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  • December 8, 2017

    Bulletin Board: William Wyler, The Missing Picture, and Much More

    The Westerner
    Saturday, December 9
    Quad Cinema, 4:15pm

    Part of the series More Than Meets the Eye: William Wyler running from December 1 – December 13

    Famous for his epic film Ben-Hur, director William Wyler made dozens of silent Westerns before the advent of sound in film. Wyler returned to the genre with sound in 1940 with The Westerner. Gary Cooper plays a classic cowboy drifter in The Westerner, but the highlight of the film is Walter Brennan’s performance as Judge Roy Bean, which won him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Bean claims to be bringing justice and law to the post-Civil War West, but he appears to be a corrupt tyrant who pursues land and power, hanging those who disagree with him after mock “trials.” When Harden (Cooper) is brought before the Judge accused of stealing a horse, the two men develop a mutual respect for one another. However, they continuously butt heads over the Judge’s crooked and anti-settler policies, and conflict brews between the outlaws of the old West and the encroaching homesteaders and lawmen of the new West.

    Quad Cinema celebrates the almost fifty-year career of director William Wyler. This week you can also see: The Desperate Hours (December 7, 4:15pm and December 8, 9:05pm); Dodsworth (December 7, 6:35pm); Mrs. Miniver (December 7, 8:45pm); Carrie (December 8, 4:30); Detective Story (December 8, 6:55pm); The Children’s Hour (December 9, 8:30pm); These Three (December 9, 6:25pm); Ben-Hur (December 10, 1pm); The Collector (December 10, 7:30pm and December 13, 4pm); The Heiress (December 10, 5:10pm); Jezebel (December 11, 4:15pm); The Liberation of L.B. Jones (December 11, 8:50pm); The Little Foxes (December 11, 6:30pm); and How to Steal a Million (December 12, 4pm).

    Touki Bouki and A Thousand Suns
    Sunday, December 10
    Film Society at Lincoln Center, 5:30pm

    Part of the Non-Actor series running from November 24 – December 10

    Touki Bouki is a West African coming-of-age film by Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty. Few African-made films receive international attention, but Touki Bouki was shown at Cannes Film Festival in 1973 and has been preserved by the World Cinema Foundation. Touki Bouki portrays the hybrid nature of post-colonial Senegal, caught between Western modernity and Senegalese tradition. The conflicted generation of the 1970s is characterized by Mory (Magaye Niang), a cowherd, and Anta (Mareme Niang), a university student, who meet in Dakar and dream of living in France but are separated from their fantasies by their troubled pasts.

    A Thousand Suns is a companion documentary to Touki Bouki. Mati Diop, Mambéty’s niece, is the filmmaker, and she follows actor Magaye Niang forty years after Touki Bouki’s release. The documentary reveals the similarities between Niang’s adult life and the character he played on screen as a young man.

    Roman Holiday and Summertime Double Feature
    Sunday, December 10
    Film Forum, 1:20pm/3:40pm and 5:40pm/8:00pm

    Part of the series Roman Hollywood: American Movies Go to Italy, running from December 6 – December 21

    In its series Roman Hollywood, Film Forum presents over a dozen American movies either filmed in Italy or involved in Italian culture. Roman Holiday and Summertime are 1950s-era romances featuring the beautiful scenery of Rome and Venice respectively. Roman Holiday stars Audrey Hepburn as a European princess who rebels against her stifling lifestyle to explore the streets of Rome. There she meets an American expat (Gregory Peck) who shows her the sights of the city and helps her escape her responsibilities for a short while. In Summertime, Venice provides a romantic setting for a budding affair between a vacationing secretary (Katharine Hepburn) and an Italian shop owner (Rossano Brazzi). Film Forum is showing these films as a double feature on December 10, so you can see both movies for the price of one admission.

    The Missing Picture
    Tuesday, December 12
    BAMcinématek Peter Jay Sharp Building, 7pm

    Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Rithy Panh, moderated by Chi-hui Yang of the Ford Foundation

    The Missing Picture is a powerful memoir that has received international attention for its raw portrayal of the Khmer Rouge rule over Cambodia. Panh reflects on his childhood living under the genocidal regime through poignant voiceover and illustrates the struggles of ordinary Cambodians using intricate clay figurines and dioramas. The film combines archival footage and photographs with Panh’s poetic narration and unique clay figures, developing an emotional story about humanizing those victims determined by the Khmer Rouge to be inhuman. The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Panh.

