A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Metrograph's January and February 2018 Repertory Calendar Announced
Opens January 5
Max Ophüls x 7
The accepted wisdom that high style and grand emotion are somehow antithetical is given lie to by the sublime cinema of Max Ophüls, in which the two walk happily hand in hand. An international filmmaker whose career took him all over Europe, through Hollywood, and back to Paris before his premature death in 1957, Ophüls was a sensitive director of actors whose frame moved with peerless, sweeping grace. (“A shot that does not call for tracks/ Is agony for poor old Max” wrote his friend, James Mason, in a bit of doggerel poetry.) No less a virtuoso than Stanley Kubrick called him master when discussing his personal canon in 1963, stating “Highest of all I would rate Max Ophuls, who for me possessed every possible quality.” Titles include From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940), The Exile (1947), The Earrings of Madame de... (1953), There's No Tomorrow (1939), Lola Montés (1955), Caught (1949), The Reckless Moment (1949), and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948). All 35mm.
Opens January 12
Swede Arne Sucksdorff was the natural inheritor of the lyrical Flaherty tradition in nonfiction, a maker of often nature-oriented documentaries which, unlike sentimental contemporary Disney products in the same line, didn’t turn away from the savage side of life in the wild. Sucksdorff was known as a filmmaker of the natural world, though some of his best-loved works, like Symphony of a City (1948) and My Name is Copacabana (1965), were urban in setting, and the true unifying feature of his work might be his sensitivity to the inner lives of children. His influence touched the Brazilian “Cinema Novo” and countryman Ingmar Bergman, who worshipped his ravishing black-and-white cinematography, and most anyone who has been exposed to his remarkable body of work. Titles also include The Great Adventure (1953), The Flute of the Arrow (1957), and a program of early shorts.
Sundays Beginning January 14
Visionary Form: Dressing-Up on Screen Co-Presented with M2M
The most iconoclastic collaborations between great filmmakers and designers show how fashion and film can synthesize onscreen to rapturous results, adding dimensions of light, rhythm, performer personality, and the poetry of motion to the palette, texture, and geometry of costume. Every Sunday from January through March, with a special double feature during Fashion Week, Metrograph and M2M will be paying tribute to these high triumphs of style, drawing inspiration from actress-muses who transformed their wardrobe with their individual flair both onscreen and off, including Kim Novak, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, and the inimitable Katharine Hepburn. From femme fashion plate to tough tomboy—in a perfect pantsuit or a Valentino dress—Kate was possessed of a remarkably changeable, always recognizable, and at times downright revolutionary on-screen persona, matched by her radical, sui generis style. This series celebrates fashion-conscious superstars and auteurs, as well as an ensemble of creators ranging from Edith Head, Yves Saint Laurent, to Yohji Yamamoto, all of whom understood that the clothes make the character. Titles include Vertigo (1958), Contempt (1963), Blue Velvet (1986), Blow Up (1966), 2046 (2005), Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970), L'enfer d'Henri-Georges Clouzot (2009), and a special presentation of M2M’s original film Six Sides of Kate (2017), an essay about Hepburn, which opens the series.
Opens January 26
The wuxia movie is to the cinema of the Chinese diaspora what the Western is to the United States or the samurai film to Japan—a repository of myths and cultural memory, steeped in ritual whose every variation is significant. A total art that embraces music, dance, and literature along with combat skills, the typical wuxia narrative unfolds against an ever-changing historical and political backdrop, a social-realist grounding for works otherwise attached to mystic legend and lore. Since the earliest days of Chinese moviemaking the wuxia has provided a space for filmmakers to experiment, and this series celebrates some of the most revolutionary re-imaginations of the wuxia from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China, with work ranging from the baroque and ornate to the deconstructed and stripped-down. Titles include Dragon Inn (King Hu, 1967), A Touch of Zen (Hu, 1971), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000), The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-wai, 2013), A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke, 2013), The Blade (Tsui Hark, 1995), The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2015), and Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (Hark, 1983). The series leads into the first-ever U.S. theatrical run of Hu's Legend of the Mountain, beginning February 2.
Opens February 2
Tell Me: Women Filmmakers, Women's Stories
“One of the most powerful social and political catalysts of the past decade has been the speaking of women with other women, the telling of our secrets, the comparing of wounds and sharing of words… In order to change what is, we need to give speech to what has been, to imagine together what might be.” – Adrienne Rich, Motherhood: The Contemporary Emergency and the Quantum Leap (1979)
"Tell Me" celebrates female filmmakers who took the simple, radical step of allowing women space and time to talk about their lives. Working in idioms from cinema verite to essay film to agitprop, what the assembled films all share is a startling intimacy between camera and subject. Whether through the bonds of shared experience, or merely genuine interest, these portraits capture women talking about trauma and sexual identity; summoning new language to describe the long simmering injustices and frustrations we still face today; making jokes; admitting insecurities; and organizing for the future. This series features works by Chantal Akerman, Vivienne Dick, Camille Billops, Chick Strand, Yvonne Rainer, Joyce Chopra, Kate Millett, Su Friedrich, Peggy Ahwesh, Delphine Seyrig, Stanya Kahn, Agnes Varda, and Michelle Citron. Programmed by Nellie Killian.
