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.
Friday, August 3, 2018
September and October 2018 Repertory Calendar at Metrograph Announced [Argento, Albert Brooks, Jack Smith, and more!]
September/October Repertory and Special Events Calendar Announced
Opens September 5
Jack Smith Co-Presented with Artists Space, New York
Jack Smith's (1932–1989) virtuosic output is revered for its caustic humor, self-invention, and debasement of institutional authority, which intensified throughout his ever-evolving work. Yet, since his death from AIDS-related pneumonia in 1989, his artistic legacy has proven to be similarly incalcitrant and resistant to clean-cut narrativization. In history, as in life, Smith's oeuvre exists in renegade defiance of the capitalist imperatives of commodification and containment, as vilified in his philosophical fabulations of "lucky landlordism," "rented island," "art crust," and “black light of false lighthouse capitalism.” In conjunction with the exhibition Jack Smith: Art Crust of Spiritual Oasis, curated by Jay Sanders and Jamie Stevens, this program of films and previously unseen recorded performances include FlamingCreatures, Normal Love, Scotch Tape, I Was A Make Yvonne de Carlo, and a newly discovered recording of Smith performing at the University of Colorado in 1980.
Opens September 7
"Everything Was Now" Films from 1968 Programmed by J. Hoberman
No 20 movies can truly evoke the mass delusion called “1968.” (“What’s happening?” was the question of the day.) But these films, each in its way, is an attempted report from the front—not just Paris, Prague and the U.S. but Italy, Japan, and Vietnam. Taken as a binge they provide a taste of the era’s strange brew—a heady sci-fi concoction of TV violence, Third World warfare, generational megalomania, druggy disengagement, imaginary liberated zones, whiplash changes, and the fearfully hoped for collapse of social norms. Or put another way, each of these movies secretly believes that life is a movie, seeking to represent chaos through the surprisingly widespread reinvention of film form. J. Hoberman in-person on September 7 to present Wild in the Streets (1968), with a vintage 35mm trailer from the original Grove Press release of Godard's Weekend. Titles include Daisies (1966) with Kusama's Self-Obliteration (1967), The Battle of Algiers (1966) with Black Panthers (1968), La chinoise (1967) with Invocation of My Demon Brother(1969), WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1971) with Last Summer Won't Happen (1968), Funeral Parade of Roses (1969) and Dialogue with Che (1968), Night of the Living Dead (1968) with Amerika (1969),Skidoo (1968) with Looking for Mushrooms (1967), and more.
Opens September 14
Icarus Films at 40
Icarus Films was started in the summer of 1978 by Ilan Ziv, an outgrowth of his work the previous year, with Faye Ginsburg, organizing the first “Middle East Film Festival” in the United States, held at the Bleecker Street Cinema. After the festival, in possession of films rarely, if ever, seen and a passion to expose U.S. audiences to different points-of-view about the Middle East and its conflicts, Ziv booked the films across the country, and organized this effort into the distribution company Icarus Films. The company began by presenting “the first comprehensive Middle East Film Library in the country.” Jonathan Miller, who previously worked at Tricontinental Film Center (with its mission of bringing to the American public Cuban and “New Latin American” cinema), joined Ziv in December, 1978, and took over Icarus Films in 1980, swapping an early semi-professional video camera for ownership of the company, so that Ziv could pursue his dream of independent filmmaking, and Miller his vision of a distribution company dedicated to the best of international documentaries.
Now, forty years on, Icarus Films remains committed to a wide-ranging, politically and aesthetically challenging, intellectual cinema, and they’ll be marking their milestone birthday at Metrograph with an epic, 50 film program of fantastic films from countries including China, Congo, Ireland, Mozambique, and Venezuela, and by directors including Chantal Akerman, John Akomfrah, Madeline Anderson, Patricio Guzmán, Heddy Honigmann, Shôhei Imamura, Robert Kramer, and Chris Marker.
Opens September 21
Dario Argento 12 Film Retrospective with Argento In-Person!
When it comes to Dario Argento, the stylist supreme of horror cinema, one might first think of an insidious mood, of piercingly intense colors, of a scrap of haunting music or a set piece in which the camera sets off on its own inexplicable course or an act of violence at once shocking, sensuous, and beautiful. Argento, who came to the director’s chair by way of work as a critic and screenwriter, understands cinema as, among other things, a decorative art, and the movies that he would make, eithergiallo or supernatural horror, are above all encompassing, voluptuary environments—viewers tend not to want to leave them, even as their persecuted characters struggle to find a way out of the lapidary labyrinths they’ve been trapped in. With his debut, hit thriller The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Argento began one of the most offbeat, brilliant runs of moviemaking in horror history, and almost fifty years later he carries on as a visionary force in genre cinema, an elder statesman of unparalleled influence who combines Hitchcock’s grand architectural ambitions, more than a dash of surrealism, and a hedonistic taste for beauty. Watching Argento movies en masse makes for a feast of rich, decadent filmmaking, that leaves one hungry for more. Titles include Suspiria (1977), The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971),Four Flies on Gray Velvet (1971), Deep Red (1975), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985),Opera (1987), Trauma (1993), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), which Argento assisted in writing. Presented in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute in New York.
