We begin in New York, where the week-long retrospective Obscure Pleasures: The Films of Walerian Borowczyk opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Borowczyk‘s early animated shorts “influenced Jan Švankmajer, Terry Gilliam, and the Quay Brothers, and were praised by critics like Amos Vogel and Raymond Durgnat,” notes Tanner Tafelski in the Notebook. Then, in the mid-70s, came the fall from critical grace. “Spin it anyway you want, but looking at his films, one discovers, at least I do, formal signatures in his work that develop, mutate, and break off into new directions as his career progresses to the supposed abominable depths of soft-core.”
Ela Bittencourt, who wrote about Borowczyk last fall at the House Next Door, returns to note that, besides New York’s, there have been “retrospectives devoted to him recently mounted at T-Mobile Horizons in Wrocław, the Kinoteka Polish Film Festival in London, and at the Gdynia Film Festival, thanks to the efforts of filmmaker Daniel Bird, a longtime champion. The retrospectives, which have included recent restorations, are helping to bring focus to Borowczyk’s formal inventiveness in all of his films, animation and live action alike—to his refined pictorial style and his boldness in attacking cultural taboos.”
Curator Mónica Savirón introduces the city’s first retrospective of the work of “Polish visual artist, musician, and poet Wojciech Bąkowski, whose camera-less films and animated video works explore the disturbance, absurdity, and pathos of human existence.” The program Wojciech Bąkowski: Soliloquies screens tonight at Anthology, followed by Song of Myself: Wojciech Bąkowski’s Films and Videos at the Museum of the Moving Image tomorrow.
Also tomorrow night, Kinoscope presents Her Wilderness, “an elliptical, minimalist narrative of a lost, wandering child in the wake of an affair that may or may not have even happened.” Director Frank Mosley, actress Lauren McCune, composer Clint Niosi and co-producer Frederick Trevino will be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.
For more local repertory screenings, see the L.
Cambridge. From tomorrow through Monday at the Harvard Film Archive: The Road to Macao. The Floating Worlds of João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata.
Los Angeles. Also Like Life: The Films of Hou Hsiao-hsien opens at the UCLA Film & Television Archive tomorrow and runs through June 20. There’ll be screenings at the Aero from May 15 through 17 and a new 35mm print of Flowers of Shanghai (1998) screens at REDCAT on May 4. Sheri Linden for the Los Angeles Times:
From his early romantic comedies (a genre he has yet to revisit since 1982’s Green, Green Grass of Home) to the restrained autobiographical drama A Time to Live and a Time to Die and such period sagas as The Puppetmaster, Good Men, Good Women and A City of Sadness (the first Taiwanese film to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival), Hou’s range is striking. Though he’s sometimes misclassified as a minimalist because of his signature long takes and his frequent use of a fixed camera, his movies are bursting with life, however complicated or sad. The motifs he employs are powerfully expressive: trains, motorcycles, pool halls and the all-important communal table, in its endless permutations, appear throughout his cinematic landscape, at once lyrical and fraught with narrative intensity.
The American Cinematheque becomes Noir City, starting tomorrow. Ryan Lattanzio for Thompson on Hollywood: “Rarely seen gems, restorations, new 35mm prints, films unavailable on DVD and Oscar nominees abound in this journey of 12 nights and 26 films through the side streets and back alleys of film noir.”
With Ned Rifle now in theaters—James Kang has an excellent entry at Critics Round Up and, at Newcity Film, Ray Pride fits this latest piece into the overall puzzle—Cinefamily and Fandor present The Films of Hal Hartley, the “first-ever West Coast retrospective” which “includes eight of Hartley’s cracking gems, plus a career-spanning exhibition of rare artifacts, and Skink Ink Gallery’s Still Lives series of limited edition prints. As well, each screening in the opening weekend includes an introduction and Q&A by the man himself, with appearances by Aubrey Plaza, James Urbaniak and other surprise guests!”
Michael Sicinski introduces his interview with Hartley for Filmmaker: “Like other early 90s filmmakers who have remained significant over the subsequent quarter-century (Haynes, Van Sant, Solondz), Hartley’s cinema has balanced a sense of specificity of place—many of Hartley’s films are rooted in the five boroughs, Long Island in particular—with international film culture and a broad global consciousness.”
Magdalena Maksimiuk talks with him for Slant, adding that “Hartley expertly blends intelligent, ironic humor with dramatic incident, gripping his eccentric, usually obsessed, but always very passionate characters with deep philosophical quandaries.” For the AV Club, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky talks with him about “his working methods, his relationship to the characters [in Ned Rifle], and the names that keep popping up in his films.” At Indiewire, Eric Kohn presents an oral history of the Grim family, from Henry Fool to Ned Rifle. And in the Austin Chronicle, Russ Espinoza talks with Ned Rifle star Aubrey Plaza.
Austin. Celebrations of the centennial of the birth of Orson Welles began on Day One of 2015 and now the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz presents The Magnificent Orson Welles, opening on Saturday and running through May 25. In the Chronicle, Kimberley Jones surveys the offerings, focusing on Chuck Workman’s Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, “a survey of Welles’ films (finished and otherwise), bolstered by archival interviews with Welles and present-day commentary from critics, biographers, and filmmakers, including Richard Linklater, Steven Spielberg, Julie Taymor, William Friedkin, and Welles intimates Henry Jaglom and Peter Bogdanovich. There’s little in Workman’s doc that any pre-existing fan of Welles probably doesn’t already know, but the film effectively compacts the many stages of Welles’ sprawling filmography.”
Nashville. The Belcourt will be screening films featuring Barbara Stanwyck every weekend in April and May. In the Scene, Jim Ridley argues that this Saturday and Sunday’s double feature, Preston Sturges’s The Lady Eve (1941) and Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944), “captures her at her sultry peak in two of her specialties: the good ‘bad’ girl and the bad ‘good’ girl.”
Nashvillians can also spend the weekend with the Belcourt’s Growing Up Baumbach: A Tribute to Noah Baumbach’s 20 Years in Film, previewed by D. Patrick Rodgers in the Scene.
Philadelphia. Drew Lazor‘s got the listings the City Paper.
London. The retrospective Robert Siodmak: Prince of Shadows will be running over the next two months at BFI Southbank, so the new entry from Austrian Film Museum curator Christoph Huber is particularly well-timed. “[H]e had really remarkable careers in three countries: First, at home in Germany up to 1932, and then in France from 1933 to 1939, before he made it to the US. Many emigrants worked elsewhere in Europe on projects before they came to Hollywood, with these crucial moments in their filmographies often neglected, but few managed the constant output Siodmak sustained not only through these critical times, but almost up to the very end of his career in 1968.” Christoph then elaborates on what’s “reinvigorated my fascination for the lesser known areas of Siodmak’s work.”
The BFI is bringing “The Final Cut” of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) back to British theaters tomorrow. Writing for Intelligent Life, Tom Shone argues that “it tells the story of how it would one day be watched.”