a highly-opinionated selection of things happening around town, and sometimes out of town. this month's page here.
thu. may 3 coffy, foxy brown @ new beverly theatre the far side of jericho 8 PM @ egyptian theatre the big day @ aero theatre kim deitch in-store 6 PM @ family bookstore kim deitch's serial queens of the silent screen 8 PM @ silent movie theatre patti smith 6 PM FREE @ amoeba fri. may 4 the left handed gun @ lacma dead man 9:30 PM @ lacma children of men, 1984 @ new beverly theatre five easy pieces, the king of marvin gardens @ egyptian theatre mon oncle, mr. hulot's holiday @ aero theatre qui @ sixth street gallery silver lake film festival sat. may 5 the hour before the dawn @ starlight studios electra glide in blue 9:40 PM @ lacma nick rossi set @ the bordello children of men, 1984 @ new beverly theatre looking for mr. goodbar, lipstick @ egyptian theatre traffic, parade @ aero theatre silver lake film festival sun. may 6 james benning's california trilogy part 1 @ filmforum @ egyptian theatre straight time, going home @ egyptian theatre playtime @ aero theatre mae shi @ el cid silver lake film festival greg ashley @ little joy mon. may 7 paris je t'aime @ ucla film archive silver lake film festival daniele huillet: the last resistance class relations: amerika 8 PM @ redcat wed. may 9 tears of the black tiger, a fistful of dollars @ new beverly theatre greg ashley @ three clubs thu. may 10 tears of the black tiger, a fistful of dollars @ new beverly theatre diary of a mad housewife, play it as it lays @ egyptian theatre the death of mr. lazarescu @ egyptian theatre bob & carol & ted & alice, blume in love @ aero theatre the fire brigade 8 PM, wandering willies, laurel & hardy in putting pants on philip @ silent movie theatre fri. may 11 to be a star @ ucla film archive once upon a time in the west @ lacma harold and maude, the loved one @ new beverly theatre real life, smile @ egyptian theatre the death of mr. lazarescu @ egyptian theatre the deer hunter @ aero theatre the old fashioned way @ ampas rolling thunder MIDNIGHT @ nuart lavender diamond 7 PM FREE @ amoeba bad taste 9:15, dementia 13 @ cia sat. may 12 paris texas @ lacma harold and maude, the loved one @ new beverly theatre the death of mr. lazarescu 6 PM 9 PM @ egyptian theatre the last picture show, five easy pieces @ aero theatre sun. may 13 weekend 7 PM, le gai savoir @ ucla film archive james benning's california trilogy part 2 @ filmforum @ egyptian theatre blue collar, doc @ egyptian theatre the death of mr. lazarescu 4 PM @ egyptian theatre two lane black top, cockfighter @ aero theatre john wiese, jarrett silberman @ the smell qui @ the scene tue. may 15 jour de fete 8 PM FREE @ one colorado courtyard, pasadena wed. may 16 every man for himself, ici et ailleurs @ ucla film archive punking out @ 7 dudley cinema dressed to kill, body double @ new beverly theatre big bad mama, black mama white mama @ aero theatre mae shi @ the smell thu. may 17 dressed to kill, body double @ new beverly theatre mandingo, the don is dead @ egyptian theatre buster keaton in battling butler 8 PM, winsor mccay's little nemo, the pied piper of hamelin @ silent movie theatre fri. may 18 melt banana, mike watt & the missingmen @ troubadour the bitter tea of general yen, baby face @ ucla film archive the lives of others, army of shadows @ new beverly theatre the last picture show, saint jack @ egyptian theatre the french connection, the brinks job @ aero theatre in a lonely place @ lacma the sniper 9:15 PM @ lacma sat. may 19 standing room only @ starlight studios passion, first name: carmen @ ucla film archive the lives of others, army of shadows @ new beverly theatre the dion brothers, race with the devil @ aero theatre the reckless moment @ lacma nightfall 9:05 PM @ lacma the sea & cake @ troubadour the player @ cinespia @ hollywood forever cemetery sun. may 20 the pope, foot village, dos @ the smell james benning's california trilogy part 3 @ filmforum @ egyptian theatre night of the comet, miracle mile @ new beverly theatre gumshoe, the midnight man @ egyptian theatre together brothers, cry for me billy @ aero theatre the sea & cake @ troubadour mon. may 21 night of the comet, miracle mile @ new beverly theatre reds @ ampas tue. may 22 children shouldn't play with dead things, deathdream @ new beverly theatre wed. may 23 force of evil, body and soul @ new beverly theatre executive action, the parallax view @ egyptian theatre diary of a mad housewife, the last of sheila @ aero theatre tue. may 24 the clientele @ knitting factory force of evil, body and soul @ new beverly theatre the hospital, the new centurions @ egyptian theatre family plot, drive he said @ aero theatre the high and the mighty @ ampas alfred hitchcock's the pleasure garden 8 PM, menilmontant, the londale operator @ silent movie theatre wed. may 25 freebie and the bean, report to the commissioner @ egyptian theatre the other, the wicker man @ aero theatre all the king's men @ lacma the harder they fall 9:30 PM @ lacma patton oswalt @ largo sat. may 26 echo curio @ mr. t's bowl double indemnity, the file on thelma jordan @ ucla film archive the conversation, chinatown @ aero theatre blazing saddles MIDNIGHT @ rialto human desire @ lacma the undercover man 9:15 PM @ lacma vertigo @ cinespia @ hollywood forever cemetery sun. may 27 nouvelle vague 7 PM, detective @ ucla film archive walkabout, the last wave @ new beverly theatre my cousin rachel @ egyptian theatre the third man, the fallen idol @ aero theatre tussle, yacht @ the echo mon. may 28 walkabout, the last wave @ new beverly theatre eric hoffman with bob odenkirk @ skylight books tue. may 29 walkabout, the last wave @ new beverly theatre wed. may 30 the lookout, brick @ new beverly theatre mary timony @ the echo thu. may 31 the lookout, brick @ new beverly theatre 3 women, leo the last @ egyptian theatre odd man out @ aero theatre twelve miles out 8 PM, mabel normand in anything once!, ice cold cocos @ silent movie theatre fri. jun. 1 ladies they talk about, the lady eve @ ucla film archive two or three things i know about her, contempt @ new beverly theatre la vie en rose @ lacma deerhoof, autolux @ first fridays @ natural history museum sat. jun. 2 notre musique 2 PM, for ever mozart @ ucla film archive the pope @ the smell two or three things i know about her, contempt @ new beverly theatre the brothers rico @ lacma tight spot 9:15 PM @ lacma gilda @ cinespia @ hollywood forever cemetery sun. jun. 3 yojimbo, sanjuro @ new beverly theatre one am radio @ tangier mon. jun. 4 yojimbo, sanjuro @ new beverly theatre the pervert's guide to cinema @ ucla film archive tue. jun. 5 yojimbo, sanjuro @ new beverly theatre wed. jun. 6 wild in the streets, riot on sunset strip @ new beverly theatre thu. jun. 7 wild in the streets, riot on sunset strip @ new beverly theatre the mae shi @ the smell fri. jun. 8 la strada, amarcord @ new beverly theatre night nurse, the miracle woman @ ucla film archive ugetsu @ lacma sisters of the gion 9:20 PM @ lacma dmbq @ the smell sat. jun. 9 la strada, amarcord @ new beverly theatre the furies, forty guns @ ucla film archive sansho the bailiff @ lacma harold and maude @ cinespia @ hollywood forever cemetery sun. jun. 10 raiders of the lost ark, indiana jones and the last crusade @ new beverly theatre sorry wrong number 7 PM, clash by night @ ucla film archive chrome featuring helios creed @ the echo one am radio, mia doi todd @ tangier mon. jun. 11 raiders of the lost ark, indiana jones and the last crusade @ new beverly theatre tue. jun. 12 raiders of the lost ark, indiana jones and the last crusade @ new beverly theatre wed. jun. 13 knife in the water, cul-de-sac @ new beverly theatre thu. jun. 14 knife in the water, cul-de-sac @ new beverly theatre le plaisir FREE @ getty center calvin johnson, julie doiron @ the smell fri. jun. 15 black book, spetters @ new beverly theatre gervaise FREE @ getty center creature from the black lagoon in 3-D MIDNIGHT @ nuart story of the late chrysanthemums @ lacma upsilon acrux, bad dudes, peter kolovos @ the smell sat. jun. 16 lavender diamond @ troubadour black book, spetters @ new beverly theatre madame bovary 4 PM FREE @ getty center nana FREE @ getty center the life of oharu @ lacma sun. jun. 17 defiance, out for justice @ new beverly theatre mon. jun. 18 defiance, out for justice @ new beverly theatre tue. jun. 19 goliathon, infra-man @ new beverly theatre ocrilim @ the smell wed. jun. 20 mafioso, nights of cabiria @ new beverly theatre thu. jun. 21 mafioso, nights of cabiria @ new beverly theatre fri. jun. 22 low @ troubadour fantastic planet MIDNIGHT @ nuart utamaro and his five women @ lacma street of shame 9:15 PM @ lacma sat. jun. 23 low @ troubadour utamaro and his five women @ lacma street of shame 9:15 PM @ lacma chuck dukowski sextet @ the smell sun. jun. 24 on her majesty's secret service, the man with the golden gun @ new beverly theatre mon. jun. 25 on her majesty's secret service, the man with the golden gun @ new beverly theatre tue. jun. 26 on her majesty's secret service, the man with the golden gun @ new beverly theatre wed. jun. 27 inland empire 8 PM @ new beverly theatre thu. jun. 28 fuck yeah fest inland empire 8 PM @ new beverly theatre fri. jun. 29 von trier's medea 8 PM @ getty villa raccoo-oo-oon, foot village @ the smell fuck yeah fest inland empire 8 PM @ new beverly theatre sat. jun. 30 fuck yeah fest inland empire 4 PM 8 PM @ new beverly theatre battles @ troubadour jason and the argonauts 1 PM @ getty villa sun. july 1 fuck yeah fest sat. july 7 forbidden planet 2 PM, 8 PM @ alex theatre thu. aug. 2 marnie stern @ the echo thu. aug. 16 detroit cobras, the willowz @ troubadour WHAT IT IS: All the King's Men 1949/b&w/109 min. | Scr/dir: Robert Rossen; w/ Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, Joanne Dru, John Derek A powerful indictment of corruption in modern politics, All the King's Men is dominated by the dynamic performance of Crawford as Willie Stark, a thinly disguised version of real-life populist and Louisiana demagogue Huey Long. Using a documentary shooting style, Rossen immerses the viewer in the heat and crowds of the campaign, but as Stark rises to the governor's mansion, the excitement of winning gives way to the fear of losing it all, and monstrous deeds commence. Among the film's eight Oscar nominations was Guffey's first for cinematography. The film, Crawford, and McCambridge (in a legendary supporting performance as Stark's mistress) all took home the gold. ARMY OF SHADOWS (from IMDB) This is probably one of the best fiction movies ever made on the French resistance during Worl War II. Far from the usual romantic cliches showing handsome young men playing tricks with the Nazis and falling in love with sublime women, the substance of the movie is reality. It depicts a "shadow army" made of courageous men who are ready to sacrifice their lives but are aware of the huge cost they will eventually have to pay. It shows the cruel and sometimes inhuman choices they have to make in order to survive. This is a very useful movie that gives a real hint of what resistance truly was. BABY FACE (1933, United States) Directed by Alfred Green Stanwyck stars as the notorious Lily Powers, who literally sleeps her way to the top of a New York high-rise office building, laying waste to a multitude of men in the process. This restoration features five minutes of previously censored footage. Screenwriter: Kathryn Scola. Screenplay: Gene Markey. Cast: B. Stanwyck, George Brent, Donald Cook. Presented in English dialogue. 35mm, 76 min. BAD TASTE (1987) Dir. Peter Jackson A team from the intergalactic fast food chain Crumb's Crunchy Delights descends on Earth, planning to make human flesh the newest taste sensation. After they wipe out the New Zealand town Kaihoro, the country's Astro-Investigation and Defense Service is called in to deal with the problem. Things are complicated due to Giles, an aid worker who comes to Kaihoro the same day to collect change from the residents. He is captured by the aliens, and AIaDS stages a rescue mission that quickly becomes an all-out assault on the aliens' headquarters. BIG BAD MAMA, 1974, Concorde-New Horizon, 83 min. "The family that slays together, stays together." Pull your car into the Aero, attach the speaker to the window, let your teenage cousin and his girlfriend out of the trunk, and enjoy one of the greatest drive-in movies ever made. Director Steve Carver (CAPONE; LONE WOLF MCQUADE) pulls out all the stops in this classic Roger Corman- produced blood, bullets, and breasts extravaganza. Angie Dickenson has never been sexier, William Shatner has never been crazier, and Tom Skerritt gets numerous romps with Angie’s jailbait daughters. Great support work from Dick Miller as a hard-charging G-Man, Royal Dano as a fire-and- brimstone preacher and Noble Willingham (PAPER MOON, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW) as a bootlegger with a leggy wife (Sally Kirkland). THE BIG DAY (JOUR DE FETE), 1947, Janus Films, 79 min. Jacques Tati’s feature debut as director is a priceless showcase for his comedic talents as he plays a mailman attempting to streamline delivery in his small town. But he soon finds his attempts at modernization and a coincidental Bastille Day celebration don’t mix. Tangible proof that Tati remains -- along with Chaplin, Keaton and the Marx Brothers -- as one of the pantheon comic geniuses of the 20th Century. Originally filmed in Thomson-Color, a tentative French alternative to Technicolor, JOUR DE FETE was shot simultaneously in black-and-white as a precaution. Eventually, trouble with the new color process led Tati to release this second, backup version. The film proved a commercial and critical success, yet that didn't stop Tati from returning to the film in the mid-1960’s, re-editing the picture, remixing its soundtrack and even shooting new footage for it. Until a 1995 "restoration" of the film's intended, original color version carried out by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and cinematographer Francois Ede, the 1964 JOUR DE FETE was the sole version in circulation. Plus, prior to feature film: three rare shorts co-written or directed by Tati, all starring Tati: Rene Clement’s "Soigne Ta Gauche," 1936, 20 min. Tati’s "School For Postmen" (L’Ecole Des Facteurs), 1947, 18 min. Nicolas Ribowski’s "Evening Classes" (Cour Du Soir), 1967, 30 min. THE BITTER TEA OF GENERAL YEN (1933, United States) Directed by Frank Capra In this unusual love story from pre-Code Hollywood, Stanwyck portrays an idealistic American missionary in wartorn China who finds herself the unwilling guest of the eponymous general. The turmoil continues as Stanwyck falls for her captor. Screenwriter: Edward Paramore. Cast: B. Stanwyck, Nils Asther, Toshia Mori. Presented in English dialogue. 