Stuff To See In LA: February 2nd – 8th

02.02.09 9 years ago

Warner Bros. Home Video

It’s a busy week for the rep houses here in LA this week, and that makes me very, very happy.  I have to hope that this much activity means people are going right now.  This week, there are a few particular highlights I’ll point out, but there’s a wide range of stuff playing.  I have trouble believing any film fan would have trouble finding at least one screening worth attending, and I encourage you to choose one of these theaters when you’re considering a night out.

At the always-fabulous New Beverly, it’s an eclectic line-up.


Powerful Documentaries from Zeitgeist Films

“Trouble The Water” (2008)
Nominated For This Year’s Best Documentary Oscar!
Sundance Film Festival 2008 Grand Jury Prize Documentary
dir. Carl Deal & Tia Lessin

“Up The Yangtze” (2007)
Sundance Film Festival 2008 Grand Jury Prize World Documentary
dir. Yung Chang


Two Legendary Musical Outsiders

“Patti Smith: Dream of Life” (2008)
Nominated for Sundance Film Fest Grand Jury Prize Documentary
dir. Steven Sebring

“The Nomi Song” (2004)
Berlin International Film Festival Best Documentary Winner
Man or Martian? New wave or opera?
dir. Andrew Horn


Two Written & Directed By Billy Wilder

“The Fortune Cookie” (1966)
dir. Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau
The Fortune Cookie won Walter Matthau his first Academy Award!
Fri: 7:30; Sat: 2:50 & 7:30

“One, Two, Three” (1961)
dir. Billy Wilder, starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis
Fri: 9:55; Sat: 5:15 & 9:55


Phil Blankenship & Amoeba Music present New Beverly Midnights

“10 Things I Hate About You” (1999) 10th Anniversary
plus special Heath Ledger Trailer Reel!
dir. Gil Junger starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David Krumholtz, Allison Janney
11:59, All Tickets $7

For more information, visit the official site.

The American Cinematheque operates two venues, the Egyptian and the Aero, allowing them to do some parallel programming, and some that’s totally different in each place.

At the Egyptian this week…


7:30 PM

Lucha Libre Double Feature! Los Angeles Premiere!

“Los Campeones De La Lucha Libre”
aka “The Champions Of Mexican Wrestling”
2008, BouncyNet /Azteca Cine, 72 min.
Dir. Eddie Mort

A feature-length animated action-comedy from FWAK! Animation, the creators of “¡Mucha Lucha!” Masked mayhem ensues when a team of wrestling heroes is caught in the middle of a struggle between a gang of barbarians right out of MAD MAX and a legion of monsters inspired by the golden age of Mexican horror films. A Spanish-language version of this film just ran in theaters throughout Mexico, but we’re proud to present the first public screening in Los Angeles of an English-language 35mm print. Creators Eddie Mort, Lili Chin and other guests will present pre-production art, visual references and never-before-seen rarities.

PLUS A SURPRISE SECOND FEATURE from the vast EL SANTO vaults shown in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the icon’s death, a day celebrated in Mexico for the star’s impact on popular culture (this 2nd feature screened from a digital source.)




FilmWeek on AirTalk records its annual Academy Awards Preview in front of a live audience. Host Larry Mantle will be joined by FilmWeek critics Andy Klein of KPCC, Lael Loewenstein of Variety, Wade Major of and CityBeat, Jean Oppenheimer of Village Voice Media, Claudia Puig of USA Today, Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor, Henry Sheehan of and Charles Solomon, animation critic for, as they discuss their Oscar picks. The program will be broadcast on Friday, Feb. 20, on 89.3 KPCC-FM, Southern California Public Radio.

Free to American Cinematheque Members. Show your card at the box office to obtain a ticket. Free tickets are not available online.

The Egyptian’s biggest event this week is this screening of a full trilogy, and if you can commit the time, this is the best possible way to see these movies.

