Special Screenings

Movie of the Week: Grand Hotel

Grand Hotel

In this masterpiece of 1930s filmmaking, we follow the intertwined lives of five characters: an aging, suicidal, lonely-for-love Russian ballerina; a noble Baron who is in reality a bankrupt jewel thief; an ambitious stenographer; a terminally ill bookkeeper and factory clerk enjoying one last luxurious vacation; and an unpleasant industrial magnate. As one character observes regarding the true nature of this ultimately metaphoric hotel, "What do you do in the Grand Hotel? Eat. Sleep. Loaf around. Flirt a little. Dance a little. A hundred doors leading to one hall, and no one knows anything about the person next to them. And when you leave, someone occupies your room, lies in your bed, and that's the end." Featuring Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, and Wallace Beery. A true classic of early Hollywood. Orange Coast College, Fine Arts Building, Room 119, 2701 Fairview Rd., Costa Mesa, (714) 432-5599. Fri., 6:30 p.m. $5-$6.

Animation Showcase.Featuring a unique collection of short animated films, including hand-drawn and computer-generated works created by cutting-edge and traditional animators from around the world. Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 759-1122; www.ocma.net. Thurs., Aug. 2, 8:30 p.m. Free

Because of Winn-Dixie.A stray dog aids a girl in rekindling a relationship with her nearly estranged father in this family-friendly film. Bring a blanket and warm clothes for this outdoor, beachside screening. Newport Dunes Resort Beach, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 729-3863; www.newportdunes.com. Sat., dusk. Parking, $10.

Blazing Saddles.Next to Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles remains Mel Brooks' greatest cinematic acheivement. The film is a Western spoof with an added edge of racial satire. Featuring the talents of Gene Wilder and an extraordinary comic performance by Cleavon Little in the lead role. Edwards University Theater, 4245 Campus Dr., Irvine, (949) 854-8818. Tues., 9 p.m. $6.

Blow-Up.A bored fashion photographer, Thomas (David Hemmings), happens upon a distraught woman, Jane (Vanessa Redgrave), and her lover in an empty London park. Voyeuristically photographing the clandestine couple, Thomas' peeping turns to mystery as the images he snapped later reveal hidden meaning and suspicious circumstances. Drawn into Jane's mystery and curious about her illicit affair, Thomas constantly revisits the photographs of that day and increasingly suspects he was witness to a murder. But which memory holds the truth: His own or the camera's? Director Michelangelo Antonioni passed away on July 30, and this film remains one of his best-known works. Humanities Instructional Building 100, Campus & Peltason drs., Irvine, (949) 824-5493; www.summer.uci.edu. Thurs., Aug. 9, 7 p.m. Free.

The Gods Must Be Crazy.The film begins with a Coke bottle descending from heaven to the Kalahari Desert and onto the path of a Xhosa tribal bushman who is on a hunting expedition. Taking this strange, revered gift from the gods back to his tribe, it only instigates antagonism. He decides he must return the bottle to the gods. The film will be preceded by a themed dinner at Tangata Restaurant (provided at additional cost). Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 567-3679; www.bowers.org. Thurs., Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m. $8-$10. For reservations to the prefilm dinner, call Tangata Restaurant at (714) 550-0906.

Melody Ranch.This 1940 film features Gene Autry, Hollywood cowboy superstar, playing . . . Gene Autry, Hollywood cowboy superstar. Returning to his hometown of Torpedo to be a guest of honor in the town's Frontier Days Celebration, Autry is confronted by his childhood nemeses, the Wildhack brothers, now fully grown into gangsters. Autry must overcome the softness that Hollywood has instilled within him in order to confront the brothers in a physical confrontation. Tough as Autry may get, he's still hanging on to those embroidered ranch shirts. The film will be accompanied by a screening of Joseph H. Lewis' My Name is Julia Ross. The Friday Film Forum will present a preshow program of shorts, cartoons and surprises. Long Beach School for Adults, 3701 E. Willow St., Long Beach, (562) 997-8000. Fri., 7 p.m. $1 materials fee.

