Goings On: Lem, Cone, and More

On Film / The Daily — Oct 31, 2017


New York. “Cinema began less as an art, more as a curiosity,” writes Tyler Maxin at Screen Slate. “Its early practitioners were hucksters, charlatans, and illusionists, and its direct predecessors were phantasmagoria, magic lanterns, vaudeville, and sideshows.” Tonight at Light Industry, Caroline Golum presents Photographing a Ghost, a program of early silent short films and texts from the height of the Spiritualist movement, an evening Maxin calls “a veritable séance of turn-of-the-century sensibility.” The image above, “Arthur Conan Doyle in spirit photograph with image he identified as his son Kingsley,” is from the collection of the Toronto Public Library.

The Anthology Film Archives series Stanisław Lem on Film opens tomorrow with a program of three short films and, for Patrick Dahl, also at Screen Slate, this “trio elevates the cosmic minefields usually reserved for late night dorm musings with a dash of madcap humor and hilariously garish visions of future technology. The standout is Andrzej Wajda’s Roly Poly (1968).” On Saturday, and then again on November 8, the series presents Edward Zebrowski’s Hospital of the Transfiguration (1979), based on one of Lem’s “earliest novels, one far removed from the intergalactic japes for which the writer is best known,” writes Dahl. “Instead, the decidedly non-sci-fi story takes place in a Polish hospital for the the mentally ill on the eve of the Nazi occupation. Lem’s typically psychedelic musings on existence are displaced from the outer reaches of the galaxy to an exceedingly grim corner of recent human history. Zebrowski’s patient film inches toward political violence, contemplating the very institution of medicine before the luxury of such musings becomes property of the regime.”

On Thursday, as part of the Hank and Jim series mentioned here a couple of times now, Film Forum presents Anthony Mann’s Winchester '73 (1950), “a film that elevates the love of firearms to nearly supernatural heights,” as Dylan Pasture puts it at Screen Slate. That said: “From its heavenly yet modest camera work to a heightened attention to living-world detail (see: the grease band around [Jimmy] Stewart’s hat), this film contains some great examples of what made the perpetually underappreciated Mann one of the finest directors of the classical studio era’s back end.”

The BAMcinématek series True West: Sam Shepard on Film opens on Friday and runs through November 9. On Sunday, it’s Shepard as test pilot Chuck Yeager in Philip Kaufman’s The Right Stuff (1983). Cosmo Bjorkenheim at Screen Slate: “The symbolic parallel between romantic love and superhuman glory is almost as heavyhandedly painted as that between the open prairie and the unconquered skies, but then The Right Stuff rarely goes in for subtlety.”

The New York Korean Film Festival opens Friday and runs through the weekend. Saturday sees a screening of Hong Sang-soo’s Yourself and Yours (2016), starring Kim Joo-hyuk, was killed just yesterday in a car crash in Seoul. Erik Pedersen reports for Deadline.

Also opening Friday at the Museum of the Moving Image is Talk About the Passion: Stephen Cone's First Act, an an early career retrospective running through November 12 that opens with the New York premiere of Princess Cyd. And here’s Cone’s Criterion Top 10.

Cambridge. From Friday through November 27, the Harvard Film Archive presents Shuji Terayama, Emperor of the Underground, a retrospective of work by one of “the most broadly influential and innovative figures active in the post-WWII Japanese avant-garde.”

Toronto. Black Star, a series celebrating “100 years of Black excellence on screen,” opens Friday at the TIFF Cinematheque and runs through December 22. For the TIFF Review, critic, author, and filmmaker Nelson George writes up a top five, “a list of the Black cultural icons who have impacted his life”: Sidney Poitier, Sheila Frazier, Laurence Fishburne, Halle Berry, and Queen Latifah.

London. As part of BFI Thriller, a season running through December, Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991) opens on Friday at BFI Southbank. Nikki Baughan argues that Jodie Foster’s FBI agent Clarice Starling runs an “unrelenting gamut of misogyny to become the savior of The Silence of the Lambs. Foster acknowledged in her best actress Oscar acceptance speech that the character is a ‘strong and beautiful feminist hero.’ And that’s not because Starling fits into any particular narrative construct, but because she behaves exactly as a female FBI operative would be expected to in real life—albeit with some degree of dramatic license. There’s no cowering behind a male partner; no self-doubt. She simply gets on with the job, whatever that entails.” Baughan suggests, too, that Starling “ushered in a new generation of female agents.”

Also writing for the BFI, Brogan Morris lists “10 great serial killer thrillers.”

The London Korean Film Festival is on through November 19.

Vienna. On Friday, the Austrian Film Museum and Gartenbaukino present A Tribute to George A. Romero, an evening featuring a new 4K restoration of Night of the Living Dead (1968) and a performance by the Australian composer, performer, and theoretician Lawrence English, The Visitors.

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