a highly-opinionated selection of things happening around town, and sometimes out of town. this month's page here.

tue. dec. 4

sharon jones & the dap-kings @ el rey
experimental night: zbigniew rybczynski 8 PM @ silent movie theatre

wed. dec. 5

flash gordon, danger diabolik @ new beverly theatre
dilettantes @ silverlake lounge
nels cline singers, eugene chadbourne @ safari sam's

thu. dec. 6

flash gordon, danger diabolik @ new beverly theatre
variety, asphalt @ egyptian theatre
wreckless eric @ safari sam's
the films of gordon matta-clark 7 PM @ moca grand ave

fri. dec. 7

alice @ silent movie theatre
select sects and cult cuts 10 PM, split image @ silent movie theatre
the big slide show 8 PM, it is fine! everything is fine! @ egyptian theatre
leave her to heaven @ lacma
whirlpool 9:40 PM @ lacma
the thermals @ echoplex
jon brion, nels cline @ largo

sat. dec. 8

upsilon acrux @ the smell
the way of all flesh 7 PM @ starlight studios
apart from that @ silent movie theatre
the peanut butter solution 10:30 PM @ silent movie theatre
digital art in belgium @ telic arts exchange
the big slide show 8 PM, it is fine! everything is fine! @ egyptian theatre
sleep my love @ lacma
experiment perilous 9:40 PM @ lacma
jon brion, nels cline @ largo

sun. dec. 9

singapore 1 PM @ silent movie theatre
old boy 7 PM @ silent movie theatre
the h-man 9:30 PM @ silent movie theatre
a christmas story 2 PM FREE @ egyptian theatre
the big slide show 8 PM, what is it? @ egyptian theatre
punk rock karaoke @ spaceland

mon. dec. 10

the big slide show 8 PM, it is fine! everything is fine! @ egyptian theatre
deerhoof @ the avalon

tue. dec. 11

voice of the seven woods 8 PM @ silent movie theatre
squirrel nut zippers @ el rey
zach galifianakis @ 826LA holiday benefit @ largo

wed. dec. 12

top secret, bananas @ new beverly theatre
the matinee idol 8 PM @ silent movie theatre
mia doi todd @ tangier

thu. dec. 13

top secret, bananas @ new beverly theatre
sissy spacek 13-tet @ the smell
frankenstein (mortal toys) 8 PM @ velaslavasay panorama

fri. dec. 14

christmas evil MIDNIGHT @ nuart theatre
bipolar bear, mi ami, bad dudes @ the smell
beyond the valley of the dolls, head @ new beverly theatre
faust @ silent movie theatre
bad dreams 10 PM @ silent movie theatre
the crowd @ aero theatre
secret beyond the door @ lacma
the locket 9:20 PM @ lacma
mae shi @ crash mansion
frankenstein (mortal toys) 8 PM @ velaslavasay panorama

sat. dec. 15

beyond the valley of the dolls, head @ new beverly theatre
mutual appreciation @ silent movie theatre
ashes and diamonds, man of marble @ aero theatre
brendan mullen booksigning @ headline records
frankenstein (mortal toys) 3, 8 PM @ velaslavasay panorama

sun. dec. 16

raising arizona, evil dead 2 @ new beverly theatre
shadow on the wall 1 PM @ silent movie theatre
oasis 7 PM @ silent movie theatre
godzilla vs. the smog monster 9:30 PM @ silent movie theatre
the promised land, kanal @ aero theatre
frankenstein (mortal toys) 3 PM @ velaslavasay panorama

mon. dec. 17

raising arizona, evil dead 2 @ new beverly theatre

tue. dec. 18

black christmas, silent night deadly night @ new beverly theatre

wed. dec. 19

fig leaves 8 PM @ silent movie theatre

fri. dec. 21

fallen angels, the killer @ new beverly theatre
conspirators of pleasure, food @ silent movie theatre
the wicker man 10 PM, MIDNIGHT @ silent movie theatre
a christmas story, national lampoon's christmas vacation @ aero theatre
jon brion @ largo
the marvelettes @ zen sushi

sat. dec. 22

only yesterday 7 PM @ starlight studios
fallen angels, the killer @ new beverly theatre
old joy @ silent movie theatre
jon brion @ largo

sun. dec. 23

black angel 1 PM @ silent movie theatre
safety last 4 PM @ silent movie theatre
king kong escapes 9:30 PM @ silent movie theatre

wed. dec. 26

underworld 8 PM @ silent movie theatre

thu. dec. 27

the landlord, shampoo @ new beverly theatre
midnight, easy living @ aero theatre

fri. dec. 28

electric prunes, strawberry alarm clock @ knitting factory
lunacy @ silent movie theatre
aliens from spaceship earth 10 PM, the helter skelter murders @ silent movie theatre
the landlord, shampoo @ new beverly theatre

sat. dec. 29

frownland @ silent movie theatre
the landlord, shampoo @ new beverly theatre

sun. dec. 30

mirage 1 PM @ silent movie theatre
a tale of two sisters 7 PM @ silent movie theatre
destroy all monsters 9:30 PM @ silent movie theatre
the melvins @ echoplex
neil hamburger @ spaceland

