From Museum of the Moving Image to Film Forum, check out the 11 films you should be seeing in theaters this weekend.
***FRIDAY, JANUARY 15***
CAROL, Todd Haynes
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star in Todd Haynes’ (Far From Heaven, I’m Not There) acclaimed romantic drama about two women from different backgrounds who have an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. Therese (Mara), a young woman working as a clerk in a department store, is dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change. An adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s seminal novel The Price of Salt, Haynes’ latest “teases out every shadow and nuance of its characters’ inner lives with supreme intelligence, breathtaking poise and filmmaking craft of the most sophisticated order” (Variety).
FIGHT CLUB, David Fincher
“This is not an action movie, but a cerebral comedy – which is to say, an ideas movie. Some of those ideas are startling, provocative, transgressive, even subversive. They’re also pretty funny. It goes like this: Norton used to be an upwardly mobile urban professional; now, he’s pallid, neurotic and unhappy. Then he bumps into Tyler Durden (Pitt), his apartment blows up, and everything changes. Gaudy and amoral, Tyler’s an id kind of guy: living on the edge is the only way he knows to feel alive. Pitt’s raw physical grace embodies everything his alter ego has lost touch with; they trade body blows for fun, and you can sense the gain in the pain. Their ‘club’ draws emasculates from across the city; under Tyler’s subtle guidance, the group evolves into an anarchist movement. The film wobbles alarmingly at this point, then rallies for the kind of coup de grâce that sends you reeling. Jim Uhls’ cold, clever screenplay, from Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, is a millennial mantra of seditious agit prop. Shot in a convulsive, stream-of-unconsciousness style, with disruptive subliminals, freeze frames and fantasy cutaways, the film does everything short of rattling your seat to get a reaction. You can call that irresponsible. Or you can call it the only essential Hollywood film of 1999.” – Time Out (London)
RICHARD III, Laurence Olivier
“A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” Olivier’s limping, humped, memorably-nosed Richard zestfully schemes his way to the top; seducing Claire Bloom over the corpse of the husband he’s killed; drowning John Gielgud in a barrel of wine; barking ‘Off with his head!’ re Ralph Richardson; while giving color commentary in minutes-long, single-taked, lip-smacking soliloquys delivered direct to the camera.
SHARK MONROE, William S. Hart
Shark Monroe, the captain of a sailing vessel, is enjoying some off time in a Seattle saloon when he meets the pathetic Webster Hilton, who has gambled and drunk away the money for he and his sister’s passage to Alaska. Shark takes a liking to Marjorie, Webster’s sister, and decides to aid the siblings in their quest.
***SATURDAY, JANUARY 16***
JACKIE BROWN, Quentin Tarantino
In Tarantino’s adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s 1992 novel Rum Punch, we get the battle of the wits in Jackie Brown where a flight attendant, an arms dealer, an FBI agent, a detective, a bail bondsman, and a beach bunny are all out for that bag of half a million dollars. Things kick off when flight attendant Jackie Brown gets busted from smuggling money for her boss and is faced with a decision that will either set her free or end her life. Roger Ebert said in his review that it was, “a new film in a new style, and it evokes the particular magic of Elmore Leonard–who elevates the crime novel to a form of sociological comedy.” That, plus the magic of Pam Grier, Robert Forster, and Tarantino muse Samuel L. Jackson, pretty much define this Pulp Fiction follow up.
FORBIDDEN PLANET, Fred McLeod Wilcox
Too bad Leslie Nielsen’s space explorers aren’t packing their Freud – orThe Tempest – when they discover Walter Pidgeon and daughter Anne Francis as sole survivors from a previous expedition to Altair 4 (filling in for the Bard’s remote island) – plus of course faithful retainer Robbie the Robot, the R2-D2/C-3PO of his day.
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL, Jim Jarmusch
Museum of the Moving Image
At once his most enigmatic and exquisite film, with gorgeous cinematography by Wong Kar-wai’s cameraman Christopher Doyle, Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control follows the wanderings of a mystery man on a mystery mission through Spain.
***SUNDAY, JANUARY 17***
HOLY WEEK, Andrzej Wajda
The Film Society of Lincoln Center
As the Warsaw Ghetto burns, a Jewish woman seeks sanctuary with a former boyfriend on the Christian side of the city. Andrzej Wajda’s adaptation of Jerzy Andrzejewski’s short story Holy Week is an inquiry into the relationship between Polish Christians and Polish Jews during World War II. If Jan hides Irena in his home, he will be committing a crime for which the sentence in Nazi-occupied Poland is death for the perpetrator and his family. His humanitarian nature still shines through, and the two forge a tense but caring new chapter in their deeply rooted relationship.
A FOOL WAS THERE, Frank Powell
Unscrupulous vamp Theda Bara, in a role she was born to play, lures a man away from his wife and child, ruins him, and then casts him aside for another victim. Promoted by Fox Films as an exotic sex symbol, Bara was introduced as the Egypt-born daughter of a European actress and sculptor. In truth, she was born Theodosia Goodman in Cincinnati, Ohio, and her father was an émigré tailor. Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation/Park Service, the Film Foundation
BROOKLYN, John Crowley
Brooklyn tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan, Atonement, Hanna), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within. Directed by John Crowley(Boy A, Intermission) from a screenplay by Nick Hornby (Wild, An Education, About a Boy), Brooklyn also stars Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.
IN JACKSON HEIGHTS, Frederick Wiseman
Museum of the Moving Image
The teeming diversity of Jackson Heights, and Queens, is the subject of Frederick Wiseman’s acclaimed new film, one of the year’s best documentaries. As with the finest of his films, Wiseman has created a kaleidoscopic and novelistic view of his subject, here showing the many ways that people form smaller communities within a larger, chaotic world. Manohla Dargis in The New York Times called it “a thrilling, transporting love letter from Frederick Wiseman to New York and its multi-everything glory.”