35mm, 89 min. BLACK BOOK, 2007, Sony Picture Classics, 145 min. A relentlessly gripping thriller about the Dutch underground set in the Fall of 1944, the film marks master director Paul Verhoeven’s return to his native Netherlands revisiting the action-filled World War II subject matter of his 1977 Dutch drama SOLDIER OF ORANGE. Based on true events that span nearly a year in the life of Rachel Stein (Carice van Houten), a young, pretty Jewish woman who falls for a high-ranking Gestapo officer (Sebastian Koch) while seeking revenge for her family's murders. Starring some of the Netherlands’ most impressive and celebrated actors, the multi-layered characters find themselves embroiled in a spider’s web of intrigue, treachery and betrayal. BLACK BOOK is a highly stylized film suffused with the intense paranoia Verhoeven evokes so well, where friends and enemies blur together into an indistinguishable line. "The epic film is a high-octane adventure rooted in fact with a raft of arresting characters, big action sequences and twists and turns galore…" – Ray Bennett, The Hollywood Reporter BLACK MAMA, WHITE MAMA, 1972, MGM Repertory, 87 min. Dir. Eddie Romero. "Nothing Behind But Prison Bars. Nothing Ahead But Trouble... Chicks in chains!" Pam Grier’s breakout performance elevates this Roger Corman-produced, Jonathan Demme co-written dry run for their later CAGED HEAT. Part jungle action movie, part women's prison film, it’s complete with an outlandish exploitationesque shower scene and a stern, over-the-top, leering matron played with gusto by Lynn Borden (WALKING TALL) An outright insane remake of THE DEFIANT ONES, with a sexy Patty Hearst-type revolutionary (Margaret Markov) chained to a sexy call girl (Pam Grier) and a not-so-sexy bounty hunter (Sid Haig), with busloads of revolutionaries and assorted gangsters chomping at their heels. Discussion between films with director Steve Carver. BLUE COLLAR, 1978, Universal, 114 min. Paul Schrader’s directorial debut is one of his best pictures and remains one of the most searing accounts ever of the urban working man’s life in America. Harvey Keitel, Richard Pryor and Yaphet Kotto are three auto plant workers and best friends who are less than happy with their severely corrupt union. When their nocturnal burglary of the union’s safe nets cash, but a startling revelation of cooked books -- kickbacks, payoffs and collusion with organized crime - the lives of the three comrades become a nightmare of looking-over-their-shoulders paranoia. The director co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Leonard Schrader (THE YAKUZA), and the amazing original score is by Jack Nitzsche (PERFORMANCE) with an unforgettable hard blues-rock opening-credits song warbled by none other than Captain Beefheart. A film comparable in street credibility and manic energy to Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS -- if you have never seen this, it is not to be missed. Long out-of-print on DVD. "Very probably the most clear-sighted movie ever made about the ways that shopfloor workers get f*****d over by 'the system’." -- Time Out (UK) BLUME IN LOVE, 1973, Warner Bros., 115 min. One of director/writer Paul Mazursky’s most rewarding films. Divorce lawyer George Segal and social-worker wife Susan Anspach grow apart as the 1960’s counterculture makes them increasingly aware of their shallow lifestyle. However, Segal refuses to give up on winning back Anspach from new, easy-going hippie beau Kris Kristofferson (in a gentle, hilarious performance). A warmly funny, insightful reflection on the nature of conjugal bonds, true love and spousal devotion. Discussion between films with Elliot Gould and others (TBA). BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE, 1969, Sony Repertory, 101 min. Dir. Paul Mazursky. Kicking off our Aero seventies series is what could be called the LAST film of the 1960’s and the first film of the 1970’s. A ground-breaking, hilarious and still-pointed satire of sexual hang-ups in America. "We came here for an orgy, didn’t we?" says repressed housewife Dyan Cannon, just before she joins Natalie Wood and husbands Eliott Gould and Robert Culp in some classic, late 1960’s wife-swapping, hot-tubbing action. "…the dilemma of the in-between generation, the one we overlook in the generation gap, the couples who are too young to be the parents of the revolutionary kids, and too old to be the kids…The genius of BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE is that it understands the peculiar nature of the moral crisis for Americans in this age group, and understands that the way to consider it is in a comedy. What is comedy, after all, but tragedy seen from the outside?" -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times BODY AND SOUL Director Robert Rossen and writer Abraham Polonsky (who would later be blacklisted as a communist during the McCarthy witch hunts) expertly used the brutality of the boxing genre to savagely indict America's economically polarised capitalist society. John Garfield delivers an Oscar-nominated, knockout performance as Charley Davis, an inherently decent working class boxer whose ruthless quest for a shot at the championship title gradually corrupts him. He plunges into a whirlpool of money and fame, selling out to a gangster and finally, compromising his humanity. However, when he has the chance to regain his self-respect, Charley climbs into the ring one last time -- in an unforgettable climactic fight scene shot by two-time Oscar-winner James Wong Howe, who shot the unprecedentedly dynamic boxing sequences on rollerskates, using a hand-held camera! The excellent supporting cast includes Lilli Palmer, Anne Revere, Canada Lee, Lloyd Gough, and William Conrad. Widely regarded as one of the best boxing stories ever made, Body and Soul boasts a strong supporting cast, an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and a 1947 Academy Award for Best Editing. BODY DOUBLE, 1984, Columbia (Sony), 114 min. Director Brian De Palma has always openly expressed his admiration for Hitchcock and has used various tropes common to the master in a number of his pictures. This is one of his most jawdropping, melding influences from REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO as well as giving a vigorous nod to the delirium of 1970’s Italian giallo shockers. When a claustrophobic and cuckolded actor (Craig Wasson) finds himself suddenly homeless, he house-sits for a theater workshop acquaintance (Gregg Henry). But he finds himself going from the frying pan into the fire after witnessing the murder of a beautiful neighbor. To make matters worse, he falls for sweet, dysfunctional porn star, Holly Body (Melanie Griffith) who may have been tricked into doubling for the victim. BRICK, 2005, Focus Feature, 100 min. This dynamic debut feature from writer/director Rian Johnson, which won the Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision, takes its cues from the novels of Dashiell Hammett and the cinematic tradition of the hard-boiled noir. But Johnson wittily immerses them in fresh territory – a modern-day Southern California neighborhood and high school. Fiercely intelligent student Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is not afraid to back up his words with actions, and knows all the angles; yet he prefers to stay an outsider, and does – until the day that his ex-girlfriend, Emily (Emilie de Ravin of “Lost”), reaches out to him unexpectedly and then vanishes. To find her, Brendan enlists the aid of his only true peer, The Brain (Matt O’Leary). Brendan’s single-minded unearthing of students’ secrets thrusts him headlong into the colliding social orbits of rich-girl sophisticate Laura (Nora Zehetner), intimidating Tugger (Noah Fleiss), substance-abusing Dode (Noah Segan), seductive Kara (Meagan Good), jock Brad (Brian White), and – most ominously – non-student The Pin (Lukas Haas). It is only by gaining acceptance into The Pin’s closely guarded inner circle of crime and punishment that Brendan will be able to uncover hard truths about himself, Emily, and the suspects that he is getting closer to. THE BRINKS JOB, 1978, Universal, 104 min. Director William Friedkin followed up THE EXORCIST and SORCERER with this hilarious, yet suspenseful caper film. Shot on location and based on the real-life, $2 million robbery of the Brink’s vault in Boston in 1950, Peter Falk plays Tony Pino the mastermind behind it all. Pino assembles a motley crew of third rate thieves, thugs and misfits to attempt the perfect crime. Featuring some of the 1970's greatest character actors including Warren Oates, Peter Boyle, Gena Rowlands, Alan Garfield, Paul Sorvino and Sheldon Leonard as J. Edgar Hoover. Based on the book The Big Stick-Up At Brink's by Noel Behn. NOT ON DVD The Brothers Rico 1957/b&w/92 min. | Scr: Lewis Meltzer, Ben Perry, Dalton Trumbo; dir: Phil Karlson; w/ Richard Conte, Kathryn Grant, James Darren In this brutal tale of a reformed hoodlum (Conte) lured back to New York to save the lives of his gangster brothers, Guffey conveyed the fatalism of underworld life by shooting in a realistic style that used flat monochromatic lighting to exaggerate the architectural mass and anonymity of the postwar American city. Critic Manny Farber praised Karlson's films for their "modern gothic vehemence," adding that "(his) work has a chilling documentary exactness and an exciting, shot-scattering belligerence." CHILDREN SHOULDN'T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS A group of five young actors and their artistic director go to an abandoned burial island to perform a satanic rite with a freshly exhumed corpse named Orville. Believing that the ritual failed, the kinky kids return to their cottage, only to be followed by newly revived corpses who are hungry for revenge. The dated post-hippie trappings and amateurish acting and dialogue only add to the enjoyment of this early chiller from the director of Black Christmas. CLASH BY NIGHT (1952, United States) Directed by Fritz Lang Based on the Clifford Odets stage play, Clash by Night has Stanwyck again working with a talented German émigré director (Lang), and supported by a strong cast that includes a young Marilyn Monroe. Stanwyck plays May, a disillusioned woman who returns to her fish cannery hometown and marries an old flame, fisherman Jerry (Douglas), even though she does not love him. When May falls for Jerry’s best friend, attractive film projectionist Earle (Ryan), she faces the difficult decision of choosing between love and family. Stanwyck’s performance earned her a Motion Picture Exhibitor “Laurel” award. Screenwriter: Alfred Hayes. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe. 35mm, 104 min. CLEO FROM 5 TO 7, 1951, Janus Films, 90 min. Agnes Varda’s breakthrough film, two hours in the life of a hopelessly pretty pop singer (Corrine Marchand), who may or may not be dying of cancer. CLEO ranks with BREATHLESS and THE 400 BLOWS as one of the seminal works of the French New Wave. "The streets of Paris are filmed like they have never again been filmed." – Telerama COCKFIGHTER, 1974, Concorde-New Horizon, 83 min. Director Monte Hellman, adapting the novel by Charles Willeford (MIAMI BLUES), follows stubborn loner, Warren Oates, who had been disqualified from receiving a Cockfighter of the Year award due to his boisterous, intoxicated behavior during a match. Oates takes a vow of silence until he wins again, and we follow him on his lonely odyssey, trying to regain his lost sense of worth as he partners up with fast-talking gambler, Omar (Richard B. Shull) and plans for the future with his sweetheart (Patricia Pearcy). Filmed on Georgia locations (cockfighting was reportedly still legal there then) by Nestor Almendros, director Hellman creates another austere slice-of-life road saga, remaining true to the seedy milieu but bringing a compassion and insight to the characters indicative of his agile and elegant strengths as a filmmaker. With an exceptional cast that also includes Harry Dean Stanton, Millie Perkins, Troy Donahue, Laurie Bird, Ed Begley, Jr., Steve Railsback and a cameo by writer, Charles Willeford. Discussion in between films with director Monte Hellman. CRY FOR ME, BILLY, 1972, Warner Bros., 93 min. William A. Graham directs this fascinating and trippy, long lost western. A gunslinger, Cliff Potts (SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION) wants out of the killing business. He rescues, then falls in love with an Indian girl, the beautiful Xochitl, then is hellbent on revenge after she is attacked. With great supporting work from Harry Dean Stanton and James Gammon. Longtime Graham cameraman Jordan Cronenweth (BLADE RUNNER, BREWSTER MCCLOUD) helps give the film a truly unique look. Discussion in between films with director William A. Graham. NOT ON DVD DANIELE HUILLET: THE LAST RESISTANCE CLASS RELATIONS: AMERIKA Germany/France, 1983, 127 min, b/w, 35mm | Preceded by: En Rachâchant, France, 1982, 7 min, b/w, 35mm "Who else, in the history of world cinema, has done such a work, which is first respect for the languages that humans speak, respect for the voices of actors, for the meanings of words, and for the identify of spectators? The answer is simple: no one." Cahiers du cinéma French filmmaker Danièle Huillet died last October, putting an end to her remarkable collaboration with Jean-Marie Straub. Working together between 1962 and 2006, the duo completed 27 shorts and features. Self-proclaimed materialist filmmakers, Straub-Huillet made films around the concept of "resistance: the resistance of texts to bodies, of location to texts, of bodies to locations" (Serge Daney). In Class Relations, the resisting body is that of a young German bourgeois “packed off” to America by his parents for misbehaving with a female servant; the resisting text is Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel Amerika, in which the Statue of Liberty is described as brandishing a sword... DEATHDREAM Andy (Richard Backus), a young American soldier in Vietnam, is shot dead by a sniper at the exact moment that his mother makes a desperate prayer for his safe return. Surprisingly, Andy does return home, but in a strange state, spending his days staring blankly at the walls waiting for nightfall, when he roams the streets with a thirst for human blood. One of the first films to confront the affects of the Vietnam War on the homefront, this low-budget variation of The Monkey's Paw masks an interesting glimpse at American perceptions of the war behind its creepy horror. Co-stars John Marley (The Godfather) and Lynn Carlin (Faces) and features the special effects debut of Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead). "A potent and compelling thriller" (Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times). Death of a Cyclist (1955/b&w/88 min.) Scr: Juan Antonio Bardem, Luis Fernando de Igoa; dir: Juan Antonio Bardem; w/ Lucia Bosé, Alberto Closas, Carlos Casaravilla, Otello Toso A rare production from Francisco Franco's Spain, Death of a Cyclist is a powerful blend of film noir and neorealism starring Italian actress Lucia Bosé of early Antonioni fame (Cronaca di un Amore [Story of a Love Affair ]) as the wife of a wealthy industrialist embroiled in an adulterous affair with a college professor. While