Popcorn & Candy: Iranian Blues 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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Courtesy of The Freer

BLOCKAGE

The Freer’s 22nd annual Iranian Film Festival launches this weekend with this drama from director Mohsen Gharaie about a civil servant in charge of inspecting sttreet vendors in Tehran. Screen Anarchy writes that the film,  is just the latest in a long line of contemporary Iranian dramas whose tightly woven narratives succeed both in pulling the veil back on life in modern-day Iran, while simultaneously transcending their cultural roots to tell universal stories of desperate individuals just trying to get by. The results are engrossing, despairing and all-too-familiar.” Stay tuned later in the festival for 24 Frames (February 18),  the final work from director Abbas Kiarostami.

Watch the trailer.
Friday, January 12 at 7 p.m. at the Freer. Free.

 

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Courtesy of Sam Pollard

TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’

The Washington Jewish Film Festival continues it’s year-long programming with this 2017 music documentary. For DCist’s 2017 guide to FilmFest DC, I wrote, “In 1964, a number of young white blues fans (including Takoma-born guitarist John Fahey) journeyed to Mississippi in search of lost blues legends. But their difficult musical journeys coincided with the “Freedom Summer” that electrified the Civil Rights movement. Director Sam Pollard weaves together animated reenactments of the musical journey along with news footage of the Civil Rights movement along with interviews with both blues fans and musicians like Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams and Gary Clark, Jr.”

Watch the trailer.
Tuesday, January 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Edlavitch DCJCC. 

 

 

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Courtesy of Bistro Bohem

SCHOOL IS THE FOUNDATION OF LIFE

Bistro Bohem‘s monthly Film and Beer series starts off the new year with a 1938 comedy about the high jinks that ensue when an anonymous student criticizes a teacher in the school paper. Series favorite Martin Frič directed the film, whose plot keywords on the IMDb promise a hilarious “chemical accident.”  The screening includes a complimentary beer and an introduction by a representative from the Czech Embassy.

Tuesday, January 16 at 7 p.m. at Bistro Bohem, 600 Florida Ave NW. Free, but make reservations at 202/735-5895 or bistrobohem@gmail.com. Guests must arrive by 6:45 pm to keep their reservation. 

 

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PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society pays homage to the late Baltimore character actor Conrad Brooks, who died in December at the age of 85.  Brooks got his start in such exploitation films as The Beast from Yucca Flats and the early work of legendary schlockmeister Ed Wood, including Monday’s feature, perhaps the original so-bad-it’s good cult movie. Plan 9 will be preceded by a selection of highlights from Brooks’ career, which grew into that of a B-movie regular in such titles as A Polish Vampire in Burbank (1985) and  Jan-Gel, the Beast from the East (1999)

Monday, January 15 at 7 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

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Popcorn & Candy: See a Movie on 35mm and Don’t Pay Edition

Popcorn & Candy was DCist’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting movies playing around town in the coming week.  If like me, you resolve each year to see more movies on 35mm, you’re in luck; with a bit of jostling, next week you can see three movies on celluloid, including Paul Thomas Anderson’s highly anticipated Phantom Thread, opening in 70mm at the AFI Silver Thursday night (check showtimes here). Even better, the repertory screenings of Grand Illusion and Autumn Leaves are free!

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AUTUMN LEAVES (35mm)

Next week the Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress (n.b.: I work there, but wasn’t involved in this programming) offers an archival 35mm print of this 1956 melodrama directed by Robert Aldrich. Joan Crawford stars as a middle-aged woman who falls for a younger man (Cliff Robertson) with “a disturbing past.” Upon its release, The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther dismissively called it “a new agonizer,” but a 2004 Slant piece encourages readers to put aside preconceptions of camp; “Aldrich brings all his hard edges to this woman’s picture. The collision of his tough style with the soapy material makes for a film that never loses its queasy tension. ”

Watch a clip.
Thursday, January 11 at 7:00 p.m. 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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GRAND ILLUSION (35mm)

Jean Renoir’s 1937 antiwar masterpiece was one of the first movies screened at the Old Greenbelt Theatre when it opened 80 years ago. As a part of the venue’s anniversary festivities, this Sunday they’re screening a 35mm print of the film – for free! The late Roger Ebert called it, ” a meditation on the collapse of the old order of European civilization. Perhaps that was always a sentimental upper-class illusion, the notion that gentlemen on both sides of the lines subscribed to the same code of behavior. Whatever it was, it died in the trenches of World War I.”