tue. jan. 1

duck soup 5 PM, horse feathers @ aero theatre

thu. jan. 5

rango, four frightened people @ starlight studios

fri. jan. 6

mike watt & the missingmen @ knitting factory

mon. jan. 7

radar bros. @ the echo

wed. jan. 9

sympathy for the devil 7 PM @ hammer museum

fri. jan. 11

classic mexico: three films by gabriel figueroa @ getty center

sat. jan. 12

classic mexico: three films by gabriel figueroa 4 PM, 7:30 PM @ getty center

mon. jan. 14

radar bros. @ the echo

thu. jan. 19

without regret @ starlight studios
languis @ pehrspace

sun. jan. 22

f for fake 7 PM @ hammer museum

mon. jan. 23

radar bros. @ the echo

wed. jan. 25

the public school @ telic arts exchange
mirah, the blow @ the fonda

mon. jan. 30

radar bros. @ the echo


A denture-wearing sock puppet, a baguette that sprouts nails, and giant pin cushions that transform into live animals all make batty appearances in Jan Svankmajer’s phantasmagoric screen translation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. This painstakingly-crafted feature combines live action and stop-motion animation in its depiction of Alice’s famous pursuit of the White Rabbit. Alice (Kristyna Kohoutova) encounters a host of oddballs and strange objects along the way, all brought to life in Svankmajer’s masterful style. Dir. Jan Svankmajer, 1988, 86 min.

Buy this ticket to heaven with folk-schlocker Donovan as your guide through the cosmic slop of hippie idolatry. Less a documentary than an incense-scented love letter to the 70s swamis and the glassy-eyed sheep that loved them with all the lurid ugliness found in your typical cultsploitation expose (the brainwashing, the sex crimes, the jewel smuggling) swept under the yoga mat. The whole guru gang is here, ready to grab your cash and steal your soul. There’s the Hawaiian Punch-drinking teen messiah Guru Maharaji, Sai Baba, the afrowielding sweet lord to hordes of San Diego housewives, Ivy Leaguer-turned-acidblasted freak Ram Dass, tribal-rocking love god Father Yod, and on and on and on and on and on and on... Dir. Don Como, 1977, 107 min.

Utilizing a prismatic shooting style, overlapping dialogue, and sophisticated sound design, Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker direct the story of Ulla (Kathleen McNearny), a soft-spoken beautician-in-training renting a room from Peggy (Alice Ellingson), a lonely older woman prone to prankcalling the fire department. Drawing fullblooded characters in a few deft strokes, Apart from That adapts the detached-yet-intimate style of Raymond Carver’s Short Cuts to the peculiar atmosphere of the Pacific Northwest. The excellent performances by a non-professional cast deepen a narrative drawn vividly from life. Dir. by Jennifer Shainin and Randy Walker, 2006, 120 min.

ASHES AND DIAMONDS, 1958, Janus Films, 105 min. Director Andrzej Wajda’s indubitable masterpiece. The film is the last in a magnificent trilogy (A GENERATION and KANAL) that proclaimed the Polish director as one of the most astounding new talents in postwar Eastern Europe. Working on a variety of levels and set during the last days of WWII, when the Germans and the-soon-to-dominate Russian Communists were fighting over Poland, Wajda not only focuses on the confusion and the transformation of his country, but bravely pictures the consciousness-raising of a generation. Here that generation is embodied by an incredible Zbigniew Cybulski, who critics soon denoted as the James Dean of the East. Wajda’s mastery in lessons learned from the Italian Neorealists and his collaboration with cinematographer Jerzy Wojcik (a rare example of a perfect intellectual marriage) make this a must- see!

ASPHALT, 1929, 90 min. Dir. Joe May (THE INDIAN TOMB). A beautiful jewel thief seduces the honest policeman who arrests her after a robbery. Betty Amann and Gustav Frohlich (Freder in Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS) star in what is considered one of the last German Expressionist films of the era. The visual style combined with the pulp narrative gives ASPHALT the feel of a film noir, the Hollywood-created genre that became popular in the 1940’s and was influenced by German cinema of the 1920s. With English intertitles. Both films will be presented with live piano accompaniment provided by Daniel Redfield. Christel Schmidt from the Library of Congress will be doing a live introduction before the screening.

Our trashiest cult film, Bad Dreams opens with a demented guru pouring gasoline over his teenage followers and then setting them all afire. Thirteen years later, the sole survivor awakens from her coma, only to be plagued by recurring visions of her fearful leader—he wants his Love Child to come to other side and join him. When members of her psychiatric support group start dropping like flies, the question is raised: did her guru survive the incident as well, or is a new kind of mania seizing her peers? Ironically, the cult leader in this underrated gem —part David Koresh, part Freddie Krueger-- is memorably played by the scar-faced Richard Lynch, who was himself the victim of a youthful, 60s, drug-induced self-immolation. Dir. Andrew Fleming, 1988, 80 min.

Perhaps noir’s most suspenseful literary stylist, Cornell Woolrich, penned this perverse tale of obsessive love that morphs into homicide. The great Dan Duryea essays one of his most tormented performances, as an alcoholic pianist who can’t remember details about the murder of his ex in a Wilshire highrise—details that will clear an innocent man. Added to the mix: Peter Lorre as a sinister nightclub owner, Wallace Ford as the well-intentioned buddy, a young Broderick Crawford as a bull-headed cop and true-blue wife, June Vincent. Black Angel is an overlooked classic directed by Sherlock Holmes specialist Roy William Neill. Dir. Roy William Neill, 1946, 81 min.

