5 Fascinating Dramas to See in Theaters This Week That’ll Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat

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With a wealth of fantastic films playing in New York this weekend, the daily decision of which films to see is never easy. From the incredible Indie 80s series at BAM and Celluloid Dreams at IFC Center to Glorious Technicolor at MoMA and Crime-centric favorites at Film Forum, this summer is rife with movies to be rediscovered and cherished. But this week, there’s a certain handful of films that satisfy our cinematic appetite keep us on the edge of our seat. From Christian Petzold’s stunning new postwar film Phoenix to Jessie Maple’s rarely seen portrait of urban life Will, check out the fascinating dramas we’re dying to see in theaters this weekend, and if you’re more of a homebody, then check out some rare favorite films to stream here.

PHOENIX – One of the Year’s Most Stunning Films with the Performances That Haunt

Christian Petzold // IFC Center – Everyday at 10:40 a.m., 12:35 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 5:25 p.m., 7:45 p.m., 9:55 p.m.

A spellbinding mystery of identity, illusion, and deception unfolds against the turmoil of post-World War II Germany in the stunning new film from acclaimed director Christian Petzold (BARBARA, JERICHOW). Berlin, 1945: Nelly (Nina Hoss), a German-Jewish, ex-nightclub singer, has survived a concentration camp. But, like her country, she is scarred, her face disfigured by a bullet wound. After undergoing reconstructive surgery, Nelly emerges with a new face, one similar but different enough that her former husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), doesn’t recognize her. Rather than reveal herself, Nelly walks into a dangerous game of duplicity and disguise as she tries to figure out if the man she loves may have been the one who betrayed her to the Nazis. Submerged in shadowy atmosphere and the haunted mood of post-war Berlin, Phoenix weaves a complex, Hitchcockian tale of a nation’s tragedy and a woman’s search for answers as it builds towards an unforgettable, heart-stopping climax. – via IFC Center

Carol Reed // Film Forum — Everyday at 12:30 p.m., 2:40 p.m., 4:50 p.m., 7:10 p.m., 9:20 p.m.

In rubble-strewn postwar Vienna, its occupation divided among four powers, Joseph Cotten’s pulp Wester writer Holly Martins arrives to meet up with his old friend Harry Lime, only to find that he’s dead — or is he? And as the supremely naïve Cotten, a monoglot stranger in a strange land, descends through the levels of deception, and as he discovers his own friend’s corruption, the moral choices loom. A triumph of atmosphere — with its Vienna locations (including the gigantic Riesenrad ferris wheel and the dripping sewers), its tilted camera angels, its Robert Krasker-shot shadows, and Anton Karas’s unforgettable zither theme — and with its stars in perhaps their most iconic roles: bereted Trevor Howard at his most Britishly military; Alida Valli, here truly enigmatic and Garboesque; and Welles’ Harry Lime, arriving in one of the greatest star entrances ever, and adding the famous “cuckoo clock” speech to Greene’s original script, with the whole topped by its legendary, almost endlessly drawn-out finale shot. – via Film Forum

WILL A Hard-hitting Slice of Life Urban Drama


Jessie Maple // BAM – Monday at 7:00 p.m.

This hard-hitting, slice-of-life urban drama is widely cited as the first independent feature directed by an African-American woman in the post-civil rights era. A heroin-addicted basketball coach (Adedunyo) and his wife (Emmy winner Devine) adopt a troubled 12-year-old homeless boy. Shot on 16mm on the streets of Harlem, director Jessie Maple’s unflinching look at struggle and resilience in the inner city was made on a budget of just $12,000. “I wanted to show the neighborhood,” Maple said, “that everything was there, right in the neighborhood. No matter how low you are you can come back up. That’s what Will is. People can’t count themselves out that quick.” — via BAM

ROPE Playing in the True Crime Series

Alfred Hitchcock // Film Forum – Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m.

Hitchcock’s boldest technical experiment ever, told in a claustrophobic single set, as a murder by effete, thrill-seeking rich boys Farley Granger and John Dall (as characters clearly based on Leopold and Loeb) is exposed by Professor James Stewart. Shot in continuously moving ten-minute takes, with mid-reel cuts cleverly masked, the entire film seems to be composed of only four shots (count ‘em), causing as much suspense on the set as for the audience. – via Film Forum

MEAN STREETS Playing in the Scorsese Screens Film Exhibition

Martin Scorsese // MoMA – Wednesday at  8:00 p.m.

Mostly set in Little Italy, where Scorsese grew up, Mean Streets presents the neighborhood as a self-contained world, offering its denizens no escape from the tangled warren of tenements. The story of Charlie (Keitel), a young second-generation Italian American torn between making good in his family’s crime realm and escaping to a better life, is equal parts character study and, as Scorsese would later observe, anthropological tract. Peter Strausfeld designed the monochromatic woodcut-style poster for the Academy Cinema in London, where he designed custom posters from 1947 to 1980. – via MoMA