Although the holiday season means time off work for most other industries in the U.S., it means it’s awards season for the film business, which in turn necessitates plenty of tributes and accolades to be presented on the East and West Coasts at your local repertory theater in advance of the Oscars where movie stars can be seen and Q & As are conducted. Yet in New York and Los Angeles, there will be a wealth of other options as neighborhood theaters flood their screens with contemporary cinema from other parts of the world, classic movies in their full bigscreen glory, and certain-to-be-fun nods to the holidays, whether it’s Halloween or Christmas. If you live in one of these areas or see fit to travel, these are the events worth the trouble over the next few months.
by Stephen Saito
Screenings in Los Angeles
For perhaps the most surreal experience you will find in this season’s holiday preview, one should head over to the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica on October 27th for a screening of “Donnie Darko” where writer/director Richard Kelly will be doing a live commentary for an audience sitting in the very same place Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone and Frank the Bunny sat nearly a decade ago. It is only midway through a super cool week at the theater that will see animator Bill Plympton present his latest “Idiots and Angels” (Oct. 28), a pre-Halloween screening of 1980’s horror flick “The Changeling” (Oct. 29, with director Peter Medak in person), the 5th Annual Dusk-to-Dawn Horrorthon (Oct. 30) and “The Monster Squad” on Halloween night.
The Aero will also get in the thick of this year’s Oscar race with in-person tributes to Robert Duvall (Oct. 26, with a double feature of “Get Low” and “Tomorrow”), Mark Ruffalo (Nov. 5, with “The Kids Are All Right” and his still-undistributed directorial debut “Sympathy for Delicious”), Pierce Brosnan (Nov. 20, with “The Ghost Writer” and “The Matador”) and a special screening of “The Social Network” with Aaron Sorkin, among others to be announced on November 21st. They will also honor the late, great Arthur Penn on November 19th with two of his lesser seen films “Mickey One” and “Night Moves,” and Sid & Marty Kroft with a screening of “Pufnstuf” (Nov. 20), followed by a discussion with “Attack of the Show”‘s Olivia Munn.
However, the Aero will also be the place for L.A. premieres in November, including Edward Burns’ “Nice Guy Johnny” (Nov. 2nd, with the actor in person), the Malcolm McDowell thriller “Pound of Flesh” (Nov. 6th, where McDowell will appear in person with Timothy Bottoms and director Tamar Hoffs), “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story” (Nov. 7, with the documentary’s crew in person), Henry Jaglom’s “Queen of the Lot” (Nov. 15, with Jaglom in person), the Belgian thriller “Illegal” (Nov. 17), and Soviet-era doc “The Desert of Forbidden Art” (Nov. 18). But the bulk of premieres will be reserved for the Aero’s two major series from abroad this holiday season: New German Cinema, which starts this week with Sönke Wortmann’s “Pope Joan,” starring John Goodman and David Wenham (Oct. 22), as well as Germany’s Oscar submission “When We Leave,” “The Woman With 5 Elephants” and “Vincent Wants to Sea” (Oct. 24); and the survey of contemporary Italian film that is Cinema Italian Style (Nov. 10-14) that includes the U.S. premieres of “The Pursuit of Happyness” director Gabriele Muccino’s “Kiss Me Again,” Daniele Luchetti’s “Our Life,” John Turturro’s “Passion” and more.
There will also be many opportunities to revisit the classics, including some that have been revisited from their original form, such as a special screening of Gillo Pontecorvo’s “Burn!” (Nov. 4, with screenwriter Larry Karaszewski) in its original uncut European form. Other repertory highlights include “Singin’ in the Rain” (Nov. 26), “It Happened One Night” and “My Man Godfrey” (Nov. 27) and “The Wizard of Oz” (Nov. 28), followed by “Return to Oz” with a Q & A to follow between “A History of Violence” screenwriter Josh Olson and director and sound designing legend Walter Murch.
The Fairfax theater is wasting no time with interesting programming, bringing “The Room”‘s Tommy Wiseau to headline “The Diabolical Dr. Cinefamily’s Horrifying Anthology Of Horror Anthologies” this Friday, October 22nd with his short “The House That Dripped Blood on Alex.” It’s only the start of the mischief the Cinefamily will up to during the lead up to Halloween where they will present a double bill of Doris Wishman’s “A Night to Dismember” and 1988’s “Don’t Panic” (Oct. 23), a Comedy Death-Ray screening of “The Blob” remake (with Brian Posehn, Oct. 25), Doug Benson’s Movie Interruptions screening of the killer ape flick “Link” (Oct. 27), Cinefamily’s 100 Most Outrageous Kills (Oct. 29), a Heavy Metal Halloween Party & Fundraiser (Oct. 30), and a double feature of William Castle’s “House on Haunted Hill” and “The Tingler” on Halloween night. (And they’re sparing no expense – the seats will be wired as Mr. Castle always wanted.)
November brings special guests to Cinefamily, chief among them animator Bill Plympton with a collection of shorts on November 1st, Helen Slater with “The Legend of Billy Jean” (Nov. 6), a rare screening of Radley Metzger’s uncut erotic drama “Score” (Nov. 7, with the director and actress Lynn Lowry in person), and a sneak preview of the Jim Carrey comedy “I Love You Phillip Morris” (Nov. 28) with writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa in person. The rest of the month will be dominated by the Friday series Neon Noir, a run of double bills of ’80s suspense films like “The Driver” and “Thief” (Nov. 5), “American Gigolo” and “Breathless” (Nov. 12), “52 Pick-Up” and “Body Double” (Nov. 19), as well as screenings of William Eggleston’s “Stranded in Canton” (Nov. 2), the 1920 silent “The Devil’s Claim” (Nov. 3), an evening of Roman Polanski shorts (Nov. 9, with live musical accompaniment from Sza/Za), the L.A. premiere of Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s children’s war film “Johnny Mad Dog” (Nov. 13), puppeteer and artist Wayne White’s one-man show “You’re Supposed to All Act Impressed” (Nov. 16), the restored “Metropolis” (Nov. 17), the doc “The Invention of Dr. Nakamats” (Nov. 18), and the two-day “Destroy All Movies” punk film fest hosted by the Alamo Drafthouse’s Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly on November 20th and 21st. The Cinefamily will also hold screenings of Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” (Dec. 7), Josh Fox’s doc “Gasland” (Dec. 9) and in an event sure to sell out soon, the “Party Down” Memorial Service with co-creators John Enborn and Dan Etheridge in person to mourn the much beloved Hollywood catering comedy that was canceled by Starz earlier this year.