Photo via IFC Center
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 to IFC Center there are more than enough wonderful films showing for you to happily disappear into. Here are 15 films that have us running straight to the theater.
***FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9***
MULHOLLAND DRIVE, David Lynch
“The narrative, such as it is, commences when a lush brunette of mystery soon to be known as Rita (Laura Elena Harring) dodges a bullet, staggers out of her crashed car, and descends from the Hollywood Hills into the jewel-like city below to find refuge in an empty apartment. She’s suffering from amnesia, which makes her the perfect foil for the flat’s caretaker, Betty (Naomi Watts), who arrives the next morning—blond, perky, and inanely optimistic—from the Ontario town of Deep River (named perhaps for the sinister dive where Isabella Rossellini made her home in Blue Velvet). Betty is innocently avid to become a star; Rita is forced by circumstance to impersonate one. Their first meeting is a mini Hitchcock film, with the dazed brunette assigning herself a name from a handy Gilda poster…
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, Guy Maddin
Guy Maddin, a master of the bizarre (MY WINNIPEG, BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!) and co-director Evan Johnson, inspired by early sound films from the 1920s, conjure a hallucinatory, deep-sea fantasia. A woodsman inexplicably appears aboard a submarine, trapped under water for months, carrying mysterious cargo. As the terrified crew make their way through the corridors of the doomed vessel, they voyage into the origins of their darkest fears. Innovatively shot using techniques that reinvent early cinema, this “exhilarating slipstream of two-strip Technicolor.”
JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES, Chantal Akerman
The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Chantal Akerman fills her movies with patterns and textures of ordinary life, the stuff other films never even notice. The most extreme and best-known incarnation of her cinema of the everyday remains her second feature, Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), a three-hour-15-minute drama that manages to extract dread and suspense from the monotonous daily routine of a Brussels housewife.
BALLET, Frederick Wiseman
Museum of the Moving Image
Ballet is an intimate portrait of American Ballet Theatre. Presenting the company in rehearsal in their New York studio and on tour, Wiseman highlights the creative and administrative work. His camera weaves in and out of dance studios and offices, and into the minutiae of choreographed gestures: corporate funds are raised, elaborate sets are built, and aspiring ballerinas are enlisted and cut from the corps.
DIARIES, Ed Pincus
From 1971 to 1976, Ed Pincus documented the intimate details of his everyday life: people are born and die, his children grow up, and a series of love affairs tests his open, presumably enlightened marriage. Diaries is a landmark work of direct cinema, fusing the personal and political, the commonplace and the transcendent, to piece together an engrossing portrait of the waning days of the free love era.
BLUE SUNSHINE, Jeff Lieberman
It’s the 1970s in Los Angeles and people are freaking out! One second, they’re perfectly normal, everyday yuppies who hang out at parties, raise their kids, and toil away at work; but then, seemingly out of nowhere, their hair begins to fall out and they kill everyone in sight! The mayhem erupts all around the city, as one man tries to solve the mystery of the city wide killing spree. All signs point to a dangerous form of LSD called Blue Sunshine that the murderer’s all took in the hippie-dippy haze of the 1960s.
***SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10***
THE SHINING, Stanley Kubrick
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.”
THE INVISIBLE MAN, James Whale
It’s inevitable that complications would arise after chemically altering the fundamental fabric of one’s own body to turn invisible. For Dr. Jack Griffen, the main side-effects seem to be anger, hostility, and severe case sarcasm. Made only a couple of years after the breakout release of Frankenstein in 1931, The Invisible Man continues Whales’ directorial adaptation of literature’s misunderstood and marginalized characters onto the big screen. Whales’ treatment of these misanthropic characters is simultaneously heart-breaking and angering but, unlike our dear Frankenstein’s monster, Jack is a monster of his own making, a victim of his own greed for knowledge. Based on H.G. Wells’ science-fiction novella, the film serves (like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) as a cautionary tale of humans playing “god.”
AS I WAS MOVING AHEAD OCCASIONALLY I SAW BRIEF GLIMPSES OF BEAUTY, Jonas Mekas
Pioneering independent filmmaker Jonas Mekas compiled more than 30 years’ worth of footage to create this epic home movie. From intimate moments with his family to records of his travels to snapshots of icons like John Lennon, Andy Warhol, P. Adams Sitney, and Hollis Frampton, this joyous, life-affirming work “finds a secret paradise in the rich harvests of a lifetime’s memories” (Ed Halter, The Village Voice).
