Olivier Assayas on Working With Kristen Stewart and Revisiting His Past With ‘Clouds and Sils Maria’

Olivier Assayas, Kristen Stewart, Juliette Binoche
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Re-run in celebration of FIAF’s “Theater & Cinema” series. Clouds of Sils Maria will screen this afternoon and this evening. Get your tickets here.

With his last film, Something in the Air, filmmaker Olivier Assayas revisited the sentiment of his profound and poetic early films to give an autobiographical look at an artist’s coming of age. With his latest cinematic endeavor, Clouds of Sils Maria, the acclaimed French director again reaches into the past—but this time through the eyes of the performer, re-teaming with one of his first collaborators, actress Juliette Binoche. Exactly 30 years ago, Assayas received his first screenwriting credit on André Téchiné’s César Award-winning Rendez-vous, the film which also catapulted Juliette Binoche to international stardom. Whereas that film told the story of an ingenue on the precipice of her career, Clouds of Sils Maria brings us into the world of seasoned, internationally celebrated actress, Maria Enders, at the peak of her career.

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Written for and around Binoche, the film begins when Enders is invited to perform in the revival of the play that made her a star twenty years prior. Having originally played the role of Sigrid (an enticing young woman who drives her boss, Helena, to kill herself), now in her matured age Enders must take on the role of Helena, opposite an infamous tabloid-dwelling Hollywood starlet (Chloë Grace Moretz). To prepare for the role, Enders escapes to Sils Maria, an isolated and serene location in the French Alps. To help her rehearse, she brings along her devoted assistant, Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart in the most wonderfully nuanced and natural performance of her career—and one which made her the first American woman to win France’s César Award. With Assayas’ keen sensitivity to the human condition and the everyday suffering of artistic expression, Clouds of Sils Maria unfolds as an intimate and cerebral chamber drama that hits at the nexus of between performance, celebrity, and empathy. 

Earlier this year during the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Assayas to discuss how Binoche lured him into making this film, the weird energy of Kristen Stewart, and how woman are far more interesting subjects than men.

Looking back at Something in the Air, this film feels like a strong departure from that and in a very different register—was that a conscious decision for you?

Yeah, I mean this film kind of happened to me, and it came to me via Juliette Binoche. She’s the one who said to me, “Why don’t we make a film together?” It was not planned; there was no strategy there.

Is that how you generally approach most of your films?

Yes, although some are more concrete. When I’m making a movie like Carlos, I make it because it comes to me in a weird way, and then it grows and grows. I try to get rid of it, but it doesn’t go away, so I end up having to do it. Something in the Air was more controlled, and it was something I knew I wanted to make and knew it was the right time to make it. This movie, in a certain way it echoes movies I’ve done, like Irma Vep, which also dealt with an actress playing her own part. It’s also an extremely different film, but ultimately has something to do with a part of my life, which is this relationship with Juliette Binoche.

We started together and met via cinema because we were both involved in this movie, Rendez-vous, thirty years ago. That was her first big part as an actress and basically put her on the map and it was my first screenwriting credit, which really helped my career. So when Juliette calls me and says we should make a movie together, it’s something that has an instant echo and means something. I know why she’s calling me and saying that, and I know she has a point even if I don’t know what that point is yet at the time.

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What is it about Juliette as an actor and a woman that continues to fascinate you?

It’s extremely difficult to answer that question and be completely honest about it. Juliette has done a million things and has such a big career, and my initial doubts in doing this film were about what I can do with her that she has not done a million times. I wanted to make something that wouldn’t feel like we were going over the same ground and doing the same thing over and over again, so it had to be something that would make the film interesting to me and to her. It was not a given, like, oh wow we’re going to make a film together, it was more cautious.

I know she’d made films with Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Bruno Dumont, and she ‘s done all those movies in the past with Leos Carax—so where do I fit in? What can I bring her that is very specifically what she has not already done. The reason I called her back three days later and said, yeah, maybe let’s try, is because I felt that she had never really played herself. So why not turn the problem around and instead of thinking of what kind of part I could write for Juliette, why not try to imagine what kind of movie I could build around her, using whatever I know of her as the inspiration for the film.

So is this a story you would not have told if not for her involvement?

No, it’s a movie that totally has its roots in what I know of Juliette, what I don’t know of her, and what I fantasize about her. It’s also the echo of our shared past. In a sense that Rendez-vous was a movie about how a very young girl becomes an actress, it ends in more of less the same place where Sils Maria ended. I haven’t seen the movie more or less since it was made, so I’m not sure I remember everything precisely, but it’s kind of a ghost story and deals with life, art, and creation. So this movie is totally fueled by our shared memories and the personality of Juliette, with the fact that she has a career in French and English.

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I’ve always thought of Juliette as a woman who transcends age. Of course she has to deal with it internally, but in her roles and performances, she simply continues to evolve.

Exactly, yes. Let’s say that’s part of the subject of the film, it’s how some actresses have the capacity to transcend aging but still have to deal with it in one way or another. I suppose I would have made a similar movie around Isabelle Huppert. 

After making your last two films with male protagonists, was it refreshing to go back and tell a woman’s story? Do you find you connect to women more as an artist?

Yes, yes. I missed it. It inspires me. Although in different ways, most of my movies were really centered on woman. It’s only in the last stage of my career that I’ve been getting somewhat interested in making boys films. It’s mostly because I had never made them so all of a sudden there was something new about it for me, but my inspiration has mostly been about women. It’s always very hard to explain or understand, but it has to do with that fact that woman are more interesting.

Historically, they are in a more interesting position. The position of women in modern society is changing, and it’s transforming society. Contemporary woman have to deal with reinventing their position in society, regarding their work, family, and their love life. It’s the most important change in modern society, so it’s exciting because there are more interesting dynamics than the identity of men who feel threatened, which basically creates the worst and most stupid aspects of modern society.

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How did Kristen Stewart come into the picture? Considering you wrote the film around Juliette, did you initially have anyone in mind to play opposite her?

Not really. I didn’t write with someone specific in mind. I just know that the moment I sat down and started imagining who could be  Valentin, the name of Kristen instantly jumped from the page.

Was there a particular role of hers that caught your attention?

I liked her in every movie I’ve seen of her. Even in movie like The Runaways, I thought she was so amazing as Joan Jett. I was not so fond of the film, I think it could have a million times better, but the way she grasped that character and embodied it, it was believable. She had that punk rock energy, and few actresses can do that. I met her a couple of times in real life, thanks to my producer because he had produced On the Road and they became friends. That film was in festivals when Something in the Air was traveling around, so we bumped into each other a few times. I really liked her, and I liked her presence. She has a weird presence, but she has a kind of intensity, which is what translates best on screen.

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She and Juliette have a simpatico relationship and fantastic energy between them. Was that something that grew instantly and organically or did you work with them to build that dynamic?

It just happened. I don’t work with actors, I film them, but I don’t work with them in the sense that I don’t rehearse. I don’t do reading and I don’t give them comments on the psychology of the character or backstories. I’m just not interested in that, it bores me to death. I believe in spontaneity and recording in the documentary way of what happens when the actors say the lines for the first time. So you can say I film rehearsals, but another way of putting it is, that what you see in the film happens to be rehearsals, it’s like the first time they say those words, and it’s magical.

That’s where I connected the most with Kristen. I’m less organically attached to Juliette’s process. She needs to work and she needs rehearsal, but I did not give her rehearsal. She needs a coach, but I did not give her a coach. She kind of resents that still, but it’s not my culture and I don’t like it. If they want to rehearse in front of the mirror in the bathroom, I don’t have a problem with it, I just don’t want to know about it. I just want to know that whenever they are on set things will come out with a certain degree of spontaneity. So Kristen is the opposite of Juliette in that way—she learns her lines in the morning and thinks she’s done after we’ve filmed one or two takes.

That’s also evident in their characters and performances, as Juliette/Maria is so heightened and theatrical, whereas Kristen/Valentine provides a more mellow, naturalistic foil.

Exactly, and ultimately it’s not really something you can predict. You don’t know what is going to happen between two actresses in a scene. They could have disliked each other because they’d never met, so anything could have happened. Here we were extremely lucky that there was this instant bond between them and an instant connection.

Thinking of the discussions in the film, do find that theater imitates life more than life imitates theater?

Let’s suppose art is what happens at a later stage and is what happens when a playwright is writing. In the middle, what is happening is a human being trying to understand the emotions of another human being. We not so much into art as within struggling to be able to share the suffering and emotion of the fellow human being. It’s very basic and the beauty of what acting is about. Actors, they’re simultaneously part of the artistic process, they’re part of the creation, and what they bring is some human reality. They can’t fake it, they have to find one way or another to go beyond the issue of art and make it about understanding.

I could sense some strong connections between this film and R.W. Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Did that serve as a reference for you?

