Popcorn & Candy: Killer Cookie Edition

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



The AFI’s European Union Showcase continues this week with Happy End (December 9 at 5:30 p.m.), but while that’s getting mixed buzz, you might want to check out some of the many films on the festival slate that are unlikely to get a commercial run in the D.C. area — like the Croatian crime drama Goran. This slow-burn follows a taxi driver whose blind wife announces that she’s pregnant; wait, why doesn’t Goran (Franjo Dijak) feel like celebrating this happy event? Why is he covered in blood? Why are there people like Frank? See the full EU schedule here.

Watch the trailer.
Friday, December 8 and Sunday, December 10 at the AFI Silver.



In conjunction with the hilarious Trace, dissident artist Ai Weiwei programmed a series of Chinese documentaries for the Hirshhorn’s Ring Auditorium. Next week’s title is this 2009 film from director Zhao Liang, who followed Chinese citizens as they petitioned the government.  A. O. Scott wrote in the New York Times that, “Mr. Zhao’s camera is a stubborn, patient witness to some shocking scenes of bullying and intimidation, and he also offers a sympathetic ear to the ordinary people whose government hardly seems to care.”

Watch a brief interview with the director.
Sunday, December 10 at 2 p.m. at the Hirshhorn. Free.



With a landscape that can pass for both paradise and hell, Australia provided a ripe setting for a particular kind of ’70s exploitation movie. Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society presents this Ozploitation rock ‘n’ roll movie that recasts Dorothy (Joy Dunstan) as a 16-year-old groupie who’s riding with her favorite band when its van crashes. She wakes up, it’z Oz, and she’s killed a wicked thug, but Good Fairy Glen will help set things right.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, December 11 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

(Suns Cinema)


With a career that has plunged from Buddy Holly to the voice of a reincarnated Pomeranian, it may seem that Gary Busey has been long doomed to a purgatory reserved for washed-up B-movie actors. Yet more than once, Busey has starred as a Bad Man whose soul is trapped in another form; in Quigley, it was a fluffy canine, and in this 2005 horror comedy, it’s a snack. For more festive holiday programming, tonight, Suns Cinema promises A Honky Tonk Christmas, a program of your favorite country music Christmas specials. “There might even be some boot scootin’.”

Watch the trailer.
Friday, December 8 at 8 p.m. at Suns Cinema.


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.

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)


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.

Kim Min-hee (Cinema Guild)


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


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. 



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.

Give Thanks For Silent Classics 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. 



If today the American Dream seems on the verge of becoming a nightmare, this 1928 drama from King Vidor (uncredited co-director of The Wizard of Oz) shows us that it was always ever that way. The movie charts the rise and fall of John Sims (James Murray), born on the Fourth of July, who starts out like many a young man with the confidence that he will stand out from the masses and succeed. As youthful promise succumbs to the hard realities of life, John follows a painful descent, but is all truly lost? The National Gallery of Art will screen a 35mm print of this silent classic with musical accompaniment from pianist Stephen Horne.

Friday, November 24 at 2:30 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Free

Joyce COmpton and Clara Bow (Wikimedia Commons)


Last weekend the AFI’s silent showcase highlighted perennial favorite Louise Brooks; this weekend’s ur-superstar is Clara Bow, whose flapper hairstyle and vivid personality is still charismatic nearly a century later. The Silver is screening a 35mm print of Bow’s signature romcom from 1927 about a shopgirl who falls in love with rich boss Antonio Moreno. Rudyard Kipling first developed the concept of “it,” but Cosmopolitan‘s Elinor Glynn popularized it in 1927, defining it as,  “That quality possessed by some which draws all others with its magnetic force. With ‘It’ you win all men if you are a woman and all women if you are a man. ‘It’ can be a quality of the mind as well as a physical attraction. This 90th anniversary screening will feature live musical accompaniment by Makia Matsumura.

Sunday, November 26 at 3 p.m. at the AFI Silver.



The Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress celebrates Kirk Douglas, who turns 101 in December, with this rarely revived Western from director John Sturges (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral). Douglas stars as U.S. Marshall Matt Morgan, whose wife is the victim of a brutal attack.  When he finds out that one of the perpetrators is the son of an old friend (Anthony Quinn), there’s hell to pay! The Library will be screening a 35mm Technicolor print.

Thursday, November 30 at 7 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.



Exploitation-movie legend Roger Corman took a 1962 Russian sci-fi film about space travel and, in order to make it palatable for American audiences in 1968, added what the Washington Psychotronic Film Society calls “dinosaur-worshiping Venusian women.”  Film critic Peter Bogdanovich shot the new footage and hired Mamie Van Doren “because I thought everyone should be blonde on Venus.” He went on to make The Last Picture Show and star in The Sopranos, but he refused directorial credit here; his first official feature, Targets, was made the same year.

