Repertory theaters on the coasts are truly offering a window onto the world this spring, with Jia Zhangke and Bong Joon-ho retrospectives, as well as New French Cinema in New York, “Freebie and the Bean,” “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” and Jason Reitman’s favorite films invade Los Angeles, and the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is offering a fond farewell to the video cassette. But consider this a hello to seeing classics, oddities and rarities on the big screen over the next few months.
Is there a more energetic way to start the spring than with a screening of Russ Meyer’s “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (Feb. 20, with editors Rumsey Taylor, Leo Goldsmith and Jenny Jediny in attendance)? Perhaps not, but it’s only the start of an exciting spring season at the 92YTribeca Screening Room, which will present several special events over the next few months. Many filmmakers will be stopping for screenings of “Gosford Park” (Feb. 23, with film editor Tim Squyres and author Bobbie O’Steen in person), the Amber Tamblyn-Tilda Swinton drama “Stephanie Daley” (March 5, with writer/director Hilary Brougher in attendance), David Lowry’s drama “St. Nick” (Feb. 27), the family dramedy “City Island” (March 8, with star Andy Garcia in attendance), and “SNL” writer Tom Schiller’s rarely screened comedy “Nothing Lasts Forever” (March 20, with Schiller in person)
The 92YTribeca is also keeping the energy up with a series of music-themed movies, including the New York premiere of “Family Jams” (Feb. 26) Kevin Barker’s doc about life on the road with Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Vetiver, a two-night stay for Peter Esmonde’s “Trimpin: The Sound of Invention” (March 12-13), and a screening of four short documentaries about the avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis (March 24). And audiences who want to get in on the act can sing-along to “Somewhere Out There” when “An American Tail” screens on February 20th, followed a month later by “Teen Witch” (March 26).
Meanwhile, 92YTribeca and Hammer to Nail is making it safe for to love bad movies with the series “Misunderstood Gems: 2000-2009,” a look back at the disasterpieces of the Naughts, including the Lindsay Lohan twin sister thriller “I Know Who Killed Me” (March 4), and M. Night Shymalan’s ill-fated fairytale “Lady in the Water” (April 1). Other ongoing series include “Kevin Geeks Out about…Monkeys” (Feb. 19) and “…Sharks” (March 19), a collection of clips of the primate and fish variety, respectively; Cinema Tropical’s Music and Film Series – Focus on Brazil, featuring the docs “Simonal – No One Knows How Tough It Was” (Feb. 25), Helena Solberg’s “The Enchanted World” (March 25), featuring performances from Adriana Calcanhotto, Arnaldo Antunes, Chico Buarque, Lirinha, Lenine, Maria Bethânia, Martinho da Vila, and Tom Zé, and Paulo Henrique Fontenelle’s “Loki – Arnaldo Baptista,” about the Brazilian rock star (April 22); Elliott Kalan’s “Closely Watched Films,” which will screen the original “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (March 3, with special guest Wyatt Cenac) and Kihachi Okamoto’s 1968 samurai comedy “Kill!” (April 7, with special guest Evan Dorkin), and the Short Slam competitions (Feb. 17, March 17, April 21) where filmmakers show off their short films in a bid to win JetBlue tickets.
