|Once each week, Marquee L.A. highlights exceptional films, screenings, and film events in the Greater Los Angeles area. Click here to sign up for future email newsletters.|
MIRACLE MILE (1988)
dir. Steve De Jarnatt
July 14, 7:00 PM at the Billy Wilder Theater
This romance-meets-the-apocalypse is one of my favorite Los Angeles movies. Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham play characters who think they might want to date, but their first day together turns into a night of pure hell. Shot almost entirely around the intersection of Fairfax and Wilshire — with long-defunct Johnie’s Coffee Shop and the La Brea Tar Pits as primary locations — it’s a funny and spirited love story that goes full-bore crazy as every character realizes the world might actually be ending.
As writer/director Steve De Jarnatt spent a decade trying to make the movie his own way, he resisted studio control and the overtures of Steven Spielberg, and avoided turning his story into a chapter of 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie. De Jarnatt, who’ll be on hand for this screening, managed to shoot the script’s downer ending, and while that probably limited Miracle Mile‘s hit potential, it also means this movie feels whole and unique.
THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE (1982)
dir. Daniel Vigne
Opens July 5 at the Laemmle Royal
A rogue-ish man leaves his French village, possibly to fight in the Hundred Years War, and returns a changed man. Like, literally changed — friends and family have reason to believe that Martin Guerre (Gerard Depardieu) may not be the man he claims to be. But because he seems to be a lot better than the Martin they knew, no one minds too much, until he makes a big request. This is a new 4K restoration.
VIOLENCE VOYAGER (2018)
Opens July 5 at the Laemmle Music Hall
The mono-monikered Japanese filmmaker Uchija returns to follow his 2013 film The Burning Buddha Man with an extremely odd tale of children who discover an abandoned amusement park — and are soon tormented by a mad scientist and his mutated abductees. Uchija uses the so-called “geki-mation” animation technique, in which paper cutouts are moved across static backgrounds, and the filmmaking style adds to the story’s bizarre sensibility. (Check out the trailer, which will immediately help you understand whether or not this one’s for you.)
FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966) / 100 RIFLES (1969)
dir. Richard Fleischer / Tom Gries
July 6, 7:00 PM at the New Beverly Cinema
Fantastic Voyage, in which a shrunken scientific team is injected into a scientist’s bloodstream, the better to perform surgery on him from within, is a lively sci-fi lark. More importantly, this show is the first of a set of four programs at the New Beverly which spotlight work of a quartet of actors in the ’60s. Here, the star is Raquel Welch; other nights spotlight Ann-Margret, Jane Fonda, and Natalie Wood. The Ann-Margret movie Kitten With a Whip (on July 7 and 8) is a wild juvenile delinquent movie which helped change the star’s image, while the Jane Fonda double feature Cat Ballou and The Chase (on July 12 and 13) is one of the theater’s best nights on the July schedule. (Each of these duos plays multiple times.)
RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985) / THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)
dir. Dan O’Bannon / Tobe Hooper
July 7, 7:30 PM at the Egyptian Theatre
Pretend it is still July 3, which is the same day on which a couple employees of the Uneeda Medical Supply learn about life after death in Dan O’Bannon’s raucous and gory horror comedy, Return of the Living Dead.
COOLEY HIGH (1975)
dir. Michael Schultz
July 8, 7:30 PM at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater
The shorthand for Cooley High is “the American Graffiti of Chicago,” thanks to a hit-laden Motown soundtrack and a large cast of characters trying to get through their last couple weeks of high school. It’s more than that, however. The white small-town experience of George Lucas’s coming-of-age movie wasn’t in short supply on movie screens. Cooley High was a rare depiction of the lives of black teens, which broke away from exploitative tendencies of the mid-’70s. This screening is a tribute to director Michael Schultz, who grew up in neighborhoods much like those in the movie. It will be hosted by filmmaker Robert Townsend, and Schultz will be the house alongside special guests Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Larry Karaszewski, Jackie Taylor and Garrett Morris.
OKUL NODI (2012)
dir. Tuni Chatterji
July 18, 7:00 PM at MOCA
The title of this documentary, by Los Angeles-based artist Tuni Chatterji, translates to “Endless River;” it means as much for the form of the movie as the subject. Okul Nodi traces the roots, culture, and future of Bhatiyali, the music featuring, as one subject describes, “songs sung with elongated notes by Majhis,” or those who steer long river boats in Bangladesh. The film follows the music; it is languid and willing to linger on single images and ideas. This is timely programming, as the Bangladeshi government has just moved to protect riverways by legally recognizing them as “living entities” — a notion that would probably sit well with the worldview expressed here.