The Best Film Events, Series, and Retrospectives Happening in New York This May

Film

Although the weather may be toying with your hearts and wardrobes, May is but a few days away. As we begin to shed our late spring layers, a new cinematic year begins to unfold as some of the most highly-anticipated films of 2015 screen at the Cannes Film Festival come May 13. Stateside, the spring and summer season is also rife with premieres we’re excited to experience. But amidst all the new films on the horizon, it’s a treat to slip away into the past for a bit and catch up on a wealth of rare and fantastic work that isn’t playing at your local multiplex. From IFC Center and The Film Society of Lincoln Center to BAM and Anthology Film Archives and more, April is the perfect month to indulge in myriad retrospectives, screenings, and events.

So whatever your film fancy, peruse our list and start planning out your viewing schedule now. Enjoy.

***IFC CENTER***

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Celluloid Dreams, Ongoing

With the rise of digital technology, 35mm film prints have become an increasing rarity. IFC Center’s new ongoing series offers the chance to see classics and rediscoveries projected exclusively on their original celluloid format on the big screen. “Celluloid Dreams” hopes to stem the digital tide, and remind viewers there really is emotion in the emulsion. Don’t miss the chance to see these great films on film before it’s too late! Series programmed by C. Mason Wells.

The Comfort of Strangers

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Queer/Art/Film: Black Summer Nights, May 11th through August 17th

“This summer Queer/Art/Film is excited to present “Black Summer Nights,” a celebration of queer African-American artists and their unique role in shaping American culture and history. We’ve handed the reins over to our special guest curators, filmmaker Stephen Winter and poet Pamela Sneed, who have selected four luminary African-American New York queer artists and will lead audiences in rousing and riveting post-screening discussions.”

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Waverly Midnights, Ongoing

A rotating selection of some of our most popular midnight movie offerings. All shows free for Auteur-level members.

Mad Max
Blue Velvet
House

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Deneuve x 8, through June 7th

“Imperious, perverse, remote, and radiant, Catherine Deneuve is a monument to French poise and pulchritude. Francois Truffaut, Luis Bunuel, and Roman Polanski are among the Continental auteurs who have been captivated by her. Now, the IFC Center honors her with ‘Deneuve x 8′, a program of her best-known films.” – The New York Times

The Young Girls of Rochefort
Repulsion
The Last Metro

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***BAM***

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3D in the 21st Century, May 1st through 17th

The unprecedented resurgence of 3D in the last decade has expanded the visual and emotional possibilities of cinema in frequently wondrous—and sometimes divisive—new ways. At its best, the technology creates almost hallucinatory immersive landscapes and retina-dazzling surprises with an immediate visceral impact. From big-budget blockbusters to high-concept mind-benders by arthouse icons, this first-of-its-kind series surveys recent films that showcase the full range of stereoscopic cinema’s expressive potential.

Goodbye to Language
Pina
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Step Up 3D

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Artists, Amateurs, Alternative Spaces: Experimental Cinema in Eastern Europe, 1960-1990, May 19th through 28th

Amid postwar disillusionment in the system and waves of enthusiasm for socialism, experimental filmmaking in Eastern Europe flourished from the 1960s through the 1980s. Defying genre conventions despite the risk of censorship, artists used alternative spaces such as amateur film clubs, festivals, and funded studios to create independent work and experiment with early video practices.

Innocence Unprotected
Reminisces of a Journey to Lithuania
Shorts

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John Schaefer presents The Man Who Fell to Earth, May 7th

Soundcheck host John Schaefer joins philosopher Simon Critchley (author of the recently published book Bowie) for a conversation about the film that made David Bowie a screen icon. A human-like alien (played by alien-like human Bowie) crash lands on Earth to retrieve water for his planet, but instead discovers pain, loneliness, and the sick soul of American society. Nicolas Roeg’s science fiction mind-bender is a provocative parable about diseased capitalism in a television-obsessed culture told in a swirl of hallucinatory imagery.

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Arun Venugopal presents I Vitelloni, May 8th

Micropolis creator Arun Venugopal presents an early-career triumph by one of his favorite filmmakers, Italian cinema legend Federico Fellini. This bittersweet buddy film follows five aimless young men dreaming, scheming, and chasing girls in a small seaside village. Featuring music by Nino Rota, this semi-autobiographical character study is full of Fellini’s robust humor and poetic touches, all cloaked in a poignant haze of nostalgia. “It’s my favorite Fellini film, possibly his most personal effort and by far his funniest.” —Andrew Sarris

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David Garland presents Naked Lunch, May 6th

Movies on the Radio and Spinning on Air host David Garland comes to BAM to discuss the work of three-time Academy Award-winning film composer Howard Shore, who wrote the music for this brilliant mind-melter. A writer and cockroach exterminator (Weller) gets hooked on his own insecticide, accidentally kills his wife, and winds up in the frighteningly surreal Interzone, where typewriters transform into giant talking bugs and shadowy agents peddle a drug called The Black Meat. William S. Burroughs’ bizarro Beat novel finds its perfect interpreter in David Cronenberg, who brings it to the screen with all its weirdness and melancholy fully intact.