Masaki Kobayashi’s Epic Japanese Classic: THE HUMAN CONDITION Trilogy

Between 1959 and 1961 pantheon Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi (HARAKIRI, KWAIDAN) released his mammoth three-part epic THE HUMAN CONDITION (NINGEN NO JOKEN). Chronicling the trials and tribulations of a pacifist (Tatsuya Nakadai of SWORD OF DOOM, KAGEMUSHA and RAN) and his wife (Michiyo Aratama), director Kobayashi follows the idealistic young man as he tries to improve the lives of inmates at a forced labor camp in pre-WWII Manchuria. Nakadai comes into conflict with his superiors, is chastised and ultimately drafted by his militaristic bosses when he proves too humane. Sent to fight the Russians as war breaks out, he undergoes massive trauma in battle and fights to reunite with his long-suffering spouse. Not as well known as Akira Kurosawa’s famous humanist epics, Kobayashi’s THE HUMAN CONDITION is a masterpiece on an epic scale about one man who resolutely follows his conscience when the world is dissolving into chaos. Nakadai gives one of his greatest, most fully nuanced performances in a film that is easily the equal of THE SEVEN SAMURAI in international classic cinema status. Parts 1: NO GREATER LOVE, 2: THE ROAD TO ETERNITY & 3: A SOLDIER’S PRAYER run approximately 3 hours each. One part will be screened each night – by the end of the weekend you will have witnessed the whole magnificent 9 plus hours. It is not an exaggeration to call this cinematic experience a revelation and particularly relevant in light of current world events. Special thanks to Janus Films for striking new prints for this limited re-release. “…a sprawling…epic of love, war, heroism and cruelty…Kobayashi’s monumental film can clarify and enrich your understanding of what it is to be alive.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times




In real life, director Masaki Kobayashi (KWAIDAN) served in the Japanese Imperial Army but continually refused promotion, remaining a private throughout the duration of WWII as a way of protest. In this first installment of what is probably Kobayashi’s most outstanding achievement as a filmmaker, Tatsuya Nakadai portrays a newlywed pacifist who is sent with his wife (Michiyo Aratama) to Manchuria to put into practice his theories for improving conditions at labor camps. But optimistic Nakadai is slowly undermined not just by his civilian superiors’ complacency but also the brutal inhumanity of the military police overseers. The opening salvo of one of the great cinematic sagas of the 20th century, a classic that stands alongside Rossellini’s OPEN CITY, Kurosawa’s IKIRU and Kazan’s ON THE WATERFRONT as a social document defining personal courage. “…a richly rewarding visual and human experience in all its bleakness…Nakadai’s performance as a man of Christlike forbearance, who travels to the edge of human endurance in a doomed and lonely struggle against an evil society, is both moving and charismatic.” – Andrew O’Hehir,




Dir. Masaki Kobayashi.

At the end of the first installment, Tatsuya Nakadai’s attempt to work good in an evil system fails when everything the system represents conspires against him. In the second film, Nakadai is drafted and sent into a barbaric regimen of training as a punishment for his refusal to give up his humanist principles. The Soviet Union declares war on Japan, and its galvanized army floods into Manchuria. Enduring the horrors of the battlefield as well as abuse from many of his fellow soldiers for his pacifist reputation, Nakadai tries his best to stay in touch with his long-suffering wife (Michiyo Aratama). “THE HUMAN CONDITION was made at around the same time as Satyajit Ray’s APU trilogy and Luchino Visconti’s ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, and like them it is a work of large-scale realism grounded in a thorough but undogmatic left-wing political sensibility…amazingly powerful in its emotional sweep and the depth of its historical insight.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times




Dir. Masaki Kobayashi.

