2001: A Space Odyssey
Would Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey make the ultimate double bill? They're widely agreed to be two of the best motion pictures ever produced, rewarding repeat viewings like great literature.
Every time I see Vertigo, I wonder how much I'm really supposed to root for Jimmy Stewart's tortured detective Scottie Ferguson, so obsessed with re-creating a lost love (Kim Novak) that he turns another woman into her doppelganger. And every time I see 2001, I'm drawn into Kubrick's exquisite cosmic vision, in which the technological advancement of the human race is either monitored or stimulated by that blank, unknowable monolith.
I've never seen them back to back, though. But now we all can, thanks to TIFF's decision to program 70mm prints of both films. Starting this afternoon, both 2001 and Vertigo are screening twice a day in the Lightbox's lovely Cinema 1.
If you caught TIFF's 70mm print of 2001: A Space Odyssey on one of its earlier Lightbox runs, you know exactly how glorious the experience is. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen the film, but I remember each 70mm projection vividly; the additional detail available in large-format prints borders on the revelatory, particularly in the sequences that open and close the film. Ah, hell, pretty much every frame benefits; just go see it.
I haven't seen Vertigo in 70mm since its 1996 restoration run, but it looked pretty damn great; Robert Burks's cinematography and Edith Head's costumes look terrific, the new sound mix does wonders for Bernard Herrmann's score and the blow-up from 35mm to 70mm has been handled most elegantly. (Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, who performed similar restoration miracles on Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus and Rear Window, outdid themselves with the Vertigo reconstruction, literally rebuilding key sequences from damaged film elements.)
So you could absolutely do worse than book off a few hours this week to catch both films. You don't have to watch one after the other; they're separate admissions, and it might be better to see them on different days, just so you can properly digest each experience. But opportunities to see these films in this state don't come along too often, be sure to catch at least one of them, okay?
If you've got kids in tow, you can drop them off at TIFF's Comic Book Heroes series, a two-week March Break matinee program of movies based on (or inspired by) superhero stories. (My inner nerd wants to argue that Monsters Vs. Aliens is more a spoof of '50s sci-fi movies, but I get what they're going for.)
There's some great stuff in there - Superman and Superman II on Saturday and Sunday, respectively; Steven Spielberg's The Adventures Of Tintin Tuesday, The Powerpuff Girls Movie Wednesday, the delightful Breakfast Club spoof Sky High March 15; Brad Bird's loving, perfect The Iron Giant on Thursday; the great, rarely-screened animated Batman adventure Mask Of The Phantasm March 23 and Joe Johnston's rousing The Rocketeer March 24.
And I don't mean to suggest this series is exclusively for kids. A theatrical screening of The Iron Giant will likely attract more grown-ups who fell in love with it as kids ... or, um, as 31-year-olds. Whatever. Great movies are great movies regardless of their target audience. You just might not want to take your ten-year-old to Vertigo, is all I'm saying.