia Hitchcock (Alfred’s daughter), found the film to be disturbing, so much so, she didn’t let Hitchcock’s grandchildren see the film for many years.

Alfred Hitchcock historian Bill Krohn was on hand to participate in a Q&A for Frenzy.

Actor and director Keith Gordon (John Carpenter’s Christine, 1983) was also in attendance for the Dressed to Kill screening. Ironically, it was John Landis who told us the previous week, that he spoke with Hitchcock about how it made him uncomfortable that director Brian De Palma was stealing his style. Landis explained to Hitch that it wasn’t stealing, it’s an homage to the filmmaker. Another ironic twist is that Michael Caine who declined to be in Hitchcock’s Frenzy, wound up playing the lead in Dressed to Kill, another serial killer film. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t there, but I’ve seen Dressed to Kill and it’s a masterpiece.

I did however meet Dressed to Kill’s lead actress Angie Dickinson this past weekend and had a great conversation with her about Rio Bravo and The Killers. But we’ll save that for another time.

Keith Gordon & Edgar Wright discuss Brian De Palma's Dressed to kill @ The New Beverly Cinema on 1/22/11

In the spirit of skipping those roll out ads, here’s a fun TV spot for Dressed to Kill. Edgar Wright selected some trailers to play before the film to set the mood just right, Carrie, Blow Out, Body Double and Raising Cain.

Double Bill: The Driver (1978) & Duel (1971)

The fun continued on January 24th with The Driver. Director Walter Hill and executive producer Frank Marshall were on hand with actors Bruce Dern and Ronee Blakely for the festivities. Because we arrived late Nathan and I, had to stand in the back because all the seats were taken. We also had to split early so we missed the following Q&A.

On the plus side, we managed to bump into Walter Hill and Frank Marshall on the way out for a quick conversation and got our The Warriors poster signed too.. I asked Walter Hill if he had, “any idea how cool that movie really is?” He just looked at me and asked, “What movie?” And he wasn’t being ironic. I told him, “The Warriors man! You guys built that one to last.”

The Driver is an excellent contemporary western from the 70’s, filled with grit and action starring Ryan O’Neil and Bruce Dern. Together they play out a game of cat and mouse kicking everyone’s ass along the way. Apparently this was the biggest audience Hill and Marshall have ever seen for The Driver. For more on this, read Nathan’s recommendation for the The Driver.

Ronee Blakely, Bruce Dern, Frank Marshall, Edgar Wright and Walter Hill during a Q&A for The Driver @ The New Beverly Cinema

Trailers taking us into The Driver were… Extreme Prejudice, Maximum Overdrive, Johnny Handsome  and Wild Bill.

Afterwards was Steven Spielberg’s Duel. But we were already long gone by then (previous commitment). Duel is Spielberg’s classic formula of “an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances”. A formula I personally feel Spielberg has strayed away from over the years. In the made for TV movie, Duel, Dennis Weaver plays a motorist who’s being terrorized on the highway by an 18 wheeled semi-truck. John Landis (previous week) also commented how rare it is for a made for TV movie to go from TV to getting a theatrical release the following year, almost never happens. Though he couldn’t make it himself, Spielberg sent this email for Edgar Wright to read before the film…

DUEL was 50% planning and 50% panic. The network only gave me 11 days to shoot a 74-minute movie. Fortunately, the actor I cast, Dennis Weaver, had his game face on the entire time we filmed and he sprinted, along with the rest of us, from one setup to the next. As did Jack Marta, my DP and a skeleton crew who had never made a movie before while on the run. Literally running.

I shot much of this with five cameras that included a camera mounted inside the picture car, as well as mounted cameras on the blind side of the red car and the truck. If four of my cameras were filming run bys from right to left, on the opposite side of the vehicle we mounted cameras that were capturing useful footage to be used later in the show when the vehicles would be traveling left to right. This was where planning was invaluable.

But I had one more ally on my side during the making of DUEL and that was luck. Pure luck…and a great story and script by Richard Matheson. To this day, I feel blessed that this opportunity landed in my life.

-Steven Spielberg (on Duel 1/24/11)

Before Duel we watched trailers for The Car, Christine and The Ambulance.


Double Bill: Wild at Heart (1990) & True Romance (1993)

AwesomeBMovies.com returned to The New Beverly on 1/26/11 but this time I brought Candace with me. Wild at Heart screened first. For the record I like this film, but it’s not quite my cup of tea to be honest. For that reason, and because she loves it, I’ll let you read Candace’s recommendation for Wild at Heart, whenever she writes it.

Wild at Heart is a nightmarish love story between Lula (Laura Dern, Bruce’s daughter) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry). It is a fable, or perhaps a parable of love gone wrong and second and third chances at love. Filled with over the top characters, Lula’s mother (Diane Ladd, Laura Dern’s real life mother) hires an eclectic group of assassins to kill Sailor, and hopefully save her daughter from her own fate. Along for the ride is Willem Dafoe, Harry Dean Stanton and Grace Zabriskie.

