34 Films to See This Weekend: Rohmer, Godard, Resnais + More

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***FRIDAY, JUNE 20***

TOM AT THE FARM, Xavier Dolan
MoMA

“Director Dolan, the young Canadian phenomenon behind I Killed My Mother, stars as the title character, a Montreal copywriter who travels to a remote farming community in Northern Quebec to attend the funeral of his lover. When he finds that his companion’s brutish older brother, Francis (Pierre-Yves Cardinal), has kept his sibling’s sexuality a secret from their fragile mother, Tom is initially appalled but is gradually drawn into Francis’s sadomasochistic games”

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EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF, Jean-Luc Godard
MoMA

“After spending much of the 1970s on the radical fringes of filmmaking, Godard returned to the “commercial” cinema—as represented by stars, a story, and ravishing 35mm images—with this challenging triptych filmed in an antiseptic, industrial Switzerland. The problems of a married couple in collapse (Nathalie Baye and Jacques Dutronc) are intertwined with the experiences of a country girl (Isabelle Huppert) who has come to the big city to practice that most Godardian of professions, prostitution.”

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WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY, Elio Petri
Anthology Film Archives

“Following a string of anonymous letters, a man is killed during a hunting party. A leftist professor begins sleuthing around for the truth as he becomes involved with the man’s widow and her cousin. With a sort of strange happy ending, Petri’s foray into Sicilian ways is a rarely-seen suspense/romance film with top-notch performances from Gian Maria Volonté, Irene Papas, and Gabriele Ferzetti (L’AVVENTURA).”

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MAN FOR A DAY, Katarina Peters
Anthology Film Archives

“Performance artist and gender activist Diane Torr has appeared on stages around the world as a drag king, performing male characters and raising issues of gender and performativity. Now she holds workshops for other women in which they develop their own male characters and live as men for a day in an attempt to better understand the dynamics of gender in contemporary society.


MAN FOR A DAY brings us inside Torr’s workshop in Berlin. The artist guides a group of open-minded women from diverse backgrounds – an Angolan single mother, an Israeli lesbian, a young German beauty queen, among others – through the theoretical underpinnings of her work, helps them develop their male personas (partly via trips through the city to observe men’s gestures, gait, and deep-seated sense of ownership), and sends them out to experience the world from within their new roles.”

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THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT, Alexander MacKendrick
Film Forum

“Ordinary but obsessed scientist Guinness invents a fabric that never wears out and never gets dirty, but then must contend with planned-obsolescence-loving Labor & Capital and the sexily low notes of Joan Greenwood — but nature provides its own climax.”

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KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER, David Zellner
BAM

“In this absurdist adventure tale based on an urban legend, a Tokyo office assistant (Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi) becomes irrationally fixated on a scene in the Coen Brothers’ Fargo in which a briefcase full of money is hidden beneath a blanket of snow. With stolen atlas in hand, she ditches her overbearing mother and dead-end job, taking off for the Midwest plains in search of the buried treasure. Indie veterans David and Nathan Zellner journey to the edges of film-fueled obsession in this beguilingly off-kilter character study infused with deadpan humor and rapturous widescreen imagery.”

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JE T’AIME, JE T’AIME, Alain Resnais
Museum of the Moving Image

“Described by Raymond Durgnat as “science fiction tragedy in comic strip images,” Je t’aime, je t’aime is about a failed suicide who agrees to become a guinea pig for a time travel experiment. He finds himself trapped in an infinite series of moments revolving around a girlfriend whose death he may—or may not—have caused. Ahead of its time—and a clear influence on Cronenberg—this is one of Resnais’s most underrated films.”

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THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Joel Coen
IFC Center

“All Jeff ‘the Dude’ Lebowski wants to do is go bowling, but when he’s mistaken for LA millionaire big Lebowski and a pair of thugs pee on his rug — “it really tied the room together!” — he’s forced to take action, and so the laziest man in Los Angeles County takes on nihilists, ferrets, and empire tycoons, guzzling White Russians all the while. The Coen Brother’s unstoppable cult classic has inspired countless bowling parties and drinking games, and even its own festival, and we’re happy to bring it back to the IFC Center.”

