Advertisement
  • Baltimore City Paper

Aria, The French Connection, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

ARIA

You just don’t see omnibus films that much these days, maybe because they are almost invariably uneven. The theme for this 1987 compendium of linked shorts is great (or great enough) directors interpreting great opera arias, so you get the likes of Nicolas Roeg, Robert Altman, Ken Russell, and Derek Jarman tackling the likes of Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini, with varying degrees of literalness, creativity, and success. A personal fave: Jean-Luc Godard’s bit, based on Lully’s

Advertisement

Armide

, in which two sylph-like bottomless French ladies behave oddly amid a gym-full of bulging bodybuilders. The first in a series of weekly screenings from the Spiral Cinema Series.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

This gritty 1971 crime drama put both director William Friedkin and star Gene Hackman on the map, and with good reason. Friedkin captures a grimy NYC that feels so concrete-cold you’ll imagine you can see your breath in the theater, while Hackman plays an unconventional cop on the trail of a heroin ring like he didn’t ever want to be a second banana again, and he pretty much wasn’t. Also, he makes an arrest in a Santa suit at one point, so it’s sorta kinda seasonal, even.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell square off in Howard Hawks’ classic 1953 musical comedy.

Advertisement
Advertisement