We begin this overview of the week’s goings on in Los Angeles. “Gregory La Cava found an ideal outlet for his talents in the screwball comedy of the 1930s and helmed two of the period’s indisputable pinnacles, My Man Godfrey (1936) and Stage Door (1937), both of them startling feats of plate-spinning stagecraft and tragicomic prestidigitation,” writes Nick Pinkerton for Artforum, nothing that most “writing about Gregory La Cava establishes his very lack of notoriety as his most notable feature. This isn’t because programmers aren’t trying—last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival presented a La Cava retrospective, and now along comes UCLA Film & Television Archive with Our Man Gregory La Cava, a fourteen-film retro which includes such exciting rarities as 1941’s Unfinished Business and 1932’s The Half Naked Truth.”
“Lifting her cane, the mother of French New Wave cinema began shuffling across the floor of the gallery at the Broad Contemporary Museum at LACMA,” writes Reed Johnson, introducing his interview for the Times with the 85-year-old subject of the exhibition Agnès Varda in Californialand, on view through June 22. “Her destination, a few paces away, was her art installation My Shack of Cinema, a one-story walk-in structure with walls and roof made of 35-millimeter film strips from Lions Love (…and Lies), Varda’s 1969 classic about an easygoing L.A. ménage à trois, the murder of Robert F. Kennedy and the demise of Old Hollywood…. Varda has come to Los Angeles this fall not only for the LACMA exhibition but to serve as guest artistic director of the AFI Fest, which began Thursday.”
Tonight, Eline Jongsma & Kel O’Neill will present a “Live Screening” of Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism at REDCAT.
New York. Through December 29, the Museum of the Moving Image and Reverse Shot series See It Big!: Great Cinematographers highlights the work of Gordon Willis, Vittorio Storaro, Vilmos Zsigmond, Néstor Almendros, Raoul Coutard, James Wong Howe, Ed Lachman, and more.
Part 1 of the Japan Society‘s tribute to Donald Richie carries on this Saturday with a screening of Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Life of Oharu (1952). Writing for Criterion, Gilberto Perez notes that this is the film that “introduced an international audience to the art of Kenji Mizoguchi. It is an art both attached to tradition and radically original.”
Chicago. The Reader presents its guides to two ongoing festivals, Reeling, Chicago’s LGBT International Film Festival, on through Thursday, and the Polish Film Festival in America, on through November 24.
Austin. “The 2012 film Slavery by Another Name, directed by Sam Pollard, is based upon the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by the same name by Wall Street Journal Atlanta Bureau Chief Douglas A. Blackmon, who also co-produced the film,” writes Anne S. Lewis in the Chronicle. “The book and the film chronicle the intense postwar efforts on the part of the Southern states to reinstate the status quo of the slavery era by first enacting laws, called Black Codes, which essentially reinstated the pre-war Slave Codes. When these were tossed out, in another clever end-run around abolition, laws were passed across the South which criminalized a wide range of otherwise innocent activities and statuses—from vagrancy, speaking loudly in the company of white women, or walking beside a railroad to changing employers without permission… you get the picture.” Screens Wednesday.
Before we leave the States, let’s note that three of Filmmaker‘s “25 New Faces” are taking their shorts on tour. Starting Saturday, Scott Blake (Surveyor), Anahita Ghazvinizadeh (Needle), and Mohammad Gorjestani (Refuge) will be hitting Madison, Cleveland, Iowa City, Kansas City, Columbia, and Nashville.
London. “It is possible to catch up with Berlin Alexanderplatz in a boxed set, alongside Breaking Bad and Mad Men and the rest,” writes Iain Sinclair. “But never, or very, very rarely, on film, and never ever before in England. It’s the difference between sampling Ulysses on Kindle and getting the heft of it into your own hands, smelling the paper, navigating acres of print. The unique grain of the moment, the lighting, the detail in those extraordinary performances, requires a projector, a big screen, shared darkness.” Sinclair and Chris Petit will introduce a second screening of Fassbinder’s 1980 adaptation of Döblin’s 1929 novel at the ICA this coming weekend.