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

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Beyond Fest

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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)

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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.)

35mm/35mm/DCP | INFO + TICKETS


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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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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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August 15, 2019 – Once Upon a Time… at the Movies

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It’s a hot late-summer week, but there’s a lot more going on at rep houses than in first-run theaters. The Egyptian has a fairly comprehensive slate of “Once Upon a Time in…” programming that features two of Jet Li’s best films — and also pairs Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico with Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which might just be the best example of film programmer trolling we’ve seen in a while.


Once Upon a Time in China 2

dir. Tsui Hark

August 15, 7:30 PM at the Egyptian Theatre

The Egyptian has a whole “Once Upon a Time” film series to play alongside Quentin Tarantino’s new movie Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and these two films (on 35mm!) are the most essential programming. Writer/director/producer Tsui Hark is a titan in Hong Kong filmmaking, and these movies, which star Jet Li as Chinese folk hero Wong Fei-hung, are among the best martial arts flicks ever made. (They’re the opening salvos in a series that would eventually feature five sequels and one semi-connected spin-off.)

The first is an epic and overtly nationalistic period drama punctuated by brilliant action setpieces, while the sequel features a lot more action. Once Upon a Time in China and Once Upon a Time in China 2 inspired a whole wave of imitators; it’s not a reach to say that their lingering influence led to the wuxia resurgence of the 2000s, with films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero — another burst of action-nationalism starring Jet Li.



dir. Takao Okawara

August 18, 10:30 AM at the Vista Theatre

There are multiple eras of Godzilla movies, and this is the capper of the second, the Heisei era, named for the Emperor who ruled during the series’ production. The Heisei films have more internal continuity than the first run of movies, leaping off from the original 1954 Godzilla and ignoring most of the rest of the movies from the first era. Godzilla vs Destoroyah is one of the better Godzilla films of any era. It opens with the big lizard on the verge of a meltdown as his nuclear heart fails, and pits him against one of the biggest, strangest symbols of man’s hubris in the series.


dir. Lewis Milestone, Carol Reed

August 18, 7:00 PM at the Billy Wilder Theater

Come for Marlon Brando’s kinda-bizarre turn as Fletcher Christian; stay for the lavish production, which became notorious as an expensive flop when costs — and Brando’s ego — ballooned far beyond initial projections.


dir. Paul King

Begins August 19 at the Alamo Drafthouse DTLA

It is impossible to overstate the warmth and charm of the Paddington films. In this sequel (which can easily be enjoyed by those who didn’t see the first movie), Paddington bear is framed for the theft of an antique book. It features winning performances from Brendan Gleeson, as a grimacing convict, and Hugh Grant, who gleefully punctures his own celebrity image, playing a narcissistic and criminal washed-up actor. These screenings are “pick your price” entries in the theater’s Kid’s Camp sidebar, with tickets set between $1 and $5.


dir. Yasujirô Ozu

August 20, 1:00 PM at the Aero Theatre

Never pass up a chance to see Yasujirô Ozu’s masterpiece on 35mm if you can help it. The filmmaker’s patient, unblinking gaze at generational discord is always moving, but never more potent than in this story of aging parents who visit their grown, indifferent children in Tokyo.


dir. John Singleton

August 20, 7:30 PM at the Hammer Museum

This is part of the Hammer Museum’s look back at the films of the late John Singleton, but Rosewood should really be programmed more often, outside the context of a retrospective eulogy. As 1923 begins, the black middle class residents of a small Florida town are attacked by a white lynch mob. Don Cheadle, Ving Rhames (with possibly his best performance), and Jon Voight star in a horrific story of festering racism.

BLADE (1998)

dir. Stephen Norrington

August 22, 9:30 PM at the Alamo Drafthouse DTLA

It’s not a stretch to say that Stephen Norrington created the template for the modern comic book movie, which means he essentially laid the groundwork for the most dominant trend of current cinema. No: We can’t quite believe it, either. That doesn’t change that Blade is an absolute blast — weird and campy and visceral.

August 8, 2019: Apocalypse Now… and Again and Again

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We saw One Child Nation at the True/False documentary film festival in Columbia, MO back in February, and were completely devastated by it. That film opens in theaters this week, and will eventually make its way to Amazon. (We can’t recommend True/False highly enough, by the way. An excellent festival!)

As the headline suggests, we’re also looking at the latest edit of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which plays several different theaters over the next couple weeks. And the Aero’s mini-retrospective of the films of Abbas Kiarostami is under way all this weekend. The giallo programming at USC continues in the next couple weeks, too — we’ll probably be returning to that next week, as well, as one of our favorite nasty gialli is coming up in that series.


One Child Nation (2019) Documentary CR: Amazon Studios

dir. Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang

Opens on August 9 at the Laemmle Royal

Documentarians Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang journey across China to report the story of the country’s one-child policy, which was in effect from 1979 to 2015. Their findings draw a harrowing portrait of infanticide — which, in the context of the film, reads like a slow, controlled genocide — with participants from many strata of Chinese life. Wang and Zhang’s filmmaking, which features interviews with people in Wang’s own family and home village, tying the film to her personal experience, is patient and observant, a contrast to the absolutely horrifying stories recounted by their subjects. It’s easy to make One Child Nation sound as if it revels in misery, but this is a compassionate film about processing grief and reckoning with a deeply institutionalized misogyny.



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dir. Abbas Kiarostami

August 10, 7:30 PM at the Aero Theatre

The re-opened Aero has an excellent program of films by the late Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami running over four nights. If you only have time for one evening out, however, make it the August 10 presentation of Close-Up, in which the director recounts the true story of a man who impersonated a filmmaker and then conned a family into thinking they would be featured in his next movie. Kiarostami cast his movie with the real people involved in the story. Close-Up understands that truth and fiction can be indivisible, and approaches the story from a deeply empathetic perspective.



dir. Sergio Martino

April 13, 6:00 PM / 8:00 PM at the The Ray Stark Family Theatre, USC

USC, in collaboration with Arrow Video, has been playing a handful of 4K remasters of giallo standouts over the past month. Films by Dario Argento and Mario Bava get a lot of attention, but audiences new to the grimy pleasures of the genre should also pay attention to filmmaker Sergio Martino, whose movies often look more like conventional thrillers until they erupt in bursts of strange and grotesque violence. Martino’s Torso, on this bill, is pretty far on the sleazy end of the giallo spectrum, and as such it also stands as more of a prototype slasher movie than most.
Digital | INFO (The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail) | TICKETS (Torso)


dir. Francis Ford Coppola

August 15, 7:00 PM at the TCL Chinese / AMC Universal CityWalk / AMC Burbank 16

Yes, it’s a new edit of Francis Ford Coppola’s hallucinogenic war film. This time, it’s cut to be more expansive than the original release version and shorter than the hour-longer Apocalypse Now Redux, from 2001. Coppola’s continued tinkering with his movie makes it a living document; the new 4K master is a new opportunity to revel in Vittorio Storaro’s stupendous cinematography. After these first shows on the 15th, Final Cut will continue to play around town in theaters such as the Pacific Theatres at The Grove and multiple Arclight locations.

JURASSIC PARK (with live score) (1993)

dir. Steven Spielberg

August 16 + 17, 8:00 PM at the Hollywood Bowl

When you want the score to be as big as the dinosaurs, head over to the Hollywood Bowl for either of these L.A. Philharmonic performances of the John Williams score, performed live to picture. (Or go to both! It’s your money.) One thing, though: If there’s no rendition of the main theme on a recorder, the entire audience should storm right out of the amphitheater.
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dir. Esfir Shub / Carl Th. Dreyer

August 16, 8:00 PM at the Echo Park Film Center

Two very different films are on this bill: Komsomol, from the first days of sound filmmaking in the Soviet Union, explores the relationship between electricity and the workers building a new hydro-electric dam that will bring power to the people. The film is directed by Esfir Shub, one of the few women working in the early days of Soviet film. Two People, meanwhile, is a one-room drama in which a doctor accused of plagiarism seeks refuge at home — and fails to find it.
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dir. Roberta Findlay

August 13, 9:00 PM at the Alamo Drafthouse

Roberta Findlay’s apartment-block thriller is the very picture of urban exploitation. When the residents of a tenement building try to push out a drug-dealing gang that has occupied the basement, they face an excessively violent retaliation… and then the conflict escalates. Hosted by House of Psychotic Women author Kier-La Janisse.