Before the movie Edgar selected these trailers to set the mood… Blue Velvet, Lost Highway (my favorite Lynch film), Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me and Mulholland Drive.

After the movie Laura Dern popped in bringing with her a special guest… David Lynch! This was not planned and nobody was more shocked than Edgar Wright himself. In fact, it wasn’t even known Laura would be there until halfway through Wild at Heart.

Laura Dern, David Lynch and Edgar Wright having a Q&A for Wild at Heart @ The New Beverly Cinema on 1/26/11

During the Q&A Edgar Wright mentioned that Quentin Tarantino said, “The day they put a digital projector in, is the day I burn down the theater!” To which Lynch amicably disagreed with his friend and colleague Tarantino.

Lynch declared how he’s embraced digital technology, because every film can be the same, perfect sound and picture, not scratches and dirt. Too many thing’s can happen with film. It would be perfect to have both type of projectors at a theater Lynch went on to say.

Here’s a video of the Wild at Heart Q&A with director David Lynch…

It was during the break that I looked over and saw Seth Green and Michael Cera sitting in the back row. I wanted to introduce myself and say hi, but all these people were taking pictures so I decided against it. He tweeted this during the break…

I always prefer to be asked for a picture then have folks try to sneak one. It’s rude. I always see you & I’d rather meet you.

-Seth Green (Twitter 1/26/11)

Certain I’d end up in at least one, I tried looking for pics that were taken and couldn’t find any on line! What the hell are these people doing with their pictures then? I found this video though, if you go to 4:05 in his David Lynch video, right when the guy turns the camera on himself, you can see me standing against the wall on the right side of the frame, at the exact moment I look over and realize Seth Green is there too.

After all the Wild at Heart Q&A, Edgar Wright announced that Quentin Tarantino was supposed to be the special guest for True Romance, but wouldn’t be appearing due to being sick in bed. Tarantino did however extend his regrets for not being able to attend.

Of course the audience grumbled, to which Edgar Wright pointed out, “I gave you guys David Lynch and Laura Dern! What more do you want for $7?” Regardless, after the break, I noticed the audience had thinned out quite a bit now that everyone knew Tarantino wasn’t showing up. I felt like, “Fuc* you guys then! You have a chance to see True Romance in a theater, and you’re walking away from that?” Which really sucks because there was a line of people outside that wanted to be there just to see the films, not just meet Tarantino.

The True Romance print was rough, worn from a lot of use, cracks and green lines running through. I always suspected that the geeky comic book store clerk, Clarence Worley (Christian Slater), was secretly Quentin Tarantino himself. Edgar Wright confirmed this by saying that it was in fact based on Tarantino from his days working at the video store. How did it get to Tony Scott? Well, Tarantino knew a guy who knew this person and he got his scripts for Reservoir Dogs and True Romance to Scott. Scott then read both screenplays on a plane, and when he landed he called Tarantino and said he, “Wanted to direct both films!” To which Tarantino said, “You can only have one, the other ones for me.” And so film history was made. Interesting to think, what if it had swung the other way? Imagine if… Tony Scott had directed Reservoir Dogs and, Quentin Tarantino had directed his most personal film, True Romance.

Matthew Dowling after screening True Romance @ The New Beverly Cinema 1/26/11

Candace Valentino outside The New Beverly Cinema on 1/26/11

The trailers before True Romance were Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Poison, Badlands, Into The Night and Something Wild.

With Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek, Christopher Walken, Gary oldman, Dennis Hopper and Samuel Jackson… True Romance has an amazing and stellar cast, and a true masterpiece. You could never make a film like that now. I love this movie and would rank it in my Top 25 favorite films. For my money, I’d take this one over Wild at Heart. When Dennis Hopper’s scene came up, it hit hard. I think all of us would have liked Tarantino to be there to share his experience of having Dennis Hopper do a scene in a film he wrote and saying his dialogue with all of us.

Double Bill: The Warriors (1979) & The Wanderers (1979)

It was announced on Wednesday, before True Romance that because director Walter Hill had enjoyed himself on Monday’s Q&A for The Driver, he would be returning on Friday for The Warriors. And return he did! The New Beverly switched the showtime and put The Warriors first to accommodate for Walter Hills schedule.

Along with Walter Hill… Larry Gordon, Frank Marshall, James Remar and Joel Weiss also appeared for the emotional and heartfelt reunion. Seeing these guys come back together was an event in itself. I go into way more details here, go to my recommendation for The Warriors.

David Patrick Kelley who plays Luther couldn’t make it, but sent Edgar an email…

Hello Edgar ,

Really wish I could be there with you all. Thanks for inviting me. I’m opening a new play about Death Row inmates and as you sit there I’m onstage in Times Square.

