I was planning to share some off-the-cuff remarks before Monday night’s Bedford Playhouse screening of Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon (Paramount, 12.23).

The special-event showing, courtesy of Paramount, kicks off Bedford Marquee, a new program that will occasionally showcase exciting new films two or three weeks before their release, and will include post-screening discussions when feasible.

Babylon began on time and all went well, but I couldn’t attend because of my Covid situation. I’m currently feeling fine with an 98.4 temperature, but it would have been cavalier to mingle. So early Monday afternoon I recorded some of the thoughts I would’ve shared live, transferred the eight minute and 45 second file to Vimeo and sent it to Bedford Playhouse bros Dan Friedman and Robert Harris.

I was told they might not be able to squeeze it in due to the fact that the film is on a specially encrypted DCP that can only be tested and played within a limited time frame. The DCP only arrived yesterday, due to bad weather and other delay factors and accompanied by bouts of anxiety and uncertainty — not unsual if you know anything about the workings of UPS and DHL.

Either way it was extremely cool of Paramount to allow us to present this herculean effort by director-writer Damien Chazelle, which I saw three or four weeks ago in Manhattan.

The next Bedford Marquee attraction will be a two-for-one deal — a mid-January screening of the recently restored Invaders From Mars (’53) along with a master-class from restoration master Scott MacQueen about the film’s exquisite visual transformation as well as a discussion of the film’s impact upon the sci-fi genre and how it reflected American culture and cold-war paranoia.

Inventively directed and impressionistically designed by the great William Cameron Menzies, Invaders From Mars is hands down the spookiest, most unsettling flying saucer film of the 1950s, due in no small measure to that eerie vocal-choir score by the unsung Mort Glickman.

Aside from the mildly distressing fact that I don’t look like I did 15 or 20 years ago, I’m okay with the video. Yes, I would prefer to wear amber-tinted shades a la Jack Nicholson but the red-frame, gray-tint ones are passable.