20 Films to See This Week: De Palma, Argento, Burton + More

20 Films, New York

From IFC Center and BAM  to Film Forum and The Film Society of Lincoln Center, check out the 20 films to see this week around the city.

**MONDAY, MARCH 23**

SANTIAGO ALVAREZ SHORTS PROGRAM, Santiago Alvarez
BAM

LBJ (1968, 18min)
79 Primaveras (1969, 25min)
Now (1965, 5min)
Hanoi Martes 13 (1968, 38min)
Ciclon (1963, 22min)

READ MORE 

WESTERN, Bill and Turner Ross
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

Drug cartel violence and border politics threaten the neighborly rapport enjoyed for generations between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico. In their trenchant and passionately observed documentary, Bill and Turner Ross render palpable the unease and uncertainty of decent, hardworking folk as they are buffeted by forces beyond their control, including senseless acts of torture, murders committed just outside their homes, and the temporary USDA ban on livestock trade. Drawing on archetypes of rugged individualism and community, Western focuses on Mayor Chad Foster, who presides over Eagle Pass with a winning, conspiratorial smile; José Manuel Maldonado, his kindly Piedras Negras mayoral counterpart; and Martin Wall, a cattle rancher whose Marlboro Man stoicism melts away in the presence of his young daughter, Brylyn. Western firmly positions the Ross brothers at the frontier of a new, compelling kind of American vernacular cinema.

READ MORE 

BATMAN RETURNS, Tim Burton
IFC Center

Tim Burton put the goth back in Gotham for his hit 1992 sequel BATMAN RETURNS, which features a villainess who finds her strength through kinky black bondage wear, a theme song by goth queen Siouxsie and the Banshees and a script by black comedy genius Daniel Waters (HEATHERS). Though it was criticized by parental groups for being too dark, BATMAN RETURNS nonetheless struck a chord with a generation of “middle-American, tortured oddballs” like our guest presenter, performance artist and goth opera wunderkind Joseph Keckler, who remembers being “entranced by the deformed and power-hungry Penguin (Danny DeVito) and even more by the revelation of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer): undergoing a vampire-like interspecies resuscitation, she transforms from the scattered, apologetic and subservient Selina Kyle to an oversexed vigilante, whip in hand. Still floating around in the collective unconscious of my generation, like trash in the sewers of Gotham, are fantasies of being with her and being her, of coming back to life with claws.” Join us for a fabulously fun screening!

READ MORE 

DEATH LAID AN EGG, Giulio Questi
Anthology Film Archives

Giulio Questi’s giallo-on-acid, a pop art manifesto against mass production, takes the plot of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s DIABOLIQUE and turns it into something truly bizarre. Marco (Jean-Louis Trintignant) occupies the center of a love triangle involving his wife (Gina Lollobrigida) and her luscious niece (Ewa Aulin), at the high-tech chicken farm they run – and this busy man still finds the time to kill prostitutes on the side. This is poultry art at its best!

READ MORE 

FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, Dario Argento
Anthology Film Archives

A musician accidentally kills the stalker who had been menacing him over the phone. The killing is witnessed by a masked figure, and soon the musician is being blackmailed. One by one everyone around him turns up dead, making him the prime suspect. In this final installment of the ANIMAL TRILOGY, Argento takes his visual stylistics and set pieces to another level. Long unavailable, the film is presented in a rare archival 35mm print. Starring Michael Brandon and Mimsy Farmer.

READ MORE 

____________________________________________

**TUESDAY, MARCH 24**

PARABELLUM, Lukas Valentina RInner
Film Society of Lincoln Center

A Buenos Aires office worker finishes his day, visits his father in a rest home, lodges his cat in a kennel, and cancels his phone service. (Did you overhear the news report of riots and social unrest on the radio?) The next day, he and 10 equally nondescript individuals are transported up the Tigre delta in blindfolds and arrive at a secluded, well-appointed resort for a vacation with a difference. Instead of yoga and nature walks, the days’ activities range from hand-to-hand combat and weapons instruction to classes in botany and homemade explosives. Welcome to boot camp for preppers, the destination of choice for the serious Apocalypse Tourist. Austrian filmmaker Lukas Valenta Rinner handles his material in his home country’s familiar style, with cool distance, minimal dialogue, and carefully composed frames, interpolating the action with extracts from the invented Book of Disasters, a must-read for anyone warming up for the collapse of civilization as we know it. People, are you in?

