Repertory Series

Seventies Shooter: A Tribute To Laszlo Kovacs
Tuesday, October 16 - Thu, October 25, 2007

American cinema lost one of the definitive cinematographers of the second half of the 20th century this year. Laszlo Kovacs passed away in July after over 50 years of being on the cinematic cutting-edge. Kovacs arrived in America from his native Hungary around 1956 after escaping the repressive Communist regime with 30,000 feet of illicitly shot film and his friend, and fellow camera man, Vilmos Zsigmond. After working in various odd jobs on the East Coast, Kovacs undertook a cross-country bus trip from New Jersey to Seattle that famously inspired the natural landscapes and lighting used in EASY RIDER. After working dozens of B-grade films (frequently for Roger Corman), Kovacs teamed up with Dennis Hopper for that legendary road/head trip and forged his place in cinema history. His subsequent films include major collaborations with Peter Bogdanovich, Bob Rafelson, Robert Altman, Martin Scorses, and others – only a handful of which are represented here. After the new wave of American cinema faded at the end of the 70s, Kovacs continued to work and left his mark on some of the definitive films of the 80s as well, including Ghostbusters and Say Anything, but it was his place in the vanguard of American independent cinema that truly makes him a cinema icon.

Film Descriptions, Dates & Showtimes

Tuesday 10/16 & Wednesday 10/17 at 7:30

New 35mm Print! Double Feature w/THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS
Five Easy Pieces
(1970) dir Bob Rafelson w/Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush, Susan Anspach, Lois Smith; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [96 min]
Nicholson’s tour-de-force performance as a talented pianist who doesn’t want to be tied down includes one of his most infamous scenes, when he tries to get plain toast in a diner by ordering a chicken salad sandwich and asking the waitress to hold the chicken… between her knees. Classic Nicholson and a classic 70s road movie.

Tuesday 10/16 at 5:15, 9:30 & Wednesday 10/17 at 5:15

New 35mm Print! Double Feature w/FIVE EASY PIECES
The King Of Marvin Gardens
The Tuesday 5:15 show has been canceled. We regret any inconvenience.
(1972) dir Bob Rafelson w/Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Julia Anne Robinson, Scatman Crothers; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [103 min]
Another of Bob Rafelson’s terrific tales of free-spirits pitted against a society that refuses to understand them. The underrated Bruce Dern stars as David, a wheeler-dealer who has fallen on hard times while living on the Boardwalk at Atlantic City. He convinces his brother Jason (Nicholson), a radio talk show host, to buy into a scheme to build a resort on a Pacific island but the machinations of interpersonal relationships and David’s overconfidence doom it almost from the beginning. The startling and unexpected conclusion is worth the price of admission alone.

Sunday 10/21 at 3:00, 7:15

Double Feature w/WHAT'S UP DOC?
Paper Moon
(1973) dir Peter Bogdanovich w/Ryan O'Neal, Tatum O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, John Hillerman; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [102 min]
Mose, A Depression era ‘Bible salesman’ finds himself the ward of Addie, a recently orphaned little girl who becomes a willing participant in his increasingly illegal cons. Peter Bogdanovich’s love of classic cinema is evident in every frame of this gorgeous, poignant black-and-white comedy and Ryan O’Neal and real-life daughter Tatum turn in wonderfully charming performances as the oddball team of swindlers. The third of Bogdanovich’s many collaborations with Kovacs, this remains a highpoint for both.

Sunday 10/21 at 5:15, 9:30

Double Feature w/PAPER MOON
What's Up Doc?
(1972) dir Peter Bogdanovich w/Ryan O'Neal, Barbara Streisand, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton, Michael Murphy; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [94 min]
Peter Bogdanovich's hit screwball comedy pairs a free-spirited Barbara Streisand with an uptight, bespeckled Ryan O'Neal. A tense musicologist (O'Neal) travels to San Francisco in order to compete for a research grant. Unfortunately he has packed the same plaid suitcase as three other people and chaos immediately ensues as his igneous rocks are confused with government documents and jewels. In the tradition of Howard Hawk's Bringing Up Baby, Streisand is desperately smitten with O'Neal only to bring utterly hilarious havoc to his life. Not to be missed by any fans of screwball comedies.

Monday 10/22 at 5:00, 7:30, 10:00

Freebie And The Bean
(1974) dir Richard Rush w/Alan Arkin, James Caan, Loretta Swit, Jack Kruschen; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [113 min]
We’ll warn you, this movie is ruthlessly un-PC. It’s filled with bigoted, macho dialogue between its tough-as-nails cop protagonists… It is also extremely funny and a great entry into the annals of slapstick action – a peculiarly 70s genre. James Caan and Alan Arkin are Freebie and Bean, two San Francisco cops hot on the trail of the crime boss, “Red” Meyers and they will let no car remain uncrashed in their single-minded pursuit. Caan handles the comedic repartee with ease and Arkin is surprisingly good in a role that lets him be aggressive for once.

Tuesday 10/23 at 5:15, 7:30, 9:45

Shampoo
(1975) dir Hal Ashby w/Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [109 min]
As with many films of the period, SHAMPOO is a remarkable confluence of talent not only with the great Kovacs on camera but helmed by Hal Ashby (Harold & Maude) and written by Robert Towne (Chinatown), not to mention Beatty in his legendary, hilarious performance as a frantic hairdresser/Cassanova juggling girlfriends and clients (and girlfriends’ husbands). Few other 70s films simultaneously capture the poignant death of 60s idealisim, the joy of excess and the anxiety and ennui that accompany both as well as SHAMPOO.

Wednesday 10/24 at 5:30, 7:30, 9:30

Easy Rider
(1969) dir Dennis Hopper w/Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson; Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs [95 min]
Legendary cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs is largely credited (alongside friend and collaborator Vilmos Zsigmond) as having created the ‘look’ of 70s film and nowhere is this more apparent than in the muted colors and sunset landscapes of EASY RIDER. Though this psychedelic motorcycle movie about two counterculture outsiders driving cross-country “looking for America” spawned countless imitators, nothing can compare to the image of lawyer George (Nicholson) riding on a motorcycle behind Captain America (Fonda) while wearing a football helmet. EASY RIDER, won Hopper ‘Best New Director’ at Cannes and ushered in a new era in Hollywood cinema.

Thursday 10/25 at 8:00

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
(1977) dir Steven Spielberg w/Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Francois Truffaut; additional photography by Laszlo Kovacs [132 min]
It is telling that Kovacs, who helped to create independent-minded studio films at the dawn of the 70s, was also involved in this film that helped to destroy it. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a great film, there’s no denying, but its blockbuster status (paired with the success of Jaws) renewed the studio heads' faith in big budget spectacles at the expense of the more intimate character driven films that had been the lifeblood of prior 70s filmmaking. Kovacs partnered with his friend Vilmos Zsigmond on the photography for Spielberg’s fascinating, beautiful film about the appearance of aliens in our midst – not for invasion but for inter-species learning and betterment.

©The Brattle Film Foundation. All rights reserved worldwide. The Brattle Film Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit, supported in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

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