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, January 7 at 12:30 p.m. at the Old Greenbelt Theatre, 129 Centerway, Greenbelt, Maryland. Free.

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FRANK SERPICO Post-screening Q&A with composer Bredan Canty (Fugazi)

New York City police officer Frank Serpico blew the whistle on institutional corruption in the ’70s, inspiring the classic film starring Al Pacino. In this 2017 documentary directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, the reformer tells his story in his own words. Part of the Avalon’s Film in Focus series, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty, who composed music for the film.

Watch the trailer.
Wednesday, January 10 at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre, 5612 Connecticut Avenue NW.

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MY MOM’S A WEREWOLF

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society offers this 1989 comedy-horror from director Michael Fischa (Death Spa). Susan Blakely stars as a bored housewife who meets a handsome  stranger (B-movie icon John Saxon) who, according to Psychotronic programmers, sends her “down an emotional and biological roller coaster, growing fur, fangs, and more than a bit feisty. It’s up to daughter Tina Caspary to save mom from a life of marital infidelity, domestic chaos, and house training.” Shown with the charming short Witch’s Night Out, an animated Halloween special from 1978 that features the voice talent of Gilda Radner and Catherine O’Hara.

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

Records of the Year

This year I loved new albums by Jens Lekman and Saint Etienne, among others. But thanks to one of the many Facebook groups whose members post the records they’re listening to, I find out about more strange records than is healthy for me. These are some of the more interesting I’ve stumbled upon and/or obsessed over.

Rev. Antonio C. Agpaoa ‎– My Meditations On Self-Awareness

The thickly accented ramblings of a Filipino “faith surgeon” who claimed to have the power of surgical healing simply by laying his hands on a patient, excerpts of this curiosity originally made the rounds on WFMU’s 365 Days project.

Mayhem – Give Up

A very limited release of the music from the punk episode of Quincy, produced for an Austin screening of the episode.

Medical English For German Doctors – Folge 2 House Calls

Last month I got a notification on Discogs that a Turkish user had an inexpensive copy of a rare avant-garde album that usually goes for hundreds of dollars; it was just missing the cover. That was gone by the time I inquired about it, but among the dealer’s listings were a series of these records made in the early’70s for German doctors studying English medical terms. Sleekly designed (each entry in the series has its own interior color scheme), the sets featured photography evocative of a Fassbinder film, and scripts in English and German to help you follow along with the miniature dramatizations. In the “Casualty” set, an emergency room nurse offers to get a doctor a cup of tea, but then a siren sounds, and the doctor regrettably passes up the offer in order to tend to the next patient.

Dinah Shore ‎– Dinah!

From a college library sale, a double-album set of the one-time talk show host singing, among other pop hits, Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave your Lover.”

Mitch Irish And The Friends ‎– The Capture Of Bigfoot

A holy grail that I wasn’t sure even existed until this year – when I contacted a member of the band, he insisted it was never released. As a Bigfoot aficionado, I have watched a lot of terrible movies devoted to the cryptozoological mystery, and The Capture of Bigfoot includes a party scene with the wonderful discofied number “Sensuous Tiger.” I finally confirmed this record’s existence a few years ago on a soundcloud page belonging to a fellow Bigfoot collector, and when he let me know that he was selling off his stash, I unfortunately just missed out on this elusive platter. Fortunately, it came up for sale again a few months later, this time a copy from the estate of science fiction producer Forrest Ackerman.

Johnny Stewart  ‎– Secrets Of Successful Duck Calling

Perhaps not as interesting as Stewart’s Secrets of Successful Varmint Calling, which I discovered last year, but I had to seek that one out while this one conveiently appeared in a thrift shop.

Howard Menger ‎– Authentic Music From Another Planet

From a record fair dealer who seems to specialize in this kind of stuff. It’s a good thing I don’t go to record fairs more often.

Siegfried Rabe ‎– ALF Folge 2 – Die Hawaii-Party / Es War Einmal Ein Komiker

A 2-CD set of Alf teleplays in German. It sounds like Fassbinder.

Lawrence J. Taylor, Robert G. Arnold ‎– Sales Consciousness: A Program For Employees Of Construction Equipment Distributors

One of a nice stack of beautifully designed spoken-word records I picked up at Graveface in Savannah.

