CALLERI: TCM invites you to attend its glittering film festival from your home

Courtesy of MGMEva Marie Saint and Cary Grant are trapped by spies on Mount Rushmore in “North By Northwest.”

For devoted fans of great studio-made motion pictures, the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, held each April in Hollywood, is the event of the year.

Guests, including legendary stars and directors, and movie fanatics fly in from across the U.S. and from around the world in order to participate. Fans get to mingle with their favorite on-screen personalities. Question and answer sessions are held, and autograph and photo opportunities abound.

The highly popular festival was cancelled this year because of continuing social distancing guidelines.

However, there is good news. You can still dress up, make some popcorn – on the stove please, freshly popped in extra virgin olive oil, then layered with butter and sprinkled with sea salt – and settle in for four-days worth of watching dozens of legendary movies.

You’re going to be able to zoom to Hollywood and watch the “TCM Classic Film Festival 2020: Special Home Edition” via your cable system. TCM has simply moved the festival to its channel and is programming it in “you are there” fashion.

This might not be as grand as attending in person, but, depending on how imaginative you want to be, it could be a fun adventure for the family.

In addition to the showing of more than three dozen movies, there will be previously recorded interviews with stars and directors, insights from famous folks who are fans of specific movies, and, according to Turner Classic Movies, some surprises.

The festival begins tonight at 8 p.m. on TCM with a showing of the celebrated Judy Garland-James Mason edition of “A Star Is Born” from 1954 and directed by George Cukor. This will be the restored 176-minute version of the show business musical, and it will be screened in the letterbox format.

Two great films that may best exemplify the colorful and deluxe production values of 1950s Hollywood will be shown. They are the sparkling comedy “Auntie Mame” (1958) starring Rosalind Russell as the vivacious Mame and a fabulous cast of supporting players, and Alfred Hitchcock’s often imitated, but not always equaled, espionage thriller “North By Northwest” (1959), which stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. They are among my all-time favorite movies.

This “Special Home Edition” will run all weekend, and for viewers in the east, the actual close of the festival will be in the wee small of hours of Monday morning April 20, at 3:30 a.m. to be precise, with a showing of “Victor/Victoria” starring Julie Andrews and James Garner. Had the event gone on as scheduled in Los Angeles, Andrews was going to be in attendance throughout the festival.

The schedule is jammed with wonderful movies, including the genius of silent comedian Harold Lloyd in “Safety Last,” the restored “Metropolis” with missing footage found in Argentina, Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal,” the fascinating documentary “Grey Gardens,” director Orson Welles’ “The Magnificent Ambersons,” the Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night,” the much loved “Casablanca,” the genius of director David Lean and his “Lawrence Of Arabia,” horror thrills with “Creature From The Black Lagoon,” and in “Jezebel,” you’ll appreciate why Bette Davis, gifted with her own unique acting style, was a genuine movie star.

The complete schedule for TCM’s Special Home Edition film festival can be accessed at: Filmfestival.tcm.com

VIRTUAL CINEMA: A FILM ABOUT A GROUNDBREAKING WOMAN ARTIST: At the start of “Beyond The Visible - Hilma af Klint,” the fascinating new documentary about an artist not many have heard of, everything seems rigid and deliberate and bathed in soft light.

Then suddenly the screen bursts with color. Astonishing shapes draw your attention as you look at the paintings of Hilma af Klint, the Swedish artist who rejected her beginnings in the school of naturalism and invented – yes, you read that correctly – invented abstract art. She created an entire art movement.

Not the famous male abstract artists such as Kandinsky or Mondrian or Malevitch. Nor any of the other men who are permanent members of the abstract school.

Rather, it was a woman born in 1862, who painted or drew more than 1,200 works of abstract art and hid them away so that no one would see them until, by her own request, twenty years after her death in 1944. Kandinsky died the same year. Almost no relatives or friends, and no museum personnel, knew what was hidden away in boxes in Sweden until they were opened in the 1960s.

Hilma af Klint painted her first abstract series in 1906. She was well-versed in the theory and philosophy of art. Why did she hide her talent? Why the secrecy? The movie, superbly directed by Halina Dyrschka of Germany, explores the dominating ethos of the male-centric art world of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

She interviews scholars and gallerists, many of whom never studied af Klint’s paintings, or even heard of her, until early exhibitions in the 1980s. In 2018, I saw a show of her fantastic work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

“Beyond The Visible” examines the why and how of Hilma af Klint’s genius. The film revels in the power and beauty of her paintings. We come away understanding her startling ideas and her concerns. See this movie.

The film is part of the on-going Virtual Cinema program. The North Park Theatre is a participant. Rental rates apply. Northparktheatre.org

    

Michael Calleri reviews films for the Niagara Gazette and the CNHI news network. Contact him at moviecolumn@gmail.com.

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