Goings On: Godard, Varda, and More

On Film / The Daily — Jul 26, 2017

“The rarely screened Le gai savoir (1969), translated as ‘Joy of Knowing’ in the 2K restoration that makes its world premiere at the Quad on Friday, exemplifies a typical Godardian paradox,” writes Melissa Anderson in the Village Voice. “Profuse and dizzying with discourse, abstruse analysis, and word association, Le gai savoir posits that all communication is suspect, that the spoken word is ‘the enemy.’ . . . The project is one of the last that Godard began before he and Jean-Pierre Gorin (among others) formed, in ’68, the Dziga Vertov Group, a collective devoted to ultra-doctrinaire, hardest-left filmmaking. ‘End of cinema,’ famously reads the closing title card of Godard’s riotous ’67 movie Weekend—a tease borne out in the despairing Le gai savoir.” Above: Juliet Berto.

Opening today at the Quad is the series There Was a Time: Civil Rights-Era Hollywood, running through August 3. At Screen Slate, Chris Shields recommends Gordon Parks’s The Learning Tree (1969), which “paints a rare picture of rural black boyhood and coming of age within a complex web of relationships between black and white townspeople during the 1920s in a small American farming community. While the performances do come off a bit muted and the plot resembles, at moments, junior high assigned reading—consciously or not, both the story and the acting combine to achieve a Brechtian effect which allows for subtle and not so subtle systemic and psychological dimensions (whether they hold water or not) to emerge from the fog of sentimentality.”

At Bedford + Bowery, Daniel Maurer previews a pretty damn cleverly programmed series starting at the Metrograph on September 1: “Everyone was tripped out by Episode 8 of Twin Peaks: The Return. Metrograph describes it as ‘a tangled, visceral multi-megaton blast of invention,’ and was apparently so blown away by it that they decided to curate an entire series inspired by it. They’ve picked a couple of Lynch’s ‘more far out productions’—Eraserhead and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me—as well as some like-minded films such as Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Tarkovsky’s Stalker. There’ll also be shorts by Stan Brakhage, Takeshi Murata, and other experimental filmmakers.”

Ongoing through tomorrow are Talking Pictures: The Cinema of Yvonne Rainer at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Ford to City: Drop Dead—New York in the 70s at Film Forum.

Los Angeles. Tomorrow evening at the Echo Park Film Center, Kino Slang presents three “Militant Films,” Alfred Hitchcock’s Madagascar Landing (1944), Boris Barnet’s A Good Lad (1943), and João César Monteiro’s What Shall I Do with This Sword? (1975).

Mining Diamonds: The Films of Barbet Schroeder opens Friday and runs through Sunday at the Aero Theatre, and Susan King gets a few words with Schroeder, who tells her, “I think all of the movies I made in America are great and are among the best I did.” Reversal of Fortune (1990) screens Friday.

Don Murray will be at the Billy Wilder Theater on Friday when the UCLA Film & Television Archive presents two films he stars in, Delbert Mann’s The Bachelor Party (1957) and Robert Mulligan’s Baby the Rain Must Fall (1965).

“In his almost-60 film career, the impact of Arnold Schwarzenegger can be seen directly on the way that we view masculinity, physical character and the heroic narrative,” writes Ariel Schudson. Schwarzenegger turns seventy on Saturday, and the New Beverly is celebrating all day, starting with a kiddie matinee, Hal Needham’s The Villain (1979), and then going all in with “an all-night, all-35 mm marathon of machismo.”

“When assessing some of the great comedy minds that emerged from the 1970s, Robert Klane may not be one of the first names that comes into the discussion,” writes Marc Edward Heuck. “But a closer look at his credits reveal that he has been steadily present for three decades injecting his specialized brand of gasp-inducing humor in multiple settings.” On Sunday, the New Beverly presents two films Klane wrote, adapting his own novels, Carl Reiner’s Where’s Poppa? (1970) and Alan Arkin’s Fire Sale (1977). “These are movies about the suffocating damnation of family, of the only freedom being death, of the constant angst of living tied to perishing blood relations,” writes Kim Morgan. “These are about mothers who won’t die, fathers who won’t die—parental figures who can still control their children while infirmed with various ailments or suffering dementia or borderline insanity. They are the center of the madness and they like it that way.”

Chicago. On Saturday, Colossal presents Track Shorts, “a collection of stop-motion short films that celebrate the physical labor of bringing stories to life on screen,” at Lost Arts.

Boston. A Year of Women in Cinema: Les Films d’Agnès opens tomorrow at the Brattle and runs through August 31, and the theater’s been posting program notes: Justin LaLiberty on Varda’s The Beaches of Agnès (2008), “as honest and playful as its subject and creator”; Selin Sevinc on Varda’s debut feature, La Pointe Courte (1956), “an amalgam of the kind of films that transformed our understanding and appreciation of film language and aesthetics”; and Natalie Jones on Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), in which “Varda examines the ways in which mortality can liberate rather than restrict.”

The Brattle’s Robert Mitchum Centennial Tribute is a series of screenings on Mondays and Tuesdays through August 29. Greg Mucci argues that America was not ready for Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter in 1955.

Charles Taylor’s “terrific new book, Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ‘70s, salutes a bygone era in filmmaking, when scrappy B-movies still talked to the audience like grownups and the good guys didn’t always have to win,” writes Sean Burns for WBUR. “The author—a longtime film critic for the Boston Phoenix, Salon and sundry other publications—will be back in town on Wednesday night”—tonight!—to host a discussion at the Coolidge Corner Theatre following a rare 35mm screening of Sam Peckinpah’s rotgut, oft-maligned masterwork Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia [1974].”

London. As programmer Simon McCallum writes in his introduction, Gross Indecency, the two-part season on at BFI Southbank through August, “marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark in LGBT rights: the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality in England and Wales. Though the Sexual Offences Act 1967 hardly put a stop to persecution, it was a step forward in a climate of fear and ignorance, where any on-screen depiction of gay life assumed enormous currency.” Adam Vaughan offers a bit of supplementary reading at the Conversation, “Out on the Screen: 50 Years of Queer Cinema in Britain.”

Bilbao. Ken Jacobs’s The Guests (2013) is at the Guggenheim from tomorrow through November 12. “The foundation of this work is one of the first films made by the Lumière brothers, showing wedding guests filing into a church in late 19th-century Paris. Jacobs radically slows down the passage of individual frames, doubles the image onscreen with a single frame difference in sequence, periodically alternating which eye sees the advance-frame. When viewed with 3D glasses, as the wedding guests shift left and right, the combinations form three-dimensional images in the spectator’s mind, both lifelike and shockingly unreal.”

For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.