speeding toward Madrid from a clandestine tryst, the two lovers accidentally run down a bicyclist and, panicking, leave him to die. As they try to conceal their love from society and the hit-and-run accident from police, Bardem shows how a crime of chance can lead to one of premeditation. THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, 2005, Tartan Films USA, 153 min. Romanian director Cristi Puiu won the 2005 Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes and overwhelming critical acclaim for this hypnotic chronicle of one lonely man's last night on earth. The film balances anguished human drama and very dry black comedy with deceptive ease as hard-drinking, cat-loving Mr. Lazarescu (Ion Ficsuteanu) is whisked from overcrowded hospital to overcrowded hospital by persistent ambulance driver, Mioara (Luminita Gheorghu, of Michael Haneke's TIME OF THE WOLF), to be met repeatedly by contradictions, wrong diagnoses, ambivalence, annoyance and consternation -- until finally he expires. "Because I admire Eric Rohmer so much," says writer-director Puiu, "I wanted to answer his SIX MORAL TALES with my own SIX STORIES FROM THE BUCHAREST SUBURBS." In this first film of the six, "We decided to speak of ‘the love of humanity’ by exploring its incredible absence," says Puiu. "THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU speaks about a world where love for our fellow man doesn’t exist, in which a man whose most basic need for help is absurdly ignored by all around him." DEFIANCE (from IMDB) Tom Gamble, a young merchant seaman who was suspended for brawling decides to stick it out in a rough New York neighbourhood until he can get his union card and find employment on another ship. Terrorising the area is a Puerto-Rican gang known as "The Souls", which Tommy is doing his best not to get involved with. But soon enough they begin to clash with each other and Tommy is starting to find some allies in a once shell-shocked community. This might look like another very ordinary nitty gritty urban flick of the 70's and 80's fodder, but John Flynn's "Defiance" actually has a emotionally stimulating story to it. This element gives it a real backbone than just being a plain revenge / vigilante film centred just on the violence. It never loses sight of detailing the characters in a very realistic plight. I just watched Flynn's "Rolling Thunder" a couple of week's back and "Defiance" shares that hardboiled approached without wiping away that sincere touch. Flynn's sharp direction is very workable towards the hearty material, capturing the dominantly rough and raw N.Y. setting and letting it move at a brisk pace. DEMENTIA 13 Dir. Francis Ford Coppola John Haloran has a fatal heart attack, but his wife Louise won't get any of the inheritance when Lady Haloran dies if John is dead. Louise forges a letter from John to convince the rest of his family he's been called to New York on important business, and goes to his Irish ancestral home, Castle Haloran, to meet the family and look for a way to ensure a cut of the loot. Seven years earlier John's sister Kathleen was drowned in the pond, and the Halorans enact a morbid ritual in remembrance. Secrets shroud the sister's demise, and soon the family and guests begin experiencing an attrition problem. DÉTECTIVE (1985, France) Godard salutes the classic crime genre and explicitly dedicates the film to a trio of fellow auteurs: Cassavetes, Eastwood, Ulmer. In this comical noir pastiche, surfeited with literary and cinematic quotations, a superb ensemble cast inhabits a once-grand but now crumbling Paris hotel. Screenwriter: Alain Sarde, Philippe Setbon, Anne-Marie Miéville. Cast: Nathalie Baye, Stéphane Ferrara, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-Pierre Léaud. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 95 min. DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, 1970, Universal, 103 min. Director Frank Perry’s brilliant comedy-drama satirizes the psychological rat race of a middle class married couple in New York City, circa 1970. Carrie Snodgress’ Oscar-nominated performance as abusive Richard Benjamin’s isolated wife is one of the standout portrayals of the New Hollywood. As Snodgress’ marriage continues to disintegrate, she takes a lover (Frank Langella) to fill up the emotional vacuum. Before long, she finds that this solution is no solution at all. Frank Perry’s spouse and frequent writing collaborator, Eleanor, adapts the best-selling novel by Sue Kaufman. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Alice Cooper’s performance in a swinging party scene. "… great movie making." - Roger Greenspun, The New York Times NOT ON DVD THE DION BROTHERS (aka THE GRAVY TRAIN), 1974, Sony Repertory, 94 min. A once in a lifetime chance to see a totally lost and truly great film. Frederic Forrest (THE CONVERSATION; APOCALYPSE NOW) and Stacey Keach (FAT CITY) play West Virginia coal mining hicks who hit the big city looking to score. Robberies, betrayal and gunfire ensue. Directed with psychotic glee by the late great Jack Starrett (THE LOSERS; SMALL TOWN IN TEXAS), the film is a brutal and hysterical masterpiece. Wild, madcap, totally out of control, sidesplitting and terrifying. The great script is an early effort from Terrence Malick (BADLANDS) and Bill Kerby. Great supporting turns by Barry Primus, Denny Miller, Margot Kidder, Richard Romanus and Starret himself. (This only surviving 35mm print is faded.) NOT ON DVD DOC, 1971, MGM Repertory, 95 min. The only western from director Frank Perry (PLAY IT AS IT LAYS) is a radical deconstruction of American heroes as admired icons. Working from respected newspaperman and author Pete Hamill’s script, director Perry torches the mythologized take on Wyatt Earp (Harris Yulin) and Doc Holliday (Stacey Keach). Some have accused Perry of going too far in the opposite direction, but it is still refreshing to see this fascinating, alternate insight of Earp, the revered lawman (portrayed as a deeply flawed manipulator with political aspirations) and Holliday, the gambler loyal to his friend (shown as an ambivalent, tormented man unable to sustain relationships). Many memorable scenes abound, with exemplary performances, including Faye Dunaway as Holliday’s longstanding paramour, who was not the proverbial whore with a heart of gold. "Perry's approach…is altogether fascinating…the movie really does give you a sense of inhabiting the West…The preparations for the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral are properly cold-blooded, and the shoot-out itself is sudden, brief and terrible." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times NOT ON DVD THE DON IS DEAD, 1973, Universal, 115 min. Director Richard Fleischer could always be counted on to supply value for dollar as well as an unpretentious, straightforward quality to all of his productions. Nowhere is it more evident than in this underrated mob opus that was unjustly compared to the then-recently released THE GODFATHER. Gang boss Charles Cioffi (KLUTE), hoping to orchestrate a mob war so he can consolidate power, sets the wheels in motion when he introduces the ambitious singer girlfriend (Angel Tompkins) of mobster heir Robert Forster (JACKIE BROWN) to rival boss, Anthony Quinn. Adding to the escalating mayhem are hotheaded hitmen Frederic Forrest (APOCALYPSE NOW) and Al Lettieri (THE GETAWAY). DRESSED TO KILL (from IMDB) It is a dream-like movie, clever as hell, and with more zest and intelligence than a dozen films put together. I think the movie raises an important point that will always be a topic of heated discussion: could a movie rely solely on technique and still be considered an artistic success? The film has no message to speak of, acting is great but it is at the service of the style, and the script is short on logic. De Palma's movie makes a really good case that style, when handled properly, can sustain a feature length film. Sure, Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson, Nancy Allen and Keith Gordon give superlative performances, but this is a director's movie all the way to the fadeout. It is a sensational demonstration of the possibilities of the film medium. DRIVE HE SAID, 1971, Sony Repertory, 90 min. Jack Nicholson’s first trip behind the camera as director is a subtle character study about basketball, college and Viet Nam. It stands as one of the best sports-related movies ever made and captures the true feeling of the late sixties and early seventies college experience. William Tepper is a star basketball player with a drug-addled best friend (Michael Margotta) who is dodging the draft and a faculty wife girlfriend (Karen Black) bent on giving him the boot. Bruce Dern's performance as the snide, take-no-prisoners coach is masterfully hard-nosed. With Robert Towne and Henry Jaglom in prime supporting roles, and cinematography by Bill Butler. "Nicholson deftly illustrates the background cynicism of big time sports against the more obvious cynicism of college life." – Variety. NOT ON DVD Electra Glide in Blue (1973/color/114 min./Panavision) Scr: Rupert Hitzig, Robert Boris; dir: James William Guercio; w/ Robert Blake, Billy Green Bush, Mitchell Ryan, Elisha Cook Jr. A good man often meets an unjust fate, and in this transposition of the classic western to hippie-era Arizona, Robert Blake is a Vietnam vet turned motorcycle cop who is too honest to take the bribes and make the false arrests that would earn him detective status. Shot in Monument Valley by the brilliant cinematographer Conrad Hall (In Cold Blood), this forgotten film is the only feature directed by Guercio, the manager of the group Chicago, members of which appear in the movie. Ending with a five-minute, slow-motion zoom down an empty highway towards a fallen figure, Electra Glide looks forward to post-modern 'westerns' like David Lynch's Lost Highway and Gus Van Sant's Gerry. EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF (SAUVE QUI PEUT [LA VIE]) (1979, France) Godard returns to celluloid and storytelling, after a decade of non-narrative video experiments, in this low-key comic drama he described as his “second first film.” EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF focuses on recognizable urban types grappling with midlife crises and existential ennui: Jacques Dutronc (as “Paul Godard”!) and Nathalie Baye play TV producers stuck in a dissatisfying affair; while Isabelle Huppert also stars as a practical, no-nonsense prostitute (shades of VIVRE SA VIE). Sexually frank, emotionally wistful and visually refined, the film effectively inaugurates Godard’s mature period of Swiss-centric pastoralism. “A stunning, original work…breathtakingly beautiful and often very funny” (Vincent Canby, New York Times). Screenwriter: Anne-Marie Mieville, Jean-Claude Carriere. Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye, Cecile Tanner. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 87 min. EXECUTIVE ACTION, 1973, Warner Bros., 91 min. Years before Oliver Stone’s JFK, director David Miller (LONELY ARE THE BRAVE) pulled off one of the most shocking casting coups of the early 1970’s: Burt Lancaster and Robert Ryan as two rich Texas men on a commission of right-wing corporate honchos who are revealed to be the real force behind the JFK assassination. Alarmed at civil rights progress, Kennedy’s commitment to the nuclear test-ban treaty and his wavering on Viet-Nam, they plot the president’s demise with a coldly detached precision. The screenplay was penned by previously blacklisted Dalton Trumbo. With Will Geer, John Anderson. "…The filmmakers do not insist that they have solved John Kennedy's murder; instead, they simply evoke what might have happened, according to various researchers, including Mark Lane… The film's sternest and strongest point is that only a crazed person acting on his own would have been acceptable to the American public - which, at that time, certainly did not want to believe in a conspiracy." -- Nora Sayre, The New York Times (Because of rarity, this original print is slightly faded) NOT ON DVD FAMILY PLOT, 1976, Universal, 121 min. Director Alfred Hitchcock’s dazzling, masterful and overlooked final film. A phony medium (Barbara Harris) and a dim-witted cab driver/out-of-work actor (Bruce Dern), cross swords with a ruthless, duplicitous criminal couple (William Devane and Karen Black). Greed, kidnappings, jewel heists, and car chases ensue. Also featuring Katherine Helmond and the silhoutte of Alfred. The score was composed by John Williams. THE FAR SIDE OF JERICHO, 2007, First Look Pictures, 99 min. The opposite of recent "dark" westerns, this low-budget femme oater/homage to John Wayne and Randolph Scott movies just wants to have a good time. Both director Tim Hunter (RIVER’S EDGE), and hard-boiled cult writer James Crumley (THE LAST GOOD KISS), who co-wrote the script, like their westerns straight-up and action-packed with lots of dark humor. The result is a pistol-packing, great-looking, widescreen entertainment shot in spectacular New Mexico locations – a treat for those who like their westerns short on symbolism and tall in the saddle. Three widows of outlaw gang members are forced to flee a posse and villains who think the women know where their dead husbands’ loot is buried. On the perilous journey that includes run-ins with Indians, Pinkerton agents, and even a few surly ghosts, they have the opportunity to become better friends – if they manage to survive. The three "character actress" leads, Judith Burnett, Suzanne Andrews and Lissa Negrin are best friends in real life, and the salty supporting cast includes Patrick Bergin as a corrupt sheriff and James Gammon as a decidedly homicidal preacher. Co-starring John Diehl, C. Thomas Howell. THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON (1950, United States) Directed by Robert Siodmak Stanwyck stars as an aging femme fatale who intrigues a younger detective and makes him the scapegoat for the murder of her rich aunt that she and her gangster lover have committed. In the end, her conscience (and her heart) win out. Screenwriter: Ketti Frings. Camera: Wendell Corey. Cast: B. Stanwyck, Anthony Paul Kelly. Presented in English dialogue. 16mm, 100 min. FIRST NAME: CARMEN (PRÉNOM CARMEN) (1983, France) Godard repurposes Mérimée’s Carmen—and replaces Bizet with Beethoven, plus a dash of Tom Waits—in this shaggy-dog tale about a gorgeous aspiring terrorist conducting a torrid affair with the cop investigating her. In a continuation of his early ’80s semiautobiographical tendency, Godard himself appears as “Uncle Jean,” a once-great film director dreaming of a comeback from the confines of a lunatic asylum. Screenwriter: Anne-Marie Miéville. Cast: Maruschka Detmers, Jacques Bonnaffé, Myriem Roussel, Christophe Odent. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 85 min. FORCE OF EVIL, 1948, Republic (Paramount), 78 min. One of the most distinctive works of the original film noir era, Abraham Polonsky’s directorial debut is both a detailed exposé of the New York numbers racket (based on Ira Wolfert’s journalistic novel, Tucker’s People), and a riveting tale of a fallen man’s search for his soul (John Garfield, who also produced, burns up the screen in one of his best roles). Stylized art direction complements the vivid New York location footage. Featuring an evocative score by David Raksin and a memorable supporting performance by the great Thomas Gomez as Garfield’s older brother. An innovative and superlative film in every respect! "A poetic, terse, beautifully exact, and highly personal re-creation of the American underworld, with an unpunctuated Joycean screenplay by Polonsky that is perhaps unique in the American cinema." – Don Druker, Chicago Reader FOR EVER MOZART (1996, France) Godard’s autumnal musings on life, death and art coalesce around the plight of Sarajevo in this bifurcated narrative that first follows a group of literati on a doomed mission to stage de Musset in a war zone; and then tracks the equally quixotic efforts of an aging, Godardesque director to launch a political art film called Fatal Bolero. Cast: Madeleine Assas, Ghalia Lacroix, Berangere Allaux, Vicky Messica. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 84 min. FORTY GUNS (1957, United States) Directed by Samuel Fuller In Fuller’s cult western, Stanwyck again plays an authoritarian ranch boss, Jessica Drummond, who rules Arizona with her posse of hired gunmen. When a new marshall (Sullivan) arrives to set things straight, the cattle queen finds herself falling, brutally, for the avowedly non-violent lawman. Fuller once said that “Forty Guns is a film about weapons…the story of a man for whom a weapon becomes a terrible thing. For ten years, he had not touched a gun, because he was honest with himself. When he takes his weapon, he must use it. He was conditioned to get involved.” Screenwriter: Samuel Fuller. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan, Dean Jagger. 35mm, 79 min. FREEBIE AND THE BEAN, 1974, Warner Bros., 113 min. This cop buddy action film directed by Richard Rush (THE STUNT MAN) was mercilessly savaged by critics who found it disturbingly offensive – but it packed them in at the box office. Contrary to most then-current reviews, Rush’s approach is so insanely over-the-top, so remorselessly profane and politically incorrect, it transcends into an anarchic, anything-goes, live-action cartoon universe. Sensitive, though hot-tempered, Latino cop Alan Arkin is repeatedly provoked by his abusive, foulmouthed partner James Caan as they wreck most of San Francisco in a non-stop demolition derby trying to capture mobster Jack Kruschen. Valerie Harper is a standout as Arkin’s put-upon wife. "…rife with racism, homophobia and sexism. That it entertains rather than appalls is down to James Caan and Alan Arkin's brilliant badinage which, together with some excellent action sequences, ensure director Richard Rush's movie gets away with its detours into bad taste." – Channel 4 Film (UK) NOT ON DVD THE FURIES (1950, United States) Directed by Anthony Mann Anthony Mann’s The Furies marked Stanwyck’s return to the Western genre after more than a decade from her turn as Annie Oakley in 1935. The film casts her as Vance, Walter Huston’s fiercely headstrong daughter who runs his ranch in New Mexico Territory. Vance faithfully protects her best friend, the Mexican-American Juan (Roland). When her new socialite stepmother (Anderson) dares to challenge her authority, Vance disfigures her with a pair of scissors. Stanwyck’s character offers an action-packed, cowgirl rebellion against patriarchy that foreshadowed her later work with Mann and her role as matriarch Victoria Barkley in the 1960s television series, The Big Valley. Screenwriter: Charles Schnee. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Huston, Gilbert Roland, Judith Anderson. 35mm, 107 min. GERVAISE (1956, France) Directed by Rene Clement Derived from the same literary source as Nana (1926), Gervaise serves as a narrative prequel of sorts to Renoir’s seminal silent by chronicling the struggles of Nana’s mother, the eponymous heroine indelibly played by German star Maria Schell. Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, the foremost screenwriters of the classic French cinema’s “tradition of quality,” shrewdly condensed Zola’s sprawling epic of working-class life into a focused dramatic character study. Director René Clément surrounds the main story line with sensuous details that vividly evoke the teeming urban reality of mid-nineteenth-century Paris. In a stellar performance, Schell fully embodies the clubfooted laundry girl determined to improve her lot through hard work and sheer force of will. Armand Mestral plays the opportunistic lover who callously deserts her; François Périer is the initially good-hearted husband—and father to poor little Nana—whose kindness curdles into disappointment, jealousy, and chronic alcoholism. Jacques Harden dignifies a minor role as the principled blacksmith sadly destined to love Gervaise in vain. A leading figure in postwar French cinema, René Clément was praised for his realistic approach—“a style of pictorial naturalism that has scarcely been matched since Erich von Stroheim’s classic Greed” (The New York Times)—and dedication to historical accuracy, as when he rebuilt an authentic period washhouse in the studio for the famous set piece featuring Gervaise in a knockdown brawl with a romantic rival. Newspaper critics and festivals worldwide applauded Clément’s faithful adaptation of Zola’s downbeat social vision, and Gervaise was honored with an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, among many other awards. Based on the novel L'Assommoir by Emile Zola. Screenwriter: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost. Cast: Maria Schell, Francois Perier, Armand Mestral. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 16mm, 114 min. GOING HOME, 1971, Warner Bros., 97 min. Dir. Herbert B. Leonard. Another underrated film that came in even lower on audience radar than STRAIGHT TIME. Teenager Jan-Michael Vincent, after growing up in a succession of boys’ homes, tracks down the estranged, out-on-parole father (Robert Mitchum) who had murdered Vincent’s mother in a drunken rage years before. Mitchum, living in a trailer park with his savvy younger girlfriend (Brenda Vaccaro), is trying to put his life back together. But the dysfunctional dynamic is not so easily exorcised. Tanking at the box office and dismissed by critics, then-head of MGM Jim Aubrey took scissors to the film, much as he did to many other movies released on his watch (including PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID). It is a testament to this unassuming film’s quiet strength and to the performers (particularly Mitchum), that it remains as powerful today as on its initial release. NOT ON DVD GOLIATHON (from IMDB) Word of a monster ape ten stories tall living in the Himalayas reaches fortune hunters in Hong Kong. They travel to India to capture it, but wild animals and quicksand dissuade all but Johnny, an adventurer with a broken heart. He finds the monster and discovers it's been raising a scantily-clad woman, Samantha, since she survived a plane crash years before that killed her parents. In the idyllic jungle, Johnny and Samantha fall in love. Then Johnny asks her to convince "Utam" to go to Hong Kong... GUMSHOE, 1971, Sony Repertory, 88 min. This quirky crime comedy drama starring Albert Finney as a failed Liverpool comic and bingo caller with delusions of private-eye-dom was the feature directorial debut of Stephen Frears (THE QUEEN). Disillusioned Finney retains his sarcastic humor in the most dire circumstances, whether it’s having to deal with his detested, upscale brother (Frank Finlay) who has married his girlfriend (Billie Whitelaw) or the complications that ensue on his first job as a detective, finding himself abruptly up to his eyeballs in smuggling, South African politics, seductive villainesses (Janice Rule) and homicide. An underrated gem, filled with priceless dialogue and an evocative pop score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (before he descended into bombast). NOT ON DVD The Harder They Fall 1956/b&w/109 min. | Scr: Philip Yordan; dir: Mark Robson; w/ Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, Jan Sterling In his last film role, Bogart plays a has-been sportswriter who enters into an unholy alliance with a crooked promoter (Steiger, in a powerhouse performance) to profit off an untalented boxer by fixing a series of bouts. Based on a novel by Budd Schulberg, the film won acclaim for its realistic exposé of corruption in professional boxing and for the raw brutality of its fight scenes—the result of Guffey's innovative, and Oscar-nominated, point-of-view camerawork inside the ring. THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY The Academy salutes the iconic star John Wayne on the occasion of his 100th birthday with the theatrical premiere of a new restoration of The High and the Mighty, a project to which Wayne’s son Michael and daughter-in-law Gretchen dedicated themselves for more than a decade. Wayne co-produced and starred in the story of an experienced but burned-out airline pilot who must save the day when his plane’s engine fails on a flight from Hawaii to San Francisco. Released in 1954, this film was a prototype of the modern airborne disaster film. The High and the Mighty was shot in CinemaScope under the direction of Academy Award®-nominated director William Wellman. It boasts an Oscar®-winning score by Dimitri Tiomkin, who earned a remarkable 22 Oscar nominations and four statuettes over the course of his prolific career. The theme song he wrote for the film became so identified with Wayne that it was played at his funeral. THE HOSPITAL, 1971, MGM Repertory, 103 min. Dir. Arthur Hiller. Before Paddy Chayefsky took a blowtorch to television with his screenplay for the Academy Award-winning NETWORK, he dismantled New York City’s disintegrating public health care system with this scathing, darkly comic indictment that won him the Oscar for Best Screenplay. His personal life in a shambles, George C. Scott is the chief of medicine at a hospital where patients are dying from caregivers’ errors and mistaken identities. To make matters worse, there may also be a psychotic murderer on the loose in the building. Just-arrived Diana Rigg, waiting and hoping to take her comatose father (Barnard Hughes) home to the Sioux reservation where he operates a clinic, forms an emotional bond with Scott when the two are not trading quick-witted barbs. But will they both survive the escalating insanity of an establishment collapsing in on itself? Human Desire 1954/b&w/91 min. | Scr: Alfred Hayes; dir: Fritz Lang; w/ Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford Émile Zola's novel La Bête humaine inspired Jean Renoir's compassionate 1938 film about a man (Jean Gabin) destroyed by hereditary madness. In Lang's uniquely American version, a greedy, amoral, manipulative woman-brilliantly played by Grahame-becomes fatally enmeshed in a scheme to have her brutish husband murdered by her passive, train-conductor lover. Shot in the rail yards, bars, and postwar bungalows of working-class Stockton, California, this film is a gripping but harrowing vision of a world with abundant desire but little humanity. "What we remember in Lang are the geometrical patterns of trains, tracks, and fateful camera angles." —Andrew Sarris ICI ET AILLEURS (1974, France) Directed by J.L. Goddard and Anne-Marie Mieville Godard’s first collaboration with Anne-Marie Miéville and first major work on video, ICI ET AILLEURS links the Palestinian struggle in the Middle East to larger historical forces as well as the domestic concerns facing an average French family. Using material originally shot with Jean-Pierre Gorin in 1970 for a polemical documentary to be called JUSQU’À LA VICTOIRE (UNTIL VICTORY), Godard and Miéville re-edited footage of PLO militants into a thoughtful autocritique that reconsiders the ideological stance and formal methods of the Dziga Vertov Group in a less dogmatic, more exploratory light. Advocating dialectics over strident agitprop, Godard and Miéville achieve "a rare form of lucidity and purity" (Jonathan Rosenbaum). Screenwriter: J.L. Goddard, Anne-Marie Mieville. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. DV, 60 min. In a Lonely Place 1950/b&w/94 min. | Scr: Andrew Solt; dir: Nicholas Ray; w/ Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy When Dixon Steele, a Hollywood screenwriter suffering from creative burnout, is interrogated in the murder of a hatcheck girl, the glamorous woman across the courtyard provides an alibi, followed by a warm bed and the illusion of domestic bliss. But she begins to fear that the man she saved and loves is a killer. Strikingly contemporary in its heady mixture of sex and fear, In a Lonely Place is a psychological whodunit without a solution, a visually seductive depiction of a doomed love affair, and a sardonic portrait of life on Hollywood's fringes. As Richard Schickel wrote in Time magazine, "Steele is a modern archetype-a talented, disappointed man surrendering to an anger he cannot govern, an existential blackness he cannot understand." INFRAMAN (from IMDB) The ten million year-old Princess Dragon Mom (Terry Liu) attempts to conquer the earth with her legion of mutant monsters. In response, Professor Chang (Wang Hsieh) creates Inframan, turning a young volunteer into a bionic superhero to save the world. However, the Princess kidnaps Chang's daughter. Can Inframan save her and the planet before it's too late? Jour de Fete A cycling comedy by French director Jacques Tati, which tells the story of an inept postal carrier. Influenced by too much wine and a newsreel on the rapidity of the American postal service, he goes to hilarious lengths to speed his mail deliveries aboard his bicycle. THE KING OF MARVIN GARDENS, 1972, Sony Repertory, 103 min. Jack Nicholson and director Bob Rafelson’s follow-up to FIVE EASY PIECES was this quirky character study. Nicholson, an iconoclastic, late night, radio talk show host, is fundamentally at odds with his fast-talking, ne’erdowell brother (Bruce Dern) who is fronting for Atlantic City gangsters. Dern, along with girlfriend Ellen Burstyn and her stepdaughter Julia Anne Robinson, tries to convince his younger sibling that this time his get-rich schemes and tropical island fantasies will work. But built-up resentments from all concerned gradually boil over into violence, toppling the delicate balance of repressed emotions. With Scatman Crothers, John Ryan. LADIES THEY TALK ABOUT (1933, United States) Directed by Walter Bretherton and William Keighley In this campy exposé of female prisons, Stanwyck plays Nan Taylor, a gangster’s moll who is arrested and sent to the big house after acting as a decoy during a bank robbery. Screenwriter: Brown Holmes, Sidney Sutherland, William McGrath. Cast: B. Stanwyck, Preston S. Foster, Lyle Talbot, Dorothy Burgess. Presented in English dialogue. 