Wednesday, February 04, 2009

February festivals

After Nat Hentoff got the ax I vowed never to clutter my browser again with the infernal Village Voice. And I haven't. Except for the film coverage, which, while depleted, still makes for diversion on Wednesdays. (Oh, and Musto. And Savage Love. The theater coverage. And a quick look at Robert Sietsma. But that's it.) Hentoff would have made a good candidate to write this week's feature on Hollywood and the Depression(s), tied in with a lively new Thirties retrospective, "Breadlines and Champagne," at Film Forum this month--after all, he probably saw the movies first-run. But the task fell to still-standing J. Hoberman, who concludes his then-and-now comparison with "Maybe free online movies are strictly for the indies. But if times get worse and the studios want to get real, they'll have to find the audience where it lives: Hulu for Hollywood."

(Perhaps, but I don't think Hoberman has been keeping up with the grosses. The dead-zone months of January and February have been phenomenally successful, commercially if not artistically, with four out of the five Best Picture Oscar nominees the ones in the tank. Even at $12 a head in Manhattan movies still seem cheaper than other out-of-home entertainment options.)

In any case, Hoberman reels off his Film Forum picks. Another chance to see the one-and-only King Kong on the big screen, folks--step right up on Feb. 28. (Pictured is the entertaining Feb. 20 attraction, 1932's Three on a Match, with Bette Davis, Joan Blondell, and Ann Dvorak.)

Elsewhere, the IFC Center helps with Oscar pool handicapping by screening all of the Academy Award-nominated shorts, beginning on Friday. (If you can't see them, choose the ones with either the standout reviews, or, if none of them get raves, the worthiest subject. You can't go wrong.)

Also on Friday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center begins a program on black moviemaking pioneer Oscar Micheaux and other pathfinders in African-American cinema.

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