Movies to watch during the 10th annual Plaza Classic Film Fest

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Photo courtesy of Art Contreras

Plaza Theatre

With the 10th iteration of the Plaza Classic Film Festival set to kick off on Aug. 3, copy editor Leslie Sariñana (L) and entertainment editor Eddie Velazquez (E) have compiled a guide to the presentations you can’t miss across all 10 days.

The films will be played across eight locations, including El Paso Museum of Art, the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall, the Philanthropy Theatre, Mills Plaza parking garage, El Paso Public Library, Oregon Street and the Foundation Room. 

The movies will be projected on 35mm film and digital format on almost 44 ft wide screens.

Thursday Aug. 3:

(E): National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
9 p.m. at the Mills Plaza parking garage:

The first spin off of the popular humor magazine National Lampoon to make it to the big screen is the example of a smash hit made on a minute budget, one that would later pave the path for movie franchises cashing in on big audiences with limited production resources such as “Paranormal Activity.”

“Animal House” is undoubtedly an uncle humor classic, featuring Faber College freshmen Larry Kroger and Kent Dorfman trying to join a prestigious fraternity, where they end up joining the suspicious Delta Tau Chi. Once there, the college’s dean and Greg Marmalard—the president of the rival fraternity—relentlessly attempt to get the Deltas expelled from college.

Friday, Aug. 4:

(E): Cronos (1993)
10 p.m at the Philanthropy Theatre:

“Cronos” was director Guillermo Del Toro’s first full-length feature film and collaboration with American actor Ron Pearlman—a partnership that would later result in them working on the Hellboy franchise.

The film follows antique dealer Jesus Gris, who discovers an ancient device while inspecting an archangel statue. The device rejuvenates Gris’ body and internal functions, but also draws attention from an eccentric businessman who wants to use the device for self-healing. 

This screening will feature English subtitles.

(L): Peggie Sue Got Married w/Kathleen Turner (1986)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

This Francis Ford Coppola film, starring Kathleen Turner, tells the story of Peggy Sue, who is in the middle of marital problems is transported back to her senior year of high school and given the chance to relive and change things. Turner’s performance earned her her first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The film was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Turner is one of the festival’s special guests and will sit down for an onstage interview before the showing at 7 p.m.

Saturday Aug. 5:

(E): Film Talk: Casablanca
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Casablanca (1942)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

Heralded as one of the most important dramas ever, “Casablanca” was named the number one screenplay by the Writers Guild of America, west on their top 101 best screenplays of all time.

Taking place during World War II in Casablanca, Morocco, the story follows nightclub owner Rick Blaine. Blaine gets a hold of two valuable letters of transit that force his former lover Ilsa Lund to visit the nightclub to try and help her husband Victor Laszlo to get to the neutral land of Portugal. The local police try to capture the fleeting Laszlo as Blaine and Lund explore their former
romance.

(L): Thumbelina (1995)
3 p.m. at the El Paso Museum of Art:

“Thumbelina” may not be the most recognizable films, but it’s easily one of the most endearing animated movies. Directed by El Paso native Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the film follows a small Thumbelina as she tries to escape her kidnapper and reach her fairy prince. This makes for a great selection for kids.

(L): The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
9 p.m. on Oregon Street:

A cult classic and the longest-running theatrical release in film history, if you only watch one film at the festival make it this one. A glam-rock musical with one of the most iconic opening shots in cinematic history, Rocky Horror is a uniquely original musical comedy horror movie everyone has either watched or heard of. The film carries a large cultural influence, mainly for the costumes. The budget for the film’s costumes was only $1,600. Many of the screenings to date see audience members dressed as the characters.

Sunday Aug. 6:

(E): Film Talk: Citizen Kane
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Citizen Kane (1941)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

The nonlinear editing to tell an intricate plot and use of shadows and low-key lighting to convey different emotional tones have made “Citizen Kane” one of the most influential films all time and what many consider the pinnacle of cinema. However, this praise and success wasn’t always the case as the film failed to break even during its first run in American theatres. It would take several well-regarded film critics such as the French Andre Bazin for the Orson Welles directed masterpiece to receive a second theatrical run in 1956.

“Citizen Kane” follows the life of Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy newspaper publisher turned politician. His life is told through a series of flashbacks and interviews with the people who knew him best.

(L): El Señor Fotografo (1956)
1 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre:
One of Mario Moreno‘s many adaptations as “Cantinflas.” This Mexican comedy is among one of his most popular works. It’s one of the best comedies being played at the festival. Cantinflas’s iconic character is guaranteed to make you laugh. The movie will feature English subtitles.

(L): Sherlock Holmes, accompanied by organist Walt Strony (1922)
3:30 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

This silent film showing is unique because it will be accompanied by organist Walt Strony. This film was considered lost but was rediscovered in the 70s, and restored three years ago.

The story follows detective Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Watson as they take on a case to figure out who stole athletic funds from Cambridge

Monday Aug. 7:

(E:) An American in Paris (1951)
4 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

With the current musical genre revival spearheaded by movies like 2012’s “Les Miserables” and last year’s “La La Land,” new fans of the genre will appreciate theatre showings of classics such as the Academy Award winner for best picture, An American in Paris.

