Goings On: Action Figures and More

New York. “Today’s manliest movie stars—mostly buffed-up superheroes like your Chrises Hemsworth, Pratt, and Evans—are scientifically enlarged and formed by state-of-the-art training and diet regimens,” writes Vern in the Village Voice. “Guys like Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Jim Brown arrived in Hollywood already hardened and callused. Marvin and Bronson both earned Purple Hearts in World War II. McQueen had been a Marine, a carnival barker, and a lumberjack. Brown’s physique was forged in the gauntlet of professional and college football. These guys don’t look sculpted—they look chiseled out of a boulder. . . . Their ‘era of onscreen machismo’ (1960–1975), as a release terms it, is the topic of the Quad’s exciting series Action Figures: Prime Cuts From McQueen, Marvin, Bronson, and Brown, featuring fifteen crime, western, and war films, all but a few of them screening on 35 mm.” Today through April 12.

“There's something preternaturally destructive about Lee Marvin, something dangerous,” writes Greg Cwik in the Notebook. “For all the pain he inflicted on screen, he seemed to be carrying his own, an ineffable kind, something that seeped into his performances. He could play a cipher, a heavy, a gruff hero, and to these roles he brought a sort of unspoken set of morals. He always had an impetus in which his character believes, a reason to kill and steal. He always had a palpable motivation.” Above: Marvin in Robert Aldrich’s Emperor of the North (1973).

“Even though experts selected Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 masterpiece as the greatest film of all time in Sight & Sound magazine’s decennial poll, there is considerable controversy over the best way to see it,” writes Ben Kenigsberg in the New York Times. “If you really want to see Vertigo as original audiences saw it, you have to catch it in I.B. Technicolor, an obsolete 35-millimeter process in which colors were applied directly to film prints using dyes, yielding rich images that have barely faded over time. The Metrograph offers purists a chance to see Vertigo in this format starting on Sunday.”

The Tribeca Film Festival’s added a few events to the lineup of its seventeenth edition running from April 18 through 29:

  • The world premiere of Steven Sebring’s Horses: Patti Smith and Her Band will be followed by a live performance
  • Partnering with Time’s Up, the festival will “host a day of conversations with the outspoken women playing a pivotal role in raising awareness about inequality in the workplace”
  • ESPN’s Enhanced, about innovations in athletics
  • And the VR animation Jack: Part One

With Blue My Mind (2017), screening tomorrow at the IFC Center as part of the What The Fest!? genre festival running through Sunday, Lisa Brühlmann “constructs a violent, yet beautiful vision of teengirl-dom that is surprisingly gory, and still emotionally resonant,” writes Dana Reinoos at Screen Slate.

Yesterday’s “goings on” roundup opened with reviews of Personal Problems, “a ‘meta-soap opera’ from 1980 by writer Ishmael Reed, producer Steve Cannon, and director Bill Gunn that is only now getting its first theatrical release—in a brand-new restoration at Metrograph,” as Michael Blair describes it for BOMB.

Bedatri D. Choudhury for the Notebook: “Personal Problems was made on a tiny budget with an all African American crew—an assortment of people who were never black enough or light enough or easy enough for mainstream Hollywood. . . . Of course, Personal Problems is a narrative on the 1980s New York City and its African American life, but it also documents the systemic exclusion of colored bodies from mainstream American cultural products.”

For Jon Dieringer at Screen Slate, “within its long list of interpersonal concerns, Personal Problems is notable for its mellow pace, with each roughly ninety-minute segment containing only a dozen or so scenes. Whether they play with stage-like dramatic precision or a vibrant improvisation, the effect is always incisively truthful and alive. It's a necessary work, and one of the major repertory revivals of this or any other year.”

Ongoing: New Directors/New Films 2018.

Los Angeles.Dilcia Barrera, Associate Curator for Film Programs at LACMA, talks with Landon Zakheim, festival co-director of the Overlook Film Festival, about the selection of four classic horror movies screening on each Tuesday in April at the museum. Zakheim notes that his team “decided to take a bit of a chronological tour through some of the anniversaries of rarely screened haunted classics”:

New Orleans. “As Overlook has evolved, our focus has turned to new independent voices presenting fresh work, but we always love being able to share old favorites,” Zakheim tells Barrera. The Times-Picayune’s Mike Scott has the lineup for the second edition: “In all, forty films—twenty-three features and seventeen shorts—will screen as part of Overlook 2018, which is scheduled to run from April 19 to 22. The festival, headquartered at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter—and which organizers describe as a ‘horror summer camp’—will also include parties, interactive events, virtual reality and live performances.”

Chicago. Wang Bing may be at the Courtisane Festival in Ghent right now, but his 2016 documentary Bitter Money sees a week-long run starting today at Facets Cinémathèque. “Wang considers the textile industry in the eastern city of Huzhou, where (according to a final title card) more than 300,000 laborers live,” writes the Reader’s Ben Sachs. “Despite its air of desperation, Bitter Money is never less than engrossing. Wang keeps you on your toes by shifting focus from one subject to another when you least expect it, and the cumulative effect of the various portraits is an eye-opening.”

Meantime, for Newcity,Ray Pride picks out five highlights from the April calendar.

Houston. In the New York Times,Michael Hoinski notes that “before he wrote The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, and before he wrote Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief, a 2013 National Book Award finalist, [Lawrence] Wright was working on Cleo, a play about the sordid love affair between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton during the filming of the 1963 epic Cleopatra. . . . On April 6, Cleo will finally debut onstage, when the Alley Theater, in Houston, hosts the theatrical world premiere. The production, directed by Bob Balaban, the theater and screen actor, shall sate one of Mr. Wright’s earliest desires.”

Toronto.Radical Empathy: The Films of Agnès Varda, the retrospective running at TIFF Cinematheque through April 17, features a sidebar of four films by her husband Jacques Demy. “Demy’s marriage to Varda formed not only an unequaled partnership in the history of cinema—other filmmakers have coupled, but none has produced anything like their combined body of work—but also a felicitous balancing of nouvelle vague and Left Bank Group sensibilities,” writes James Quandt. “Varda was more associated with the latter, which included Alain Resnais, Chris Marker, and Georges Franju, while Demy was frequently bracketed with the former, sometimes uncomfortably—especially when his films, beloved and championed by Godard, exhibited a gay sensibility.”

Cannes. “Martin Scorsese will receive the Carrosse d’Or (also known as the Golden Coach), handed out by the French Directors’ Association (SRF), at the opening ceremony of the fiftieth Directors’ Fortnight,” reports Fabien Lemercier for Cineuropa. This year’s edition runs from May 9 through 19.

Lemercier also notes that Cristian Mungiu will “serve as the godfather” of the Institut français’s Fabrique Cinéma, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year at the seventy-first Cannes Film Festival running from May 8 through 19.

Brussels. Cinea has announced that this year’s Summer Film School, happening from July 8 through 14, will present “rare 35 mm prints from the extensive collection of the Royal Belgian Film Archive” with the selection focusing on Brian De Palma and Éric Rohmer. “In a special evening program, Prof. David Bordwell will present four master classes on four of his favorite film historical topics.”

Cairo. “Egyptian independent producer Mohamed Hefzy has been appointed president of the Cairo Film Festival with a mandate to revamp and relaunch the prominent Arab fest which has been losing luster due to political turbulence, terrorism, and the recent launch of a rival event in a Red Sea resort.” Nick Vivarelli reports for Variety. The fortieth anniversary edition of the festival will run from November 15 through 24.

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