26 Films To See in New York This Weekend: Kubrick, Rohmer, Buñuel + More

26 Films, Film

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 26 films that have us running straight to the theater.

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***FRIDAY, APRIL 24***

TWELVE MONKEYS, Terry Gilliam
BAM

Terry Gilliam’s grungy, gonzo riff on Chris Marker’s La Jetée stars Bruce Willis as a convict who’s zapped back in time to save the human race from a deadly virus. Only trouble is, everyone thinks he’s nuts. Peppered with allusions to Vertigo (the eerie Muir Woods scene is reenacted wholesale), this post-apocalyptic head-trip is Gilliam at his most cracked and brilliant.

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THE JOY OF LIFE, Jenni Olson
BAM

San Francisco, sexuality, and suicide come together in Jenni Olson’s entrancingly minimalist essay film. Over static shots of eerily depopulated Fog City locales, the filmmaker muses on queer desire and identity; legendary poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti recites “The Changing Light”; and the Golden Gate Bridge’s history as a suicide landmark is explored via Meet John Doe and Vertigo. The result is an overwhelmingly moving meditation on love and loss.

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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 CANDIDATE, Michael Ritchie
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

The unsung Michael Ritchie, responsible for some of the most trenchant satires of the 1970s (including the beauty-pageant send-up Smile), helms this on-point study of Nixon-era political machinations. Redford is Bill McKay, an idealistic lawyer persuaded to run for Senate on his principles, convinced he has no chance of defeating the incumbent. As his campaign gains traction, he’s forced to rethink his platform. Redford commissioned the project and served as uncredited producer, hiring Ritchie (a former technical advisor on various political campaigns) and screenwriter Jeremy Lartner, who wrote speeches for presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy in 1968. Lartner’s script, capped by a closing line that perfectly echoed the national mood, earned an Academy Award. Contemporaneous to the film’s release, the fictional McKay received write-in votes in the California Presidential primary!

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DOCUMENTEUR, Agnes Varda
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

In 1979, 10 years after her first California sojourn and during a period of separation from her beloved husband, Jacques Demy, Varda returned to L.A. for what would turn out to be a decidedly more dejected, minor-key stay. Documenteur, like several of Varda’s movies, follows an essentially fictional character (played here by Varda’s editor Sabine Mamou) through a more or less real environment. Unlike most of Varda’s movies, it’s a frank and often painful reflection on estrangement, loneliness, and loss. Certain settings and subjects from Mur Murs recur here (the two films were paired for their initial U.S. runs), but Documenteur was, per its title, more of “an emotion picture”—a revealing dispatch from a wounded heart. An NYFF ’81 Selection.

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ALTERED STATES, Ken Russell
Nitehawk Cinema

You know the story…a brilliant, unconventional and totally mad scientist uses himself as the subject for his highly experimental project and ends up, well, a little worse for the wear. Here we have 1960s Harvard professor of abnormal psychology Eddie Jessup who revisits an experiment from his graduate school days in which he uses untested hallucinogens in his sensory deprivation tank to prove his theory that other states of consciousness are as real as our waking state. Unfortunately the side effects just might be genetically regressive which is not only harmful to his own self but to those around him. Side note, this is the film debut of William Hurt and Drew Barrymore!

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FORBIDDEN GAMES, Rene Clement
Film Forum

(1952) “Michel! Michel! Michel!” France 1940, and as a refugee column trudges along a country road, a dog makes a break for it, with its tiny blonde mistress in pursuit — and then the German fighters strike. But if 5-year-old Brigitte Fossey’s understanding of death is limited as she strokes her mother’s cold face, at least she can bury the dog discarded by her peasant rescuers, aided by 11-year-old farm boy Georges Poujouly. And as they build a special, secret friendship, their pet cemetery in the midst of death steadily grows, topped by crosses stolen from graveyards, even as the adults play their own games of buffoonish, grotesque peasant feuds… And then Fossey (“in a performance that rips the heart out” – The New York Times) shouts his name again. Adapted by the legendary team of Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost from François Boyer’s successful-in-America novel, with a haunting hit score played by guitar virtuoso Narciso Yepes, the ultimately beautiful, hilarious and disturbing Games initially did so-so box office and screened only on the fringes of the Cannes Festival, then nearly got shut out of Venice — where it promptly won its top prize, the Golden Lion — and then became a worldwide art house smash and Clément’s second Best Foreign Film Oscar winner (following the previous year’s The Walls of Malapaga). Approx. 87 min. DCP.