One of the most intriguing series in New York this spring might be the Anthology Film Archives’ comparison of adaptations of Charles Perrault’s fable “Bluebeard” by some of the most striking filmmakers around, the latest incarnation being told by Catherine Breillat. Her take will kick off the series on March 3rd, followed by the adaptations by Edgar G. Ulmer (March 4, 7), Ernst Lubitsch (March 4, 6), Michael Powell and Georges Méliès (March 5, 7, with Powell’s widow Thelma Schoonmaker onhand to introduce the March 5th screening), Fritz Lang (March 5-6), and Charlie Chaplin (March 6-7). Also bound to pique interest is the series Marguerite Duras on Film (March 12-18), centering on the film forays of the French novelist and playwright. Other classic films set to screen at the Anthology include all 170 minutes of D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” (Feb. 20), the German krimis (i.e. crime thrillers) “Monster of London City” and “The Phantom of Soho” (Feb. 26-27), Buster Keaton’s “The General” (March 20-21), a weekend of Andrei Tarkovsky (March 19-21) with “The Mirror,” “Solaris” and the complete 205-minute director’s cut of “Andrei Rublev,” and the ongoing Austrian Writers on Film series featuring Volker Schlondorff’s adaptation of Robert Musil’s “Young Torless” (Feb. 25) and Axel Corti’s adaptation of Franz Werfel’s “A Woman’s Pale Blue Handwriting” (March 25).
For more experimental tastes, the Anthology is ever reliable with a steady diet of filmmakers questioning what is cinema with programs of the work of Dani Leventhal (Feb. 18, with Leventhal in person), Jerome Hill (Feb. 21, including a brand new print of “Film Portrait”), the program “Double Trouble: Six Films by Gary Goldberg” (March 5-6), and shorts from Ian Hugo, Helen Levitt and Willard Maas (March 6), Humphrey Jennings, Dimitri Kirsanoff, Fernand Léger & Dudley Murphy, Rene Clair and Francis Picabia (March 7), and Peter Kubelka (March 21), and the digital trickery of “Computational Sublime: Videos by Gregg Biermann” (March 26). There will also be screenings of the Ken Jacobs feature “Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son” (March 7) and Dimitri Kirsanoff’s 1934 musically-experimental drama “RAPT” (March 20), as well as the series The Films of William E. Jones (Feb. 26-March 4), which is a full retrospective From Ecstasy to Rapture: 50 Years of the Other Spanish Cinema (Feb. 19-21), presenting experimental shorts and features that are rarely even shown in Spain that demonstrate the elasticity of the medium through films that run the gamut from animation to found footage.
Documentary buffs will also find plenty to enjoy this spring at the Anthology as the theater plays host to the internationally-minded screenings of Kamal Aljafari’s Palestinean resettlement doc “The Roof” (March 8, with Aljafari in person) and Marc Bauder & Dörte Franke’s East Germany doc “Last to Know” (March 11), before concentrating on the homegrown series Leo Hurwitz & The New York School of Documentary Film (March 10-19), a collection of nonfiction films from doc pioneer Hurwitz and the filmmakers like Pare Lorentz and Willard Van Dyke who blossomed under his tutelage during the 1930s and ’40s. Anthology will also dig up Films from New York’s Vault on March 25th, screening rare home movies and archival footage of the Big Apple that have been preserved by the National Film Preservation Foundation.
Anthology is also serving up the four-course meals of the Newfilmmakers program, which collects shorts, features and various ephemera around a given theme and will soon be shining a light on Brooklyn filmmakers, including Keren Atzmon’s feature “Failing Better Now” (Feb. 24), Joseph Christiana’s “Motel Americana” (March 2), Middle East and NewLatino Groups (March 10), the John McKeown feature “Six Semesters” with coming-of-age shorts (March 17), Christian Sex Night with the features “Godawesome,” “The Christians,” and “The Truth About Angels” (March 24), and the Newfilmmakers’ Sports Night (March 31).
After a highly successful retrospective in Los Angeles in December, Bong Joon-ho will be treated to a similar fete in New York at the BAMcinématek to celebrate the upcoming release of his drama “Mother” (Feb. 27, with Joon-ho in attendance), with a screening of rare shorts and his first three films “Barking Dogs Never Bite” (Feb. 28), “Memories of Murder” (Feb. 25), and “The Host” (Feb. 27, with Joon-ho in attendance).
