To Save and Project
For both cinephiles and sentimentalists alike, the Museum of Modern Art’s annual international festival “To Save and Project” is an indispensable cinema event that celebrates the continued efforts and triumphs of the MoMA’s film preservation initiative. Now in its 13th year, the festival, running November 4th through the 25th, presents a packed slate of around 75 newly preserved and restored films, many of which will be seen for the first time in New York City since the film’s initial theatrical release.
Constituting a sizable portion of this year’s lineup, “The Unknown Orson Welles” perhaps offers the most highly anticipated moments of the festival. Introduced by Munich Filmmuseum director Stefan Droessler, the program features an illustrated lecture of Welles’s Shakespeare adaptations, complete with ephemera and a reconstruction of Welles’s unfinished television special of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, along with his proposal for KING LEAR; scenes from THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND; and a new version of JOURNEY INTO FEAR, which includes footage previously only seen by European audiences.
While the festival may center on lost Welles material, for many, its heart lies in the programming surrounding the indomitable force of cinema genius, Chantal Akerman. In remembrance of the late filmmaker, cinematographer Babette Mangolte and Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique director Nicola Mazzanti will introduce a digital restoration of Akerman’s masterpiece, JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BUXELLES. Additionally will present JE TU IL ELLE and SAUTE MA VILLE, which Mazzanti, in addition to JEANNE DIELMAN, worked closely with Akerman to restore.
If taking up temporary residency in the MoMA’s The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters is not an option for you, here are my top three films to check out this week:
Photo: Profondo rosso (Deep Red). 1975. Italy. Directed by Dario Argento. Courtesy CSC–Cineteca Nazionale / RTI-Mediaset
SHAMPOO (1975), USA
Directed by Hal Ashby, with screenplay by Robert Towne and Warren Beatty.
Friday, November 6, 8:30 PM
With the unruly 1968 presidential election that ultimately brought Nixon into office as a backdrop, this post-Watergate social satire stars Warren Beatty as a restless Beverly Hills hairdresser who has an uncontrollable sexual hunger for his clientele. Presented as a 40th anniversary restoration, with introduction by Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
PROFONDO ROSSO (DEEP RED) [original Italian release version] (1975), Italy
Directed by Dario Argento, with screenplay by Argento and Bernardino Zapponi.
Sunday, November 8, 5:00 PM
Following his trilogy of Italian gialloi films, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, THE CAT O’NINE TAILS, and FOUR FLIES ON GRAY VELVET, Italian director Dario Argento’s PROFONDO ROSSO (DEEP RED) further solidified Argento as a master of physiological horror. Argento’s jarring and highly stylized cinematography work to hypnotize the audience as the story follows David Hemmings through a series of murders that unfold while he attempts to solve what he believes to be the murder of his psychic neighbor. Restored digitally by the CSC-Cineteca Nazionale with the collaboration of RTI-Mediaset.
LIMITE (1931), Brazil
Written and directed by Mário Peixoto.
Wednesday, November 11, 4:00 PM and Thursday, November 12, 6:45 PM
Until recently, LIMITE, the only film of the renowned Brazilian director Mário Peixoto existed to the public exclusively in badly worn prints; however, thanks to the meticulous work of The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in collaboration with Cinemateca Brasileira, Arquivo Mário Peixoto, and the contemporary Brazilian filmmaker Waler Salles, audiences may now enjoy Peixoto’s meditative cinema experiment as it was intended. Set to themes by Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, and others, Peixoto’s film works to disassociate itself from any sort of temporal reality, drifting instead into a dreamlike state.
This year’s festival is organized by Joshua Siegel and Dave Kehr. An entire schedule of screenings can be found at the MoMA’s website.
Museum of the Moving Image Series
Lonely Places: Film Noir and the American Landscape
November 13–December 20
Noir films contain a landscape that exists in living memory, not of an actual real-life experience for me, but of my earliest recollection of feeling genuinely moved by a movie. Most of the films I had seen in my formative years contained stories rooted in fantasy and imagination, and while entertaining, were also inaccessible at a certain point when I would halt midway down the rabbit-hole.
Film noir was different. It was physical. It was palpable: the reek of cigarette smoke, the cold of a dark alley, the shade of a silhouette, the grumble of a voiceover. The chance to view these movies again on the big screen would truly be a feast for the senses as well as a refresher of how a narrative from postwar America remains timeless in showing how violence and temptation corrupt any individual.
The Museum of the Moving Image provides such an opportunity with their upcoming series Lonely Places: Film Noir and the American Landscape, beginning Friday, November 13 with OUT OF THE PAST (1947). In this quintessential noir, Robert Mitchum’s character wanders through various physical environments as well as the troubled recesses of his own mind. Maybe he thought he was through with the past, but the past certainly isn’t through with him. Mitchum and the crime boss played by Kirk Douglas seem to be in an alpha-male face off, but it is really the femme fatale who pulls the strings.
For a noir with more of a suburban dynamic, you could see THE RECKLESS MOMENT (1949) on Saturday, November 14. In Max Ophuls’ final Hollywood film, Joan Bennett plays an all-American housewife remaining quietly emotional in the face of stoic James Mason and through increasingly desperate circumstances involving her family life. The pace and use of space in Ophuls’ long takes and mobile camera create slow burning suspense instead of melodramatic cliches.
The series runs on weekends until December 20 with 17 screenings of 15 different films from this long gone chapter of American cinema. Imogene Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City and guest curator at Museum of the Moving Image, organized the series.