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Oldies But Goodies 

The Loft's 'Cinematheque' offers classic films that were meant to be seen on the big screen.

Lord knows, there's nothing I love more than whatever movie Keanu Reeves, Ashton Kutcher and/or Hilary Duff just squirted onto our beloved movie screens. As my friend Muffy used to say, "Why should we watch boring old films when there's so many good new ones?" Why indeed, Muffy, why indeed?

Well, for starters, movies with Keanu Reeves, Ashton Kutcher and/or Hilary Duff, as much as we love them (and I believe that it would be un-American to criticize any such films, and that anyone criticizing American movies should be excoriated on Fox News), occasionally fail to fully satisfy us, because, in spite of their greatness and Americanosity, such films usually suck harder than a black hole.

So, while I want to continue to support the industry that has produced such gems as Ghost Dad and Ghost Dad II, every now and then, I'd like to see a good, old, classic film. And I don't want to see it at home on my crappy 76-inch plasma screen with Dolby 16.7773 surround sound speakers. No, I want to see it projected, the way movies and clairvoyant visions are meant to be seen.

So, thank God for Peggy Johnson and Sande Zeig, programmers at The Loft, who are launching Cinematheque, a classic film series, on June 7. First out of the chute is The Bicycle Thief, which is often picked as the greatest film of all time. See it or be a total social outcast at the next Sight and Sound cocktail party.

This is followed by slate of random goodness, with renowned and acknowledged classics from the United States, France, Italy and other member nations of the United Nations. There's so much excellent cinema coming to the Loft's enormous screen this summer that I asked Peggy Johnson if she had a particular favorite, and she pointed to the screening on June 14 of Breathless, one of the masterpieces of the French New Wave. Indeed, Breathless is often picked as the high point of French cinema in the '60s, teaming up director Jean-Luc Godard with screenwriter Francois Truffaut for a one-two punch of Francophilic cinema.

Now, personally, I hate the French New Wave, you know, ever since Jean Paul Belmondo failed to support the reckless endangering of American troops in the Persian Gulf. Thus, I would recommend seeing Aguirre, The Wrath of God, on Aug. 9. Not only is this one of the most beautiful films ever shot, it also features a boatload of monkeys, so even the Keanu fans out there will find something to love about it. Plus, it was made by a German, and Germans have never done anything bad, ever, except once or twice.

If you want to just get all U.S. of A. about your classic cinema, though, well, God bless you, because you'll have a chance to see some of the greatest 'Merican movies of all time. Of course, Citizen Kane is playing. Yes, you've seen Citizen Kane, but have you seen it on a big screen? Because it is easily 47.8 times better. Sure, Orson Welles was a great director blah, blah, blah. But that film is great because of Greg Tolland, the cinematographer, and his work is completely obscured on your TV screen. Go see this thing the way it was meant to be seen, and if you don't love it, well, I'll give you one free punch at my face.

Or better yet, go see The Searchers, starring the most American man who ever lived, Marion Morrison, better known as John Freaking Wayne. It's also directed by John Ford, who's so awesome he makes Orson Welles look like a Frenchman. Yes, it's a Western, but again, if you don't like Westerns, it's probably because you've only watched them on TV. John Ford's sweeping vision of our beautiful West pretty much defined the iconography of the area, and it cannot be captured on your pathetic little TV screen. Furthermore, cinematographer Winton Hoch is also one of only two lensmen to win back-to-back Oscars, so take that, Tom Hanks.

Or maybe your tastes run more towards over-produced Disney cartoons. Fear not; there's something here to cure you. On Aug. 23, you can finally see the real, true version of Beauty and The Beast by Jean Cocteau. This film is unspeakably beautiful, so much so that Disney, one of the biggest whiny-ass "protectors" of copyright privileges, freely stole a great deal of imagery from it for their almost infinitely inferior cartoon version. If you want to see the original, you're gonna have to read some subtitles, brother, but it'll be worth it. You'll see that cinema can really look like a dream, and ferchrissakes, bring your children so they don't grow up thinking that all the movies they're allowed to go to are focus-grouped pabulum with the sharp corners rounded down to dull, bulbous knobs of cheery sing-song happiness.

Or just go to any of these films. Here's the deal: If you check the series out this summer, The Loft will continue to show classic films. If you don't, well, you'll have ruined a good thing.

It used to be the case that every major U.S. city had a cinema that showed classic films every week. Now, only America's "twin treasures," New York and Tucson, are left in the classic celluloid culture game. If you think that's scary, check this out: If you want to see classic American films projected on the big screen any day of the week, you can do so in only one city in the world: Paris.

That's Paris, France, my friends! You want them to beat us at the art form we invented? (And do not even mention the Lumiere brothers to me until France apologizes for whatever it is they've done to offend us!)

I think you do not! So go to The Loft and check this program out! If you don't have time to see everything on this list, at least check out Searchers, Citizen Kane, Aguirre, Black Orpheus and Beauty and The Beast, because these films simply cannot be enjoyed on a TV: They were made entirely for the enormous, silver screen. It's an incredible gift to the city of Tucson that Peggy Johnson and Sande Zeig are giving us a chance to watch them in their native environment, and you should thank them by throwing a few dollars at their nonprofit theater, in exchange for which you'll get a movie-going experience that will make your last outing to The Matrix ReFinanced seem like three hours on the crapper.

CINEMATHEQUE SCHEDULE

  • June 7, Bicycle Thief
  • June 14, Breathless
  • June 21, Grand Illusion
  • June 28, Citizen Kane
  • July 5, Quai Des Orfevres
  • July 12, Discreet Charm
  • July 19, Once Upon a Time in the West
  • July 26, The Searchers
  • Aug. 2, Day For Night
  • Aug. 9, Aguirre Wrath of God
  • Aug. 16, Black Orpheus
  • Aug. 23, Beauty & the Beast
  • Aug. 30, The Conformist
  • Sept. 11, Juliet of the Spirit

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