This week a tiny, unknown film festival called "Sundance" gets underway in Park City, Utah, sending hundreds of our colleagues off into the freezing Midwestern cold to cover a bunch of movies that may or may not end up seeing national theatrical distribution. But for those who aren't going to be heading to Sundance, thankfully there are dozens of other noteworthy film-related events across the country to keep you entertained. And in a fairly miraculous turn of events, not a single pick on this week's list is a midnight movie, which means that you can check out a film or double feature and still be home in time to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
But before we get to the stuff we think you should see elsewhere in the country, we would like to remind you to please leave comments and send in emails with any suggestions you may have for events, screenings, or other opportunities film fans may have to share with others in their celebration of the medium. Also, when and if you attend any of the events listed below, please let us know about your experiences, and let the organizers know where you found out about it!
On Monday, January 17, the Alamo Ritz is playing not one but two great music-related movies, starting with 'The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry.' For those unfamiliar with Perry outside being referenced in a Beastie Boys song, Perry is one of the foremost reggae/ dub producers in the genre's history, and this feature-length documentary takes a look at his considerable accomplishments. The film starts at 7:30 PM, but make sure to check out the Alamo Ritz website for screening details and ticket information.
Following the Lee Perry documentary on Monday, January 17 is 'James Brown Live at the Boston Garden 1968,' which is both self-explanatory and not to be missed. Brown is one of the all-time greatest performers in music history, and this vintage concert showcases his indelible, mesmerizing stage presence. The film starts at 10:20 PM, but make sure to check out the Alamo Ritz website for screening details and ticket information.
On Wednesday, January 19, head back over to the Ritz to see Paul Verhoeven's classic, 'Robocop,' on the big screen. We're assuming that the print they're showing is the R-rated theatrical cut, not the barf-inducing, unrated version that is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray, but make sure to check out the Alamo Ritz website for screening details and ticket information.
Although many of Martin Scorsese's films are screened often in repertory houses, head to Ida Noyes Hall at the Max Palevsky Cinema on January 19 for a rare big-screen showing of his 1977 musical 'New York, New York,' in which saxophone player Robert de Niro woos budding singer Liza Minelli. The film shows at both 7:00 and 9:30 PM, but make sure to check out the Eventful website for screening details and ticket information.
Another music-themed film shows in Chicago at Ida Noyes Hall on January 20, when Brian Trenchard-Smith's cult sensation 'The Stunt Rock' plays at 9:15. For folks unlucky enough to have seen this more or less literal combination of action stunts and rock & roll music, it simply must be seen on the big screen, if only to ensure there are other folks around you to laugh at its over-the-top charms. Make sure to check out the Eventful website for screening details and ticket information.
Also on January 20, albeit in Dallas, is a screening of one of Dario Argento's most acclaimed films, the gorgeous horror flick 'Suspiria.' Suffice it to say that seeing it on the big screen is a real treat; the film starts at 8:00 PM but make sure to check out the Texas Theatre website for screening details and ticket information.
On January 18 and 19, Edgar Wright's spectacular "The Wright Stuff II" film festival continues at the New Beverly Cinema with 'Dirty Harry' and 'The Super Cops,' a film which has never been released on DVD in the United States. Wright will be there to introduce the film on the 18th and promises special guests, including screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.. 'Dirty Harry' starts around 7:30 PM with 'The Super Cops' following at 9:35, but make sure to check out the New Beverly website for screening details and ticket information.
Over at the Egyptian Theatre on January 20, check out a restored 35mm print of Luchino Visconti's 'The Leopard,' a glorious, gorgeous and tragic film that absolutely must be seen on the big screen, and then afterwards seen again and again via Criterion's unbelievably high-quality Blu-ray. The film starts at 7:30 PM, but make sure to check out the Egyptian Theatre website for screening details and ticket information.
If you have a lot of time on Saturday, January 22 and are a fan of the 'Lord of the Rings' films, head back to the Egyptian Theatre for a triple screening of the Extended Editions of 'Fellowship of the Ring,''The Two Towers,' and 'Return of the King.' Rumor has it that New Line never produced 35 mm prints of 'Return of the King,' so that film in particular may be screened via a high-definition DVD. But the trilogy starts at 1:00 PM, so make sure to check out the Egyptian Theatre website for screening details and ticket information.
Meanwhile, across town at the Aero Theatre (also on January 22), see director William Friedkin in person as he hosts the first of two double-feature screenings of his most-acclaimed films, starting with 'The French Connection' and 'To Live and Die in L.A.' (Friedkin returns the next night to show his remake of 'The Wages of Fear,' 'Sorcerer,' as well as 'The Exorcist.') The films start at 7:30 PM, but make sure to check out the Aero Theatre website for screening details and ticket information.