(from IMDB)
Widely recognized as the best of the Christmas horror efforts, Christmas Evil is the story of a boy who loves Christmas. He is scarred as a boy when he learns that Santa is not real. Throughout the rest of his life, the toy-maker tries to make the Christmas spirit a reality. He becomes obsessed with the behavior of children and the quality of the toys he makes. When he is met with hypocrisy and cynicism, the resulting snap causes him to go on a yuletide killing spree to complete this dark comedic horror.

Classic Mexico: Three Films by Gabriel Figueroa
Gabriel Figueroa was considered the premier cinematographer of Mexico's golden age of film (1930–1960). A masterful artist known in particular for making his landscapes as beautiful as the women he photographed, his images cast an indelible view of a Mexico that is stunning, but also harsh and lonely. We screen three films that will give the audience a taste of this remarkable artist's work: Nazarín, Enamorado, and John Ford's The Fugitive. Presented in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Complements the exhibition The Goat's Dance: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide.

Inspired by the work of notorious perverts like Luis Bunuel, Max Ernst, Sigmund Freud and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Conspirators Of Pleasure details the fetishes of six seemingly normal people whose stories intersect: a postal carrier, a news agent, a newscaster, the newscaster’s husband, a middle-aged woman, and her neighbor. There is an ineffable sweetness to Svankmajer’s depiction of the characters’ elaborate, often grotesque rituals of self-gratification, which are better (and funnier) seen than described. Devoid of dialogue, Conspirators Of Pleasure underscores the psychic and sexual connections between characters, culminating in an absurdly comic group climax. Dir. Jan Svankmajer,1996, 85 min.

THE CROWD, 1928, Warner Brothers, 104 min. One of the greatest of all silent films, King Vidor's film is a supreme example of perceiving the universal in the particular--in this instance a typical young couple (James Murray, Eleanor Boardman) full of hope for their future but buffeted by fate and the grind of daily life. The film is justly famous for its image of a vast office with a sea of desks in which Murray seems literally lost in 'the crowd"; effectively contrasting with the film's starker moments is the couple's exuberant day at Coney Island. THE CROWD should have launched Murray on a major career, but he was overcome by alcoholism and either fell or jumped to his death in the Hudson River in 1936 at the age of 35. --- Kevin Thomas With live piano accompaniment.

This film takes place in the ominous future of 1999 where an improbably-functional United Nations has locked up all of the world’s beasties on Monster Island, a land mass off the coast of Japan. When aliens from the moon liberate the monsters, all hell breaks loose. Ishiro Honda’s monster “war to end all wars” epic is like the Robert Altman film of the Toho vaults; it features a cast of 11 famous monsters each of whom could headline their own films, including Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, Gorosaurus, King Ghidorah and Baragon. Honda doesn’t limit the mayhem to Tokyo. This is a global smack down! Come see Paris being destroyed by Gorosaurus, Moscow being laser-beamed by Rodan and Godzilla attacking New York. Dir. Ishiro Honda, 1968, 88 min.

EASY LIVING, 1937, Universal, 88 min. Dir. Mitchell Leisen. Preston Sturges wrote this Depression-era Cinderella story, in which working girl Jean Arthur's fortunes change after she lucks into possession of a rich woman's coat. As those around her assume that what she wears is an indicator of who she is, Arthur climbs the social ladder and eventually falls in love with Ray Milland -- the son of the coat's real owner. Sturges' wit is on full display here, and is given added elegance by Leisen's beautiful direction.

Monumentally influential director Zbigniew Rybczynski joins us in person for this very special retrospective of his brilliant, original films. It’s impossible to contemplate the consistently imaginative technical and narrative feats of Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze without Rybczynski’s legacy, which includes visionary music videos for Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, and John Lennon, in addition to countless eye-popping innovations in pixilation, optical printing, and animation. His ubiquitous early-80s spots for MTV will likely incite ecstatic convulsions of nostalgia.

Experiment Perilous
1944/b&w/91 min. | Scr: Warren Duff; dir: Jacques Tourneur; w/ Hedy Lamarr, George Brent, Michael Redgrave
In a meticulously designed 1903 New York, a beautiful woman is terrorized by her insanely jealous husband until a small-town psychologist intervenes. “Mysterious and unsettling … a gorgeous gothic thriller in the vein of Gaslight with images of spidery beauty.”—Film Society of Lincoln Center.

(from IMDB)
A disillusioned killer embarks on his last hit but first he has to overcome his affections for his cool, detached partner. Thinking it's dangerous and improper to become involved with a colleague he sets out to find a surrogate for his affections. Against the sordid and surreal urban nightscape (set in contemporary Hong Kong), he crosses path with a strange drifter looking for her mysterious ex-boyfriend and an amusing mute trying to get the world's attention in his own unconventional ways.

It’s Goethe Gone Wild! In this darkly-funny adaptation of his classic text, Svankmajer unleashes a host of marvelous scenes: ballerinas raking grass in a field, an egg discovered in a loaf of bread, a shape-shifting fetus conjured from clay. Faust (Petr Cepek) summons Mephistopholes to strike a diabolical bargain: his soul in exchange for twenty-four years of Lucifer’s ‘quality time.’ Faust is a surrealist synthesis of shifting modes and settings. Dir. Jan Svankmajer, 1994, 97 min.

