Popcorn & Candy: The Killer Inside Me Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn (Kerry Brown/30WEST-Roadside Attractions)

BEAST

Moll (Jessie Buckley) lives with her mum and ailing father on the island of Jersey in the English Channel. She sings in the choir and seems to lead a good life, but after running away from her 27th birthday party, she meets troublemaker Pascal (South African musician Johnny Flynn) and begins an uneasy romance. The tension doesn’t just stem from her new beau’s crude manners; a serial killer is targeting young girls on the island–and he’s a prime suspect. Writer-director Michael Pearce pulls a few corny tricks in this tale of trust and belated-coming-of-age, and the thread gets a bit lost in the third act. But Buckley and especially Flynn effectively play their roles of troubled and not entirely sympathetic people who are willing to love each other even at their worst.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema, Arclight Bethesda, Angelika Fairfax, and AMC Shirlington.

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Moritz Bleibtreu and his three-legged friend (Film Movement)

BYE BYE GERMANY

It’s 1946. Frankfurt businessman David Bermann (Moritz Bleibtreu of Run Lola Run) and his friends dream of leaving for America, and become door-to-door salesmen to raise money for their trip. But how did David manage to be the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust? When a U.S. military investigator presses him for answers, he reveals the bitterness behind his humor. The script, which novelist Michel Bergmann adapted from his novel (with an assist by director Sam Garbarski) could have used a more cynical eye behind the camera–you can imagine Billy Wilder going even darker with this material.  But Garbarski (Irina Palm) still navigates this darkly comic tale with a minimum of sentiment, despite the fact that the movie opens with a three-legged Jack Russell terrier, of all things. It’s probably far better than The Day the Clown Cried will turn out to be.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema.

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Robert Mitchum and Susan Hayward

THE LUSTY MEN

The AFI’s Robert Mitchum tribute continues next week with this 1952 drama directed by Nicholas Ray. Mitchum stars as a retired rodeo champ who teaches newcomer Arthur Kennedy the ropes. Bosley Crowther’s New York Times review commends “candid use of camera that would stand out in the documentary field,” so this would be useful to compare to the excellent The Rider, still playing at Landmark Bethesda Row.

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 at the AFI Silver.

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Clotilde Hesme and Louis Garrel (Senses of Cinema)

REGULAR LOVERS

In the late ’60s, Philippe Garrel was involved with the cinema collective Zanzibar, made up of Paris filmmakers whose underground work is largely lost and forgotten. As part of its series, Paris, May ’68: Zanzibar and Philippe Garrel, the National Gallery of Art is screening a 35mm print of Garrel’s 2005 dramatization of the era, starring his own son. This screening will be preceded by the director’s short film “Actua 1,” an 8-minute documentation of May 1968. This weekend the Gallery also presents Garrel’s rarely screened  1972 film The Inner Scar (May 20 at 4:30 pm),  starring singer Nico, his then partner and co-scriptwriter, as a woman wandering through the desert. If memory serves, there was a scratchy clip of this in the 1995 documentary Nico Icon, and it was not good, but where else are you going to see it?

Watch the trailer.
Regular Lovers screens Saturday, May 19 at 2:30 pm at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium.

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PANDEMONIUM

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society screen this 1982 comedy starring Tom Smothers and Paul Reubens as Canadian Mounties hunting down a killer at a cheerleader camp. Co-starring Carol Kane, Tab Hunter, and Judge Reinhold, whom I sometimes mix up with Judd Hirsch. Try not to think about that when you’re watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, May 21 at 8 pm at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, stay tuned for my Washington Post review of Show Dogs, starring Will Arnett as an FBI agent who reluctantly partners with a Rottweiler (the voice of Ludacris) to go undercover at a Las Vegas dog show. Yes, it’s a talking animal movie, and not bad as these things go!

 

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Popcorn & Candy: Watch All The Things Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week. 

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Juliette Binoche (IFC Films)

LET THE SUNSHINE IN

In this sort-of romantic sort-of comedy from director Claire Denis (Bastards), Juliette Binoche stars as Isabelle, an artist struggling with her work and, even more so, with her boorish and mostly married lovers. While this may all sound like a tedious French non-non, this talky drama has something of the elegance of Alan Rudolph, a jazz score by Tindersticks’ Stuart A. Staples setting a tender, compassionate mood for characters that just can’t seem to get it together.

