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April Films: ‘Donnie Darko,’ Tony Conrad, Miéville and Godard

Spanish director Albert Serra, whose previous movies have concerned Don Quixote and Jesus’ parents, might be termed a minimal intertextualist. His latest, The Death of Louis XIV, inserts itself in cinema history as a sequel of sorts to Roberto Rossellini’s Rise of Louis XIV and even more forcefully as the ultimate “shock of the old” film, starring as it does Jean Pierre Léaud, the thirteen-year-old star of The 400 Blows, now seventy-two, as the dying Sun King. Susan Sontag lamented that back in the 1960s, new cinema masterpieces arrived every month. Here is one for April 2017. At the Film Society of Lincoln Center, opening March 31.

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Richard Kelly’s first feature, Donnie Darko, made when he was twenty-six, evoked the 1980s and, opening as it did in New York only weeks after September 11, embodied another zeitgeist. Part comic book, part case study, and all cult film (one of the first to have its own director-created website), this vehicle for the young Jake Gyllenhaal is a moodily self-involved piece of work that employs X-Files magic realism to represent to galvanize what might have been a routine tale of high school angst. A new 4K restoration opens March 31 at the Metrograph in advance of a national roll-out with alternating screenings of both the original theatrical version and the longer director’s cut.

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Tony Conrad, who died earlier this year at age seventy-two, was a flinty vanguard artist whose movies and musical compositions appealed variously (and sometimes simultaneously) to underground movie buffs, hard-core structuralists, and punk rockers. Tyler Hubby’s documentary-portrait, Tony Conrad: Completely in the Present, made with the artist’s cooperation, has its premiere theatrical run (March 31-April 6) at Anthology Film Archives. April 9, Anthology will be holding a Conrad tribute with selected films.

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Film Forum’s current “Brit New Wave” series—alternating kitchen-sink naturalism with evocations of swinging London—is post-scripted by a week-long run for a new DCP of John Schlesinger’s first feature, A Kind of Loving (1962). Alan Bates, given his first starring role, plays the requisite angry young man forced into marriage with June Ritchie and coming to grips with their life together in a drab North English city. April 7-13.

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Jean-Luc Godard’s longtime partner and collaborator Anne-Marie Miéville has her own retrospective this month at the BAMcinématek (April 12-19). Films that Miéville either edited, co-wrote, or co-directed (among them Comment ça va?Every Man for Himself, and First Name: Carmen) are juxtaposed with her solo works. These include Book of Mary, a companion piece to Hail Mary (also showing), Lou Didn’t Say No, inspired by the letters of Lou Andreas-Salomé and Rainer Maria Rilke, and the feature My Dear Subject (1988), in which three generations of women contemplate their relations with men and each other. 

For those curious about Miéville and Godard’s own relationship there is Soft and Hard (1985) in which the filmmakers play themselves.

Category: Film