Run the Gamut of Cinema This Week With Lewis and Martin and Lear on 35mm

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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(Artkino Pictures / Photofest)

KING LEAR

Presented in conjunction with the exhibit Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe, the National Gallery of Art is screening a 35mm print of director Grigori Kozintsev’s 1971 adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy, based on a Russian translation by Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago). According to the Gallery, Estonian actor Jüri Järvet “is arguably the best Lear ever rendered on stage or screen.” Whoah!

Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Free.

 

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ROYAL HIBISCUS HOTEL

The AFI Silver’s 14th annual New African Film Festival continues this weekend with this Nollywood rom-com about a Nigerian chef (Zainab Balogun) whose failure to open an Afro-fusion restaurant in London sends her back home to run her family’s struggling hotel. When her parents decide to sell the place, the buyer (former Mr. Nigeria Kenneth Okolie) may have more than business on his mind.

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, March 10 and Monday, March 12 at the AFI Silver.

 

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(Movies a la Mark)

THE CADDY

Talented golfer Harvey (Jerry Lewis) is too shy to follow his father’s lead as a golf pro. Instead, Harvey becomes an instructor–starting with his fiancee’s brother (Dean Martin). The Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress pays homage to the late Lewis with this Norma Taurog-directed comedy full of howls and laughter. Martin, who scored a soundtrack hit with “That’s Amore,” confessed that he “couldn’t remember the last time had so much fun making  a picture.” Crazy, man, crazee!

Watch the trailer.
Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m. 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. Correction: the screening was Tuesday, March 13; I hope nobody missed it on my account; If it’s any consolation, I missed it too!

 

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HI, MOM

Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society presents this early work from Brian DePalma starring Robert DeNiro as a peeping tom turned militant black activist. And in case you missed it, this week DCPL’s Ray Barker invited me and my co-author Robert Headley to his Notes from the Library podcast to talk about our upcoming Arcadia book on DC-area movie theaters. Carl Cephas and Jonathan Couchenour joined us to talk about the WPFS.  Wait for Carl as he tells us about a VERY special film!

Watch the trailer.
Monday, March 12 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy star in the teenage psychological thriller Thoroughbreds. Read my review in The Washington Post.

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See an Iranian Cat and an Irish Baby Elephant 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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ONCE UPON A TIME, CINEMA

The Freer’s 22nd annual Iranian Film Festival continues this weekend with the work of  director Mohsen Makhmalbaf–you might remember him as the filmmaker impersonated in Abbas Kiarostami’s 1990 semi-documentary Close-Up. The short documentary “Images from the Qajar Dynasty” combines some of the first film footage ever shot in Iran with contemporary art. The feature Once Upon a Time, Cinema, a 1992 comedy inspired by silent movies, imagines what happens when the Qajar shah first encounters the medium, his reaction developing from horror to obsession, when he falls in love with a movie actress. Shown in conjunction with the exhibit, The Prince and the Shah: Royal Portraits from Qajar Iran.

Friday, February 23 at 7 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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THE BOY DOWNSTAIRS

A young writer (Zosia Mamet of Girls,) inadvertently moves into her ex-boyfriend’s apartment in this first feature from writer-director Sophie Brooks. Variety describes it as a “crisply shot semi-mumblecore romantic comedy…just the sort of earnest indie trifle that Girls was influenced by and transcended.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, February 27 at 7:30 p.m. at Edlavitch DCJCC

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ZOO

The Capital Irish Film Festival opens at the AFI Silver next week with the story of a 12-year old boy (Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) who joins forces with his “misfit friends”  to save a baby elephant during the 1941 air raids on Belfast. With a bit part from character actor great Toby Jones as a ticket taker. The screening will be followed by a  Q&A with director Colin McIvor and a post-screening reception sponsored by the Northern Ireland Bureau.

Watch the trailer.
Thursday, March 1 at 7:15 p.m. at the AFI Silver.

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MODESTY BLAISE

The Washington Psychotronic Film Society wraps up Femme Fatale February with this 1966 action comedy from director Joseph Losey, whom you may be surprised to learn was born in Wisconsin! Monica Vitti, Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde star in what the Psychotronic curators describe as, “a mad, mod world of sexy, stylish intrigue, mile-high hairdos, and swinging, psychedelic wall patterns in this campy spoof based on the British comic strip of the same name.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, February 26 at 8:00 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Run the Gamut of Cinema with Russ Meyer and Abbas Kiarostami

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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(Janus Films)

24 FRAMES

Of what would be his final project, the late Abbas Kiarostami wrote, “I decided to use the photos I had taken through the years. I included four minutes and thirty seconds of what I imagined might have taken place before or after each image that I had captured.” This weekend the Freer’s annual Iranian Film Festival screens this experimental work, which contains no dialogue and consists entirely of 24 shots brought to life with computer animation. The movie is not currently scheduled for commercial release in the Washington area, so this may be your only chance to see it on the big screen.