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at Landmark West End Cinema 

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(Kino Lorber)

GRACE JONES: BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI

Come for the hats, stay for the intimate backstage and family footage in director Sophie Fiennes’ profile of the androgynous disco diva. The movie could use a tighter edit, but  seeing Jones behind the scenes–whether chiding a French production team for setting her performance of “La Vie en Rose” in what looks like a brothel, or attending a tent revival in her Jamaican hometown–makes her more human. Can somebody put her in a remake of Johnny Guitar?

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema.

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Kim Min-Hee and Isabelle Huppert (The Cinema Guild)

CLAIRE’S CAMERA

Set in Cannes during the film festival, the latest from prolific Korean director Hong Sang-soo (Right Now, Wrong Then) is at least the third of his films to not-so-obliquely address his scandalous off-screen affair with actress Kim Min-hee (The Handmaiden). Here, she plays a production assistant who’s just been fired. She befriends a vacationing high school teacher (Isabelle Huppert) who takes Polaroids of the people she meets–people who may well know each other in the biblical sense.  Somebody should program a triple-bill of Claire’s Camera, Let the Sunshine In, and Choose Me, each of which navigates a complicated romantic web with varying degrees of goofy charm.

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at Landmark West End Cinema.

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Samantha Robinson (Oscilloscope)

THE LOVE WITCH

As part of its celebration of Oscilloscope Laboratories, the truly-indie film studio founded by the late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, the AFI Silver offers a selection of its greatest hits, including director Anna Biller’s gorgeous homage to Technicolor horror. In my Washington Post review in 2016, I wrote that “it’s a stunningly photographed, fascinating reinterpretation of classic melodrama.”

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, May 12 at 10:30 pm and Thursday, May 17 at 9:45 pm at the AFI Silver.

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ROLLER BLADE

The Washington Psychotronic Film Society describes this 1986 sci-fi comedy thusly: “The Sisters of the Cosmic Order of Roller Blade, worshipers of the Smiley Face, guard a crystal of power, and the evil Dr. Saticoy will do anything to have it. While his minions kidnap the good marshal’s gun-happy son, another is sent to infiltrate the sisterhood. Will she join the rollerskating sisters in their fight? Will the hand puppet giving orders finally get some? And just how many nuns will get naked before the film ends?”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, May 15 at 8 pm at Smoke and Barrel.

Opcorn and Andycay: Oldgay Iggersday Ditioneay

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week. Now with more aggregation!

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(IFC)

GHOST STORIES

Co-directors Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson adapt their popular stage play for the big screen with this spooky triptych framed by the travels of a professor (Nyman) who makes a career out of debunking the paranormal claims.  The professor’s skepticism is unsettled by three stories, told by a night watchman (Paul Whitehouse), an agitated young man (Alex Lawther) and an uptight businessman (Martin Freeman). Cinematographer Ole Bratt Birkeland shot the film in rich hues that conjure a menace  as eerie as it is beautiful; but the storytelling framework breaks up the tension that should build naturally from a scary tale. One wonders if the stage play, with its more limited resources, was in fact a more frightening prospect.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema.

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SOUR APPLES

I previewed two titles from this year’s FilmFest DC for the Washington City Paper.  Of this Turkish drama, I wrote, “FilmfestDC has long specialized in the international crowd-pleaser, and this family epic set during a tumultuous era in Turkey is just that kind of politically aware yet ultimately safe movie. Writer/director Yilmaz Erdogan (who starred in the great Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and directed the biopic The Butterfly’s Dream) stars as the mayor of a rural village and the father of three beautiful daughters, each of whom is courted by a hopeful suitor. Sour Apples starts off as a broad 1970s comedy that depicts villagers as country bumpkins who don’t even know how to use shampoo. But as the characters bump into history—namely, the Turkish coup of 1980—and grow up, the more somber tone makes better use of the strong ensemble cast. The mayor’s attempt to tame the sour apple trees in his orchard is too on-the-nose as metaphors go. Still, by the time the movie reaches the 1990s, it succeeds thanks to a simple yet potent dramatic device: the passage of time.”

Watch the trailer.
Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. at Landmark E Street Cinema.

