New York City may get all the new releases first, but there’s a lot more to the film culture here than just what’s in the mainstream theaters! Every week we bring you the top 5 cinematic events to check out.
1.) Post Tenebras Lux (Film Forum)
If you can’t get to Cannes this year, you can flaunt your festival fetish at the Film Forum starting Wednesday: Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux (Light After Darkness) won the French festival’s Prix de la Mise en Scene last year. Said mise en scene includes the Underwood Deviled Ham can logo holding a toolbox, unsimulated swinger sex and some guy giving himself one hell of a headache. Reygadas’ films are an acquired taste I haven’t acquired, but those familiar with his oeuvre know what to expect. Film Forum’s online description is tailored to chase away all but the most ambitious; it reads like film snob phone sex. According to the theater, Lux “palpably explores the primal conflicts of the human condition.” That alone should determine whether you want to see it.
2.) Friedkin 70’s Film Series (BAMCinematek)
BAMCinematek features six films from the Oscar winning director including The French Connection, Sorcerer, The Exorcist and his gay-themed decade bookends The Boys In The Band and Cruising. The auteur who helped Gina Gershon find a 12th herb and spice in the Colonel’s Original Recipe chicken will do Q&A after the Sorcerer and Cruising screenings (May 2 and 3 respectively). One might consider Cruising the movie of interest, with its critical re-evaluation and James Franco’s upcoming Interior. Leather. Bar. But I’ll make a case for the underseen caper flick, The Brink’s Job, with Peters Falk and Boyle.
3.) Don’t Look Back (Museum of the Moving Image)
The “Play This Movie Loud!” series kicks off Friday with The Beatles’ Help! but Saturday brings Bob Dylan’s documentary Don’t Look Back and its filmmaker, D.A. Pennebaker to MoMI. Made in 1967, Don’t Look Back explores Dylan’s mystique 40 years before Cate Blanchett put on a Harpo Marx wig and played him in I’m Not There. As an added bonus, Pennebaker’s debut short, the Duke Ellington-scored Daybreak Express, screens before Bob and his Subterranean Homesick Blues. Going from Sir Duke to Dylan to D.A. isn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday.
4.) Ed Wood (Nitehawk Cinema)
Shake off that Friday night Williamsburg hipster hangover with Tim Burton’s best movie, the Oscar winning biopic Ed Wood. Johnny Depp plays the angora loving director of Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda? Joining him is Bill Murray, Lisa Marie, Sarah Jessica Parker and Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi. It’s at 11:30 AM, which admittedly is too goddamned early, but the gorgeous black and white cinematography by Stefan Czapsky won’t hurt your eyes the way a color film would. Plus, it’s being shown in the death-sentenced 35mm format, so you’ve no excuse to stay home.
5.) Valley of the Dolls (Landmark Sunshine At Midnight)
Even before the late Roger Ebert went Beyond them with Russ Meyer, Valley of the Dolls established itself as a camp classic. The Reefer Madness of pill-popping movies, Valley jumped off the pages of the bestselling Jacqueline Susann novel, dragging Barbara Perkins, Sharon Tate, and Patty Duke into its onscreen Hollywood hedonism. The ladies are joined by five time Oscar nominee (and winner for the equally over-the-top I Want To Live!) Susan Hayward, who plays a character based on Ethel Merman. If that doesn’t get you into a seat, I’ll mention the dolls of the title: the prescription drugs you should either throw at the screen or take before you get to the theater. Director Mark Robson also helmed Peyton Place, but he’ll always have a place in my trash loving heart for making the movie that introduced the Hummer-giving theater experience known as Sensurround, 1974’s Earthquake.