But much of BAMcinématek’s spring schedule is devoted to bringing international cinema to American shores, first with foreign-heavy 8th annual Best of the African Diaspora Film Festival (Feb. 19-24), which highlights the experience of African émigrés through films like American Clayton Broomes, Jr.’s “Pro-Black Sheep” (Feb. 20, 24, with Broomes, Jr. in person), the Nigerian drama “Arugba” (Feb. 19, 21) and the French drama “When the City Bites” (Feb. 20). And for New Yorkers unable to afford tickets to the Netherlands, BAM is bringing the Rotterdam Film Festival to Brooklyn with an assortment of films direct from this year’s fest from March 3rd through 9th, including Martjin Smits’ miserablist drama “It’s Already Summer” (March 7), Sophie Letourneur’s coming-of-age drama “Life at the Ranch” (March 9) and recent Sundance entry “The Temptation of St. Tony” (March 5). The late March series Focus on IFC Films will also have an international flavor to it, with screenings of the latest films from Claire Denis (March 19th’s “White Material”), Johnnie To (March 21st’s “Vengeance”) and Bruno Dumont (March 21st’s “Hadewijch”). Christophe Honoré and Chiara Mastrioianni will also steal away from the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Rendez-vous with French Cinema” to present “Making Plans for Lena” on March 20th.
However, if American classics strike your fancy, BAMcinématek will be presenting That’s Montgomery Clift, Honey! (March 11-25), a retrospective of the dashing leading man’s all-too-short career filled with classics like “A Place in the Sun” (March 12) and “From Here to Eternity” (March 14, with an introduction by Patricia Bosworth) to rarely projected films like 1950’s “The Big Lift” (March 15) and “Freud” (March 23), which like the 1941 Basil Rathbone thriller “The Mad Doctor” (March 2) is part of Elliott Stein’s ongoing Cinemachat series. Meanwhile, there will also be special screenings of the Dan Klores doc “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks” (March 10, with Klores in attendance), and “Waking Sleeping Beauty” (March 17, with the filmmakers in attendance).
After some personal friends of Martin Scorsese’s were out of luck during the first run of the restored version of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” at the Film Forum, the film is returning for another limited engagement from February 19th through 25th, followed by one-week runs of a 40th anniversary celebration of “Five Easy Pieces” (Feb. 26-March 4), Joseph Losey’s 1951 noir “The Prowler” (March 19-25), the 20th anniversary of Abbas Kiarostami’s “Close-Up” (March 26-April 1), and F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise” (April 2-8). Additional special screenings include Josef von Sternberg’s 1928 drama “Docks of New York” (March 22) and Bill Forsyth’s “Housekeeping” (April 15, with Forsyth in attendance) and a double feature of Forsyth’s “Gregory’s Girl” and “Local Hero” (April 22).
Film Forum is also launching two major series this spring. The first is a two-week retrospective of Golden Age of Hollywood helmer Victor Fleming (March 5-18) that displays the director’s versatility with a selection ranging from 1924’s mariner drama “Code of the Sea” (March 12) to 1939’s “The Wizard of Oz” (March 7,8, 13 & 14). And the theater is pulling out all the stops for Fleming, with live piano accompaniment by Steve Sterner on many of the filmmaker’s silents, new 35mm prints of Henry Fonda’s “The Farmer Takes a Wife” (March 9, with “Tortilla Flat”) and “Common Clay” (March 16) as well as visits from Fleming biographer Michael Sragow for the opening double feature of “Red Dust” and “Bombshell” on March 5th and 6th and Molly Haskell for the March 13th screening of “Gone With the Wind.” And although the days of the ink-stained wretch may be numbered, the Film Forum is offering up a month-long movie salute to muckrakers from April 9th through May 6th with the 35mm print celebration of The Newspaper Picture, kicking off with Billy Wilder’s ahead-of-its-time “Ace in the Hole” (April 9-10) to more obscure titles like Michael Curtiz’s 1932 flick “The Strange Love of Molly Louvain” (April 19, with “Love is a Racket”) just one of several films in the series to feature the dogged fictional reporter Lee Tracy.