Goings On: Varda, Kiarostami, and More

New York. The BAMcinématek series Varda in California opens today and runs through June 13. The New Yorker’s Richard Brody recommends Lions Love (. . . and Lies) (1969): “Filming this docu-fiction in Los Angeles in June, 1968, the week of California’s Democratic primary, the French director Agnès Varda catches the era’s epochal violence and cultural exuberance, high hopes and bitter outcomes. . . . Her film is more than a time capsule of events and moods—it’s a living aesthetic model for revolutionary times.”

At Screen Slate, Caroline Golum writes that, with Model Shop (1969), screening as part of the series from Friday through June 11, Jacques Demy’s “elevates what could have been a lesser New Hollywood sad-dude drama into a plaintive and intimate film about the ennui of merely existing in L.A.”

Back to Richard Brody: “The director Frank Perry, working with his first wife, Eleanor Perry, and other screenwriters, is distinguished mainly by his skill at eliciting enticingly florid yet intimately vulnerable performances from actors. It’s no surprise that he made one of the best films about a Hollywood star that the industry has yet produced: Mommie Dearest, from 1981.” And it screens Sunday and Monday as part of Desperate Characters: The Cinema of Frank & Eleanor Perry at the Quad.

Tonight at the Quad, though, Tavi Gevinson will be seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) for the first time. The screening is part of the First Encounters series that Andrew Chan writes about here in the Current.

Maximilian Schell’s Marlene (1984) “is a shrewd summa of stardom and late-life legend-burnishing, wearily but no less admiringly acknowledging its irascible subject’s perverse genius,” writes Melissa Anderson in the Village Voice. “By sticking to the shadows in Schell’s documentary, the senescent Dietrich ensures that viewers will crave images of her from the past that much more. It’s a diva move, one that, like most displays of hauteur, cannot completely mask its author’s vulnerabilities.” Screens Friday as part of the Metrograph’s series, Marlene, on through July 8.

Back to Screen Slate:

A New Golden Age: Contemporary Philippine Cinema opens tomorrow and runs through June 25. “The 18 movies screening at MoMA show renewed commitment to a range of genres, from documentary to thrillers to historical fiction,” writes Elisa Wouk Almino at Hyperallergic.

Indelible Portraits: Polish Hybrid Nonfiction, a series curated by Ela Bittencourt, runs at the Museum of the Moving Image from Friday through Sunday.

For Tony Pipolo, writing for Artforum, “at least half of this year’s selections in the Open Roads series of New Italian cinema would make any film festival worth attending.” Edoardo De Angelis’s Indivisible “is a flashy opening feature,” and he also writes about Federica Di Giacomo’s “mesmerizing documentary” Deliver Us, Roberto Ando’s The Confessions, “a moral allegory about global capitalism and corporate greed,” Claudio Giovannesi’s Fiore, Gianni Amelio’s Tenderness, Marco Bellocchio’s Sweet Dreams, and Daniele Vicari’s Sun, Heart, Love, “a sober, touching, ultimately tragic tale.”

Los Angeles. Jerry Schatzberg’s Scarecrow (1973) screens at the New Beverly on Sunday and Monday. “I’ve never seen Al Pacino so endearing and young as he is here,” writes Kim Morgan. As for Gene Hackman, “he moves from brash to outbursts of laughter to rage to tremulous caring exquisitely.”

And Marc Edward Heuck sets up a triple feature happening at the New Beverly on Tuesday: Michael Winner’s Scream for Help (1984), Joseph Ruben’s The Stepfather (1987), and Gary Sherman’s Lisa (1989).

The Cinefamily series Fairy Tales for Adults runs from Saturday through June 25.

San Francisco. From tomorrow through Sunday, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival presents Harold Lloyd in The Freshman (1925), Douglas Fairbanks in The Three Musketeers (1921), and more “cinematic treasures brought to life by some of the world’s foremost practitioners of live silent film musical accompaniment,” as Justin DeFreitas puts it in his overview of the highlights in the SF Weekly.

Chicago. The 24th edition of the Chicago Underground Film Festival opens today and runs through Sunday. “We don’t have any quota, but we’re in a really good period for Chicago filmmaking,” co-founder, artistic director and programmer Bryan Wendorf tells Ray Pride in Newcity Film. About a quarter of this year’s lineup comes from local filmmakers. The Reader has capsule previews of several shorts and features, including:

  • J. R. Jones on Deborah Stratman's “head-spinning” Xenoi.
  • Andrea Gronvall on Michael Galinsky’s All the Rage, a documentary about “the acclaimed but controversial physician” Dr. John Sarno.
  • Ben Sachs on Laura Stewart’s “pleasant, occasionally lyrical travelogue,” Drifting Towards the Crescent.
  • Leah Pickett on Tujiko Noriko and Joji Koyama’s “creepy experiment in nonlinear storytelling,” Kuro.

Back in Newcity Film,Ray Pride previews Jean-Pierre Melville: Criminal Codes, a series running at the Gene Siskel Film Center from Saturday through July 6, noting that “the exquisitely measured, distillate beauty of movies like Le Cercle Rouge,Army of Shadows,Le Silence de la Mer, and Le Doulos are must-sees on a larger screen.”

Washington, DC.A Pictorial Dream — Directed by Straub and Huillet, a series at the National Gallery of Art, opens Saturday and runs through June 25.

Austin. "When the Earth quakes," writes Richard Whittaker in the Chronicle, “and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake, Kurt Russell just looks that big ole storm right square in the eye and he says, ‘Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.’ That's why the king of the Western and killer of shapeshifters gets his second Tough Guy Cinema marathon with Russellmania II.

London. From Monday through June 19, the Close-Up Film Centre presents Abbas Kiarostami: Early Works, a program that “shows the filmmaker reframing the world and the relationships between individuals through his creative involvement with actors—often amateurs and children—producing philosophical works that reinvigorated the genres of documentary and narrative fiction, frequently blurring the lines between the two.”

Berlin.Porous Boundaries: New Paths Through Mexican Film, a series curated by James Lattimer opening Friday at the Arsenal and running through June 30, features “15 feature-length, medium-length, and short films across 12 programs that have received considerable acclaim and attention on the international festival circuit. The series is screening many of these works in Germany for the very first time and includes established names such as Nicolás Pereda, Natalia Almada, Tatiana Huezo and Pedro González Rubio together with prize-winning emerging talents such as Ricardo Silva, Pablo Chavarría Gutiérrez, and Pablo Escoto.”

Paris.7 jours avec Vincent Lindon is on at the Cinémathèque française from today through June 7.

Brussels. From Monday through July 2, the Goethe Institute and Cinematek present a series of films by Iranian filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless (1944–1998) who, from 1974 through 1991, worked in Germany.

Vienna. “Class of 1978: With Canadian Alexandre Larose and Japanese Makino Takashi, the Film Museum presents two young greats of international avant-garde cinema for the first time in Austria, with a program devoted to each in the framework of VIS Vienna Shorts.” Friday and Sunday.

And on Saturday: “At the invitation of Michael Haneke and the Film Academy Vienna on the occasion of its 65th anniversary, great European actor Jean-Louis Trintignant will also honor the Austrian Film Museum with a visit.”

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