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***ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES***

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Written by Philip Yordan, May 15th through 24th

From 1945, when his script for a Monogram gangster flick was nominated for an Academy Award, until the early 1960s, when he wrote a series of overbaked Europudding epics, Philip Yordan was one of the most prominent screenwriters in Hollywood. Capable of turning out multiple scripts a year, Yordan worked in every genre from science fiction to melodrama, and with everyone from Anthony Mann to Joseph Mankiewicz. He was also a total fraud.

Johnny Guitar
Blowing Wind
The Big Combo

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Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It, May 8th through 10th

Anthology is very pleased to welcome filmmaker Christopher Kirkley to present three screenings of his film AKOUNAK TEDALAT TAHA TAZOUGHAI. Alongside these special screenings we’re showcasing some of the film’s influences including PURPLE RAIN, THE HARDER THEY COME, and two Jean Rouch films: MOI, UN NOIR and JAGUAR.

Purple Rain
The Harder They Come
Moi, Un Noir

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Downtown New York Theater: Behind the Scenes, May 14th through 17th

For this weekend-long program, Anthology celebrates three of NYC’s most acclaimed and important avant-garde theater companies – Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, and The Wooster Group – with screenings of several behind-the-scenes documentaries chronicling the creation of some of their most extraordinary productions. Taken together, the films demonstrate the astonishing creativity and inventiveness of these three companies in particular, as well as the craft of theater in general: the grindingly hard work, the endless repetition, the collaborative effort, the balance between spontaneity and discipline, and the mysterious relationship between onstage and off, all of which culminate in the heightened moment of live performance.

The Wooster Group
Elevator Repair Service
Nature Theater of Oklahoma

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This Is Celluloid: 35MM, May 29th through June 21st 

As the medium of celluloid (or more accurately but far less evocatively, polyester) is rapidly pushed towards obsolescence, and the new digital standard, DCP, continues to invade not only the world’s multiplexes but also those repertory theaters and museums devoted to screening movies from the art form’s first century, Anthology stands fast in its commitment to keeping 35mm and 16mm and 8mm alive! Though our devotion to screening films in their original formats holds true throughout our programming, we’ve decided the moment is right to present a series designed specifically to highlight the unique beauty (which DCP can approximate, but never equal) of celluloid, and to celebrate the exquisite textures, glorious colors, and unique qualities of light that are becoming a tragically rare sight on our cinema’s screens in the 21stcentury.

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The Masque of Red Death
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

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Journey to the West, May 5th through 7th

Following his 2013 feature film STRAY DOGS, Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang (VIVA L’AMOUR, THE RIVER, THE HOLE) threatened to retire from filmmaking. Happily, that sad state of affairs has been postponed, with the appearance of JOURNEY TO THE WEST, the latest and longest in Tsai’s series of films focusing on the figure of the Walker. Previously seen in six short films, the Walker is a carmine-robed monk, played by Tsai’s perpetual lead actor and muse, Lee Kang-sheng, and loosely based on the life of Xuanzang, a seventh-century Buddhist monk who painstakingly traversed Asia for seventeen years in search of “the void.” Moving through various landscapes, both urban and natural, with eyes downcast and palms upwards, the Walker proceeds at an excruciatingly slow, nearly imperceptible pace, his brilliant red vestments and near-stillness transfiguring the environments through which he travels. Taking slow-cinema to its logical extreme, and embodying with utter conviction Buddhist notions of time and existence, the Walker films are profoundly serene and contemplative, and highly revealing in their depiction of the reactions of innocent passersby to Lee’s radically detached presence.

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***MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE***

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Horror Mother’s Day & Horror Father’s Day, May 10 through June 21st

The primal bond between parent and child are undeniable, and are at the heart of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which are observed on Sundays in May and June as though they are national holidays. For anyone looking for an alternative to Hallmark sentimentality, or for those parents—or non-parents—with great taste in movies and an appetite for horror, here are six classic movies to mark the occasions.

