Monday, February 23, 2009

Assorted Screenings in NYC: March 2009

1. If you aren't attending the Jacques Doillon retro at the French Institute (every Tuesday through the end of March), you're missing out: the films are even better than I remembered. I wrote a series summary a few weeks back for the Auteurs' Notebook.

2. Y'all probably don't need to be sold on the one-week revivals of Marco Ferreri's Dillinger è morto (Dillinger Is Dead) , at BAM from February 27 to March 5, and John M. Stahl's Leave Her to Heaven, at Film Forum from March 6 to 12. Each is probably the best film by its director. Here's a little teaser for Dillinger that I wrote a while back:

"The exposition of Dillinger Is Dead feels a lot like other expositions: Glauco (Michel Piccoli) drives home from his job as a manufacturer of industrial masks, greets his wife who is in bed with a headache, sits down to a prepared meal, then decides that he'd rather eat something special. As we follow Glauco around his house and watch him play idly with objects or make small decisions about what to do next, we wait for the event that will get the narrative ball rolling. But the event is slow in coming, and we start to wonder how long director/co-writer Marco Ferreri plans to stretch out this meandering introduction. Glauco browses in a cookbook and begins making a late-night gourmet dinner, listening to the radio while he cooks - and as the film chains little causes and effects together and teases our story expectations, three songs play from beginning to end, complete with disc-jockey chatter. This extraordinary use of stasis on the soundtrack (stasis but not tedium, thanks to Ferreri's narrative sleight-of-hand) shifts us to an indeterminate state of spectatorship: we now know that Ferreri is capable of leaving the film on this mundane level forever; but he continues to open new storytelling doors. In fact, while looking for a spice, Glauco opens an actual closet door, rummages around, and finds...a gun. Does this time-honored Chekhovian signifier mean that a suspense film is finally beginning? Perhaps, but Glauco still has a meal on the stove to attend to...."

3. Celina Murga's Una Semana solos (A Week Alone) is by far the title I'm most excited about in the Walter Reade's Film Comment Selects series. Murga's 2003 Ana y los otros (Ana and the Others) was one of the best debuts of recent years, a gentle mystery story with a keen eye for good performance moments. Rohmer's influence on Murga's first feature was so strong that the film almost seemed an homage, but it's hard to think of another homage this good. Una Semana solos screens on Monday, March 2 at 8:30 pm and Tuesday, March 3 at 6:30 pm, with another screening in the Young Friends of Film series on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 pm.

4. Czech director Ivan Passer gets a short retrospective at MOMA on March 6-13. I'm a bit sad that the series doesn't include either Silver Bears or Crime and Passion, the films I'd most readily cite to make a case for Passer's peculiar mixture of Forman-like drollery and unexpected bursts of emotional revelation. Of the films on display, I most recommend Cutter's Way, showing Friday, March 6 at 8 pm and Sunday, March 8 at 6 pm. The rarest film in the series is certainly 1974's bizarre Law and Disorder, with Ernest Borgnine and Carroll O'Connor - I never thought I'd see that projected again. It plays Sunday, March 8 at 1:30 pm and Friday, March 13 at 6 pm.

5. BAM's Focus on IFC Films series on March 6-12 is of special interest because some of these films may go to IFC's Video on Demand instead of receiving theatrical releases. I'm looking forward to Gerardo Naranjo's Voy a explotar (I'm Gonna Explode), as I was an admirer of Naranjo's 2006 Drama/Mex. Voy a explotar screens Saturday, March 7 at 9:30 pm.

6. Jean-Marc Vallée's 2005 Quebecois film C.R.A.Z.Y., playing MOMA on March 18-23, was a hit in Canada, but issues with music rights kept it out of US theaters. I wrote about the film in my 2005 Toronto wrap-up for Senses of Cinema:

"A well-deserved smash hit in Quebec before its screenings at Venice and Toronto (where it won the Best Canadian Feature Film award), Jean-Marc Vallée's C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005) has a narrative sweep that is unusual in the Quebecois cinema, where modesty of scale is the rule. A first-person, decades-spanning account of a young man's turbulent coming-out in the ‘60s and ‘70s, C.R.A.Z.Y. dwells nostalgically on period details and on the boy's memories of his family, a crazy quilt of Catholicism, machismo and hipsterism. Working off of the rhythms of the voiceover and the copious music selections (which both characterise the protagonist and serve as the film's true scenario), Vallée and co-scenarist François Boulay arrive at a dramatic depiction of the boy's inner life, which is shot through with the magical thinking and grandiose mythology of early childhood. Playing the charismatic, androgyne hero in his older incarnation, Marc-André Grondin is surprisingly able to hold his own in his lifelong power struggle with veteran Michel Côté's ultracool patriarch."

7. Pontypool, Bruce McDonald's follow-up to his remarkable The Tracey Fragments, plays MOMA on Thursday, March 19 at 6:15 pm and Saturday, March 21 at 8:45 pm in the Canadian Front series.


Anonymous said...

There's also the Kuchar Bros retro at Anthology, March 11-17.

Dan Sallitt said...

Feel free to use this comments section to augment my list, everyone. I only included items when I felt I could be of some use and had some angle. I left off the Kuchars because I don't have much of a relationship with them; I also skipped series like Dreyer at BAM and Mulligan at the Walter Reade, where the filmmakers are important to me but where I figured the NYC film community had a bead on the situation. El Cant dels ocells at Anthology is the current hot item for my crowd; I'm still working on Serra, so my attendance is more important than my shout-out.

steevee said...

In case anyone misses PONTYPOOL at MOMA, IFC Films will be releasing it commercially in late May.