35mm, 64 min. THE LADY EVE (1941, United States) Directed by Preston Sturges As con artist Jean Harrington (aka the Lady Eve Sidwich) who toys with a young Henry Fonda, Stanwyck delivers one of her most memorable performances. An all-time screwball comedy classic. Cast: B. Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, Eugene Palette. Presented in English dialogue. 35mm, 90 min. THE LAST WAVE, 1977, Cowboy Pictures, 106 min. Director Peter Weir’s haunting supernatural parable stars Richard Chamberlain as a lawyer hired to defend an Aboriginal man accused of murder. As he delves deeper and deeper into the case, Chamberlain starts experiencing hallucinatory dreams and premonitions of a terrible impending disaster in which he plays a pivotal role. "Most of my films have been left incomplete, with the viewer as the final participant … One is constantly left wondering and I love it when that’s done to me in a film." – Peter Weir. La Vie en rose 2007/color/140 min./CinemaScope | Scr: Olivier Dahan, Isabelle Sobelman; dir: Olivier Dahan; w/ Marion Cotillard, Gérard Depardieu, Sylvie Testud, Pascal Greggory, Emmanuelle Seigner Raised in the slums of Paris, Edith Piaf-nicknamed the Little Sparrow-ascended from her humble beginnings to perform in the world's greatest concert halls before enthusiastic fans who applauded her husky voice, unique stage presence, and emotionally naked rendition of songs like "La Vie en Rose" and "Non, je ne regret rien." Piaf alternated between periods of success and fortune, tragedy and scandal, yet her passionate romances and close friendships with personalities such as Yves Montand, Jean Cocteau, Charles Aznavour, and Marlene Dietrich made her an international celebrity. More than forty years after her death, French director Olivier Dahan has created a cinematic memorial to this legendary singer, featuring a star-studded cast. The Left-Handed Gun (1958/b&w/102 min.) Scr: Leslie Stevens; dir: Arthur Penn; w/ Paul Newman, Lita Milan, Hurd Hatfield The western's new psychological realism erupted with Penn's depiction of legendary gunslinger Billy the Kid as an illiterate, ignorant orphan whose monosyllabic speech and self-posturing cloak an animal-like intelligence, and a crippling need for a father-figure. Adapted from a television play by Gore Vidal, this harsh film follows Billy from killer to legend up to his final meeting with Pat Garrett, but there is no nostalgia in its moments of sudden, painful violence "The contrast between the legend and the miserable human reality anticipates Bonnie and Clyde." -Robin Wood, Arthur Penn LE GAI SAVOIR (1968, France) Commissioned by (but never aired on) French television as an adaptation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s educational treatise Émile, LE GAI SAVOIR was Godard’s first attempt at a “zero degree” approach after his outright rejection of narrative on strict political grounds. Extending the omnivorous essayistic tendencies of his pre-’68 films, Godard uses a bevy of didactic Brechtian devices to round out a spare account of young militants Jean-Pierre Léaud (“Émile Rousseau”) and Juliet Berto (“Patricia Lumumba”) meeting in a darkened TV studio to discuss, and ultimately deconstruct, the oppressive connection between language and capitalism. “One of Godard’s most beautiful, most visually lucid movies” (Vincent Canby, New York Times). Cast: Jean-Pierre Leaud, Juliet Berto. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 16mm, 95 min. THE LAST OF SHEILA, 1973, Warner Bros., 120 min. Herbert Ross directs the ultimate puzzle movie, a who-done-it that could be described as SLEUTH on a boat. Concocted by friends and puzzle lovers Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, the film is sexy, smart, sinister, and makes Robert Altman’s cynical view of the Hollywood fraternity in THE PLAYER look downright quaint. Producer James Coburn throws a party on his yacht for his friends and enemies, a struggling screenwriter (Richard Benjamin), his rich wife (Joan Hackett) a down-at-his-heels former A-list director (James Mason), a fading starlet (Raquel Welch), her gigolo boyfriend (Ian Mcshane, of "Deadwood") and an acid-tongued agent (Dyan Cannon). LEO, THE LAST, 1970, MGM Repertory, 104 min. Director John Boorman’s shamefully neglected comedy drama chronicles impoverished Italian nobleman Marcello Mastroianni’s alternately whimsical and wistful experiences residing in a black London ghetto. Veers beautifully and skillfully between carefully observed character study and guerrilla theater. Co-starring Billie Whitelaw, Calvin Lockhart, Louis Gossett, Jr. "…a most engagingly shy and sensitive Marcello Mastroianni, in a performance of great self-effacing intelligence. Everybody around him is good, but the black family across the way, that is not even heard until near the end, is superb. Glenna Forster Jones - skinny, sexy, bright and tough - would by herself be reason for going to any movie. And Boorman seems to excel in sensing where his actors most vividly and subtly meet the characters he has in mind…in his newest movie he reveals a taste for profitable risk-taking that is a characteristic of the very best directors." -- Roger Greenspun, The New York Times NOT ON DVD LE PLAISIR (1952, France) Directed by Max Ophuls A protégé of Flaubert and his school of “naturalism,” Maupassant believed modern fiction should aim not at “telling a story or entertaining us or touching our hearts, but at forcing us to think and understand the deeper, hidden meaning of events.” Le Plaisir, based on three Maupassant stories, was made after Ophüls returned to France from Hollywood, post-Liberation, at a time perhaps when the director best related to Maupassant’s social cynicism. Yet through his beautiful cinematography and his empathetic view of women’s roles in society, Ophüls softened Maupassant’s nihilism to create an ode to human desperation. The narrator of the film tells us this is a “fairy tale for adults.” Indeed the film deals frankly with sexuality and passion. In the first tale, “Le Masque,” a male reveler bursts onto the dance floor while the camera exuberantly circles him until he passes out. Attended by a doctor, the man, sporting top hat, tails, and an eerie mask, turns out to be aged. The doctor questions the man’s behavior, which his tolerant wife describes as his compulsion to act young. The second, and longest, vignette finds the local brothel closing for a day (much to the chagrin of the town’s outstanding male patrons) in order to attend the Madam’s niece’s communion. Ophüls channels Renoir, as the overdressed, buoyant prostitutes ride open-aired through the countryside, regaling in their hard-won day of freedom. Here is Ophüls at his most poignant: the beauty of the countryside, the hard yet sensual edge of the women, the heartsick farmer, the women experiencing a moment of collective truth in the church. The third tale, “Le Modéle,” is the saddest of the three, questioning beauty, attraction, and devotion, as a painter falls hard for a model, then tires of her with near tragic results—“Possession is always followed by the disgust of familiarity.” How tempting pleasure can be, and how unrealistic. Based on stories by Guy de Maupassant. Screenwriter: Jacques Natanson, Max Ophuls. Cast: Claude Dauphin, Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, Simone Simon. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 16mm, 93 min. The Life of Oharu 1952/b&w/136 min. | Scr: Kenji Mizoguchi, Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Kinuyo Tanaka, Tsukie Matsuura Mizoguchi considered Oharu to be his masterpiece, and many critics agree. No film rivals Oharu's exquisite sense of composition, and the implacability of its chronicle of the downfall of a woman. Tanaka, whose career was synonymous with Mizoguchi's for many years, plays Oharu, an imperious court lady of the Edo period who lives in Kyoto. When she is sold to a feudal lord, she is subjected to a series of humiliations and ends up as a streetwalker-old and broken, but undefeated. "One of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema." —Derek Malcolm LIPSTICK, 1976, Paramount, 89 min. Dir. Lamont Johnson. This intense, fast-moving and well-acted guilty pleasure was unfairly savaged by critics. Glamorous supermodel Margaux Hemingway (in her acting debut) presses charges when raped by her little sister’s music teacher, arrogant composer Chris Sarandon. Prosecuted by fierce district attorney Anne Bancroft, Sarandon’s character has the predatory instinct for indignantly coming off as the real wronged party and walks after being found innocent. Devastated Hemingway tries to cope with the disappointment, but is soon galvanized into spectacular, avenging action when Sarandon next rapes her little sister (Mariel Hemingway, in a stunning debut). The climax shot at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center has to be seen to be believed, simultaneously echoing Helmut Newton and Sam Peckinpah. "Though suffused with guilty pleasures, it's also a devastating look at society's unfair tendencies to make clear divisions between Madonna and Whore labels." -- Ed Henderson, Slant Magazine THE LIVES OF OTHERS (DAS LEBEN DER ANDEREN) (2006, Sony Pictures Classics, 137 min.) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. During the reign of the Stasi or German State Security, people lived in fear, especially those working in the arts – those who thought differently or were too free-spirited. In this political thriller/human drama that begins in East Berlin in 1984 (just five years prior to Glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Germany), the characters struggle with doing the right thing no matter how far they have gone down the wrong path. THE LIVES OF OTHERS traces the gradual disillusionment of Captain Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Muhe), a highly skilled officer of the Stasi secret police. He is among the vast network of government informants paid to spy on "the lives of others." When Weisler is assigned to investigate famous playwright George Dreyman (Sebastian Koch) and his actress girlfriend Christa-Maria (Martina Gedeck). His surveillance ultimately becomes a test of his allegiances and his moral principles. As the situation progresses, he comes to some shocking revelations that profoundly impact his own life. LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, 1977, Paramount, 135 min. This adaptation of Judith Rossner’s bestselling novel (based on a real event) was director Richard Brooks’ (IN COLD BLOOD) last commercially successful, critically acclaimed film. Diane Keaton plays a straight-arrow, Catholic teacher for deaf children who gradually descends into a whirlpool of promiscuous sex and drugs after an unhappy affair. Cruising bars to meet available young studs inevitably puts her at great risk of her personal safety. One of the first mainstream American films to seriously explore the darker side of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s -- the ending was a shocker at the time and still retains its power to disturb. With Tuesday Weld, Richard Kiley, Richard Gere (in the role that put him on the map) and William Atherton. NOT ON DVD THE LOOKOUT (from IMDB) An admired high school hockey player (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) with a bright future foolishly takes a drive in the night with his girl friend and two other friends with his headlights off with devastating results. The former athlete is left with a brain injury that prevents him from remembering many things for extended periods of time. To compensate, he keeps notes in a small notebook to aid him in remembering what he is to do. He also lives with a blind friend (Jeff Daniels) who aids him. Obviously, with the mental incapacitation, he is unable to have meaningful work. Thus he works as a night cleaning man in a bank. It is there he comes under the scrutiny of a gang planning to rob the bank. The leader (Matthew Goode) befriends him and gets him involved with a young woman (Isla Fisher) who further reels him in. After they get close and after reeling him in with his own failures, the bank plan unfolds. THE LOVED ONE, 1965, MGM (Warners), 121 min. The movie with something to offend everyone! Judged unfilmable for over a decade (Luis Buñuel was trying to set it up for years), writer Evelyn Waugh’s spot-on satire of Southern California - specifically the funeral business – was finally brought to the screen in the mid-Sixties by director Tony Richardson (TOM JONES) with a screenplay by Terry Southern (CANDY, EASY RIDER) and Christopher Isherwood (!). Robert Morse, a British youth visiting his uncle (John Gielgud) in Los Angeles encounters the weird world of tinseltown’s mortuary subculture, embodied by twins Henry and Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy (Jonathan Winters in a dual role), embalmer Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger) and his beautiful apprentice, Aimee Thanatogenous (Anjanette Comer). Marketed as "the motion picture with something to offend everyone!", this is an achingly funny pitch black comedy that could only have been released in the anything-goes era of the 1960s. With Liberace, Paul Williams, Dana Andrews. MADAME BOVARY (1949, United States) Directed by Vincente Minnelli Flaubert and Manet share the title of “fathers of modernism” in the nineteenth century. As Manet’s work scandalized French society (Olympia and Luncheon on the Grass in particular), Flaubert’s Madame Bovary brought him to trial in 1857. The prosecutor based his case not only on the immorality of the title character but also because the author failed to give his protagonist a conscience. Flaubert’s defense rested on his aesthetic choice: his dedication to realism and to the nonjudgmental representation of life. Minnelli’s take on Emma Bovary is also sympathetic: in his film, the testimony of Flaubert (James Mason) on trial bookends the narrative. (Scholars have noted that Flaubert never spoke at his trial.) Here, Flaubert/Minnelli attest that Emma’s life as a frustrated petit-bourgeois housewife of provincial Dr. Charles Bovary was not the result of willful sinning, but of the false expectations of her romantic illusions. As Flaubert states: “ What exasperated her was that Charles did not seem to notice her anguish. His conviction that he was making her happy seemed to her an imbecile insult, and his sureness on this point ingratitude. For whose sake, then was she virtuous?” Madame Bovary was filmed many times on several continents. Many critics cite this version as the best, due not only to Minnelli’s cinematic genius but also to the artificial opulence of MGM’s costumes and furnishings, all of which were well suited to Emma’s grandiose fantasies. Based on the novel by Gustave Flaubert. Screenwriter: Robert Ardrey. Cast: Jennifer Jones, James Mason, Van Heflin. Presented in English dialogue. 