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CITY STREETS, Rouben Mamoulian
IFC Center

“Strikingly stylised bootlegging yarn, more romance than gangster movie, said to have been an Al Capone favourite because the gang boss (Paul Lukas), far from rampaging Cagney-style with machine-gun in the streets, is always careful to be seen to have clean hands: all deaths take place discreetly off-screen, and a contract to kill drawn up in an offhand line of dialogue (‘I’d be willing to do business with you, if anything happened to Blackie’) is equally elliptically sealed when the other party lights his cigar, looks at the match, and then pensively snuffs it out… [Mamoulian] creates a wonderfully evocative, low-key atmosphere not dissimilar to Sternberg’s Underworld with terrific camerawork from Lee Garmes, and fine performances from Cooper and Sidney as the young lovers enmeshed in the rackets” – Time Out (London)

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LIQUID SKY, Slava Tsukerman
Nitehawk Cinema

“This independent science fiction films uses the new wave downtown scene of the early 1980s to show a rather dystopic and ugly version of the future. Campy and stylish with a heavy dose of depressing, Liquid Sky shows a world where tiny aliens descend to feed their heroin-like addiction of a “drug” produced after sexual climax. They use real heroin addict Margaret as their tool to score but she doesn’t mind it when her partners are vaporized because they’re all jerks anyway! With great production design and a heavy dose of punk attitude, Liquid Sky paints a rather dismal portrait of this scene as Marget kills, a scientist tracks the aliens’ intentions, and society falls apart around them all.”

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EXHIBITION, Joanna Hogg
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“A married middle-aged couple (Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick), both artists, live in a beautiful modernist house in Chelsea, designed and built by an artist—a labyrinth, a refuge, a prison house, a battleground. As they confront their conflicts and competitions, they slowly arrive at the painful decision to sell, thus inviting interlopers into their private world. Joanna Hogg’s new film is structured as a cinematic mosaic of interlocking sights, sounds, exchanges, happenings great and small, everyday advances, and retreats. It is, finally, a portrait of two people in a state of change in a house that effectively becomes a third character, and an agent in that change. Hogg’s film is a rarity, at once exactingly minimal and intimately character-driven. It is also a wonderful ‘London movie’.”

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NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY, Lav Diaz
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“In the northern Philippine province of Luzon, a law-school dropout commits a horrific double murder; a gentle family man takes the fall and receives a life sentence, leaving behind a wife and two kids. At their best, Lav Diaz’s marathon movies reveal just how much other films leave out. In his devastating twelfth feature (and at four-plus hours, one of his shortest), the broad canvas accommodates both the irreducible facts of individual experience and the cosmic sweep of time and space. A careful rethinking of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment shot in blazing color, this tour de force offers a masterful recapitulation of Diaz’s longstanding obsessions: cultural memory, national guilt, and the origin of evil. The wounds and defeats of Filipino history loom large in each of Diaz’s films. Fabian, Norte’s tortured antihero (superbly played by Sid Lucero), may well be his most indelible creation: a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology.”

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***SATURDAY, JUNE 21***

Mélo, Alain Resnais
MoMA

“Resnais’ fascination with the interpenetration of film and theater reaches its expressive height with this very close adaptation of a 1929 play by the boulevard dramatist Henry Bernstein. The plot, dense and improbable, is centered on two old friends (and fellow violinists) played by Pierre Arditi and André Dussollier; when Dussollier falls in love with Arditi’s wife (Sabine Azéma), melodramatic complications ensue. Resnais’ symmetrical compositions and extended long takes emphasize the artificiality of the proceedings while liberating their emotional truth.”