Valentine's Day at Metrograph
For Valentine’s Day it’s all about love at Metrograph. There's jazzy bantering repartee (Ball of Fire, 1941), Japanese pink-eiga kink (Pleasures of the Flesh, 1965), the sublime saccharine of Murnau (Sunrise, 1927), the South Florida sleaze of John McNaughton (Wild Things, 1998), a crooning Maurice Chevalier (Love Me Tonight, 1932), and a full banquet of BDSM (Maîtresse, 1976). A special menu will be available in the Metrograph Commissary.
Opens February 16
St. Clair Bourne
St. Clair Bourne, Harlem-born and Brooklyn-bred, was a towering figure in the documentary film world: a filmmaker, writer, activist, teacher and organizer. Bourne passed away in 2007, yet his body of work, an essential chronicle of African-American life, and influence is enough for many lifetimes. In honor of his 75th birthday, Metrograph pays tribute to Bourne’s legacy, from his early days as a producer, director and cameraman for the pioneering series Black Journal (alongside colleagues Lou Potter, William Greaves, Kent Garrett and Madeline Anderson) to the founding of the Black Documentary Collective (BDC), and the journal Chamba Notes. Screenings include his definitive biographical portraits of epochal figures Paul Robeson (Paul Robeson: Here I Stand, 1999), Spike Lee (Making 'Do the Right Thing’, 1989) and Amiri Baraka (In Motion: Amiri Baraka, 1983), the classicdocument of religious life Let the Church Say Amen! (1974), a solidarity trip to Northern Irelandin The Black and the Green (1983),and a short for Sesame Street, and more from a career dedicated to portraying what was ignored by mainstream media representation. Additionally, the retrospective will include work by many filmmakers who Bourne mentored, and films on which he assisted, including American Promise (Michéle Stephenson and Joe Brewster, 2013), Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (Thomas Allen Harris, 2005), Brothers Hypnotic (Reuben Atlas, 2013), Promised Lands (Yoruba Richen, 2009), Mary Lou Williams: The Lady Who Swings the Band (Carol Bash, 2015), and many other films that came to fruition due to Bourne's engagement, ingenuity and passion.
Welcome to Metrograph: W-Z
This is the final installment in a two year-long, alphabetically ordered series that offers films the programmers at Metrograph consider must-sees; a pinnacle of a filmmaker’s career, sentimental favorites, or an overlooked, demands-reconsideration masterpiece. Titles include White (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994), WR: Mysteries of the Organism (Dusan Makavejev, 1971), Welcome to L.A. (Alan Rudolph, 1976), Wild at Heart (David Lynch, 1990), The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939), Walker (Alex Cox, 1987), Way Down East (D.W. Griffith, 1920), Wanda (Barbara Loden, 1970), We Won't Grow Old Together (Maurice Pialat, 1972), Werckmeister Harmonies (Béla Tarr, 2000), Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 1964), Wisconsin Death Trip (James Marsh, 1999), Yearning (Mikio Naruse, 1964), Witness (Peter Weir, 1985), Within Our Gates (Oscar Micheaux, 1920), Witchfinder General (aka The Conqueror Worm) (Michael Reeves, 1968), Wattstax (Mel Stuart, 1973), The World According to Garp (George Roy Hill, 1982), The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953), The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (Ranald MacDougall, 1959), Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes, 1961), The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973), World Without Sun (Jacques-Yves Cousteau, 1964), White of the Eye (Donald Cammell, 1987), Whirlpool (Otto Preminger, 1950), Wild Style (Charlie Ahearn, 1983), Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (Xan Cassavetes, 2004), Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974), and Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000).
Coming this weekend, next weekend, and ongoing every single Saturday and Sunday, Playtime is a new creatively-curated Metrograph matinee series featuring studio standbys, animations from yesterday and yesteryear, and foreign fare. The content will always be kid-appropriate, but the main criteria for selection is excellence—these are movies for film lovers of all ages, from those just learning to love the cinema to longtime fans revisiting old favorites. Come for the classics and stay for the obscurities. Titles include Duck Soup (1930), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Kiki's Delivery Service (1989), The Witches (1990), Robin Hood (1973), and Little Fugitive (1953).
Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (AMPAS) at Metrograph
The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (AMPAS) began a year-long residency at Metrograph in July of 2017, bringing exciting and entertaining programs to the big screen. Programs have and will feature onstage conversations with filmmakers and scholars of motion pictures, tributes, newsreels, rarely seen clips from past Oscar® ceremonies, and home movies from Hollywood legends. This monthly series, highlighting unique archival elements, including recent restorations and film prints from the Academy Film Archive, continues in January and February, with the U.S. Premiere of the new restoration of Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerin's Salesman (1968) in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation; a rare 35mm screening of the Academy's preservation of Jacques-Yves Cousteau's World Without Sun (1964);and four programs dedicated to the recipients of the 2017 Governors Awards: actor Donald Sutherland, cinematographer Owen Roizman, and directors Charles Burnett and Agnes Varda.