HOSPITAL, Frederick Wiseman
Museum of the Moving Image
Turning his unflinching lens on the brutal banality of human misery, Wiseman shows the daily activities of New York’s Metropolitan Hospital, which for more than 125 years has served a diverse, mostly poor, African-American and immigrant population. Wiseman focuses primarily on the emergency ward and outpatient clinics.
GEORGE KUCHAR: WEATHER DIARIES SELECTIONS
This wondrously oddball program features more gonzo transmissions from Middle America courtesy of lo-fi wizard George Kuchar. This time around, he confronts scorpions, rattlesnakes, and ornery bulls while staying on a southern Oklahoma cattle ranch in Chigger Country (1999) and the raging storm of his own libido in Hotspell (2011).
***SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11***
THE GODFATHER, Franics Ford Coppola
“An everyday story of Mafia folk, incorporating a severed horse’s head in the bed and a number of heartwarming family occasions, as well as pointers on how not to behave in your local trattoria (i.e. blasting the brains of your co-diners out all over their fettuccini). Mario Puzo’s novel was brought to the screen in bravura style by Coppola, who was here trying out for the first time that piano/fortissimo style of crosscutting between religious ritual and bloody machine-gun massacre that was later to resurface in a watered-down version in The Cotton Club. See Brando with a mouthful of orange peel. Watch Pacino’s cheek muscles twitch in incipiently psychotic fashion. Trace his rise from white sheep of the family to budding don and fully-fledged bad guy. Singalong to Nino Rota’s irritatingly catchy theme tune.” – Time Out (London)
ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS, Luchino Visconti
Joining the tragic exodus of millions from Italy’s impoverished south, the formidable matriarch of the Parondi clan (Katina Paxinou, Best Supporting Oscar, For Whom the Bell Tolls ) and her brood emerge from Milan’s looming Stazione Centrale in search of a better life in the industrial north. But, as they inch up the social ladder, family bonds are ruthlessly shredded, as the love of Alain Delon’s saintly Rocco (“one of the most vivid and complex characters in all of Visconti’s work” – Vincent Canby) for prostitute Annie Girardot drives brutish boxing sibling Renato Salvatori to rape and murder. Simultaneously a documentation of a changing society; a kind of continuation of Visconti’s classic La terra trema; an evocation of the works of Sicilian titan Giovanni Verga, Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot , and Thomas Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers ; and a visual tour de force as lensed by Giuseppe Rotunno (The Leopard, 8½, Amarcord, All That Jazz, etc. ), Rocco rocketed Delon and Girardot to international stardom and vaulted Visconti to his second triumvirate — here with Antonioni and Fellini — at the cutting edge of Italian filmmaking (his first, with Rossellini and De Sica, in the heyday of neo-realism). The director’s personal favorite, Rocco’s mix of realism and intense, operatic emotion would profoundly influence the work of Coppola and Scorsese.
THE AMERICAN DREAMER, Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson
A mesmerizing portrait of one of the New Hollywood’s great enfants terribles, this long-overlooked documentary follows Dennis Hopper through the making of his dream project The Last Movie. Produced in the wake of the unexpected, era-defining success of his directorial debut, Easy Rider, The Last Movie was a daringly experimental Western that found Hopper drifting further into eccentricity—and ultimately led him to box-office disaster. Directors Lawrence Schiller and L.M. Kit Carson chronicle him at his New Mexico ranch in the midst of his creative process, and also provide an inside look at his world of drugs, guns, and groupies. The result is one of the great unsung documentaries of the 1970s, and an unforgettable look at one of American cinema’s most iconic rebels.
SPELLBOUND, Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcockian malice meets then-in-vogue psychoanalysis in this florid Freudian thriller. Bergman is a buttoned-up psychiatrist who falls in love with an amnesiac (Peck) who may be a murderer. Hitchcock loads Spellbound with delirious stylistic flourishes: the endlessly recurring motif of parallel lines, a lush, theremin-heavy score from Miklós Rózsa, and a surrealist dream sequence designed by Salvador Dalí.
WELFARE, Frederick Wiseman
Museum of the Moving Image
An absurdist, operatic masterpiece, Welfare shows the nature and complexity of the welfare system in sequences illustrating the staggering diversity of problems that constitute welfare: housing, unemployment, divorce, medical and psychiatric problems, abandoned and abused children, and the elderly. Workers as well as clients struggle to cope with the laws and regulations that govern their work and life, fittingly culminating in one man’s monologue about Waiting for Godot.