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April Films: Lucrecia Martel, Harun Farocki, ‘Le Corbeau’, and more

A film essayist, critical thinker, and austere poet of the modern world, as well as Jean-Luc Godard’s heir as an avant-garde political filmmaker, Harun Farocki (1944-2014) is the subject of a survey that, doled out in weekly installments, samples an oeuvre that included films, videos, gallery installations, and TV broadcasts, all more or less concerned with analyzing media as an instrument of social control. At Anthology Film Archives, April 8-June 10.

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Lucrecia Martel, Argentina’s brilliantly original orchestrator of domestic chaos and social inertia, gets a retrospective of her three previous features—La Ciénaga (2001), The Holy Girl (2004), The Headless Woman (2008)—as a run-up to the theatrical opening of her latest and most ambitious film, Zama, based on Antonio Di Benedetto’s modernist novel. A mordant case-study of late 18th century colonial alienation, the book touches greatness and Martel’s movie, as much interpretation as adaptation, does as well. At the Film Society of Lincoln Center, April 10-15.

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Showing in a new 4K restoration from Studiocanal, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Corbeau (The Raven, 1943) is as sulfurous as his best-known films, The Wages of Fear (1953) and Diabolique (1955), or indeed anything this misanthropic filmmaker ever did. The movie, made for a German production company in occupied France, takes clinical pleasure in detailing a small town’s moral disintegration as it is “terrorized” by a writer of anonymous poison-pen letters. An unflattering social portrait, in which all authority is held up to ridicule, Le Courbeau was attacked, and briefly banned, as collaborationist after the Liberation. As it turns out, the scenario had been written and registered in 1937. At Film Forum, April 20-May 1.

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The eighth annual edition of “New Voices in Black Cinema” opens with the local premiere of Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, one of the most widely discussed African features of the past few years. Among the other films are two documentary portraits by Sam Pollard—Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me and Maynard, on Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, Jr.—and several domestic dramas featuring American Muslims, Nijla Mu’min’s prize-winning Jinn and Aminah Abdul-Jabbaar’s Muslimah’s Guide to Marriage. At BAMcinématek, April 26-29.

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A rarely screened artifact of the international New Left, complete with a Joan Baez ballad and showing in a 35mm print, the Italian director Giuliano Montaldo’s 1971 Sacco and Vanzetti is newly topical in its depiction of immigrant radicals accused of terrorism. Ennio Morricone composed the score. Spaghetti western star Gian Maria Volontè appears as Bartolomeo Vanzetti; Riccardo Cucciolla won an acting award at Cannes for his powerfully understated portrayal of Nicola Sacco. At the Harvard Film Archive, April 30.

Category: Film