Howard Hawks always claimed that he told Cecil B. DeMille to rewrite the title cards for his reincarnation melodrama The Road to Yesterday (1925) to make it a comedy. Hawks’ droll jab at DeMille’s masterpiece sounds more like a description of the former’s own first film, Fig Leaves, made one year later. Fig Leaves also harks back to successful DeMille high-fashion extravaganzas like Don’t Change Your Husband (1919), which set the pattern for what later became screwball comedy. It is Hawks’ first example of that genre, primitive in more ways than one; the framing scenes are set in a Flintstones-like Garden of Eden (designed by William S. Darling and William Cameron Menzies), where Eve (Olive Borden) complains to Adam (George O’Brien) that she “doesn’t have a thing to wear”–enter the serpent. Cut to 1926, where Adam and Eve face the same timeless problem, with the serpent split into next-door-neighbor Alice (Phyllis Haver) and a snaky seducer, Andre the fashion designer (Josef Andre). With lively playing and sophisticated satire, this Ur-comedy of remarriage portends the charm of His Girl Friday. Dir. Howard Hawks, 1926, 68 min.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner get the Svankmajer treatment in Food, a willfully unappetizing, but formally audacious buffet of
hallucinations. Dir. Jan Svankmajer, 1992, 17 min.

Frankenstein (Mortal Toys)
A Miniature Spectacle
Directed and Designed by Susan Simpson and Janie Geiser
Written by Erik Ehn, Based on the novel by Mary Shelley
Music Composed and Performed by Severin Behnen
Performers: Chris Payne, Dana Wilson, Eli Presser, Sarah Brown, Janie
Geiser, Susan Simpson.
Lighting Design by Jeanette Yew, John Eckert and Shannon Scrofano
Shadow Puppets created by Leah Chun.
Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) follows the
haunted journey of Victor Frankenstein and his startling emotional
monster. The menacing beauty of the arctic and the high Alps surround
the distraught scientist as he confronts the loneliness and rage of
his alienated creature. The spectacle is performed within a small
proscenium frame using puppets based on 18th Century American portrait
paintings, and lush sets inspired by Romantic era landscape painting.
Projected film and shadow puppets emerge from this central set to
provide windows into the souls of the man and his monster.
Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) reveals an uncanny world of melancholy,
loss, and existential longing.
Frankenstein (Mortal Toys) features Severin Behnen's hypnotic live
score for piano, accordion, organ, and violin. 

First-time director Ronald Bronstein describes his extraordinary film as “a brown tomato lobbed with spazmo aim at the spotless surface of the silver screen.” We prefer to call it a “naturalist disaster.” Be forewarned: audience response has been intensely divided. Frownland has garnered both passionate raves and scathing pans, while festival screenings have ended in screaming matches between patrons. Frownland is strong stuff, but none of its notorious reputation does justice to the savage dark humor, emotional heft and stylistic audacity of Bronstein’s phenomenal first film. Above all else, Frownland is a pitch-black character study of Keith (an extraordinary Dore Mann), a hopelessly inarticulate, socially-inept door-to-door salesman. Keith lives in the kitchen of a cramped New York apartment which he shares with a condescending hipster roommate. Keith’s sad life is characterized by several extremely awkward attempts at human contact. The film’s final act is a bravura sequence that invites viewers into the fractured psyche of its broken, yet oddly sympathetic anti-hero. Essential viewing. Dir. Ronnie Bronstein, 2007, 106 min.

This film is famous among monster lovers everywhere as the first in which Godzilla “flies” using his radioactive breath to propel himself through the air. It has the same punch as watching your favorite WWF fighter debut a new move. The poster tagline reads: “Our environment is doomed!” and writer/director Yoshimitsu Banno was obviously sincere in his quest to make a serious film about a large smog monster that feeds on sludge and leaves a trail of acid mist in its wake. When this gross polluter attacks Japan, a radical environmentalist named Godzilla rises to the challenge. The result is a sometimes jaw dropping, rock and roll monster movie with tripped out animation, Japanese go-go girls and the classic musical number “Save the Earth.” Dir. Yoshimitsu Banno, 1971, 87 min.

Handsomely-lensed in moody black and white, here’s a stark and atmospheric re-creation of Charles Manson and his flock stalking through lonely Los Angeles landscapes on the lookout for their next blood sacrifice to the almighty LSD gods. With a script ripped right from the court stenographer’s notes, there are no heroes and no villains, no character or plot development – “just the facts ma’am” all rendered deathly dry and cold as ice. Between the Manson Family’s creepy-crawls, we witness a fantasy visualization of “Helter Skelter” coming down fast on Mr. and Mrs. America as shotgun-toting Black Panthers shake down the suburbs, and a haunting full color interlude depicting Sharon Tate on the set of a campy costume drama. A death-trip Dragnet infused with a garagepsych score by Sean Bonniwell (The Music Machine) plus Charlie’s own downer ditty “Mechanical Man”. Dir. Frank Howard, 1988, 83 min.

With its jazzy score, pretty hostesses and drug deal gone wrong sub-plot, H-Man is kind of like a noir...if noir included radioactive creatures oozing through the sewers of Tokyo. In Honda’s savvy anti-nuke allegory, a low-level drug runner vanishes one day, leaving behind only his clothes and a trail of unsatisfied customers. From there it’s a wild world of Japanese night clubs, ineffectual cops and a scientist with the outlandish notion that recent H-Bomb tests in the Pacific have created ravenous, oozing slime creatures who dissolve everything in their path. Dir. Ishiro Honda, 1958, 79 min.