As the Soviets overrun the disintegrating Japanese war machine, Tatsuya Nakadai and a comrade (Yusuke Kawazu) are overlooked. They try to make their way south, encountering a striking variety of refugees along the way. But Nakadai is eventually taken prisoner and shipped off to a Siberian P.O.W. camp. Upon arrival, he finds the most viciously unrepentant of the Japanese soldiers have been made trustees by their Soviet masters while the majority of the detainees are being systematically starved. At last, barely alive Nakadai escapes into a hellish frozen wasteland – but does ultimate salvation or oblivion await him? “Kobayashi views his characters with tremendous compassion and a grand, overall sense of historical irony…By the unutterably tragic conclusion of Part III, in which the story of one man’s inevitable destruction seems to embody the demolition of all the 20th century’s most noble dreams, I was profoundly grateful…to have stuck with THE HUMAN CONDITION to the end.” – Andrew O’Hehir,


Meanwhile, the Aero’s special program sounds like probably the coolest overall idea for a program at this particular time in our economic history.  Because if you can’t smile about this stuff, you’ll go insane.

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? Great Films of the Great Depression

During times of economic woes, movies have always presented a relatively inexpensive form of entertainment. During the Great Depression, Hollywood responded to America’s collective troubles with some of the most entertaining movies ever made: classic horror films (FRANKENSTEIN, THE MUMMY), musicals (the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers pictures), and screwball comedies starring Cary Grant (HOLIDAY), W.C. Fields (IT’S A GIFT) and more. There are few things as comforting as laughing, crying and screaming together in a crowded movie theater — so during our current economic downturn, why not gather together for a series of enduring classics? The Aero will be showing some of the funniest, scariest and most romantic movies of an era a little too close to our own for comfort. During this series, the Cinematheque doesn’t want anyone to miss the fun so we are extending a special invitation to our friends who are out of work to come to this series for FREE upon presentation of a January or February stub from your EDD benefit check. Please show the stub with photo ID at the box office for entry. And ask about our Roosevelt Deal at the concession stand!



Forrest J. Ackerman Memorial Double Feature:

FRANKENSTEIN, 1931, Universal, 70 min. Dir. James Whale. “A Monster Science Created – But Could Not Destroy!” Boris Karloff had appeared in over 75 films before FRANKENSTEIN turned him almost overnight into a screen legend. His performance as a manmade human stitched together from pieces of dead bodies and reanimated by electricity – anguished, eloquent, wordless – remains one of the most hauntingly powerful in all cinema. With Colin Clive, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye.

THE MUMMY, 1932, Universal, Dir. Karl Freund. Boris Karloff gives one of his finest performances as the 3,000-year-old Egyptian who returns from the dead to reclaim reincarnated love Zita Johann, in cinematographer-turned-director Karl Freund’s marvelously atmospheric chiller – easily the best of many mummy films to come. (Look for a memorial tribute to Forry on March 8 at the Egyptian.)



Depression-Era Comedy Double Feature:

SONS OF THE DESERT, 1933, Hal Roach (Hallmark Entertainment), 68 min. Dir. William A. Seiter. In what many fans consider their best feature, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy want to sneak off to their annual lodge convention, but the wives are having none of it. A wonderful farce with a deep layer of truth that lifts it above other, more “respectable” marital comedies. With Mae Busch, Dorothy Christy and a hilarious Charley Chase as an obnoxious drunk; see if you can spot a young Bob Cummings in the crowd. More

IT’S A GIFT, 1934, Universal, 73 min. Dir. Norman Z. McLeod. Considered by some to be The Great Man’s greatest film, this short, sweet W.C. Fields vehicle is little more than a series of zany sketches loosely tied to his desire to move to California and grow oranges. Includes the legendary “Mr. Muckle” and “Carl LaFong” scenes, as well as the hanging mirror and sleeping porch routines. Jean Rouverol, who co-wrote THE FIRST TIME, plays Fields’ daughter. More



Astaire/Rogers Double Feature:

ROBERTA, 1935, Warner Bros., 106 min.

Dir. William A. Seiter.

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers make an early appearance together alongside Randolph Scott and Irene Dunne in this romantic confection set against the backdrop of the fashion industry. Astaire and Scott are Americans traveling through Paris; Dunne is the exiled princess who falls in love with Scott and becomes his business partner. More

FOLLOW THE FLEET, 1936, Warner Bros., 110 min.

Dir. Mark Sandrich.