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GRAND SLAM, Giuliano Montaldo
Anthology Film Archives

“Featuring an international cast (Edward G. Robinson, Klaus Kinski, Janet Leigh), Montaldo’s suspenseful caper offers plenty of thrills typical of the genre, and much more as well. A group of international thieves band together to pull off a diamond heist during the Carnival in Rio, and the only person that stands in their way is the gem company’s icy secretary, memorably played by Leigh.”

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RABID DOGS, Mario Bava
Anthology Film Archives

“A departure from the horror master’s usual fare, this terrific thriller finds three armed robbers, with hostage in tow, hijacking a car driven by a man with a sick child. Shot almost entirely inside a moving car, there is much more here than meets the eye. Due to the death of the main investor, the production was shut down as it neared completion, and Bava never lived to see the finished film, which he himself considered his most important work. In the late 90s, the elements of the unfinished film were rediscovered and, following Bava’s notes, the film was finally completed. A decade later, an alternative version with newly-shot footage and a different soundtrack was released on DVD in the U.S. under the title KIDNAPPED. We will be showing both the first cut (on June 21 & 28) with its original Stelvio Cipriani soundtrack (available only digitally) and the new version (on 35mm) on June 24!

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FOR THE PLASMA, Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan
BAM

“In a remote house in Maine, two old friends analyze CCTV footage of the surrounding forest to predict shifts in global financial markets. From this cryptic premise grows a lo-fi mind-bender of intimate scale and startling relevance that flirts with sci-fi and horror conventions even as it subverts them. To the strains of an electronic score, For the Plasma juxtaposes pastoral imagery with surveillance technology, every shade and shadow captured in gorgeous 16mm.”

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THE HEART MACHINE, Zachary Wigon
BAM

“Cody (John Gallagher Jr.) carries on a virtual relationship with Virginia (BAMcinemaFest regular Kate Lyn Sheil), who’s in Berlin studying abroad for six months—or so she says. As Cody becomes convinced that Virginia is, in fact, in New York, he develops an increasingly unhealthy fixation with tracking her down. Part love story, part moody paranoid thriller in the vein of The Conversation, The Heart Machine is a tense, trenchant tale of obsession and alienation for the digital age.”

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ELLIE LUMME, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
BAM

“Film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky makes the leap to filmmaking with his debut narrative work, a self-described “ghost story without a ghost.” When 22-year-old Ellie meets a slightly older, seemingly infatuated stranger, he soon becomes a constant—and unwelcome—presence in her life. As their relationship grows increasingly disturbed, this meticulously shot, subtly supernatural tale blossoms into a haunting psychological riddle.

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THE TERMINATOR, James Cameron
Museum of the Moving Image

“Arnold Schwarzenegger put his hulking frame to good use—and attained pop-culture icon status—as the titular killing machine, sent back in time from a dystopian future to the 1980s to assassinate the woman destined to give birth to his would-be nemesis. In his breakout hit, director James Cameron keeps the proceedings pleasingly pulpy, giddily mixing whiz-bang action, eye-popping special effects, grim humor, and brain-teasing science-fiction tropes for a sleek and sophisticated action thrill ride.”

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RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH, John Alan Simon
Museum of the Moving Image

“In this acclaimed adaptation of a novel by Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly), it is 1985 in an alternate reality, and a Berkeley record-store clerk experiences strange visions transmitted from an extra-terrestrial source he calls VALIS. He uproots his family and moves to Los Angeles, where he becomes a successful music executive with a secret mission—enlisting the help of a sci-fi writer named Philip K. Dick—to overthrow the oppressive U.S. government.”

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VIDEODROME, David Cronenberg
Museum of the Moving Image

“‘Long live the new flesh.’ Cronenberg’s fascination with the merging of flesh and technology is literalized in this philosophical horror film. A cable-television programmer of soft-core porn discovers a startling new kind of programming that offers a nightmarish version of Marshall McLuhan’s theories.”