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, February 18 at 2 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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(British Film Institute)

THE INFORMER

The National Gallery of Art launches a series of recent restoration work from the British Film Institute with this 1929 crime drama about a repentant IRA man who turns in a his best friend into the police and is then pursued by the organization. Based on the novel by Liam O’Flaherty, the film was remade by John Ford in 1935. The restoration includes a new score by Irish composer Garth Knox.

Sunday, February 18 at 4:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium.

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BREATH

The AFI Silver is bringing back highlights from the Freer’s Iranian Film Festival, and this weekend screens this 2016 drama that I blurbed for the City Paper. Drector Narges Abyar’s film drama, I wrote, “follows a nine-year-old girl who imagines that her poor family inhabits the beloved folktales she reads. Set during the Iranian Revolution of the ’70s and the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980, Breath captures a pivotal time in the nation’s history through a child’s hopeful eyes, conveyed with animated vignettes that are inspired by the nation’s art and calligraphy.”

Watch the trailer.
Wednesday, February 21 at 7:15 p.m. at the AFI Silver. $13.

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FASTER, PUSSYCAT! KILL! KILL!

Russ Meyer may be best known for violent cheesecake, but the director cut his teeth as a combat photographer in World War II (you can see some of his footage in Patton), so his formative experience as a filmmaker required a technical prowess in often desolate locations. This 1965 exploitation action-comedy is the pinnacle of Meyer’s California Gothic period, its tale of three go–go dancers on a wild rampage filmed mostly in a desert, suggesting the American West as a arid landscape of sex and cars. If only he had lived to adapt J.G. Ballard’s Crash. The Washington Psychotronic Film Society promises, “drag races, catfights, murders, straining blouses, and lots of torrid action.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, February 19 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel. 

Don’t miss my coverage of this year’s DC Independent Film Festival in the Washington City Paper.

Popcorn & Candy: From Art House To Swamp House 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

NEGAR

The Freer’s Iranian Film Festival continues this weekend with this 2017 drama from  actor and television host Rambod Javan. Negar Javaherian  (Javan’s wife) stars as the daughter of a wealthy man who dies soon after filing for bankruptcy. As the loyal daughter tries to get to the bottom of her father’s death, the action ramps up. I can’t find any English-language reviews of the movie, but it should be worth a look as a more pop-minded offering from a film industry that usually exports art house drama.

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, February 4 at 2 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

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(Sean Lyness/PBS Distribution)

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

The Avalon’s weekly documentary series offers one of this year’s Oscar nominees, a look at the 2008 financial crisis from director Steve James (Hoop Dreams). The movie paints a picture of  Abacus Federal Saving loan founder Thomas Sung as a successor to It’s A Wonderful Life‘s George Bailey. As I wrote in my Washington Post review, “it’s a story of family, immigrant communities and scapegoating — as well as a rare case in which you end up rooting for the bank.” But, “by comparing the case to an almost universally admired movie, however, the film seems to argue that justice is best served by sympathy.”

Watch the trailer.
Wednesday, February 7 at 8 p.m. at the Avalon Theatre.

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(Horrorpedia)

THE VAMPIRE HAPPENING

Cinematographer Freddie Francis lensed such classics as The Innocents and The Elephant Man; as a director, he shunned the art house for grind house fare like Trog and this West-German-produced horror comedy from 1971. The Washington Psychotronic Film Society writes, “It’s a case of mistaken identity when American actress Betty Williams gets confused with her vampire grandmother. Betty has inherited grandma’s castle in Transylvania and accidentally sets her loose from her tomb. What follows is a sex comedy that you can really sink your teeth into, complete with a bloodsuckers’ ball orgy featuring top vamp Dracula himself.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, February 5 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

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(Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot)

Streaming Pick: SWAMP COUNTRY

Amazon Prime Video is a seemingly bottomless pit of strange B-obscurities, from forgotten noirs to low-budget Juvenile Delinquent exploitation to Kim Jong-Il’s Godzilla ripoff. Most of the older titles have suffered the vagaries of time and poor film preservation, but the producers of this 1966 crime drama had Technicolor stock on their side, so the vivid colors of Southern Gothic exploitation have survived intact. Thus we have a curious document of life on the Okefenokee (the film was shot on location near Waycross, Georgia) . Rex Allen stars as a small-town sheriff who chases down traveling businessman Dave (Dave Wetzel, in his only screen credit) accused of a murder he didn’t commit. When the police close in on the businessman after he finds himself in the hotel room of a freshly killed Southern belle, Dave overpowers the deputies, anticipating by decades a similar scene in Tak3n. Allen was a popular country singer, but musical duties are left to Baker Knight (who penned songs for Elvis and Ricky Nelson) , playing himself as a troubadour who provides a running commentary in song. If you’ve wondered what a mafia-infused, musical Liam Neeson action movie set in swamp country might be like, see Swamp Country.

Watch it on Amazon Prime Video.

Also on the big screen this week, look for my Critic’s Pick of Francois Truffaut’s Day for Night in this week’s Washington City Paper.

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.

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.