Another Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers Euro opus, this time with Astaire as a sailor on shore leave and Rogers as the dance hall hostess he romances. The great songs include “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and “Let Yourself Go,” and the great supporting cast includes Randolph Scott and Betty Grable. More | Trailer



Screwball Comedy Double Feature:

Newly Restored! TOPPER, 1937, Hal Roach (Hallmark Entertainment), 97 min.

Dir. Norman Z. McLeod.

Thorne Smith’s timeless tale of a banker (Roland Young) whose existence is turned upside down by a married pair of wisecracking ghosts (Cary Grant and Constance Bennett) who decide he needs a little more life in his life. Two sequels, a TV series and countless knockoffs later, the original still shines as brightly as ever. With Billie Burke (two years before she became a good witch), Eugene Pallette, Alan Mowbray, Arthur Lake and Hedda Hopper. More

HOLIDAY, 1938, Sony Repertory, 93 min.

Society girl Katharine Hepburn falls in love with her sister’s idiosyncratic fiancé (a pitch-perfect Cary Grant), and the result is the greatest nonconformist comedy ever made. Working with Philip Barry’s play as his foundation, director George Cukor considers serious issues about the human condition and what it means to be truly independent, yet does it all with a light, hilarious and charming touch.

Finally, there’s the eclectic and awesome Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater.

This letter was sent out to everyone who gets their mailer:


Every once in a while, there’s a film on the calendar which I want to draw extra attention too. One that I think is a real discovery, and because of its extreme obscurity, I’m worried will slip through your attention. This month, I’ve been trying to draw attention to Lost In The Desert (aka Dirkie) — the strange, dark and absurdist kids’ film from South Africa that we featured on our current calendar cover. I would already recommend it to those with a black sense of humor, ’cause for those with the right sensibility, the disasters the film heaps upon poor Dirkie reach hilarious dimensions. But I want to draw extra attention to it because I seriously doubt this has every played in a US theatre, I know it has never had a US video release, and have good reason to think I have the only print in North America.

I bought this print from a guy in Australia (not knowing how much I’d like it) and had it shipped overseas. The preponderance of evidence is that it played primarly in British Isles countries–most of the comments on the IMDB are from Australia, South Africa, England, etc. Many loving comments like “long-lost gem” and “forgotten classic”, but for connosseiurs of the accidentally surreal like me, I was more drawn to buy the print from comments like:

 “Psychologically damaging movie for kids to watch”

 “literally sobbed and sobbed! No other film in my whole lifetime has stayed with me like this one”

 “I too saw this movie when I was really young but as I grew up wondered if it was just a dream. It gave me nightmares.”

 “I’m amazed that this is a real movie. I was almost certain it was a child’s hallucination. Or perhaps a real movie made by hippies on LSD.”

Anyway, I doubt it’ll be playing again anytime soon, so check it out!

Your Programmer,
Hadrian Belove
The Cinefamily @ The Silent Movie Theater

Fair warning, right?  You miss it at your own peril.

Here’s the rest of their programming for the week:



The Cocoa Screenings: Founding Fathers of Found Footage Films
Tickets – $12

The modern world is thoroughly converted to the validity of using “found” media as one’s medium, from hip-hop sampling and teenagers on YouTube to art galleries and museums. But fifty years ago, this was not commonplace. The pioneers of perverting other people’s intellectual property invented a whole new art form, recontextualizing through montage, creating new significance that lied dormant in otherwise neutral footage. In the bourgeoning days of Pop Art, these spiritual descendants of Duchamp and his readymades found a new language of cinema through creative theft. Besides, why hustle to raise the bread to buy raw film stock, or to go to deepest Africa, or to restage the Hindenburg explosion–when there’s all this glorious discarded footage in the garbage bins behind the processing lab? For this calendar’s “Cocoa Screening”, we’ve programmed an assemblage of ground-breaking found footage films that’ll tour you through some of the earliest artifacts of this now ubiqitous art form. You may be wondering, why is this a “Cocoa Screening”? Well, we’ve decided there’s one important thing missing from our evenings of experimental film, perhaps from all evenings of artistic appreciation — the comforting bliss of a warm, sweet beverage. So we hereby begin The Cocoa Screenings, a semi-regular series of evenings of fun art and good taste. The taste of hot cocoa, that is.