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GALAXY QUEST, Dean Parisot
IFC Center

““The series only ran from ’79 to ’82, but the cast of ‘Galaxy Quest’ are making a living of sorts on the fan convention circuit. Facing yet more dorky devotees hardly enthuses the show’s alien and science officer, Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), communications officer Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), and commander Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen). Still, they need the money, so they tag along when a dweeby-looking bunch inveigles them into visiting their mock-up of the programme’s old vessel, the ‘Protector’. But the twist is, this time the ship was actually crafted on a distant planet, where transmissions of ‘Galaxy Quest’ have been mistaken for historical documents, and the misguided extra-terrestrials have gambled on recruiting heroic Allen and crew to save their world from interstellar rivals. The actors have played this script before, but now it’s for real. Gently satirising the Trekkie phenomenon, Parisot’s movie works a treat because it’s sufficiently knowing to have the references down pat, but affectionate enough to have a soft spot for just about everyone. Effects and production design are also splendidly integrated into the overall enterprise, which is even more enjoyable for being so unexpected” – Time Out (London)

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BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, John Carpenter
Nitehawk Cinema

“All aboard the Porkchop Express! American truck driver Jack Burton enters into a whole different world when he picks up his pal’s Wang Chi’s fiancee from the airport. Bubbling up from the depths of Chinatown is the evil and body-less Lo Pan who must marry a girl with emerald green eyes in order to regain his form…and guess who has green eyes? Thus commences an epic mystical underworld battle between good and evil complete with some of the best lines lines in film…When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: ‘Have ya paid your dues, Jack?” “Yessir, the check is in the mail.’”

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THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, Tobe Hooper
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“Leatherface is back in this 40th-anniversary restoration of one of the most influential horror movies of the 1970s. Death by meat hook, sledgehammer, and, of course, chainsaw await a group of youngsters on a road trip. So scary and insanely grotesque won’t know whether to scream or laugh—but no worries, final-girl Marilyn Burns takes care of the screaming.”

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***SUNDAY, JUNE 22***

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?, Massimo Dallamano
Anthology Film Archives

“When a young girl is found dead by hanging, the police find themselves on the trail of a motorcycle killer. What they uncover is a truth far more sinister and inconvenient. A perfect blend of police procedural and suspenseful giallo, this is the second installment in the ‘school girls in peril’ trilogy by Dallamano (who was formerly Sergio Leone’s cinematographer). Released in the U.S. as COED MURDERS, this socially relevant thriller is graced by a terrifically catchy score by Stelvio Cipriani.

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ALMOST HUMAN, Umberto Lenzi
Anthology Film Archives

“In this nonstop action thriller from the prolific Umberto Lenzi (PARANOIA, NIGHTMARE CITY, CANNIBAL FEROX), a sociopathic criminal (gleefully played by Tomas Milian) kidnaps the daughter of a rich man, and to get his hands on the loot he will kill, backstab, and blackmail anyone and everyone. As the original U.S. trailer advises, “CAUTION: Morally and sexually this motion picture may shock you. But it’s an experience in psycho-sadism you will never forget.” This is Lenzi at his most scathing and unapologetic.”

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 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, David Lean
Film Forum

“To American POW William Holden’s disgust, Guinness’ Lt. Col. Nicholson leads his ragged men in Japanese captivity; then, after suffering torture to get camp commandant Sessue Hayakawa to play by the rules, he proceeds to build them their bridge anyway. The first of Lean’s widescreen epics nabbed seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Guinness’ only Best Actor Oscar.”

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THE MEND, John Magary
BAM

“Mat, a reckless drifter pushing 40, shows up unexpectedly at his gainfully employed brother Alan’s Harlem apartment—and never leaves, turning his seemingly stable sibling’s life upside down. In this deliriously unhinged, unpredictable debut feature, Magary steers this dark comic tale of brotherly love and hate into increasingly freewheeling, nihilistic territory, the sense of disorientation heightened by a modern classical score.”

