Mia & Peter & Liza & Mazursky

The USA Film Festival offers an unapologetic orgy of movie delights

Sunday, April 20, 5 p.m.

The Postman Always Rings Twice. At the time of its release, this was considered one of the defining films of the '40s, especially with what was at the time considered its blatant sexuality (which, by today's standards, is tame). Lana Turner plays Cora, all in white, hair in a turban, eyebrows perfectly plucked as always; John Garfield plays Frank, a funky lug, shirtless whenever it can be managed, pining overly over Cora at the Twin Oaks diner, right under the nose of her old husband, Nick (Cecil Kellaway). The only way out is to kill off Nick and make it look like an accident. For its era this was saucy stuff, but modern audiences will likely have a problem understanding why Cora's attorney, played by Hume Cronyn, is so obtuse, or why the courtroom scenes are so stagy and unbelievable. (AWJ) Hume Cronyn in attendance.

Wednesday, April 23, 7 p.m.

The Rainbow Man/John 3:16. "The Rainbow Man," whose real name is Rollen Stewart, is one of those odd characters who is wholly a product of the 20th century and stands as a metaphor for the residue--and impact--of television: a man famous for being famous. He's the rainbow-fright-wigged superfan who appeared at innumerable sporting events in the '70s and '80s, popping up like some live-action Where's Waldo game. Slowly, he began to change his campaign from friendly boosterism to evangelical mission; after several years, it wasn't the wig that turned up, but bedsheets pointing sports fans to the favored born-again quotation, John 3:16. If documentaries are cinematic journalism, then director Sam Green has a real problem; there's no story here. (AWJ) Sam Green in attendance.

Wednesday, April 23, 9 p.m.

Forgotten Silver. New Zealand's saucy bad-boy director Peter Jackson, known for his raunchy, abstract, syphilitic horror-comedies (The Frighteners, Dead-Alive, Heavenly Creatures) turns a reserved, straight-faced eye on a fictional early filmmaker, Colin MacKenzie, in this fanciful and dead-on accurate mockumentary. MacKenzie's "contributions" to cinema, according to Jackson, include the first tracking shot, the first use of color, the first synchronized sound--hell, Colin even made his own celluloid film! Artistically, he was history's first super-auteur. As in Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run and Zelig, Jackson constructs a virtually seamless narrative parody of Ken Burns, and adds a dollop grossness to his over-the-top catalogue of Colin's "innovations." He even comes up with Colin's unfinished masterpiece, the Holy Grail of all documentarians--a splashy, ahead-of-its-time rendering of Salome. With commentary by "legitimate" sources such as Leonard Maltin, ask yourself when it's over: If the Observer hadn't told you it was a fake, would you have guessed? Forgotten Silver screens with the narrowly focused (and true) documentary, The Wild Bunch: An Album Montage. Director Paul Seydor's curt, concise style makes for a pithy, no-bull analysis of the on-set creativity that went into making Sam Pekinpah's revisionist Western classic The Wild Bunch. (AWJ) Paul Seydor in attendance.

Wednesday, April 23, 9:15 p.m.

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