Monday, April 30, 2018

The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review

It's hard to believe, but the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival is now over -- another very special experience I will always remember.

The festival was filled with great movies and good times with friends. TCM continues to provide its festival guests with an array of fantastic experiences in the heart of Hollywood.

I'm especially pleased that TCM continues to show many 35mm prints, along with "DCP" digital presentations; it's especially noteworthy that for the second year in a row, a 35mm nitrate print was screened each evening at the Egyptian Theater.

Although there were some occasional hiccups with line management, and "sellouts" in tiny Theater 4 were an issue again this year, by and large the festival continues to run as a well-oiled machine, with a dazzling schedule of numerous choices for every hour of the day.

At this year's festival I saw 17 films, matching last year's tally of 16 films and a cartoon program.

Of the 17 films seen this year, ten were repeats and seven were completely new to me. That said, I'd previously only seen three of the ten "repeat" films on a big screen, and I hadn't seen a number of the films in many years, so pretty much everything I saw felt fresh.

While only a third of the films I saw in 2015 were in 35mm, increasing to nine 35mm prints of the 16 movies seen last year, this year 14 of the 17 films I saw were in 35mm -- and three of the 14 were nitrate prints. I'm very happy about this, as I prefer to see "real" film which can only be seen at a theater. If I'd really wanted to I'm pretty sure I could have filled my entire schedule with nothing but 35mm.

The three digital prints I saw all looked good; it's only been a few years, but digital prints seem to have come a long way from the awful muddy, pixilated digital print I saw of ON THE WATERFRONT at the festival in 2013.

I successfully carried out the schedule I posted here earlier this month, with the exception being that for my final film I dropped the nitrate print of A STAR IS BORN (1937) in order to see the pre-Code comedy BLESSED EVENT (1932). I was quite happy with that choice!

I thorough enjoyed everything I saw, perhaps with the exception of BULL DURHAM, which was way more raunchy than I recalled. I liked the parts focused on Kevin Costner and baseball but could have done without numerous scenes in the movie, and I'm unlikely to return to it in the future. Everything else was very enjoyable, even titles I hadn't initially been that excited to see.

Out of the many terrific films I saw, I think I'd probably choose Lubitsch's THE MERRY WIDOW (1934), starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier, as my favorite experience. It was such fun watching it with an audience which appreciated the humor and the actors! I felt such a warm glow of happiness at the end that I might have teared up a little.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (1935) and its silvery cinematography also made a big impression; that was one of the titles I'd not been especially enthused about which ended up being a high point in the festival. I was so glad I chose to see it!

Happily there were no issues in my screenings this year with people trying to photograph the opening credits on their cell phones! It was a bit odd, however, that a couple of movies had inappropriate audience laughter, including the screenings I attended of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) and SPELLBOUND (1945). (Apparently the book dedication to "The Girl With the Hoe" in LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is riotously funny. Good grief.)

This kind of tittering reaction isn't typically a problem when I attend L.A. screenings the rest of the year, so it was a disappointment that it happened at the festival; you'd think TCM audiences would be more sophisticated. It was reported that Leonard Maltin actually said something to the audience before the closing night screening of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925), which seems to have helped. Good for him!

I'm already missing the many wonderful people in our online classic film community, but what great memories we made again this year!

It's been an amazing movie month, beginning with the Noir City Hollywood festival opening on April 14th, and it's not over yet! The Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival opens in Palm Springs next week, on May 10th.

As usual, in the coming days I'll be posting overviews of each day of the TCM Classic Film Festival, and hopefully I'll also have time to write some reviews of individual films.

As the posts go up I'll add the links just below this paragraph, so that all of this year's festival coverage may be easily found in one place.

TCM 2018 Festival Posts: The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival: Days One and Two; The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Three; The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Four; The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival: Day Five; Tonight's Movie: The Merry Widow (1934) at the TCM Classic Film Festival; Tonight's Movie: The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1943) at the TCM Classic Film Festival; Tonight's Movie: How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) at the TCM Classic Film Festival; Tonight's Movie: Leave Her to Heaven (1945) at the TCM Classic Film Festival.

Previously reviewed films seen at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival, listed in the order viewed: FINISHING SCHOOL (1934), STAGE DOOR (1937), THREE SMART GIRLS (1936), SPELLBOUND (1945), and BLESSED EVENT (1932).

Previous 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival coverage: TCM Announces 2018 Festival Dates and Theme (August 29, 2017); TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (October 26, 2017); More TCM News: New Co-Hosts and Robert Osborne Award (March 2, 2018); The Latest TCM Classic Film Festival Announcements (March 10, 2018); The 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival Schedule (April 16, 2018); Coming Soon! (April 25, 2018).

Roundups containing all links to coverage of past TCM festivals: The 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2014 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, The 2016 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review, and The 2017 TCM Classic Film Festival in Review.


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