Goings On: Burnett, Woodberry, and More

On Film / The Daily — May 18, 2017

Before turning to events happening in various cities, let’s note that the Seventh Art Stand carries on through the end of the month. It’s “a nationwide screening and discussion series presented by 50+ theaters, museums, and community centers in more than half the states, as an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia.”

On to New York, and we begin with Melissa Anderson in the Village Voice: “The neo-neorealist masterworks Killer of Sheep (1977) by Charles Burnett and Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) by Billy Woodberry both explore a superficially simple subject: what it means to be a man, a woman, a child just barely eking out a marginally comfortable existence in Watts, the impoverished South Los Angeles district that had long been predominantly African American. Coming after the blaxploitation craze of the early to mid-Seventies and before the in-the-’hood phase of the early Nineties, these two movies are quietly revolutionary in their focus on quotidian details, each forgoing cartoonish violence and brazen caricature for the complexity and nuance of everyday interactions.”

Both films are screening at the IFC Center through Thursday, May 25. “Charles Burnett still hasn’t gotten his due,” argues Tanner Tafelski at Kinoscope. The influence of Killer of Sheep stretches far and wide: “You can find traces of it in Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher (1999) and David Gordon Green’s George Washington (2000), on the cover of Mos Def’s The Ecstatic (2009) (an image taken from the film), and in the stew of influences that make up Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight (2016).”

Richard Brody for the New Yorker: “Woodberry’s distinctive style is pensive and introverted—he’s a reflective filmmaker whose scenes of action are matched by extended scenes of inaction, in which his protagonists pass through the cityscape or sit or recline alone, collecting and measuring their circumstances, seeing their identities mirrored and distorted in the world around them . . . Bless Their Little Hearts is a tale of breakdown and discontinuity, the story of an endgame done in a tersely introverted mode of stifled contemplation, punctuated by devastating furies.” More from Scout Tafoya in Brooklyn Magazine: “The camera and the eyes of children never forget.”

“Lav Diaz’s penchant for ethical quandaries and psychological angst has earned him comparisons to Dostoyevsky,” writes Ela Bittencourt, also in the Voice.Crime and Punishment inspired Diaz’s Norte, the End of History (2013), in which a radicalized youth spirals into despair after committing murder. Now the prolific Filipino filmmaker gives us The Woman Who Left (2016), a brooding, existentialist noir, loosely based on a short story, ‘God Sees the Truth, but Waits,’ by another Russian great, Tolstoy. The film is a story of solidarity and redemption, and its main strength is a panoramic vision of the Philippines’ socioeconomic woes.” The weeklong run at the Film Society of Lincoln Center starts tomorrow.

One more from the Voice, Bilge Ebiri:Reservoir Dogs is returning to the big screen, in a beautiful new 35mm print, and a recent revisit made the picture come alive for me.” More from Jonathan Stevenson in Brooklyn Magazine: “Implicitly, moviegoers ask of any drama, as Mr. Blonde asks of Mr. White, ‘Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy—or are you gonna bite?’ This remarkable movie bites. Hard.” At Film Forum from tomorrow through June 1.

Rooftop Films has announced the lineup for its 2017 Summer Series, running from Friday through August 19.

Kinet is “an online publishing platform catered to the dissemination of new and boundary pushing avant-garde cinema.” Tomorrow and May 25, Spectacle presents a selection from past programs; and the theater “will host the premiere screenings of future Kinet programs prior to their online release.”

In Brooklyn Magazine:

“Via their ongoing series Beyond Cassavetes, Anthology Film Archives presents the more or less totally forgotten Light Fantastic (1964), hardly screened and never released on home video,” writes Tyler Maxin. “It’s unfortunate, because it’s breezy and has all the best qualities of the early New York independents: generous slices of city life, cool jazz, and deceptively complicated performances.”

Also at Screen Slate, Patrick Dahl previews Clouded Visions: The Films of Yo Ota, a “batch of eleven short films . . . Through techniques found at the birth of cinema—irregular film speeds, time lapse—he prompts viewers to reflect upon the unreal temporality of cinema as well as our perception of the minutes and hours of our lives.”

Los Angeles. Unconventional Narrative: Films of Oliver Stone is a series running from today through Saturday at the Aero Theatre. “Though he is often pigeonholed as a political polemicist because of movies like JFK and Salvador,” writes Jim Hemphill, “Stone is closer in spirit to the Hollywood filmmakers of the classical studio system; like Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray, and others, he has made a point of injecting his personal preoccupations into recognizable popular formats, challenging himself by moving from the intimate to the epic and back again.”

On Saturday, the Egyptian presents a Louise Brooks double feature, new 2K restorations of G. W. Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) and William A. Wellman’s Beggars of Life (1928). For the American Cinematheque, Susan King talks with Cari Beauchamp, author of Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Powerful Women of Early Hollywood, and Thomas Gladysz, founder of the Louise Brooks Society.

Saturday sees a twentieth-anniversary screening of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, while the New Beverly presents Inherent Vice (2014) at midnight. For Kim Morgan, Vice “doesn’t so much require multiple viewings, it seduces you to revisit it, again and again, pulling you in far enough, while remaining just enough out of reach.”

Seattle. The 43rd edition of the Seattle International Film Festival opens today and runs through June 11. The Stranger spotlights “28 Films You Must See,” while Robert Horton picks out a few highlights for the Seattle Weekly. For more on all things SIFF 2017, turn to Parallax View.

San Francisco. Crossroads 2017, presented by the San Francisco Cinematheque and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in association with the Canyon Cinema Foundation, is on from tomorrow through Sunday. “Silenced voices of resistance speak across the rising tides and howling winds. Resilient speculative futures emerge from the dystopian present.”

Toronto. This evening, TIFF Cinematheque presents the short film Take Me Home (2016), followed by Seyfolah Samadian’s documentary on the late director Abbas Kiarostami, 76 Minutes and 15 Seconds (2016). And Kiarostami’s Through the Olive Trees (1994) follows. Writing for the TIFF Review, Azadeh Jafari examines how Kiarostami’s work has been received in Iran over the years.

London. There’s a Rainer Werner Fassbinder season on at the Regent Street Cinema through June 26. And next up in the BFI’s RW Fassbinder season is Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980).

Tonight, Whitechapel Gallery presents work by artists shortlisted for last year’s Jarman Award.

Vienna. Tales of Europe is on at the Austrian Film Museum through June 25. “‘We discover our Europe in a strange light and recognize it nonetheless,’ Eric Rohmer wrote of Orson Welles’s mysterious European film Confidential Report (1955) sixty years ago. It is exactly this goal—achieving recognition nonetheless, or seeing the terrain even more clearly in a strange light—that the retrospective strives for.”

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