Unmissable TCM Classic Film Festival & Best L.A. Films This Week – You Won’t Believe It!

Hi! My name is Mark Olsen. Let me take you on yet another journey through the universe of Nothing But Excellent Movies.

Last Thursday marked the beginning of the 15th edition of the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, featuring a special 30th-anniversary screening of “Pulp Fiction”, graced by the presence of some of the cast members. While the festival continues to showcase an impressive collection of classic Hollywood rarities, it’s fascinating to observe the seamless inclusion of relatively newer titles from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. The TCM Fest remains one of the wild and wonderful escapes for movie enthusiasts, which explains its ever-growing, passionate fan base.

Just to give you a taste of what’s in store for today: Jodie Foster will be attending a screening of “The Silence of the Lambs,” Steven Spielberg will grace the screening of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and David Fincher will be present for “Seven,” all of which will be showcased on the Imax screen at the Chinese Theatre. (Stay tuned for more on Fincher.)

Jerry Lewis’ “The Bellboy” will be introduced by his son, Chris Lewis. Billy Dee Williams will be present for the screenings of “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” and “Lady Sings the Blues.” Diane Lane will also make an appearance for “A Little Romance,” a film she was part of when she was just 14.

As we move to Saturday, Nancy Meyers will unveil a world premiere restoration and 4K DCP of “North by Northwest” at the Chinese. On Sunday, Carl Franklin will introduce a 50th anniversary screening of “Chinatown” at the Chinese Theatre. Alexander Payne will present the world premiere restoration of John Ford’s “The Searchers” in 70mm at the Egyptian. Mel Brooks will also be present for a screening of “Spaceballs” at the Chinese.

Among other notable presentations are William Wyler’s lesser-known “The Good Fairy,” a nitrate print of the 1948 horror film “Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” and a 35mm restoration of 1933’s “The Sin of Nora Moran.”

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going to be showcased in the coming days. Check out the entire schedule here.

Times film editor Joshua Rothkopf had a conversation with David Fincher about the making of “Seven,” which will be shown for the first time in a fresh 8K Imax restoration. It often feels like an oversimplification to label the film as a serial-killer movie, even though that’s the central premise.

As Fincher said about the film, “I think you need to realize that the idea of it was you are sold a thriller, but it ultimately turns into a horror movie. And by that, I mean horror movies fundamentally are about things that you can’t control.”

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And this dialogue deserves its own highlight:

Do fans only want to discuss “Seven” with you?

No, not exactly. When you make the type of movies I make, not many people say: “Let’s talk about ‘Zodiac.’” The ones who really want to discuss it are probably on some watch list.

You are absolutely mistaken about that. Are you on a watch list for creating all these movies — and then revisiting them decades later with Imax versions?

Well, I would hope so. We used to joke that by the time “Seven” reached its fifth weekend, anyone who was there during the matinee, just slap the cuffs on them.

Celebrating Sergei Parajanov’s Centennial

In honor of the centennial birth anniversary of Armenian poet and filmmaker Sergei Parajanov, the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Academy Museum are joining forces for an evening to celebrate his life and contributions. The event will feature a screening of Parajanov’s 1969 film “The Color of Pomegranates,” a stylized biography of the 18th-century Armenian poet Sayat-Nova. The film’s unique visual style continues to inspire.

The celebration will also include the restored premiere of Mikhail Vartanov’s “Parajanov: The Last Spring,” a documentary that has not been screened for the past decade. Vartanov was a close friend and collaborator of Parajanov, and the documentary was made under extremely challenging circumstances.

The films will be introduced by Jillian Borders, Head of Preservation at the UCLA Film & Television Archive. A Q&A session with Vartanov’s son, Martiros M. Vartanov, moderated by Adam Piron, will take place between the screenings.

I recently had a conversation with Martiros M. Vartanov about his involvement in the restoration of his father’s work.