Opens September 28
Godard x 2 Extended 35mm Runs of 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her and Masculin Féminin
Jean-Luc Godard’s run of freewheeling filmmaking in the 1960s, slicing through the middle of that tumultuous decade, didn’t just have a wide-reaching impact on the cinema—it seemed to be searching for a new audio-visual language necessary to describe the modern world to itself, mapping out the dynamic dimensions of a Paris that was both eternal and in-the-moment, a shiny city of pinball machines, jukeboxes, a horizon of towering construction cranes, commodified young love, and the accumulated detritus of several hundred years of western civilization.
Opens October 5
Albert Brooks Complete Retrospective of One of the Great American Comedic Auteurs
Perhaps the greatest living native-born American comic talent, Albert Brooks, born Einstein (!), is a son of showbiz—his father was a popular radio comedian—who began his career deconstructing the classic setup-punchline style of professional comedy. After a successful stint as a conceptual stand-up and a brief run as house filmmaker on the early Saturday Night Live, Brooks turned to feature filmmaking, and over the course of nearly forty years would go on to direct and star in a small, exacting, and impeccable run of films, most of them written in collaboration with his late, great co-scenarist Monica Johnson. Long before “likability” became a buzz-word, Brooks was challenging audiences with unsweetened depictions of narcissism, neediness, neurosis, and other unflattering states, in under-your-skin movies that elicit the uncomfortable laughter of recognition. Matching a quicksilver wit with exacting perfectionism, Brooks has been many things but never prolific, though with each film seems to capture something essential of the time in which he’s working, to diagnose new symptoms of American folly. While we hope and wait for a very necessary new film, however, we can revisit the painfully funny and sometimes just plain painful comedies of Albert Brooks, maestro of the socially and emotionally maladroit. Titles include all of Brooks' directorial work: Real Life, Modern Romance, Lost in America, Defending Your Life, Mother, The Muse, and Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.
Opens October 12
Yamamoto's "Bloodthirsty Trilogy" New Restorations of The Vampire Doll, Lake of Dracula, and Evil of Dracula
Drawing inspiration from both motifs of traditional Japanese folklore and the quite modern horror movies coming from Hammer Studios, Michio Yamamoto created a kind of vampire movie quite unlike anything seen at home or abroad with his influential, cult-cherished “Bloodthirsty Trilogy”—films long revered by fans of Asian genre cinema, though only just beginning to be known by a wider audience in the U.S. These are strange and stylish movies, vibrating with unsettling atmosphere—and if you let just one put the first bite on you, you’ll undoubtedly come back for more.
Opens October 19
Shaw Brothers Horror
The Shaw Brothers studio, established in Hong Kong in 1958, is perhaps best known for its association with wuxia and martial arts cinema, but in the late ‘70s and 1980s they turned out some of the queasiest, wildest, and most utterly malign supernatural creepshows in the history of the horror genre. When Ho Meng Hua’s Black Magic became a monstrous monster hit in the Chinese-speaking world, the Shaws began the overdrive production of a cycle of malicious movies combining folk tradition-inspired sorcery and stern Buddhist sermonizing, viscera-strewn special effects and vicious violence, creating a stew of sex and slime and all things sleazy and slippery. In our snooty era of highbrow elevated horror, these are refreshingly low road movies that get down and dirty, squelching in the psychic muck of primal fear and revulsion—which is to say, nothing short of maggot-munching, mind-melting classics of their kind. Titles include Bewitched (1981), Centipede Horror (1982), Seeding of a Ghost (1983), Boxer's Omen (1983), and more.
Throughout September and October
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. Titles include Heathcliff: The Movie (1986), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Paper Moon (1973), and Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998).
Throughout September and October
Academy at Metrograph
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Continues its Residency at Metrograph with Upcoming Summer and Fall Programming
Women in Indie Animation on September 21 and An Evening with Tom Savini on October 13
ACADEMY AT METROGRAPH continues in September and October, with upcoming programming to include Women in Indie Animation on September 21, and An Evening with Tom Savini on October 13.
Women in Indie Animation will take place on Friday, September 21th,focusing on groundbreaking filmmakers Debra Solomon, Signe Baumane, Candy Kugel, and Emily Hubley, featuring new and classic work. Solomon, Baumane, Kugel, and Hubley will appear in-person for a conversation at the end of the end of the screenings.
