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
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.
JUSTIN BIEBER: NEVER SAY NEVER + JOUE
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.
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.” – Janet Maslin, The New York Times
THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Joel and Ethan Coen
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.
HE MARRIED HIS WIFE, Roy Del Ruth
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.
SUPER 8½, Bruce LaBruce
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.
***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.
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.
HOUSE BY THE CEMETARY, Lucio Fulci
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.
RED DAWN, John Milius
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.
SKIN FLICK, Bruce LaBruce
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.
THE RASPBERRY REICH, Bruce LaBruce
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.
***SUNDAY, MAY 3***
GOOBYE TO LANGUAGE + CHROMATIC FRENZY
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.
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS + AURORA BOREALIS
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
MIKEY AND NICKY, Elaine May
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.