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

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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.

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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.

September 27, 2019: Martin Scorsese + Roger Corman & All-Night Horror Marathons

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All-Night Horror Marathons

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker

October 12, 19, and 26 at Dynasty Typewriter, New Beverly Cinema, and Aero Theatre

It’s that time of the year again! Three venues are prepping for Halloween with marathons of horror films. Two of the lineups — Reels From the Crypt at the Dynasty Typewriter on October 12 and the All-Night Horror Show at the New Bev on October 19 — are secret, but we know that Reels From the Crypt will be comprised entirely of horror anthologies, all projected on 16mm. That helps narrow down the field a bit.

The Aero, meanwhile, has made its lineup public. The October 26 program features Critters, Halloween II, Ruby, Lisa and the Devil, Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker, Demonoid, and The Crazies. All are on 35mm except for Lisa and the Devil. If past policies hold true, the Aero will have a standby line going throughout the night, for people who want to get into specific films. So if you can’t do the entire marathon, consider showing up at whatever ungodly hour in which Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker plays: That movie— which tracks a woman’s unhealthy love for her high school-age nephew, for whom she acts as guardian — is absolutely insane. It’s got an all-timer performance from Susan Tyrrell and an early turn from Bill Paxton.



dir. Joan Twekesbury

September 28 at 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

We mentioned Old Boyfriends when it played at the Billy Wilder back at the beginning of the year, but this presentation — on a new 35mm print — merits another mention. That’s because director Joan Tewkesbury and stars Talia Shire and Keith Carradine will be in attendance to discuss this road movie which tells the story of a psychiatrist (Shire) dealing with her own identity by reconnecting with three former flames. The new print might also be a good showcase for the score by David Shire, who was married to Talia when they made the film.



dir. Andrew Patterson

September 30 at 3 PM at the The Huluween Theatre at the Egyptian

This free Beyond Fest screening, a new micro-budget thriller in the mold of original Twilight Zone episodes, is the debut movie from filmmaker Andrew Patterson. It follows two teens — a switchboard operator and a radio DJ — who live in a very small town in 1950s New Mexico. Despite not having the budget to visualize an extraterrestrial encounter, the director depicts the characters’ interaction with aliens via an inventive sonic palette and superb production design, not to mention a particularly well-executed mid-movie tracking shot.

ZODIAC (2007)

dir. David Fincher

October 1-3 at 7:30 PM at the New Beverly Cinema

When it’s all said and done, Zodiac could well be David Fincher’s greatest film, as it captures the frustrations, dead-ends and psychological damage of pursuing a years-long murder investigation, with the sort of detail typically reserved for modern television productions. (In that respect, it is a stylistic prelude to Fincher’s two-season Netflix procedural Mindhunter.) The New Beverly ran two sellout matinees of Zodiac on Labor Day, so we’re happy to see it get a few more nights on the big screen.


dir. Martin Scorsese

October 2 at 9:00 PM at the Alamo Drafthouse DTLA

Martin Scorsese’s second dramatic feature is a Roger Corman production with Barbara Hershey and David Carradine (yep, we’re going for two Carradine pictures this week) starring as a doomed criminal couple in the Depression-era South. What might have been an exploitative knock-off of Bonnie and Clyde becomes something more, thanks to Scorsese’s intuitive understanding of character and tone. It doesn’t always look and feel like the movies the director would make soon after, but one could argue that he might not have pulled off Mean Streets two years later without going through the Corman school of down-and-dirty filmmaking.


THE OUTLAW (1943/1946)

dir. Howard Hughes & Howard Hawks (uncredited)

October 5 at 1:30 PM at the Autry Museum of the American West



dir. Charles Crichton / Fred Schepisi, Robert Young

October 6 at 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

The Aero celebrates the 50th anniversary of Monty Python with a short series of screenings, including this “Python-adjacent” double bill. A Fish Called Wanda is more like an updated Ealing Studios comedy than a Python film — that’s because it is the final movie from director Charles Crichton, who made formative British comedies like Hue and Cry and The Lavender Hill Mob at the legendary London studio. Crichton developed the film with John Cleese, who wrote the script as his first solo screenwriting effort, although by all accounts Cleese was extraordinarily open to input from cast and crew. Regardless, we’re really pointing out this screening because Kevin Kline’s performance as a dumb and terminally insecure con man (which won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) is too good to pass up. Plays with a Blu-ray presentation of the serviceable but inferior spiritual sequel, Fierce Creatures.