“When A Man Loves”
Restored 35mm print courtesy of UCLA Film And Television Archive
Dir. Alan Crosland, 1927, 35mm, 111 min.
Tickets – $10

John Barrymore’s nuanced performance can’t quell this period drama’s epic intensity: priests are defrocked, identities are disguised, monarchs are corrupted, and delicate maidens are sold into horrifying marriages–and that’s just the tip of the flaming iceberg. Chivalry might very well be dead, but Barrymore takes a defibrillator to it in his turn as Fabien des Grieux, a divinity-student-turned-fake-courtesan-gambler bent on rescuing beautiful young Manon (Dolores Costello) from an endless coterie of unsavory clutches. Murder, imprisonment, thunderstorms, sword fights, convict boat mutinies, puppets, monkeys–lucky for us, this film spares no punches in its portrayal of 18th-century French intrigue and heroic histrionics. If this is what happens when a man loves…



SERIES: Lubitsch Musicals

“The Merry Widow”
Dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1934, 35mm, 99 min.
Tickets – $10

Among the many adaptations of this much-loved Franz Lehár operetta, Ernst Lubitsch’s version is best remembered–it’s a dazzlingly elegant whirlwind of a film, down to the tips of Maurice Chevalier’s shoes. Lubitsch paired the archetypal suave Frenchman with the incomparable Jeanette MacDonald, who plays wealthy widow Sonia, the main taxpayer for the tiny kingdom of Marshovia. When she leaves for Paris to marry again, Marshovia’s king realizes the monetary threat this poses to his realm and sends Count Danilo, played by Chevalier, to woo her back. Romance and musical magic ensues, climaxing in the famous “Merry Widow Waltz” sequence. Always obsessive about the details, Lubitsch topped things off with stunning art direction by Cedric Gibbons and Gabriel Sconamillo, and gowns by Adrian, the quintessential face of ’30s high fashion.


7:30 PM


Dir. Otto Preminger, 1944, 35mm, 88 min.
shown with
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, 35mm, 128 min.
Tickets – $10

What links Otto Preminger’s Laura and Hitchcock’s Vertigo is their detective heroes, each falling madly in love with temptresses from beyond the grave. The heroine of Laura (played by Gene Tierney) is a murder victim whose phantom–embodied in her portrait and possession, like the title character in Hitchcock’s Rebecca–bewitches the cop trying to solve the case (Dana Andrews). In Vertigo, a private eye (James Stewart) falls in love with a woman (Kim Novak) who may be possessed by the soul of a dead woman. When his love object dies, he can’t let go. Slick suspense plotting is the pretext for spinning a visual spell: ravishing, dreamlike color photography in Vertigo, and a glittering version of ’40s noir in Laura. Bernard Herrman’s matchless score for the Hitchcock and David Raskin’s hit theme song for the Preminger add their own ineffable perfumes.



SERIES: Lesbian Vampires

“The Hunger”
Dir. Tony Scott, 1983, 35mm, 97 min.
Tickets – $10

If you thought you knew the limits of director Tony Scott’s delirious stylistic excess (Domino, Beverly Hills Cops 2, Revenge, Top Gun)–an orgy of television commercial visual design matched with the minimum of required narrative coherence, then you haven’t seen his debut film. At the time of its release, The Hunger was met with critical derision and commercial failure, but time has made it a cult classic. Smoked with seduction and soaked in stylization, The Hunger features an egregiously sexy lesbian love scene so steamy that even the film’s negative reviews had to acknowledge the power of sultry sirens Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon “making it” while covered only in what would soon become some of Scott’s signature visual elements: hazy interiors, gauzy eyelines, blowing sheets. The film is also one of the early touchstones of Goth culture, with its hot-pale-chicks-with-’80s-haircuts, romanticized bloodsucking, and appearances by both David Bowie (in a supporting role) and Bauhaus (performing “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in the nightclub opening).