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NO SKIN OFF MY ASS, Bruce LaBruce
MoMA

1991. Canada. Directed by Bruce LaBruce. With LaBruce, Klaus von Brücker, G.B. Jones. Hailed by the critic Amy Taubin as “sweeter than Warhol, subtler than Kuchar, sexually more explicit than Van Sant,” LaBruce’s debut feature emerged during the efflorescence of queer cinema in the early 1990s. Shot in grainy Super-8, the picture centers around a hairdresser who falls for a handsome, taciturn skinhead, and their peculiar courtship is punctuated by memorable sequences with the skin’s sister, a lesbian underground filmmaker with plans to make a movie about the Symbionese Liberation Army. No Skin Off My Ass is like That Cold Day in the Park replayed as a punk rock daydream, yet here Robert Altman’s idiosyncratic thriller has become a lo-fi love story, featuring LaBruce as a swishy stand-in for Sandy Dennis. Now a homocore classic, No Skin is a complex exploration of how subculture is articulated through style, and a poignant study in erotic fascination. 73 min.

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WHAT TIME IS IT IN THERE?, Tsai Ming-Iiang
Museum of the Moving Image

Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 2001, 116 mins. 35mm. With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Lu Yi-ching. Hsiao-kang, now selling wristwatches on the streets of Taipei, has a fateful brief encounter one day with Shiang-chyi, a young woman about to leave for France. Things are messy at home, with Hsiao’s mother seeing his father’s reincarnated spirit everywhere, so he escapes by fantasizing about the stranger he barely knows, and the film details their parallel stories. While he sets Taipei clocks to Paris local time, she wanders a strange city alone; while he watches The 400 Blows, she has a chance meeting with star Jean-Pierre Léaud in a Parisian cemetery. “Filled with purposeful, if absurd, activity rendered gravely hilarious through Tsai’s deadpan, distanced representation of extreme behavior.” (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice).

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***SATURDAY, APRIL 25***

OBSESSION, Brian De Palma
BAM

Nearly twenty years after his wife’s tragic death, a guilt-ridden man (Robertson) meets her exact lookalike (Bujold)—cue obsessive makeover and intricate series of double crosses. With a script by Paul Schrader, endlessly swirling camerawork, and a deliriously romantic score by Vertigo composer Bernard Herrmann, De Palma’s florid tribute to Hitchcock creates a spellbinding mood all its own.

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4 VERTIGO, Les LeVeque
BAM

Hitchcock’s film is sped up, compressed, and jumbled into a nine-minute, kaleidoscopic hallucination.

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ALIEN, Ridley Scott
IFC Center

“Critic’s pick! Scott’s sexually radical, chest-bursting horror landmark features H.R. Giger’s obscenely phallic beastie stalking a remarkably tony cast, including Ian Holm, John Hurt, and Sigourney ‘Hell, I’ll battle this thing in my skivvies’ Weaver. Forget the vastly overrated Blade Runner; this is Scott’s best film, period.” – Time Out New York

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FULL MOON IN PARIS, Eric Rohmer
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“He who has two women loses his soul; he who has two houses loses his mind.” In Rohmer’s fourth Comedies and Proverbs film, Louise, a young interior decorator (Venice Film Festival Best Actress winner Pascale Ogier), keeps two residences—one with her boyfriend, Remi, and one without. She chases the freedom of the single life in her Paris pied-à-terre, while Remi stays in the other residence, seemingly a homebody. Rohmer’s finely drawn characterization brings out the confusions and small devotions that complicate a familiar paradox, rarely rendered with such subtlety and maturity. With Fabrice Lucchini as Louise’s friend. A Film Movement release.

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NIGHTHAWKS, Ron Peck
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Ron Peck and Paul Hallam raised funds for their groundbreaking feature debut piecemeal, relying in part on confidential gifts from gay public figures. No film had shown what it was like to be an openly gay man in 1970s London: the keeping-up of daily appearances; the tiring, often demoralizing work of club-hopping and cruising; and the difficulties of making—and finding—lasting romantic commitments. Nighthawks is, quite simply, a priceless artifact from a period in British history when love, for many, could only be found furtively and in the dark.

