Dear readers, I feel like I am going to positively burst with excitement for all that is screening this next week.
UCLA continues its tribute to female filmmakers in the ‘70s and ‘80s with a pair of knock-down, bonafide, can’t-miss classics – Claudia Weill appears in person on Saturday for a screening of her film Girlfriends (1978, 35mm), while Sunday brings Chantal Akerman’s titanic, much-imitated-but-never-bested Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975, 35mm). Jeanne Dielman in particular is going to get very difficult to see on 35 as a DCP was recently made, so seize this moment, friends.
And because UCLA can’t contain their greatness to merely one series, they’re also screening Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final film, Querelle (1982, 35mm) on Friday night, with free admission to Outfest members.
Cinefamily is going with more recent fare, showing David Fincher’s best film to date, Zodiac (2007, 35mm), on Friday and Sunday. I go back and forth about the value of seeing this on 35. It was Fincher’s first digital production, but he also made it knowing it would be primarily shown on film, so you have to figure he and cinematographer Harris Savides accounted for that in some way. Nevertheless, I’m just tickled this has become the modern classic that it has.
The Silent Treatment returns to Cinefamily with Gregory La Cava’s Feel My Pulse (1928, 35mm), preceded by the Hal Roach short Bumping Into Broadway (1919, 35mm), with live accompaniment by Cliff Retallick throughout. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a La Cava silent, but his sound work that I have (especially Gabriel Over the White House) is quite something, so I look forward to trying this out.
On Valentine’s Day, where else would my fiancée and I be but at Jerry Beck’s annually-stellar Valentoons show, chock full of oddities and classics.
Finally, next Thursday, Cinefamily kicks off a short run of Josef von Sternberg’s final film, Anatahan (1953, DCP), which is touring the country in a new restoration. I actually saw this last year at the New Beverly, and I have to say I’m surprised in many ways that this was felt to be so ripe for rediscovery. It’s a thoroughly-odd film, telling the famous story of Japanese soldiers on an isolated island who continue to fight the second World War long after it’s ended, believing messages of its conclusion to be enemy propaganda. Von Sternberg shot the film in Japanese, but rather than using subtitles (not the most popular practice in 1953, when dubbing was preferred for foreign imports), he simply recorded a voiceover track himself explaining the plot points and important bits of dialogue. I don’t think it’s an entirely successful film, but it lands some truly haunting and moving beats, especially towards the end.
Speaking of the New Beverly, they have an honest-to-goodness 35mm print of La La Land, and they’re pairing it with Peter Bogdanovich’s At Long Last Love (1975, 35mm). This should be the same print of At Long Last Love I saw a couple of years ago there (which is the reconstructed “director’s cut” version that was unveiled a few years before that), in which case the print is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. There’s been an earnest attempt to reclaim this film from its tattered reputation, and while I would hardly put it up there among Bogdanovich’s best, it’s a really lovely, heartfelt film. Bogdanovich’s joy in making it is evident throughout, and the quartet of main players – Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, and Duilio Del Prete – are really outstanding together. And hey, all the songs are old Cole Porter hits, so you can’t go wrong there. Some have understandably faulted it for the cast’s uneven singing talent (Shepherd in particular can be rough), but, as with La La Land, there’s something immensely charming about their gusto. Well, well, well worth seeing, especially paired with something as good as La La Land.
The Bev also continues its B-westerns series with Snake River Desperadoes (1951, 35mm) and The Last Musketeer (1952, 16mm) on Sunday and Monday. Both films run around an hour each. Really hoping to make it out to this one.
Finally, they have Valley Girl (1983, 35mm) and Say Anything (1989, 35mm) on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m a sinner who’s never seen Valley Girl, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change this week. Say Anything is, of course, awesome.
You think we’re nearing the end here, but we’re really not even close, but for length considerations, and the fact that we’re getting into more well-known-classics territory, I’m going to speed through this next batch. The Egyptian has Watership Down (1978, 35mm) on Friday, Wild at Heart (1990, 35mm) and The Wizard of Oz (1939, DCP) on Saturday, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, DCP) on Sunday, My Neighbor Totoro (1988, DCP) on Tuesday, and a double bill of Elephant Man (1980, 35mm) and Freaks (1932, DCP) on Thursday. Holy cow! I’ll certainly be at Elephant Man to try to win over my high school self, who did not care for it one bit, but I was 17 so what the hell do you want from me. I deeply, deeply wish I could make Wild at Heart, but it screening the same evening as Girlfriends has me all torn up.
By contrast, their sister theater, the Aero, is having a comparatively-slower week, dedicating evenings to recent releases Hacksaw Ridge and A Cure for Wellness. But they are making time for Walkabout (1971, 35mm) on Sunday, and it-just-wouldn’t-be-Valentine’s-Day-without Casablanca (1942, DCP) on Monday and Tuesday.
I know we just talked about City Lights (1931, 35mm) last week, but wouldn’t you know it, now LACMA’s showing it as part of their Tuesday matinee series. And what am I going to do, not mentioned City Lights? What the hell kind of outfit do you think this is?