a highly-opinionated selection of things happening around town, and sometimes out of town. this month's page here.
tue. nov. 4 heinecken explains heinecken FREE @ hammer thu. nov. 6 king tuff @ el rey the creeping garden @ silent movie theater sat. nov. 8 low @ ace theatre the creeping garden 7 PM @ silent movie theater sun. nov. 9 low @ ace theatre the creeping garden @ silent movie theater sun. nov. 16 little fugitive FREE 11 AM @ hammer thu. nov. 20 return of the secaucus seven FREE 5 PM @ the crank @ ucla james bridges fri. nov. 21 fka twigs @ regent theater sat. nov. 22 fka twigs @ regent theater the dream syndicate, froth @ echoplex WHAT IT IS: ACTION JACKSON 1988, Warner Bros., 96 min, USA, Dir: Craig R. Baxley As Detroit police sergeant Jericho “Action” Jackson, Carl Weathers delivers a knockout punch to crime that’s worthy of Apollo Creed. When labor leaders fall victim to mysterious assassins, Jackson follows the trail to a powerful businessman (a very menacing Craig T. Nelson), whose influence had previously gotten the detective demoted. Sharon Stone and singer Vanity costar. Discussion following with actor Carl Weathers. ADRIFT IN TOKYO Two men form an unlikely bond during a long walk through a big city in this independent drama from Japan. Fumiya Takemura (Joe Odagiri) is a college student with an addiction to gambling; he owes over $8,000 to bookies, and doesn't have the money to pay them off. Fumiya is approached by Fukuhara (Tomokazu Miura), a mob enforcer who tells the student he has three days to come up with the money or else. Fumiya isn't sure what to do next, but two days later Fukuhara comes to him with a surprising offer -- the gangster is willing to pay off Fumiya's debt and give him some extra money for his troubles if he'd be willing to do him a favor. Dir. Satoshi Miki, 1 hr 41 mins, 2007. BELTRACCHI - THE ART OF FORGERY 2013, 102 min, Germany, Dir: Arne Birkenstock This thought-provoking and amusing documentary focuses on the life and work of Wolfgang Beltracchi and his wife Helene, who for nearly four decades fooled the international art world with the biggest forgery scandal of the postwar era. Beltracchi created original works in the style of such masters as Max Ernst, Heinrich Campendonk and Max Pechstein, until a simple mistake led to the couple’s arrest. As Beltracchi and his wife recount their extraordinary story with humor and candor, some profound questions arise: What makes a piece of art an original? And what makes a person an expert? Winner of the German Film Award winner for Best Documentary. In German and French with English subtitles. Broken Arrow (1950) Directed by Delmer Daves Starring James Stewart, Jeff Chandler, and Debra Paget Native Americans continue to play an important role in the history of the American West, so it is natural that they have been featured prominently in the Western genre. However, Native depictions onscreen have changed dramatically over time, reflecting larger societal attitudes. Initially shown as warring savages, American Indians are now more commonly portrayed as a proud and diverse people. Broken Arrow (1950) is the first of two landmarks films in the onscreen portrayal of Native Americans. The contentious relationship between American settlers and the Apache is the subject of Broken Arrow. Ex-soldier Tom Jeffords (Stewart) slowly begins to realize that Native Americans are not savages. He personally attempts to make peace with Apache leader Cochise (Chandler), but distrust, hostility, and acts of violence by both sides threaten to derail his plans. CARMINA AND AMEN CARMINA Y AMÉN 2014, Telecinco, 98 min, Spain, Dir: Paco León Paco León follows up last year’s popular CARMINA OR BLOW UP with another hilarious (if fictionalized) portrait of his mother. When her husband dies, chain-smoking Carmina Barrios is determined to keep it a secret until she gets a check that he had been expecting. The absurd, sometimes vulgar, comic energy of Almodóvar’s early films lives on here! In Spanish with English subtitles. THE DARK VALLEY DAS FINSTERE TAL 2013, 114 min, Austria, Germany, Dir: Andreas Prochaska In this adaptation of Thomas Willmann’s best-seller, a classic Western plays out in a late-nineteenth century alpine village. When a man named Greider (Sam Riley) arrives on horseback carrying a camera, he is met with distrust by the locals, who are led by the