Yes, very early on. It was actually the first idea I had. I thought they would be rehearsing Petra von Kant, but then I realized that it didn’t exactly fit in, it’s the wrong pacing. When you’re dealing with a play there are a lot of words involved, so Petra was not the same rhythm and it’s much longer scenes than whatever I could afford if I wanted to make this movie interesting. So I had to make an extremely condensed version of some key moments from Petra von Kant.

 

Clouds of Sils Maria begins its theatrical run this weekend at IFC Center.

The Best Movies to Watch Without Leaving Bed: The Female Filmmakers You Need to Know

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Every Wednesday I find myself whispering that old Beckett adage into the morning air: I can’t go on / I’ll go on. As I settle into the week’s work, and no matter how thrilling the day’s prospects, it’s that beginning of the week existential stomach ache that always seemed to start gnawing away at my insides. But breathe, just breathe, the hours will pass themselves and soon it will all be easier and the weekend will come again—one that’s rife with fantastic films playing in theaters all around the city. But in the meantime, look forward to the evening, when a wealth of wonderful films will be at your fingertips.

With so many great movies streaming online, what better way to spend a cold March night than curled up beneath the sheets with some of the best rare and incredible cinema from the comfort of home? But with myriad options streaming, I understand the decision of what to screen in your private bedroom viewing can prove a challenge. So to make your troubles easier, this week we’ve highlighted some of our favorite films from our favorite female filmmakers, all available to watch now—from incredible new talent to some of the most internationally acclaimed directors. Peruse our list, curl up under the covers, and enjoy.

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IT FELT LIKE LOVE, Eliza Hittman

Set amongst languid summer days filled with hazy teenage ennui, Eliza Hittman’s debut feature It Felt Like Love focuses on Lila, a lonely and curious 14-year-old living in Brooklyn with her father. Hittman’s film exists in the small but poignant moments of life, allowing us to inhabit the harrowing pains of growing up and the struggle for identity—crafting a refreshingly raw and potent portrait of youth.

Available to Watch on Netflix

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EVERYONE ELSE, Maren Ada

Ade’s emotionally cutting 2009 film about a young couple whose core is shaken when spending time with another couple begins to reveal the true nature of their dynamic.

Available to Watch on Hulu +

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GOODBYE FIRST LOVE, Mia Hansen-Løve

Mia Hansen-Love’s harrowing, beautiful, and realistic portrayal of life-altering heartbreak and how that pain becomes an ache that stays inside you forever and prevents you from escaping that insular hurt and isolates you from connecting with others—but shows you how maybe that immense love can transpose itself into creativity and something can be born from that as we allow ourselves to be taken by life’s current, even if we can’t ever fully let go.

Available to Watch on Netflix

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BASTARDS, Claire Denis

Starring Vincent Lindon as Marco, the Parisian noir thriller plays out in the aftermath of his brother-in-law’s suicide when he seeks to rescue is estranged sister and young niece (played by Lola Créton).What follows is a sinister decent into the bleeding heart of darkness that’s tight enough to leave you gasping for air but never fully exposes itself, leaving corners cloaked in shadows with an enigmatic wink.

Available to Watch on iTunes

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NEWS FROM HOME, Chantal Akerman

“Letters from Chantal Akerman’s mother are read over a series of elegantly composed shots of 1976 New York, where our (unseen) filmmaker and protagonist has relocated. Akerman’s unforgettable time capsule of the city is also a gorgeous meditation on urban alienation and personal and familial disconnection.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +

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LA CIENEGA, Lucrecia Martel

“With a radical and disturbing take on narrative, beautiful cinematography, and a highly sophisticated use of on- and offscreen sound, Martel turns her tale of a dissolute bourgeois extended family, whiling away the hours of one sweaty, sticky summer, into a cinematic marvel. This visceral take on class, nature, sexuality, and the ways that political turmoil and social stagnation can manifest in human relationships is a drama of extraordinary tactility, and one of the great contemporary film debuts.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +

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DAISIES, Vera Chytilová

“Maybe the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Věra Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing—food, clothes, men, war—is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +

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LES RENDEZ-VOUS D’ANNA, Chantal Akerman

“In one of Akerman’s most penetrating character studies, Anna, an accomplished filmmaker (played by Aurore Clément), makes her way through a series of European cities to promote her latest movie. Via a succession of eerie, exquisitely shot, brief encounters—with men and women, family and strangers—we come to see her emotional and physical detachment from the world.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +

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STORIES WE TELL, Sarah Polley

As a personal essay about the hidden past of her family, the feature beautifully weaves together an incredibly well-constructed experiment in storytelling. In the film, there’s a line that reads: “When you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all but only a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story when you’re telling it to yourself or anyone else.” And that sentiment plays out as the through-line for the feature, as Polley’s family and those close to it reveal familial secrets, shared truths, and show us the ways in which we create the own narrative of our lives.

Stories We Tell also confronts the challenges of love—be it romantic or maternal—while exposing the myriad ways our own memory can deceive us. There’s a delicacy and heartwarming touch in Polley’s style of filmmaking that shines through in all of her work but is never more present here. It’s absolutely enthralling and fascinating to watch but heartbreaking in its honesty—always leaving you hungry to discover more. The film works as a eulogy as much as it does a perfect vehicle for self-discovery, yet feels universal in its open-ended questions and speaks directly to your soul in way that’s both rare and tender.

Available to Watch on Netflix 

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A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, ANA LILY AMIRPOUR

As “cinema’s first Iranian vampire western,” Girl brings us into a black-and-white world of undead desire, all set in a ghost town know as Bad City, where a lonely vampire skateboards through its dimly lit streets and the sordid souls that inhabit it. Rife with prostitutes, pimps, and junkies lurking around every corner, we follow the “The Girl” as she occupies her bloodsucking isolated waking hours in darkness. Amalgamating everything from the Iranian New Wave and David Lynch-brand surrealism to graphic novels and playful nods to Sergio Leone, Amirpour has crafted a film that, while being deeply indebted to its influences, emerges as something wholly its own. With music that ranges from chilly techno to Morricone motifs, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night lures you into its strange and seductive world, putting a haunting new spin on the “pop fairytale.”

Available to Watch on iTunes 

 

Get Excited for ‘Magic Mike XXL’ With 16 Swoon-Worthy Movie Moments From Channing Tatum

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Come July, it’s not only the heat that’s going to make you work up a sweat, as Magic Mike XXL finally lap dances its way into the world. As the follow up to 2012’s Magic Mike, we’re all going to be swooning as Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello hit the stage for another round of stripteasing delight. Bowing out from the directing duties, this time around Steven Soderbergh plays cinematographer, editor, and producer to the film, with Gregory Jacobs in the hot seat as director and Tatum as cowriter.

Adding Jada Pinkett Smith, Amber Heard, Michael Strahan and Elizabeth Banks to the cast, this time the movie won’t only be confined to one steamy location, as Jacob tells People that, “It’s a road-trip picture. Mike and the guys get back together, and adventure ensues…They look incredible…Their shirts are off an appropriate amount, let’s put it that way! I don’t think anyone’s going to be disappointed.” Bless.

And today you can see a sexy new trailer for Magic Mike XXLSo to celebrate, and because let’s be honest, any day is a good day to celebrate Channing Tatum, enjoy a look back on some of the multi-talented hunk-actor-producer-writer’s finest moments—from the magic that is 21 and 22 Jump Street to his performances in such dramas as Side Effects and Foxcatcher. Check out the trailer below.

 

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SIDE EFFECTS, Steven Soderbergh

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22 JUMP STREET, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

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FOXCATCHER, Bennet Miller

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MAGIC MIKE, Steven Soderbergh

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21 JUMP STREET, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

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HAYWIRE, Steven Soderbergh

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PUBLIC ENEMIES, Michael Mann

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A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, Dito Montiel

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STEP UP, Ann Fletcher

Premiere: Watch The Fontaines’ New Video for ‘Charlotte Fontaine’

Music
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Brother-sister duo The Fontaines know they can’t be pigeonholed. Merging the eclectic sounds of dream pop band Beach House and American jazz legend Miles Davis, two of their most prominent inspirations, nineteen-year-old Charlotte and twenty-four-year-old Hank are calling their sound “New-Wop.” While it certainly falls into a category of retro pop, their creations unswervingly escape any poignant comparisons.

Premiering today on BlackBook, the duo’s video for “Charlotte Fontaine” continues the unavoidable familial feel to the band and their music, introducing a nearly comical stage mom vs. pageant daughter storyline to accompany the swoon-worthy track and its quirky finish. “This video was inspired by hours spent watching ‘Heathers’ and ‘Fast Times At Ridgemont High’,” says Hank. “I wanting to do something a little bit in that vein.”

Check out the video below, and learn more about The Fontaines here.

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15 Films to See This Week: Cronenberg, Renoir, Elaine May + More

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From David Cronenberg at BAM and Jean Renoir at FIAF to Bonello at Film Society and Elaine May at MoMa, check out the 15 films you should be seeing in New York.

***MONDAY, MAY 4***

MIKEY AND NICKY, Elaine May
MoMA

This is a weeklong run of MoMA’s recently struck 35mm print of Mikey and Nicky, the third of Elaine May’s brilliant contributions to 1970s American cinema, after A New Leafand The Heartbreak Kid. (Ishtar, from 1987, also has its fierce partisans.) In this noir chamber piece, set over a long, tense night in some of the seedier redoubts of Philadelphia, a jittery John Cassavetes becomes convinced that a local mobster has put a price on his head. As he looks to childhood friend and small-time crook Peter Falk for salvation, old wounds and new treacheries arise.

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BEGGARS OF LIFE, William Wellman
Film Forum

On the run after killing a molesting stepfather, dressed-as-a-boy Louise Brooks is befriended by Richard Arlen and falls in with Wallace Beery’s band of hoboes. Long-thought-lost silent classic, with Brooks’ best pre-German work and dazzling location work on speeding trains. William Wellman, Jr., author of a new memoir, Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel (published by Pantheon), will introduce the screening. Copies of Mr. Wellman’s book will be available for sale at our concession, with book signing to follow the screening.

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GRAVITY + OTHER GRAVITY
BAM

Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón

Dr. Ryan Stone (Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (Clooney) in command. But on a seemingly routine mission, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalski completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space. “Shows us the glory of cinema’s future” (Time).

Other Gravity – Trisha Baga

Multimedia artist Trisha Baga, whose work explores “the acts of looking and recognizing, and the gap in between,” created this 3D projection for her 2013 mixed-media installation, Gravity, named after Cuarón’s film.

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HOUSE OF PLEASURES, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“I could sleep for a thousand years,” drawls a 19th-century prostitute—paraphrasing Lou Reed—at the start of Bonello’s hushed, opium-soaked fever dream of life in a Parisian brothel at the turn of the century. House of Pleasures is, among other things, Bonello’s most gorgeous and complete application of musical techniques to film grammar, his most rigorous attempt to sculpt cinematic space, his most probing reflection on the origins of capitalist society, and his most sophisticated study of the movement of bodies under immense constraint. A shocking mutilation, a funeral staged to The Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” a progression of ritualized, drugged assignations and encounters: Bonello captures it all with a mixture of casual detachment and needlepoint precision.

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PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Bertrand Bonello stars as “Bertrand,” a filmmaker approaching his next project with a peculiar obsession—monstrosity. Convinced it should be the central theme of his film, he fixates on the notion of monstrous imagery, visiting museums and even hiring a mysterious art historian (played simultaneously by Jeanne Balibar and Géraldine Pailhas) to help him find the painting that best embodies the idea (considering works by Francis Bacon, Caravaggio, and others). But to his shock, the mania consuming his mind begins to manifest itself in his body as a monstrous red stain takes shape on his back. A disquieting yet fascinating (and funny!) mixture of body horror and character study, co-starring Barbet Schroeder as a physician and Joana Preiss as Bertrand’s wife, Barbe.

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***TUESDAY, MAY 5***

THE RULES OF THE GAME, Jean Renoir
FIAF

Set in a country manor, this classic farce follows members of high society—smartly dressed in Chanel— as they sit down to extravagant dinners, hunt rabbits, get ready for a costume ball, and sneak in and out of each other’s bedrooms. Made just before the outbreak of the second World War, Renoir’s labyrinthine film is a powerful and prescient satire of a philandering ruling class. 

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IRIS and LOSING THE THREAD
Film Forum

Iris – Albert Maysles

She has a shock of white hair, signature thick, round black glasses – and is adorned by a vast number of fabulous bracelets and necklaces. You’ve probably seen Iris Apfel at galleries, openings, flea markets, and in the pages of The New York Times’s Styles section. “My mother worshipped at the altar of the accessory,” confides the 93-year-old fashion icon to 87-year-old legendary documentarian Albert Maysles, long famous (with his brother David) forSALESMAN, GIMME SHELTER, and GREY GARDENS. Iris is a master of bravura style: mixing valuable antiques, colorful plastic doodads, Native American handicrafts, and high-end costume pieces, all to wonderful effect. The furthest thing from an empty-headed fashionista, she is witty and disarming, unpretentious, and full of the kind of wisdom you wish your grandmother had imparted.

Losing the Thread – Vivian Ostrovsky

Complemented by Vivian Ostrovsky’s short paean to fashion, LOSING THE THREAD. In the spirit of Iris Apfel, it’s a funny and stylish compendium that conflates Coco Chanel, Charles Bukowski, Fellini’s 8½, Soviet fabrics from the 1920s, Man Ray’s art, and much else.

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***WEDNESDAY, MAY 6***

NAKED LUNCH, David Cronenberg
BAM

Movies on the Radio and Spinning on Air host David Garland comes to BAM to discuss the work of three-time Academy Award-winning film composer Howard Shore, who wrote the music for this brilliant mind-melter. A writer and cockroach exterminator (Weller) gets hooked on his own insecticide, accidentally kills his wife, and winds up in the frighteningly surreal Interzone, where typewriters transform into giant talking bugs and shadowy agents peddle a drug called The Black Meat. William S. Burroughs’ bizarro Beat novel finds its perfect interpreter in David Cronenberg, who brings it to the screen with all its weirdness and melancholy fully intact.

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BUSINESS AND PLEASURE, David Butler
MoMA

1932. USA. Directed by David Butler. With Will Rogers, Jetta Goudal, Joel McCrea. Business and Pleasure is one in a series of “Innocents Abroad” comedies from Fox Film Corp. featuring the Oklahoma sage Will Rogers as a no-nonsense Midwesterner forced to contend with the cultural eccentricities of foreign lands. This time, Rogers is an aw-shucks manufacturer of razor blades whose family vacation in Arabia provides cover for his attempt to purchase the secret of “Damascus steel” from Bedouin chief Boris Karloff. McCrea is a stuffy New York playwright who warms to the blue eyes of Rogers’s corn-fed daughter (Peggy Ross), while silent star Jetta Goudal, in her final film, employs her own heavily lidded orbs to vamp Rogers on behalf of his business rivals. Rare 16mm print. 78 min.

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THE SPEECH OF PRIME MINISTER TANAKA and HOME TOWN
MoMA

The Speech of Prime Minister Tanka – Kenji Mizoguchi

1928. Japan. “The only surviving film produced by Showa Kinema, the first company of pioneering sound-film producer Yoshizo Minagawa, records a speech by conservative Prime Minister Giichi Tanaka, who served from from 1927 to 1929, when he resigned after a dispute with the Emperor. The film features Tanaka standing in front of black drapes, talking directly into the camera as he presents his position on issues ranging from the economy to diplomacy and foreign policy. The identity of the cameraman is unknown, as is the exact date of shooting, but the film passed state censorship on February 6th, 1928, shortly before elections for the House of Representatives, the lower house of Japan’s Diet. As a historical record, the film is important since it not only constitutes Japan’s earliest surviving sound film, but also provides a record of concerns central to Japanese politics in the late 1920s.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 6 min.

Home Town – Kenji Mizoguchi

1930. Japan. Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. With Yoshie Fujiwara, Shizue Natsukawa, Isamu Kosugi, Takako Irie. “Home Town was the first sound film both of its director, Kenji Mizoguchi, and of his studio, Nikkatsu, who co-produced it with sound-film pioneer Yoshizo Minagawa’s second company, Mina Talkie. Yoshie Fujiwara, a European-trained tenor who was the leading Japanese opera singer of the time, played the lead role. A part-talkie, it combines the mobile camerawork of the scenes shot silent with a self-conscious exploration of the rich potential of the new medium, especially in the use of the title song as performed by Fujiwara. The star’s fame, coupled with the novelty of sound, helped to win a limited degree of commercial success and some favourable reviews for this entertaining melodrama. As Mark LeFanu writes, ‘the soundtrack brings Tokyo to life. There is a fine sense of documentary immediacy…. As in many films on the cusp of the silent era, sound is used here with an experimental confidence—a verve, a bravura—that was subsequently lost as sound movies “naturalised” themselves by concentrating merely on registering dialogue clearly.'” In Japanese; English subtitles. 86 min.

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Our Neighbour, Miss Yae – Yasujiro Shimazu
MoMA

1934. Japan. Directed by Yasujiro Shimazu. With Yukichi Iwata, Choko Iida, Yumeko Aizome, Yoshiko Okada, Den Obinata. “Our Neighbour, Miss Yae is considered the representative work of director Yasujrio Shimazu, and one of the major achievements of the 1930s shomin-geki (the drama of the urban lower middle class). Shimazu’s penchant for understated melodrama and his blending of humour and pathos are perfectly expressed in this delicate study of family life and romance. Both in tone and style (an often static camera; a focus on the resonances of interior spaces), comparisons with Ozu are almost inevitable, but Shimazu’s looser, somewhat less formal style has its own distinctive pleasures. Typical of its genre, the film creates characters who are both meticulously detailed individuals and exemplary of the 1930s Japanese family as a whole, allowing viewers to identify closely with their experiences and feelings. The result is a moving, funny and subtle study of prewar Japanese domestic life.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 76 min.

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***THURSDAY, MAY 7***

First Steps Ashore – Yasujiro Shimazu
MoMA

1932. Japan. Directed by Yasujiro Shimazu. With Yaeko Mizutani, Joji Oka, Ureo Egawa, Choko Iida. “Though little known in the West, Yasujiro Shimazu was a key figure in prewar Japanese cinema, one of the pioneers of the gendai-geki (film of contemporary life), and, as patron of such younger directors as Heinosuke Gosho, Yuzo Kawashima, Keisuke Kinoshita, Senkichi Taniguchi, Shiro Toyoda, and Kozaburo Yoshimura, who served as his assistants at Shochiku, a crucial influence on postwar Japanese film. First Steps Ashore, the story of a sailor who begins a love affair with a woman he saves from suicide, was Shochiku’s second sound film and Shimazu’s first. It is a reworking of Josef von Sternberg’s silent classic The Docks of New York(1928) transplanted to the waterfront of Japan’s cosmopolitan port city, Yokohama. Shimazu’s film borrows some of Sternberg’s lustrous lighting techniques as well as plot elements, but also draws on the influence of Japaneseshinpa (“new school”) theatre. Star Yaeko Mizutani was one of the biggest names both in shinpa and in early Japanese sound film, and her sensual, sultry performance is among the film’s greatest assets.” In Japanese; English subtitles. 88 min.

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THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, Nicolas Roeg
BAM

Soundcheck host John Schaefer joins philosopher Simon Critchley (author of the recently published book Bowie) for a conversation about the film that made David Bowie a screen icon. A human-like alien (played by alien-like human Bowie) crash lands on Earth to retrieve water for his planet, but instead discovers pain, loneliness, and the sick soul of American society. Nicolas Roeg’s science-fiction mind-bender is a provocative parable about diseased capitalism in a television-obsessed culture told in a swirl of hallucinatory imagery.

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19 Films to See In New York This Weekend: Godard, Kubrick, Herzog, Elaine May + More

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Sundays may be a “wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday” or a day of “forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure,” but a weekend is still a weekend. We wait for the pleasure of a Friday night, knowing the burdens of the work week have a brief respite, and what better way to indulge seeing some great films—be it new to you treasures or your favorite classics. And this weekend from BAM and MoMA to The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Nitehawk Cinema there are more than enough wonderful films showing for you to happily disappear into. Here are 19 films that have us running straight to the theater.

***FRIDAY, MAY 1***

STEP UP 3D, Jon M. Chu
BAM

This visually dazzling hip-hop musical gives filmed dance an innovative 3D update. The wisp of a plot—in which a ragtag group of young New York City hoofers compete to win an epic dance battle—is just a pretext for the nonstop stream of exhilarating dance sequences, in which the novel use of three dimension gives the breathtaking displays of popping, locking, and spinning a visceral jolt.

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JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER + JOUE
BAM

JON M. Chu’s Bieber is bigger than life in this slick monument to a pop culture sensation. Part behind-the-scenes documentary, part Madison Square Garden concert spectacular, it’s all engagingly engineered to drive legions of tweeny bopper fans to hysterics. For non-Beliebers, it’s a frighteningly effective glimpse of the teen-idol-generating hype machine.

This stereoscopic cinematic collage directed by Nadia Ranocchi and David Zamagni collects fragments of day-to-day routines to explore the ways in which energy is harnessed and expended.

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THE SHINING, Stanley Kubrick
IFC Center

Kubrick meets Stephen King: in the deserted off-season at a massive, isolated resort hotel, new caretaker Jack Nicholson descends into madness, with wife Shelley Duvall and their son the only witnesses. “Critic’s pick! Gloriously diabolical.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times

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THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Joel and Ethan Coen
Nitehawk Cinema

It may be just, like, our opinion man but the Coen Brother’s The Big Lebowski details cinema’s most loveable loser, Jeffrey Lebowski. Confused with the other Jeffrey Lebowski (the millionaire), his rug gets peed on and that sets off an adventurous chain of events with nihilists, porn producers, writers in iron lungs, and performance artists throughout Los Angeles. But really, man, ‘The Dude’ and his Vietnam-reminiscing partner Walter would much rather be bowling. It’s hard not to just quote the whole movie right here because, let’s face it, we’ve watched it a dozen times and its brilliance only gets better with age. Coitus.

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HE MARRIED HIS WIFE, Roy Del Ruth
MoMA

1940. USA. Directed by Roy Del Ruth. Screenplay by Sam Hellman, Darrell Ware, Lynn Starling, John O’Hara, from a story by Erna Lazarus and Scott Darling. With Joel McCrea, Nancy Kelly, Roland Young, Mary Boland, Lyle Talbot. Roy Del Ruth’s minor contribution to the “comedy of remarriage” cycle casts McCrea as an impecunious horse fancier who finds that his alimony payments to his ex-wife (Nancy Kelly) are interfering with his equine interests—so he tries to marry her off to his boring best friend (Lyle Talbot). Complications ensue at a weekend house party hosted by Mary Boland and populated by supporting stalwarts Roland Young, Cesar Romero, and Elisha Cook, Jr. 83 min.

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SUPER 8½, Bruce LaBruce
MoMA

1994. Canada. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. With LaBruce, Stacy Friedrich, Mikey Mike, Chris Teen, Vaginal Creme Davis, Richard Kern. LaBruce’s quasi-autobiographical sophomore effort tells the story of “Bruce,” a porn auteur with avant-garde ambitions. Though he’d made a name for himself with movies like Pay Him as He Lays and My Hustler, Myself, Bruce finds his star fading and his career on the wane; like Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2, he’s a frustrated director, and like Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8, his passions are the stuff of his undoing. Offering Bruce his last chance at fame is Googie, an up-and-coming art-film darling with designs to exploit his ailing reputation as a way to cement her own. LaBruce delivers this decline-and-fall saga with insouciant wit, all while aggressively lifting elements from film history (“There’s no copyright on a good line,” Bruce muses). Acutely self-aware and replete with hardcore action, this may be the most meta-cinematic blue movie ever made. 100 min.

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***SATURDAY, MAY 2***

INGRID CAVEN: MUSIC AND VOICE, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Part of the cinematic troupe of R.W. Fassbinder (to whom she was briefly married) and the ostensible subject of Jean-Jacques Schuhl’s fictionalized biography Ingrid Caven (winner of the Prix Goncourt), Ingrid Caven is perhaps best known an extraordinary musical performer, a kind of cabaret singer pushing the genre into the 21st century. Filmmaker Bertrand Bonello (House of Pleasures) attended one of her performances at the Cité de la Musique; he was so affected by it that he knew he just had to film her. Caven offers a rich repertoire of songs in French, German and occasionally English; at times, she dispense with words and simply plays with sounds. Her pieces range from traditional ballads to abstract performance pieces. Really a tribute from one artist to another, this is a unique opportunity to experience Ingrid Caven’s special magic.

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THE PORNOGRAPHER, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Bonello emerged as a major filmmaker with this ambitious, tragic meditation on what would become two of his recurring obsessions: the use of sex as economic capital, and the post-’68 state of political radicalism in France. Jean-Pierre Léaud, in a variation on his role in Olivier Assayas’s Irma Vep, plays an aging filmmaker struggling to adapt to a new mode of cinematic production—but in this case, his favored genre is pornography. He’s hoping to reconnect with his estranged son and, at the same time, complete his erotic masterpiece despite the interventions of a crude producer. His inability to realize either hope is, in Bonello’s eyes, a kind of national failure. A film of tough love and great intelligence, The Pornographer laid the groundwork for many of Bonello’s later achievements.

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HOUSE BY THE CEMETARY, Lucio Fulci
Nitehawk Cinema

A New York professor moves out to the sticks to pick up the work of a colleague who got into a bit of a Shining situation when he murdered his mistress and then killed himself. Undeterred by his friend’s grotesque end, the good doctor packs up the wife and kid and moves into a dilapidated mansion that comes complete with a basement door that’s been nailed shut and a ghostly young girl that constantly tells everyone to get the hell out of there.

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RED DAWN, John Milius
Nitehawk Cinema

Right before the end of the Cold War, John Milius’ Red Dawn taps into the 1980s fear of the possibility of Soviet troops invading small town American. Of course, in good ol’ movie making magic, we see a true American ideal vision as a group of teenagers team together to fight against the common enemy. Through surviving only with hunting rifles, pistols, and bow-and-arrows in the winter and eluding the KGB who hunts them, these “Wolverines” wage a seriously group up guerilla warfare to save themselves, their town, and their country.

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SKIN FLICK, Bruce LaBruce
MoMA

1999. Great Britain. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. Cinematography by James Carman. With Steve Masters, Eden Miller, Tom International, Ralph Steel. Produced for the adult film studio Cazzo Film, Skin Flick is simultaneously a work of pornography and a reworking of the genre that is disturbing and titillating in equal measure. The movie revolves around a gang of neo-Nazi London skinheads who lead a life of petty theft, queer bashing, and general thuggery—when not having passionate sex with one another. (The hypocrisy of the situation is lost on them.) Bored and broke, the crew decides to terrorize an interracial gay couple while they’re at home in their bourgeois flat, and the scenes that follow are not soon forgotten. “LaBruce has never been squeamish when it comes to leveling criticism at queer fetishism of race, class, and control,” the artist Scott Treleaven once wrote. “So is it repugnant? Satirical? If it weren’t for LaBruce’s trademark slapstick scenes, caustic commentary, and over-the-top porno flick stylings, it could even be dangerous.” 67 min.

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THE RASPBERRY REICH, Bruce LaBruce
MoMA

2004. Germany. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. Cinematography by James Carman. With Susanne Sachsse, Daniel Bätscher, Andreas Rupprecht, Dean Monroe, Anton Dickson. In LaBruce’s mercilessly funny lampoon of terrorist chic, a group of leftist German radicals plot to kidnap the son of a wealthy banker, just as the Red Army Faction captured industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer and held him for ransom in 1977. The plot thickens when Gudrun, the leader of the cabal, proclaims that her straight male comrades must shake off the chains of heterosexuality. Against a backdrop of walls adorned with pinups of Che Guevara and Ulrike Meinhof, she orders them to sleep with one another as proof of their commitment to the struggle, and soon all the rebels become willing combatants on the battleground of the bedroom. Pulsing with slogans for the homosexual intifada—THE REVOLUTION IS MY BOYFRIEND, MADONNA IS COUNTERREVOLUTIONARY, HETEROSEXUALITY IS THE OPIATE OF THE MASSES—and drawing liberally on the tropes of both porn and propaganda, The Raspberry Reich is a smart and steamy bit of re-education. 90 min.

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***SUNDAY, MAY 3***

GOOBYE TO LANGUAGE + CHROMATIC FRENZY
BAM

Goodbye to Language: The only film to receive a round of applause mid-screening at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival (where it won the Prix du Jury), Jean-Luc Godard’s brilliant, mind-bending experiment in 3D follows a stray dog who wanders from town to country and, over the course of some seasons, observes what seems to be a couple falling in love, then falling apart. Impossible both to summarize and to forget, this groundbreaking work by one of the greatest living auteurs “offers up generous, easy pleasures with jolts of visual beauty, bursts of humor [and] swells of song (The New York Times).

Chromatic Frenzy: Kerry Laitala’s abstract play of color and darkness captured with Chromadepth 3D.

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CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS + AURORA BOREALIS
BAM

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: In Werner Herzog’s historical documentary, the inimitable Werner Herzog guides audiences on a mystical trip into France’s rarely glimpsed Chauvet Cave, site of the world’s oldest known man-made art. By turns eccentric (witness a characteristically Herzogian detour into the wild world of albino alligators) and transcendent, this awe-inspiring documentary uses stereoscopic technology to transportive effect.

Aurora Borealis: Director Ikuo Nakamura captured the Northern Lights in 3D, creating a stereoscopic image of the phenomenon by placing 2 cameras 5 miles apart.

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BERTRAND BONELLO SHORTS PROGRAM, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Cindy: The Doll Is Mine
Where the Boys Are
Where Are You, Bertrand Bonello?

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TIRESIA, Bertrand Bonello
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

This lyrical and disturbing modern update of the myth of Tiresias is perhaps Bonello’s richest and most elusive work to date. Tiresia—played in the first half of the film by Clara Choveaux and in the second by Thiago Telès—is a Brazilian transsexual working in the red-light district of Paris. Recovering after being kidnapped by an obsessive male aesthete who, disgusted when her hormone treatments start to wear off, blinded her and left her for dead, she finds that she has developed the gift of prophecy. There follow a series of revelations—including the real identity of Tiresia’s abductor—that push Bonello’s politics of the body to new, provocative depths.

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A WOMAN LIKE ME, Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Join us for a special screening in memory of Film Program alumna Alex Sichel (’95). A Woman Like Me is a hybrid documentary that interweaves the real story of director Alex Sichel, diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2011, with the fictional story of Anna Seashell (Lili Taylor), who tries to find the glass half full when faced with the same diagnosis. The documentary follows Alex as she uses her craft as a filmmaker to explore what is foremost on her mind while confronting a terminal disease: parenting, marriage, faith, life, and death. When we are stuck between a rock and hard place, can our imagination get us out? The film was awarded Special Jury Recognition for Directing at SXSW 2015.

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TRANSATLANTIC, Felix Dufour-Laperriere
Anthology Film Archives

Since 2003 Montreal-based filmmaker Félix Dufour-Laperrière has made numerous short experimental films and animations, which balance narrative and formal exploration and remain closely linked with the visual art world. For his first feature-length work, the impressionistic, experimental documentary TRANSATLANTIC, he filmed the crew of a cargo ship during its crossing of the Atlantic. Combining beautifully composed, highly compelling sequences of the crew members at work, at play, and in solitude, with openly lyrical, often dreamlike passages that express the more poetic dimensions of the sailors’ experiences, he has created a ravishing and hypnotic film. Through the eyes of the sailors we see both their deep love of life at sea and their exhaustion in the face of the intensity of this unforgiving environment. Machinery rumbles, waves pound the bow, the hull cracks and squeaks under the pressure of a storm. The immense vastness of the ocean surrounds them in every direction. The ship is both a metaphor and a microcosm: an island of men in the midst of the great unknown.

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MIKEY AND NICKY, Elaine May
MoMA

This is a weeklong run of MoMA’s recently struck 35mm print of Mikey and Nicky, the third of Elaine May’s brilliant contributions to 1970s American cinema, after A New Leaf and The Heartbreak Kid. (Ishtar, from 1987, also has its fierce partisans.) In this noir chamber piece, set over a long, tense night in some of the seedier redoubts of Philadelphia, a jittery John Cassavetes becomes convinced that a local mobster has put a price on his head. As he looks to childhood friend and small-time crook Peter Falk for salvation, old wounds and new treacheries arise.

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The Best Film Events, Series, and Retrospectives Happening in New York This May

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Although the weather may be toying with your hearts and wardrobes, May is but a few days away. As we begin to shed our late spring layers, a new cinematic year begins to unfold as some of the most highly-anticipated films of 2015 screen at the Cannes Film Festival come May 13. Stateside, the spring and summer season is also rife with premieres we’re excited to experience. But amidst all the new films on the horizon, it’s a treat to slip away into the past for a bit and catch up on a wealth of rare and fantastic work that isn’t playing at your local multiplex. From IFC Center and The Film Society of Lincoln Center to BAM and Anthology Film Archives and more, April is the perfect month to indulge in myriad retrospectives, screenings, and events.

So whatever your film fancy, peruse our list and start planning out your viewing schedule now. Enjoy.

***IFC CENTER***

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Celluloid Dreams, Ongoing

With the rise of digital technology, 35mm film prints have become an increasing rarity. IFC Center’s new ongoing series offers the chance to see classics and rediscoveries projected exclusively on their original celluloid format on the big screen. “Celluloid Dreams” hopes to stem the digital tide, and remind viewers there really is emotion in the emulsion. Don’t miss the chance to see these great films on film before it’s too late! Series programmed by C. Mason Wells.

The Comfort of Strangers

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Queer/Art/Film: Black Summer Nights, May 11th through August 17th

“This summer Queer/Art/Film is excited to present “Black Summer Nights,” a celebration of queer African-American artists and their unique role in shaping American culture and history. We’ve handed the reins over to our special guest curators, filmmaker Stephen Winter and poet Pamela Sneed, who have selected four luminary African-American New York queer artists and will lead audiences in rousing and riveting post-screening discussions.”

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Waverly Midnights, Ongoing

A rotating selection of some of our most popular midnight movie offerings. All shows free for Auteur-level members.

Mad Max
Blue Velvet
House

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Deneuve x 8, through June 7th

“Imperious, perverse, remote, and radiant, Catherine Deneuve is a monument to French poise and pulchritude. Francois Truffaut, Luis Bunuel, and Roman Polanski are among the Continental auteurs who have been captivated by her. Now, the IFC Center honors her with ‘Deneuve x 8′, a program of her best-known films.” – The New York Times

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Repulsion
The Last Metro

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***BAM***

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3D in the 21st Century, May 1st through 17th

The unprecedented resurgence of 3D in the last decade has expanded the visual and emotional possibilities of cinema in frequently wondrous—and sometimes divisive—new ways. At its best, the technology creates almost hallucinatory immersive landscapes and retina-dazzling surprises with an immediate visceral impact. From big-budget blockbusters to high-concept mind-benders by arthouse icons, this first-of-its-kind series surveys recent films that showcase the full range of stereoscopic cinema’s expressive potential.

Goodbye to Language
Pina
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Step Up 3D

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Artists, Amateurs, Alternative Spaces: Experimental Cinema in Eastern Europe, 1960-1990, May 19th through 28th

Amid postwar disillusionment in the system and waves of enthusiasm for socialism, experimental filmmaking in Eastern Europe flourished from the 1960s through the 1980s. Defying genre conventions despite the risk of censorship, artists used alternative spaces such as amateur film clubs, festivals, and funded studios to create independent work and experiment with early video practices.

Innocence Unprotected
Reminisces of a Journey to Lithuania
Shorts

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John Schaefer presents The Man Who Fell to Earth, May 7th

Soundcheck host John Schaefer joins philosopher Simon Critchley (author of the recently published book Bowie) for a conversation about the film that made David Bowie a screen icon. A human-like alien (played by alien-like human Bowie) crash lands on Earth to retrieve water for his planet, but instead discovers pain, loneliness, and the sick soul of American society. Nicolas Roeg’s science fiction mind-bender is a provocative parable about diseased capitalism in a television-obsessed culture told in a swirl of hallucinatory imagery.

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Arun Venugopal presents I Vitelloni, May 8th

Micropolis creator Arun Venugopal presents an early-career triumph by one of his favorite filmmakers, Italian cinema legend Federico Fellini. This bittersweet buddy film follows five aimless young men dreaming, scheming, and chasing girls in a small seaside village. Featuring music by Nino Rota, this semi-autobiographical character study is full of Fellini’s robust humor and poetic touches, all cloaked in a poignant haze of nostalgia. “It’s my favorite Fellini film, possibly his most personal effort and by far his funniest.” —Andrew Sarris

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David Garland presents Naked Lunch, May 6th

Movies on the Radio and Spinning on Air host David Garland comes to BAM to discuss the work of three-time Academy Award-winning film composer Howard Shore, who wrote the music for this brilliant mind-melter. A writer and cockroach exterminator (Weller) gets hooked on his own insecticide, accidentally kills his wife, and winds up in the frighteningly surreal Interzone, where typewriters transform into giant talking bugs and shadowy agents peddle a drug called The Black Meat. William S. Burroughs’ bizarro Beat novel finds its perfect interpreter in David Cronenberg, who brings it to the screen with all its weirdness and melancholy fully intact.

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***ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES***

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Written by Philip Yordan, May 15th through 24th

From 1945, when his script for a Monogram gangster flick was nominated for an Academy Award, until the early 1960s, when he wrote a series of overbaked Europudding epics, Philip Yordan was one of the most prominent screenwriters in Hollywood. Capable of turning out multiple scripts a year, Yordan worked in every genre from science fiction to melodrama, and with everyone from Anthony Mann to Joseph Mankiewicz. He was also a total fraud.

Johnny Guitar
Blowing Wind
The Big Combo

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Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It, May 8th through 10th

Anthology is very pleased to welcome filmmaker Christopher Kirkley to present three screenings of his film AKOUNAK TEDALAT TAHA TAZOUGHAI. Alongside these special screenings we’re showcasing some of the film’s influences including PURPLE RAIN, THE HARDER THEY COME, and two Jean Rouch films: MOI, UN NOIR and JAGUAR.

Purple Rain
The Harder They Come
Moi, Un Noir

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Downtown New York Theater: Behind the Scenes, May 14th through 17th

For this weekend-long program, Anthology celebrates three of NYC’s most acclaimed and important avant-garde theater companies – Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and The Wooster Group – with screenings of several behind-the-scenes documentaries chronicling the creation of some of their most extraordinary productions. Taken together, the films demonstrate the astonishing creativity and inventiveness of these three companies in particular, as well as the craft of theater in general: the grindingly hard work, the endless repetition, the collaborative effort, the balance between spontaneity and discipline, and the mysterious relationship between onstage and off, all of which culminate in the heightened moment of live performance.

The Wooster Group
Elevator Repair Service
Nature Theater of Oklahoma

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This Is Celluloid: 35MM, May 29th through June 21st 

As the medium of celluloid (or more accurately but far less evocatively, polyester) is rapidly pushed towards obsolescence, and the new digital standard, DCP, continues to invade not only the world’s multiplexes but also those repertory theaters and museums devoted to screening movies from the art form’s first century, Anthology stands fast in its commitment to keeping 35mm and 16mm and 8mm alive! Though our devotion to screening films in their original formats holds true throughout our programming, we’ve decided the moment is right to present a series designed specifically to highlight the unique beauty (which DCP can approximate, but never equal) of celluloid, and to celebrate the exquisite textures, glorious colors, and unique qualities of light that are becoming a tragically rare sight on our cinema’s screens in the 21stcentury.

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The Masque of Red Death
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

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Journey to the West, May 5th through 7th

Following his 2013 feature film STRAY DOGS, Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang (VIVA L’AMOUR, THE RIVER, THE HOLE) threatened to retire from filmmaking. Happily, that sad state of affairs has been postponed, with the appearance of JOURNEY TO THE WEST, the latest and longest in Tsai’s series of films focusing on the figure of the Walker. Previously seen in six short films, the Walker is a carmine-robed monk, played by Tsai’s perpetual lead actor and muse, Lee Kang-sheng, and loosely based on the life of Xuanzang, a seventh-century Buddhist monk who painstakingly traversed Asia for seventeen years in search of “the void.” Moving through various landscapes, both urban and natural, with eyes downcast and palms upwards, the Walker proceeds at an excruciatingly slow, nearly imperceptible pace, his brilliant red vestments and near-stillness transfiguring the environments through which he travels. Taking slow-cinema to its logical extreme, and embodying with utter conviction Buddhist notions of time and existence, the Walker films are profoundly serene and contemplative, and highly revealing in their depiction of the reactions of innocent passersby to Lee’s radically detached presence.

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***MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE***

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Horror Mother’s Day & Horror Father’s Day, May 10 through June 21st

The primal bond between parent and child are undeniable, and are at the heart of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which are observed on Sundays in May and June as though they are national holidays. For anyone looking for an alternative to Hallmark sentimentality, or for those parents—or non-parents—with great taste in movies and an appetite for horror, here are six classic movies to mark the occasions.

Psycho
Rosemary’s Baby
Eyes Without a Face

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O Brazil: Contemporary Brazilian Cinema, May 8th through June 19th

O Brazil continues witha slate of recent films about musicbut not the kind you would expect from Brazil. Whether as a source of inspiration for the story, such as the music by Legiao Urbana in Brazilian Western; or a part of the everyday soundtrack in a film about everyday life (She Comes Back on Thursday); or as a vehicle for profound change, such as the Brazilian punk in After the Rain; music is ever-present and profoundly bound to narrative in these films.

After the Rain
She Comes Back on Thursday

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Portraying the Human Condition: The Films of Masaki Kobayashi and Tatsuya Nakadai, May 15 through 24th

Legend has it that the director Masaki Kobayashi (1916–1996) discovered the young actor Tatsuya Nakadai working as a shop clerk in Tokyo and, casting him in a small part in his film The Thick-Walled Room (1953), gave Nakadai his first role, initiating one of the most legendary collaborations in all of Japanese cinema. “Nakadai embodied postwar individualism and youth culture—in his clear enunciation and strong, deep speaking voice and in his expressive body movements, facial mobility, and willingness to convey deeply felt emotions, rather than repressing them on behalf of an outworn notion of samurai dignity,” wrote film historian Joan Mellen. This perfectly suited Kobayashi, a pacifist who had suffered for his convictions during World War II. Summarizing his work, he said “All of my pictures are concerned with resisting entrenched power. I suppose I have always challenged authority.” Nakadai, returning to Museum of the Moving Image for the third time, now realizes a dream of revisiting his collaborations with Kobayashi, including their anti-war masterpiece, the ten-hour trilogy The Human Condition.

Black River
The Inheritance
Kwaidan

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***THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER***

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I Put a Spell on You: The Films of Bertrand Bonello, through May 4th

Few filmmakers working currently are as skilled as Bonello at grounding wide-angle social critiques in the physical movement of bodies through space: a couple trapped in winter gridlock; an aging pornographer and his much younger stars; a commune of revolutionary hedonists; a house of 19th-century prostitutes; a psychotic aesthete and the object of his desire; a fashion designer and his rotating coterie of friends and admirers. A trained composer, Bonello approaches his movies like pieces of music, allowing competing tonal elements to collide and rearrange themselves in bracing configurations. The result is a body of work that consistently pushes viewers into new and surprising territory.

Saint Laurent
The Pornographer         

House of Pleasures 

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Print Screen, Karl Ove Knausgaard and ‘The Idiots

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Sounds Like Music: The Films of Martín Rejtman, May 13th through 19th

With Rapado, his 1992 debut feature, Martín Rejtman single-handedly revitalized Argentine narrative film. The five movies he’s made since—including his poker-faced new work Two Shots Fired, receiving a one-week run as part of this retrospective—are models of stylistic precision, narrative structure, and comic pacing. From his early studies of young people drifting in and out of financial solvency (Silvia Prieto, The Magic Gloves) to his recent excursions into nonfiction (Copacabana) and hybrid filmmaking (Elementary Training for Actors, co-directed with the playwright Federico Léon), Rejtman has developed a canny, wholly original serio-comic voice. Romantic confusion, investment troubles, unemployment, youthful aimlessness, the numbing rush of city life, and the revivifying power of music and dance: in Rejtman’s movies, the business of modern urban living—and specifically, of living in Argentina during the country’s millennial economic crisis—comes off as both familiar and thrillingly strange. Programmed by Dennis Lim with Isa Cucinotta.

Elementary Training for Actors
The Magic Gloves
Two Shots Fired

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***NITEHAWK CINEMA***

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The Works: Jeff Goldblum

The evolution of who we know as Jeff Goldblum is on display in our very special two-part series of THE WORKS: JEFF GOLDBLUM. Featuring a carefully considered selection of films and divided into two categories, Barely Goldblum and Full Goldblum, we trace the trajectory of his early “blink and you’ll miss it” career all the way up to his now iconic roles in which we see him embrace the “Goldblum-ness” we all know and love. We’ll begin with Death Wish, The Sentinel, and Annie Hall and will then move up through Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly, Buckaroo Banzai, Earth Girls Are Easy and Jurassic Park.

Death Wish 
Annie Hall 
Jurassic Park

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Nitehawk Brunch Screenings

The Hunt for Red October
Dr. Strangelove
Rocky IV

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***FILM FORUM***

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Satayajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy, May 8th through 28th

In the early 1950s, commercial artist Satyajit Ray was determined to film a novel by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee that he had previously illustrated, shooting on weekends, commuting to the location by bus, and eventually pawning his wife’s jewelry until a providential government grant enabled the work to go on. The result, along with the two continuations that followed, was the beginning of one of the screen’s greatest works, perhaps the cinema’s greatest bildungsroman ever.  

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Felix Moehller’s FORBIDDEN FILMS – The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film, May 13th through 19th

From filmmaker/film historian Felix Moeller (director of HARLAN – IN THE SHADOW OF THE JEW SÜSS) comes this thoughtful, provocative analysis of the 40 Nazi-produced movies still banned from broadcast or public screening in Germany (except in a scholarly context) because they are considered too inflammatory or offensive. The Third Reich’s anti-Semitic films are well-known (among them THE ETERNAL JEWTHE ROTHSCHILDSJEW SÜSS), but less famed are their anti-British and anti-Polish dramas, featuring heroic young Germans, mercilessly bullied by greedy, deranged foreigners. Nearly 70 years after the demise of the Nazis, do Joseph Goebbels’s notorious propaganda movies still pose a threat to civil society? See this galvanizing documentary and judge for yourself. 

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Beggars of Life introduced by William Wellman, Jr., May 4th

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***MOMA***

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MoMA Presents: Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky, April 9th through May 3rd

This is a weeklong run of MoMA’s recently struck 35mm print of Mikey and Nicky, the third of Elaine May’s brilliant contributions to 1970s American cinema, after A New Leaf and The Heartbreak Kid. (Ishtar, from 1987, also has its fierce partisans.) In this noir chamber piece, set over a long, tense night in some of the seedier redoubts of Philadelphia, a jittery John Cassavetes becomes convinced that a local mobster has put a price on his head. As he looks to childhood friend and small-time crook Peter Falk for salvation, old wounds and new treacheries arise.

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MoMA Presents: Tudor Christian’s Jurgiu’s The Japanese Dog, May 21st through 27th

A standout of New Directors/New Films 2014, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s feature debut returns to MoMA for a weeklong run. A striking departure from the gallows humor of the Romanian New Wave, Jurgiu’s Chekhovian The Japanese Dog instead pays loving homage to the tender and gently comical family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, Late Spring and There Was a Father in particular. Victor Rebengiuc, a legendary veteran of stage and screen, imbues the elderly Costache Moldu with a stoic yet fragile dignity, as he reunites with his estranged son after losing his wife and home in a devastating flood. Exquisitely attuned to the rhythms of nature and rural life—and the melancholy beauty of transient things—The Japanese Dog comes by its emotions honestly and poignantly.

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Barbara Hammer’s Welcome to This House, a Film on Elizabeth Bishop, May 26th through June 1st

With her latest work, Barbara Hammer, who is known for films about lesbian life, history, and sexuality that draw upon avant-garde tradition, examines the little-known aspects of the life of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979). Hammer’s film, shown here in its New York premiere, explores Bishop’s inner life through the homes in which she lived and wrote—from childhood to her final days—and through the more private and sensorial poems that were published after her death. Featuring music composed and performed by the experimental singer and musician Joan La Barbara; Bishop’s intimate poems read by Kathleen Chalfant; three actors representing Bishop’s physical presence at different stages of her life; and interviews by historians, poets, and students, Welcome to This House sensitively portrays a complex, private, and challenging writer whose poetry continues to inspire.

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Jean-Francois Caissy’s Guidelines, May 26th through June 1st

Guidelines is the second in Jean-Francois Caissy’s series of five documentary features exploring distinct stages of life, from old age, to the teenage years, to young adulthood, and to early childhood. (La Belle visite [Journey’s End, 2009], which focused on old age, was the first in the series.) Guidelines uses long, observational takes to record teens attending a rural Quebec secondary school. Daily activities on school grounds—studying, practicing cheerleading moves, riding bikes in gym—are contrasted with their “external” activities at play in the vast Canadian landscape—burning rubber on back roads, climbing and diving off of bridges over streams in summer, snowmobiling through the snowy woods in the winter. The film respectfully records both authority figures and the teens while school counsellors respond to students’ various misdemeanours, from disturbing other class members or hitting a sibling to bullying and more. The teens’ social discomfort dissolves beyond the walls of the institutional atmosphere, and their nervous energy is absorbed by the great outdoors.

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Japan Speaks Out! Early Japanese Talkies, May 6th through 20th

“During the early years of the Showa period (1926–1989), while Japan’s silent cinema reached new artistic heights, Japanese filmmakers took the first steps towards sound film. Whereas in the West the transition to sound was abrupt and practically complete by around 1930, in Japan it stretched over almost a decade, although a considerable number of films (part-talkies, films shot silent with added music or sound effects, etc.) made limited use of sound technology. it was not until 1936 that the majority of films produced in Japan were full talkies. This retrospective focuses on this transition period, showing how the Japanese cinema gradually adopted the techniques and exploited the potential of sound film.

Seiyukai sosai Tanaka Giichi-shi enzetsu (The Speech of Prime Minister Tanaka) 
 Tonari no Yae-chan (Our Neighbour, Miss Yae)    
Kagayaku ai (Shining Love)

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5 Highlights From Last Night’s MAD MEN: What’s In a Name?

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The characters on Mad Men have always been determined to go out on top, but they never expected to have their futures handed to them on a silver platter. In this week’s episode, McCann-Erickson decided to absorb Sterling Cooper & Partners into their business. Their deal offers some of the biggest corporations in the world, so with ambition no longer the driving force in their lives, we saw the idea of progeny begin to haunt them all. Since the company’s future is now seemingly set in stone, it remains to be seen whether Mad Men will end in personal tragedy, a series of surreal dream sequences, an act of God (a.k.a. Matthew Weiner), or pure resignation to the way things are. With two episodes left, perhaps it will include all of these things at once.

STERLING-COOPER & MCCANN-ERICKSON ARE ONE.

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When Roger notices that the office lease for this month was never paid, the executives soon put two and two together: McCann-Erickson is planning on subsuming Sterling Cooper & Partners into their headquarters within the month. This puts everyone into a job-hunting frenzy, but Don quickly gets an idea after learning that Lou Avery is leaving his post in Los Angeles to move to Tokyo. What if SC&P became Sterling Cooper West, taking a handful of clients with them to Los Angeles and becoming a bicoastal competitive force? They spend the episode courting various clients and coming up with a roster sufficient enough to display prominently in their meeting with their new bosses. But when the meeting begins, they’re silenced abruptly. It’s already a done deal, but that it’s better than they could have imagined: “You’ve died and gone to advertising heaven.” With names like Buick, Nabisco and Coca Cola in their future, it’s clear that SC&P’s latest merger is about as good as it gets, and nostalgia will only hold them back.

PETE AND TRUDY LOSE THEIR PRIVILEGE.

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Pete and Trudy are shocked to learn that their daughter Tammy has not gotten into the Greenwich Country Day School, where Pete’s family name has been enrolled for generations. When they meet with the headmaster, they learn that she actually didn’t score well on the entry exam—and on top of that, Trudy didn’t bother sending applications to any other schools. She tells Pete that many of the admissions directors (all men) were getting “fresh” with her: “The husbands won’t leave me alone.” This sparks a familiar feeling of adoration from Pete, who promises her that he will find a place for their daughter. She returns her respect for him right back.

