Entertainment :: Movies

Target’s AFI Night at the Movies Brings Out the Stars

by Kevin Taft
Contributor
Monday Apr 29, 2013
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For the third year, Target and AFI joined forces for the "Target Presents - AFI Night at the Movies" event that took place on Apr. 25, 2013 at the Arclight Theatres in Hollywood. And what a star-studded night it was. With roster of twelve films being introduced by their stars, it was a night of classic cinema; a surprising admission in itself. Why? Because movies like "Steel Magnolias," "Pulp Fiction," and "Moonstruck" don’t necessarily bring the word "classic" to mind. But when you stop and think about it, even "Pulp Fiction" is nearly twenty years ago.

As the stars descended on the red carpet in front of the world famous Cinerama Dome, legendary film critic Leonard Maltin (who was on hand to introduce Cher to her fans seeing her Oscar-winning performance in "Moonstruck") discussed how we should be looking at the films that have defined generations. "’Moonstruck’ [came out] almost thirty years ago! We have to re-define what a classic is. [That’s] no small chunk of time. I think you can’t spend enough time revisiting and re-introducing those films."


Classics

Cher chimed in about why it’s important to bring these films to a new generation of filmgoers. "Because they are classics. Something that is classic is always good and it never dies and it has to be pushed down the line to kids." Iconic actor Harrison Ford had a similar thought saying that it offered "a perspective of where the business and the art of filmmaking came from."

Kurt Russell, whose career has moved easily between action, sci-fi, and comedy was thrilled to be on hand to introduce John Carpenter’s cult film, "The Thing," a movie not originally received well, but that has since grown into a one of the most respected horror films of its time. "It should have been regarded that way right from the get," he opined. "It had kind of a weak opening and the reviews and the critics were just confused by it. All they could say was how horrific is that thing. It was a different time. It was way ahead of its time in the way that it looked. The way it was executed. We knew it. It’s all John’s great work. I was just proud to be a part of it."

Other actors featured at the event were more comical about what they love about movies. Kathy Bates? "It’s nice to be here when you’re my age." Samuel L. Jackson? "Because I’m in them!" And Kevin Spacey? "I love that I get to make them."

But the night wasn’t just about the red carpet glamour; it was about movies that audiences have fallen in love with, and the chance to hear from the stars about what went on behind the scenes. Shirley MacLaine, who was greeted to a standing ovation and a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" as it was her 79th, gave the audience seeing her Academy Award winning turn in "Terms of Endearment" some dishy dirt.


It’s no secret that she and co-star Debra Winger didn’t get along on the set. So the audience knowingly chuckled when she started talking about a scene in which she and Jack Nicholson were in bed.

"Debra, God rest her soul, had been in the hospital. I won’t tell you why." Under her breath she added, "Although it was really interesting." She continued, "We’re in the bed. The crew is all there. I hadn’t come early. Neither had Jack. We get into the bed. Jim [L. Brooks] says ’action.’" (Dramatic pause.) "And Debra is under the covers at our feet. Going ’up’ on both of us. It was such a surprise that I went into my dancer’s mentality and said ’whatever happens I have to be disciplined to the scene. I have to remember my lines. It doesn’t matter what’s going on under the covers.’ If you look really carefully at that scene," she remarked with a glimmer in her eye, "you will see slight movement."

For fans, "Target Presents - AFI Night at the Movies" is a once in a lifetime event where regular folk can mingle with the stars in one of the best theatres in the country. It’s also a time to reflect on filmmaking. For some of us, looking at the show-time board and seeing so many classics shining down was incredibly nostalgic. For others it was a chance to see for the first time what a new kind of Golden Age of cinema was like, how far it’s come (or not come), and where it will go.


Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to ’Star Wars’ and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg. He can be seen in the flesh on the weekly PBS movie review series "Just Seen It."

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