35mm, 115 min. MAFIOSO (from IMDB) I've never seen black and white film look so rich, sensuous and stunningly attractive; Cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi hit the nail on the head, creating a very rich and vibrant looking film. At times my mind naturally filled in the colors due to the crisp clarity of all the images, both of natural, rural scenes, and modern, city/industrial settings. Art director Carlo Egidi masterfully blends the surrounding background of everyday life with his set designs and costumes so that it is impossible to separate the two; truly a mirrored recreation of the day in the life of a modern Sicilian during mid-60's. Each scene is so thought out, and crafted so well that at times their is an almost alien effect, due to the deep endearing political and social dynamics which has become lost in our culture and films today in the 21st century. This effect at times appears exaggerated due to its robust social nature, yet does the job in creating a warm, stunning and beautiful feel to this film. A MARRIED WOMAN (UNE FEMME MARIÉE) (1964, France) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard Deemed scandalous for its casual treatment of infidelity and condemned by French authorities on its original release, UNE FEMME MARIEE describes a day in the life of a lovely young wife (Macha Meril) torn between her pilot husband (Philippe Leroy) and her journalist lover (Bernard Noel). Godard characteristically disrupts this conventional tale with his arsenal of distanciation techniques and sociological digressions. The subtitle, "fragments of a film shot in 1964," suggests the episodic method: a narrative broken up by talking-head interviews, camera tricks, and random graphic inserts pulled from newspapers, magazines, advertisements, posters and billboards--the image-saturated modern mediascape that envelops characters, audience and auteur alike. Screenwriter: Jean-Luc Godard. Cinematographer: Raoul Coutard. Editor: Agnes Guillemot, Françoise Collin. Cast: Macha Méril, Bernard Noël, Philippe Leroy, Roger Leenhardt. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 16mm, 98 min. THE MIDNIGHT MAN, 1974, Universal, 117 min. Dir. Roland Kibbee/Burt Lancaster. "The Ex-con. The Hippie. The Senator. The Pervert. The Lesbian. The Professor. The Sheriff. The Sadist. One of them is a murderer. All of them make the most fascinating murder mystery in years." Despite the ridiculous tagline, this is one of the most original, well-acted (and least-known) mystery thrillers released during the 1970’s. Former homicide detective Burt Lancaster, released after serving a term for shooting his unfaithful wife and her lover, finds the only job he can get is as a college campus security guard. Shortly after he discovers a break-in of campus psychologist Robert Quarry’s office, where patient tapes were stolen, the troubled student daughter (Catherine Bach) of politician Morgan Woodward is murdered. Sheriff Harris Yulin assigns guilt to a hapless, oddball janitor, but Lancaster believes differently. As he tries to find the real killer, he quickly descends into a nightmarish, nocturnal world of small town prejudice and dark secrets. Fans of "Twin Peaks" will notice some plot element similarities faintly echoed later in David Lynch’s cult TV series. NOT ON DVD MIRACLE MILE (from efilmcritic) What do you do when you're given the deadline for the end of the world? Steve De Jarnatt's insidiously clever and utterly gripping nuclear thriller begins as a romantic lark--amiable swing trombonist Anthony Edwards meets girl of his dreams Mare Winningham--and turns into a nightmarish vision of society out of control. It all turns on the chance pick-up of a ringing pay phone at 4 a.m. and a panicked voice breathlessly warning Edwards that World War III has been launched. Genuine wake-up call or elaborate prank? De Jarnatt plays his hand close to the chest, which only increases the unnerving tension as word spreads like a contagion. Future E.R. star Edwards is perfectly cast as the everyman driven to reckless desperation and director De Jarnatt creates wonders on a small budget. His vision of L.A.'s Miracle Mile gripped in the blind panic of a careening traffic jam is both believable and chilling. THE MIRACLE WOMAN (1931, United States) Directed by Frank Capra Inspired by the life of Los Angeles-based evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, Stanwyck’s second collaboration with Capra produced this riveting portrayal of the daughter of a fallen minister who curses his congregation for their hypocrisy. Vowing to turn her anger into cash by exploiting blind faith, she becomes “Sister Fallon,” who performs fake miracles in exchange for donations. Her scheme works well until a handsome blind man (Manners) captures her heart. The remnants of Semple’s church still exist on Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park. Screenwriter: Jo Swerling. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, David Manners, Sam Hardy. 35mm, 87 min. MON ONCLE, 1958, Janus Films, 110 min. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The New York Times' Vincent Canby once described Jacques Tati's M. Hulot alter-ego as "a kind of fixed point in a view finder with which we are able to put the rest of the world into properly hilarious focus." This is no less true than in Tati's Academy Award-winning MON ONCLE. Following the commercial and critical success of 1953's M. HULOT'S HOLIDAY, Tati set Hulot packing for the suburbs. Rendering Le Corbusier's proclamation that a house is "a machine for living in" literally, Tati's Hulot bumbles through modernity's "gadgeted and pushbuttoned realms," to use New York Times critic Bosley Crowther's apt description of the factory floor and the family home. There Hulot commiserates with his young nephew on the awkward and always comic affects of modernism – such as lawn paths that wind like couture runways or oval windows that resemble cartoon eyes peeping down on visitors. Though Tati would make the claim in a 1968 Cahiers du Cinema interview that he "went a little astray with MON ONCLE" it remains one of his most beloved films. MR. HULOT’S HOLIDAY (LES VACANCES DE MONSIEUR HULOT), 1953, Janus Films, 85 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Tati’s first film as Monsieur Hulot, one of cinema's great comic personas, finds the irascible Frenchman going to a resort town for a vacation and chaos predictably ensues. A warm and whimsical hymn to the joys of life and the funny little things continually happening around us we often fail to notice. Both films in French with English subtitles. MY COUSIN RACHEL, 1952, 20th Century Fox, 98 min. Dir. Henry Koster. Richard Burton made his American screen debut in this standout adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic mystery. Olivia de Havilland keeps Burton (and us) guessing until the very end as to whether or not she killed her husband, Burton’s older cousin and guardian, for his wealth, or whether she is a victim of circumstance genuinely concerned for Burton’s welfare. The interiors and exteriors of the house on the cliffs, as well as the other sets in general, all serve to create a genuinely delirious, dark romanticism that perfectly embodies this early 19th century saga. Art director John DeCuir was Oscar-nominated for his work here (along with colleagues, Lyle R. Wheeler and Walter M. Scott). The film received three other Academy Award nominations, including Burton for Best Supporting Actor. Discussion following the screening on the work of Academy Award-winning art director John DeCuir. NANA (1926, France) Directed by Jean Renoir Before directing Nana, his second silent feature, Jean Renoir saw Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives (1922) and, in his own words, “glimpsed the possibility of touching the public by authentic subjects in the tradition of French realism.” Inspired by Stroheim’s aesthetic example and based on a portion of Émile Zola’s naturalistic novel L’Assommoir, Nana was self-financed by Renoir as a vehicle for his then-wife Catherine Hessling in the title role. Hessling dominates the screen as the vivacious actress-turned-courtesan whose irresistible sexuality brings men willingly to their knees. The esteemed German actor Werner Krauss costars as Muffat, the smitten sugar daddy who bankrolls Nana’s lavish lifestyle but receives only humiliation and shame in return. Jean Angelo and Raymond Guérin-Catelain play spurned suitors fated to suffer equally ignominious ends. Preparing for the shoot, Renoir made a “study of French gesture as reflected in the paintings of my father and the other artists of his generation.” The result is a meticulous concern for period authenticity and textural naturalism in the re-creation of Paris during the Second Empire. Renoir’s vaunted realism, though, is also tempered by his interest in artifice, exemplified by Hessling’s theatrically stylized pantomime and Claude Autant-Lara’s sumptuous sets and costumes. Despite its groundbreaking attention to psychological nuance and physical detail, the film proved a commercial failure, and Renoir lost his considerable investment in the production. Today, however, Nana is recognized as a classic French silent and, according to the formalist critic Noël Burch, was no less than “a key film in the development of a cinematic language.” Indeed, history has concurred with Renoir’s own judgment of Nana as “my first film worth talking about.” Based on the novel L'Assommoir by Emile Zola. Scenario: Pierre Lestringuez, Jean Renoir, Denise Leblond-Zola. Cast: Catherine Hessling, Jean Angelo, Werner Krauss. 35mm, silent, with French intertitles. A simultaneous English translation will be provided., 135 min. THE NEW CENTURIONS, 1972, Sony Repertory, 103 min. Director Richard Fleischer brings his usual straightforward approach to this underrated adaptation of former cop-turned-author Joseph Wambaugh’s bestseller. George C. Scott is excellent as the seasoned police veteran who shepherds young newcomer Stacey Keach in the ways of the street. Initially hoping to support himself by police work until he gets his degree, law student Keach is gradually worn down by the pitiless grind and lets go of his ambition and family (wife, Jane Alexander). The job likewise takes its toll on Scott, but he is better at keeping his emotions hidden – until it is too late. Surprisingly downbeat, this is one of the better films made about mid-20th century law enforcement, obviously influencing such later pictures as COLORS, and it captures the smog-baked hell of Los Angeles like few other movies from the 1970’s. With an outstanding supporting cast that includes Scott Wilson (IN COLD BLOOD), Rosalind Cash, James Sikking ("Hill Street Blues"), Clifton James and Erik Estrada. NOT ON DVD Nightfall 1957/b&w/78 min. | Scr: Stirling Silliphant; dir: Jacques Tourneur; w/ Aldo Ray, Anne Bancroft, Brian Keith Told largely in flashback, this late noir is the fatalistic tale of James Vanning (Ray), an innocent man who, in the company of a sympathetic model (Bancroft, in her first film role), flees from Los Angeles to Wyoming. The two sadistic thugs who framed him for murder and left him for dead give pursuit. "Vanning is not haunted by a dark and distant past but driven by an unsettled and immediate present," wrote Alain Silver in Film Noir. "Contrary to archetype, for Vanning the black streets promise some measure of safety, while the bright snow-covered landscape recalls pain and near death." NIGHT NURSE (1931, United States) Directed by William Wellman Fast-paced, sexy, and over the top, this medical melodrama follows the titular character (Stanwyck) as she uncovers a plot to starve two little girls to death for their inheritance. Stanwyck’s detective work, aided by a fellow nurse (Blondell) and her bootlegger boyfriend, ultimately saves the day in this pre-Code feature that wastes no opportunity to show plenty of lingerie. The actress proves herself as a tough and funny performer, with energy to spare. Screenwriter: Oliver P. Garrett. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, Ben Lyon, Clark Gable. 35mm, 73 min. NIGHT OF THE COMET (from IMDB) Trapped in a hellish copyright limbo for over a decade, Thom Eberhardt's "Night Of The Comet" is a film whose reputation is due for a serious rehabilitation. Generally--and wrongly--categorized with typical 80s teen horror films, "Comet" is in fact a smart, skillful parody of the low-budget sci-fi horror classics of the 50s, 60s and 70s--and a wry commentary on teen culture in the 1980s as well. For those familiar with the original films, the parody "clues" are all over the place--not least of which is that the early part of the film takes place in the back of LA's classically offbeat El Rey movie theatre, which is showing low-budget B horror movies. Most of the "scary" scenes are preceded (subtly or otherwise) by the famous "red light" warning used commonly in the 60s and 70s. And the apocalyptic plot, settings and dialog, especially among the scientists, are straight out of the 50s. Catherine Mary Stewart is by far the centerpiece of the movie as Reggie, the only teenage girl in Los Angeles who's both a lowly-paid theatre usher and an expert with assault weapons. She is most definitely *not* a Valley Girl. A pre-"Voyager" Robert Beltran is Hector "date night in the barrio" Gomez, the classic b-movie hero, and far more engaging here than his stoic, dry-as-bones role for the McTrek franchise. Kelli Maroney brings the totally 80s camp value as Valley Girl Samantha, who realizes with horror that her pool of potential Izod-clad boyfriends has just shrunk dramatically. Geoffrey Lewis sheds his mostly Western image here as the deliciously megalomaniacal leader of the researchers, whose taste for superscience soon gives way to a craving for hot buttered gray matter. Eberhardt is a canny director who doesn't miss a trick--the scares are rare, but when they come, they'll get you. The gore is minimal, but the atmosphere of malevolence gets progressively thicker until the climax. NOTRE MUSIQUE (2004, France) A trip by Godard to a literary conference in Sarajevo provides the backdrop for this elegiac reflection on war and its relation to cinema, memory and language. The film mixes fiction and documentary, with Godard and authors Mahmoud Darwish and Juan Goytisolo playing themselves. Cast: Sarah Adler, Nade Dieu, J.L. Goddard. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 80 min. NOUVELLE VAGUE (1990, France) An allusive, elegant meditation on natural beauty and anguished critique of corporate capitalism, Nouvelle Vague stars Alain Delon as a careworn drifter lured by an attractive businesswoman (Domiziana Giordano) into a fraught pas de deux complicated by sexual desire, class antagonism and gender difference. Cast: Alain Delon, Domiziana Giordano, Laurence Cote. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 89 min. THE OLD FASHIONED WAY The Academy is pleased to present a celebration of the life and career of W.C. Fields that returns the comedic giant to the silver screen and offers biographical, critical and nostalgic(al) commentary by his descendants, co-stars and admirers. The evening includes a screening of the classic feature The Old Fashioned Way and also provides a final opportunity to view the Academy’s Fourth Floor Gallery exhibition “The Peregrinations and Pettifoggery of W.C. Fields,” which will remain open after the film’s conclusion. The Old Fashioned Way stars Fields as The Great McGonigle, the manager of a 19th century theatrical troupe, who secures financing for his staging of “The Drunkard” by manipulating a wealthy, stagestruck widow. Fields’s talents as a comedic juggler and vaudeville performer are on ample display in this charming and uproarious comedy. Once Upon a Time in the West (1967/color/165 min./CinemaScope) Scr: Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati; dir: Sergio Leone; w/ Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Charles Bronson, Jason Robards Jr. The coming of the railroad to Sweetwater, Arizona drives the action in Leone's Kurosawa-influenced epic, a violent meditation on capitalism in the Old West. Legendary for its variations in visual scale from extreme long shot to extreme close-up, its haunting score by Ennio Morricone, the casting against type of Henry Fonda as a cold, blue-eyed killer, and a slow opening sequence in which three killers wait for a train, Once Upon a Time in the West brilliantly employs the western's own myths to breathe life into a tired genre. "A film that springs entirely from American westerns as seen by Europeans, and yet assumes an emotional texture every bit as varied and full-bodied as a film taken from lived experience." -Dave Kehr, New York Times THE OTHER, 1972, 20th Century Fox, 108 min. Actor-turned-novelist Tom Tryon scored his first hit with this subtle 1930’s, rural New England horror movie about mischievous twins Niles and Holland Perry (Chris and Martin Udvarnoky). Director Robert Mulligan (TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD) brings a real sense of time and place to this genuinely frightening story. Along with DON’T LOOK NOW, it stands as one of the scariest movies ever made. Famed acting teacher Uta Hagen gives perhaps her greatest, most well-known performance on film as the twins’ wise, decidedly-Old World grandmother. Look for Victor French, John Ritter and Diana Muldaur in key supporting roles. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Robert Surtees (THE LAST PICTURE SHOW) and scored by the great Jerry Goldsmith. PARADE, 1974, Janus Films, 84 min. Rarely screened, PARADE is likely the least seen of Jacques Tati's works. Freed from the persona and its ancillary mannerism that he had inhabited onscreen for twenty years, Tati returns to the vibrant pantomiming and giddy clowning of his youth as a music-hall star. Shot on video and originally intended for Swedish television, PARADE is described by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as "deceptively modest and boldly experimental." Called at times a pseudo-documentary, it depicts a circus performing for a small audience on a soundstage. Maintaining TRAFFIC's exploration of close-ups, hidden cameras and the telephoto lens in general, PARADE is likened by Serge Daney to "a luminous trail of colors in an electronic landscape." Tati would never direct another film, much less produce another television program. Yet PARADE remains a fascinating sketch of what Tati on the tube could have been. Plus prior to the feature films: "Forza Bastia 78," 2002, 26 min. Jacques Tati’s lost short rediscovered and edited by his daughter Sophie Tatischeff. Both films in French with English subtitles. PARIS, JE T’AIME (2006) This cosmopolitan update of the 1965 anthology film, PARIS VU PAR…, offers 18 personal paeans to the City of Light from an international who’s who of filmmakers. Among the contributors: Olivier Assayas, Joel and Ethan Coen, Gurinder Chadha and Alfonso Cuarón. With each filmmaker assigned an arrondissement as setting for his/her vignette, PARIS JE T’AIME frames a kaleidoscopic vision of the city. 115 min. PASSION (1982, France) Godard reunites with Raoul Coutard, the cinematographer behind his seminal ’60s films, and enlists the aid of some heavyweight Euro-stars (Huppert, Schygulla, Piccoli) for this seriocomic take on the filmmaking process. A high-minded Polish director stages elaborate tableaux vivants based on famous paintings (Goya, Ingres, Rembrandt, Delacroix, etc.), but can’t come up with a coherent plot line to please his financial backers. Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Hanna Schygulla, Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Radziwilowicz. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 87 min. THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA (2006, UK/Austria/Netherlands) Directed by Sophie Fiennes Psychoanalyst and philosopher Zizek re- and deconstructs key scenes from films both classic (City Lights) and obscure (the Stalinist era musical Cossacks of the Kuban). Far from a stiff, academic presentation of psychosexual theory, director Fiennes penetrates the minds of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch by inserting Zizek into actual shooting locations or whimsical recreations of their films. Cast: Slavoj Zizek. 35mm, 150 min. PLAY IT AS IT LAYS, 1972, Universal, 99 min. Director Frank Perry (DAVID AND LISA) delivered many edgy psychological classics, and none is more deserving of rediscovery than this rarely-screened adaptation of Joan Didion’s bestseller, with a screenplay by Didion and her late husband, John Gregory Dunne. Tuesday Weld is at her best as fiercely intelligent Maria, an ex-model on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In-the-closet producer Anthony Perkins is her only friend and Adam Roarke her estranged, director husband trying to jumpstart his career out of the biker-film ghetto. A scathing stream-of-consciousness portrait of Hollywood in the early 1970’s. NOT ON DVD PLAYTIME, 1967, Janus Films, 126 min. Dir. Jacques Tati. Another chance to see the fully restored Jacques Tati masterpiece PLAYTIME, which was conceived originally as a 70mm viewing experience, then lost for over 30 years (there were only 35mm prints left of a cut version), and finally rescued by Tati's daughter Sophie Tatischeff and Jerome Deschamps. Monsieur Hulot must contact an American official in Paris, but he gets lost in a stylish maze of modern architecture filled with the latest technical gadgets. Caught in a tourist invasion, Hulot roams around Paris with a group of American tourists, causing chaos in his usual manner. Gilles Deleuze concisely states that in PLAYTIME Tati "spreads Mr. Hulots everywhere, forms and breaks up groups, joins and separates characters, in a kind of modern ballet." A "ballet" Noel Burch would famously proclaim "not only begs for multiple viewings, but demands to be seen from several different seats in the auditorium." The star of the film: the city built by Tati and called Tativille/Taticity. From surprise to surprise, it’s an exquisite and divine experience! Francois Truffaut, writing to Jacques Tati about PLAYTIME, said simply, "A film from another planet." In French and English. In 70mm! PUNKING OUT ('78, 24m) Filmmakers Ric Shore (in person), Juliusz Kossakowski & Maggi Carson capture the birth of punk in all its nihilism, angst & raw power at CBGBs in this stylized probe of the musicians, the die hard fans, the weekend punks and CBGBs owner/promoter Hilly Kristal. With explosive performances by The Ramones, Richard Hell & the Vodoids and Stiv Bators & The Dead Boys. Plus tons of punk rarities with The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, the Minutemen and more. RACE WITH THE DEVIL, 1975, 20th Century Fox, 88 min. Buddies Peter Fonda and Warren Oates take a state-of-the-art RV and their wives, Lara Parker ("Dark Shadows") and Loretta Swit ("MASH") on the road for the vacation of a lifetime. When they accidentally stumble upon a satanic, Bohemian Grove-like ceremony hostile to unwelcome strangers, the chase is on. Director Jack Starrett's biggest hit is this over-the-top chase movie, which later inspired everything from THE ROAD WARRIOR to JEEPER’S CREEPERS. Starrett’s stunt man mentality and gutsy camera work combined with a star willing to do some of his own dangerous stunts make this a classic. The rooftop RV scene has the kind of guts and bravado that would not be matched again until Mel ‘Mad Max’ Gibson and director George Miller tackled a gas tanker in the 1980’s. Discussion between films with actors Fredric Forrest and Stacey Keach. REAL LIFE, 1979, Paramount, 99 min. Inspired by the 1970’s PBS reality TV series "An American Family" about the Loud clan, this directorial debut for star Albert Brooks was also the feature debut for producer Penelope Spheeris (who later directed WAYNE’S WORLD). Brooks is at his best as the hilariously self-serving filmmaker who invades Phoenix suburban everyman Charles Grodin’s "normal" family household to chronicle their everyday lives. Amazingly enough, there were some critics who thought the film was for real on its initial release and not just a spot-on satire of reality television. Alarmingly prescient and more relevant than ever. "…Albert Brooks's first and funniest feature." - J. Hoberman, Village Voice The Reckless Moment 1949/b&w/82 min. | Scr: Robert W. Soderberg, Henry Garson; dir: Max Ophüls; w/ Joan Bennett, James Mason, Geraldine Brooks Both a character study and a noir thriller, Ophüls's last American film centers on a respectable wife and mother (Bennett) whose perfect middle-class life is shattered when, in a reckless moment, she disposes of the body of her daughter's low-life boyfriend, who has been killed accidentally in her garage. As she valiantly copes with an intrusive family and an inconvenient blackmailer (Mason), Ophüls's camera circles and further entraps his stoic heroine. In a wrenching finale, she envisions a life beyond her domestic sphere and breaks down. REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER, 1975, MGM Repertory, 112 min. Dir. Milton Katselas. Realistically hard-edged and relentless in its energy, this depiction of an undercover narcotics operation botched by the well-meaning interference of naïve rookie Michael Moriarty is gripping from beginning to end. Like few other cop movies, it still packs an enormous emotional wallop. Veteran detective Yaphet Kotto ("Homicide: Life on the Streets") breaks Moriarty in as best he can, but he cannot save him from the sharks in their own department. Moriarty’s footchase and elevator shaft standoff with drug dealer ‘Stick’ (Tony King) is one of the most suspenseful in 1970’s action films. Co-starring Hector Elizondo, Susan Blakely, Edward Grover, William Devane. Abby Mann (Oscar-winner for his scripts for both SHIP OF FOOLS and JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG) and Ernest Tidyman (THE FRENCH CONNECTION) adapted the novel by James Mills (who was also the original author of Panic In Needle Park). NOT ON DVD The Rules of the Game (1939/b&w/106 min.) Scr: Jean Renoir, Carl Koch; dir: Jean Renoir; w/ Marcel Dalio, Nora Grégor, Jean Renoir In Jean Renoir's masterpiece, made between the Munich accords and the outbreak of World War II, history plays as both tragedy and farce. This self-declared "dramatic fantasy" inspired by The Marriage of Figaro etches, in Renoir's words, "a rich, complex society . . . dancing on a volcano." At a weekend hunting party, amorous escapades abound among the aristocratic guests upstairs and the servants downstairs, but the refusal of one guest to play by society's rules sparks a chain of events that ends in tragedy. Note: this print is made from negative material digitally restored by Janus Films in 2006. SAINT JACK, 1979, Concorde-New Horizon, 112 min. One of director Peter Bogdanovich’s best and most underrated films is adapted from the Paul Theroux novel and features a fine, alternately funny and poignant performance by Ben Gazzara as an easygoing, expatriate American pimp in Vietnam-era Singapore. Exceptionally authentic location atmosphere highlights this fascinating saga, a perfect balance of character study focusing on redemptive individual independence (think Bogart or Mitchum), and the treachery of sexual and Cold War politics. With Denholm Elliott, Joss Ackland, George Lazenby. "Shot entirely on location in Singapore, the film (produced by Roger Corman, who gave Bogdanovich his start on THE WILD ANGELS in 1964) is extremely well crafted, finely acted, and conjures up a positively intriguing milieu… The script is a good one, gutsy and sometimes very funny." -- Variety Sansho the Bailiff 1954/b&w/123 min. | Scr: Fuji Yahiro, Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Kinuyo Tanaka, Yoshiaki Hanayagi In eleventh-century Japan, a family is torn apart: the father is exiled by a cruel governor, the mother is sold as a courtesan, and the children are sent to a remote province as slaves. Tanaka towers as the mother, and rarely did Mizoguchi achieve such a balance between barbaric violence and formal beauty. The cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu), with its awe-inspiring long takes and complex use of background and offscreen space, lends even the most harrowing sequences an extraordinary eloquence. Sisters of the Gion 1936/b&w/69 min. | Scr: Kenji Mizoguchi, Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Isuzu Yamada, Yoko Umemura Mizoguchi was a favorite director of author and intellectual Susan Sontag, and she frequently included Sisters of the Gion in her series of Japanese films. A portrait of two sisters—one conservative and traditional, the other cynical and rebellious—who are faced with sexual humiliations as geisha in a Kyoto teahouse, the film inevitably leaves its audiences in stunned silence. SMILE, 1975, MGM Repertory, 117 min. Director Michael Ritchie’s savage, Norman Rockwell-in-rehab comedy stars Bruce Dern, Barbara Feldon("Get Smart"), Michael Kidd and Geoffrey Lewis as a group of civic boosters desperately trying to stage a teenage beauty pageant in Santa Rosa, California. Annette O’Toole and Melanie Griffith are among the gorgeous, devious and very unlady-like contestants, in this wickedly funny snapshot of the underbelly of mid-70’s America. NOT ON DVD The Sniper 1952/b&w/87 min. | Scr: Edna Anhalt, Edward Anhalt, Harry Brown; dir: Edward Dmytryk; w/ Adolphe Menjou, Arthur Franz, Marie Windsor An all-American boy with a pathological hatred of women cries out for help, but no one listens until he starts shooting brunettes. One of Hollywood's early efforts at portraying the psychopath as a social misfit who deserves a level of compassion, this film is also a tense policier shot in eighteen days on the streets and rooftops of San Francisco. Dmytryk and Guffey used the urban architecture to create geometric, often-menacing visuals that mirror the tortured mind of the killer while lending the manhunt a gritty realism. SORRY, WRONG NUMBER (1948, United States) Directed by Anatole Litvak Stanwyck received her final Best Actress nomination for this noir melodrama skillfully directed by Jewish-Russian émigré director Litvak. Based on a popular 1943 radio program, producer Hall Wallis commissioned author Lucille Fletcher to adapt her radio play for the screen. Stanwyck delivers a chilling performance as Leona, a bed-ridden wife who accidentally overhears a murder plot over the phone. The suspense intensifies as she discovers that she is to be the victim of this murder engineered by her husband (Lancaster). Screenwriter: Lucille Fischer. Cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Ann Richards, Wendell Corey. 