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March Films: Fassbinder, William Klein, Luis Buñuel, and more

The Pop Art brutalist Bruce Conner may have been the original film-installation artist, showing his first movie in a San Francisco gallery. Two later ones, each dealing with a preeminent 1960s icon, are currently showing as 35mm blow-ups in Chelsea. Report (1963-67) is a dense thirteen-minute assemblage focusing on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Marilyn x 5 (1968-73) is a sound loop juxtaposing stag-film footage of Marilyn Monroe look-alike Arline Hunter with the real Monroe singing “I’m Through with Love.” At Paula Cooper Gallery through March 24.

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The subject of “El Indio: The Films of Emilio Fernández” is the best-known director of Mexican cinema’s Golden Age and in some ways the motion picture analog to Mexico’s muralists. Thanks in part to the brilliant craft of cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, Fernández’s heroic vision of rural Mexico won international recognition in the years after World War II. In addition to his festival winners María Candelaria (1943) and La perla (The Pearl) (1947), this thirteen-film series features a pair of gritty urban cabareteras, Salón México (1948) and Víctimas del pecado (Victims of Sin) (1950), as well as Sam Peckinpah’s film maudit, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974), in which El Indio, as Fernández was known, plays a memorable crime boss. At the Museum of Modern Art, March 1-13.

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The New York street (and fashion) photographer turned New Left filmmaker gets a ninetieth birthday fête with “The Eyes of William Klein.” Films include Klein’s documentary portraits of Muhammad Ali and Eldridge Cleaver, originally released in 1969 and 1970, respectively, and his edited footage of the 1968 Paris uprising. Klein made his most political work in France, contributing, along with Jean-Luc Godard and Chris Marker, to the anthology film Far From Vietnam (1967) and making two cartoonish travesties, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966), a pseudo cinema vérité send-up of Parisian haute couture, and Mr. Freedom (1968), in which an American costumed superhero sets off to save France from itself. Both feature Delphine Seyrig. At the Quad, March 7-13.

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Rainer Werner Fassbinder has been dead for over thirty-five years and yet our sense of his accomplishments is still being enlarged—now with the American theatrical premiere of his digitally restored 1972 television “family drama” Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day. Gottfried John plays a young, non-conforming factory worker with Hanna Schygulla as his romantic interest and a host of Fassbinder regulars in supporting roles. Fassbinder’s critical take on working conditions as well as traditional family life proved controversial and, despite its popularity, the series was cancelled by West German TV after five episodes. All existing eight hours are being shown. Film Forum, March 14 – 27.

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Fifty years old and showing in a new 4K digital restoration, Belle de Jour, Luis Buñuel’s coolly outrageous masterpiece (and greatest commercial success), features Catherine Deneuve as a haute bourgeois matron who spends her afternoons working at a respectable, but hardly deluxe, brothel. As flawless as its star, the movie is founded on the great surrealist’s genius for free-associative chitchat and orchestrated Freudian slips, right down to its teasingly open ending. At Film Forum, March 23-29.

Category: Film