I dropped by the American Cinematheque last night for the kickoff of Martin Lewis‘s “Mods and Rockers” festival, which runs between now and August 1st. The outdoor courtyard (where I took some snaps) was a lively scene, and the auditorium was packed. I saw some friendly familiar faces milling around — Sidney Kimmel exec Bingham Ray, director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, In Her Shoes) and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass.

“Mods and Rockers” festival director Martin Lewis in the Egyptian-styled courtyard of the American Cinematheque — Friday, 7.13.07, 7:15 pm; Sunset Blvd. adjacent to Cinerama Dome — Friday, 7.13.07, 9:25 pm.

The festival opener was Alfred and David MayslesWhat’s Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A., an underwhelming 81-minute assemblage that follows the British group during their first tour in February 1964. A version of the doc has been issued on DVD in an Apple-produced compilation called “The Beatles First U.S. Visit”; there’s another DVD that intercuts portions of the doc with clips from the group’s three Ed Sullivan Show appearances.
The Maysles doc minus the Sullivan material (i.e., the version shown last night) is too often flat, muddy-looking and borderline boring. The shooting and editing choices were putting me to sleep. Why didn’ t the Maysles shoot the famous first press conference at JFK? Did they run out of film? The doc has some interesting material — fooling around on a southward-bound train, dancing in a Manhattan club — but I wanted to leave after a half hour or so.
Lewis is writing daily blog entries about the festival on The Huffington Post. Other guests and friends are filing also.
Jett and I will attend tonight’s 6 pm showing of Rob Scheinfeld‘s sad-sack Harry Nilsson doc — a great portrait of a gifted and brilliant singer-songwriter who couldn’t contain an asshole-ian self-destructive streak. There’s a “Mods and Rockers” drinking room in the rear of the Pig ‘n’ Whistle that’s right next to the theatre; carefully selected ’60s and ’70s music will be playing before and after shows.