On Saturday, October 13th, An Evening with Tom Savini will feature an in-person appearance by the acclaimed filmmaker, stunt performer, and makeup artist. Savini will present a highlight reel of his most shocking, gruesome, and impressive special effects creations, walking the audience through his incredible career trajectory. Savini will also introduce a key feature film, to be announced soon.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) began a yearlong residency at Metrograph in July 2017, bringing exciting and entertaining programs to the big screen. Programs in ACADEMY AT METROGRAPH have and continue to 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 highlights unique archival elements, including recent restorations and film prints from the Academy Film Archive by celebrating classic moments from the Academy’s 90-year history.
Nathan Gelgud Dream Double Bill: Altered States and The Last Wave
"Gurus, waking dreams, vision trips, prophecy, madness, civilization and its boundaries. After finishing my book A House in the Jungle I rewatched Altered States (Ken Russell, 1980) and The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977) and realized what a big influence they’d been. Altered States is about someone trying to achieve extra sensory perception, while The Last Wave is about someone who discovers he has it and isn’t sure what to do with it. One movie about insanity, the other about responsibility, both of which I’m trying to explore in my comics." Gelgud will be present to introduce both films, and copies of the book will be available for sale and signing before and after the screening.
Adam Nayman Presents The Man Who Wasn't There
"Life has dealt me some bum cards, or maybe I just haven't played 'em right" says Ed Crane (Billy Bob Thornton), the existentially tormented hero of Joel and Ethan Coen's monochrome masterpiece The Man Who Wasn't There. Winner of a Best Director prize at Cannes in 2001, the film–which riffs on an eclectic collection of sources ranging from Albert Camus to James M. Cain, with some 1950s sci-fi paranoia thrown in–may be the Coens' most underrated feature, and also arguably their most beautiful, with Roger Deakins' black and white cinematography cloaking the characters and their motives in long, impenetrable shadows. For this special 35mm screening, Adam Nayman, author of the new critical study The Coen Brothers: The Book Really Ties the Film Together, will discuss the film with Vanity Fair film editor K. Austin Collins; copies of the book will be available for sale and signing before and after the screening.
Zoe Beloff Presents Her New Film Exile
The philosopher Walter Benjamin and his friend the playwright Bertolt Brecht spent time together in exile from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Exile imagines that they are still in exile in New York 2017. In the intervening years they have changed—in the contemporary world, refugees and victims of racism look different. Brecht is Iranian. Benjamin is African American. The down-at-heel comic duo are vagabonds in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy or Vladimir and Estragon; they are still doing what they always did, showing us how society works with whatever they have to hand—words, images, and suggestions on how to tell the truth in a world full of lies. Unfixed, oscillating between their time and ours, Brecht and Benjamin reveal what has been buried in our own history, making connections between fascism in New York in the 1930s and its manifestation in the Trump era.
Gary Lucas Live Guitar Performance of Spanish-Language Dracula
In what was then not-uncommon practice in the early sound cinema days before dubbing and subtitling had been perfected, Universal Pictures made Dracula twice. During the day, the cobweb-decked sets belonged to Tod Browning and Bela Lugosi, but by night they turned over to director Melford and stars Carlos Villarias and Lupita Tovar, who played the count and his victim, Lucia, in a Spanish-language version whose cast and crew were inspired to top the English-language dailies they saw coming in. Long believed lost, the Spanish-language Drácula was rediscovered in the 1970s, and has since gathered many partisans who prefer it, for its hypnotic pacing and transfixing performances, to the better-known Browning film. For this special screening, acclaimed guitarist Gary Lucas will perform a live accompaniment to the film.
Coming in October
Paul Auster Presents Archival 35mm Prints of Lulu on the Bridge and The Inner Life of Martin Frost
One of the most acclaimed and beloved American writers of his generation, the New Jersey-raised Auster was catapulted to literary fame with the success of his The New York Trilogy, an utterly singular work which draws from hard-boiled American detective fiction as well as the existentialist and absurdist literature in which Auster was steeped during an extended sojourn in Paris. A plentitude of films are also among the many eclectic influences on Auster’s fiction, and his long, impassioned engagement with cinema has led him to a parallel career in moviemaking, first working in collaboration with director Wayne Wang on the cherished New York City snapshots Smoke and Blue in the Face, then striking out on his own, to create a body of film work every bit as seductive and affecting as his literary output. Celebrating both the author and filmmaker in Auster, Metrograph is privileged to host this local original as he presents two of his movies, Lulu on the Bridge and The Inner Life of Martin Frost, inimitable in their tonal strangeness, discreet sense of enchantment, and questing exploration of the creative act. 35mm prints courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art.