It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE! ((U.S.A., 2007, 74 Minutes, color) Known for creating many memorable, incredibly quirky characters onscreen as an actor, Crispin Glover's co-directed second effort as a feature director will not disappoint fans of his offbeat sensibilities and eccentric taste. The film is based on a screenplay by the late Steven C. Stewart, who is also the star of the film. Mr. Stewart, who appears in WHAT IS IT? as well, had severe cerebral palsy and communicated the script to Brothers years before it finally went into production. The process was arduous because Stewart's speech was almost unintelligible, not unlike that depicted in the upcoming Julian Schnabel film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY in which the paralyzed character (based on a real person) dictates an entire book by blinking his one working eye. Stewart passed away shortly after the film finished shooting.
It Is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE. is Stewart's psychosexual, fantasy, a noirish, surreal story of a wheelchair-bound Lotahrio (with a fetish for women with really long hair) who has women, literally, dropping at his feet. The film co-stars German actress Margit Carstensen who appeared in several of Fassbinder's films and Lauren German (HOSTEL: PART II, WHAT WE DO IS SECRET), who plays a young woman confined to a wheelchair who dreams of dating a non-handicapped suitor. Glover's parents Betty and Bruce Glover (CHINATOWN, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER) appear in IT IS FINE! EVERYTHING IS FINE. as well. Preceding the film is an hour-long live dramatic presentation of his "Big Slide Show" which features illustration and commentary from eight of Glover's books. Following the film screenings he will appear for Q & A at all shows.

KANAL, 1957, Janus Films, 95 min. Based on a story by Jerzy Stawinski, the second film of director Andrzej Wajda's renowned trilogy is definitely the darkest and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1957. A WWII Polish resistance group based in the sewers of Warsaw fights against the Nazi Occupation. Starting from the darkness of the sewers, the belly of the town, the murkiness of ignorance, these fighters jumpstart the rebirth of the nation. The underground also serves as metaphor for a people hiding their true credo in freedom and peace, battling against despotic insanity. "Aside from political reservations, there were also artistic doubts. A film set in the darkness of the sewers wasn't likely to be a cinematic success, but I was not afraid of this." -- Andrzej Wajda.

(from IMDB)
In this bloody tale of loyalty and friendship, Chow Yun-Fat is Jeffrey, an assassin who wishes to leave the business so he can take care of Jennie, the beautiful lounge singer who he inadvertently blinded during a previous assignment. Danny Lee is the determined cop who will stop at nothing to bring him in, only he realizes that Jeffrey is no ordinary assassin, and wishes to help him in his quest. Only problem is that Jeffrey's employers refuse to pay him for his last job, money which is needed to restore Jennie's eyesight.

Come see King Kong wrestle a dinosaur, romance a blonde and do battle with his evil robot doppelganger in this goofy Toho monster match up. The evil Dr. Who and his sexy assistant Madame X hatch a sinister plan to control the world’s supply of the radioactive Element X by building a giant robot ape slave to mine the deadly substance. There’s only one thing standing between the future of the free world and Dr. Who’s evil plot: a man in a rubber monkey suit. Dir. Ishiro Honda, 1967, 96 min.

“You know what NAACP means, don’t you?” Whiter than white, richer than rich, callower than callow (“I’m 29!”) Beau Bridges tells the camera, on the impeccable lawn of his family compound as the black butler delivers him a drink, that he needs a home of his own — except his dream house is a tenement in the way-before-gentrification Park Slope! Think he’ll get the African-American tenants to move out? Think he can even get them to start paying rent? And bring back those hubcaps! First feature by Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, Shampoo, Being There, Coming Home) is both a time capsule of 70s cinema — direct-to-the-camera dialogue, jagged editing, jarring bursts of music on the soundtrack, echoey on-location sound... and those bellbottoms! — as well as an edgy (before the term was coined), rope-dancing-on-the-razor’s-edge dramedy on race in America.

Leave Her to Heaven
1945/color/110 min. | Scr: Jo Swerling; dir: John M. Stahl; w/ Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Vincent Price
A beautiful woman hides her pathological jealousy from her leisure class friends until her hold over her husband is threatened by his love for his younger brother. Veteran ‘30s director John Stahl used ravishing Technicolor cinematography and sun-drenched country club settings to point the melodrama in a new direction: neither noir nor women’s picture, it is a study in perverse psychology in which the heroine is the villain.

The Locket
1946/b&w/86 min. | Scr: Sheridan Gibney; dir: John Brahm; w/ Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum.
On his wedding day, a groom is approached by a man claiming to be his fiancée’s former husband and who paints the beautiful bride-to-be as a scheming kleptomaniac, a habitual liar and perhaps worse. In this brilliantly structured and tightly directed film by John Brahm (fresh from the success of The Lodger), the truth is revealed in flashback within flashback within flashback—while the wedding draws closer and closer and closer.

Filled with remarkable images, Lunacy is punctuated by an extraordinary series of stop-motion vignettes of disembodied tongues, meat, and flesh. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and the Marquis De Sade, “to whom the film owes its blasphemy and subversiveness,” the film is a wonderfully bizarre post-Foucaultian investigation of freedom, control, and punishment. “I am neither fool nor hypocrite,” declares the Marquis as he rescues a mentally-disturbed young man and whisks him off to his estate for bizarre sexual rituals and mindfucks, and then on to an experimental lunatic asylum for his final cure. Lunacy is Svankmajer’s most explicit exploration of madness and his most erotically-charged work. It’s like Quills on acid, with a side of raw meat! Dir. Jan Svankmajer, 2005, 118 min.

