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Jason Reitman at the New Beverly

Jason Reitman at the New Beverly (photo)

After directing a favorite for this year's Oscars, Jason Reitman programs some of his in L.A.

Forgive Jason Reitman if he can’t remember exactly how it came about that he would be guest programming the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. Even though he can easily recall first stepping inside the repertory shrine for a program of Alfred Hitchcock miscellany including WWII propaganda shorts and the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episode “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” when he was 16, these are busy times for the writer/director, who has either been shuttling around town collecting awards for “Up in the Air” or holed up adapting Joyce Maynard’s novel “Labor Day” in recent months. Still, he’s taking a break to show some of his favorite films this week at the theater, and introducing each double feature on first night they show. He also found the time to tell us about his choices, so even if you aren’t in L.A. this week, you can get a prime the pump for watching them at home.

02152010_BuellerElection.jpgJohn Hughes’ “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and Alexander Payne’s “Election” (February 19 & 20)

First, I think “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is kind of a perfect movie and in particular, “Election” is a film that deeply influenced me and I just thought it would be interesting to see Matthew Broderick as student versus Matthew Broderick as teacher, not to mention Matthew Broderick in control of the world versus Matthew Broderick [with] the world in control of him. I think they’re oddly perfect two sides of the same coin, in which in “Ferris Bueller” we see the world as hopeful as it gets – that last year of high school when there is opportunity in anything, and then “Election” is about the opposing moment when you realize this is it. “Ferris Bueller” is a movie about there being no ceiling and “Election” seems to be a movie about touching the ceiling for the first time. Or banging your head on it.

02152010_BoogieShampoo.jpgHal Ashby’s “Shampoo” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights” (February 21 & 22)

“Boogie Nights” is a film that I saw at the Beverly Center for the first time at their first test screening and I saw the long version and that was a movie where I saw it and thought, wow, everything’s about to change. And “Shampoo” is a film that had an extraordinary influence on me as well, just in how I tell stories. I think “Up in the Air” is me desperately trying to make my “Shampoo” and I just thought they oddly went together. I think of Wahlberg’s character and Beatty’s character as interesting parallels. Oddly, now that I’m looking at all of my double features, I have to do with comparing the main characters. That there’s interesting line between the stars. Looking at “Boogie Nights” and “Shampoo,” there’s this inexplicable connection between their main characters and their ability to woo women that in a strange way their knack for romance is also their albatross.

02152010_BreakingBottle.jpgPeter Yates’ “Breaking Away” and Wes Anderson’s “Bottle Rocket” (February 24 & 25)

In the case of “Bottle Rocket” and “Breaking Away,” they’re my two favorite movies about misunderstood youth. They’re both about groups of guys in their late teens, early twenties who have been kind of cast aside and are trying to figure it out. I think it’s the [double feature] that excites me the most. It’s funny, I find a lot of people haven’t seen “Breaking Away” or haven’t seen it in a long time and I saw it recently, maybe a year or two ago, and I was struck by how perfect it is. It’s a movie without a false note and the actors are perfect. All four of those guys are just impeccable in it and it takes a world that people [ordinarily] don’t have access to, Suburban town in Indiana and yet has all these accessible ideas. And it speaks to the idea of our hopes and dreams and perhaps the moment where we’re let down. I suppose that’s in all six films that I’m showing and I guess it’s an important idea to me because it runs throughout my films as well — that moment of awakening and whether you acknowledge it or not.

If you live in the L.A. area, tickets are still available for Jason Reitman’s guest programming stint at the New Beverly with double features of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Election” (Feb. 19-20), “Shampoo” and “Boogie Nights” (Feb. 21-22), and “Breaking Away” and “Bottle Rocket” (Feb. 24-25).

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