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September 6, 2019: L.A.’s Best Genre Fest, and a 16mm Rarity

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Beyond Fest

Beyond Fest 600x200

September 25 – October 8 at the Egyptian Theatre

Beyond Fest returns for a 14-day run at the Egyptian. The genre and horror-heavy lineup boasts 39 feature films, including what for many L.A. audiences will be the first chance to see Bong Joon-ho’s amazing Parasite (a film which gets our unqualified endorsement) and Taika Waititi’s satire Jojo Rabbit. Elliott Gould will turn up for a showing of The Long Goodbye, and the fest has the first-ever theatrical screenings of Mooch Goes to Hollywood, a weirdo “dog becomes friends with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Vincent Price while trying to make it as an actor” not-classic.

A repertory program includes Jennifer’s Body, The Exorcist director’s cut, and Natural Born Killers, all with directors in the house. There are more esoteric choices, too, like Paganini Horror and The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. Richard Stanley’s new Color Out of Space — which adapts H.P. Lovecraft’s story of the same name with Nicolas Cage in one of the lead roles — also comes to L.A. straight from the Midnight Madness program at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, while Adam Egypt Mortimer’s Daniel Isn’t Real and Judy & Punch by Mirrah Foulkes also migrate to the city from other successful festival runs. Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and if past years are any indication, high-profile events will sell out quickly.




dir. Ann Hui

September 15 at 6:00 PM at the Bootleg Theater

The Projections group specializes in presenting 16mm prints of films that can’t easily be found on home media or streaming (if at all) such as Joseph Pevney’s Shakedown and the magnificent Les jeux sont faits, from 1947. The group’s next presentation is Ann Hui’s rarely-seen autobiographical / generational drama, based on the filmmaker’s own relationship with her mother. Hui is no fool: She cast the luminous Maggie Cheung in the role inspired by herself. The actress plays Hong Kong-born Cheung Hueyin, whose relationship with her Japanese mother is strained by layers of cultural and political friction. We have to wonder if the success of this year’s The Farewell helped influence this programming choice, which is presented in conjunction with Vidiots and LACMA. Plays with Daniel Barnett’s 1978 short The Chinese Typewriter.



dir. Charles Burnett

September 7 at 10:30 AM at the Vista Theatre

We try not to write up the same films more than once in the span of a year, but, yes, we did highlight Killer of Sheep back in January. However, this is a 35mm presentation of Charles Burnett’s incredible network of vignettes set in and around South Central Los Angeles. To repeat: “Superficially, it looks like the photography of Robert Frank, feels like the minimalism of Robert Bresson, and sounds like the pop-soundtracked movies of Martin Scorsese. But Killer of Sheep, shot in the early ‘70s and never commercially distributed until 2007, is wholly unique.”



dir. René Clément

September 7 at 4:00 PM at the Aero Theatre

René Clément’s sensual, ultra-cool film is one of several adaptations of Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Depending upon which version of the story you encountered first, it might rank as the best. Certainly, with Alain Delon in his first major role as murderous social grifter Tom Ripley, there’s every reason to be seduced by this version — even with an ending that is a bit too soft to stand up to Highsmith’s original plotting.


dir. Thomas Ince / Unknown

September 12 at 7:00 PM at the Ray Stark Family Theatre, USC

Two short films produced by Tom Cochrane in 1911 are presented as an intro to discussion of the book The Cochrane Brothers and the Making of Universal Pictures. Cochrane made these movies in Cuba after fleeting the controlling hand of the Thomas Edison Trust, as Edison aggressively tried to stamp out competing production outfits such as Cochrane and Carl Laemmle’s Independent Motion Picture Company, which eventually morphed into the first incarnation of Universal Pictures. Mary Pickford starred in Artful Kate prior to her work with D.W. Griffith and eventual superstardom.