Open Season.A bear and a deer unite to evade hunters during open season in this family-friendly animated film. Featuring the vocal talents of Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher. Bring a blanket and warm clothes for this outdoor, beachside screening. Newport Dunes Resort Beach, 1131 Back Bay Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 729-3863; www.newportdunes.com. Fri., dusk. Parking, $10.

Pink Flamingos.This early landmark of bad-taste filmmaking set a standard for gross-out imagery that is still rarely matched. Directed by John Waters, the film concerns the efforts of a Baltimore trailer gal, played by Divine, to defend her title of filthiest person alive against the efforts of sleazeball couple Connie and Raymond Marble. There's something in this film to offend everyone, from authentic blowjobs to the infamous consumption of dog shit. I can watch almost anything, and even I get uncomfortable during the scene in which a chicken is incorporated into "lovemaking" and, in the process, mauled to death. Not a great date movie, unless you really want to test the mettle of your prospective partner. Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, 117 N. Sycamore, Santa Ana, (714) 667-1517; www.occca.org. Fri., 8 p.m. Free.

Scarface.This deliriously over-the-top gangster film, directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone, features Al Pacino in an iconic performance as Cuban coke kingpin Tony Montana. Ridiculously entertaining, if you're a fan of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and have a taste for violent, stylized cinema. If you're fresh out of rehab, though, stay far away from this film. Regency South Coast Village, 1561 W. Sunflower Ave., Santa Ana. Wed., 7:30 p.m. $6.

Singin' In the Rain.Frequently rated one of the best American films ever made, Singin' In the Rain is a romantic musical that uses the difficulties Hollywood suffered as it transitioned from silent cinema to "talkies" as a backdrop. Featuring one of cinema's greatest hoofers, Gene Kelly, along with Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor (as the comic sidekick), this is a film that benefits greatly from a big-screen projection, where all that MGM color and fancy footwork can be fully appreciated. Guests will watch the the film projected against the side of Segerstrom Hall and can bring blankets, chairs and picnic fixin's, provided you don't set up on the community plaza before 5:30 p.m. Community Plaza at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org . Mon., 8:30 p.m. Free.

The Way Things Go.Inside a warehouse, artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss build an enormous, precarious structure 100 feet long made from common househould items. Then, with fire, water, gravity and chemistry, they create a spectacular chain reaction, a self-destructing performance of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Rube Goldberg and Alfred Hitchcock. Also being screened is Survival Research Laboratories: Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem, a documentary on industrial pranksters/performance artists Survival Research Laboratory. Irvine Fine Arts Center, 14321 Yale Ave., Irvine, (949) 724-6880. Tues., 7 p.m. Free.

West Side Story.This retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet story sets the tale of the star-crossed lovers in 1950s New York. Can caucasian Tony and Puerto Rican Maria overcome the prejudices of their gangster peers and enjoy a lasting relationship? Have you seen Romeo and Juliet? Then I don't need to tell you the ending. One of the greatest filmed musicals, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, West Side Story even shares a connection with cult-classic television show Twin Peaks, featuring both Richard Beymer and Russ Tamblyn in lead roles. Bring a blanket and some warm clothes for this outdoor, beachside screening. Granada Beach (look for the large movie screen), Long Beach. Tues., 7 p.m. Free.

The Wizard of Oz.American classic that for some reason reeks of creepy. Perhaps it's the whole "bad trip" aspect of the plot, with some of the most hallucinogenic imagery to come out of mainstream Hollywood. Perhaps its those unshakable rumors about the Munchkin that committed suicide on the set (not true, by the way). But there's something deeply unsettling about this movie in all the best ways. This film is being screened on the side of the Fox Theater, so if you like, you can bring your headphones and listen to Dark Side of the Moon while it's playing. Bring your own chair and dress warmly. The Fox Theatre, 512 N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, (714) 870-0069; www.foxfullerton.org. Thurs., Aug. 2, 8 p.m. Free, but donations accepted.

Mail your press releases (and a videotape or disc, if available) to Special Screenings,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701-7417. Or send e-mail to tchild@ocweekly.com . All materials must be received at least two weeks before the screening.

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