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|Written by Kevin Johns|
|Thursday, 03 December 2009 00:00|
How did a young Lee Gordon Demarbre spend his Christmas mornings? Pretty much how you might expect the director of Smash Cut and Vampiro to spend them: "I would wake up Christmas morning, go downstairs, and watch banned movies like Faces of Death and Salo: 120 Days of Sodom," admits the Mayfair programmer, with a laugh.
Of course, it is a late night Christmas screening that has Demarbre most excited: "Silent Night, Deadly Night is my favorite Christmas horror film," he says. "There are a few Christmas horror flicks. There's Christmas Evil, and there are many sequels to Silent Night, Deadly Night, but Silent Night, Deadly Night is definitely the Citizen Kane of Christmas horror movies!"
(Cult)ure: Do you dig any of the more traditional Christmas films?
Lee Gordon Demarbre: I love Jingle All the Way. I think that's my favourite of the Christmas movies that we are showing, sadly enough! (laughs) It's sort of gotten a bad rap over the years. It was a big flop, critics hated it, but, goddamn it, Arnold Schwarzenegger punches and throws midgets around in that movie! I mean, here's my ten dollars, let me in!
You spread the Christmas films throughout the month, instead of trying to jam them all in at the end.
It's funny, people celebrate Christmas as soon as American Thanksgiving is over. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit right from the beginning of the month through to the end. It was hard to put stuff close to Christmas because I wasn't sure people would come, but the big one is Christmas Vacation on December 23rd. We've got two matinees of it. It's a blockbuster, but I kind of have a love/hate relationship with that movie because it's a really funny Christmas movie, but it turned what was an R-rated franchise into a family series. National Lampoon's Vacation was rated R, and the second one had tits in it! Then Christmas Vacation turned it into this family thing.
You've got a very cool Christmas double bill in there this month . . . "Bad Lieutenant is one of the best American movies made in the '90s."
Die Hard 1 and 2!
Yeah, exactly! And you've even got Home Alone earlier that day!
It's going to be a crazy, crazy day. I'm bringing in Die Hard 2 from Vancouver. It cost me extra money, but I think people will be pretty jazzed about it. They are both set at Christmas, of course. "The same shit happens to the same guy twice at Christmas."
Moving away from the Christmas films, the movie that jumps out the most for me this month is Heavenly Creatures. That's one of my favourite films of all time.
Peter Jackson's got his new movie out, The Lovely Bones, so I thought people might want to see Heavenly Creatures again. That was his debut for some people. They didn't know about his zombie movies. Everyone thought he was this new hot-shot art director. It's like, "No!"
He followed it up with The Frighteners.
That's the People Jackson we know and love! But I think people who might get excited about seeing The Lovely Bones will get excited about a chance to see Heavenly Creatures.
It's Kate Winslet's first film, and she gives such a spectacular performance.
Yes. She was great. That was like the last time she kept her clothes on in a movie. Ever since then she's always peeing on Harvey Keitel or something! (Laughs)
Speaking of Harvey Keitel . . . Bad Lieutenant!
A masterpiece. One of the best American movies made in the '90s. I wanted to show the film at Easter because I think it's one of the best films about the story of Christ ever made. So in a way, I guess it's a Christmas movie, too. The Bytowne Cinema is opening the sequel to Bad Lieutenant, so we thought we'd show the original, which I just love. It's the theatrical version, which is so much better than what was released on video, where they cut all the nastiness out. Now the DVD has come out, and they've changed all the music! I guess they lost the rights to the music, and they changed up all the great Schoolly D music in the movie and some of the fun techno stuff. So if you want to see Bad Lieutenant the way it was originally released, we've got it. 1992 was the year of Harvey Keitel: Reservoir Dogs and Bad Lieutenant - which was probably the greatest performance of his career. It's a hard film to stomach, but I think people will go back to it now and go, "Yeah, that's a fucking masterpiece." I've always thought that. It's always been a film close to my heart.
Are you curious about the Herzog sequel?
Yes! Oh, I can't wait! My dream was to show them both together, but the Bytowne beat us out there. We'll bring Herzog's in January, probably. Every time I see [Ottawa-based film critic] Jay Stone on the street -- he lives right near the Mayfair -- he stops me and says, "Have you seen it yet? You are going to love it, Lee!"
Speaking of old versions and new version, you've got two versions of Inglorious Bastards/Basterds playing.
I think the movie of the month for me is the original Inglorious Bastards. We're bringing the 35mm print from Italy! If this movie doesn't work, the Mayfair's done! (laughs) This is the kind of stuff that the Mayfair is doing that no one else is doing. It's an amazing film. It's really entertaining. It's nothing like the new one. It's a big action movie. The new one, which I love by the way, is very small; it is set in restaurants and cinemas, but the original is this really big sprawling war movie in the tradition of Kelly's Heroes and some of those old, fun war movies. It's got girls with machine guns and it's just a really wild time at the movies. I can't wait to see it on the big screen.
You've got Young Sherlock Holmes as well this month.
The same weekend that the new Robert Downey Jr. movie opens, we're showing the Stephen Spielberg-produced Young Sherlock Holmes. It's a forgotten film, from 1985. I don't know if it was a huge hit theatrically, but it found its audience on video. It's a really well made teenage Sherlock Holmes adventure and it goes down in history as being the first film ever to use computer generated special effects. It's just a kick ass film, and you've got to stick around to the very end because after the credits they tease a sequel that never happened.
