Lawrence of Arabia
There's something humongous and unabashedly grand about David Lean's 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia. And it starts at the top: There's an overture—before the credits, before a single image appears on the screen—so alive with jangling percussion and bazaar-infused discord that you may forget you're at the cinema. Which may be the goal. Clocking in at 222 minutes (not including a 15-minute intermission), the newly restored film that opens on Friday, March 1 at the Capitol Theatre for a one-week engagement is the longest to ever win a Best Picture Oscar. With its intricate political plotting and deep emotional peaks and valleys, the film demands your attention in the way of traditional high drama. It's like a night at the opera.
Peter O'Toole plays T.E. Lawrence, the insolent, erudite British officer stationed in Cairo who is tasked with gathering intelligence about Bedouin tribes in the era of WW1. He becomes a sort of idol among the tribesmen and the film charts his rise from man to God, and subsequent calamitous shrivel from God to man. In his first of nine total Oscar-nominated performances, O'Toole controls the screen as Lawrence. His hair is a neon yellow. His face is so smooth it looks airbrushed. Sloshing behind his blue eyes is an ocean of emotion.
Among other things, it's weird to see Obi Wan Kenobi decked out as an Arabian prince, putting on a goofy little lisp. But hey, it was 1962. Remember also that a four-hour film will have its slower sequences, but the drama and intensity of the performances— to say nothing of the drama and intensity of the landscape—will surely transport you to a theatrical high. Don't you dare watch this one on a laptop. (Sam Allard)
A Place at the Table
This documentary starts slow as it initially introduces us to a few of the city's everyday people—a waitress who makes about $120 a week and a little girl who admits that her family sometimes "runs out of food." We switch locations from rural Colorado to urban Philadelphia and find out that people are hungry and poor there, too. The filmmakers then provide a series of stats and figures as they reconstruct the events that led up to the current crisis. Post-Depression, the government started subsidizing family farms but the operations sound became agri-businesses and processed food benefits as a result while farmers growing fresh fruits and veggies get the shaft. The movie's not all doom and gloom. Mid-way through, we meet Witnesses to Hunger, a group of activists seeking legislative change that will help solve the nation's hunger crisis. And celebs like Jeff Bridges chime in about the urgency of the problem. The film makes a convincing case that something needs to be done in a hurry to stop hunger, but it's not likely to tell you anything you don't already know. Cedar Lee Theatre. (Jeff Niesel)