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.

2018-04-05pc1
(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.

2018-04-05pc2
(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.

2018-04-05pc3.png

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.

2018-04-05pc4

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.

Advertisements

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.

2018-03-29pc1

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.

2018-03-29pc2

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.

2018-03-29pc3

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.

konbgcrop

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.

 

Bad Teens and Good Soup Heat Up Your Endless Movie Winter Week

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

2018-03-22pc1
(The Orchard)

FLOWER

One of these days, and probably soon, Zoey Deutch will get the leading role she deserves, It’s not this bad-teen crime drama, but her sensitive performance carries you along for what might have been just a sleazy chore. Deutch plays 17-year old Erica,  who we meet performing sexual favors on a police officer as part of a blackmail scheme. She and her teen friends are obnoxious and unappealing, but Deutch finds the humanity in a character who may be both underwritten and overwritten (her back story a little too on-the-nose). Still, as she reveals more of Erica’s sadness, the movie picks up steam despite an increasingly ridiculous plot involving her rehabbed step-brother (Joey Morgan) and the former schoolteacher (Adam Scott) whom he recognizes from his past. Directed by Max Winkler (Ceremony), who co-wrote with Alex MacAulay and Matt Spicer (Ingrid Goes West).

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

2018-03-22pc2
(Gunpowder & Sky)

RAMEN HEADS

Koki Shigeno’s documentary profiles Osamu Tomita, repeatedly crowned the best ramen  chef in Japan, and given its intimate kitchen access the movie will obviously make you running in search of the closest tonkotsu joint. We see Tomita prepare his complex broth, swirling a humongous stock pot filled with everything from a while pig head to three different kinds of dried fish; a subject like this is a no-brainer, and watching the master chef tour his own favorite ramen shops is just so much umami icing. But if this movie were a bowl of ramen, it would suffer from cloying notes, with soundtrack swells and titles in comic sans, of all things. One hopes these are simply ironic touches, but who wants to taste irony, much less line up for it?

Watch the trailer.
Opens Friday at E Street Landmark Cinema

2018-03-22pc4
(Shutterstock)

MILDRED PIERCE

The AFI Silver’s homage to Casablanca director Michael Curtiz continues with a digital restoration of this 1945 drama. Joan Crawford won an academy award for her role as a housewife who becomes a successful restaurateur but strains her relationship with her daughter.

Watch the trailer.

Saturday, March 24 at 11:30 am at the AFI Silver.

2018-03-22pc5
(Senses of CInema)

THE LADIES MAN

The Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress continues its homage to the late Jerry Lewis with a 35mm print of this 1961 comedy about a man who gives up on romance–but then takes a job at a women-only boarding house.  Lewis directed the film and had an elaborate cross-sectioned set constructed, its design an influence on Jean-Luc Godard.

Watch the trailer.
Tuesday, March 27 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.

possessedII22

POSSESSED 2

I’ll let the Washington Psychotronic Film Society explain this 1984 Hong Kong thriller: “Inspector Siu and family have just finished moving into a new apartment, but it isn’t long before they find out why the rent is so cheap. Turns out the former tenant was a barmaid who got jilted by American soldier Tim Burton(!) and couldn’t take it anymore. Now she and her child are vengeful ghosts who’ve got Siu’s neglected wife putting the moves on guys before going werewolf on them, and Siu’s daughter scaring the hell out of schoolyard bullies. It’s up to a team of computer-aided Hare Krishnas to put these souls to rest.”

Watch the trailer.
Monday, March 26 at 7 pm at Smoke and Barrel.

And don’t miss my Spectrum Culture piece on Andy Milligan’s 1968 drama Seeds, newly restored by Vinegar Syndrome.

Watch Superstars and Sacrifice 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. First, a correction: the screening of the Lewis and Martin feature The Caddy, which two weeks ago I listed as a March 15 event, in fact took place on March 13th. I sincerely apologize to anyone who missed the screening on my account. I missed it too!

IMG_0848-1-1067x600

TOKYO IDOLS

In this 2017 documentary, director  Kyoko Miyake looks at a thriving industry fueled by teenage girls who sing fluffy pop songs for adoring fans–some of which include middle-aged men willing to pay top dollar to attend “handshake events.” hands. The Hollywood Reporter writes that this “lively documentary attempts a critical examination of the role that the idol industry plays in contemporary Japanese culture, but comes up against myriad contradictions that frequently frustrate clear conclusions.” Part of the series, Women at the Helm.

Watch the trailer.
Friday, March 16 at 7 pm at the Freer Gallery of Art.

sacrifice
(Kino Lorber)

THE SACRIFICE

The National Gallery of Art premieres a new digital restoration of director Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1986 film about a man who makes a deal with God in order to fend off nuclear holocaust. In a four-star review, Roger Ebert wrote that the director “refuses to reach out with narrative tricks in order to involve us. Some movies work their magic in the minds of the audience; this one stays resolutely on the screen, going about its urgent business and leaving us free to participate only if we want to. That is the meaning of a sacrifice, isn’t it – that it is offered willingly?” Shown as part of this year’s Environmental Film Festival –see my Washington City Paper preview, for which I watched ten documentaries, here.