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(Mandarin Vision)

THE BOLD, THE CORRUPT, AND THE BEAUTIFUL

In my WCP preview of FilmFest DC, I wrote, “Ya-che Yang directed this Taiwanese crime drama about Madame Tang (Kara Wai), who lords over three generations of businesswomen caught in the middle of a hopelessly complicated and violent land-grab. Wai, who starred in the 1981 Shaw Brothers classic My Young Auntie, won Taiwan’s equivalent of an Oscar for her performance as the ruthless matriarch, and continues her late-career resurgence with the kind of role that would have been perfect for Joan Crawford in another time and another place. The Bold, the Corrupt, and the Beautiful is wildly inventive but too densely plotted for its vivid central performances to really take hold. Still, the movie features intermittent commentary from a kind of Greek chorus in the form of an elderly female musician, decked in fabulous finery, who sings traditional songs about the family’s misfortune. Richly hued costumes and strange magical interludes contribute to a spectacle that will look great on the big screen, but this convoluted tale of corruption is, in the end, a lush, violent story about inflated real estate values.

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, April 28 at 6:15 p.m. at Landmark E Street Cinema.

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GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933

My Critic’s Pick in this week’s Washington City Paper, in which I wrote, “During the Great Depression, Hollywood responded to America’s bleak mood with even more glamorous spectacle. Some of the greatest musicals of the 1930s feature a wild visual invention that was positively psychedelic—thanks to choreographer Busby Berkeley, whose elaborate staging turned flanks of chorus girls into geometric patterns synchronized to bubbly pop. Gold Diggers of 1933 was the height of Berkeley’s terpsichorean imagination, its famous centerpiece featuring Ginger Rogers wearing a costume made of silver dollars and singing “We’re in the Money”– in pig Latin. But even this escapist entertainment doesn’t ignore the financial crisis in the real world: the movie opens with a rehearsal of a show that’s suddenly shut down because the producers haven’t paid their bills. Shown on a triple bill with 42nd Street and Footlight Parade as part of a book event for Harvey G. Cohen, author of Who’s in the Money? The Great Depression Musicals and Hollywood’s New Deal, who will introduce the screening.

Sunday, April 29 at 3:45 p.m. at the AFI Silver. The triple bill starts at 1 p.m.  with 42nd Street.

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BANGKOK LOCO

The Washington Psychotronic Film Society describes this 2004 Thai film as “a delirious camp action-fantasy-musical comedy [that] tells the tale of a rock ‘n’ roll drummer drawn into the ancient struggle between Good and Evil. Our mop-haired hero is on the lam, framed for killing his landlady, dodging cops that couldn’t catch a cold. But there’s gonna be battle-of-the-bands, and he needs to practice the Drums of the Gods. Packed with more gags, parodies, and in-jokes than can possibly be understood by an American.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also recently opened: Kodachrome, a straight-to-Netflix drama starring Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen and Ed Harris. Read my Spectrum Culture review here.

Sad Ponies and Death Cults Top Your Movie Picks This Week

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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(Sony Pictures Classics)

THE RIDER

In this heartbreaking, impressionistic drama, Brady Jandreau stars as a young rodeo star struggling to recover from an injury that has left him unable to ride. We watch Brady tend to his horses, argue with his father, and visit his friend Lane, a once-promising rider who’s now a paraplegic. Set on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the second feature from director Chloé Zhao’s feels so intimate and real that you begin to wonder what the story is behind these broken people; for the most part, what you see is indeed a fictionalized account of real lives.  Zhao takes an almost Bressonian approach with her non-professional cast, examining this self-destructive, iconic slice of American life with  great compassion for these vulnerable men — and great poetry.

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema, :Landmark Bethesda Row, and Angelika Mosaic.

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(Well Go USA)

THE ENDLESS

Two brothers (co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) revisit the UFO death cult they escaped 10 years ago and find themselves trapped in something much bigger than Kool-aid. With its barren, remote locations, this indie horror film establishes its distinct world and rhythm early on and never lets go, so even if the brothers’ curiosity seems like the behavior of standard-issue stupid-horror-movie-people, their journey is mesmerizing and creepy.

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at the Angelika Pop-up at Union Market.

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(MY Little Shaw Brothers’ Movie World)

KING DRUMMER

My Critics Pick in this week’s Washington City Paper, where I wrote, “In this colorful 1967 musical, prolific Taiwanese actor Yun Ling plays a drummer who grew up playing rhythms on rusty oil barrels. His career gets a boost when he’s picked to replace the hot-shot percussionist in a popular band, but those sequined tuxedos he wears can’t protect him from a rival who would just as soon beat him like a tom-tom. King Drummer is director Umetsugu Inoue’s remake of his own 1957 film, The Stormy Man, reportedly adapting his Japanese style to suit the dynamic pop aesthetic of Hong Kong’s legendary Shaw Brothers. As part of the Freer Gallery of Art’s homage to Inoue, ‘Japan’s Music Man,’ it screens this violent melodrama set in a world of swinging ’60s nightclubs where drum solos can make or break a band.”

