Goings On: Berlinale, Wyler, and More

The week begins with good news: Wes Anderson’s stop motion animated film Isle of Dogs will open the sixty-eighth Berlin International Film Festival (February 15 through 25). As the Berlinale reminds us, this is “the story of Atari Kobayashi, twelve-year-old ward to corrupt Mayor Kobayashi. When, by Executive Decree, all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage-dump, Atari sets off alone in a miniature Junior-Turbo Prop and flies to Trash Island in search of his bodyguard-dog, Spots. . . . The voice cast includes Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, Scarlett Johansson, Kunichi Nomura, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Akira Ito, Greta Gerwig, Akira Takayama, Frances McDormand, F. Murray Abraham, Courtney B. Vance, Yojiro Noda, Fisher Stevens, Mari Natsuki, Nijiro Murakami, Yoko Ono, Harvey Keitel, and Frank Wood.”

New York. “The twenty-five films in the Quad Cinema’s William Wyler retrospective (December 1–14) stretch out like a banquet composed entirely of elaborate main courses,” writes Farran Smith Nehme in the Village Voice. “Not for Wyler were the exercises in smuggling larger concerns into small genre films. Wyler put big themes in big movies . . . The title of the Quad series, More Than Meets the Eye, is a response to Andrew Sarris’s having placed Wyler in the ‘Less Than Meets the Eye’ chapter of his canonical book The American Cinema. To read the history of critics on William Wyler is to discover a world of backhanded compliments—words like elegant, stylish, sensitive, emotional. Rewatching his films today offers an opportunity to reclaim those qualities for the virtues they always were.”

The first complete retrospective of work by Michelangelo Antonioni in New York in more than a decade, featuring nearly forty 35 mm prints and digital preservations, opens at MoMA on Thursday and runs through January 7. As it happens, on the new Cinematologists podcast (108’29”), hosts Dario Llinares and Neil Fox talk with Robert Koehler about Antonioni and La notte (1961).

Jon Dieringer at Screen Slate: “Somehow both inscrutable and aggressively obvious, Throw Away Your Books, Rally in the Streets [1971] is the Shūji Terayama master film: a quasi-episodic synthesis of his anarchic pop-art shorts and a proto-punk coming-of-age narrative about a disaffected teen’s warped family life. It's like Terayama’s Art Theatre Guild forebearer Ôshima cranked to eleven, and it's as audacious, experimental, juvenile, tedious, and thrilling one might suspect.” Screens this evening as part of Throw Away Your Books: The Films of Shūji Terayama, the series running at Anthology Film Archives through December 10.

Chicago. For the Cine-File, Michael Glover Smith talks with Therese Grisham, who’s written Ida Lupino, Director: Her Art and Resilience in Times of Transition with Julie Grossman. “I think a lot of people didn’t take her seriously because of her acting career. This doesn’t have anything to do with people in the industry, by the way. This has to do with critics because she was taken seriously in the industry.” Grisham will be at Facets Multimedia this evening to discuss the question, “Why aren't there more women in film?”

Meantime, the Cine-List presents another round of fine write-ups on local highlights happening through Thursday.

San Francisco. Thomas Beard will be at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Friday to discuss Stan Brakhage’s 1963 book Metaphors on Vision, recently republished by Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry, and to present Brakhage’s 1959 film Anticipation of the Night.

Austin. “Two months after being rocked by sexual assault controversies, Fantastic Fest has selected Kristen Bell (chair), Elijah Wood, Kier-la Janisse, Peter Kuplowsky, and Suki-Rose Simakis as board members,” reports Variety’s Dave McNary. Says Simakis: “What I saw and experienced while in Austin this past fall was difficult yet encouraging, a first of many needed steps to make Fantastic Fest better for everyone and to dismantle any toxicity within our culture as film fans. I consider joining this board to be a serious responsibility, a responsibility to the community that holds Fantastic Fest up and is the core of its spirit.”

“The Austin Asian American Film Festival is back in town, but if you assume that means a heavy dose of martial-arts, Bollywood, and Asian gangster flicks, think again,” advises Michael Agresta in the Chronicle. “Under the leadership of programming director Anand Modi and executive director Tim Tsai, AAAFF, now in its 10th festival year, has become an annual celebration of the amazing heterogeneity and artistry of the cinema of the Asian continent and its diaspora communities around the world. ‘Genre programming in general, and Asian genre programming, is well-worn territory,’ Modi says. ‘We don't need to spend our time doing that. There is much more to this world than genre cinema.’” VCinema notes that the “centerpiece presentation is 1987’s Academy Award-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? about the murder of Vincent Chin and the pan Asian American movement it galvanized. Filmmaker Christine Choy will be in attendance for a Q&A following the film and will also serve on the AAAFF documentary jury.” Thursday through Sunday.

Cambridge.The World of Bob Fosse is a retrospective running at the Harvard Film Archive from Friday through January 21.

Toronto. Tomorrow, TIFF Cinematheque presents Jean-Luc Godard’s La Chinoise (1967) and programmer James Quandt presents an excerpt from his audio commentary for Kino’s recent release of the film on Blu-ray. The focus is on Godard’s courtship of his second wife, Anne Wiazemsky, but I do love this detail: When, a year after La Chinoise, “the May uprisings began, Wiazemsky and Godard one evening ran into Jean-Pierre Léaud and Chris Marker near Luxembourg; a group of students asked the four to help them rip up the street to supply them with weapons against the police, and ended up ejecting Léaud from the chain because he wiped his hands with a handkerchief after digging up each paving stone.”

TIFF’s retrospective Sofia Coppola: A Name of Her Own opens Friday and runs through December 17.

London. “‘Happy Haneke!,’ London’s Curzon Soho is proudly and hilariously flaunting on its frontage, as they prepare for a December retrospective of the Austrian filmmaker’s work, timed to celebrate the release of his latest film, Happy End.” The Telegraph’s Tim Robey has a wide-ranging conversation not only with Michael Haneke but with Isabelle Huppert as well.

From Thursday through Monday, Close-Up presents Neue Welt: Radical Visions in New German Cinema, a program featuring work by Alexander Kluge, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Peter Nestler, Werner Schroeter, Wim Wenders, and Peter Handke.

From Friday through Sunday, MUBI, the ICA, and Little White Lies “present a weekender of movie masterworks screened on glistening 35 mm celluloid,” Light Show #1. Orson Welles's F For Fake (1973) is on the program and, writing for Little White Lies,Philip Concannon notes that “the further F for Fake progresses, the more it feels like a tacit act of autobiography.”

With a new 4K restoration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) opening at BFI Southbank on Friday, Leigh Singer writes about “10 great films about the afterlife.”

Back to Berlin, where the Arsenal will present A City Called Home – Ten Films from Los Angeles from Thursday through December 14. “The films from 1951 to 1998 chosen by Jan-Christopher Horak show different aspects of the hugely diverse set of coordinates that make up urban life in Los Angeles. Capital of the American film industry for over 90 years, L.A. is also repeatedly the location for self-examination, parody, and self-referentiality.”

Ghent. Sabzian is launching a new series of film programs at KASKcinema, Seuls. Singular Moments in Belgian Film History. The first of these is Seuls: Short Work 1, happening Thursday.

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