READ MORE 

CHRISTMAS, AGAIN, Charles Poekel
Film Society of Lincoln Center

A forlorn Noel (Kentucker Audley) pulls long, cold nights as a Christmas-tree vendor in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As obnoxious, indifferent, or downright bizarre customers come and go, doing little to restore Noel’s faith in humanity, only the flirtatious innuendos of one woman and the drunken pleas of another seem to lift him out of his funk. Writer-director Charles Poekel has transformed three years of “fieldwork” peddling evergreens on the streets of New York into a sharply observed and wistfully comic portrait of urban loneliness and companionship. While Christmas, Again heralds a promising newcomer in Poekel, it also confirms several great young talents of American indie cinema: actors Audley and Hannah Gross, editor Robert Greene, and cinematographer Sean Price Williams.

READ MORE 

ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (aka THEY ARE COMING TO GET YOU), Sergio Martino
Anthology Film Archives

Jane (the queen of giallo, Edwige Fenech) is plagued by a recurring nightmare after losing her unborn child in a car accident. Her busy husband Richard (George Hilton) deals with it by plying her with pills, while her sister books sessions for her at the doctor. Things take a turn for the worse when the creepy blue-eyed man from her nightmares materializes in real life, and the upstairs neighbor enlists her in satanic rituals. Set in Swinging London, ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK is graced by Sergio Martino’s impeccable camera work and Bruno Nicolai’s terrific score.

READ MORE 

ADYNATA and MAYHEM
Light Industry

Adynata and Mayhem, two crucial works of experimental film from the 1980s, pursue a radical aesthetic agenda not merely on the level of content, but of form. They stand as living, moving arguments for a film language that is not only critical but generative. Rejecting all manner of constricting binaries—East and West, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual—this is not merely a deconstruction of cinema but its reconstruction. “Film has depended on voyeuristic active/passive mechanisms,” Mulvey notes in the final lines of her essay. “Women, whose image has continually been stolen and used for this end, cannot view the decline of the traditional film form with anything much more than sentimental regret.”

READ MORE 

TENEBRAE, Dario Argento
Anthology Film Archives

An American writer travels to Rome to present his new novel only to find himself implicated in a killing spree whose perpetrator is taking cues from his book. In one of his most personal films, the master of horror fires back at the wave of criticism that he was facing at the time. Featuring an outstanding score by Goblin (DEEP RED, SUSPIRIA), an infamous crane shot, and one of the most memorable chase scenes between man and dog ever filmed, this rare uncut 35mm print of TENEBRAE is not to be missed!

READ MORE 

____________________________________________

**WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25**

I AM CUBA, Mikhail Kalatozov
BAM

This retina-dazzling agitprop masterwork is Soviet filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov’s delirious dream vision of the Cuban revolution, in which the Felliniesque decadence of Batista-era Havana gives way to the explosion of Castro’s guerrilla uprising. A head-spinning mix of Constructivist aesthetics and sensuous photography, I Am Cuba pulses with “some of the most exhilarating camera movements and most luscious black-and-white cinematography you’ll ever see” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).

READ MORE

THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER, Nadav Lapid
Film Society of Lincoln Center

Nadav Lapid’s follow-up to his explosive debut, Policeman, is a brilliant, shape-shifting provocation and a coolly ambiguous film of ideas. Nira (Sarit Larry), a fortysomething wife, mother, and teacher in Tel Aviv, becomes obsessed with one of her charges, Yoav (Avi Shnaidman), a 5-year-old with a knack for declaiming perfectly formed verses on love and loss that would seem far beyond his scope. The impassive prodigy’s inexplicable bursts of poetry—Lapid’s own childhood compositions—awaken in Nira a protective impulse, but as her actions grow more extreme, the question of what exactly she’s protecting remains very much open. The Kindergarten Teacher shares the despair of its heroine, all too aware that she lives in an age and culture that has little use for poetry. But there is something perversely romantic in the film’s underlying conviction: in an ugly world, beauty still has the power to drive us mad.

READ MORE

SPRING BREAKERS WITH 35MM TRAILER PRE-SHOW, Harmony Korine
Nitehawk Cinema

Four sexy college girls plan to fund their spring break getaway by burglarizing a fast food shack. But that’s only the beginning. During a night of partying, the girls hit a roadblock when they are arrested on drug charges. Hungover and clad only in bikinis, the girls appear before a judge but are bailed out unexpectedly by Alien, an infamous local thug who takes them under his wing and leads them on the wildest Spring Break trip in history. Rough on the outside but with a soft spot inside, Alien wins over the hearts of the young Spring Breakers, and leads them on a Spring Break they never could have imagined.

READ MORE 

A BAY OF BLOOD (aka A TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE), Mario Bava
Anthology Film Archives

A wheelchair-bound heiress is murdered, and a chain of killings ensue, as everyone who has a stake in the pie struggles to eliminate anyone standing in the way of the inheritance. The situation is complicated by a group of teens who decide to go camping by the lake on the estate. Widely regarded as a pioneer of the slasher sub-genre, Bava’s high-body-count murder mystery is one of his most influential works.

