Some may be familiar with Sam Beam as the singer/songwriter known as Iron and Wine. His music is deliberate and contemplative, yet you can feel the emotion behind every chord. I admit to having a passing familiarity with his work, which I heard for the first time in 2004's Garden State starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman. That song, "Such Great Heights," was part of a stellar soundtrack, and later appeared in a memorable M&Ms commercial. That proved to be just the tip of the iceberg for Beam, who has had music featured in "Grey's Anatomy," "Friday Night Lights," Paul Weitz's In Good Company (2004 film with Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace), Todd Haynes' I'm Not There (the unconventional biopic about Bob Dylan) and even (gulp) one of those Twilight movies.
But don't hold that against him.
Truth is, Sam Beam is somewhat of a modern Renaissance man. A former film studies professor, Beam still is known for his appreciation for the cinematic arts. Heck, the man even was selected by The Criterion Collection to present his personal top 10! He's even dabbled in directing, as he created the swoon-worthy yet torrential music video for The Swell Season's "Slow Rising."
And so, as an extension of his great taste, Iron and Wine has been selected to host a couple of films during the Summer Series. This year, we get to imbibe the cinema of Peter Bogdanovich, whose two films presented here have aged like a fine wine.
Paper Moon was probably the first Bogdanovich film I ever saw, way back during my early teens. A story about a con-man and a young girl (who may or my not be his daughter) during The Great Depression, it features real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. Their chemistry, needless to say is stellar. But just as impressive is Madeline Kahn in her role as Trixie Delight, a "harem dancer girl" that eventually tags along. With a name like that, you just gotta be an exotic dancer of some sort, am I right?
The trailer for Paper Moon is a bit unorthodox. Although at times it feels like an outtake reel, it still gives a sense of the movie's vibe and sharp humor.
For her debut performance in this picture, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest Oscar winner in history at age 10. Let me repeat that. Ten. Wow. At age ten I think I was somewhere still walking like an Egyptian and learning how to transform a toy robot into a cassette recorder.
And really, what more can be said about The Last Picture Show? Well, I for one said plenty about it last year. This film is simply amazing and authentic in its emotions. Who knew a story of complacency versus change in a small Texas community would reflect the human condition so strongly? Evidently, Bogdanovich did. The story of a town treading water to avoid drowning in its own malaise is filled with an amazing cast: Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Randy Quaid and Cybil Shepard (who never looked more beautiful).
Although captured perfectly here in a fictional Texan town, the loneliness depicted here isn't exclusive to the Lone Star state. Alas, it's definitely an American sensibility as well.
In his prime, Peter Bogdanovich was a young master of capturing sentiments and telling stories about people. And now, 40 years after The Last Picture Show, who better to host these two classics (where empathy and emotion are at play) than Iron and Wine himself, Sam Beam. A man whose music and artistic appreciation both runs deep and rings true. It promises to be an insightful couple of nights.
Like the most affecting of music, the greatest stories can be those where we recognize something about ourselves, and then can reveal the truisms you don't even realize. It's our choice to do with them what we please. Do we allow the narrow views to restrain our spirit like iron shackles? Or, per chance, do we let this new awareness broaden our horizons... letting them mature like that fine wine?
Showtimes for the films:
Wednesday, Jul 27th
The Last Picture Show
Thursday, Jul 28th
Final Note about the screening
"Hassle-free downtown parking available for $6 at the One American Center for all summer films! Since you’re also supporting the theatre when you buy parking, they're giving you a free small soda each time you park there for a film. Buy online with your film tix and print out your confirmation e-mail or buy directly from the garage attendant (cash only). Attendant will have your soda ticket as well."