|Escape Artist: A Tribute to
John Carpenter In Person!
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This series is an Aero Theatre Exclusive!
For the past nearly four decades, director John
Carpenter has created some of the most consistently entertaining and brilliantly
crafted films in American cinema, from his savage urban western ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13,
through his awesome chiller HALLOWEEN and his adrenaline-fueled action epic ESCAPE
FROM NEW YORK. Carpenters films have shown an amazing consistency, creating
wickedly modern twists on traditional genres (THE THING) without losing his sense
of playfulness or individuality. As his career has progressed, Carpenter has shown the
range of a classical studio director, helming not only action and horror films but love
stories (STARMAN) and a philosophical comedy (MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN). Yet for all
his old-school craftsmanship, Carpenter is first and foremost a maverick with a fiercely
independent sensibility and a willingness to confront contemporary America's most
troubling social and political issues. In addition to his work as director, Carpenter has
written the screenplays and composed the soundtrack music for almost all of his movies.
We are thrilled to welcome John Carpenter to the American
Cinematheque for this weekend tribute.
Friday, June 13 7:30 PM
THE THING, 1982, Universal, 108 min. John Carpenter
re-imagined the 1951 sci-fi classic THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD as something darker,
fiercer and altogether more disturbing, pitting sombrero-wearing helicopter pilot Kurt
Russell and a crew of Arctic scientists against a ravenous, shape-shifting alien
being. From the haunting opening shots of a sled dog fleeing across the snow, to the
apocalyptic, fire-and-ice ending, this ranks with Ridley Scotts ALIEN as one of the
finest (and most beautifully crafted) sci-fi films of the past 30 years. With one of Ennio
Morricones greatest scores from the 1980s.
THE FOG, 1980, Stuart Lisell, 91 min. Dir. John Carpenter.
Theres atmosphere to burn in this spooky saga of bloodthirsty ghost pirates
vengefully returning to decimate a sleepy-eyed California coastal town on the 100th
anniversary of their shipwreck. Adrienne Barbeau is the spunky DJ sounding the
alarm from her lighthouse-based radio station while the undead use the title mist as cover
in their gory siege. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, Hal Holbrook, John Houseman.
Discussion in between films with director John Carpenter.
Saturday, June 14 7:30 PM
ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, 1981, Avco Embassy, 99
min. Dir. John Carpenter. Kurt Russell delivers one of his most memorable
performances as ornery, one-eyed Snake Plissken, a sentenced-to-die anti-hero sent into
maximum security prison in a Manhattan of the future to rescue U.S. President Donald
Pleasence from villain Isaac Hayes. A highly entertaining tall tale with influences
ranging from comic books to apocalyptic science fiction to spaghetti westerns! With Lee
Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau.
ESCAPE FROM L.A., 1996, Paramount, 101 min. Snake
Plissken (Kurt Russell) returns in a savagely funny satire of political extremism
in late 20th-century America. After an earthquake devastates Los Angeles, the city
separates from the rest of the country and becomes an island for violent outcasts. Yet in John
Carpenter's vision, the warring gangs are hardly more dangerous than a culturally
conservative president (played to perfection by a wry Cliff Robertson) who exploits
his constituents' fear and ignorance to rise to power. The only man who stands above it
all is iconoclast Plissken, sent to LA by the president to save the world - a world that
the movie implies is hardly worth saving, a point made both funnier and more frightening
by how closely Carpenter's future world now resembles our own. Discussion
in between films with director John Carpenter.
Sunday, June 15 7:30 PM
HALLOWEEN, 1978, 91 min. A landmark in modern horror - and
one of the most phenomenally successful independent films ever made - John Carpenters
HALLOWEEN set the standard for dozens of oversexed teens-meet-serial killer movies to
come, including SCREAM and SCARY MOVIE. Jamie Lee Curtis (in her first major role)
stars as the resilient Laurie, aware that evil stalks the shady streets and living rooms
of her small town, in the form of escaped psychopath Michael Myers. Co-starring Donald
Pleasence, P.J. Soles and Nancy Loomis.
CHRISTINE, 1983, Sony Repertory, 110 min. Teenager Arnie
Cunningham (Keith Gordon in one of his best performances) is the nerdiest guy in
school, until he meets the girl of his dreams - not a flesh-and-blood classmate, but a
1958 Plymouth Fury. As Arnie restores the car, he undergoes his own transformation, but
best friend Dennis (John Stockwell) doesn't think it's all for the good especially
when Arnie's enemies start dying one by one. Director John Carpenter takes Stephen
King's supernatural tale of a haunted car and grounds it in a palpable teenage
reality, creating both an honest coming-of-age saga and a commentary on the American
male's love affair with the automobile.
Wednesday, June 18 7:30 PM
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, 1986, 20th
Century Fox, 99 min. Dir. John Carpenter. Ultra-colorful adventure in the grand
tradition of 1930s serials, starring Kurt Russell as a cocky truck driver who finds
himself battling ancient Chinese warlords and hideous demons to save feisty Kim
Cattrall ("Sex and the City"). A great guilty pleasure, and one of
Carpenters most purely entertaining genre films.
ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, 1976, CKK Corp., 90
min. Dir. John Carpenter. This stark modern homage to Howard Hawks RIO BRAVO
updates the action with a youth gang attacking a closing police station in a blighted
ghetto neighborhood. Rapid-fire banter flies fast and furious between charismatic convict Darwin
Joston and policewoman Laurie Zimmer as the faceless, virtually supernatural
marauders attack. This remains one of Carpenters most effective pictures, an
edge-of-your-seat thriller that put him on the map as an imaginative, creative force to be
reckoned with. With Austin Stoker. Discussion in
between films with actor Austin Stoker.