September Films: ‘White Sun,’ Kelly Reichardt, ‘Time to Die,’ Sam Fuller, and UCLA Film Preservation
White Sun: Nepalese filmmaker Deepak Rauniyar brings the Nepalese Civil War home in this trim, deceptively simple family drama—both informative and exotic—concerning two brothers, a Maoist and a monarchist, who fought on opposing sides and find themselves snared by caste and tradition. At the Museum of Modern Art, September 6-12.
“Kelly Reichardt: Powerfully Observant”: An independent among independents, Reichardt has made six features over a twenty-three-year career, many in the Pacific Northwest and all understated character dramas. It’s a sign of Reichardt’s talent as a director that her most wrenching film, Wendy and Lucy (2008), might seem to be her slightest—the story of a lost girl (Michelle Williams) and her lost dog. At the Museum of Modern Art, September 12–25.
Time to Die: Arturo Ripstein, the dean of Mexican filmmakers, began his career in 1966 with this abstract Western written by Gabriel García Márquez, with an assist from Carlos Fuentes. Despite these illustrious collaborators, Ripstein’s debut feature—which is having its first US theatrical run—is lean rather than baroque and anything but literary. At Film Forum, September 15-21.
“UCLA Festival of Preservation”: This mixed bag of ten recent restorations includes Howard Alk’s forceful political documentary The Murder of Fred Hampton (1971), vintage Hollywood productions ranging from Ernst Lubitsch’s most exquisite comedy Trouble in Paradise (1932) to John Reinhardt’s B-movie expose of American fascism Open Secret (1948), and a pair of features, Stranded (1965) and The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean (1966), by writer-director Juleen Compton, a forgotten pioneer of West Coast independent filmmaking. At the Metrograph starting September 15.
“Film Is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies”: It’s been said that all of Fuller’s films are war movies of one sort or another. None are without interest although his two Korean War films, the bargain-basement The Steel Helmet (1950), a scoop and a scandal when it was released at a low-point for United Nations troops, and its studio-commissioned quasi-remake Fixed Bayonets! (1951), are particularly strong. At the Museum of the Moving Image, September 15–24.