The 20 Best Films Playing In New York This Weekend: Stillman, Lester, Coppola + More

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 than by seeing some great films—be they new 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 for you to happily disappear into. Here are 20 film showings in New York this weekend that have us running to the theater.

***FRIDAY, AUGUST 7***

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW — A Debauchery-Filled and Beloved Midnight Movie Classic

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Jim Sharman // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 10:45 p.m.

Grab the nearest virgin you know, drag them to this midnight-movie classic, and dare to do the time warp again! After the car of straitlaced couple Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) breaks down, they encounter a weird mansion full of over-sexed, cross-dressing aliens. Although the event will be “silent” (the audience will hear the audio through wireless headphones provided at the screening), talking back to the film and singing are still, of course, strongly encouraged. — The Film Society of Lincoln Center

JUGGERNAUT — A Tighter and Generally Superior Addition to the ’70s All-star Disaster Cycle

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Richard Lester // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 4:15 9:15

A tighter and generally superior addition to the ’70s all-star disaster cycle that included Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno, Lester’s Juggernaut tracks the frantic activity aboard the luxury liner Britannic after a terrorist announces the vessel will be sunk at dawn the following day. Expertly cast in a rare action-hero role, Richard Harris is the bomb-defusing expert tasked with disarming the explosives. Meanwhile, on dry land, a Scotland Yard inspector (Anthony Hopkins), whose family is aboard the ship, races to discover the identity of the bomber known as “Juggernaut.”The Film Society of Lincoln Center

ROYAL FLASH — The Exploits of Rakish 19th-century Soldier

Richard Lester // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 6:45

A great fan of The Flashman Papers, a series of novels by George MacDonald Fraser about the exploits of rakish 19th-century soldier Harry Flashman, Lester sought to make a film of the first book, which detailed Flashman’s misadventures in Afghanistan. The project was shuttered, but the success of Lester’s Musketeers films (scripted by Fraser) and the similarity of the second book to cinematic evergreen The Prisoner of Zenda enabled that story to reach the screen—the only Flashman tale filmed thus far. Malcolm McDowell plays the titular cad, forced by Otto von Bismarck (Oliver Reed) to impersonate a Danish prince and marry a German duchess (Britt Ekland).The Film Society of Lincoln Center

I, A WOMAN — This Nitehawk Naughty Ignited a Wave of Sexploitation Films

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Mac Ahlberg // Nitehawk Cinema – 12:25 a.m. Fri through Sat

Based on the novel Jeg – en kvinde, I, A Woman chronicles the evolution of a young woman named Siv who goes from the church to the bedroom. However here’s the twist: despite sexually devouring men (Stevenson says she’s “in love with the male gender as a totality”), she shuns any sense of real intimacy with the men who eventually fall for her. That is, until she meets a man just like her. Despite bad reviews and being banned throughout the globe, Mac Ahlberg’s I, A Woman ignited a wave of sexploitation films as it managed to be the highest grossing film upon its release in Denmark and grossed millions when released in the United States in the late 1960s. On its success, American director Radley Metzger said, “What happened was that she [Siv] touched women, there was something in this girl’s personality, in her story, that touch an awful lot of women in the audience…”Nitehawk Cinema

THE RED SHOES — “There’s no other picture that dramatizes and visualizes the overwhelming obsession of art, the way it can take over your life.”

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Michael Powell // MoMA – 4:30 p.m.

Drawing from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name and, it has been suggested, the tumultuous relationship between Ballets Russes founder Sergei Diaghilev and Vaslav Nijinsky, The Red Shoes is a saga about a talented ballerina torn between love and aesthetic commitment. Famous for the beauty of its Technicolor images, the film has been hailed by Scorsese as one of the greatest ever made. He once wrote that “there’s no other picture that dramatizes and visualizes the overwhelming obsession of art, the way it can take over your life. But on a deeper level, in the movement and energy of the filmmaking itself, is a deep and abiding love of art, a belief in art as a genuinely transcendent state.”MoMA

BLACK NARCISSUS One of the Most Ravishing of all Technicolor Films and a Tour de Force of Set Design

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger // MoMA – 8:00 p.m.

