The DVD revolution is finally paying dividends to film lovers. I'm not talking about how so many old movies have now become available on DVD. Even though DVDs tend to look a hell of a lot better than VHS tapes, there's still a serious amount of compression that needs to happen before you can pop that copy of Clueless (or the Thin Man series, to be fair) into your DVD player. Nor am I talking about how DVD sales have hit a plateau, worrying Hollywood studios that have grown accustomed to selling a gajillion copies of movies like The Island to make up for lackluster domestic box office.
No, the reason I credit the DVD revolution for benefiting film lovers is that every time the studios decide to do a big box set or high-profile DVD release, they strike a new print of the film for a better-looking video transfer. Once they've got a beautiful print on their hands, they tour it around our country's remaining art cinemas, where it also serves to advertise the release of the new DVD.
A few of these expensive DVD byproducts are on their way here now. The Seattle Art Museum and the Grand Illusion Cinema have teamed up to exhibit some brand-new prints of Ingmar Bergman films. Over at the Seattle Art Museum, they're showing movies like The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries on Thursday nights through September. Meanwhile, the Grand Illusion Cinema in the University District is adding to the "Golden Age of Ingmar Bergman" series this week with screenings of The Magic Flute, an adaptation of Mozart's opera about a beautiful princess dealing with parental evil, and The Devil's Eye, a comedy about Don Juan, who returns from Hell to seduce a virginal daughter of a Swedish parson. God bless the repression of Scandinavian artists!
There's more than just Swedish genius being revived in Seattle's cinemas, however. Over at the Northwest Film Forum, they're kicking off a James Dean revival with a brand-new print of Rebel Without a Cause. This Friday, September 2, at 7:00 p.m., they're celebrating the initial screening with an introduction from and Q&A with the screenwriter, local legend Stewart Stern.
If you've been following the difficult summer that indie films have been having alongside their struggling Hollywood brethren, then you probably know that the two big box-office successes have been March of the Penguins and The Aristocrats. The penguin epic isn't that much of a surprise—the cold-weather movie is the perfect place to hide out from a scorching summer. The foul-mouthed joke movie, meanwhile, is a relief from the rest of the bland art films that have been foisted upon us. I mention The Aristocrats because the distributor, THINKFilm, has announced a contest to create a live-action or animated short-film version of the joke. The winning entries in both categories will appear on the upcoming DVD and receive $1,000—not a bad payday for an indie filmmaker or comedian.