35mm, 89 min. SPETTERS (from IMDB) Three members of a Dutch motor-bikers club are ardent fans of world champion Gerrit Witkamp. They all have the hots for Fientje, a gold-digger who runs a snack bar from a mobile home with her brother Jaap. Story of the Late Chrysanthemums 1939/b&w/142 min. | Scr: Matsutaro Kawaguchi, Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Shotaro Hanayagi, Kakuko Mori Mizoguchi refined the style for which he became famous in this majestic and moving film. Set in the nineteenth-century world of the Kabuki theater, the story focuses on a young actor who is expelled from his family because of his unprofessional attitude toward his art. He is saved by the family's maid, who urges him to perfect his technique. She surrenders everything for him, and in the famous final sequence shot on the canals of Osaka, her sacrifice becomes total when he triumphs as a great actor. STRAIGHT TIME, 1978, Warner Bros., 114 min. Dir. Ulu Grosbard (TRUE CONFESSIONS). This adaptation of the novel No Beast So Fierce, the crime fiction debut of writer Edward Bunker (an ex-con himself, the book was written while he was still in prison), is one of the most underrated and least seen of Dustin Hoffman’s 1970’s performances. Reformed Los Angeles junkie and thief Hoffman comes up against the gritty realities of a smugly unfair parole officer (M. Emmett Walsh) and the limited employment opportunities for ex-convicts. Although the bitter, frustrated Hoffman finds love in the form of Theresa Russell, his institutionalized resentments gradually suck him back down into the company of lower companions (Gary Busey, Harry Dean Stanton) and a life of crime. This was a project close to Hoffman’s heart - he initially began directing the film himself but turned it over to director Grosbard after the first few days. NOT ON DVD Street of Shame 1956/b&w/85 min. | Scr: Masashige Narusawa; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Machiko Kyo, Ayako Wakao The eponymous street of shame runs through Tokyo's red-light district. A melodrama set in the Dreamland Saloon, Mizoguchi's final film powerfully depicted the oppression and hopelessness of contemporary life. An ensemble of Japan's finest actresses—in roles such as the hard-boiled glamour girl Mickey and a widow in her forties who worries about her fading beauty—brings dense emotional life to this rarely seen group portrait. TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER (from IMDB) There's something quite awesome about a movie that's advertised as a musical western that turns out to be a musical western in which the cowboys carry rocket launchers and wear very colourful shirts. Awesome. In the rather colourful countryside of the rather colourful modern Thailand, a gang of horse-riding, machine-gun toting, Thai cowboys led the by the colourfully villainous Fai (Sombat Metanee). Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), also known as the Black Tiger, is a member of Fai's gang, and obviously the fastest shot in all the (colourful) land. Dum is competing with fellow gangster Mahesuan the police captain Kumjorn for the affections of Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi), so naturally this leads to shootouts, exploding brains, and lots of evil laughs. How awesome. 'Tears of the Black Tiger' seems to be a combination of elements from 'Once Upon a Time in the West' and the 'The Quick and the Dead', only with a lot more comedy and melodrama. And colour. At times it may resemble 'Once Upon a Time in the the West', and then go into Sam Raimi mode during an action sequence, and then go into long scenes developing the melodramatic and colourful love story. Have I mentioned the colour yet? This one colourful movie, and will often induce a visual overload of pinkness. Is that even a word? 'Tears of the Black Tiger' can go from melodramatic romance scenes, to the cheap violence that you might expect from Sam Raim or an early Peter Jackson movie (read: 'exploding heads') very quickly. I'm pretty sure this film could set a record in that department. Its a funny movie, and the action scenes are generally very exciting. I'm also convinced that the creators of this film took on a bet to discover just how much of the colour pink can be displayed in one movie. I never knew pink-shirted cowboys could be so tough. 3 WOMEN, 1977, 20th Century Fox, 124 min. Director Robert Altman’s dazzlingly brilliant study of three different women who have more in common than one initially imagines, with everything from consumer culture to macho-role-playing skewered as the narrative unfolds. Clueless, but sweet Millie (Shelley Duvall), working at a convalescent resort, takes young, naive Pinky (Sissy Spacek) under her wing, and both become gradually caught up in the strange relationship between reclusive artist, Willie (Janice Rule) and her husband (Robert Fortier, who seems to be channeling Hunter S. Thompson). Fascinatingly offbeat and, at times, frightening, as the heart of the characters’ lives is stripped bare to reveal a quirky core as empty and arid as their desert community. Tight Spot 1955/b&w/97 min. | Scr: William Bowers; dir: Phil Karlson; w/ Ginger Rogers, Edward G. Robinson, Brian Keith Whisked from prison to testify at the deportation trial of a notorious gangster and locked in a seedy hotel room for a weekend vigil, hard-as-nails convict and former moll Sherry Conley (Rogers) refuses to talk when underworld thugs surround and infiltrate the hotel. Working within an imaginatively designed set and aided by Guffey's dramatic lighting and menacing shots down corridors, Karlson "delivers taut, gripping direction, while indulging his fondness for oblique angles and geometric patterns," notes the All Movie Guide. TO BE A STAR (SETAREH MI-SHVAD) (2006, Iran) Directed by Fereydoun Jeyrani When an aspiring actress wrangles a small role for her out-of-work father (Entezami, in a tour-de-force performance), the man finds only abuse and ultimately heartbreak on-set. Condemned by Iran's censors, who banned the film and destroyed the negative, this print is the only surviving uncut version of the film. Screenwriter: Fereydoun Jeyrani. Cast: Ezatollah Entezami, Andisheh Fouadvand. Presented in Persian dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 98 min. TOGETHER BROTHERS, 1974, 20th Century Fox, 94 min. An ultra-rare, studio-produced, early 1970’s gem, shot on location in the slums of Galveston, Texas. An inner-city gang made up of both black and Chicano kids, must solve a murder and protect one of their own (five-year-old Anthony Wilson, the only witness to a murder.) Director William A. Graham (WATERHOLE #3) shoots the largely non-professional cast with an almost documentary feel that seems fresh even today. Great support from Lincoln Kilpatrick (THE OMEGA MAN), Glynn Turman (COOLEY HIGH) and a seminal soundtrack by the late Barry White (the theme was the basis for Quad City DJ’s dance hit, "C'Mon 'N Ride It (the Train)" some 20 years later.) A picture that has a lot in common with 1953’s THE LITTLE FUGITIVE, this film begs for rediscovery. NOT ON DVD TRAFFIC, 1971, Janus Films, 96 min. Jacques Tati reinstates M. Hulot as a protagonist, returning to the bucolic charm of his first feature (1949's JOUR DE FETE) and, in the words of Michel Chion, its subsequent "rediscovery of roads, nature, cows, trees, and meadows." Hulot is assigned with escorting a prototype for a ridiculously gadget-addled, super-deluxe camper from its French factory to the International Automobile Show in Amsterdam. Of course, a comic set of obstacles, detours and mishaps sets the caravan reeling. Another one of Tati's astute appreciations of "the odd beauty that can be revealed in the shapes, patterns and colors created by the technology of planned obsolescence." - Vincent Canby, The New York Times TWO LANE BLACK TOP, 1971, Universal, 102 min. Dir. Monte Hellman. Two motorheads in a supercharged Chevy (singer James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson) take on Warren Oates and his monstrous Pontiac GTO in a cross-country race. Haunted by the vast, open spaces of the Midwest and an addictive sense of speed, TWO-LANE BLACKTOP is the essential American road movie – Hellman calls it "the last movie of the Sixties." One of the amazing things about the film is it’s Bressonian simplicity in following its protagonists – here the universe itself is stripped-down-for-maximum-velocity to an astonishingly bleak and lonely microcosm – the hard, spartan interiors of Taylor’s and Oates’ cars. With Laurie Bird TWO OR THREE THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER... One of writer/director Jean-Luc Godard's (Breathless, Masculine Feminine) most beautiful color films stars Marina Vlady as a housewife in a Parisian suburb who, to make ends meet and to afford the consumer goods required by the bourgeoisie, works as a part-time prostitute. Mixing concrete social comment with dazzling phenomenological set pieces—a coffee cup becomes a universe, a cigarette glows like a planet—Godard creates a powerful vision of consumer society as a huge brothel. Widescreen cinematography by Raoul Coutard (Contempt, Band of Outsiders, Jules and Jim, Shoot the Piano Player). Ugetsu 1953/b&w/96 min. | Scr: Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Masayuki Mori, Machiko Kyo, Kinuyo Tanaka Ugetsu invariably appears on critics' lists of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema. In a sixteenth-century village, a potter is seduced by an exquisitely beautiful woman who turns out to be a phantom. Mizoguchi's rigorous compositions and camerawork, his use of the mist-enshrouded landscape around Lake Biwa, the intense performances of two of Japan's greatest actresses (Kyo and Tanaka), and the theme of the illusory nature of human ambition and desire all contribute to a work of infinite beauty and significance. The Undercover Man 1949/b&w/85 min. | Scr: Sydney Boehm; dir: Joseph H. Lewis; w/ Glenn Ford, Nina Foch, James Whitmore A federal treasury agent (Ford) alternates paperwork with physical pursuit in his efforts to nail a Chicago gangster (inspired by Al Capone) for tax evasion. "A superior crime thriller . . . it achieves an authenticity rare in the genre," notes Time Out. "Lewis, one of the B-movie greats, directs in admirably forthright, muscular fashion, making superb use of Burnett Guffey's gritty, monochrome camerawork." Utamaro and His Five Women 1946/b&w/89 min. | Scr: Yoshikata Yoda; dir: Kenji Mizoguchi; w/ Minosuke Bando, Kinuyo Tanaka The most erotic and autobiographical of Mizoguchi's films, Utamaro and His Five Women draws many parallels between the director and the artist who is the subject of this film. (Both partook of the "floating world" of geisha, and both made their reputation with portraits of women.) In seventeenth-century Edo (now Tokyo), with its frenzied world of brothels and bars, the printmaker Utamaro painstakingly devotes himself to his art. The five women of the title are his models, including a courtesan (Tanaka) who kills her unfaithful lover. When Utamaro is arrested for offending a local magistrate, he is forbidden to draw for fifty days. Art soon becomes, as it no doubt was for Mizoguchi, a matter of life and death. THE VALET (LA DOUBLURE) 85 MIN DIR: Francis Verber, CAST: Gad Elmaleh, Alice Taglioni, Virginie Ledoyen, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Auteuil Q&A WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR FRANCIS VERBER FOLLOWING SCREENING. Francis Veber (THE DINNER GAME, THE CLOSET), the contemporary master of French farce, combines the classic elements of hilarious slapstick with quick-witted dialogue in his new film THE VALET. The tale begins when François Pignon (Gad Elmaleh), a car service valet at a posh Paris hotel, gets caught-up in a billionaire industrialist's sneaky infidelities. The plot quickly turns when François -- the fall guy -- is photographed by a paparazzo as he is leaving the hotel alongside Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil), the tycoon and his beautiful supermodel mistress Elena (Alice Taglioni). Pierre's scheming lawyer, Maitre Foix (Richard Berry), concocts an outrageous plan in a desperate attempt to avoid an ugly divorce from Christine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Francis Veber's intricate and lively plot, pitch perfect timing and unusual characters make THE VALET an uproariously good time. French with English subtitles. VIVRE SA VIE (1962, France) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard Godard continues his systematic assault on narrative grammar and standard sound-image relations in this soberly detached yet still emotionally devastating portrait of a young Parisienne's slide into prostitution. Anna Karina stars as the impassive, enigmatic subject of Godard's study, a single girl forced to fend for herself in the brutal modern big city. Presented in a dozen discrete episodes, each chapter preceded by a putative plot summary, VIVRE SA VIE flirts with literary coherence but in fact encompasses many competing discursive strategies and multifarious modes of cinematic expression. Serene and poetic yet formally daring, the film moved Susan Sontag to call it "one of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of." Based on on documentation from 'Où en est la prostitution' by Marcel Sacotte. Producer: Pierre Braunberger. Screenwriter: Jean-Luc Godard. Cinematographer: Raoul Coutard. Editor: Agnes Guillemot, Lila Lakshmanan. Cast: Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André S. Labarthe, Peter Kassovitz. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, Black and White, 85 min. WEEKEND (1967, France) Godard’s early, exuberant period comes to an unofficial end with this apocalyptically satirical road movie, a coruscating summa of his accumulated thematic concerns and formal transgressions. Mireille Darc and Jean Yanne star as a loathsome bourgeois couple on a chaotic picaresque through the modern wastelands. Chock-full of the auteur’s signature allusions and stylistic disjunctions, WEEKEND also boasts one of the most famous set pieces in film history: a bravura long-take tracking shot that depicts late ‘60s French consumerist society as a neverending car wreck-cum-traffic jam. Fin de cinéma indeed. “This film has more depth than any of Godard's earlier work. It's his vision of Hell and it ranks with the greatest” (Pauline Kael). Cast: Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jean-Pierre Kalfon. Presented in French dialogue with English subtitles. 35mm, 95 min.