American World War II veteran Jerry Mulligan moves to Paris to become a renowned painter. Once there, he is conflicted between his love for Lise Bouvier and the opportunity lonely heiress Milo Roberts presents to elevate his career.

(L): Film talk: Singin’ in Rain
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Singin’ in Rain (1952)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

Known as one of the greatest musicals of all time, “Singin’ in the Rain” is refreshingly funny and proves to be more than just a musical, but also a movie with an amusing plot.

The classic musical that shot the late Debbie Reynolds to stardom set in the 1920’s will be accompanied by a film talk before its showing. Gene Kelly plays a silent film star in the early days of talking pictures and as they adjust to the transition. The score of this movie is one of the most recognizable with songs like “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Good Morning.” This musical also served as inspiration for Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land.”

Tuesday Aug. 8:

(E): Film Talk: Psycho
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Psycho (1960)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

A movie known for its ingenious, fast-paced editing and dark themes, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” tells the story of troubled motel owner Norman Bates who finds himself in the middle of an investigation after a couple of mysterious murders take place at the Bates Motel.

Despite being snubbed at the 33rd Academy Awards ceremony, “Psycho” was seen as ahead of its time in terms of psychological analysis and use of violence and sexual themes in order to create a powerful and lasting emotional effect.

Wednesday Aug. 9:

(E): Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
3 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre:

Sitting at a 91 percent approval rating in reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the third iteration in the Harry Potter film franchise has been praised as the best in the franchise by fans and critics alike. Director Alfonso Cuaron was not afraid of making a dark movie that bases its strengths in the development of characters and their exploration of tragic events.

In his third year at wizardry school Hogwarts, Harry learns that one of the most dangerous prisoners has escaped the maximum security prison of Azkaban and has vowed to hunt him down.

Thursday Aug. 10:

(E): Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man (1951)
3:30 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre:

Continuing Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s series of collaborations with the Universal Studios stable of characters, “Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man” follows the comedians as they graduate from private detective school. Their first case comes in the way of helping a boxer clean his name after he has been framed for murdering his agent. After the boxer takes an unstable invisibility serum, he asks the detectives to help him find the real killer.

(L): Frida (2002)
7:30 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre:

One of the most visually pleasing selections of the festival, Frida follows the deeply tragic life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Having earned two Academy Awards—Best Makeup and Best Original Score—“Frida” first saw a very limited release. The idea for the movie was presented 20 years before its release. Salma Hayek who plays Frida in the film is a fan of the artist and had been seeking the role since 1993. Not only does it deliver an honest and emotional portrayal of the artist’s life, but the end product truly all of the meticulous work that went into creating it.

Friday Aug. 11:

(E): From Russia With Love (1963)
3:30 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

With Sean Connery’s role as James Bond at the height of its powers, this is the second iteration in the popular 007 movie franchise. Often praised for its score and action set pieces, “From Russia With Love” sees Bond get lured to Istanbul only to face the enemy in life-or-death situations.

(L): Film Talk: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall:

As the first full length animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” earned the title of highest grossing sound film at the time. This was the first of many Disney animated films and earned Walt Disney and honorary Academy Award. This animated classic has some of the most recognized cast of characters with Snow White and the seven dwarves. When watching this movie, it’s hard to tell just how old it is with such great production and sound quality. If it’s historical significance isn’t compelling enough to get you to watch, the timeless plot is entertaining all on its own.

Saturday Aug. 12:

(E): Film Talk: Jaws
6 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre/Jaws (1975)
7 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall with Richard Dreyfuss :

Larger-than-life director Steven Spielberg’s first big break came with “Jaws.” The 1975 classic is referenced heavily in modern pop culture because of its thrilling score and its characterization of the shark as a dangerous force. Actor Richard Dreyfuss will be at the screening of the movie, where he portrays skeptic oceanographer Matt Hooper. Hooper embarks on a maddening hunt for the shark that terrorizes the shores of Amity Island.

(L): Postcards from the Edge (1990), 3:30 p.m. at the Philanthropy Theatre :
Carrie Fisher’s first screenplay, “Postcards from the Edge” is a semi-autobiographical movie about her relationship with her mother, old Hollywood gem, Debbie Reynolds. It stars Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Although Fisher’s writing was praised by critics, the movie didn’t see much critical success aside from that. This movie shines light on what the late Fisher’s life was like as she struggled in recovering from drug addiction. This is a definitely one of the most underrated films in recent history and one of Streep’s most powerful performances.

Sunday Aug. 13:

(E):Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)
1 p.m. at the Kendle Kidd Performance Hall with Richard Dreyfuss:

Deciding to spend more time with his family, orchestral music composer Glenn Holland gives up his career and takes on a teaching job at John F. Kennedy High School. Complications in his family life and a lack of trust from his co workers lead Holland to a crossroads where he has to decide between a dead dream and inevitable family problems.

“Mr. Holland’s Opus” gave Dreyfuss a nomination at the Academy Awards for Best Actor and created the Mr Holland’s Opus Foundation, dedicated to ensure the future of music education.

Below is a map of where the festival will take place: