Spider-Man has been hitting screens (prior to 2002, small ones rather than large) in various forms for decades, so it should perhaps not be as big a surprise as it seemed when the decision was made to reboot the cinematic version of everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood webslinger. Ten years after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire created the definitive cinematic version of the character, Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield reset the clock to retell Spidey’s origin story. Advance reviews have been good, but not great, so it remains to be seen whether audiences have room in their hearts for a new version of this story while the previous one is still relatively fresh in their minds. Raimi’s films (the first two, at least) provide some pretty big shoes to fill, but Garfield’s surprise appearance at Comic-Con last year in conjunction with the film at least revealed the passion for the character that will be necessary to try to step into them.
With Silverdocs over and the AFI’s spring series over or winding down, it’s time for a new crop of retrospectives and special engagements to provide audiences with a respite from the summer heat.
Totally Awesome 6: Great Films of the 1980s: One of the AFI’s most beloved annual series, the Totally Awesome ’80s series, kicks off its sixth installment this weekend with the usual diverse array of audience favorites, cult classics, and a few semi-forgotten gems thrown in the mix. This year’s programming may be the best I’ve seen, with even more of the sort of “deep cuts” that give this series more character than what most people go for in ’80s retrospectives. One of the best films in the whole run is also the first: Bruce Robinson’s fantastic cult comedy Withnail & I, about two out-of-work British actors who go for a vacation in the countryside that ends up being anything but relaxing.
Spy Cinema: This year marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond in the movies, so the theater is looking back at spy films in general throughout the decades. That’ll also start this week, with Alfred Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest and Greta Garbo in Mata Hari.
70-Millimeter Spectacular: Before IMAX, the most spectacular visual experience available to viewers was that provided by 70-millimeter film, a much wider format than the 35-millimeter film most movies were shot on, which offered higher resolution that made epics like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Laurence of Arabia seem even more epic in scope. The AFI is equipped for 70-millimeter film projection, and it’s always a treat when one of these prints makes its way into the grand Theater One. This summer, there’s a whole series of 70-millimeter prints planned, starting this week with 2001.
Jean Harlow: One of Hollywood’s early sex symbols, synonymous with the image of the blonde bombshell, Jean Harlow would have been 100 years old last year. This summer the AFI revisits a number of her films, starting this weekend with Red Dust, her 1932 film with Clark Gable about a rubber plantation owner who has an affair with Harlow’s character, a woman married to one of his employees; and Bombshell, in which Harlow really stretches by playing a Hollywood sex symbol who attempts to escape her scandalous image by trying to appear more normal.
Full programming and dedicated webpages for a number of these series aren’t yet available; check back at the AFI in the coming days for more comprehensive listings.
Continue reading the rest of this week’s picks over at Washingtonian.
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