Psychological tension reigns in this tale of British nuns who establish a convent and dispensary in a former harem in Hindustan. The exotic and erotic atmosphere of their new home seeps into the nuns’ cloistered existence, memories of the past compounding uncertainties about the present and pushing each to her own unravelling. Cinematographer Jack Cardiff and art director Alfred Junge both won Oscars for making what is acclaimed as one of the most ravishing of all Technicolor films and a tour de force of set design. The film was exclusively shot in the United Kingdom but convincingly conveyed the vast landscapes and detailed interiors of India to British audiences on the verge of parting with a fading empire. Anselmo Ballester’s dramatic Italian release poster suggests that meditations on purity, passion, memory, and empire took on their own significance for Italian viewers emerging from the war.MoMA

ON THE WATERFRONT — Winner of 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Supporting Actress

On the Waterfront (1954) Directed by Elia Kazan Shown: Marlon Brando
Elia Kazan // Film Forum – 12:30 5:10 7:30

“I coulda been a contender,” agonizes Marlon Brando’s pidgeon-raising ex-pug Terry Malloy, as he gets mixed up in corruption and murder in a Hoboken longshoremen’s union, thanks to brother/mob mouthpiece Rod Steiger, then must face victim’s sister Eva Marie Saint. Winner of 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Screenplay (Budd Schulberg) and Cinematography (Boris Kaufman).Film Forum

LAST TANGO IN PARIS — Succès de Scandale, Keyed by Brandos Most Self-revelatory Performance

Bernardo Bertolucci // Film Forum – 9:45 p.m.

Post-sexual revolution Brief Encounter à Paris, as tormented widower Marlon Brando makes immediate contact with funky Maria Schneider in an empty apartment. Succès de scandale, keyed by Brandos most self-revelatory performance.Film Forum

THE GODFATHER — I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse…

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Francis Ford Coppola // Film Forum – 1:00 6:45

“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is back from WWII and opting out of The Family, until an attempted hit on dad Marlon Brando pulls his back in. Oscars for Best Picture, Screenplay, and Actor– to Brando, though Supporting Actor-nominated Pacino’s part is bigger.Film Forum

SEVENTEEN — A Monumental Non-fiction Film about Working-class Teenagers

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Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines // BAM – 7:00 p.m.

This is coming of age, as witnessed in Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines’ monumental non-fiction film about working-class teenagers—girls and boys, white and black. Kids smoke dope, get drunk, sass their teachers, disobey the taboo against race-mixing, and try to break away from their mothers and fathers. The result is a free-flowing intimacy with the teenagers’ world, and “the immediacy is refreshing, and shocking. As searing as it is rambunctious, this film brings out all the middle-class prejudices against the working class that American movies rarely confront” (Michael Sragow, The New Yorker). – via BAM

***SATURDAY, AUGUST 8***

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT — “The Citizen Kane of Jukebox Musicals”

Richard Lester // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 1:00 p.m.

Called “the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals” by Andrew Sarris, The Beatles’ debut feature is madcap fun incarnate. Capturing the bewildered Fab Four in the first flush of Beatlemania, Lester integrated an array of techniques, notably the vérité looseness of the French New Wave, and indulged the anarchic humor of the bandmates. Following them on their first American tour, where they’re mobbed by fans at every turn, Lester creates a proto-mockumentary, as the insouciant quartet navigate press parties and rehearsals and endeavor to carve out time for themselves. Including such Beatles standards as “If I Fell” and “She Loves You,” A Hard Day’s Night pioneered the multi-angle practice of filming live performances—decades later MTV would proclaim Lester the “Father of the Music Video.”The Film Society of Lincoln Center

THE FLAVOR OF FREEN TEA OVER RICE — Essentially a Comedy, What the Japanese Call a Tsuma-mono

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Yasujiro Ozu // IFC Center – Fri through Sun

“THE FLAVOR OF GREEN TEA OVER RICE looks as much like a social history as it does a classic Ozu work… essentially a comedy, what the Japanese call a tsuma-mono, or wife film, about an upper-middle-class marriage, one that has been arranged in the old-fashioned way and now is falling gently apart as the childless couple approach middle age. – via IFC Center

HELP! — Forecasting Lester’s Later Work in Their Surrealism and Blending of Action and Comedy

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Richard Lester // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 3:00 p.m.

When the phenomenal success of A Hard Day’s Night mandated another starring vehicle for The Beatles, Lester was the only conceivable choice to direct. This time the “plot” involves a religious order headed by Leo McKern (who pops up in The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film), seeking Ringo’s ring for a sacrificial rite. Whatever. The gags are hilarious, drawing on Lester’s background in advertising (rapid, colorful, cleverly devised), and the plot ingredients forecast his later work in their surrealism and blending of action and comedy. The incomparable soundtrack features “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” “Ticket to Ride” (as the boys romp in the snow), and the title tune.The Film Society of Lincoln Center

THE BED SITTING ROOM —  Lester’s Most Audacious Experiment

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Richard Lester // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 7:15 p.m.