MAN OF MARBLE, 1977, 160 min. Dir. Andrzej Wajda. Film as an act of bravery. One of a very small handful of films that can rightfully be called "important." Dynamic young polish filmmaker Agnieszka (Krystyna Janda) investigates the disappearance of mythical Stalinist bricklayer hero Birkut (Jerzy Radziwilowicz). A CITIZEN KANE-like journey into the past via newsreels, shady nightclubs and government agents. More than a clenched fist, more than a history lesson, MAN OF MARBLE is a funny, sexy, powerful masterpiece. Plus a Clip presentation of Andrzej Wajda’s latest film KATYN.

Frank Capra’s name is synonymous with blurbs that synonymize his name, but before he gained fame as the champion of wholesome, homespun, unapologetically sentimental, feel-good small-town “Capracorn,” he was softening his teeth on silent gems like The Matinee Idol. Dapper Johnnie Walker (his real name) plays Don Wilson, a Broadway star whose overwhelming fame prompts him to skip town in search of something greater (yes, this is a must-see for fans of Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels). Don changes his name to Harry Mann and quickly stumbles into a traveling acting troupe, headed by Harry’s new sweetheart, Ginger Bolivar (the incomparable Bessie Love). The troupe’s staging of a Civil War melodrama is mistaken for brilliant hilarity by Harry’s Broadway producers, at which point the comedy of errors begins. It’s a compact confection that foretold the sharp humor of beloved Capra classics like Arsenic and Old Lace and It Happened One Night. Dir. Frank Capra, 1928, 60 min.

MIDNIGHT, 1939, Universal, 94 min. One of director Mitchell Leisen's most charming and graceful confections, this Parisian farce boasts a script by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and a cast that includes some of the era's finest performers. Ex-showgirl Claudette Colbert impersonates a Hungarian countess in order to infiltrate the European jet set. She's after money, not love, but her plans get complicated when a working class cabbie (Don Ameche) falls for her and chases her down in high society. John Barrymore and Mary Astor co-star in this hilarious romp.

Here’s a deft exercise in late noir fatalism courtesy of director Edward Dmytryk (Murder My Sweet, Crossfire, Obsession, The Sniper) and writer Peter Stone (Charade, Arabesque). Gregory Peck stars as a bewildered accountant who loses his memory during a power outage and tries to figure out which end is up as the double crosses and bodies rapidly accumulate. This underrated, witty neo-noir co-stars Walter Matthau, Diane Baker and Kevin McCarthy. Watch for the groundbreaking special effect where a character falls 27 stories to his death. This seminal mid-60’s suspenser is not on DVD, and is rarely screened. Dir. Edward Dmytryk, 1966, 108 min.

Lee Chang-Dong’s follow-up to his devastating Peppermint Candy is a powerful, troubling love story. Oasis is about the improbable connection between two social outcasts: a mentally-disabled ex-con (a remarkable Sol Kyung-gu) and a woman with cerebral palsy (the amazing Moon So-ri). Shunned by their respective families, the two forge a relationship that is by turns troubling, touching and life-affirming. Switching between unflinching character study and moments of breathtaking fantasy, Lee’s film is an ethical and aesthetic high-wire act. (How many romances begin with an attempted rape?) Indeed the movie has such potent subject matter and go-for-broke performances that critics have had wildly polarized reactions. But for all of its potentially-exploitative subject matter, Oasis remains of the most genuinely moving films of the past few years. Lee asks us to consider the social isolation and proscribed freedoms of the disabled without resorting to a sermon. Instead he offers a moving, humane narrative about the fundamental need for erotic and emotional intimacy. Dir. Lee Chang-dong, 2002, 133 min.

Old Joy follows two old friends as they reunite to take a camping trip together through Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Mark (Daniel London) is facing fatherhood and its attendant responsibilities, while Kurt (Will Oldham, better known as the voice of alt-country outfits Palace and Bonnie Prince Billy) is perpetually on the brink of total freedom or total failure. Elegantly adapted by director Kelly Reichardt from a short story by Jonathan Raymond, Old Joy meditates upon the unavoidable cycles of growth and decay in the lives of friends and in transcendent images of nature. Features a lush, contemplative score by Yo La Tengo. Dir. Kelly Reichardt, 2006, 76 min.

(from IMDB)
A one-night fling during World War I results in a young girl getting pregnant. Years later, she meets him again. Now a successful businessman, he doesn't even remember her, but tries to seduce her.

Since 1985, The Peanut Butter Solution has left a trail of nightmares in its wake. Easily one of the most horrifying and bewildering children’s films ever produced, this mind-melting Canadian feature will have you gasping and guffawing in equal measure. So strange its origins seem beyond explanation–until you find out it was directed by Mark Rubbo, leftist political documentarian and official village painter of Morin Heights, and co-written by Vojtech Jasny, one of the surrealist luminaries of the Czech New Wave. After 11-year-old Michael loses all of his hair from peeking inside a burned-down hobo squat, their ghosts teach him a secret hair-regeneration formula. But when Michael messes up the recipe, his hair starts growing...and growing... and growing. As crazy as that sounds, it doesn’t even begin to describe the madness that is The Peanut Butter Solution. Dir. Mark Rubbo, 1985, 94 min.