PEGGY FEELS THE PANGS OF MOTHERHOOD.

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Peggy is auditioning young children for a commercial when she learns from Pete that McCann is absorbing SC&P. Though she starts to look for other job offers, she begins to consider how her life may have turned out differently—especially after having an intimate moment with Pete, who fathered the child that she gave away over half a decade ago. When one of the young girls accidentally staples her finger, she has a shouting match with the rude mother: “Why would you leave an 8-year-old child in a midtown office building?” “You do what you want with your own children, I’ll do what I want with mine.” This hits Peggy harder than she expected.

Still torn up about it later, she opens up to Stan about her frustration. “No one should have to make a mistake just like a man does and not get to move on,” she says. “She should be able to live the rest of her life, just like a man does.” She tells him about the child she gave away, and how she has no idea where he might be. “I don’t know because you’re not supposed to know—or you can’t go on with your life.” There will always be the baggage of what could have been, and the uncanny symbol of motherhood recurring throughout her life. We see that Peggy accepts the decision she made with newfound clarity.

ROGER TELLS DON ABOUT HIS AFFAIR WITH MEGAN’S MOM.

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The SC&P executives go out for drinks after learning the future of their company, but of course, Don and Roger have stayed for the night shift. After opines about not having a son to take over the Sterling name, Roger tells Don that he’s going to see somebody, and that Don won’t like it. It’s Megan’s mom, Marie Calvet. “Why didn’t you tell me?” “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t going away.” At this point in his incestuous lifestyle and career trajectory, Don couldn’t care less about who’s sleeping with whom. But Roger sticks it to him: “When I married my secretary, you were hard on me. And then you went and did the same thing.”

In his familiar drunken haze, Don goes to Diane’s apartment, only to find that she’s moved out, and a gay couple has moved in, with no information on her whereabouts. Unsurprisingly, one of the men invites him in for a drink. It’s just like Sally said last episode: Don oozes sexuality—but will he find what he’s looking for?

THE BEGINNING OR THE ENDING?

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It remains to be seen whether the McCann merger is entirely positive for the SC&P crew. Joan is certainly skeptical, as none of the companies listed off in their meeting were clients of hers. “We both know they’re never gonna take me seriously over there,” she tells Pete in the cab ride home. Meanwhile, Don’s secretary Meredith is the most confused out of anyone in the office, constantly put-upon by Don’s silence and private dealings, as well as the other secretaries’ taunts: “We should put a bell on you.” She finally confronts Don in his office, telling him that it is most decidedly “not a normal day. Everyone’s living in a fright.”

In the final scene of the episode, the executives call an office-wide meeting to announce the big news, but everyone responds with nervous chatter. “Hold on—this is the beginning of something, not the end,” Don offers, but they can’t be silenced. They all start to leave the office, and the executives are left dumbfounded. There has rarely been a more potently ambiguous ending on , a show where change never occurs without casualties. I suspect that we will be in for something special next week.

Blast From the Past: 10 Great Films From 1961 to Watch Now

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1961 was quite a year. West Side Story won Best Picture, Elvis Presley starred in Blue Hawaii and Wild in the Country, JFK became the president, and technicolor was alive in all its beautiful glory. Let’s take a look back on 10 great films from ’61 that you can enjoy from the comfort of home.

BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, dir. Blake Edwards

Moooooon river. How fabulous was Holly Golightly? Loosely based on Truman Capote’s novella, the classic tale features a charming (and unforgettable) performance from leading lady Audrey Hephburn, whose portrayal of a New York sociality is beyond whimsical and yet enchanting. George Peppard stars as the love interest, Paul Varjak. The film won two Oscars for Best Original Score and (duh) Best Original Song for “Moon River”, which was recognized by the American Film Institute as the fourth most memorable song in Hollywood history.

Available to watch on: Google Play, VUDU, M-Go, iTunes, YouTube, Amazon

LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD, dir. Alain Resnais

A film such as Last Year at Marienbad feels like a dream—it’s beautiful, meandering, and entirely mysterious. Critics were divided upon its release: some hailed it as a masterpiece and others labeled it “incomprehensible.” As transfixing as it is alluring, the film’s constantly moving and mischievous cinematography is masterful. The question of the film is whether a man and a woman met “last year” at a chateau in Marienbad. The rest is visceral and unconventional storytelling that even filmmaker Peter Greenway has cited as being the most important influence in terms of filmmaking. Watch Blur’s music video for “To The End” after you’re done watching the movie. 😉

Available to watch on: Hulu Plus, Amazon, VUDU, Google Play, YouTube

101 DALMATIONS, dir. Clyde Geronomi, Wolfgang Reitherman, Hamilton Luske

Apart from Miss Ursula from The Little Mermaid101 Dalmatians‘ Cruella De Vil is my favorite villainess in a Disney film. This film was the 17th animated feature to emerge from Walt Disney Animated Classics Series. Before 101 Dalmatians was even made, Sleeping Beauty had been box-office failure the previous year. It was then decided that a more approachable (and inexpensive) technique of animation would be introduced: xerography during the process of inking and painting traditional animation cels. The classic family film has been reissued at the theaters four time (1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991).

Available to watch on: Google Play, VUDU, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS, dir. Elia Kazan

Famed writer William Emge wrote Splendor in the Grass, the tale of a man struggling with unrequited love and heartbreak, and won an Oscar at the 1962 Academy Awards. Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty star as the two star-crossed lovers in high school. The title is taken from a line in a poem William Wordsworth wrote. It read:

“What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind…”

Available to watch on: Google Play, VUDU, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

A RAISIN IN THE DUN,  dir. Donald Petrie

Lorraine Hansberry’s titled play was envisioned and brought to the screen by Donald Petrie (Sybil) in 1961. This heart-wrenching story of a family striving for their American dream, amidst prejudices against them, features an absolutely riveting performance by the lead Sidney Poiter. It was met with great reception as it had been nominated for the prestigious Palm D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Available to watch on: Google Play, VUDU, Amazon, YouTube, iTunes

THE CHILDREN’S HOUR, dir. William Wyler

Audrey Hephburn had quite a year in 1961. Alongside Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which premiered in the fall of 61, The Children’s Hour came out just two months later. Shirley MacLaine won a Golden Globe for her performance as one of the two schoolteachers accused of being lesbians by a troubled student and whose every aspect of life becomes more difficult amongst the local community. The film was based on the original play written by Lillian Hellman. Though the film only grossed a low 2.5 million dollars critics were favorable of the two lead performances by these grand actresses.

Available to watch on: Google Play, VUDU, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube

THE INNOCENTS, dir. Jack Clayton

If you’re a fan of horror films like The Sixth Sense, The Others, or even The Woman in Black, you must give The Innocents a look. After all, the film’s inspired by the classic Henry James tale “The Turn of the Screw”. What could possibly go wrong with two children, a haunted mansion, and a well-dressed governess (Deborah Kerr)? It’s one of the earliest films that pushed “psychological horror” as it didn’t rely so heavily on the shocks and its use of lighting was cleverly crafted. It also had synthesized electronic sound (generated by Daphne Oram)for the cinemas, which was groundbreaking.

Available to watch on: YouTube

YOJIMBO,  dir. Akira Kurosawa


1860. The near end of the Tokugawa shogunate era. Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune stars as a rōnin arriving in a small town divided by two competing crime lords. The catch? Both sides hire the newly arrived outsider as a personal bodyguard. Kurosawa claimed that the 1942 film noir classic The Glass Key was a beneficial source for the film’s plot. Film theorists point to other films. Sergio Leone later remade the film. That film was A Fistful of Dollars, which was released just three years later. Oh Hollywood! Always remaking…

Available to watch on: HuluPlus, Amazon, iTunes, VeOh (for free)

LA NOTTE, dir. Michelangelo Antonioni

The follow-up to L’Avventura and second installment of Antonioni’s trilogy is La Notte. Just like L’Avventura, the film stars Marcello Mastroianni and, yes, the one and only Monica Vitti. This time Antonioni focuses on the day of a life of a married couple whose relationship, filled with lack of care and infidelities, is withering away. Stanley Kubrick has listed the film as one of his top ten favorite movies—obviously, he had great taste.

Available to watch on: HuluPlus, Amazon, iTunes

JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG, dir. Stanley Kramer


Coinciding with the real-life Adolf Eichmann trial, Judgment at Nuremberg explores a heated trial of four Nazi judges convicted for their war crimes. The film was actually inspired by Judges’ Trial before the Nuremberg Military Tribunal in 1947. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won for Best Actor (Maximilian Schell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Abby Mann). The film won against West Side Story (also nominated for 11 Oscars and winner of Best Picture) for the riveting screenplay that truly deserved the gold.

Available to watch on: Vudu