Lester’s greatest professional setback, The Bed Sitting Room now stands as perhaps his most audacious experiment. Adapted from a play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus imagining a dystopian England three years after nuclear war, Lester’s film situates absurd Monty Python–esque sketches amid a desolate landscape of ruins and ash. Seventeen-months-pregnant Penelope (The Knack…’s Rita Tushingham) and her family leave the subway train that has sheltered them since World War III to seek help above ground. There they find deranged survivors attempting to go on with their lives who are prone to spontaneously mutating into animals or furniture—including bed-sitting rooms. Featuring some of Britain’s top comics, including Dudley Moore, Peter Cook, and Milligan himself, the film’s surreal humor did not connect with audiences in its day, but offers a vision of social collapse so acrid that the laughs catch in your throat. – via The Film Society of Lincoln Center

BLUE VELVET — Stay Alive Baby, Do it for Van Gogh

David Lynch // BAM – 4:30 9:30

David Lynch cemented his reputation as a true visionary with Blue Velvet, burrowing beneath the surface of idyllic suburban America to reveal a sinister underworld of sex and violence. A college student (MacLachlan) becomes entangled with a nightclub chanteuse (Rossellini) and her psychopathic lover (Hopper) after stumbling upon a severed human ear. One of the most controversial films of the 1980s.BAM

BLOOD SIMPLE — The Coen’s Offbeat Sensibility was Introduced  With This Stylish Pulp Thriller

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Joel Coen and Ethan Coen // BAM – 2:00 7:00

The Coen brothers introduced audiences to their offbeat sensibility with this stylish pulp thriller about a Texas bar owner (Hedaya) who hires a detective (Walsh) to kill his cheating wife (McDormand). Unfolding in a twisty maze of murder, misunderstanding, and betrayal, Blood Simple is arguably the most sensational directorial debuts ever—playing like Dashiell Hammett crossed with Evil Dead and laced with a cool sense of irony. – via BAM

***SUNDAY, AUGUST 9***

METROPOLITAN — Stillman’s Seminal Comedy of Manners

Whit Stillman // The Film Society of Lincoln Center – 12:45 2:45 4:45 7:00 9:30 Fri through Sun

Whit Stillman’s seminal comedy of manners introduced audiences to the “UHBs” (urban haute bourgeoisie), those mordantly ironic socialites too highbrow for their own good, and in the process brought a class-conscious verbal flair to 1990s independent cinema. Home on winter break during the debutante season, middle-class Princeton student Tom (Edward Clements) falls in with the “Sally Fowler Rat Pack,” a group of Upper East Side friends named for the girl (Dylan Hundley) whose apartment they use for after-hours parties. As naif Tom is accepted into the group, he becomes smitten with Audrey (Carolyn Farina) while struggling with his feelings for his ex Serena (Elizabeth Thompson), and batting declarations of grandeur from conservative Charlie (Taylor Nichols) and dandy Nick (Stillman axiom Chris Eigeman). Stillman’s worldview is wryly detailed and intimate, with clear affection for his characters.The Film Society of Lincoln Center

THE TALES OF HOFFMAN — An Eye-popping Cinematic Translation of Jacques Offenbach’s Opera

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Michael Powell // MoMA – 5:30 p.m.

With its elegant overlay of images and curving typography that recalls the outstretched limbs of a ballerina, the large-format poster for The Tales of Hoffmann, designed by Marc Stone, is a centerpiece of Scorsese Collects. The film, an eye-popping cinematic translation of Jacques Offenbach’s opera, is equally remarkable. The mise-en-scène is everywhere resplendent, from the stage design to the extravagant costuming. Powell and Pressburger’s treatment of these fantastical stories—about an uncanny automaton, a seductive courtesan, and a soprano who sings herself to death—was hugely important to Scorsese, who watched the film repeatedly while cutting Raging Bull. “The music and choreography are both the dancers and the camera, which told the story,” Scorsese observed, “and this is something that stayed with me in my work over the years, in all my films the choreography of the camera played to the music and how the two are combined, complementary to each other.”MoMA

SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA — Demme’s Film Version of Spalding Gray’s Acclaimed One-man Show

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Jonathan Demme // BAM – 2:00 7:00

Legendary raconteur Spalding Gray weaves a spellbinding tale about his experiences in Southeast Asia in Jonathan Demme’s film version of his acclaimed one-man show. Brilliantly synthesizing the personal and political, Gray’s monologue moves disarmingly between the comic (his description of a Thai brothel) and the serious (his growing awareness of genocide in Cambodia), aided by music by Laurie Anderson. – BAM

LET’S GET LOST — Bruce Weber’s Unbearably Poignant Elegy to the Iconic Jazz Singer and Trumpeter

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Bruce Weber // BAM – 4:00 9:00

Fashion photographer Bruce Weber’s Oscar-nominated documentary of Chet Baker is an almost unbearably poignant elegy to the iconic jazz singer and trumpeter. Contrasting archival footage of Baker as a gorgeous emblem of 1950s cool with the ruined heroin junkie he became, Let’s Get Lost—shot in sublimely shadowy monochrome—drifts hauntingly between past and present. – via BAM

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