THE PROMISED LAND, 1975, 115 min. Dir. Andrzej Wajda. A sweeping, epic masterpiece. Three industrialist friends in 19th century Lodz, Daniel Olbrychski (THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING), Wojciech Pszoniak (Robespierre in Wajda’s DANTON) and Andrzej Seweryn (SCHINDLER’S LIST) dream of building a factory and making their fortune. Never has a time or a city been captured so well on film. You can feel the mud, the smoke and the greed. Adapted by Wajda from Nobel Prize winning author Stanislaw Reymont's novel. With an amazing score by Wojciech Kilar.

Harold Lloyd may be the “third genius” of silent comedies, but Safety Last’s signature image of Lloyd hanging from the hands of a giant clock tower may be the most famous single image of the era. It comes at the climax of an incredible 12-story climb that Lloyd’s character must embark on as a publicity stunt for his boss’s department store, to earn a $1,000 bonus, and of course, win The Girl. This great masterpiece of the silent era has been beautifully restored in 35mm by Sony Pictures--all the better to clearly see Lloyd’s face with the ground terrifyingly far below in the background. To be preceded by a shorts program and accompanied by a live musician. Directed by Harold Lloyd, 1923, 73 min.

Secret Beyond the Door
1948/b&w/99 min.| Scr: Silvia Richards; dir: Fritz Lang; w/ Joan Bennett, Michael Redgrave
In the last of her four films made with Fritz Lang, Joan Bennett plays an heiress wooed and married in a whirlwind courtship in Mexico by handsome, mysterious Michael Redgrave—a dream turned nightmare when she discovers that he has installed in his house seven rooms where famous murders took place, one of which is locked. For this imaginative update of the Bluebeard story, Lang created a series of dreams that are among the most disturbing in cinema.

To open our festival of cults on film, we’re presenting one of The Cinefamily’s signature found-footage collages. Using examples and samples, collected and selected from our deepest, most esoteric vaults, we will show you how you too, can learn in just a few, easy steps how to brainwash the masses into doing your bidding. Then, as our final exhibit, check out in its complete form: Moonchild, a 49-minute educational film gem. Real life deprogrammers and ex-Moonies reenact one person’s journey into and out of the Unification Church in this compelling docudrama. Moonchild is an eye-opening glimpse of a religious cult from an insider’s point of view.

The unusual pairing of serious Ann Sothern (playing against type as the villain) and a rakish Zachery Scott scores in a noirish murder yarn. Sothern’s niece (Gigi Perreau) witnesses the killing of her Aunt’s fiancé, but is shocked into amnesia and can’t free an innocent man from the electric chair without some serious psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, Perreau’s in danger when the real murderer sets out to make sure she doesn’t have a chance to remember what she saw. With handsome cinematography by MGM stalwart Ray June, and featuring future First Dame Nancy Davis Reagan as a psychiatrist, this film is a true sleeper–rarely screened and not to be missed! Dir. Pat Jackson, 1950, 84 min.

Warren Beatty stars as a Beverly Hills hairdresser in this satiric comic drama of life in Southern California in the late 60's. Beatty has success in his career and all the women he can handle, but he feels there is more to life than cutting heads. Terrific writing from Robert Towne and Beatty. With Julie Christie, Goldie Hawn, Lee Grant (a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner) and Jack Warden.

Set on the titular island, but shot on the backlots of Universal, Singapore is a rarely seen “noir-light” adventure, in the style of Casablanca. It features an exotic locale and a cache of prized pearls. But best of all, there’s a romance between young, gorgeous, amnesiac Ava Gardner and her ex-lover, pearl smuggler Fred MacMurray. Wartime flashbacks and double crosses enliven this enjoyable romantic thriller. Singapore features a stout supporting cast including the great Thomas Gomez, Richard
Haydn, Porter Hall and Spring Byington. Stylishly-helmed by German ex-patriate John Brahm (Rio, Hangover Square, The Locket.) Dir. John Brahm, 1947, 79 min.

Sleep, My Love
1948/b&w/96 min. | Scr: Leo Rosten, St. Clair McKelway, Leo Rosten; dir: Douglas Sirk; w/ Claudette Colbert, Robert Cummings, Don Ameche
Wife Claudette Colbert wakes up on a train hurtling out of New York, with a gun in her bag and no idea how she got there ... Is she crazy or is her husband trying to kill her? Douglas Sirk’s fifth American film is an interesting foray into Gaslight territory by a director whose later career would focus almost exclusively on women emotionally imprisoned by the values of ‘50s America.

The big mama of the genre, Split Image is Hollywood’s definitive big budget examination of the cult phenomena. This searing melodrama, directed by Ted Kotcheff of First Blood fame, hits all the big beats: the seductive space cadet (a fetching Karen Allen), the utopian commune (“Homeland”), the charismatic cult leader (a stuntcasted Peter Fonda), and best of all, an extensive deprogramming by a mustachioed James Woods at his absolute sleaziest. Kotcheff doesn’t pull any punches–these scenes are visually and emotionally explosive, and finally, shockingly cathartic. As an introduction to the world of cults, Split Image is the ultimate--educational, scary, and a total blast. Dir. Ted Kotcheff, 1982, 110 min.

Sympathy for the Devil
Originally titled One on One, Sympathy for the Devil mixes footage of a recording session by the Rolling Stones with fictional vignettes about Black Power, pornography, and the political counterculture of the 1960s. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, 1968. Running time 100 minutes; DVD.

