Goings On: Sci-Fi at MoMA and More

On Film / The Daily — Jul 19, 2017

“When putting together MoMA’s new film series, Future Imperfect: The Uncanny in Science Fiction, its curator, Josh Siegel, set out to compile a list of pictures that defined the genre within more earthly parameters,” writes Jake Nevins for the Guardian. “He decided to seek out sci-fi that took place on Earth, had no aliens or invasions, and instead investigated what it meant to be human at the time of the film’s release.” Nevins talks with Siegel and MoMA’s chief curator of film, Rajendra Roy, about some of their favorites from the lineup: Mike and George Kuchar’s The Craven Sluck (1967), Jan Schmidt’s Late August at the Hotel Ozone (1967), Andrzej Wajda’s 1968 short Przekładaniec, the late George A. Romero’s The Crazies (1973), Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire (1973), Krsto Papić’s The Rat Savior (1976), Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (1978), Kathryn Bigelow’s Strange Days (1995), Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Teknolust (2002) with Tilda Swinton in four roles, and Spike Jonze’s Her (2013).

“This gargantuan cinephilic treat is of almost irresponsible scope,” declares Danny King in the Village Voice. “How, during its run, are we supposed to get anything done?” Among the titles he writes about are Michael Snow’s *Corpus Callosum (2002), which “rivets as meticulously choreographed high-art juvenilia—like if Jacques Tati were around to make his version of Jackass”; The Bed Sitting Room (1969), “a maligned-at-the-time apocalyptic comedy from Richard Lester”; and “two mid-Eighties stunners,” Konstantin Lopushansky’s Letters From a Dead Man (1986) and Piotr Szulkin’s O-Bi, O-Ba — The End of Civilization (1985).

Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965; image above) screens on Monday and July 30 and, for Sloan Science & Film, Sonia Shechet Epstein talks with Sheila Jasanoff, the director of the Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government: “I think it’s worth going back to thinking about what digital technology was like in those days. I worked for a private corporation in New York as an undergraduate for one summer–this was when punch cards were still used–and machines were large. They filled rooms. The brooding, physical presence of these large mainframe computers was in a way iconic of the kind of control that people imagined in a computerized world.”

“Despite being made in 1983,” writes Robert Levin at amNewYork, David Cronenberg’s Videodrome “stands as an eerily resonant satire of 21st-century media thanks to its story about a TV executive (James Woods) investigating a mysterious, hyperviolent broadcast with mind-control abilities.”

The series, now on through August 31, “will include special guest appearances from filmmakers Michael Almereyda, Larry Fessenden, Lynn Hershman Leeson and John Sayles, as well as astrophysicist and author Neil DeGrasse Tyson,” notes Alanna Martinez in the Observer.

Also in New York. “In the catalogue of films about platonic male love, few have the same sensitivity for its codes and complications as Husbands,” writes Dylan Pasture at Screen Slate. John Cassavetes’s 1970 film starring himself, Ben Gazzara, and Peter Falk sees a week-long run starting today and offering “a chance to squirm over how clearly its drunk tank oratory still speaks in the present day, and though the questions it asks of men may be basic, they are perennial.”

The Jim Henson Exhibition will open at the Museum of the Moving Image on July 22,” notes Sonia Shechet Epstein at Sloan Science & Film. “On view are nearly 300 objects including pieces from the collection, over 100 pieces on loan from institutions including the Jim Henson Company and Sesame Workshop, and a number of new acquisitions. Miss Piggy has a prime locale. David Bowie’s cape from Labyrinth sparkles blue. An accompanying program of film screenings begins on July 21.”

Ongoing: Japan Cuts, Mondo Bava, and Ford to City: Drop Dead—New York in the 70s. And Talking Pictures: The Cinema of Yvonne Rainer opens on Friday.

Los Angeles. The exhibition Center Stage: African American Women in Silent Race Films, now on at the California African American Museum through October 15, “reveals how as early as 100 years ago, independent black filmmakers presented complex portrayals of women of color that major studios never fathomed,” writes Nadra Nittle for KCET. “These silent gems depict black women exploring their religious faith, fighting for the rights of African Americans and in loving relationships. They underscore how even today Hollywood has much ground to cover in its depiction of black women.”

Chicago. “Daniel Warth’s feature debut, the stylized comedy-drama Dim the Fluorescents, is a trove of ideas, wicked jokes and naked emotion,” writes Ray Pride in Newcity Film, and it screens tonight at ArcLight.

Boston. “A lot of cities and towns hold outdoor screenings during the summer, most plagued by shoddy sound, a dim picture and seemingly random movie selections. But The Coolidge at the Greenway is distinguished by the same thoughtful film programming and fierce commitment to presentation standards that have made the Brookline movie theater one of our area's cinematic crown jewels.” For WBUR, Sean Burns talks with “the Coolidge Corner Theatre Foundation’s program manager Mark Anastasio about the challenges of pulling off a series that satisfies family audiences and film buffs.”

Cambridge. On Monday at the Harvard Film Archive, “Bruce Goldstein of Film Forum and Rialto Pictures will give a history of subtitling and his own insights as subtitle editor of over thirty classic films. Then Jerome Rudes, subtitle supervisor for over two hundred films, will demonstrate how new computer software has helped improve subtitles to an extent never seen before.”

Toronto. The TIFF Cinematheque retrospective Kathryn Bigelow: On the Edge starts Friday and runs through August 15. Jason Anderson for the TIFF Review: “Even as Bigelow became one of the few female directors to break into the boys’ clubhouse of Hollywood, the white heat of her images was accompanied by a cool intellectual distance. Here was a filmmaker for whom ideas (about gender and gender relations, the sexualization of violence, the psychology of risk addiction) and action went hand in hand, or maybe fist in face.”

London. Isaac Julien: “I dream a world” Looking for Langston is an “exhibition of newly-conceived, large-scale and silver gelatin photographic works and archival material” on view at Victoria Niro Gallery II through July 29.

The exhibition Eadweard Muybridge: Animal Locomotion, opening today at Beetles+Huxley, will be on view through September 2. Sooanne Berner for AnOther: “Inscribed in the history books as the forefather of cinema, Muybridge was also a Wild West landscape photographer, documentary artist, war correspondent, touring ‘celebrity’ lecturer and keen self-promoter.”

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