Psycho
Rosemary’s Baby
Eyes Without a Face

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O Brazil: Contemporary Brazilian Cinema, May 8th through June 19th

O Brazil continues witha slate of recent films about musicbut not the kind you would expect from Brazil. Whether as a source of inspiration for the story, such as the music by Legiao Urbana in Brazilian Western; or a part of the everyday soundtrack in a film about everyday life (She Comes Back on Thursday); or as a vehicle for profound change, such as the Brazilian punk in After the Rain; music is ever-present and profoundly bound to narrative in these films.

After the Rain
She Comes Back on Thursday

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Portraying the Human Condition: The Films of Masaki Kobayashi and Tatsuya Nakadai, May 15 through 24th

Legend has it that the director Masaki Kobayashi (1916–1996) discovered the young actor Tatsuya Nakadai working as a shop clerk in Tokyo and, casting him in a small part in his film The Thick-Walled Room (1953), gave Nakadai his first role, initiating one of the most legendary collaborations in all of Japanese cinema. “Nakadai embodied postwar individualism and youth culture—in his clear enunciation and strong, deep speaking voice and in his expressive body movements, facial mobility, and willingness to convey deeply felt emotions, rather than repressing them on behalf of an outworn notion of samurai dignity,” wrote film historian Joan Mellen. This perfectly suited Kobayashi, a pacifist who had suffered for his convictions during World War II. Summarizing his work, he said “All of my pictures are concerned with resisting entrenched power. I suppose I have always challenged authority.” Nakadai, returning to Museum of the Moving Image for the third time, now realizes a dream of revisiting his collaborations with Kobayashi, including their anti-war masterpiece, the ten-hour trilogy The Human Condition.

Black River
The Inheritance
Kwaidan

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***THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER***

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I Put a Spell on You: The Films of Bertrand Bonello, through May 4th

Few filmmakers working currently are as skilled as Bonello at grounding wide-angle social critiques in the physical movement of bodies through space: a couple trapped in winter gridlock; an aging pornographer and his much younger stars; a commune of revolutionary hedonists; a house of 19th-century prostitutes; a psychotic aesthete and the object of his desire; a fashion designer and his rotating coterie of friends and admirers. A trained composer, Bonello approaches his movies like pieces of music, allowing competing tonal elements to collide and rearrange themselves in bracing configurations. The result is a body of work that consistently pushes viewers into new and surprising territory.

Saint Laurent
The Pornographer         

House of Pleasures 

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Print Screen, Karl Ove Knausgaard and ‘The Idiots

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Sounds Like Music: The Films of Martín Rejtman, May 13th through 19th

With Rapado, his 1992 debut feature, Martín Rejtman single-handedly revitalized Argentine narrative film. The five movies he’s made since—including his poker-faced new work Two Shots Fired, receiving a one-week run as part of this retrospective—are models of stylistic precision, narrative structure, and comic pacing. From his early studies of young people drifting in and out of financial solvency (Silvia Prieto, The Magic Gloves) to his recent excursions into nonfiction (Copacabana) and hybrid filmmaking (Elementary Training for Actors, co-directed with the playwright Federico Léon), Rejtman has developed a canny, wholly original serio-comic voice. Romantic confusion, investment troubles, unemployment, youthful aimlessness, the numbing rush of city life, and the revivifying power of music and dance: in Rejtman’s movies, the business of modern urban living—and specifically, of living in Argentina during the country’s millennial economic crisis—comes off as both familiar and thrillingly strange. Programmed by Dennis Lim with Isa Cucinotta.

Elementary Training for Actors
The Magic Gloves
Two Shots Fired

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***NITEHAWK CINEMA***

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The Works: Jeff Goldblum

The evolution of who we know as Jeff Goldblum is on display in our very special two-part series of THE WORKS: JEFF GOLDBLUM. Featuring a carefully considered selection of films and divided into two categories, Barely Goldblum and Full Goldblum, we trace the trajectory of his early “blink and you’ll miss it” career all the way up to his now iconic roles in which we see him embrace the “Goldblum-ness” we all know and love. We’ll begin with Death Wish, The Sentinel, and Annie Hall and will then move up through Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly, Buckaroo Banzai, Earth Girls Are Easy and Jurassic Park.

Death Wish 
Annie Hall 
Jurassic Park

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Nitehawk Brunch Screenings

The Hunt for Red October
Dr. Strangelove
Rocky IV

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***FILM FORUM***

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Satayajit Ray’s The Apu Trilogy, May 8th through 28th

In the early 1950s, commercial artist Satyajit Ray was determined to film a novel by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee that he had previously illustrated, shooting on weekends, commuting to the location by bus, and eventually pawning his wife’s jewelry until a providential government grant enabled the work to go on. The result, along with the two continuations that followed, was the beginning of one of the screen’s greatest works, perhaps the cinema’s greatest bildungsroman ever.  