dir. Satoshi Kon

September 13 at 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

Outside of occasional dalliances with Akira and the films of Hayao Miyazaki, most L.A. theaters leave anime to the big chains and Fathom Events. So the Aero’s September program, featuring a sort of get-acquainted greatest hits package of anime highlights, is a welcome sight. Every film in this lineup is excellent (fair warning: we’ll talk about Grave of the Fireflies next week) but this program, with two of the late filmmaker Satoshi Kon’s four features, is really the special one. You won’t see anything else like Perfect Blue, which whips ideas about celebrity and identity into a swirl of narrative hallucinations and graphic slasher violence.


August 30, 2019: See the greatest film trilogy of the ’90s

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BLUE (1993) / WHITE (1994) / RED (1994)

Three Colors Red 600x200

dir. Krzysztof Kieślowski

September 8 at 5:00 PM at the Egyptian Theatre

The stories of the Three Colors trilogy sound unassuming enough. A woman (Juliette Binoche) comes to terms with difficult truths after the deaths of her husband and daughter. A wronged man (Zbigniew Zamachowski) returns home from France to Poland, where he plots revenge against his arsonist ex-wife. A woman (Irene Jacob) hits a dog with her car, which leads to an encounter with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who has dedicated himself to quiet, God-like observation of the lives around him.

And yet it is mystifying that the three final films by Krzysztof Kieślowski, which are among the greatest movies of the 1990s, are not more consistently honored. (In truth, they’re among the best films, period.) Perhaps that’s because Blue, White, and Red, which follow heartbroken characters down intense emotional pathways, do not appear from the outside to be as funny, engaging, and dynamic as they are. This series is bound together, barely, by theme. Each film represents a virtue of the French tri-color: Liberty, equality, and fraternity. Ultimately, the true unifying factor is humanity. The patient and ultimately optimistic Kieślowski allows his characters to expand and grow in ways that are not forced by formula or expectation. All three films are visually striking; each is as rich and surprising as a genuine life, lived fully. (This program plays as part of a Kieślowski retrospective at the Egyptian Theatre.)

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Shin Godzilla 600x200

dir. Hideaki Anno

September 1 at 10:30 AM at the Vista Theatre

Leave it to Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno to dream up one of the most unique kaiju movies ever made. Shin Godzilla takes place primarily in government board rooms as a panicked and paralyzed bureaucracy stalls while trying to deal with the landfall of a massive creature. As the monster evolves into something that looks more or less like the Godzilla we know, the Japanese government struggles to formulate a plan of attack while also coordinating with an increasingly worried international community. Despite being visually matter-of-fact when the creature is not on screen, Shin Godzilla is riveting and blackly funny. It’s the only Godzilla film, other than the original, to feel genuinely new.



dir. Issa López

Now Playing at the Alamo Drafthouse DTLA, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Noho 7 and Playhouse 7

We came to this movie late, but fortunately its Los Angeles run has been extended before it moves to stream on Shudder in September. Issa López’s film follows a group of children who are orphaned by cartel violence in a Mexican city, as they confront human monsters and ghosts which may be more literal than figurative. López tells a very adult story without losing sight of her characters as children, and in doing so puts this film in the company of Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone and Victor Erice’s magnificent The Spirit of the Beehive. Also opens at the Laemmle Music Hall and at Arena Cinelounge on September 6, may be playing at other L.A. theaters as well.



dir. Takashi Miike

August 30 at 11:59 PM at the Vista Theatre

There was a point when prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike’s breakneck filmmaking pace was matched only by his total fearlessness with respect to ideas. That’s how The Happiness of the Katakuris — a remake of Kim Jee-woon’s more conventional thriller The Quiet Family — came into being. This musical con artist comedy features claymation sequences and a plot driven by murder and suicide, all wrapped in a brightly-colored coating. It’s an absurd movie, which often feels like a late-night session of channel-flipping (that metaphor might be totally useless in 2019), but there’s just enough internal logic to string together the increasingly bizarre setpieces.


