It's entirely possible that the first time I ever saw Jack Nicholson was under a thick layer of makeup, as The Joker in Batman. I was a child of the 80's and as such I matured into a movie-goer mostly seeing Nicholson in Batman, and then A Few Good Men, and then a score of poor 90's movies (Mars Attacks!...in the theater). If I didn't at some point go back and view some of his more accomplished films, I might have written the guy off completely. After all, he has little aside from The Departed to speak of in the past decade - unless you're a fan of The Bucket List.
Which is why the young or the ignorant like me should appreciate the Trylon's August series, The Jack Nicholson Experience: 7 from the 70's. It brings us back to what most people would consider Nicholson's heyday, demanding that we respect him for the august actor that he once was. He was nominated for five Oscars during that decade, and you have the chance to see four of those performances in the comfy Trylon rocker seats this month. Even casual movie fans of an adult age have by now likely seen The Shining, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Chinatown (not being screened), and maybe even Five Easy Pieces or Easy Rider. But have you seen The King of Marvin Gardens, The Passenger, or The Last Detail? I have not, and for a first-time viewing experience you could do a lot worse than the classic 35mm projection at the Trylon (six of the seven will be projected in their glorious original format).
On the subject of viewing experiences, I can say with confidence that The Shining remains the most terrifying movie my horror-averse eyes have yet seen. Nicholson himself doesn't really make me quiver, but the combination of Kubrick's methodically slow cinematography, creepy twins, and an isolated setting have put me over the edge quite a few times. I'm so scared by this movie that in the half-dozen times that I've seen it I've never been able to watch what happens in Room 237. So if you somehow haven't seen it, consider this a ringing endorsement to enjoy The Shining in the company of 49 others at the Trylon next weekend. God be with you.
The full schedule:
FIVE EASY PIECES (Bob Rafelson, 1970)
7:00 PM & 9:00 PM (Fri/Sat); 5:00 & 7:00 PM (Sun)
"Oilfield roustabout/piano virtuoso Jack Nicholson gives a lesson in diner etiquette; alternates between trashy Karen Black and classy Susan Anspach; and tosses off a few easy pieces by Chopin. For this new restoration, Sony Pictures began with a 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative and the 35mm Separation Masters. Following an extensive digital restoration to repair torn frames, scratches and the removal of all dirt from the image, the restored files were recorded back to a new 35mm color negative, from which this new 35mm print was struck."
THE LAST DETAIL (Hal Ashby, 1975)
7:00 PM (Fri/Sun); 9:40 PM (Sat)
"Jack plays 'Badass' Buddusky, a hard-drinkin' hard-swingin' sailor who doesn't take shit from nobody. In case that's not enough to see this raucous, radical, and utterly poignant road movie from '70s icons Hal Ashby and Robert Towne, here's some more. Baddusky and partner 'Mule' Mulhall (Otis Young) are detailed to escorting whimpering kleptomaniac Meadows (played with tragic innocence by 23-year-old Randy Quaid) to the Navy Brig. Along the way, the crafty Buddusky schemes to make wise use of their per diem, hustling darts, slamming beers, and teaching the young punk a lesson or two."
THE SHINING (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
9:00 PM (Fri); 7:00 PM (Sat); 4:20 PM (Sun)
"“Heeeeere’s Johnny!” Struggling writer Jack Nicholson thinks isolation as the winter caretaker of the Overlook Hotel - with wife Shelley Duvall and son in tow - will crack that writer's block, but as his horrific visions proliferate and the elevator fills with blood, it's time for Duvall to get out the baseball bat."
THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS (Bob Rafelson, 1977)
7:00 PM (Fri/Sun); 9:25 PM (Sat)
"This dark and absurdly dead-pan odyssey follows morbidly down-beat DJ (Nicholson) in his ill-fated quest to help his hustler brother (Bruce Dern) close a real estate deal in Atlantic City. Nicholson's anti-Nicholson performance fits splendidly into the spectacle of big dreams dying painful slow deaths in the open air: A horribly awkward business dinner has everyone wearing monstrous Lobster Bibs, a Miss America pageant is staged in an empty stadium for an audience of four, and a large chunks of the famous boardwalk are tossed into a cleansing bonfire."
THE PASSENGER (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1977)
9:00 PM (Fri); 7:00 PM (Sat); 4:35 PM (Sun)
"Michelangelo Antonioni's existentialist mystery, about a man named David Locke (Nicholson), who steals the identity of a dead man. Lacking his usual hysterics, Nicholson drifts through the man's life, looking for... what?"
EASY RIDER (Dennis Hopper, 1969)
7:00 PM (Fri/Sun); 9:30 PM (Sat)
"Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda make one last dope deal to finance a cross-country bike trip, in the picture that shook up Hollywood. With Jack Nicholson vaulting to stardom as the small-town lawyer who turns on, tunes in and takes off."
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (Milos Forman, 1975)
8:50 PM (Fri); 7:00 PM (Sat); 4:10 PM (Sun)
"Nicholson's Randle Patrick McMurphy was the 70s rebel without a cause, a nonconformist extraordinaire raging against the machine. Cuckoo's Nest earned Jack his first Oscar."
And coming soon from Take-Up Productions...
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER: Before CGI: Six Sci-Fi Classics (@ the Heights)
The Trylon microcinema is located at:
3258 Minnehaha Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Info Line: 612.424.5468