Dune.jpg

Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Kyle McLachlan stars as Paul Atreides in David Lynch’s 1984 version of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune.’ 

Dune (1984)
Tempo grade: B+
TCA Drive-in
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sci-fi action and drug use.
 
Even today, film director David Lynch is still distancing himself from “Dune” (1984). According to a media report, he has stated he doesn’t even have any desire to see Denis Villenueve’s highly anticipated remake due for release later this month. His version was just too painful an experience.
 
While that may be true from his point of view, the film offers little to hint at the backstage turmoil. The adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 epic novel, the first of several based upon the power struggles and intrigue between warring royal families in the distant future, is itself epic as it brings to life the author’s sprawling and complex tale. But, even its most devoted fans agree Lynch’s film is a masterpiece that is deeply flawed.
 
The story takes place in the year 10,191, and while it is technically science fiction, there are enough fantasy elements for some critics to compare this to sword-and-sorcery novels. The setting is the known universe, which is ruled by the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV (José Ferrer) of the planet Kaitain. Here, among the worlds under his rule, a powerful spice melange has become vital to commerce for its drug-like effects on spacecraft pilots. 
 
The effects enable the pilots, called steersmen, to “fold space,” that is, to make space travel across light years possible without moving. This spice, which also extends life and enhances paranormal abilities, is only produced on the highly inhospitable desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. As such, it has become a pawn in the cold war between the emperor and the royal House of Atriedes of the water-rich planet Caladan. 
 
Needling the intrigue between these forces is the mystical Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, a generational order that has used extrasensory abilities, genetic manipulation, and prophesies to shape a religion with great influence throughout all politics and society. 
 
The emperor, advised that a plot may be underfoot to disrupt spice production by the House of Atreides, engages with the decrepit House of Harkonnen of the planet Giedi Prime to commit an assassination while Duke Leto Atreides (Jürgen Prochnow) is on a royal family visit to Arrakis/ Dune. The emperor, however, is puzzled by a secret report of the spacing guild that it is Leto’s son, Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan), who should be killed.
 
Oh, yes, the spice is guarded by gigantic sand worms and a surprisingly huge population of indigenous tribesmen called fremen. If you’ve never seen this movie, and that’s quite possible because it’s been 37 years  since it was first screened, you may find the story heavy with symbolism and characters spouting lines rich with portent. But, that’s the way Herbert wrote it and why it’s became a near-instant classic of the genre. It also presages elements of politics, religion and society with which we’re embroiled today. 
 
Interestingly, an ambitious version of “Dune,” which was undertaken by Chilean cult director Alejandro Jodorosky, nearly took Lynch’s place were it not for funding and a wildly surreal cinematic design. If you’re interested, find “Jodorosky’s Dune” on YouTube.  
 
On a personal note, I had an opportunity to appear in a film with one of the stars, Richard Jordan (“Rooster Cogburn”), who plays Duncan Idaho. I also got to interview Robert Dean Stockwell (Dr. Wellington Yueh) several times for stories in the Taos News. And, although I never met him in person, rock singer Sting (Feyd Rautha) appeared on stage in Kit Carson Park for a Labor Day 2019 concert in Taos.
 
“Dune” is being screened Friday (Oct. 1), 7:15 p.m., at the Taos Center for the Arts’ Drive-in behind the Taos Community Auditorium at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. 
 
Also showing at Movies on the Big Screen, inside the TCA
 
Falling for Figaro
From director and co-writer Ben Lewin: A brilliant young fund manager leaves her unfulfilling job and long-term boyfriend to chase her lifelong dream of becoming an opera singer in the Scottish Highlands. Stars Gary Lewis, Joanna Lumley, Danielle Macdinald, and Hugh Skinner. Not rated. This film will be screened Saturday (Oct. 2) and Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.
 
The Lost Leonardo 
This documentary from Andrew Koefoed is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi's fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do the questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? Unravelling the hidden agendas of the richest men and the most powerful art institutions in the world, “The Lost Leonardo” reveals how vested interests in the Salvator Mundi are of such tremendous power that truth becomes secondary. Rated PG-13 for nude art images. This film will be screened Sunday (Oct. 3).
 
Mogul Mowgli
From director Bassam Tariq, and writers Riz Ahmen and Tariq, comes this drama of a British Pakistani rapper is on the cusp of his first world tour, but is struck down by an illness that threatens to derail his big break. Not rated. This film will be screened Wednesday (Oct. 6)
 
For tickets and additional information about Taos Center for the Arts film screenings, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.
 
Now showing at the Storyteller 7 Cinema
 
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Tempo grade: Not previewed
Storyteller 7 Cinemas
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references.
 
Tom Hardy returns to the big screen as the lethal protector Venom, one of Marvel's most complex characters. Directed by Andy Serkis, the film also stars Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris and Woody Harrelson, in the role of the villain Cletus Kasady/Carnage.
 
The Addams Family 2
Tempo grade: Not previewed
Storyteller 7 Cinemas
Rated PG for macabre and rude humor, violence and language.
 
Everyone's favorite spooky family is back in this animated comedy sequel directed by Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, and Laura Brousseau. In this all new movie we find Morticia (voiced by Charlize Theron) and Gomez (Oscar Isaac) distraught that their children are growing up, skipping family dinners, and totally consumed with "scream time." 
 
To reclaim their bond they decide to cram Wednesday (Chloë Grace Moretz), Pugsley (Javon Walton), Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) and the crew into their haunted camper and hit the road for one last miserable family vacation. Their adventure across America takes them out of their element and into hilarious run-ins with their iconic cousin, It, as well as many new kooky characters. What could possibly go wrong? 
 
Sopranos: The Many Saints of Newark
Tempo grade: Not previewed
Storyteller 7 Cinemas
Rated R for strong violence, pervasive language, sexual content and some nudity.
 
Young Anthony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) is growing up in one of the most tumultuous eras in Newark's history, becoming a man just as rival gangsters begin to rise up and challenge the all-powerful DiMeo crime family's hold over the increasingly race-torn city. 
 
Caught up in the changing times is the uncle he idolizes, Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola), who struggles to manage both his professional and personal responsibilities and whose influence over his nephew will help make the impressionable teenager into the all-powerful mob boss we'll later come to know: Tony Soprano. Co-stars Ray Liotta, Corey Stoll, John Bernthal, Michaela De Rossi, and Michael Imperioli.
 
The Mitchell Theaters Storyteller 7 Cinemas are open seven days a week and, in compliance with New Mexico Department of Health order, all patrons are required to wear masks when not eating or drinking on the premises. Location is 110 Old Talpa Cañon Road in Taos. For tickets, other screenings and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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