Goings On: Musicals, Tough Guys, and More

On Film / The Daily — Sep 18, 2017

New York.The Whole World Sings: International Musicals, a weeklong, thirteen-film series at the Quad, is an education in song-and-dance practices outside the Hollywood one,” writes Nick Pinkerton for 4Columns. “René Clair’s Le Million (1931) [image above] is the earliest movie in the lineup, one that uses its soundtrack for ingenious, innovative, and often ironic contrapuntal effect, as in a sequence where lovers reconcile amid an opera house’s flats, their canoodling soundtracked by a saccharine love duet being performed onstage. Clair’s film is a foundational text of sound cinema.”

“Screening in a new digital restoration, Chantal Akerman’s 1986 Golden Eighties (aka Window Shopping) is a study in emotional surfeit within a minimalist-pop aesthetic,” writes Amy Taubin in her overview of the series for Artforum. “The set is a tiny shopping mall that contains a dress shop, a bar, a hair salon, and the exterior of a movie theater. It’s not clothes, jus d’orange, or movies that are on display, but the people who work here and whose entanglements and desires are, with one exception, shared, celebrated, and mourned in song and dance. The film’s subject is romantic love—found, lost, and desired. Marc Hérouet’s score is bouncy although a bit repetitive, necessary grounding for Akerman’s wildly associative lyrics, which make me simultaneously laugh and cry from first to last.”

The second half of the Museum of the Moving Image series Film Is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies is on this weekend. “Mr. Fuller was a director who not only went to war but also returned to it repeatedly as a subject, in films as personal and visceral as a knife to the throat,” writes Ben Kenigsberg in the New York Times. In China Gate, “a 1957 feature starring Gene Barry, Angie Dickinson and Nat King Cole that pondered the combustible mix of influences in Vietnam seven years before the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.”

Also in the NYT, Daniel M. Gold briefly previews Warner Bros. Tough Guys, Tough Dames . . . Tough Pictures, a series at Film Forum running from Friday through October 5. The occasion is a new book from David Thomson, Warner Bros: The Making of an American Studio, and he’ll be introducing four of the screenings. “The first weekend features a fourpack of Warner stars,” notes Gold: “Edward G. Robinson in Little Caesar [1930] (his character, Rico Bandello, may well have inspired the antimob law’s acronym, RICO); Paul Muni in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang [1932]; Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra [1941]; and James Cagney gone fully psychotic in White Heat [1949].”

Screening through Thursday at Film Forum is Arturo Ripstein’s Time to Die (1966). “Tiempo de morir’s haunting structure and meticulous dialogue is thanks to novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s incredible script,” writes Chris Shields at Screen Slate. “The economy of language is powerful and filled with nuanced meaning. Again and again the ‘jail’ and ‘the graveyard’ are contrasted, two existential symbols that create the poles that frame the world of the film.”

“One of the most daring, subversive, and iconoclastic filmmakers to emerge from the LA Rebellion movement, Jamaa Fanaka mixed blaxploitation genre thrills with explosive socio-political subtext,” writes BAM, introducing its series Jamaa Fanaka: L.A. Rebel, opening Friday and running through September 27.

Los Angeles. “Blake Edwards’s cross-dressing burlesque Victor/Victoria [1982] receives a dignified slot in Laemmle's Anniversary Classics roster,” notes Nathaniel Bell in the LA Weekly. That’s tomorrow evening. Also, “CSUN revives its Thursday Nights at the Cinematheque series with a Buster Keaton retrospective programmed by professor Tim Halloran.”

Among the latest program notes from the New Beverly: Ariel Schudson on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), screening Wednesday; Witney Seibold on James Frawley and Jim Henson’s The Muppet Movie (1979), Saturday and Sunday; and Marc Edward Heuck on “Brucesploitation,” as Jim Markovic’s The Real Bruce Lee (1979) and Kwan Ching-Liang’s Lee Lives Within (1978) screen on Sunday; and next Monday, it’s Roger Vadim’s Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971).

Chicago. Jane Campion’s Holy Smoke (1999), Theo Anthony’s Rat Film (2016), and Tarik Saleh’s The Nile Hotel Incident are among the highlights of the week written up in the Cine-File.

Seattle. FilmStruck’s original series Art-House America “pairs short documentary profiles of independent cinemas with a selection of films chosen by each theater's director,” writes Julia Raban for the Stranger. “It's a peek into the lives of film lovers across America, a way to emphasize the impact indie theaters have on communities big and small, and a demonstration of what defines and inspires filmmaking in different regions.” For an upcoming episode, “they'll visit Northwest Film Forum during the opening weekend of the 20th annual Local Sightings (Sept 22–30), the Pacific Northwest–oriented film festival that creates a high-energy space for local skill and innovation.”

Boston. The Brattle’s series Tilda Swinton: World’s Greatest Actress is on through Saturday. See Tyler Patterson on The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger (2016), screening Wednesday, Juan Ramirez on Swinton’s turn in Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck (2015; Friday), and Patterson on Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive (2013; Saturday).

Princeton. From September 28 through December 14, the series Light Industry at Princeton will feature highlights from the first decade of one of New York’s preeminent alternative film and electronic art venues. Straub-Huillet, Mary Ellen Bute, Geeta Dutt, Sharon Lockhart, and more.

Berwick-upon-Tweed. From Wednesday through Sunday, the northernmost town in England hosts the Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival, featuring the series Uzbek Rhapsody: The Films of Ali Khamraev.

Paris. From Wednesday through October 11, the Cinémathèque française presents Hong Kong: 20 ans, 20 films.

Vienna. On the occasion of the publication of Slow Writing: Thom Andersen on Cinema, edited by Mark Webber, the Austrian Film Museum presents a complete retrospective, starting Friday and running through October 4. “In manifold ways—as filmmaker and lecturer, author and curator, and cultural historian making interdisciplinary connections—he has, slowly and by degrees, but in complete freedom of thought, crucially expanded the debate about moving images over more than fifty years.” Andersen will be in Vienna for a week before the retrospective moves on to the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

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