.Epics Film Fest

LONGFORM: The chic Pruneyard Cinema screens some very long classics, like ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ during its Epics Film Festival this fall.

At the 2008 Oscars, John Stewart claimed to be distracted by watching Lawrence of Arabia on his smartphone: “To appreciate the cinematography, you really have to see it in on wide screen.” At this, he tilted the cellphone horizontally. A Metro-sponsored series at the Pruneyard programmed by Jack NyBlom of San Jose’s Camera Cinemas seeks to bring back the grandeur of the epic film. The draw is sweetened with a special menu and the Pruneyard’s peerless cocktails.

Apocalypse Now (1976) the version—Copolla is claiming as a final cut, as opposed to the longer version that played the late lamented Century 21 dome in 2001—plays Aug 23, 24 and 29. In any cut, the film is a grand and problematic epic, served up with Vietnamese cuisine for all three screenings. Martin Sheen is Willard, the standard poetic film noir detective type, a soldier sent by the brass to the jungle to terminate an officer who has gone rogue. As Colonel Kurtz, Marlon Brando’s performance mirrors the movie, which features the best and worst of ’70s filmmaking. Brando had gone Dadaist long before Apocalypse Now. Here his lunatic Kurtz slurs, “The only real freedom is freedom from the opinions of others, even freedom from the opinion of yourself”—his acting summed up in one sentence. The truest moment in Apocalypse Now Redux is a beginning that could stir up the savage in any man: The Doors’ John Densmore’s hissing cymbals, the palm trees immolating silently as Jim Morrison intones, “This is the end,” until all disintegrates into sulfur-colored dust, stirred by the choppers circling like buzzards.

Another mad colonel is the subject of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (Aug 24 and 29, and on the 27th with a prix fixe admission and dinner of chicken shawarma and hummus plate). David Lean’s epic defies the small screen, in its story of how the Brits carved up the Arab lands, thanks to the intelligence and daring of Colonel Lawrence (Peter O’Toole); I’ll be there to introduce it. Titanic (1997) plays Aug 25; enjoy, I’m not a fan. Much more like it is 1939’s Gone With the Wind (Aug 23 and 28 with an Aug 26 meal/show package including barbecue from Twelve Oaks BBQ). It’s color-coded: Scarlett meets Rhett (Red). It was a hit because of its allegorical North/South romance in the Civil War. Clark Gable’s Rhett may be from Charleston but he talks like he’s from Chicago, and Southern women ever since emulate Vivien Leigh’s vixen Scarlett: “A woman must have everything.” Everything, especially a large screen to play upon.

For more info, visit Pruneyard Cinemas’ website: pruneyardcinemas.com

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