If it's a Spielberg-produced '80s film, it's got to be good. Everything that guy touched around that time was gold.
I think it's a better film than some of the others he released around that time. Batteries Not Included, Gremlins, Goonies . . . I think Young Sherlock was the best of the films he produced in that era.
You've also got Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are this month.
Yes, I like that film. It's about a depressed character who finally goes to this fantasy world and finds out everyone there is depressed, too! Spike Jonze is a great filmmaker, and I took my kids, who love the book, and they loved the movie, too. Critics loved it, but audiences didn't warm up to it so much. I think for parents it's a chance to see a big screen movie for kids that doesn't talk down to kids.
Astroboy though, it delivers! Astroboy is fucking great! My kids went gaga over that, and so did I! It's one of the most entertaining films I've seen from Hollywood in a few months. It kicks ass. He dies in the first five minutes of the movie! This little ten-year-old boy gets killed on screen, and it's like, "Holy shit!" Then they rebuild him as a robot. It's a big animated action film, and Nicholas Cage, even in an animated film, manages to find a way to have the craziest hairdo in the movie!
You've got some late night Monty Python this month. Is that in honour of the 40th anniversary?"Even in an animated film, Nicholas Cage manages to have the craziest hairdo in the movie!"
They just had that new Python documentary on TV, Almost Python. It's a six-hour documentary about the troupe, and I've never seen them talk so much about the stuff that they did. I loved it. We recently showed Holy Grail and Life of Brian, but I was watching this documentary and thinking about And Now For Something Completely Different. That's the film that introduced America to Monty Python. What they did is they took their best skits from the show and redid them for the big screen without the laugh track. I thought, maybe Sony still has a print, so I called them up and apparently their original print is amazing. It's a very rare chance to see one of the best Monty Python films on the big screen.
How do you decide what to make a late night screening?
Experience, really. I watch a lot of these films late at night. But I know what you are saying . . . We might do an earlier showing on January 3 of And Now For Something, maybe at nine. I just think . . . I come to the movie theatre, and I listen to the crowd and what they are liking. It seems like they are liking a lot of stuff from the '80s. Hence Revenge of the Nerds Part 2 this month. I was considering putting Jingle All the Way at midnight! It's not only for kids. If you watch it today, I think you'd be shocked at what happens in the movie. It's a ridiculous movie. It's audacious. And the kid in it is Jake Lloyd from The Phantom Menace! But sometimes it's horror, sometimes it's titty movies, it's the naughty side of cinema. Whatever is naughty goes on late.
Revenge of the Nerds 2 should be fun.
We are showing Revenge of the Nerds Part 2 because 20th Century Fox is throwing out a bunch of prints next year. They have this big warehouse of all these 35mm prints in Canada, and they are tossing the films. Just junking them! So this is our last opportunity to show some of these movies before Fox throws them out. I love Revenge of the Nerds 2. It's the one where the nerds get picked on the most. I actually root for the bad guys in that movie. I think the guys taking on the nerds is the funniest thing in the movie.
The Drunken Master Dojo is back this month.
We haven't had one in two months. Every last Friday of the month we try to show a Kung-Fu movie. The last Friday of this month, though, is fucking Jesus' birthday! (laughs) So I moved it to January 1st because people were going to scream bloody murder if we didn't do one. We're screening The Iceman Cometh, a great action movie from the '80s staring Yuen Biao. What Tony Jaa from Ong-Bak is now, Yuen Biao was in the 80s. He was the most athletic martial artist there was on the screen. He was amazing. He grew up with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. He made this movie with Yuen Wah, who was Bruce Lee's stunt double through five of his movies. No one knew that Bruce Lee had a stunt double, but he did. Yeun Wah plays the villain here. It's kind of a Hong Kong ripoff of The Highlander, only better, because the action scenes are jaw dropping. You won't believe what they do with their legs and arms and feet. The way that it is shot and edited . . . it's high art."Sometimes it's horror, sometimes it's titty movies; it's the naughty side of cinema. Whatever is naughty goes on late."
This month's premiers include Surviving Crooked Lake and Crude.
Crooked Lake is a locally made horror-thriller that won big at the Slam Dance Film Festival. The filmmakers are going to be here. There are three directors, actually, and two of them will be here, as well as the star of the film.
Crude we're showing for five nights starting Friday the 18th. It's a pretty big première for us. It's from the director of Brother's Keeper. It's a documentary about the evils of crude oil and what the big American companies will do world wide to destroy communities to get to crude oil.
Finally, your free screening this month is The Man from Deep River.
Every last Saturday of the month we do something free for members, a late night screening, and if you are a Mayfair member you can come on in for free. The Man From Deep River was the first of an onslaught of cannibal movies to come out of Italy, which included Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. These movies shocked the world. Cannibal Ferox was banned all over the world for killing animals on screen. The Man from Deep River isn't as grotesque towards nature, but it's a great cannibal movie from one of the masters of Italian exploitation movies, Umberto Lenzi. He's a contemporary of Mario Bava. He's still alive, and I have an autograph from him on one of the posters here at the theatre. It's a pretty rare film and an ultra rare big screen experience. Umberto Lenzi is, in my opinion, one of the best filmmakers to come out of that genre filmmaking in the '70s and '80s. If Deep River does well, we'll bring more. I'd love to bring Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox to gross out everyone in Ottawa!
From Christmas films to gross-out late night cannibal movies . . . Sounds like it's just another month at the Mayfair! To check out the full December schedule visit: www.mayfairtheatre.ca.