Sunday, April 22 at 2 pm at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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(10k Bullets)

EVILS OF THE NIGHT

Mohammed Rustam (James Dean: Race with Destiny) directed this 1985 horror movie about a group of sun-worshiping teens that gets kidnapped by blood-hungry hillbillies. The Washington Psychotronic Film Society writes, “Between the sex, lasers, synth-pop, feathered hair, bikinis, and axe-wounds, this one’s got something for everyone.” And with a cast that includes  John Carradine, Aldo Ray, Julie Newmar, and Tina Louise, how can it miss?

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 23 at 8 pm at Smoke and Barrel 

Also opening this week: the highway patrol comedy Super Troopers 2; read my Washington Post review here; and the found footage horror movie Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum; read my Spectrum Culture review here.

Popcorn and Candy: 35mm Musical Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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(Strand Releasing)

THE WORKSHOP

Antoine (Matthieu Lucci) is an angry young man living in La Ciotat, a once thriving industrial town in the south of France whose abandoned shipyard is a sad reminder of past glories. He’s signed up for a writer’s workshop led by Paris crime writer Olivia (Marina Fois), and as the class flexes its creative muscles, Antoine’s violent imagination begins to frighten his fellow students–and his teacher. Director Laurent Cantet (The Class) and her sprawling cast navigate class and racial tensions that will seem all too familiar to American audiences, but the strong performances don’t quite make up for a fairly predictable and contrived environment.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at The Avalon.

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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

My Critic’s Pick in this week’s Washington City Paper, where I wrote, “While Swedish director Ingmar Bergman put his knight into battle with the personification of death in a game of chess, British cinema took a more romantic approach to wrestling with fate. In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1946 fantasy A Matter of Life and Death, Peter, a downed Royal Air Force pilot (David Niven at his most dashing), falls in love with June (Kim Hunter), an American Women’s Army Corps radio operator who makes radio contact with his doomed plane. When Peter escapes death as his escort to the afterworld loses him in the English fog, he gets the rare chance to plead his case to stay alive. Screening in a new 4K digital restoration, the film’s most dazzling aspect, an escalator carrying souls from Earth to heaven, gives this Technicolor masterpiece an alternate U.S. title that you may be more familiar with: Stairway to Heaven.”

Friday, April 13, Sunday, April 15, and Wednesday, April 20 at the AFI Silver. 

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THE GREEN MUSIC BOX

The Freer’s series Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man continues this weekend with a 35mm print of the director’s 1955 musical action movie–for kids! Adapted from the novel by Makoto Hojo, the project was the first use of the Koniclor film process, and stars 14-year old Ruriko Asaoka in her screen debut as a girl who battles a spy trying to get intelligence from her father.

Sunday, April 15 at 2 pm at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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IN CALIENTE

Next week the Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress presents a 35mm preservation print of this rarely revived Delores Del Rio musical, with production numbers directed by Busby Berkeley. Del Rio stars as a Mexican dancer who draws the attention of a New York theater critic, much to the chagrin of his fiancee. Shown with the Vitaphone short “Check Your Sombrero.”

Thursday, April 19 at 7 pm at the Mary Pickford Theatre, third floor of the Madison Building, Library of Congress. Free. Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. Doors open at 6:30 pm

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(joshsisk.com)

CALL GIRL OF CTHULU

I’ll let the Washington Psychotronic Film Society describe this 2014 horror comedy inspired by the work of H. P. Lovecraft. “She’s turning wet dreams… into NIGHTMARES. A virginal artist falls in love with a call girl who turns out to be the chosen bride of the alien god Cthulhu. To save her, he must stop an ancient cult from summoning their God and destroying mankind…The entire screenplay is one giant Easter Egg for Lovecraft fans, featuring endless slimy monsters, an ancient cult, and a healthy dose of T & A (tentacles and ass).”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 16 at 7 pm at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, an animated feature about a stray mutt who becomes a decorated World War I hero. Read my Washington Post review. And see my Spectrum Culture review of Nicolas Cage’s latest post-apocalyptic disaster, The Humanity Bureau.

Skip Dancing Elders and Go Straight to Amour Fou at the Movies This Week

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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(Roadside Attractions)

FINDING YOUR FEET

We are not living in the golden age of cinema made for and about those in their golden years, and if this senior Step Up is an improvement over the cold-opening The Leisure Seeker, that’s only because that’s such a low bar. In my Spectrum Culture review, I wrote, “There’s a healthy message in all this treacle, but viewers will quickly feel their teeth rotting away at the plot’s saccharine potential as seasoned actors David Hayman and Joanna Lumley shake their greying tail-feathers to yesterday’s pop hits.” Read my review here.