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Felix Moehller’s FORBIDDEN FILMS – The Hidden Legacy of Nazi Film, May 13th through 19th

From filmmaker/film historian Felix Moeller (director of HARLAN – IN THE SHADOW OF THE JEW SÜSS) comes this thoughtful, provocative analysis of the 40 Nazi-produced movies still banned from broadcast or public screening in Germany (except in a scholarly context) because they are considered too inflammatory or offensive. The Third Reich’s anti-Semitic films are well-known (among them THE ETERNAL JEWTHE ROTHSCHILDSJEW SÜSS), but less famed are their anti-British and anti-Polish dramas, featuring heroic young Germans, mercilessly bullied by greedy, deranged foreigners. Nearly 70 years after the demise of the Nazis, do Joseph Goebbels’s notorious propaganda movies still pose a threat to civil society? See this galvanizing documentary and judge for yourself. 

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Beggars of Life introduced by William Wellman, Jr., May 4th

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***MOMA***

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MoMA Presents: Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky, April 9th through May 3rd

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.

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MoMA Presents: Tudor Christian’s Jurgiu’s The Japanese Dog, May 21st through 27th

A standout of New Directors/New Films 2014, Tudor Cristian Jurgiu’s feature debut returns to MoMA for a weeklong run. A striking departure from the gallows humor of the Romanian New Wave, Jurgiu’s Chekhovian The Japanese Dog instead pays loving homage to the tender and gently comical family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, Late Spring and There Was a Father in particular. Victor Rebengiuc, a legendary veteran of stage and screen, imbues the elderly Costache Moldu with a stoic yet fragile dignity, as he reunites with his estranged son after losing his wife and home in a devastating flood. Exquisitely attuned to the rhythms of nature and rural life—and the melancholy beauty of transient things—The Japanese Dog comes by its emotions honestly and poignantly.

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Barbara Hammer’s Welcome to This House, a Film on Elizabeth Bishop, May 26th through June 1st

With her latest work, Barbara Hammer, who is known for films about lesbian life, history, and sexuality that draw upon avant-garde tradition, examines the little-known aspects of the life of the Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979). Hammer’s film, shown here in its New York premiere, explores Bishop’s inner life through the homes in which she lived and wrote—from childhood to her final days—and through the more private and sensorial poems that were published after her death. Featuring music composed and performed by the experimental singer and musician Joan La Barbara; Bishop’s intimate poems read by Kathleen Chalfant; three actors representing Bishop’s physical presence at different stages of her life; and interviews by historians, poets, and students, Welcome to This House sensitively portrays a complex, private, and challenging writer whose poetry continues to inspire.

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Jean-Francois Caissy’s Guidelines, May 26th through June 1st

Guidelines is the second in Jean-Francois Caissy’s series of five documentary features exploring distinct stages of life, from old age, to the teenage years, to young adulthood, and to early childhood. (La Belle visite [Journey’s End, 2009], which focused on old age, was the first in the series.) Guidelines uses long, observational takes to record teens attending a rural Quebec secondary school. Daily activities on school grounds—studying, practicing cheerleading moves, riding bikes in gym—are contrasted with their “external” activities at play in the vast Canadian landscape—burning rubber on back roads, climbing and diving off of bridges over streams in summer, snowmobiling through the snowy woods in the winter. The film respectfully records both authority figures and the teens while school counsellors respond to students’ various misdemeanours, from disturbing other class members or hitting a sibling to bullying and more. The teens’ social discomfort dissolves beyond the walls of the institutional atmosphere, and their nervous energy is absorbed by the great outdoors.

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Japan Speaks Out! Early Japanese Talkies, May 6th through 20th

“During the early years of the Showa period (1926–1989), while Japan’s silent cinema reached new artistic heights, Japanese filmmakers took the first steps towards sound film. Whereas in the West the transition to sound was abrupt and practically complete by around 1930, in Japan it stretched over almost a decade, although a considerable number of films (part-talkies, films shot silent with added music or sound effects, etc.) made limited use of sound technology. it was not until 1936 that the majority of films produced in Japan were full talkies. This retrospective focuses on this transition period, showing how the Japanese cinema gradually adopted the techniques and exploited the potential of sound film.

Seiyukai sosai Tanaka Giichi-shi enzetsu (The Speech of Prime Minister Tanaka) 
 Tonari no Yae-chan (Our Neighbour, Miss Yae)    
Kagayaku ai (Shining Love)

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