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WILL YOU DANCE WITH ME?, Derek Jarman
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

In 1984, Derek Jarman was doing research for his friend Ron Peck (Nighthawks, also showing in Art of the Real), who was working on a gangster movie to be set within London’s nightclub scene. The chief product of that research was this haunted, transfixing study of one night at a gay bar in East London’s Mile End district. Jarman was one of the earliest British filmmakers to experiment seriously with digital video, and in Will You Dance with Me? he found the format’s ghostly blurring of light and color perfectly matched to his subject. (The chiseled young man whom Jarman studies reverently in the movie’s last minutes would become an actor in his Super-8 work The Angelic Conversation.) “I don’t know that I’ve seen dance better filmed,” BFI curator William Fowler has said of the footage.

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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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JOURNEY TO THE WEST, Tsai Ming-Iiang
Museum of the Moving Image

Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 2014, 56 mins. Digital projection. Tsai’s latest is a study in defiant serenity amid chaos. In the daytime hustle-bustle of Marseille, Lee Kang-sheng, dressed in the orange robes of a Buddhist monk, inches his way along the street at a snail’s pace, his head hung down and eyes fixed on the pavement, to the mystification of the passersby not too busy to notice. Journey to the West is one of a series of films Tsai made with Lee’s Walker character, drawing inspiration from the life of a seventh-century monk who traveled China in search of Buddhist scriptures. Preceded by Walker (2012, 27 mins), in which Lee’s monk makes his way through frantic Hong Kong.

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STRAY DOGS, Tsai Ming-Iiang
Museum of the Moving Image

Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 2013, 138 mins. DCP. With Chen Shiang-chyi, Lee
Kang-sheng, Lee Yi-cheng. Tsai’s most majestically desolate feature stars Lee Kang-sheng as a father caring for two young children despite dire poverty, all living in a shipping container while he works as a human signpost to advertise luxury real estate. Keeping the exact nature of interrelationships willfully vague—Why does a female grocery store clerk take a matronly attitude towards the children? How do they land in this bleak, waterlogged apartment with their mother?—Tsai proceeds with a sort of dream-logic to a mysterious, cathartic conclusion that seems to summarize his body of work from Vive L’Amour to Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

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***SUNDAY, APRIL 26***

SANS SOLEIL, Chris Marker
BAM

This sublime essay film journeys across time and space—from a cat temple in Tokyo to the streets of Guinea-Bissau to the San Francisco of Hitchcock’s Vertigo—as an unseen narrator reads aloud letters sent to her by a fictional globetrotting cameraman. One of the towering achievements of Marker’s career, Sans Soleil is at once a mesmeric travelogue and a profound and poetic rumination on life, death, and consciousness.

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BELL, BOOK AND CANDLE, Richard Quine
BAM

Stewart and Novak reteamed just after Vertigo for this enchanting romantic fantasy in which a modern-day witch (Novak) living in Greenwich Village casts a love spell on her book publisher neighbor (Stewart). There is plenty of frothy fun—the witches are portrayed as kooky beatniks and Ernie Kovacs steals scenes with his surreal, oddball shtick—but also a poignant undercurrent of real romantic longing that makes this a fascinating companion to Hitchcock’s film.

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TRISTANA, Luis
IFC Center

“Luis Buñuel’s 1970 masterwork, adapted from a novel by Benito Perez Galdos. Catherine Deneuve is a young woman unhappy with the constraints of turn-of-the-century Spanish society; her mild revolt is rewarded by an amputated leg. Buñuel conjures with Freudian imagery, outrageous humor, and a quiet, lyrical camera style to create one of his most complex and complete works, a film that continues to disturb and transfix. With Fernando Rey and Franco Nero.” – Dave Kehr

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THE AVIATOR’S WIFE, Eric Rohmer
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“It is impossible to think of nothing.” Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs series begins with the misunderstandings of youthful obsession, the vagaries of chance encounters, and Paris, always. When a law student (Philippe Marlaud) sees his girlfriend (Marie Rivière) step out of her apartment with her ex, he trails the man around the city, fearing the worst. But his private fears in public places are put into delightful perspective by an impish younger student (Anne-Laure Meury) he runs into. Shot in 16mm and featuring a song sung by Arielle Dombasle (as well as a vintage ’80s man purse). An NYFF19 selection.

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BOYFRIENDS AND GIRLFRIENDS, Eric Rohmer
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“The friends of my friends are my friends.” Rohmer uses the amorous misadventures of two girlfriends in the Paris suburbs to test the old adage in the final episode of his Comedies and Proverbs series. Taking an identifiable stab at a yuppie(ish) set, Rohmer’s witty Shakespearean roundelay involves two friends, buttoned-up Blanche (Emmanuelle Chaulet, in a superb debut) and free-spirit Lea (Sophie Renoir), and their current amours. The pair are tempted by each other’s love interests, testing both their friendship and their understanding of matters of the heart. An NYFF25 selection.