“My father put in tremendous effort to create and complete this film, which left quite an impact on me,” Vartanov shared. “Restoring some of the justice and the film itself feels like a healing process – for the film and for me personally.”

When asked about Parajanov’s impact, Vartanov said, “My father always believed that Parajanov created a revolutionary film language. Even though it was not necessarily very influential at the time, now we see that it’s becoming very influential, inspiring artists like Madonna and Lady Gaga. He was able to fully express this distinctive film language in ‘The Color of Pomegranates.’”

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Vartanov added, “It’s so straightforward that it appears very complicated to people, but he maintained his entire life that it’s exceedingly simple. That’s why people think it’s confusing and they need explanations and feel that they need to know Armenian history or cultural language. But what mesmerizes people, what inspires them is that they subconsciously resonate with the most fundamental emotions — stories that Parajanov managed to communicate through the scenes in ‘The Color of Pomegranates.’ They may not necessarily understand it, it’s telling them something because it’s working on a very subconscious level. Over time, I’m sure the film will reveal more and more and gain wider and wider influence around the world.”

More Highlights

The Landmark Films of 1984 at the Egyptian

The Egyptian Theater is kicking off another round of its Milestone Movies series, this time spotlighting 1984. The line-up includes “Beverly Hills Cop,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “Body Double,” “Footloose,” “Gremlins” and Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America.”

In a 1984 interview with The Times’ Dale Pollock at the Cannes Film Festival, Leone talked about the parallels between “Once Upon a Time in America,” which tells the story of Jewish gangsters in New York City in the early 20th century, and Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.”

Leone revealed that he had declined “The Godfather” project before it was taken up by Coppola.

“I rejected it after one of my interpreters read it and termed it as a cheap novel,” Leone said. “The difference between my film and ‘The Godfather’ is that Coppola took a single character and told his story in a spectacular way. I started in the same way, only I began with the spectacle and then tried to express certain truths.”

Authored by A.I. (Bezzerides)

The American Cinematheque is starting a series “Written by A.I.” featuring the work of screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides. These films present a deeply pessimistic, hardened view of humanity, perhaps fitting for the tech-era pun of the series’ title, as viewers grapple with modern technology and time-honored nihilism.

The series includes “Kiss Me Deadly,” “They Drive by Night” “Desert Fury,” “Sirocco,” and “On Dangerous Ground.” Most of the films will be shown in 35mm.

The Craft of the Benshi

The UCLA Film and Television Archive, in collaboration with the Yanai Initiative for Globalizing Japanese Humanities, is bringing “The Art of the Benshi” tour to Los Angeles, with events scheduled at the United Theater on Broadway as well as Westwood’s Billy Wilder Theater. Benshi artists were a silent-era tradition in Japan, enhancing more than just a film’s narration but adding an emotional layer to the works on-screen, creating a viewing experience that bridges cinema and theater. The program includes a mix of Japanese and U.S. films, many of which have been recently restored.

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Other News

Sundance may Relocate from its Longtime Utah Home The Sundance Film Festival announced this week that it would be open to proposals from other potential host cities for the 2027 edition. Festival officials were quick to reassure that Sundance’s longtime home of Park City, Utah, still stands a strong chance to retain the festival.

A statement from Sundance Institute said, “The Institute is committed to ensuring that inclusivity and sustainability are always at the forefront of the festival experience, while preserving the festival’s key mission and responsibility: discovering and supporting independent storytellers and introducing their work to new audiences.”

Is an Oscar for stunts on the horizon? With the upcoming release of “The Fall Guy,” Josh Rottenberg explores how the film could serve as a catalyst for the movement to see the stunt community recognized at the Oscars.

Chris O’Hara, head of the stunt department on “The Fall Guy,” pointed out how Brad Pitt won an Oscar for playing a stuntman in “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” saying, “That was the big uproar — you can win an Academy Award for pretending to be a stunt guy but not for actually being one.”

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