New York. The Metrograph is currently presenting seven films by Max Ophuls and, in the Village Voice, Bilge Ebiri argues that it’s “essential” to see his work on the big screen. “His characters were often women—women scorned, women in love, women forgotten—and he brought to their narratives a sense of yearning, a sense that the camera was moved by something like desire, or a quest for freedom. . . . There is a certain irony to the humanism of Ophuls’s roving camera: Of all the great stylists in cinema history, his films leave me the saddest.” Above: The Earrings of Madame de . . . (1953).
Today’s the last day to catch Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo—Cina (1972) at MoMA, but even if you miss it, you’ll want to read Nick Pinkerton’s piece for Artforum. “I don’t know how this should be possible of a movie shot with available light on Super 16, but the finished film looks Italian, all soft pastels straight from a quattrocento fresco. . . . More than anything, Antonioni is interested in the prosaic life of the Chinese people, the unstructured quotidian activities unfolding on the worn fringes of his highly structured tour. The film’s perspective is decidedly, even defiantly, fixed as that of an outsider, mutely meeting and holding the curious gazes of passers-by, one after another.”
MoMA’s also presenting Mark Frost and David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return this weekend, starting last night with Episodes 1 through 4, picking up again this afternoon with Episodes 5 through 11 (and of course, that includes 8), and wrapping tomorrow afternoon and evening with Episodes 12 through 18. “Whether it’s the most audacious piece of television ever made or Lynch’s magnum opus film chopped into 18 segments, the third season of Twin Peaks is a rich and demanding work to dive into,” writes Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic.
Back at Artforum, Sarah Nicole Prickett wraps a season of recaps with one last long look back. “The show has ended repeatedly. First, Lynch tossed the script and directed the season two finale, taking it from premature to unexpected, ending with an antagonizing question mark. Then he directed a prequel that ended most satisfyingly, with the ascension, the red velvet curtains. That vision is now revised twice, with screams we can’t hear one more time. The finale’s conclusive. Three periods. Like an ellipsis. To continue would be cruel, if not impossible.”
Also through January 18, the Quad is presenting The Way I See It: Directors’ Cuts, “those monstrous, long, sometimes bloated versions of films that were, for one reason or another, not quite done in their progenitors’ eyes—and the bevy of selections is fascinating,” finds Greg Cwik in the Notebook. “The term ‘Director’s Cut,’ found festooning Blu-ray and DVD boxes, is frequently just a gimmick to sell units, akin to ‘Unrated Cut,’ or ‘Special Edition,’ useless monikers all, but this series offers an opportunity to delve into the unfettered imagination of some of cinema’s great iconoclasts. The myriad pentimenti made by the directors don’t always serve the films’s needs very well, but they do, by their very existence, present clearer views of the artistic process, of the vision at work.”
Starting Tuesday, and on every Tuesday through March 4, the French Institute Alliance Français will present Best Actress: A César-Winner Showdown. “Spanning the César awards from very first Best Actress (Romy Schneider in 1976) to the most recent (Isabelle Huppert in 2017), the series includes international hits (La Môme), cult favorites (L’important c’est d’aimer), and lesser-known gems (L’Ete meurtrier).”
On Sunday, Anthology Film Archives presents Queen of the Lower East Side: A Tribute to Philly Abe. “Together Abe and [Todd] Verow have made a number of ramshackle films that harken to a time of trashy treasures that helped define the high period of NYC camp,” writes Chris Shields at Screen Slate.
Los Angeles. Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America is currently running throughout the month. “Conceived in conjunction with the most recent iteration of the multi-venue, Getty Foundation-led mega-show Pacific Standard Time, this ambitious and revelatory project, overseen by Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza, has taken shape as both a film program and a collection of writings,” writes Thomas Beard for 4Columns. “The series, hosted by Los Angeles Filmforum and partnering venues, is expansive, unfurling over the course of five months, and boasts a terrifically varied lineup, one that operates with a thoughtfully elastic definition of ‘experimental’ and ranges from the resplendent, marbleized abstraction of Lydia García Millán’s Color (1955) to the indigenous struggles documented in the Chiapas Media Project’s The Land Belongs to Those Who Work It (2005). Equally multi-faceted is the bilingual companion publication, which ensures that the ideas animating Ism, Ism, Ism will reverberate far beyond the West Coast.”
Chicago. “On Tuesday at 7 PM Doc Films kicks off a nine-week, thirteen-film series devoted to Japanese director Seijun Suzuki (who passed away last year at 93) with Tokyo Drifter (1966),” writes Ben Sachs in the Reader. “What unites this disparate body of work is Suzuki’s restless formal experimentation.”
In this week’s Cine-File, you can read Kathleen Sachs on Elaine May’s The Heartbreak Kid (1972), which the Chicago Film Society is presenting on Tuesday at the Music Box Theatre, Kyle Cubr on Aki Kaurismäki’s The Other Side of Hope, currently at the Music Box, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky on Luchino Visconti’s Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Wednesday at Doc Films, and more.
Lausanne. On Monday, Jean-Marie Straub will turn eighty-five, and to celebrate, the Cinémathèque suisse, which itself turns seventy this year, will present the world premiere of Straub’s new seventeen-minute film, Gens du Lac (2018) with Christophe Clavert and Giorgio Passerone and inspired by the novel by Janine Massard. The program also features Straub and Danièle Huillet’s Machorka-Muff (1963) and Toute révolution est un coup de dés (1977).
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