Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Edgar Wright Programs 35mm Fest of Movies He's Never Seen
After programming his favorite cult and classic films in two “Wright Stuff” slates at the New Beverly Cinema, Edgar Wright is returning this month with an unusual twist: For eight nights starting December 9, the Scott Pilgrim director will present double features of films he hasn’t seen. Last time he told you to “envy these virgins;” this time, he’s the virgin! It’s the ultimate game of cinematic catch-up that embraces the bashful truth about cinephilia; no matter how many of the greats you’ve seen, there’s always one (or two or a hundred) classics you have yet to check off the list. Wright’s guest programming fest, dubbed The Wright Stuff III: Movies Edgar Has Never Seen, will pack in eight consecutive nights of double features at the Los Angeles institution owned by Quentin Tarantino and run by Michael Torgan and Julia Marchese. (Marchese’s recent petition to save 35mm film is still seeking signatures; naturally, The Wright Stuff III will be screening 35mm prints.) Over at the fantastic blog Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, Dennis Cozzalio caught up with Wright to discuss how he went about programming his slate of never-seen films: EW: How it started was, at first I e-mailed a bunch of directors, actors and writers, told them what I was doing and said, give me your top-10 must-sees. Some of those people gave me lists that were enormous. Bill Hader’s list and Daniel Waters’ list were in the hundreds. Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow and Joss Whedon all gave me top 10s. So did John Landis and Joe Dante — actually, Joe’s was longer than 10. Then I threw it open to people on my blog, and that produced another thousand suggestions. Then I started looking for little links between films. I had to leave so many out. There were some that were so close to being scheduled that didn’t make it, which was disappointing, but some were left off because they do play a lot. I wanted to go for films that don’t get as much exposure. On the dwindling availability of 35mm film prints and why, for his first viewing of these films, it was a must to see them on the big screen on film: EW: It’s a very bittersweet thing to discover that your chances to see some of these films on 35mm are kind of dwindling very fast. It’s one of the main reasons I like doing these seasons at the New Beverly — sharing the experience. There is nothing better than watching the movies with a crowd. As home theater gets better, people don’t necessarily think about going out to see them. When I first announced the schedule, one person on my blog commented, “But a lot of these are on DVD or Netflix Instant!” And I had to think, yeah, you kind of missed the point. I know that. I own a lot of them myself. But that’s not necessarily the way I want to see them, especially for the first time. Read Cozzalio’s full interview with Wright here and see the full line-up listed at the New Beverly’s website and in further detail on Wright’s blog. (My pick? December 12’s Umbrellas of Cherbourg — swoon! — paired with Chungking Express.) Screening films you’ve never seen before is a brilliant idea in many ways, the first being that it gives Wright the chance to see these selections projected on a proper screen, in glorious 35mm. The communal aspect is key, too; repertory cinemas have the ability to conjure a magical crackle in the air just from the quality of being there, let alone if it’s a great film being experienced for the first time with fellow movie lovers. But here’s what I love most about Wright’s never-seen films idea: In admitting he’s never seen these 18 films before — Edgar Wright, genre student, famous film-loving movie nerd, the man who’s poured more knowing references into his work than any director of his and most any generation, really — he’s made it OK to admit there are gaps in one’s breadth of film knowledge. Bragging rights aren’t important in the scheme of things; it’s sharing a love for film with others that makes the film community so vibrant. So here goes. Here’s one I’ve never seen: Sophie’s Choice. Phew! That was easier than I thought it’d be. Your turn!