    Z
    Tuesday, December 12
    French Institute Alliance Française, 4pm and 7:30pm

    Winner of the 1969 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Z is an intense political thriller made to condemn the fascist military regime ruling Greece in the 1960s. Based on the true assassination of a Greek politician, the film portrays the murder of a politician by right-wing militants and the subsequent investigation by a magistrate and a journalist, who are constantly blocked by the right-wing military government.

    Both screenings will be followed by receptions with complimentary wine and beer, and the 7:30pm screening will be introduced by film professor Annette Insdorf, who will be signing her new book Cinematic Overtures: How to Read Opening Scenes during the reception following the film.

    Goth(ic)
    Series, December 1 – December 31
    Metrograph, various times

    This month-long Metrograph series features films that inspire and celebrate goth subculture, from the classic horror film Nosferatu to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. This week’s showings includes Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski’s 1968 thriller about a pregnant woman berated by a Satanic cult (December 8, 4:15pm and 9:00pm). On December 9 at 8:45pm you can watch Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a horror based on the novel of the same name. The star-studded cast includes Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Gary Oldman as Dracula, and Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing.

    Also showing this week as part of the Goth(ic) series are: Vampire Hunter D (December 8, 7pm and 9pm); The Innocents (December 9, 1:15pm); Spider Baby (December 9, 1:30pm); Cemetery Man (December 9, 3:30pm); Corman’s House of Usher and Epstein’s The Fall of the House of Usher (December 9, 6pm); Possession (December 9, 6pm); The Haunting (December 10, 1pm and 5:15pm); The Devil Rides Out (December 10, 1:15pm); Fascination (December 10, 3:15pm); Nosferatu the Vampyre (December 10, 3:15pm and 7:30pm); and Gothic (December 10, 5:30pm and 9:45pm).

    The 70th Anniversary of Polish Animation
    Series, December 8 – December 10
    Anthology Film Archives, December 8, 9, 10 at 7:30pm

    Polish animated films have a rich history expanding back to World War II. This series, curated by Adriana Prodeus, presents films from the 1950s to the 1980s in three thematic programs highlighting the Golden Age of Polish animation. Censorship under communism was not enough of a barrier for the creative minds of the animators, who used crafty metaphors and wry satire to discuss politics. This era of Polish animation included not only two-dimensional drawings but also elaborate art forms such as puppetry, stop-motion, and a mixture of filmed reality and animation.

    Prime Lois Smith
    Series, December 12 – 14
    Quad Cinema, various times

    Culminates in a showing of Marjorie Prime on December 14, 6:45pm and a Q&A with Lois Smith

    Fans of actress Lois Smith should not miss this series held at Quad Cinema. Smith will be appearing several times throughout the series for Q&As and introductions. Quad Cinema will be presenting four films from her early career and finish the series with this year’s brilliant Marjorie Prime. On December 12 at 6:30pm, watch Smith’s film debut East of Eden, in which Smith played opposite James Dean. The film will be accompanied by a Q&A with Smith. Afterwards, Smith will introduce Next Stop, Greenwich Village at 9:15pm.

    On December 13 at 6:30pm and December 14 at 9:10pm you can see her acclaimed role in Five Easy Pieces, and the December 13 showing will have a Q&A with the actress. Later that night at 9:05pm, Smith will introduce the film Foxes, in which she plays an overprotective mother to a rebellious teenager. Finally, the series will end on December 14 at 6:45pm with Marjorie Prime, an emotional portrayal of a woman with dementia who seeks comfort in a holographic projection of her dead husband. This final film will be presented with a Q&A with Smith.

     

    By Susan Bitter

     

  • June 23, 2017

    Staff Pick: BAMcinemaFest 2017

    Gemini

    This week brings the start of BAMcinématek’s ninth annual BAMcinemaFest, a consistently bright spot in New York City festival programming. With an ambitious (and eclectic) lineup featuring premieres from both new and familiar figures in independent cinema, this year’s festival opened last night with Aaron Katz’s suspenseful new film, Gemini, and will run through June 25, closing with Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits.

    Golden Exits

    En el Séptimo Día

    For those familiar with the area surrounding BAM, Perry’s Golden Exits feels a bit like a homecoming. Shot in the adjacent neighborhood of Park Slope, the film captures the distinct burnt reds and browns of the area’s architecture with textural accuracy, providing a lolling backdrop to the mental and spatial anxiety that courses through the narrative. This sense of space also helps to ground the film’s vaguely-related characters as they work through a disturbance that comes by the way of a young Australian assistant (Emily Browning). As an outsider, Browning’s character reveals the tenuous connections between the rest of the ensemble, which includes Adam Horowitz, Jason Schwartzman, Mary Louise Parker, Lily Rabe, Analeigh Tipton, and Chloë Sevigny (in addition to a cameo by NYC programmer Jake Perlin). The result is as unnerving as it is humorous.

