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Bleak Weeks in LA and NYC

William Eadie in Lynne Ramsay’s Ratcatcher (1999)

Now in its third year, the American Cinematheque’s popular series Bleak Week: Cinema of Despair has not only expanded for the first time to three venues in Los Angeles, but it’s also heading to New York. Already underway and running through Friday in LA, Bleak Week in NYC will open at the Paris Theater on Sunday with Ari Aster’s introduction to Elem Klimov’s Come and See (1985) and will wrap on June 16 with a Q&A with Paul Schrader after a screening of Hardcore (1979). Pietro Marcello (Martin Eden) calls Come and See “probably the most important film ever made about war,” and Hardcore has just landed on the Criterion Channel as part of our new program featuring eleven of Schrader’s features.

Tonight in Los Angeles, Kenneth Lonergan will be taking questions about Manchester by the Sea, the 2016 film for which he won an Oscar and a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay. On June 10 in New York, Lonergan will discuss the extended cut of Margaret (2011) with J. Smith-Cameron, who plays the mother of Anna Paquin’s Lisa Cohen. “Personally,” wrote Declan McGrath in a 2012 issue of Cineaste, “I believe this must-see vision of humanity in all its complicated and contradictory messiness is clearer and more powerful in the longer version.” When the cut screened in LA on Sunday, Lonergan told Q&A moderator Joshua Rothkopf that he’d still like to do a little more work on it.

Lynne Ramsay will be in LA from Tuesday through Thursday to talk about all four of her features, Ratcatcher (1999), Morvern Callar (2002), We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011), and You Were Never Really Here (2017). “Ramsay’s is a cinema where the drama lives not in the exposition or dialogue but in the innumerable small audiovisual details that carry suggestion and meaning,” wrote Girish Shambu in 2021. “Little wonder that her formative interest as an artist was photography.”

Three films written and directed by Charlie Kaufman will screen as part of Bleak Week in LA, beginning with a double feature on Wednesday, I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020) and Anomalisa (2015, codirected with Duke Johnson), followed on Thursday by Synecdoche, New York (2008). On Saturday, Kaufman will spend the entire day at the Egyptian Theatre when the Cinematheque presents three more films that he wrote, Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (2002) and Being John Malkovich (1999) and Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Kaufman, who once told Neil McGlone “I like Pinter, I like Beckett, Ionesco,” will take part in Q&As at every screening.

Other directors lined up to discuss their work over the next few days include Allen Hughes (Menace II Society), Bernard Rose (Ivans xtc.), and Steve De Jarnatt (Miracle Mile). On Friday, Elliott Gould will be on hand to talk about working with Ingmar Bergman on The Touch (1971)—“a woefully underrated film,” argues Karan Mahajan—Vera Drew will talk with Ray Wise, who plays Leland Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), and Chris Pine will introduce Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows (1969), a film that Wallace Shawn says “upset me more than any film I’ve ever seen.”

In New York, cinematographer Peter Sillen and Daniel London, who plays the father-to-be in Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy (2006), will discuss the film that, as Ed Halter writes, offers “not only a finely detailed character study of two men approaching the edge of middle age but also a sympathetic analysis of contemporary masculinity, an impressionistic portrait of coastal-liberal ennui, and an exemplar of economical storytelling.” Eliza Hittman will be on hand to talk about Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020), which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance and a Silver Bear in Berlin.

Further Q&A participants will include Jerry Schatzberg, the director of The Panic in Needle Park (1971), and Matthew Modine, who played the wisecracking Marine J. T. Davis in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket (1987). And Isabella Rossellini will introduce her father’s Rome Open City (1945), which is “not just a milestone in the history of Italian cinema,” as Irene Bignardi wrote in 2010, “but possibly, with De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves, one of the most influential and symbolic films of its age, a movie about ‘reality’ that has left a trace on every film movement since.”

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