Following two wildly enjoyable stints guest-programming some of his favorite movies, director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) returns to the New Beverly Cinema for a third installment of “The Wright Stuff.” This time, however, he has consulted fans, friends and colleagues to put together a series of films that, despite a voracious viewing habit, he has somehow never seen.
“You can't be late to the party if the party never stops,” Wright says via email. “I don't like it when people chastise others for having holes in their film knowledge. So I thought why not be honest with the gaps in mine, and make a season with it.”
The result is eight consecutive nights of first-rate cinema offerings, from Kurosawa and Walsh to Tashlin and Lubitsch. Some of the programs are themed; others highlight unexpected similarities. Pick a winner out of Keaton, Chaplin and Fields in one cracking triple bill; wallow in the swooning romanticism that makes kissing cousins of Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Chungking Express; or mourn the Old West with Ford and Peckinpah, at opposite ends of their careers in 1962, via the mischievous The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and the elegiac Ride the High Country.
The craziest program has to be the pairing of Dr. Seuss–designed The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (enslaved children! giant piano!) with the eye-popping Kwaidan, a Japanese ghost-story quartet. It could only be a trippier night if capped by The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, but Wright saves that for the final midnight slot, to be introduced by superfan Kevin Smith. (Other film folks are booked to appear elsewhere in the week, and there will doubtless be some surprise guests.)
These seasons are not simply about watching the films but about celebrating them, together; part of the pleasure of rep cinema is to watch old favorites with a crowd. Wright calls the New Beverly “a church to cinema. I feel very at home there. It really is a place where filmmakers and film fans become one.”
It is also a celebration of celluloid: Some proposed titles were dropped for lack of projectable prints.
“It's definitely dark days for 35mm projection,” Wright warns. “I'm not against digital projection in multiplexes per se, but a celluloid print has an inner life that digital will never have.” —Tom von Logue Newth
THE WRIGHT STUFF III: MOVIES EDGAR HAS NEVER SEEN | Dec. 9-16 | New Beverly Cinema | newbevcinema.com