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Let’s step into the Wayback machine and see what The New York Times‘ Nina Darnton had  to say when Labyrinth premiered on June 27, 1986:

”LABYRINTH,” which opens today at the UA Gemini Twin and other theaters, is the product of an impressive collaboration between its executive producer, George Lucas, who created Chewbacca, Darth Vader and R2D2, and its director, Jim Henson, who created Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear and the irrepressible Miss Piggy. The result, a fabulous film about a young girl’s journey into womanhood that uses futuristic technology to illuminate a mythic-style tale, is in many ways a remarkable achievement…

The puppets in ”Labyrinth,” inventively created from the drawings of the conceptual designer Brian Froud, are a long way from Jim Henson’s original Muppets, which used the traditional puppet box. Now they are complicated, highly technical creatures, each requiring about five people to operate, with many of the movements done by remote control. But one of Mr. Henson’s special gifts is producing puppets that are wonderfully human, eccentric and individualistic. As a result his new creations are not cold, automated electronic marvels, but fantastic humanoid creatures inhabiting a newly created world who mirror our own foibles, and so can move us and make us laugh.

The story of the film is a variation on a classic theme from children’s literature. Fifteen-year-old Sarah, in that twilight time when a girl begins to change into a woman, is staying home to care for her baby brother, whom she resents. A girl with an active imagination – her bookshelves are filled with the works of Lewis Carroll, Maurice Sendak and the brothers Grimm – she wishes her brother weren’t her responsibility. ”I wish the goblins would take you away right now,” she says aloud. And they do. The rest of the film is her journey to get him back – through the labyrinth of mazes, puzzles, magic and topsy-turvy twists of logic that must lead her to the center, where the goblin king is holding her brother. David Bowie is perfectly cast as the teasing, tempting seducer whom Sarah must both want and reject in order to learn the labyrinth’s lessons, and his songs add a driving, sensual appeal….

Most of the people who appear in the film work in teams of ”performers” who operate the puppets – a lessening in the need for actors that might interest the Screen Actors Guild. Some of these puppets create memorable characters, such as Hoggle, the ugly gnome who is a coward but conquers his worse nature for love of his friend Sarah. Others are Ludo, a huge, hairy oaf who becomes Sarah’s loyal friend, and Sir Didymus, a tiny hand puppet with the face of a dignified fox terrier who has a touch of Don Quixote in him. He’s a gallant little knight who says lines like ”Don’t worry, we’ve got them surrounded” when the goblins are closing in on him. The script, by Terry Jones, co-creator of ”Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” is witty and slightly zany – a good combination to entertain both children and adults.

Labyrinth screens Friday and Saturday, December 26 and 27 at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday, December 28 at 5:00 and 7:00 at the Trylon.  These shows will be well-attended and  are likely to sell out, so we encourage you to purchase your tickets in advance!  You can purchase them here.

 

 

 

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Here in America it’s always been fashionable to make fun of the French and their zeal for the finer things in life, but everyone knows we secretly envy them.  Who wouldn’t want to be a young sexy Parisian, smoking cigarettes, reading Baudelaire and picking up beautiful strangers in picturesque bistros?

It sounds romantic, but it isn’t all champagne and pomme frites for our friends across the ocean. Louis (Louis Garrel), the protagonist of Philippe Garrel’s Jealousy, wants to follow his heart and in so doing starts his own feedback loop of pain and betrayal. He has been living with Clothilde (Rebecca Convenant) and their young daughter (Olga Milshtien), but he’s fallen in love with actress Claudia (Anna Mouglais). One night he leaves Clothilde, in spite of her desperate pleas for him to stay. Clothilde struggles to keep it together for the benefit of her daughter, but she is devastated.  Louis and Claudia have a seemingly perfect relationship, but trouble is clearly on the horizon: Claudia is jealous of Louis’ friendships with women, and unhappy with his financial insecurity, and pretty soon she starts looking around for something better.

