By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
THE SEARCHERS. I'd argue that it was in this 1956 John Ford classic that John Wayne got the closest to playing the antihero type Clint Eastwood would later turn into a cottage industry. (A spaghetti cottage industry?) As Confederate veteran Ethan Edwards, the Duke goes on this crazed search for the niece (lil' Natalie Wood, almost old enough to drool over) who marauding Indians kidnapped while wiping out the rest of her family. Sure, if she were my niece, I'd be out for blood, too, but it turns out Edwards does not exactly want to save the girl. In his twisted view, she's been infected by the savages, and there's only one, um, cure for that infection, and well, no one survives that cure. Nothing against ol' Rooster Cogburn, but John Wayne should have won the Oscar for this role. (Or, here's a crazy idea: give him two!) He was never more believable, more commanding and more utterly frightening. (The scene in which he gives Natalie the death glare still gives me nightmares.) Incidentally, Wayne named his son Ethan after his character in The Searchers. Remind me never to piss off Ethan. (MC)(Sat., April 28, 2 p.m. at Regency Lido)
THREE COMRADES. Ruslan, Ramzan and Islam were longtime buddies with shared interests in movies, rock music and cruising the streets of their hometown Grozny, Chechnya, in the early 1990s. They eventually started careers and families but remained tight until everything changed with the downfall of the Soviet Union and Chechnya's subsequent bloody struggle for independence. Moscow-born documentary filmmaker Masha Novikova captures the historic but tumultuous times and the three men's personal stories thanks mostly to the footage left behind by aspiring cinematographer Ramzan. Each comrade decided separately to move their wives and children to safety while they stayed behind amid gunfire and falling bombs. Sadly, each also became war victims who left behind grieving families, a city destroyed and thousands of everyday Grozny citizens—Chechens and Russians alike—who despise with equal vigor the leaders of the powerful nation and the would-be republic. (MC) (Tues., 4:30 p.m. at Edwards Island)
TRUE GRIT. A young tomboy (Kim Darby, who seemed to be in everything back in the day) seeking to avenge her father's death recruits a tough old lawman (John Wayne) because he's got "grit." Mattie Ross (Darby), Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Wayne) and Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Glenn Campbell, like a rhinestone cowboy only without the rhinestones), who is seeking the killer for a different crime, travel from Fort Smith, Arkansas, to the wild Indian territory of what is now Oklahoma on their manhunt. This 1969 Henry Hathaway film would be the first in a string of roles in which Wayne played a crusty old cuss, but this is also the one where he delivered just enough of a solid, critic-proof performance to be awarded his only Oscar—handed to him by none other than Barbra Streisand (let that sink in for a moment). It may have been something of a sentimental vote—even Wayne afterward handed his statuette to fellow best-actor nominee Richard Burton, whom he considered more worthy—but True Grit is still a fine dusty old yarn and the leading man certainly sells you on the point that he is Rooster Cogburn. (MC)(Sat., 5 p.m. at Edwards Island)
EDWARDS ISLAND CINEMAS IS AT 999 NEWPORT CENTER DR., NEWPORT BEACH; REGENCY LIDO IS AT 3459 VIA LIDO, NEWPORT BEACH, (866) NBFF-TIX; NEWPORTBEACHFILMFEST.COM. $10 PER SCREENING.
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