Goings On: The Non-Actor, LA Weekly, and More

The Daily — Nov 30, 2017

New York. With The Non-Actor, a Film Society of Lincoln Center series programmed by Dennis Lim and Thomas Beard, running through December 10, J. Hoberman writes a brief but rich history of the notion for the New York Review of Books, noting that “the first movie actors—the workers filmed leaving the Lumière factory or the family that the Lumière brothers documented in Feeding the Baby in the mid-1890s—were the also the first non-actors.” Hoberman’s survey leads us on through Sergei Eisenstein, who “may have been the first to widely use nonprofessional performers in his narrative films” (image above: October, 1928), Robert Flaherty, the “most celebrated early exponent of the non-professional actor,” Jean Rouch, the Italian neo-realists such as Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, whose influence can be felt in Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955), Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl (1966), and Shirley Clarke’s The Cool World (1962), Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Bresson, Andy Warhol, Pedro Costa, and Miguel Gomes.

In the New York Times, Hoberman turns to Ken Russell’s Women in Love (1969), “a double period piece—set in the aftermath of World War I and evocative of the late 1960s, when it was made. The novel challenged Victorian conceptions of sexuality. The movie, which opens Friday for a week’s run at Metrograph in a remastered digital print, defied Hollywood conventions, most obviously in its daring use of male frontal nudity.”

On Saturday and Sunday, the Japan Society presents three new 4K restorations of Yuzo Kawashima’s collaborations with “the luminous” Ayako Wakao, reintroducing “a master filmmaker who bridges the gap between the classical Japanese cinema of the 1950s and the New Wave of the 1960s.”

Los Angeles. “Within a month,” tweets Bethania Palma, “Los Angeles, the country's second largest city by population, has had two major sources of alternative news abruptly wiped out by new owners—the LAist and now the LA Weekly.” As Lauren Raab reports in the Los Angeles Times,LA Weekly’s owner, Voice Media Group, has agreed to sell the alternative weekly newspaper as it sheds print assets and focuses on its digital business . . . The buyer, Semanal Media, is a new entity created for the purpose of this transaction, said Sara April at Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm that is representing Voice Media in the sale. April would not say who owns Semanal or where the company is based.”

“The new owners of LA Weekly don’t want you to know who they are,” writes Keith Plocek on a page at the alternative weekly’s site that, as of this writing, is still up. “Maybe they have a good reason. Maybe they don’t.” Tweets editor Mara Shalhoup: “We were expecting there to be some pain with the sale . . . But we weren't expecting the Red Wedding.” We’re sad to see that April Wolfe has already changed her Twitter bio to include “formerly Lead Film Critic @LAWeekly (RIP).”

We’re probably looking, then, at the last “Best Things to Do in L.A. This Week” round of recommendations, so let’s make the most of it:

  • Siran Babayan notes that tomorrow Metro Art will screen “Ava DuVernay’s 2008 movie, This Is the Life, at Union Station, the last in a series of documentaries about L.A. directed by women.
  • “Comedians Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante examine the historical and ongoing problem of female stereotypes in movies in their comedy-meets–film criticism podcast, The Bechdel Cast,” writes Nathaniel Bell. “For their first live taping in L.A., Loftus, Durante and Debra DiGiovanni will discuss that ‘80s high-rise, terrorist-killing action classic Die Hard” on Saturday. “In case you don’t remember, nearly all the female characters are hostages.”
  • Bell: “King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen, Steve Mitchell's generous cinematic portrait, explores the director's career from the vantage of his fans and colleagues. The American Cinematheque will premiere the new documentary to West Coast audiences followed by two of the director's quintessential 1980s pictures: The Stuff, about a yogurt that kills, and Q: The Winged Serpent.” Also Saturday.
  • “Why can't it be A John Waters Christmas every damn day of the year?” asks John Payne. Sunday at the Comedy Store.
  • Back to Bell: “Mexico's Arturo Ripstein is ripe for rediscovery. . . . AMPAS has programmed an evening dedicated to one of Ripstein's finest films, Deep Crimson, as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a series of screenings and conversations exploring the work of Latino and Latin American filmmakers over the last half-century.” Monday.
  • Also: “Phantom Lady, one of the key works of film noir, plays as part of LACMA's Tuesday Matinees series.”
  • John Boorman marries “frigid violence and noir trappings with bright pop color” in Point Blank (1967). On Tuesday, “Laemmle's Ahrya will show it as part of its Anniversary Classics series, with co-star Angie Dickinson slated to appear for a post-screening Q&A.”
  • And Jordan Peele will be on hand for the Hammer Museum’s screening of Get Out next Thursday.

Moustapha Alassane (Niger, 1942–2015) studied in Jean Rouch’s IRSH Institute in Niamey, became the French documentarist’s friend and collaborator, and then went to Canada where he met Norman McLaren.” On Monday, REDCAT presents a program of his work.

On Saturday, the New Beverly presents Richard L. Bare’s Wicked, Wicked (1973), which, as Marc Edward Heuck notes, “was not the first feature-length narrative film presented almost entirely in split-screen for its duration,” but it “did have the honor of being the first attempt at taking this process into the mainstream, with advertising hyping the excitement of ‘Duo-Vision’ and how urgent it was to experience in theaters.”

Chicago. “It’s hard to think of a major American film critic who’s more flagrantly neglected than Harry Alan Potamkin (1900-1933), a globetrotting Marxist poet and intellectual whose prodigious output as a critic, found in the over 600 pages of The Compound Cinema (New York and London: Teachers College Press [Columbia University], 1977)—a posthumous collection edited by Lewis Jacobs—covered only the last six years of his life (1927-1933).” Jonathan Rosenbaum is looking forward to seeing Stephen Broomer’s Potamkin, screening Sunday at Cinema Borealis as part of Channels: A Quarterly Film Series.

Cambridge. From Saturday through Monday, the Harvard Film Archive presents Freedom Outside Reason – The Animated Cinema of Jan Lenica.

Toronto. “Intended to bolster Black support for the U.S. and Allied war effort, the 1943 musical Stormy Weather recounts the rocky romance between a ‘started from the bottom’ dancer played by tap-dancing legend Bill Robinson and a star performer played with nearly metaphysical elegance by Lena Horne,” writes Ed Pavlić for the TIFF Review. “Surrounding [a] flimsy, nearly non-existent plot is an incredible array of Black talent: from the masked genius of the vaudeville duo Aubrey Lyles and Flournoy Miller to Katherine Dunham’s sinuous modern dance, from soft-shoe scratching on the Mississippi riverboats to Cab Calloway’s big band playing for the Nicholas Brothers’ vernacular dance duo, in one of the most virtuosic scenes in Hollywood history.” Saturday afternoon as part of the Black Star retrospective running through December 22.

And Steve Gravestock spotlights Circle of Three: A Tribute to the TIFF Founders, on from today through Sunday.

London. “Hugely influential in the fields of feminism and postcolonial studies through her writing and moving image work, Vietnamese-born writer, theorist, composer and filmmaker Trinh T Minh-ha visits the ICA to speak about her work on the occasion of [a] full retrospective of her films.” Saturday through December 9. And the ICA’s also presenting a Satyajit Ray Focus from Saturday through Wednesday.

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