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BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, George Roy Hill
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

George Roy Hill’s classic Western made Redford and Paul Newman one of cinema’s iconic duos. Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) are gentleman outlaws, robbing banks and trains across a rapidly civilizing frontier. When things get too hot, they flee to Bolivia, where “you get a lot more for your money”—and get a lot more than they bargained for. Co-starring Katharine Ross (The Graduate) as Redford’s love interest, schoolteacher Etta Place, the film won Oscars for William Goldman’s endlessly quotable script, Conrad Hall’s lyrical cinematography, and Burt Bacharach’s score and original song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” which accompanies a memorable bicycle interlude. Redford named his Park City film festival after his character here, and Newman’s summer camp for children with serious illnesses shares a name with Butch and Sundance’s Hole in the Wall Gang.

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A GOOD MARRIAGE, Eric Rohmer
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

“Who has not built castles in Spain?” Art-student Sabine (Béatrice Romand, the teenager in Claire’s Knee) swears off affairs with married men in favor of finding a good husband. But there’s a small problem with her selection process: she decides to pursue lawyer Edmond (André Dussollier) after meeting him just once at a party (thanks to matchmaker friend Clarisse, played by Arielle Dombasle). And dashing Edmond is not exactly on board with the program… The second of Rohmer’s Comedies and Proverbs films goes out to anyone who ever made a decision and stuck with it to the tragic end.

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THE ROYAL ROAD, Jenni Olson
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

The docks of Oakland; roadside marker bells in Pasadena; the Spanish king Carlos III; expansionism in 19th-century America; the Franciscan mission-founder Junípero Serra; The Golden Gate Bridge; Casanova’s Story of My Life; Jules Laforgue’s “Solo By Moonlight”; William Wyler’s Roman Holiday. The essential San Francisco filmmaker Jenni Olson’s latest essay film is an associative, inquisitive meditation on love, remembrance, and California history structured around a trip down El Camino Real. The Royal Road riffs often and exquisitely on Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil—both films include key, lengthy discourses on Hitchcock’s Vertigo—but this movie’s voice, alternately dispassionate, confessional, and melancholic, is entirely Olson’s own.

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PAST PRESENT, Tsai Ming-Iiang
Museum of the Moving Image

Dir. Tiong Guan Saw. 2013, 76 mins. Digital projection. With Chen Shiang-chyi, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ang Lee. Preceded by Walking on Water (Dir. Tsai Ming Liang, 2013, 30 mins). With Shiang-chyi, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ang Lee. Malaysian filmmaker Tiong Guan Saw’s documentary creates perhaps the most intimate filmed portrait of Tsai by asking him to tell his story from the very beginning—the city of Kuching, where he was raised, and the cinemas where he religiously consumed kung-fu movies with his grandparents—before following him to Taiwan, where he relocated in the 1970s. Tsai’s recollections are combined with testimonials from longtime collaborators like Lee Kang-sheng and Chen Shiang-chyi, as well as admiring colleagues like Ang Lee and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Preceded by Walking on Water (Dir. Tsai Ming-liang, 2013, 30 mins.), in which Lee’s Walker monk traverses the Kuching housing block that Tsai grew up in.

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GOODBYE, DRAGON INN, Tsai Ming-Iiang
Museum of the Moving Image

Dir. Tsai Ming-liang. 2003, 82 mins. 35mm. With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi, Kiyonobu Mitamura. It’s the last night for a crumbling Fu-Ho movie theater in Taipei, and the film is Dragon Inn (1966), the seminal wuxia by Taiwan-based filmmaker King Hu. The kinetic soundtrack contrasts the theater’s melancholy, slow-moving denizens, including a female box-office attendant with a limp, a cruising Japanese tourist, and two of the stars of Hu’s film. Filled with expertly timed sight gags, Goodbye, Dragon Inn is Tsai’s rueful backwards glance at the disappearance of the filmgoing culture of his youth—and one of the seminal films of the 21st century. “Its simple, meticulously composed frames are full of mystery and feeling; it’s an action movie that stands perfectly still” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times). Preceded by The Skywalk Is Gone (2002, 25 mins. 35mm), a return to the characters of What Time Is It Over There?

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