First up, the most recent update to the entry on Kenji Mizoguchi needs to be mentioned here. In a piece based on a talk he recently gave at New York‘s Museum of the Moving Image, David Bordwell writes, “It’s not surprising that Mizoguchi relies on the image; in his youth he studied painting (interestingly, Western-style painting at that)…. Most movie scenes consist of a story situation mapped onto the space; the style follows, emphasizes, or shapes the story’s presentation. Suppose, Mizoguchi seems to ask, that we start with an image and ask it to become a drama…. Instead of an image that is a vehicle for the story, the story is gradually born out of the changing image.”
For Artforum, Nick Pinkerton notes that Amiri Baraka, “who died in January of this year, was an activist, novelist, poet, playwright, and critic—his Blues People and Black Music being extraordinarily influential collections of writing on blues and jazz. He was also, as Anthology Film Archives four-day weekend program proves, a filmmaker. This is true only incidentally in the traditional sense of being a writer-director, in which capacity he is credited on the 1968 short The New-Ark, recently rediscovered by Harvard Film Archive, and premiered only a few weeks ago by Rutgers University in Baraka’s hometown and longtime residence of Newark. Beyond this, Baraka was the director of his own ongoing drama, and one of the most colorful repertory players to appear in the historical spectaculars that go by such familiar titles as The 1960s, The Counterculture, and Black Power.” Semper, Roi, Semper: Amiri Baraka (1934–2014) opens tomorrow.
The Bowery is “among the oldest and most important geographical features of Manhattan,” writes Violet Lucca for the L, and the “quite literal assertion that the men of the Bowery really aren’t men at all echoes throughout many of the films in Anthology’s series From Mae West to Punk: The Bowery on Film (May 16-19), be it in the childish, brazenly racist antics of Chuck Connors in The Bowery, Mae West’s pathological search for someone to pleasure her in She Done Him Wrong, or the patronizing voiceovers about alcoholics in The Street of Forgotten Men and The Naked City episode ‘Goodbye My Lady Love.’ Though the Bowery’s status as ‘the saddest and the maddest street in the world’ persisted through most of the 20th century, Lionel Rogosin’s groundbreaking On the Bowery sought to humanize its residents—and, in turn, revolutionize cinema.” More from Alan Scherstuhl in the Voice.
Further recommendations from the L: Zach Clark on Gillian Armstrong’s Starstruck (1982, BAM, tomorrow), Mark Asch on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (1960, MoMA, Friday), Samantha Vacca on Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960, MoMA, Tuesday) and Justin Stewart on Robert Enrico’s An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962, MoMA, Tuesday).
The New Yorker‘s David Denby on Dr. Strangelove: “Stanley Kubrick’s satirical masterpiece is now a half century old (Film Forum will be playing a new 35-mm. print starting this Friday), and it remains as outrageously prankish, juvenile, and derisive as ever. Which, given the subject of nuclear annihilation, is exactly right.”
Los Angeles. On Sunday, Filmforum presents Still Lives and Gradual Speed, a program curated by filmmaker Julie Murray.
San Francisco. “This spring’s edition of I Wake Up Dreaming, the recurrent Roxie noir showcase programmed by Elliot Lavine, has a number of notable titles dealing with the claustrophobic consequences of crime-not-paying,” writes Dennis Harvey. “What’s even more notable this time around is the cross-pollination with Lavine’s other Roxie perennial, the series of Hollywood ‘pre-Codes’ made in an approximately five-year window between the advent of ‘talkies’ and the 1934 arrival of more rigidly enforced, censorious industry standards toward potentially objectionable content. Their peaks separated by about 15 years, pre-Codes and noirs shared a taste for hard-boiled dialogue and seamy situations, so their programmatic overlapping here feels right.” I Wake Up Dreaming opens on Friday and runs through May 25.
Also in the Bay Guardian, Cheryl Eddy previews Documented, a film co-directed by Ann Lupo and Jose Antonio Vargas, whose essay “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant” ran in the New York Times Magazine in 2011, leading to a cover story for Time in 2012. Also, the Himalayan Film Festival happens Friday and Saturday.
Portland. QDoc is “the only festival in the country (and one of only two in the world) dedicated entirely to LGBT documentaries,” writes Bright Lights editor Gary Morris. “Featuring a mere eleven features spread over a long weekend, it’s one of the more navigable festivals, a dip rather than full immersion into what’s happening both cinematically and culturally in the queer community.” Tomorrow through Sunday.