Watch a clip.
Monday, November 27 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel

Korean Drama & Jeffrey Dahmer Top This Week’s Movie Picks

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

(Courtesy of The Freer)


After being fired from a job he’s had for 18 years, a middle manager in South Korea grows increasingly violent, the loss affecting his whole family as his wife is pressued to pick up the slack and their daughter worries about college. This weekend the Korean Film Festival continues at the Freer with a drama that, according to the Gallery, “illustrates the toll Korea’s hyper-competitive society can take on an ordinary family.”  Variety’s Maggie Lee writes that, “writer-director Shin Dong-il (“Bandhobi”) observes the breakdown of a bourgeois family under financial pressures with characteristic mordant humor, while suggesting that hope and succor are not entirely out of reach.”

Watch the trailer.
Friday, November 17 at 7 p.m. at the Freer. Free.

Kim Ok-bin (WellGo USA)


Meanwhile, for its share of the Korean Film Festival, the AFI Silver brings back this kinetic action thriller that had a brief commercial run in September. In my DCist review, I wrote, “This is a stylish but messy film, and not just due to the gallons of red corn syrup. The fractured timeline keeps the potentially heart-tugging plot point of Sook-hee’s endangered child from packing its full emotional punch. But all is forgiven by the film’s final sequence, an extended piece of meticulously choreographed and dazzling stunt work that tops the film’s impressive opening.”

Watch the trailer.
Friday, November 17, Saturday, November 18 and Wednesday, November 22 at the AFI Silver.



One of the greatest of Hollywood legends, Louise Brooks (1906-1985) stopped making movies in 1938. But remarkably, her classic look has never really gone out of style. This weekend the AFI Silver continues its Silent Cinema Showcase with this rarely revived drama from Italian director Augusto Genina. In what would be her last starring role, Brooks plays a Paris typist who wins a beauty pageant, and begins to lose her friends when opportunity knocks. Live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne will complement this 1930 silent. Also screening at the AFI this weekend: a 35mm print of Jane Eyre (November 18 at 1:30 p.m.), starring Joan Fontaine as the Brontë heroine and Orson Welles as Edward Rochester.

Prix de Beauté screens Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the AFI Silver.

(Bistro Bohem)


In conjunction with the Embassy of the Czech Republic, Shaw’s Bistro Bohem has hosted its Film and Beer series for six years, and this season’s focus is on Czech musicals and comedies. Next week the series offers director Oldřich Lipský’s 1983 fairy tale Three Veterans (Tři veteráni) , which tells the story of three men “visited by elves who bestow them with a magical hat, bag full of gold, and harp that just might make their wishes come true. ” The screening include a free beer, which may well start attendees on the way their own magical awakening.

Tuesday, November 21 7 pm at Bistro Bohem, 600 Florida Avenue, NW. Free, RSVP required: 202/735-5895 or bistrobohem@gmail.com Guests must arrive by 6:45 pm to keep their reservation.



As November winds down and thoughts turn to tryptophan hangovers and Record Store Black Friday, its nice to know that we can depend on certain holiday traditions–like the Washington Psychotronic Film Society’s annual screening of this 1972 horror movie about a Vietnam veteran who turns into homicidal poultry. In these times of increasing discord, let us come together to give thanks.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, November 20 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, My Friend Dahmer, a portrait of the serial killer as a young man. Read my Washington Post review.

The Mexican Fireworks of ‘Brimstone & Glory’ Top Your Movie Picks This Week

In the absence of DCist, I will continue to bring you my picks for the most interesting indie and repertory films playing around town in the coming week.



For ten days in March, the city of Tultepec, Mexico celebrates the Feast of San Juan de Dios, in honor of a 16th century figure who is said to have rescued patients from a burning hospital and emerged unscathed. How to you give props to the patron saint of fireworks? With the most insane pyrotechnic display you have ever seen. The first feature from director Viktor Jakovlesk takes you from the dizzying heights of precariously high scaffolding to the sparkling inferno of Tultepec’s version of the running of the bulls, in which townspeople build massive bull-shaped frames on which to hang beautiful, dangerous bursts of fire. If it looks painful, that’s because it is; as you see pyrotechnicians assemble this year’s gunpowder cocktails, the camera briefly lingers on an elderly man  putting a bomb together with one hand. But its part and parcel of a culture in which first Communion cakes are lit with roman candles. From the producers of Beasts of the Southern Wild,  which you may recall featured a pretty sweet fireworks scene, Brimstone & Glory is a metal Catholic spectacle that should be seen on the big screen.

Watch the trailer.
Opens November 10 at Landmark West End Cinema.

(Samuel Goldwyn Films)


Seyl (Aml Ameen) is a young Nigerian-American who struggles to balance his job as a Wall Street financier with the demands of his family—particularly his father, who has disappointed his son in the past but is in need of extra care following a stroke. This is the first feature for Nigerian-born director Anthony Onah, and he coaxes Ameen into a performance that keeps you rooting for Seyl even as you chide him for dissing his dad to go out with a white girl. The Price follows a predictable rhythm, but what makes the movie is its attention to the details of a young man trying to shed his immigrant Catholic upbringing for a lucrative but perhaps unrewarding career.

Watch the trailer.
Opens November 10 at the AMC Apple Blossom 12 in Winchester, VA.

(The Criterion Collection)


Writer-producer Michael Fitzgerald, whose father was Flannery O’Connor’s literary executor, appears at the AFI Silver this weekend for a special 35mm screening of John Huston’s Wise Blood, adapted from O’Connor’s novel. Brad Dourif stars as Hazel Motes, a Georgia man who forms a Church Without Christ. Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times that the film, ” is so eccentric, so funny, so surprising, and so haunting that it is difficult to believe it is not the first film of some enfant terrible instead of the thirty-third feature by a man who is now in his seventies.”  Co-presented with the Crossroads Cultural Center.

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, November 11 at 7 p.m. at the AFI Silver.

(Warner Bros.)


Thanks to Chris Kilmek for the tip that, as part of a double bill with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, the Warner Bros. Theatre at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum will be screening the last circulating 35mm print of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman. Christopher Reeve stars as the Man of Steel in a script penned by a team that included Godfather author Mario Puzo. The late Robert Ebert, revisiting the film in 2010, wrote that, “Donner pulls off a balancing act involving satire, action, rom-com clichés and of course a full serving of clichés from hard-boiled newspaper movies. What’s admirable is that Salkind and Donner realized they had to make a comedy.”

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, November 12 at 3 p.m. at the Smithonian’s American History Museum, Warner Bros. Theater. Buy tickets here.



This weekend the Korean Film Festival returns to the Freer’s now refurbished Meyer Auditorium with a documentary about a satirical punk band whose “antics … include blasting through one hundred songs in ten minutes in their first gig and titling one of their songs ‘All Hail Kim Jong-il,’  [taking] aim at the absurdities, inequality, and corruption of South Korean society.” Festival screenings are also scheduled for the AFI Silver, which will offer a brief theatrical run of director Bong Joon-ho’s Okja (November 11-13 & 15-16 at the AFi Silver), originally  released directly to Netflix.

Watch the trailer.
Friday, November 10 at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Is A Good Comedy With a Great Villain

Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban (Marvel Studios)

Come for the comic-book mythology, stay for the punch lines. The latest installment of the MCU is also Hollywood’s latest  attempt to recruit a successful indie director to helm a megabloated blockbuster.

Thor: Ragnarok is not-as-good-as-an-indie, but it’s still a far-better-than-usual-Marvel-joint. Its humor connects it to director Taika Waititi’s previous films, but an action movie doesn’t work without a good villain, and Cate Blanchett’s Hela is a sleek, impressive foil.

New Zealand actor-director Waititi has until now been known for such wry comedies as What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. His superheroic debut doesn’t have a single line as hilarious as Jemaine Clement’s line about sandwiches in Shadows. On the other hand, if the Marvelmanianc declaring it a mere B- on his way out of the screening is a typical response from the target demographic, this thing may be too funny, too idiosyncratic in its deadpan beats and dry asides.

Which isn’t to say that the MCU is completely humorless, but from Avengers : Age of Ultron to Captain America: Civil War, these movies took themselves way too seriously despite the occasional scruffy quip from Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark.

What changed the landscape a bit was 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the entirety of which, as I mused on Spectrum Culture,  seems like an extended metaphor for Peter’s grief, as if the entire movie was spun out of the mix-tapes his late mother made for him. Chris Pratt set a different tone, heroic but vulnerable and very human, at times overwhelmed by the varied aliens that surrounded him but enjoying the ride.

The bemuscled god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) isn’t an especially lighthearted hero, no matter that he looks like he’s burst out of a Molly Hatchet album cover. Waititi doesn’t force Hemsworth to carry the full burden of myth on his shoulders, and if his trials seem less urgent, that also gives him room to breathe.

And what a breathtaking evil is Blanchett as Thor’s evil sister Hela, ebony antlers jutting out of her regal frame as she makes an overstuffed ham and malice sandwich out of every scene she inhabits.

Comic relief duties are carried in part by the unassuming pile of rocks named Korg (voiced by Waititi). But the big black wolf’s share of the humor goes to Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster. Now, I am no fan of Goldblum, and am usually irritated by his smarm, but he hits the exact right balance of genteel viciousness, mock-warning Thor’s opponent in battle that the son of Odin “sparkles!

Wit ha score from Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh that conjures ’80s Saturday morning television, Thor: Ragnarok sometimes has the heart of a much cheaper movie, and that’s a good thing. It may not be what you want from a Marvel movie, but that’s exactly what makes it a better Marvel movie.