The Thin Man Saturdays in February

Dashiell Hammett, incomparable master of hardboiled detective novels, gave the film world something preciously loopy when he OK’d the adaptation of his much-loved final novel, “The Thin Man”. Audiences fell hard for the cheerfully hard-drinking, fast-talking, always-charming husband-wife detective team of Nick and Nora Charles, played by the perfectly-paired William Powell and Myrna Loy in career-defining turns (alongside Asta, their ubiquitous wire-haired wonder dog). Though the couple’s brilliant rapport was famously based on Hammett’s relationship with firecracker playwright Lillian Hellman, it took on a life of its own, spawning five delicious sequels.



“The Thin Man”
Dir. W. S. Van Dyke, 1934, 35mm, 93 min.
shown with
“After The Thin Man”
Dir. W. S. Van Dyke, 1936, 35mm, 113 min.
Tickets – $10

The first boozy installment in the “Thin Man” series introduced the film world to retired detective Nick Charles, jostled back into a career in crime-solving by the disappearance of a close friend suspected of murder. With a martini always in hand and lovely, sharp-tongued socialite wife Nora always at his side, Nick stumbles with alarming wit and charisma from clue to clue. The big reveal of the true culprit unfolds in a stirring, convention-establishing dinner-party scene, in which all the suspects are present. The first sequel, After the Thin Man, finds the couple sucked into another odd caper while visiting Nora’s hilariously aristocratic family on New Year’s. Is cousin Thelma a crazed murderess? All family members are shuffled into the same room to find out…


SERIES: Wretched Romances

Dir. Bob Clark, 1984, 35mm, 111 min.
Tickets – $10

The effervescent Dolly Parton has paired up with some of the most mismatched male leads in movie history, from James Woods to Gary Busey and a crooning Burt Reynolds, but that’s nothing compared to the spectacle of the death-twitch anti-chemistry between her…and the Italian Stallion! In this countrified Pygmalion, singer Dolly wagers a club owner she can turn oafish NYC cabbie Sly Stallone into a Nashville sensation, culminating in their showstopping suckerpunch duet of “Stay Out of My Bedroom,” ranking just behind Stallone’s own Staying Alive in the pantheon of surreal film musical finales. Director Bob Clark (Porky’s, A Christmas Story) provides glitzy visuals, and Dolly gives a gosh-darn perky rendition of “odd couple” romantic infatuation, but it’s Stallone’s must-see soul-liquifying performance–a freakish blur of ad-libbed infantile jokes, lead-footed prancing and tone-deaf caterwauling–that makes Rhinestone one of the most riveting portrayals of ’80s misguided excess at its shiniest.


Family presents: An Evening With Mike Mills

Dir. István Szabó, 1970, digital presentation, 123 min.
Tickets – $12

Once a month The Cinefamily will host “Family Sundays”, where our good friends at Family Bookstore (just down the road!) will bring in their favorite people–artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, comedians, or generally inspiring folk–to curate and introduce a night of films. First, they’ll show lesser-seen short films that they’ve made, or that have been made about them–or that they just like. Afterwards, they’ll show a feature that has personally influenced them, and finally they’ll explain it all and take your questions too. This Sunday, Family brings us artist/designer/filmaker Mike Mills, who’s directed music videos for Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Beastie Boys, Blonde Redhead and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, as well as the film Thumbsucker, and the documentaries Does Your Soul Have a Cold? and Deformer (about artist/skater Ed Templeton). Medium is less important to Mills’ work than an encompassing vision that permeates all his diverse projects. Whether it’s a television commercial, a watercolor painting, or a fabric design, everything Mills concocts is suffused by his current emotional and spiritual disposition. He has chosen to show and share his thoughts about István Szabó’s Lovefilm, a lesser-known 1970 masterpiece from the Czech New Wave.

Okay.  One last one.  Maybe the coolest title of the week because it’s not on DVD and it’s genuinely worth the effort to see…

Midnight. Friday the 6th.  The Nuart.

“Ken Russell’s The Devils”

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