December 22, 2019: Start the new year with a SUNRISE

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.
All of these movies are better than Cats


dir. F.W. Murnau

January 26, 7:00 PM at Walt Disney Concert Hall

All silent films that still get regular play are landmarks. Their continued existence implies a concerted effort to preserve the movies; meanwhile, the great bulk of films from the silent era were allowed to crumble to dust or suffered a fiery end.

With that said, Sunrise is truly something else. This drama from Faust and Nosferatu director F.W. Murnau tells an elemental story, in which a man plots an act of heinous violence as part of a plan to leave his wife and child for another woman. George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor are exceptional as the man and wife, but the true stars may be cinematographers Charles Rosher and Karl Struss, whose camerawork achieves gliding, haunted movements unmatched in the era. Their work makes Sunrise the most approachable silent drama for audiences unaccustomed to the first wave of narrative film. Plays with a new score by House of Cards composer Jeff Beal, written for choir and chamber orchestra.



dir. Beniamino Barrese

Now playing at Lumiere Cinema at the Music Hall

Once a fashion model, then an activist, 75-year old Benedetta Barzini wants nothing more than to escape from every expectation draped on her shoulders. Benedetta wants to disappear. Thus: Is this the most relatable movie of 2019? Her son, director Beniamino Barrese, documents her history, filming her planned departure from society, and negotiates his own separation from Barzini as an act of familial understanding. Plays at the newly rebranded Lumiere Cinema, which is the new venture that opened at the Music Hall in Beverly Hills after Laemmle moved out last month.



dir. Leo McCarey / Richard Boleslawski

December 27, 7:30 PM
at the Aero Theatre

End the year with Leo McCarey’s near-perfect screwball comedy about a couple (Irene Dunne and Cary Grant) whose divorce isn’t as permanent as they expect it to be. Ostensibly based on Arthur Richman’s play of the same name, director Leo McCarey worked with Viña and Eugene Delmar on a script that jettisoned most of the play’s material — and then McCarey reportedly chucked the Delmars’ work in favor of his own script, which deviated even further. Regardless of how it went down, the result is a richly funny screenplay that gives Dunne, Grant, and co-stars Cecil Cunningham, Ralph Bellamy, Esther Dale, and Joyce Compton some of the best lines in any comedy of the era, while McCarey gave the cast room to improvise their own material, too.

4K DCP / 35mm | INFO + TICKETS


dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

December 28, 7:30 PM at the Egyptian Theatre

Paul Thomas Anderson’s chamber drama has been added to the Egyptian’s holiday repertoire of 70mm epics. Daniel Day-Lewis’s emotionally volatile dressmaker can easily out-tantrum the HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is also playing in the series. Meanwhile, we know that Phantom’s canny and ambitious characters played by Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville can easily stand up against the other titans in this program, Peter O’Toole’s T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, and Barbara Streisand’s matchmaker Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly!.


dir. Lulu Wang

January 3, 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

The specific proves universal yet again in Lulu Wang’s exceptional dramedy. The Farewell lifts the curtain on what, for many audiences, is a fresh cultural insight into Chinese family life. Awkwafina deserves all the acclaim she’s collected since the film debuted at Sundance earlier this year, and Zhao Shuzhen — who plays her nai nai — is an international treasure. This screening is followed by a Q&A with Wang.


dir. William A. Wellman / Clarence Badger

January 3, 7:30 PM at the Billy Wilder Theater

In William Wyler’s grimy and tawdry pre-code drama Safe in Hell, a sex worker played by Dorothy Mackaill flees New Orleans for a Caribbean island where (she thinks) she can take refuge from the specter of violence in her recent past. The film’s title should be a good indicator that things don’t go that way. Mackaill’s character is the only woman on the island and confronts, as one writer notes, “the slimiest cast of characters ever seen in a studio film.” If you think of pre-code movies as fizzy indulgences in excess, this one will be an eye-opener.


dir. René Laloux

January 10, 11:59 PM
at the Nuart Theatre

Oh, you think Cats is insane? (You’re right, it is.) This psychedelic French animation, rendered in a mix of watercolor and colored pencil, truly exists on the outer realms of WTF-ery. Fantastic Planet imagines a world of blue aliens who tower over the (comparatively) hamster-sized humans they keep as pets. “I was just a living plaything that sometimes dares to rebel,” says Terr, the narrator, who grows from infancy to adulthood while kept as a living toy — and then manages to escape into a dangerous life of liberty. This willfully bizarre allegory argues for animal rights, civil rights, intellectual freedom, and probably a few other things as well.

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