This dark, hallucinatory masterpiece, based on an ancient fairytale about familial ruin and insanity, is gorgeously composed and unfolds with an elliptical nightmare logic. Two sisters are forced to live in a mansion with their distant father and cruel stepmother, but there seems to be another presence haunting the closets, corners and crawlspaces of their new abode. A Tale of Two Sisters broke Korean horror box-office records and enjoyed a critically-acclaimed release in the US. Scary as hell, teeming with Victorian melodrama and overflowing with surreal images, Kim Ji-woon’s film will haunt you long after its final beguiling shot. Dir. Kim Ji-woon, 2003, 115 min.

Frequently cited as the origin of cinematic gangster archetypes—writer Ben Hecht would go on to script Scarface, as well–Viennese director Josef von Sternberg’s gritty revenge narrative follows the turbulent romantic and criminal pursuits of erratic felon Bull Weed (George Bancroft, also in 1938’s Angels with Dirty Faces). Dangerous and driven, Bull contends with the melodrama generated by his luscious main squeeze Feathers (Evelyn Brent), his garrulous “lawyer” Rolls Royce (Clive Brook), and his rival Buck Mulligan (Fred Kohler). In both his silent and sound films, Von Sternberg’s approach to minute psychological conflicts was extraordinary, as was his sumptuous use of cinematic space. Underworld includes the same degree of dark detail he would later bring to two films he made with Marlene Dietrich, early 1930s productions The Blue Angel and Shanghai Express. Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 1927, 80 min.

VARIETY, 1925, Paramount, 72 min. Dir. E.A. Dupont. Emil Jannings (THE BLUE ANGEL), considered one of the great actors of the silent era, stars as Boss Huller a former trapeze artist who abandons his wife and child for a young vamp. He ends up behind bars telling his sad story to a prison warden after he murders his mistress’ latest conquest. The original American release received a number of censorship cuts that reduced the running time by half, but here the uncensored version will be shown. VARIETY was skillfully shot by famed cinematographer Karl Freund, whose career spanned filming features in Germany in the teens and twenties to American television shows ("I Love Lucy" and "Our Miss Brooks") in the fifties. Cinematographer Freund also went on to become a director himself, helming the original THE MUMMY and MAD LOVE starring Peter Lorre. With English intertitles.

British psychedelic wunderkinds Voice of the Seven Woods take the stage in front of the big screen to sonically reinterpret Sergei Paradjanov’s 1968 visual voyage The Color of Pomegranates. Using opulent Eastern symbolism and mysticism to form his highly idiosyncratic narrative style, Paradjonov envisions the legendary life and spiritual journey of Armenian poet Sayat. This
show is a blinding audio-visual performance, fusing Paradjonov’s textured and dreamlike imagery with an equally sublime custom-built soundtrack that mirrors the film’s Middle Eastern folk-psych original. This is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime performance as well as an American debut. Not to be missed! “Paradjanov scares up one startling sequence after another, crafting a bizarre mosaic of Nova’s world while limiting himself to the materials of the poet’s time.” -Keith Phipps, Onion AV Club

(from IMDB)
THE WAY OF ALL FLESH (Paramount, 1940), directed by Louis King, is a remake of an old 1927 silent tearjerker that starred the then great German actor, Emil Jannings (1884-1950), in the drama, along with "THE LAST COMMAND (Paramount, 1928), that earned him the honor of being the first actor ever to win an Academy Award. The leading actor in this remake is the Russian-born Akim Tamiroff (1900-1973), a resident character actor of numerous features for Paramount since 1934, who, by this time, had risen from minor roles to occasional character parts to occasional top-billed leads in second feature films. Tamiroff stars as the bearded Paul Kriza, a European by birth living in mid-western United States with his American wife, Anna (Gladys George), and their four children, working as a bank cashier. A loyal employee, Paul is entrusted by Mr. Hanzel (Roger Imhoff), a bank president, to go to New York City to deliver a large sum of money for the bank. After a sentimental farewell to his family, Paul goes on his way. While on the train, Paul lets his responsibility lapse when he innocently becomes involved with Mary Brown (Murial Angelus), a dubious adventuress, who, after learning of his mission, gets him drunk and seduces him.

1949/b&w/97 min. | Scr: Ben Hecht, Andrew Solt; dir: Otto Preminger; w/ Gene Tierney, Richard Conte, José Ferrer
A kleptomaniac society wife with a neglectful psychiatrist husband is arrested for lifting a diamond broach from Bullocks Wilshire, but a mysterious "doctor" with a specialty in hypnosis intervenes on her behalf. In this claustrophobic film, Otto Preminger is less interested in plot than the image of a helpless woman surrounded by a group of men each of whom has a different interpretation of her motives and flaws.

One of the true “cult” classics from the 1970s, The Wicker Man is a legendary thriller about the evil neo-pagan happenings on a remote Scottish isle. Scripted by playwright Anthony Shaffer, the film features an iconic performance by Edward Woodward as an upright detective from the mainland called out to investigate a tip about a missing girl. Once there, Woodward discovers an unsettling island community, at once welcoming, but also chillingly hermetic. The villagers are more concerned with nude sun worship than Woodward’s investigation, which eventually leads to one of cinema’s most infamous endings. Featuring Christopher Lee as the island’s inscrutable representative, Lord Summerisle, and Britt Ekland as a comely innkeeper’s daughter, whose legendary seduction scene led to urban legends of then-husband Rod Stewart trying to suppress the film. Dir. Robin Hardy, 1973, 100 min.