…a few free associations about The Warriors…

They say ‘Never judge your character’…I broke that rule…Luther was evil and I wanted to make him so…Walter told me to think of Richard III…I based him on a particular alleged gangster from my old neighborhood and several people connected with the rock and roll business from my club days

…Some favorite things…Joel Weiss as Cropsey who looked like a cross between a Bowery Boy and a Ramone…the late great Paul Greco as leader of the Orphans

…Things I was reading and watching and listening to…Anabasis by Xenophon…Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby…Hells Angels by Hunter Thompson…Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas…videos by Martine Barrat ( she had a show at the Whitney at the time called “You Do The Crime You Do The Time”, a great photographer)…the band Television’s Marquee Moon

…I read an interview with Walter once where he said that most of his films are Westerns so I like that Luther ended up having an Apache headband AND a Sheriff’s star.…thanks to Walter for directing me, like the post-modern John Ford he is , in all my favorite film roles…thanks to Remar for being a great art comrade all these years…thanks to Marshall for getting Luther’s costume to me…I wore the boots til they fell apart but I still have everything else.…and great thanks to all the Warriors fans…somebody wrote at the time that it somehow represented the dispossessed…I like that.

Peace,
David Patrick Kelly

Here’s part 2 of The Warriors Q&A, part 1 is in the recommendation…

The trailers used to introduce the film were Escape From New York, Judgement Night and Streets Of Fire.

Friday 1/28/11 concluded our participation in The Wright Stuff II. It was like a mini-film school. We learned a lot, and had a lot of fun, it was truly a great experience. We had to leave after The Warriors screening.

I haven’t seen The Wanderers yet and don’t know much about it other than it was directed by Phillip Kaufman (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978). Screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence), 2005 was scheduled to be the guest that evening. He sent Edgar this email.

Sorry I won’t be able to be there tonight but hope I can count on you to speak up for Phil Kaufman. The fact that I shot most of his films of the seventies, White Dawn, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Wanderers, makes me clearly prejudiced in his favor, but I hope I can see past myself to recognize what a fine film maker he was, and is. He had a kind of kindness towards his characters that’s missing from most of the irony laden movies of that era, including some that I shot and am proud of. And I suspect that it is that kindness which made him be not taken as seriously as he should have been.

Anyway, speak up for one of the good guys.

-Josh Olson (TrailersFromeHell.com)

Here’s the trailers Edgar picked to introduce the film Quadrophenia, Rumble Fish, Small Faces and West Side Story.

Double Bill: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974) & Miami Blues (1990)

Geoffrey Lewis & Edgar Wright inside the theater @ The New Beverly Cinema on 1/30/11 (photo by Joseph Llanes)

As I mentioned above we weren’t there for this one but the guest roster included Geoffrey Lewis, Patton Oswalt, June Fairchild, producer Ed Saxon and writer D.V. DeVincentis.

My friend Lightfield did however attend the screening for Thunderbolt and Lightfoot with his dad, Geoffrey Lewis, and he had this to say…

Matt,

It was epic actually. My dad got 2 standing ovations. It’s something else man, seeing a movie with genuine cinema lovers! It was very cool how packed the New Beverly got! The whole movie theater listened to my dads stories, and I appreciated how amazing and loving Edgar Wright was to my dad.  I actually was surprised at how special it was and how having the film there and watching the whole thing is really affirming and acknowledging to his career.

-Lightfield Lewis

Here’s a list of the trailers played before the film Midnight Run, Simple Men, Bottle Rocket and The Big Lebowski

I asked Lightfield if he had any pictures he could share of the night and he sent me these:

Outside the New Beverly Cinema, actor Geoffrey Lewis signs a laser disc for his 1984 Sci-fi film, Night of the Comet, 1/30/11 (photo by Joseph Llanes)

Also, here’s a rare on set photo from ‘Thunderbolt and Lightfoot’ that you can use, nobody else has this one.

-Lightfield Lewis

Jeff Bridges, George Kennedy, Clint Eastwood and Geoffrey Lewis in a rare photo from Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (photo provided by Lightfield Lewis)

I saw Miami Blues a long time ago and it’s a great and quirky little film. Probably a bit underrated. I’m told Edgar played trailers for Point Blank, Thief, Heathers, Fargo and Freeway just to “set the mood”. Miami Blues is directed by George Armitage (Grosse Pointe Blank, 1997) and stars Alec Baldwin, Fred Ward and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

D.V. DeVincentis, Ed Saxon & Edgar Wright during a Q&A for Miami Blues @ The New Beverly Cinema on 1/30/11

And like that, The Wright Stuff II had come to an end. And that’s a wrap!

I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to: Candace Valentino, Nathan Strack, Keith Link, Lightfield Lewis, Bryce Shonka, Mary Pietrocini  and Darlene Lowrey for all their help.

Further thanks go to Edgar Wright, Quentin Tarintino, Michael Torgan, Julia Marchese, The New Beverly, all the filmmakers and actors, and the audience who’s pictures and video’s were important for documenting these events. All of your contributions made these events possible! -Matthew Dowling


About

Matthew Dowling, a native Philadelphian, now residing in Los Angeles, is an actor, writer and film maker. Matt's training with 2nd City, and numerous appearances in TV shows, movies, theater, infomercials, and most importantly... B movies, has prepared him for making B Movie recommendations.

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