Monday, March 18, 2013

Join Us: Miller's Crossing at The Drafthouse Ritz

If you knew me in college you knew two things about me:

  • I was probably up for getting some tacos
  • I never got over that first viewing of Miller's Crossing

The movie comes to The Alamo Ritz on March 28th.  Simon, Paul and I have our tickets, and we expect you'll be joining us (we're seats 7 - 10 on row 21 for reserved seating).

Put on your fedora or mink coat and come on out and join us to see the movie that sort of set me on the path of being into movies with guys in hats and a lifetime fascination with women in gowns who talk fast and maybe carry a gun.

Miller's Crossing was released when I was about 15, and I saw it on VHS as soon as it was released on home video (it never made it to the Loew's by the blimp hangar where I'd seen the trailer).  The movie starred a young Gabriel Byrne, John Turturro and Marcia Gay Harden.  It co-starred Albert Finney, Jon Polito and JE Freeman and has a fellow name of Steve Buscemi in a small part and Sam Raimi in a lineless cameo.  I had never seen a movie with such whip-smart dialog, a story that folded in on itself ten times over, and characters that were clearly defined in a couple of lines of dialog.

I didn't know, until one day when I somewhat randomly picked up Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest the year after college, how much of the film was an homage to Hammett's work.  Nor do I see it get mentioned much in writer-up's of the movie, even 20 years later.  Moreover, it's a riff pretty specifically on The Glass Key, which was adapted in 1935 as a George Raft movie and as an Alan Ladd/ Veronica Lake picture in 1942.  Neither gets much play these days, which is a shame.  I've only seen the 1942 version, and it's fantastic.

I knew the Coen Bros. from Raising Arizona, but Miller's Crossing made me a believer (Barton Fink puzzled me then and it leaves me somewhat puzzled now).  The Coen Bros. started with a modern noir in Blood Simple (filmed around the Austin area when this was much more of a shit-kicker town) which is actually a really terrific picture.  They strayed into a mix of gangster and noir picture in Miller's Crossing, keeping close to the Hammett roots of noir-crime and keeping Hammett's cynical eye, all the while hiding a bit of fragile heart behind booze, bullets and dialog that hits harder than either.

The cinematography is by Barry Sonnenfeld, and the soundtrack by a then-unknown Carter Burwell.  Really, it was the right film in the right place, and it's hard to believe the results.  It then got awful distribution and was one of those movies I had to sit people down and make them watch it for the first year or two it was out on tape.

The movie is coming to The Alamo Ritz on March 28th.  If you're in Austin, your excuses for not attending are invalid.  We'll be there, and we'll be talking like gangsters, see!

Also, there may be some special cocktails going on at this event.  Not that that would be a draw or anything...


J.S. said...

I got tickets to this for Amy and I. At least I hope Amy wants to go. I definitely do. In my top 5 favorite movies of all time, and I've never seen it on the big screen.

The League said...

Awesome! I was hoping you could make it out for the show.