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The World According To Paul Giamatti


Wednesday, August 1--------Robert Redford's got Sundance. Robert De Niro's got Tribeca. So why not let Paul Giamatti into that exclusive club? Well, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) apparently agrees and has scheduled an 8-film series of movies selected by the Oscar nominee (and indie fave) entitled PAUL GIAMATTI SELECTS. The series begins tonight at the BAM Rose Cinemas and continues through September. Giamatti and Brooklyn are actually a perfect fit. Not only is he a longtime resident of the borough, he is actually the current Chairman of the 2007 BAM Cinema Club. His career so far, in works as varied as AMERICAN SPLENDOR, SIDEWAYS, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE ILLUSIONIST, CINDERELLA MAN and LADY IN THE WATER (alright, let's forgot about the last one....a rare M. Night Shymalan disaster) is the definition of eclectic. And so are his choices for this tangy series. 

The fun begins tonight with FRENZY (1972), a late work by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, which heralded his return to filmmaking in Britain after working exclusively in Hollywood for 30 years. The film combines Hitchcock's signature of outright horror with tongue-in-cheek comedy, and its set pieces also allow the director to offer a devilishly sly comment on London's reputation as the mod capital of Europe. Tomorrow evening brings another sardonic satire with Stanley Kubrick's amazingly contemporary DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1964). Although set in the grimmest days of the Cold War (right after the Cuban Missile Crisis), the politics could be about the current "war on terror", as militarists, political hacks and right-wing extremists bring the world to the point of nuclear annihilation. The great Peter Sellers plays 3 parts: the wan President, the officious British officer Colonel Mandrake and the (not quite reformed Nazi) Dr. Strangelove himself. Aside from Sellers, I've always had a soft spot for George C. Scott's wild-eyed army general Jack D. Ripper and Slim Pickens as the yahoo airforce commander, who rides the nuclear paylode rocket with a cowboy hat on, in the film's most famous scene.

Other Giamatti picks in the coming weeks include: George Romero's zombie fantasy/satire DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978); Robert Altman's strangest film and a true counter-culture classic BREWSTER McCLOUD (1970); the New York-set mystery noir THE BIG CLOCK (1948), directed by John Farrow (Mia's dad) and starring Charles Laughton as a maniacal publisher who tries to frame one of his star reporters (Ray Milland) for a murder the publisher has committed; the Val Lewton quickie THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943) that is set among a band of Satan worshippers in Greenwich Village; the Watergate-era paranoia update of the horror classic INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978), directed by Phillip Kaufman and starring Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams; and the underrated thriller SECONDS (1966), a neglected sci-fi classic from director John Frankenheimer, with an unexpectedly brave performance by Rock Hudson (in a not terribly successful attempt to alter his frothy comedy image). As I said, eclectic, and fascinating stuff.

For more information, log on to the BAM website:

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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