sons of Old Brenner, a brutal patriarch who holds the entire community under his thumb. The stranger has come to do more than take photographs, as a series of mysterious deaths exposes a terrible tradition as well as Greider’s connection to the remote valley. Prochaska’s fresh approach to the genre, along with cinematographer Thomas Kiennast’s stunning visuals and Matthias Weber’s ominous orchestral score earned THE DARK VALLEY eight German Film Awards. In German with English subtitles. The Doe Boy (U.S./Japan, 2001) Directed by Randy Redroad (Cherokee). In his debut feature, writer-director Randy Redroad recasts the coming-of-age genre from a Native American perspective with Hunter, the son of a Cherokee mother and white father, wrestling with questions of identity and history amid the swirl of adolescence. Redroad infuses the film with a sense of spiritual and oral storytelling traditions to place Hunter’s struggle in the larger arc of Cherokee experience. Easton LTD. Partnership, Curb Entertainment. Producer: Anothny Vozza, Chris Eyre. Screenwriter: Randy Redroad. Cinematographer: László Kadar. Editor: Matthew Booth. Cast: James Duval, Kevin Anderson, Andrew J. Ferchland, Jeri Arredondo, Judy Herrera. 35mm, color, 92 min. DRACULA'S DAUGHTER 1936, Universal, 71 min, USA, Dir: Lambert Hillyer Gothic 1930s terror abounds as Dracula’s tormented daughter, Countess Marya (Gloria Holden), longs to escape the bloodsucking curse visited on her by her father in this haunting sequel to the Bela Lugosi original. She "strikes with all her father's cunning!" Preceded By: What was it like to be laid to rest Art Deco style? “Dying for Deco: The Funerary Extravagances of the Art Deco Period,” an hour-long lecture digs six feet under to answer that question. The 1920s and ’30s saw an overwhelming change in all of the decorative arts including such funerary decorations as caskets, hearses, head stones, cenotaphs, and mausoleums. EXPOSED: SONGS FOR UNSEEN WARHOL FILMS Created in celebration of The Andy Warhol Museum’s 20th Anniversary, this multimedia performance event unveils 15 never-before-seen 1960s films captured by Andy Warhol, featuring Marcel Duchamp, Edie Sedgwick, Donovan, Warhol himself, and others. Five songwriter-composers who reflect the generational trajectory and musical influence of post-Velvet Underground 70s to today — Guest Music Curator Dean Wareham (Galaxie 500, Luna), Tom Verlaine (Television), Martin Rev (Suicide), Eleanor Friedberger (the Fiery Furnaces), and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter) — perform live original scores to these unseen celluloid gems from one of America’s most iconic art-makers. Film About a Woman Who... A landmark of feminist cinema, this work subverts nearly every convention of narrative film while unfolding “the poetically licensed story of a woman who finds it difficult to reconcile certain external facts with her image of her own perfection.” Dir. Yvonne Rainer, 105 min., 1974 The Golden Era (Huangjin shidai) (China, 2014) Directed by Ann Hui. Hong Kong director Ann Hui melds history and intimacy in her latest masterwork, a portrait of the iconoclastic May 4th woman writer Xiao Hong. Like the republican China that she lived in, Xiao Hong’s life was short and turbulent. The movie’s title signals the irony of those times—when new literature collided with revolution and a world war. A biopic that subtly acknowledges the unknowability of its subject, this layered and visually gorgeous film was the closing night pick at Venice Film Festival this year. Producer: Qin Hong. Screenwriter: Li Qiang. Cinematographer: Wang Yu. Editor: Manda Wai. Cast: Tang Wei, Feng Shaofeng, Zhu Yawen, Wang Zhiwen, Huang Xuan. DCP, color, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 178 min. GROUNDINGS: A DIALOGUE WITH ROSA CLEMENTE AND CHUCK D Come take part in a session discussing hip-hop's role- both past and present- in struggles for social justice with special guests Rosa Clemente (Know Thyself Productions) and the legendary Chuck D (Public Enemy), moderated by curator Sohail Daulatzai. This conversation is part of the exhibition Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, which showcases the histories of Islam and hip-hop through film, video, sound, photography, and album cover art, part of the Los Angeles / Islam Arts Initiative. Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, October 4-November 22, showcases how, from its very foundation until today, hip-hop has been deeply influenced by its relationship to Islam. Heinecken Explains Heinecken Using one of Robert Heinecken’s lectures from 1988 as a framework, this film interweaves the artist’s voice with images of his work, creating a portrait of the legendary artist and teacher in his own words. This documentary of a pioneer in the postwar L.A. art scene perfectly captures Heinecken’s political and aesthetic concerns, as well as his understated humor. (2011, Dir. P. Savenick, 45 min.) Journeys from Berlin/1971 This meditation on political radicalism, terrorism, feminism, and psychoanalysis was prompted by Rainer’s experiences living in West Berlin in 1976 and 1977. It stars film theorist Annette Michelson as the psychoanalytic subject. The diary passages read in this film are from Rainer’s own teenage diary, on display within the main exhibition. Dir. Yvonne Rainer, 125 min., 1980 Kissed By Lightning (Canada, 2009) Directed by Shelley Niro (Mohawk). Mavis Dogblood is a Mohawk painter from Canada, haunted by the tragic death of her husband. She paints the stories he used to tell, but she can’t come to grips with her loss. It is only after she drives to New York City for an art opening, travelling through what were her ancestors’ tribal lands, that she reconciles herself to her new life. Beautifully photographed, director Shelly Niro’s feminist film meditates on the loss of Native traditions, and the role of women in keeping them alive. Producer: Stephen Paniccia. Screenwriter: Ken Chubb. Cinematographer: Kim Derko. Editor: Jeremiah Munce. Cast: Kateri Walker, Rachel White Wind Arbez, Eric Schweig. HDCam, color, 89 min. Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Canada, 1993) Directed by Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki). Alanis Obomsawin’s landmark documentary chronicles the cataclysmic 1990 standoff that occurred between the Canadian Army, Quebec police, and members of the Mohawk Nation determined to defend their land from the planned encroachment of a golf course. The astounding incidents, captured by Obomsawin during the 78-day ordeal, form a double portrait: of an indifferent government, and a people prepared to maintain their dignity at any cost. National Film Board of Canada. Producer: Wolf Koenig, Colin Neale. Screenwriter: Alanis Obomaswin. Cinematographer: François Brault, Zoe Dirse. Editor: Yurij Luhovy. Cast: Alanis Obomsawin. HDCam, color, 119 min. LIFE ITSELF 2014, Magnolia Pictures and CNN Films, 120 min, USA, Dir: Steve James Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) directed this loving but clear-eyed portrait of Roger Ebert, one of the best-known and most influential movie critics of all time. Based on Ebert’s memoir, this moving documentary recounts his professional growth from politicized school newspaperman to Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago Sun-Times film critic to television household name, as well as his personal journey - after finding love at 50, he waged a public battle with thyroid cancer and emerged as a major voice on the Internet when he could no longer physically speak. LIVES OF PERFORMERS Rainer’s first feature-length film incorporates rehearsal footage from Performance (1972) and photographs from Grand Union Dreams (1971). The film depicts the real and fictional lives of a group of performers and their choreographer/director, ending with a series of tableaux vivants based on G. W. Pabst’s 1929 film Pandora’s Box. Dir. Yvonne Rainer, 90 min., 1972. LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED VIVIR ES FÁCIL CON LOS OJOS CERRADOS 2013, Outsider Pictures, 108 min, Spain, Dir: David Trueba This charming road movie, inspired by actual incidents, earned six Goya Awards, including Best Film and two for writer-director David Trueba. In 1966, teacher and Beatles fan Antonio (a superb Javier Camara) learns that John Lennon is filming HOW I WON THE WAR in Almeria, Spain, and sets off to meet his hero, joined by a pair of young runaways. In Spanish with English subtitles. Discussion following the feature with director David Trueba. Evening concludes with an opening night reception for all ticket holders. THE MAN WHO ENVIED WOMEN Structured around the breakup of a relationship, this often-comical film presents a portrait of issues facing the New York cultural world in the 1980s, including gentrification in SoHo and the influence of poststructuralist theory within academia. Dir. Yvonne Rainer, 125 min., 1985 NAVAJO FILM THEMSELVES In 1966, communications scholar Sol Worth and anthropologist Peter Adair undertook a project to impart documentary filmmaking skills to Navajo people. The resulting works have been debated as to what they reveal about Native perspectives, but are now regarded as canonical works of visual anthropology, and stand as early glimpses of possibilities for Native American cinematic expression on its own terms. Total running time approx. 