Olavi Virta ‎– Lannevannelaulu / Hula Hula Hula Hula Hula Hoop

Years ago my wife found a wonderful YouTube clip of this ’50s hit by a Finnish singer primarily known for the tango (look closely and you can see a Virta poster in Aki Kurausmaki’s The Other Side of Hope). This year I finally tracked down a 45.

Delirious European Exploitation Tops 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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A deceptively calm moment in the disjointed, delirious, frenetic and bloody dazzling LET THE CORPSES TAN, December 1, 2 and 5 at the AFI Silver. (Ahoymes Films and Tobiha Film)

EUROPEAN UNION FILM SHOWCASE

Now in its 30th year, the AFI Silver’s annual EU showcase continues to be one of the high marks in a market that can seem inundated by festivals of all stripes. Unfortunately the programs coincide with the busy holiday season, and this year will run up against reduced Red Line service, as service between Ft. Totten and Silver Spring is suspended through December 10 (from certain parts, you can always take the S2 bus). This year’s highlights include sneak peeks at new work from such high-profile arthouse favorites as Michael Haneke (Happy End, December 9), Claire Denis (Let the Sunshine In, December 2 and 7), and Fatih Akin (In the Fade, December 3), but the festival’s raison d’etre is the chance to see unusual movies that are unlikely to get a commercial release in the D.C. area; such as the delirious Let the Corpses Tan (12/1, 12/2, and 12/5) p.m.),  the latest exploitation movie pastiche from Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani (The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears); and the Estonian supernatural fantasy November (December 3 and 6).  See the full schedule here.

Watch trailers for Let the Corpses Tan and November.
December 1-20 at the AFI Silver.

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Kim Min-hee (Cinema Guild)

ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE

In the latest drama from prolific Korean director Hong San-soo (Right Now, Wrong Then), an actress (The Handmaiden‘s Kim Min-hee) talks about and around an affair she had with a movie director. Outside of the current climate, what makes that situation personal for Hong and Kim is that they did have an affair, and in the movie’s climactic scene, Hong and Kim face off in a powerful catharsis that breaks a dry surface that is typical of the director. Unusually structured and with a surprisingly deadpan humor, the movie succeeds thanks to Kim’s performance, which pivots from reserved propriety to a heartbreaking angst. On the Beach at Night Alone is one of three films Hong released in 2017; as part of its Korean Film series, the Freer Gallery of Art will screen  it with another 2017 Hong drama, The Day After (December 3 at 1 p.m.), also starring Kim, this time in the role of an assistant who’s accused of having an affair with her boss (K-drama regular Kwon Hae-hyo). Yes, Hong has issues, and his pacing and dramatic structure can take some getting used to, but it’s fascinating to see his demons play out on screen.

Watch trailers for On the Beach at Night Alone and The Day After.
The Day After screens Sunday, December 3 at 1 p.m. On the Beach at Night Alone screens Sunday, December 3 at 3 p.m. At the Freer Gallery of Art. Free. 

ZIEGFELD GIRL, Hedy Lamarr, 1941
COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION

BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

Vienna-born actress Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) posed nude by the time she was 16, and her film career was forever marked by the notorious Czech drama Ectsasy, in which she went skinny-dipping and performed what is said to be the first female orgasm in cinema. Such tabloid exploits long distracted audiences from Lamarr’s role as an inventor; working for the Navy with composer George Antheil, she helped develop “frequency hopping,” a communications technology that formed the basis for modern GPS and Wi-Fi.

Watch the trailer.
Tuesday, December 5 at 7: 30 p.m. at Edlavitch DCJCC, 1529 16th Street NW. Advanced tickets are already sold out, but a line for rush tickets will form at 6:30. 

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(Oneworldmusics.blogspot.com)

TOO HOT TO HANDLE

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society screens this 1960 crime drama also known as Playboy after Dark. Bombshell Jayne Mansfield (The Girl Can’t Help It) stars at a nightclub performer who tries to clear a strip club owner (Leo Genn, star of such prestige pictures as Quo Vadis) from accusations that he murdered a stripper. Directed by Terrence Young, who went on to helm the early Bond films Dr. No and From Russia with Love, the film co-stars Karlheinz Böhm (Peeping Tom) and Christopher Lee.

Watch the German trailer.
Monday, December 4 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, James Franco stars as self-made auteur Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. Stay tuned for my full review on Spectrum Culture.