This romantic drama is shot in black-and-white, which is just what you’d hope from a movie about Parisian lovers. Anna Mouglais stands out with an ethereal beauty and a whisky-and-cigarettes voice, and Olga Milshtien is memorable as the young girl caught in the middle of the grown-ups’ muddled lives.  –Michael Popham

 

Jealousy (La Jealousie) screens Monday and Tuesday, December 22 and 23 at 7:00 and 8:45 at the Trylon.  You can purchase advance tickets here.

 

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Thomas Jerome Newton carries an English passport, but he’s not from England.  He’s from another planet. He’s just arrived in New Mexico with a few thousand dollars’ worth of gold rings and a plan: he needs to become a wealthy industrialist, develop space technology centuries ahead of what’s currently available on Earth, and ferry enormous quantities of water back to his drought-stricken home planet before it’s too late.

Becoming a rich industrialist isn’t that hard for him, really, because he’s got a head chock-full of futuristic technology. And because he’s able to hand pick his own team of loyal employees, he knows his instructions will be carried out to the letter while he keeps out of sight.

But Newton is about to have a close encounter with three of Earth’s biggest cultural exports: sex, alcohol and television.  As if that isn’t enough, at the same time he’s also going to learn that humanity — the species he’s been forced to put a lot of trust in — isn’t that trustworthy.

Science fiction is at its best when it holds up a mirror to the human species and really shows us how we look from the outside. If we end up looking like a bunch of cruel, greedy and rapacious apes, whose fault is that?

Candy Clark, Rip Torn and Buck Henry are perfectly cast, as is David Bowie in his first film role.  His Newton comes alive through little moments: the way he recoils a little in surprise when he sees his first door open, or the way he brushes his hair aside when he becomes self-conscious. This film is intelligent, tragic, deeply affecting and, of course, a little weird.  But you expected that, didn’t you? –Michael Popham

 

The Man Who Fell To Earth screens Friday and Saturday, December 12 and 13 at 7:00 and 9:45, and Sunday, December 14, at 5:00 and 7:00, at the Trylon.  Purchase tickets here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Review by Andrea Matthews

The world’s cinemas have long been haunted by vampires. The brilliant and truly frightening 1922 German film Nosferatu introduced the angular Count Orlock, a vampire with knife-sharp nails who slinks around in the shadows searching for victims. It was and still is an amazing creation. There is the inimitable Bela Lugosi in the 1931 Dracula, one of the most well-known versions of the good Count. Fast forward to the 1979 film with the same name, and you’ll find a noble and elegant Frank Langella, who left many of us young women opening our windows before going to bed and turning down the collars of our pajamas to expose our necks. Skip ahead to 1983 and we have The Hunger, the most sensual, elegant, and thoughtful vampire movie to date. (Keep your Robert Pattinson, ‘tweens! This one was made for grown-ups.)

 

In The Hunger, we are drawn into a vampire world by two of our era’s most seductive stars: David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. (Just watching them playing chess together for 90 minutes would be riveting. And indeed they are reputed to have done just that during breaks in filming. Could they be any cooler?) Combined with the sleek visual aesthetic of director Tony Scott, we have a true winner. An ethereal and engrossing version of the classic horror story – perhaps the most sensually thrilling and sexually charged of them all.

 

The film begins with Miriam and John Blaylock (Deneuve and Bowie), a vampire queen and one of her changelings, several centuries into their bloody, wedded bliss. In the throb of a crowded nightclub, these ultimate hipsters knowingly watch each other from across the room. The first shot of Deneuve captures her stunning, timeless beauty, hidden behind dark glasses, her deep red lips blowing smoke into the hazy, dim room. (Could anything make smoking look any cooler?) And Bowie, scanning for their next victims, is also beautiful, sexually electric. Deneuve’s Miriam is watching Bowie’s John, who is watching the crowd. The film cuts between the pulsing urgency emanating from our stars and the uber-hip Peter Murphy – lead singer of the renowned band Bauhaus – punked out and clinging to the inside of a cage. He is singing, of course, the band’s stellar hit, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” It just doesn’t get better than this. The one-night-stands our two stars bring home with them are in for the surprise of their lives. They, and we, learn that the Blaylocks have a lust for blood.