Thor: Ragnarok
Directed by Taika Waititi
Written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost
With Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Tessa Thompson,
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material
Opens today at a theatre near you.

Samurai Revenge And Art World Satire Top Your Movie Picks This Week

Update: DCist archives are up, for now;  here are my blurbs as first published. I still plan to put up new content here, time-permitting.
As you may know, DCist, the site I’ve been freelancing for since 2010, was unceremoniously shuttered yesterday.  I’m lucky that it wasn’t my main gig;  I feel worst for the freelancers and staff who depended on the site for their livelihood; they are hard-working, thoughtful writers and editors and I hope this ending leads to new and better opportunities for everyone involved.
Meanwhile, I have grown accustomed to weekly deadlines and late-night screeners and judicious selection of Washington-area movie highlights. I’ve especially tried to showcase 35mm screenings in the area, which I’m glad to say have seen a slight uptick in the past year.  So I am dusting off this long-dormant blog and will continue to compile information about local openings and screenings. This was my last post on DCist, originally published about an hour before the site went dark.


Elisabeth Moss and Claes Bang (Magnolia Pictures)


Christian (Claes Bang) is the curator at a modern art museum in Stockholm. A typical exhibition is dryly and accurately titled, “Mirrors and Piles of Gravel,” but the minimalist piece he’s set to promote next is a conceptual piece that comes with the instruction, “The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) directed this wicked if obvious satire of the art world, which won the Palme D’Or at Cannes. Like mother!The Square has become one of the year’s more divisive films (I hated mother! and loved this, while a number of respected peers take the opposite position). Elisabeth Moss and animal actor Terry Notary co-star in a stylish, cynical dramedy whose two-and-a-half hour run time flew by for me.

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

Takuya Kimura and Hana Sugisaki (Magnet Releasing)


Manji is a master samurai who would have been content to die after he watched his little sister die in a heartbreaking attack. But a mysterious old woman feeds him bloodworms that heal even the most brutal wounds—making him an unkillable foe. When a young girl asks Manji’s help to avenge her father’s death, hundreds of deaths and buckets of blood ensue. One-time boy band singer Takuya Kimura plays the scarred immortal with a surprising ruggedness that at times recalls Seijun Suzuki regular Jô Shishido. If the well-choreographed swordplay is poorly edited (what do they think this is, an American picture?), Audition director Takashi Miike, in his 100th film, keeps things moving for nearly two and a half hours of splatter. Revenge is slow, long, and sticky.

Watch the trailer.
Opens tomorrow at Landmark Atlantic Plumbing.



When the patriarch of the Ullrich family dies, Phillip (Laurence Rupp of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) is charged with taking over his father’s business in Vienna. But the transition of power is complicated when dead ancestors start showing up. Cineropa.org writes that the film is, “a supernatural comedy whodunit, but the kind that is shrewd enough to realise that the dark secrets of a family can never be isolated from the rottenness of society itself.” Night of 1000 Hours is one of the highlights of the Goethe-Institut’s Film|Neu festival, which has showcased new films from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for 25 years. See the full schedule here.

Watch the trailer.
Saturday, November 4 at 9 p.m. at Landmark E Street Cinema.

(National Film Foundation of Russian Federation)


This weekend the AFI’s Silent Cinema Showcase screens a 35mm print of the debut film from one of the most influential of Soviet filmmakers. Sergei Eisenstein was only 26 when he directed this tale of a factory uprising in Tsar-era Russia. The New York Times’ Dave Kehr writes that while “the film offers few examples of [Eistenstein’s] ‘dialectical’ collision of shots to create new ideas, it does suggest a director with a very distinctive approach to cutting film.” This 1925 silent will be accompanied by live music from the Alloy Orchestra.

Saturday, November 4 at 4:30 p.m. at the AFI Silver.



I’ll let the Washington Psychotronic Film Society describe their next offering, a 1976 film from director Frank Agrama (Dawn of the Mummy). “A female film crew travels to Africa where they discover the female natives worship a female giant ape. The ape then falls in love with the male star of the film, Ray Fay. Get the feeling that perhaps the writing credits were exaggerations?” Producer Dino De Laurentis, who was working on his own King Kong remake and at the time owned the rights to the 1933 original, took legal action against this UK spoof, preventing a theatrical release. Queen Kong has a Japanese following, and in a reversal of the Woody Allen spoof What’s Up Tiger Lily?, which added English dialogue to a Japanese B-movie, Japanese comedians reportedly came up with their own dialogue for this stinker and released in on DVD.

Watch the trailer.
Monday, November 6 at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel.

Also opening this week, New Zealand actor-director Taika Waititi puts a comedic spin on the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Thor: Ragnarok. We [might] have a full review [today].