Watch the trailer.
Sunday, March 18 at 4 pm at the National Gallery of Art. Free.

greatsilence.jpg

THE GREAT SILENCE

Jean-Louis Trintignant is hired to pursue bounty hunter Klaus Kinski in Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 spaghetti Western. Set during the great Utah blizzard of 1899, the film is reportedly one of the bleakest examples of the subgenre, and is a clear influence on Quentin Tarantino. Film School Rejects, noting that Kinski “is a demon,” writes that the movie, “has no interest in offering us a happy ending. We simply don’t deserve to ride off into the sunset. We don’t even deserve a living damnation. We only deserve death, and that’s what we get.”

Watch the trailer.
March 19-20 and 22 at the AFI Silver.
uhf

UHF

When he was 16-years old, Alfred Matthew Yankovic heard legendary DJ Dr. Demento speak at his high school, and he approached the elder with a demo tape of his song parodies. Little did the world know that “Weird” Al Yankovic would be an enduring pop culture figure more than 40 years later. If you couldn’t get tickets to his now sold-out show at the the Strathmore next week, The Washington Psychotronic Film Society offers you the chance to sate Yankomania with a screening of “Weird” Al’s 1989 comedy in the presence of a dozen like-minded and potentially inebriated friends–and friends you haven’t met.

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

Also opening this weekend, three Palestinian women share a flat and their struggles in Maysaloun Hamoud’s drama In Between. Read my Washington Post review here. And if you’re hungry for more than popcorn, read my Eater DC guide to the local boom in Filipino restaurants.

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.

2018-03-09pc1
(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.

 

2018-03-09pc2

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.

 

2018-03-09pc3
(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!

 

2018-03-09pc4

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.

Vigilantes and Bombshells Open This Windy Movie Weekend

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

694940094001_5532344625001_5532328912001-vs

DEATH WISH

In Eli Roth’s remake of the 1974 vigilante thriller, surgeon Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis) begins seeing a psychiatrist (Wendy Crewson) after his wife (Elisabeth Shue) is murdered and his daughter (Camilla Morrone) attacked and left comatose. After Kersey makes his first kill, the therapist notes that her patient seems happier; “Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it,” she advises. The movie is in some ways more technically proficient than any in the original series, playfully resorting to a split-screen shot of Kersey putting together a glock and performing surgery.  But while the original Kersey, through Charles Bronson’s squinty, stony eyes, felt conflicted about violence, at least after he first murdered a thug, Willis is simply a (fairly inefficient) killing machine, his exploits fodder for memes and morning radio debates. Screenwriter Joe Carnahan makes crucial changes to the dynamic of the original, Kersey’s conscience sort-of appearing in the form of his underachieving brother (Vincent D’Onofrio, always a welcome sight). The original Death Wish series was prone to incongruous, operatic flights of violent fancy, and with such colorful thugs as Jeff Goldblum, Laurence Fishburne and Alex Winter, the film had a grindhouse spirit that, while perhaps catering to less than honorable human instincts, provided the kind of visceral thrill that the better episodes of The A-Team could inspire, with a level of B-movie pyrotechnics that only Golan-Globus in their prime could deliver. As is his wont, Roth throw in a little torture for good measure, but although  his Death Wish is a watchable shoot-em-up, it somehow feels less charged than the franchise that begat it; what could have been a brutal satire is simply, and not particularly, brutal.

Watch the trailer.
Opens today at a multiplex near you.

ZIEGFELD GIRL, Hedy Lamarr, 1941
(Zeitgeist Films)

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. (Blurb recycled from that time it played the DCJFF)

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

2018-03-02pc3

BY THE TIME IT GETS DARK

This weekend the Freer launches a showcase for contemporary films from Asia with a series of films directed by women. While Friday night’s screening of Angels Wear White has been cancelled due to storm conditions, Sunday brings the second feature from Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong (Mundane History). By the Time it Gets Dark dramatizes a 1976 incident in which paramilitary forces attacked students at a Bangkok university. Suwichakornpong describes her latest as an “ode to the memory-recording and reconstructing machine that is cinema” and her “attempt to deal with the impossibility of making a historical film in a place where there is no history.” Read a review by The Guardian’s Mark Kermode.

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

2018-03-02pc4
(BFI)

WOMEN IN LOVE

The National Gallery of Art’s series From Vault to Screen: British Film Institute National Archive continues this weekend with a new digital restoration of Ken Russell’s 1969 adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence novel. In his 1970 review of the film, the New York Times‘ Vincet Canby wrote, “Although the novel’s ideas are necessarily simplified onscreen, the movie does capture a feeling of nature and of physical contact between people, and between people and nature, that is about as sensuous as anything you’ve probably ever seen in a film.”

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

2018-03-02pc5
(Mondo Bizarro)

REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIE

In this 1981 thriller, aka Kiss Daddy Goodbye, two creepy kids take a new angle on vigilantism when they bring their father back from the dead to enact revenge on the bikers that killed him. Hosted by the Washington Psychotronic Film Society. Speaking of which, thanks to DCPL’s  Ray Barker for inviting me on his podcast with my co-author Robert K. Headley; we’ll talk about our upcoming Arcadia book on D.C. area movie theaters. Also joining us will be Carl Cephas and Jonathan Couchenour, who will discuss the WPFS. Listen live here, Tuesday March 6 at 2 p.m. or check out the archived version when it’s up on iTunes and http://dcpl.fullserviceradio.org/.

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

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.

2018-02-22pc1

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.

2018-02-22pc2

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

2018-02-22pc3.jpg

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.

2018-02-22pc4

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.