120 min. The Old Well (Lao jing) (China, 1986) Directed by Wu Tianming. In China’s rugged interior region a village struggles to find a water supply. Shooting against stunning mountain backdrops, director Wu Tianming brings an almost ethnographic attention to the villagers for whom the dangerous, sometimes deadly endeavor has become a collective obsession. Woven into the story are the romantic entanglements of a prominent well-digger played by then Wu protégé Zhang Yimou. Screenwriter: Zheng Yi. Cinematographer: Chen Wancai, Zhang Yimou. Cast: Zhang Yimou, Lv Liping, Liang Yujin, Xie Yan, Niu Xingli. In-person: Janet Wu Yanyan, daughter of Wu Tianming; Robert Rosen. The Outer Limits: Harlan Ellison Experience the awe and mystery that reach from the inner mind to “The Outer Limits” with two episodes of the classic sci-fi TV series: “Demon With a Glass Hand” (1964, 51 min. Dir. Byron Haskin) Trent (Robert Culp) has no memory of his past - or why his hand is a computer lacking some fingers. To solve the mystery, he’ll have to find the missing digits - which are being held by a race of aliens trying to kill him. Writer Harlan Ellison’s second “The Outer Limits” episode earned the WGA Award for television anthology scripts. “Soldier” (1964, 51 min. Dir. Gerd Oswald) Harlan Ellison adapted his short story “Soldier From Tomorrow” to open the second season of “The Outer Limits.” A warrior (Michael Ansara) from the distant future appears on Earth and begins to assimilate, until his enemy arrives in pursuit. With Lloyd Nolan. Discussion following with writer Harlan Ellison, moderated by Josh Olson. Rhymes For Young Ghouls (Canada, 2013) Directed by Jeff Barnaby (Mi'kmaq). Director Jeff Barnaby’s visionary feature debut uses the tragic legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools as a leaping off point for a full-throttle revenge fantasy. Alia, a young woman haunted by her mother’s suicide slings pot on the Mi’kmaq reservation to bribe a sociopathic Indian agent to keep her out of the reservation school. But when a deal goes south, Alia is forced to fight for her freedom. Producer: John Christou, Aisling Chin-Yee. Screenwriter: Jeff Barnaby (Mi’kmaq). Cinematographer: Michel St. Martin. Editor: Jeff Barnaby, Mathieu Bélanger. Cast: Devery Jacobs, Roseanne Supernault, Glen Gould, Arthur Holden, Mark Antony Krupa. Blu-ray, color, 88 min. STEVIE 2002, Lionsgate, 140 min, USA, Dir: Steve James In this acclaimed and deeply troubling documentary, filmmaker Steve James returns to the southern Illinois town where he had once been an “Advocate Big Brother” to Stevie Fielding, who was then struggling to overcome a lifetime of poverty and abuse - and now stands accused of a serious crime. “A vivid portrait of emotional bonds, responsibility and family in America. … One of those magical docs that makes you look differently at the world upon re-entering the hard light of day.” - Chris Vognar, The Dallas Morning News. TOKYO SONATA A typical household secretly teeters on the verge of collapse in this stark drama from director Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Businessman Ryuhei Sasaki (Teruyuki Kagawa) is the principal breadwinner of a seemingly happy family in Tokyo, with Ryuhei looking after his teenage sons, Takashi (Yu Koyanagi) and Kenji (Kai Inowaki), with his wife, Megumi (Kyoko Koizumi). But what Megumi and her children don't know is that Ryuhei is out of a job; his position was outsourced to a company in China, and he's too ashamed to tell his family the truth. Ryuhei leaves home every morning as if he's going to the office, but instead visits employment centers in hopes of landing a new job and eats lunch at a kitchen for the indigent. One day, while waiting for free porridge, Ryuhei meets an old friend who is in a similar predicament, Kurosu (Kanji Tsuda); Kurosu ends up bringing Ryuhei home for dinner so they can discuss their fictive day at work and maintain their subterfuge... 