New York. Back in April, Film Forum presented The Complete Wiseman: Part 1: Early Wiseman, the first half of a Frederick Wiseman retrospective that, as Matt Prigge notes in the Village Voice, “covered the prolific and pioneering documentarian’s angriest period.” The Complete Wiseman: Part II, now on through September 14, “picks up in 1986 with a radical shift. It’s here he started immersing himself in institutions that weren’t overtly poisonous. Some of them were nice, noble, or simply benign. What does the muckraker of Titicut Follies (1967) do with a doc about a park? Or a ballet company? Or a vacation hotspot? They were even now mostly in color, which made them neither as stark nor as grim as his b&w hellraisers. . . . But mid-period Wiseman films tend to be not only even longer than his previous work, but even more open, even more empathetic, and still no less cutting. They show how hard it is to do good.”
Film Forum, in the meantime, “is getting a makeover,” announces Mekado Murphy in the New York Times. “The popular downtown art house and repertory cinema will be adding a fourth screen along with building-wide improvements.”
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Frank Ripploh’s legendary Taxi Zum Klo (Taxi to the Toilet), made in 1980 on a shoestring budget (DM 100,000 at the time—roughly $60,000 US), is one of the best gay movies ever made,” declares Bruce LaBruce at the Talkhouse Film. “Original, cinematic, personal and emotionally affecting, the film offers not only unique access to the gay zeitgeist of the time, genital warts and all, but also a kind of manifesto for early gay liberationists, the expression of a sexual militancy that challenged and disrupted the very conventions of mainstream society.”
“Taxi zum Klo treats sex seriously without sacralizing it,” writes Melissa Anderson in the Voice. “It remains revolutionary nearly forty years later, largely for following the mandate of Ripploh’s fellow German queer filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, who insisted, in his 1979 documentary Army of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts, on ‘making the private public.’” More from Cosmo Bjorkenheim at Screen Slate. The Metrograph is presenting a 35 mm print from Friday through Sunday.
“Like George Stevens and Jack Cardiff before him, Nicolas Roeg was a director of photography before he was a director, so his way of visualizing a story—painting pictures with the camera—hasn’t changed beyond hiring cameramen to execute it.” Harry Haun for Film Journal International: “Look Now: The Universe According to Nicolas Roeg embraces seven films he directed, two films he shot for other directors and two more—his first two—where he double-dipped as director and photographer, not knowing any better at the time.” Through tomorrow.
Plus ça change: French New Wave in the New Millennium is a BAMcinématek series of “late-career masterworks by titans like Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, and Agnès Varda” screening from Friday through September 17.
The Film Society of Lincoln’s series Jane Campion’s Own Stories is on from Friday through September 17.
“New Yorkers have voted, and Spike Lee’s Crooklyn is the winner of One Film, One New York, in which the whole city is invited to watch the same movie on the same night,” reports Stephanie Goodman for the New York Times. And that night is September 13.
Austin. “Alamo Drafthouse’s annual Fantastic Fest has announced its final portion of its lineup, including a closing night screening of Alexander Payne’s Downsizing, a slew of new world premieres, and the much-anticipated follow-up to Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, this one titled World of Tomorrow Episode 2: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts.” Kate Erbland has details at IndieWire.
Boston.My Journey Through French Cinema is on at the Museum of Fine Arts through September 22 and, in the Globe,Mark Feeney notes that director Bertrand Tavernier “was Jean-Pierre Melville’s assistant on Léon Morin: Priest and was variously employed as publicist, assistant director, screenwriter, and producer. He worked with everyone from Jean Renoir and Jean Gabin to Agnès Varda and Jean-Luc Godard. Above all, there’s his absolute passion for movies. Perhaps no people love them as much as the French do, and few Frenchmen as much as Tavernier.”
Cambridge. The Harvard Film Archive presents Breathing Through Cinema - The Films of Chantal Akerman from Friday through October 22. In the program notes, Carson Lund argues that, if the “asceticism” of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) “posed the possibility of a director with limited range, then disparate accomplishments such as Toute une Nuit (a hyper-eventful mosaic of romantic vignettes), Golden Eighties (an eccentric musical set inside a shopping mall), and La Captive (an elegant Hitchcockian adaptation of notoriously ‘unadaptable’ Marcel Proust) refuted any such suspicions.”
And An Ethics of Observation. Four Films by Wang Bing opens on Saturday and runs through September 30.
Venice. “Tsai Ming-liang, iconoclastic art house darling and purveyor of tough-love cinema, admits to being baffled why so many parties approached him to make a virtual reality movie,” writes Patrick Frater. “Those who prodded him into action include former Venice festival boss Marco Mueller . . . Tsai said that his initial contacts with the new medium were head spinning. But not in a good way. The image quality was “unbearably digital and unrealistic (and) the headset was heavy and clumsy to use,” Tsai told Variety. But after another industry contact presented Tsai with a gloriously detailed, static image, Tsai was prepared to reconsider. The result, The Deserted, renews the Venice connection and plays this week through the festival.”
“Kristin [Thompson] and I are Virtual Reality novices, so when we got a chance to sample some pieces at Venice VR, we jumped,” writes David Bordwell. “Apart from being fairly wild, sometimes creepy, sensory experiences, they set me thinking about how VR seems to work as a medium.”
“One of my favorite features of the Venice Film Festival is its Classics section,” writes Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com, where he writes about James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932), Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff (1954), Jean-Luc Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her (1966), and John Landis’s Into the Night (1985).
Image of Frederick Wiseman © Erik Madigan Heck courtesy of the Venice International Film Festival. For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.