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at E Street Landmark Cinema, Landmark Bethesda Row, and Angelika Mosaic.

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(Rialto)

THAT MOST IMPORTANT THING: LOVE

In this week’s Washington City Paper, I wrote, “Nobody does amour fou quite like director Andrzej Żuławski (Possession), and That Most Important Thing: Love, a rarely screened 1975 melodrama, is one of his best films. Romy Schneider stars as an aging actress who’s resorted to softcore exploitation movies. She’s caught in a love triangle with her husband (Jacques Dutronc) and a photographer-producer (Fabio Testi). High-pitched emotions are met with swooning camerawork and Georges Delerue’s sobbing score, and the operatic insanity is capped off by the once reigning king of over-the-top performers: Klaus Kinski, who, in the play-within-the-film, stars opposite Schneider in a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III. Though the movie’s original French-language version wasn’t released in the U.S. until last year, the AFI Silver Theatre offers this violently passionate romance in all its French glory in a digital restoration for the new age.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 9, Wednesday April 11 and Thursday, April 12 at the AFI Silver.

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THE STORMY MAN

In conjunction with Jazz Appreciation Month at the Smithsonian (and following a week of Japanese jazz artists at Blues Alley), the Freer launches the series Umetsugu Inoue: Japan’s Music Man with this 1957 drama about a young ex-con (Yujiro Ishihara) who tries to make it as a drummer in the competitive Ginza jazz world. Inoue went on to direct a Hong Kong remake for the Shaw Brothers, released in 1967 as King Drummer.

Friday, April 6 at 7 pm at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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THIS NIGHT I’LL POSSESS YOUR CORPSE

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society presents the second installment in the Brazilian horror series directed by José Mojica Marins, who astarts in the films as   undertaker Zé do Caixão, aka Coffin Joe. Read a 2011 New York Times profile of Marins here.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 9 at 7 pm at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, Itzhak, a documentary about the rock star violinist. Read my Washington Post review here.

Tilda and Kong Attack In This Week’s Battle of the Big Screen Giants

Popcorn & Candy is DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.

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WITTGENSTEIN

In this week’s Washington City Paper, I write, “With a script co-written by literary critic Terry Eagleton, Derek Jarman’s 1993 meditation on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is dense with intellectual exploration, but this is no mere biopic or filmed lecture. Commissioned for British television, the film bursts with highly saturated color and low-budget inventiveness. To take just one example, Jarman stages an epistolary exchange between philosopher Bertrand Russell (Michael Gough) and his lover, Lady Ottoline Morrell (Jarman regular Tilda Swinton) in bold hues, Gough decked in a fire-engine red gown and Swinton in extravagant, feathered fuchsia. Karl Johnson plays the adult philosopher, but it’s Clancy Chassy as the young Wittgenstein who gets such juicy lines as, ‘The drunken chit-chat of British intellectuals bores me.’ This irreverent biography won’t.”

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, March 31 at 4 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Free.

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LADY SNOWBLOOD

You’ll need to take a reaaallly long lunch for this one, but the Freer is showing this 1973  revenge thriller as part of its series Monthly Matinees: Japanese Classics. An inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, the film, directed by Toshiya Fujita, follows a young woman who seeks to avenge the brutal murder of her parents.

Watch the trailer.
Wednesday, April 4 at 2 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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THE OLD DARK HOUSE

James Whale’s 1932 comic thriller, which the director made between the iconic Frankenstein movies, follows stranded travelers who stumble upon a spooky residence inhabited by a very strange family. Boris Karloff is the hulking lead, and the cast also includes Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton and Gloria Stuart. The AFI Silver is showing a 4K digital restoration.

Saturday, March 31-Thursday, April 4 at the AFI Silver.

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KONG ISLAND

This 1968 Italian thriller originally went by a title that translates to Eve, the Wild Woman, but an army of remote-controlled gorillas inspired American distributors to use this misleading name (there is no island).  Which gives short shrift to Eve, the neglected feral orphan all grown up and talking to the animals. Director Roberto Mauri, billed here as Robert Morris, was an actor in such Italian adventures as The Devil’s Gondola before getting behind the camera for spaghetti westerns like And his Name was Holy Ghost.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, see my review of the French wine-making drama Back to Burgundy in The Washington  Post.