2 hrs 1 min, 2009. Trudell (2005) Directed by Heather Rae (Cherokee). Heather Rae’s documentary about American Indian activist and poet John Trudell meets its multifaceted subject with a complexity worthy of the man. Recounting Trudell’s rise from poverty to leadership in the American Indian Movement, then through personal tragedies to newfound status as a poet and recording artist, Rae combines multiple sources to construct the film as a poem in itself. Appaloosa Pictures. Producer: Elyse Katz, Heather Rae. Cinematographer: Gilbert Salas. Editor: Gregory Bayne, Rongotai Lomas, Heather Rae. Cast: Robert Redford, Kris Kristofferson, Sam Shepard, Amy Ray, Val Kilmer. 35mm, color, 80 min. Tushka (1996) Directed by Ian Skorodin (Choctaw). Based on actual events from the 1970s, including the occupation of Wounded Knee and the biography of John Trudell, Tushka centers on a fictionalized version of the American Indian Movement (AIM) to dramatize Native American defiance in the face of U.S. government corruption and violence. As the FBI ratchets up its efforts to infiltrate Tushka and “neutralize” its leader Marcus Beams, writer-director Ian Skorodin celebrates the power of the human spirit to survive. Producer: Orvel Baldridge, Ian Skorodin. Cinematographer: Brett Reynolds. Editor: Jonathan Goldner. Cast: Orvel Baldridge, Robert Eades, Tim Johnson, Roy Rains Jr. BetaSP, color, 90 min. WHIPLASH The film that “owned the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Awards” according to Indiewire, winning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Dramatic Audience Award, is coming to Melnitz Movies! Whiplash, which stars Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, Divergent) and JK Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man), follows an ambitious freshman jazz drummer at an ultra competitive music college as he puts everything on the line to become the next Buddy Rich. After Andrew Neyman (Teller) is unexpectedly cherry picked from of a lower tier class by the elite and feared Professor Terence Fletcher (Simmons), he begins as a drummer for the top touring jazz band in school. Under the remorseless command of Professor Fletcher, each member of the band dares not utter a single wrong note. Within this high-pressure atmosphere, Andrew’s true potential is pushed to its limit. He gambles his family, romance and sanity to satisfy the impossible standards of his infamous teacher. Will Andrew finally realize his true potential, or will he implode from Fletcher’s humiliation and mind games? Nothing is certain in this dark and claustrophobic jazz fable that shows us what happens when you put uncompromising ambition in a thankless pressure cooker. 106 min./ Digital Projection WHITE BIRD IN A BLIZZARD With this heavily stylized adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Laura Kasischke, New Queer Cinema auteur Gregg Araki returns to the realm of Mysterious Skin and to psychosexual mystery to explore what it means to confront repressed trauma and the constructed image of normalcy with a middle-class suburban backdrop. It is 1988 and 17 year-old Kat (Woodley) comes home to find her mother (Green) suffering a nervous breakdown. Several days later she disappears entirely. For Kat, her mother’s disappearance is entangled with the complex emotions surrounding their conflicted relationship, her own adolescent turn inward and sexual awakening. Years later, a visit home from college prompts her to confront this repressed trauma which torments her dreams. Vacillating in highly expressionistic style between the two time periods, this is a dreamlike exploration of familial dysfunction and the roles we assign to one another. 91 min./ Digital Projection WITCHING AND BITCHING LAS BRUJAS DE ZUGARRAMURDI 2013, IFC Midnight, 112 min, Spain, Dir: Álex de la Iglesia On the run after a botched robbery, three hapless crooks (Hugo Silva, Mario Casas and Jaime Ordóñez) take refuge in a Basque village run by a family of witches. Like de la Iglesia’s earlier THE DAY OF THE BEAST, this kinetic horror-comedy bursts with energy, wild imagery and a couple of jaw-dropping action sequences. In Spanish with English subtitles.