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MEMPHIS, Tim Sutton
BAM

“In a raw, seemingly autobiographical star turn, underground blues singer-poet Willis Earl Beal plays a musician who claims to have mystical powers but can’t seem to finish his next album. Trying the patience of his girlfriend and his producer, he drifts from Baptist church to bar to recording studio in a struggle to regain his creative spark. BAMcinemaFest 2012 alum Tim Sutton (Pavilion) treads the line between documentary and fiction in this sumptuously photographed, daringly abstract portrait of an iconic city, which features a haunting original soundtrack and supporting performances from legendary Stax musicians Larry Dodson and John Gary Williams.”

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APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT, Amanda Rose Wilder
BAM

“Without imposing traditional authority or structure, New Jersey’s Teddy McArdle Free School allows children to set their own rules and choose whether or not to attend classes. The teachers struggle to create a learning environment that instills the values of democracy and critical thinking, but an ongoing clash between two students tests the limits of the system. Evoking both the immersive style of Frederick Wiseman and such fictional dystopias as Lord of the Flies, Wilder crafts an inspired portrait of unfettered childhood within a radical model of education.”

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SOLARIS, Andrei Tarkovsky
Museum of the Moving Image

“Dispatched to a distant space station outside the mysterious, watery planet of Solaris, a psychologist discovers that the strange new world has the ability to make manifest the astronauts’ unconscious thoughts and desires, bringing him face to face with the reincarnation of his dead wife. Touted as a Soviet 2001, Tarkovsky’s spectrally beautiful science-fiction mind-bender is an altogether deeper, stranger, and more meditative study of obsession and longing.”

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VENUS IN FUR, Roman Polanski
IFC Center

“Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) stars as Thomas, a stage director auditioning a new female lead: a woman who takes a man as her slave. But when the volatile and erotic Vanda (Emmanuelle Seigner, the filmmaker’s wife) comes barreling into his Paris theater, she stuns Thomas with her commitment to the role, and the boundaries between life and art begin to crumble. Adapted from David Ives’s Broadway hit, Polanski’s 20th feature offers a devilishly funny, classically Polanskian investigation into the dynamics of sex and power.”

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A SUMMER’S TALE, Eric Rohmer
IFC Center

“Gaspard (Melvil Poupaud), a recent university graduate, arrives at the seaside in Bretagne for three weeks’ vacation before starting a new job. He’s hoping his sort-of girlfriend, the fickle Léna (Aurélia Nolin), will join him there; but as the days pass, he welcomes the interest of Margot (Amanda Langlet, the titular character from Rohmer’s Pauline at the Beach), a student of ethnology working as a waitress for the summer. Things start to get complicated when the spoken-for Margot encourages Gaspard to have a summer romance with her friend, Solène (Gwenaëlle Simon), and he complies. When Léna turns up, and scheduling complications abound, Gaspard will have to make a choice…Rohmer’s characteristically light touch allows his characters to discourse on love and friendship, even as their body language complicates and even contradicts their words. Diane Baratier’s cinematography perfectly captures the languor of youth and the feeling of a French beach vacation–the sea, the sunlight and the lovely surroundings convey the openness of a world of possibilities faced by these young people.”

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MELANCHOLIA, Lav Diaz
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“Winner of the Best Feature prize in the Horizons sidebar at the Venice Film Festival, this contemplative and nerve-wracking drama of personal reinvention and guerrilla warfare in the Philippines examines the fault lines between action and impact, how one intends to affect the world and the change (or lack of) that actually occurs. What starts as the story of a nun, a pimp, and a prostitute and their role-playing games expands and deepens to become an elegy for the power and imaginative vision of radical politics in an age of claustrophobia and reactionary cynicism, enlivened by strains of black comedy and noir-heavy fatalism. Diaz packs all this into his most complicated narrative structure yet, a soulful meditation on the difficulties of daily life and the petty delusions necessary to withstand the pain of it. The ailment of the film’s title seems to coat the stark black-and-white images themselves as Diaz’s characters attempt to combat their persistent feelings of meaninglessness and the enveloping boredom that only hours of make-believe, and sometimes a little human contact, can even begin to fend off.”

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