    Presenting a different side of Brooklyn is Jim McKay’s En el Séptimo Día, the festival’s centerpiece and McKay’s first feature in north of a decade. Following a group of undocumented workers from Puebla, Mexico in the days leading up to soccer championship, the film is set between Brooklyn’s Sunset Park and Carroll Gardens, establishing a subtle contrast between the moneyed patrons of the restaurant where Jose (the film’s main character) works and the members of his team. The film’s sensitive, and often funny, portrayal of how the characters navigate their daily struggles being undocumented workers far away from their families reveals the vital role of community.

    Landline

    Columbus

    A Spotlight selection alongside David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, Gillian Robespierre’s Landline takes us across the East River to Manhattan, where sisters Dana and Ali (Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn, respectively) deal with infidelity and familial bonds. A comedy set in the 1990’s, the film engages place in the more abstract notion of home—both in its evocation of another place in time (populated, as the title suggests, plenty of landline phones—long, curly cords included) and Dana’s return to her childhood home. A tender observation how relationships change over time, Robespierre’s treatment of sisterhood and family foils the domestic partnerships in the film in a way that speaks to how we idealize such bonds, often failing to take into account the possibility of all-too-human shortcomings. Finn Wittrock, John Turturro, Edie Falco, and Jay Duplass round out the cast.

    But lest I lead you to think all of the festival’s films are New York-centric, there are several standouts, including Gemini, that feature other locales. Take for example, Kogonada’s stunning feature film debut, Columbus, which takes place in the architecturally rich town of Columbus, Indiana. The mastermind behind the Supercut video essays, Kogonada turns his talents toward the small, Midwestern town that is known for holding great examples of modernist architecture from designers such as Eero Saarinen and I. M. Pei. Here, Columbus, too, uses place as a way to further the examination of identity, making the film—though set in a very specific (and strange) place—feel universal.

    You can find a full list of films here. Be sure to look out for dates featuring Q&As with special guests.

    Brittany Stigler

     

  • June 9, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Night School, Varda, and Dietrich

    Night School
    Opens June 9
    IFC, various times
    *Q&A with director Andrew Cohn Friday, June 9, 6PM; Saturday, June 10, 4:05 PM and 6PM; Sunday, June 11, 4:05 PM*

    If you had a second chance, would you take it even if it meant doing what seems impossible? Andrew Cohn’s new documentary Night School addresses this question by following the lives of three Indianapolis residents as they balance the struggles of daily life with earning a high school diploma as adults. Structured around an upcoming exit exam that determines whether or not they will graduate, the film weaves in and out of the personal and academic lives of Greg, Melissa, and Shynika to show the circumstances that led them to drop out of high school in the first place, the challenges that they must face in their present situations to complete their degree, and what they stand to gain as a result.

    Marlene
    June 9, 12, 13
    Metrograph, various times

    Screening as part of Metrograph’s series, Marlene, Maximilian Schell’s unusual documentary of the same name came after adamant refusals on the part of its subject, Marlene Dietrich. A result of much persistence on the behalf of Schell, Dietrich finally agreed to participate in the film with the caveat that she would only appear in voiceover. Though she was contracted, as Dietrich reminds Schell in his interview, to do “40 hours of talking,” the recording that makes its way into the final cut often includes Dietrich refusing to answer her Judgment at Nuremberg co-star’s questions, noting that much of what he seeks is in her book. For his part, Schell paired the audio with stills and clips from her expansive career to create an enigmatic portrait of the star.

    Varda in California
    Runs through June 13
    BAMcinématek, various times

    Now in its final weekend, BAMcinématek’s Varda in California series showcases films from the period French New Wave director Agnès Varda spent in California. Taken as snapshots of time and place from the outside, Varda’s treatment of California ranges from the political (Black Panthers (1968)) to undeniably loopy (Lions Love (…and Lies) (1969)) and the personal (Uncle Yanco (1967) (her first American film)). There’s still time to catch all of the films from the series this weekend, which includes Lions Love (…and Lies), Mur Murs, Black Panthers, Documenteur, Uncle Yanco, and Model Shop (directed by her late husband and filmmaker Jacques Demy).

  • March 23, 2017

    Bulletin Board: David Lynch, Raw, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The 400 Blows

    By Meredith Coleman

    Blue Velvet

    Blue Velvet

    Staff Favorite: The Films of David Lynch
    IFC Center
    March 24th– April 6th (various films and times)

    Starting on March 24th, the IFC Center is celebrating the director David Lynch with a retrospective of his films. Lynch’s films stay with you. He creates these scenes, these memorable moments, which linger and replay in the mind. For this Bulletin Board, I thought I would focus on two of my favorite films of his that will be showing during this retrospective.

