Goings On: Stahl, Antonioni, and More

On Film / The Daily — Dec 25, 2017

New York. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s series Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama rolls on through January 7. “The genre of melodrama, which displays the grand, tragic passions that mark everyday lives while also detailing historical events that knock those lives out of joint, is close to the cinema’s essence—its populist and documentary roots,” writes Richard Brody in the New Yorker. “One unduly obscure masterwork in the series, John M. Stahl’s bitterly frank romance from 1933, Only Yesterday,” pictured above and screening Saturday. “The incisive, aphoristic script (credited to three writers) unites diverse strands of political and social history, including Prohibition and the frivolities of the roaring twenties, the spread of socialist ideas, and even the rise of Hollywood itself. But the shift that comes off as the most powerful is the change in gender roles resulting from the movement for women’s rights.”

Terence Davies’s The Long Day Closes (1992) screens today and tomorrow. “What it lacks in narrative, it makes up in subject matter—it’s variously ‘about’ innocence, family, faith, music, memory, sexual awakening, winter, Britishness, and the act of film-going,” writes Tyler Maxin at Screen Slate. “It’s a movie so vivid and immediate that it leaves very little to recount . . . Of note is the film’s way of elevating middlebrow pop songs into the sacred.”

Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (1993), screening Friday, “entangles Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder in the web of rumor and mutual suspicion of Gilded Age New York's high society,” writes Cosmo Bjorkenheim at Screen Slate. Writing for the Notebook, Meredyth Cole finds that “Scorsese simply tried to do something impossible: express an inability to express.”

MoMA’s Michelangelo Antonioni retrospective is also running through January 7. In 1971, the People’s Republic of China invited Antonioni “to make a work of propaganda about the superior virtues of the Communist nation,” as MoMA phrases it, and the resulting 215-minute documentary was culled from over 100 hours of footage. Mao hated the film and “waged an international campaign to destroy Chung Kuo—China and its maker.” The New York theatrical premiere starts Saturday and runs through January 6. “As a documentary, there is nothing revelatory or decisively partisan about the film,” writes Jon Auman at Screen Slate. “But as a document of Antonioni’s compromised trip it is often beautiful, politically ambiguous and surprisingly modest. When asked about the contradictory politics in his movies, Antonioni maintained that all he could do was react honestly to each day of shooting. What he found each day in China was curiosity on both sides of the camera.”

“I enjoy the films of Michelangelo Antonioni and I do not enjoy the films of Wim Wenders,” writes Chris Shields, also at Screen Slate. “Antonioni’s 1995 film Beyond the Clouds, written, produced, and seen to completion by Wenders, is to some extent the worst of both filmmakers. . . . It is the next frontier of camp—a hyper-self-serious meditation that stumbles time after time into laughably ponderous territory.” Screens tomorrow and Wednesday.

“The Museum of Modern Art keeps giving this holiday season with their ongoing New York Film and Video: No Wave-Transgressive series, which highlights the seedy, grimy and brutally honest films of the downtown NYC scene of the late 70s through the early 90s,” writes Dana Reinoos at Screen Slate. Rachel Amodeo’s What About Me (1989–93) features herself as Lisa “encountering other outcasts of all kinds—played by punk and no-wave luminaries like Johnny Thunders, Dee Dee Ramone, Richard Hell, and Nick Zedd, among others.” Wednesday and Monday.

Yet another ongoing film series at MoMA is You Are Now One of Us: Film at Club 57, presented through February 14 in conjunction with the exhibition Club 57: Film, Performance, and Art in the East Village, 1978–1983, on view through April 1. Screening on Thursday and Sunday is a 1960 film by Edmund T. Greville. “Ravishingly stupid, Beat Girl is the easiest fun you can have in a theater,” declares Dylan Pasture—again, at Screen Slate. “Its vision of greasy young beatniks at frolic is alive with wall-to-wall quotable dialogue (‘How can she be so square if she’s French and only 24?’), a rad score from John ‘James Bond Theme’ Barry, and Saint Christopher Lee as owner of the best/dumbest striptease joint in the world.”

In the New York Times, Ben Kenigsberg spotlights the new 4K restoration of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977) screening at Film Forum through Thursday and the series Merchant Ivory Gold, running at Quad Cinema, also through Thursday.

Los Angeles. John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix (1966), screening Wednesday afternoon at the New Beverly, “features documentary-like realism, a super sexy cast, and dramatic intersecting plotlines that come together in fabulous split-screen visuals,” writes Ariel Schudson.

And Marc Edward Heuck writes about Sunday’s double feature of “New Year’s Rockin’ Angst!,” Eckhart Schmidt’s Der Fan (1982), “a favorite of many stateside avant-garde artists,” and Uli Edel’s Christiane F. (1981), a “kinetic, harrowing, and still-shocking true story.”

Cambridge. On Friday, the Brattle presents a 35 mm print of John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), “a battle between education and ignorance, between the pen and the sword, between progress and holding on to the past,” as Tessa Mediano writes. Then on Sunday, it’s a 35 mm print of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), screening as part of a triple feature with Notorious (1946) and To Catch a Thief (1955). Leo Racicot on Vertigo: “More than the masterpiece of one especially prolific and influential filmmaker’s career, it is a cornerstone of not merely American but world cinema.”

Park City. Last week, Slamdance completed the lineup for its twenty-fourth edition running from January 19 through 25. Special Screenings will include Dana Nachman and Don Hardy’s Pick of the Litter, which’ll open the festival, and Dan Mirvish’s Bernard and Huey, based on a screenplay by Jules Feiffer. The Founders Award will be presented to Joe and Anthony Russo, who’ll be on hand for a conversation. There’ll also be a series of discussions “designed to provide an inclusive learning environment for new ideas and creative methods in filmmaking with an emphasis on technology, development in craft, industry trends, and DIY solutions.” And DIG (Digital, Interactive & Gaming) will be showcasing three new works.

Toronto. Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) screens today, Saturday and Sunday, and once more on January 6 as part of the TIFF Cinematheque series Magnificent 70mm. Sasha James explains why TIFF’s showing the original version, not 2002 extended one Spielberg himself eventually regretted.

London. Close-Up’s throwing a New Year’s Party that begins with a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) followed by drinks, music, and mingling.

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