READ MORE 

DIRTY PICTURES (aka AN IDEAL PLACE TO KILL), Umberto Lenzi
Anthology Film Archives

Dick (Ray Lovelock) and Ingrid (a teenage Ornella Muti) finance their carefree lifestyle by smuggling pornography from Scandinavia into Italy, but when they run out of money they resort to selling dirty pictures of themselves. Soon they are arrested and ordered to return to their country, but car troubles force them to make a pit stop at a villa where the apprehensive lady of the house (Irene Papas) is alone awaiting her husband. DIRTY PICTURES begins as a road film but slowly morphs into a chilling cat-and-mouse game. The result is a standout Giallo from prolific genre master Lenzi.

READ MORE 

____________________________________________

**THURSDAY, MARCH 26**

MERCURIALES, Virgil Vernier
The Film Society of Lincoln Center

With an eclectic assortment of shorts, documentaries, and hybrid works to his name, Virgil Vernier is one of the most ambitious young directors in France today, and one of the hardest to categorize. Taking a cue from Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Vernier’s most accomplished film to date trains his camera on the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet, shadowing two receptionists (Ana Neborac and Philippine Stindel) who work in the lobby of the titular high-rise. As the girls drift from one enigmatic situation to the next—going to the pool, visiting a maze-like sex club, hunting for new employment—Vernier’s visual strategies and narrative gambits grow ever more inventive and surprising. Beautifully shot on 16mm by cinematographer Jordane Chouzenoux and set to James Ferraro’s haunting electronic score, Mercuriales is that rarest of cinematic achievements: a radical experiment in form that also lavishes tender attention on its characters.

READ MORE

CARLITO’S WAY, Brian De Palma
IFC Center

Named the Best Film of the 1990s by Cahiers du Cinema “’30s-style gangster tragedy about a man doomed to an early grave by his society and his own code. Carlito (Al Pacino) wants out of the rackets, but to get there he has to ‘play Bogart’, running a discotheque, and even then he can’t escape his friends — lover Penelope Ann Miller and lawyer Sean Penn… Pacino looks every inch a movie star, and De Palma provides a timely reminder of just how impoverished the Hollywood lexicon has become since the glory days of the ’70s.” – Time Out (London)

READ MORE 

FOOTPRINTS ON THE MOON (aka PRIMAL IMPULSE), Luigi Bazzoni
Anthology Film Archives

Florinda Bolkan (INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE SUSPICION, DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING) plays an interpreter tormented by a recurring dream about two astronauts stranded on the moon. She soon travels to a distant seaside town and checks in at a dilapidated hotel where, to her surprise, she runs into a series of strangers who seem to know her. Beautifully lensed by the great Vittorio Storaro, this psychological giallo from Luigi Bazzoni not only delivers in terms of style and mystery, but is also an intriguing character study thanks to Bolkan’s inspired performance. Also starring Klaus Kinski and familiar giallo child-star Nicoletta Elmi (DEEP RED, DEMONS).

READ MORE 

THE PSYCHIC (aka SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK), Lucio Fulci
Anthology Film Archives

Following a premonition, a clairvoyant woman (Jennifer O’Neil) tears down a wall in her husband’s country house and discovers a skeleton. Preyed upon by terrifying visions, she sets out to find the truth with the help of a psychologist (Marc Porel), only to realize that her own life might be in danger. One of Fulci’s tightest works, this rare parapsychic horror gem features a score by Franco Bixio, Fabio Frizzi, and Vince Tempera.

READ MORE 

A NIGHT IN A DORMITORY, Harry Delmar
MoMA

1956. USA. Directed by Arthur Lubin. Screenplay by Devery Freeman, Stephen Longstreet. With Ginger Rogers, Barry Nelson, Carol Channing, James Arness, Clint Eastwood. After 10 years as a freelancer, Rogers returned to her former home base, RKO, for this pleasantly feminist comedy Western—which suitably proved to be the last film released by the battered studio. Under Arthur Lubin’s direction, Rogers returns to her plucky, career-girl persona of the 1930s, complete with squeaky voice: she’s a saleswoman with the unenviable assignment of peddling barbed wire to the open-range ranchers of Texas. Carol Channing, in her first credited movie role, is her comically gangly assistant; as her love interest, Lubin cast his personal protégé, an impossibly handsome young Clint Eastwood. This is likely to be the last public performance of this vintage 35mm IB Technicolor print, which suffers from “vinegar syndrome” and displays some warping in its final minutes. 92 min.

READ MORE