    Blue Velvet (March 24th– April 3rd, various times)

    In Blue Velvet, we are taken below the surface, below a falsely perfect picture of suburbia. The opening idyllic scenes of suburban life, with the bright roses blooming, the fireman waving hello, the kids crossing the street, disintegrate as we zoom in, go underneath the ground, and uncover the mysteries hidden beneath the outward superficial shows of perfection. Blue Velvet is a memorable, intense film that is very much worth seeing.

    Mulholland Dr. (March 25th– 31st, various times)

    After I saw this film for the first time, I immediately wanted to see it again. Rather than have a traditional linear narrative, in Mulholland Dr., this kind of linearity disappears. There is a complete lack of continuity, with you, as a viewer, being left not knowing exactly what is reality and what isn’t as you watch the film. And this is what makes it so compelling and thrilling to watch.

    I really recommend going to see one of these films, or both, at the IFC Center!

    Raw

    Raw

    Raw
    Angelika Film Center
    (various times)

    This film has been getting quite a lot of attention. I mean, it is a film that made people faint when watching it. The film is about a vegetarian starting veterinary school, but when she is there, faced with hazing rituals, she eats raw meat for the first time, and something happens…she begins to desire human flesh.

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    Rubin Museum of Art
    March 24th at 9:30PM

    What would happen if you could erase your memories? If you could undergo a procedure that wipes out your recollections of a past relationship, making those you might’ve once, or still, care about disappear from your mind? Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind addresses this question. It is a thought-provoking, beautiful film that explores loss, love, and what it means to forget.

    The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows

    The 400 Blows
    Film Society of Lincoln Center
    March 29th at 2:30PM

    The 400 Blows is a key example of the French New Wave, a movement that included filmmakers such as François Truffaut, as well as Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Eric Rohmer, amongst many others. The film tells the story of Antoine Doinel, a young adolescent growing up in Paris, who is regarded as a troublemaker by many of the adults around him. The 400 Blows is one of those films that everybody should see at least once.

  • March 17, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Landscapes and New Horizons

    Still from Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    Still from Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    The Prison in Twelve Landscapes / The Illinois Parables
    Museum of the Moving Image
    Sunday, March 19, 6:30 PM

    Screening as part of New Adventures in Nonfiction
    Brett Story in person for The Prison in Twelve Landscapes

    If we were to crack open our country’s landscapes, we would find a record of human progress mixed with, as both Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes and Deborah Stratman’s The Illinois Parables suggest, a history stained by actions taken against each other. While the use of geographic space as a way of exploring abstract powers—such as the prison industrial complex, racism, and colonialism, to name a few—grounds both of these films, the double billing reveals the adaptability of the landscape as a cinematic device. Here, where Stratman’s exploration of landscape and politics approaches inquiry through the poetics of space, Story appears to use the landscape as a way of reflecting the rippling effects of both physical and metaphorical prisons. Differences be what they may, taken together, the films’ use of landscape is an important reminder that we all share this country—even if, at times, the only connective tissue we can seem to find is the actual ground we walk on.

    Still from Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women

    Still from Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women

    Certain Women / Meek’s Cutoff
    Metrograph
    Saturday, March 18, 6:45PM and 9:00PM

    Screening as part of the series Kelly Reichardt
    Kelly Reichardt in person for both films

    Speaking of landscapes, Kelly Reichardt’s use of the American landscapes factors largely into her recent film, Certain Women. Based on series of short stories by Maile Meloy, the film divides into three sections to portray the lives of women in the contemporary west. What results is a thoughtful meditation on relationships, routine, and the smaller aspects of life that weave together to create the far-stretching webs that connect individuals. Certain Women will follow a screening of Reichardt’s devastating tale of survival, Meek’s Cutoff.

    Still from Guy Defa’s Person to Person

    Still from Guy Defa’s Person to Person

    New Directors / New Films 2017
    MoMA and Film Society of Lincoln Center
    Running through March 26

    Celebrating its 46th run, MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films 2017 features a diverse selection of films from an impressive roster of emerging filmmakers. This year’s festival opened with Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$, which follows a young, aspiring rapper from New Jersey. Dustin Guy Defa’s Person to Person, a short film-turned-feature that paints a portrait of New York City through the lives of 42 characters, will close the series.

    New Directors/New Films runs from March 15—26. For tickets click here

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