 

From there we move to New York’s Upper East Side, to the Blaylocks’ well-appointed home. Without the nightclub opening, we wouldn’t know what century or country we were being ushered into; the home’s billowing, sheer drapes, the antique furnishings, the regal décor, and the thick, exotic atmosphere belie both time and place. And the musical accompaniment augments the visuals in perfect balance. Here, in this amazing home, is where the real story begins.

 

The Hunger is the film debut of director Tony Scott – brother to Ridley Scott – who shares his sibling’s stunning sensibility in creating the visual aspects of this movie. (Think Blade Runner, thick with atmosphere and a thoroughly believable futuristic world.) Both brothers began their careers making commercials in England before coming to America to test the waters of movie-making. This has obviously given them an eye for capturing mood and atmosphere, and for being outstanding seducers of their audiences. Tony Scott’s aesthetic gives the film the elegance that makes it so satisfying to watch. It is truly a visual seduction – supported by the sensuousness of its stars and a collection of some of the most stirring pieces in classical music history. It’s so alluring, it elevates all the senses. Viewers will succumb and fully surrender to this film.

 

Of note is the amazing aging of John Blaylock, when the vampire spell of eternal youth inexplicably stops working for him. Critics were astounded by the miraculous appearance of this body growing older, decade by decade, in the space of mere minutes. (Remember, this was before computerized alterations were de rigeur.) It’s a true feat, and heartbreaking to watch.

 

Also of note is Susan Sarandon’s presence as a doctor researching progeria, a disease that ages people prematurely. It’s a nice conceit – Miriam Blaylock seeking out any advances in stopping a rapid aging process. You’ll have to forgive the stunning Sarandon’s awkward appearance, as this was, after all, the 1980s; her haircut is, well, so 80s, and her (and Deneuve’s) makeup is overdone – glaring interruptions in an otherwise visually perfected world. Add to that the ridiculousness of the doctor’s demeanor, and you’ll want to edit out the scenes in her research facilities to maintain the full beauty of the movie. (Sarandon introduces herself in the film as a specialist in progeria – pronounced, incorrectly, pro-ja-REE-uh – and her need to light up a cigarette every time she stands in front of her research primates’ cages is ridiculous and oh-so-dated.) All this can be forgiven, however, by the beautiful lovemaking scene she has with Miriam. It is a scene so delicate and erotic that will entice viewers of all sexual proclivities.

 

The Hunger remains a classic vampire movie. It dances in its beauty and gentility, its memorable music, and the magnetism of its stars. That it touches on the sorrows of eternal life is a bonus. Come prepared to be transported. — Andrea Matthews

 

Andrea Matthews is a writer living in Minneapolis.

 

The Hunger screens Friday and Saturday, December 5 and 6 at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday December 7 at 5:00 and 7:00, at the Trylon. You can purchase advance tickets here.

 

 

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An American businessman (Josh Charles) is in Paris, trying to set up a big deal in the Middle East for his bosses back home. His negotiations appear to be successful, and he is instructed to fly immediately from Paris to Dubai. But as he sits in his hotel room, overlooking the Charles de Gaulle airport, he has an epiphany: he realizes he is completely, utterly unhappy with his life.

Meanwhile hotel maid Audrey (Anais Demoustier) feels she isn’t where she belongs either. She’s a college dropout, coming off a bad breakup; she is overworked and underappreciated. She feels there is a freedom and lightness of being that exists somewhere, if only she can find it.

At first, Pascale Ferran’s Bird People comes across like a French Lost In Translation, with much of the action taking place in a hotel. While Paris seems a perfect place to lose your marbles and seek a new life and new identity, we find ourselves limited to the airport Hilton adjacent to the less-than-romantic airport. But the film quickly takes a turn toward the fantastic, as Audrey discovers that she can literally become like the sparrows that flit outside the windows of the rooms she cleans. That discovery, set to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, is when the whole movie takes wing.

This is an offbeat little film: not quite a comedy, not quite a romance, not quite a fantasy; but it is a strange and memorable journey. — Michael Popham

Bird People screens Monday and Tuesday, December 1 and 2 at 7:00 and 9:30 at the Trylon. You can purchase tickets here.