dir. Stanley Nelson

Opens August 30 at the The Landmark

There are a great many films about him, but no film yet approaches iconoclastic trumpeter Miles Davis in a way that mirrors his work. Where’s the Miles version of Bob Dylan film I’m Not There by Todd Haynes? Regardless, while this straightforward documentary doesn’t break ground from a storytelling perspective, it is an exhaustive chronicle of the musician’s stormy life, his creative spirit, and his inexhaustible allure. Even die-hards will likely be surprised by a few things here.


dir. Dennis Hopper

September 7 at 7:30 PM at the Ahrya Fine Arts

We’ll likely see more Peter Fonda films pop up on the calendar soon in the wake of his August 16 passing. (May we humbly request The Limey, Nadja, and Fonda’s own directorial debut, The Hired Hand?) The obvious place to start when revisiting Fonda’s career, however, is Easy Rider. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen this counterculture road movie, you might think of it primarily as a watershed moment in the business and culture of Hollywood. In that case, now is a good time to be reminded of the film’s vivid vision of America — one which has a renewed relevance. Also plays the Aero on September 29.


August 23, 2019 – A Film With Vision, By the Visually Impaired

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Vision Portraits 1.jpg

dir. Rodney Evans

Opens August 23 at the Laemmle Royal

How can an artist work in a visual medium with impaired eyesight, or without the sense altogether? Director Rodney Evans has severely limited sight — he describes his vision, which deteriorated due to a genetic condition, as like “looking through a telescope” — but didn’t want to give up making movies. Vision Portraits is a personal essay about Evans’ evolution as an artist in concert with his physical condition. It acts as an open question about the nature of creating art in relation to one’s ability to experience it. Accordingly, this film is not just a “talking heads” documentary, but seeks to replicate the experience of going blind. In addition to depicting his own life, Evans speaks to three other visually impaired artists: photographer John Dugdale, dancer Kayla Hamilton, and writer Ryan Knighton.


ASAKO I & II (2018)

dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

August 23, 7:30 PM at the Ahyra Fine Arts

This is a single film, with a title meant to suggest duality. Indeed, actor Masahiro Higashide plays two roles in this enigmatic romance. He’s a charmingly brash bad boy who sweeps shy Asako (Erika Karata) off her feet before vanishing from her life. Higashide reappears as Ryôhei, who seems a gentler, more stable Baku. While director Hamaguchi’s previous film, Happy Hour, was a five-hour epic, Asako I & II is more akin to a pop song, with overtly comedic flourishes and young-love melodrama.


dir. Tommy Lee Wallace

August 23, 11:55 PM at the Nuart Theatre

It’s been a long road to redemption for a film that was once seen as a cast-off experiment in exploitation. Halloween III is a gonzo sci-fi horror oddity: Its hapless characters are trapped in an insane world where no conspiracy theory could ever come close to capturing the vile plot of a rich cabal that attempts to fuse black magic and technology in an attempt at world domination.


dir. Jean-Pierre Melville

August 24, 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

Think of this as a “head and heart” double feature. Le Cercle Rouge is Jean-Pierre Melville’s supremely chilly heist film, with a protracted setup that gives its characters time to develop, with one of the best robbery sequences in cinema. Bob Le Flambeur is more like a fusion of thriller and French New Wave drama, a raconteur’s meditation on aging and compulsive behavior.

Cinecon 55 Classic Film Festival

August 29 – September 2 at the Egyptian Theatre

The Egyptian Theatre is home to the 55th annual Cinecon Classic Film Festival, which features a full program of deep-cuts produced between the 1910s and 1950s. There’s a nitrate print program on Saturday, August 31, featuring the cartoon Cobweb Hotel and B-picture Night of Mystery. The latter follows one adventure of high society sleuth Philo Vance, the star of a dozen novels, who was played on screen by 10 different actors across 14 films between 1929 and 1947. This 1937 selection is a remake of the first Philo Vance film, The Canary Murder Case, with Grant Richards as the gumshoe. There’s no single-film ticketing for this festival, but day passes are available in addition to the full festival pass.
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