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January Films: From Henry James to ‘Animal House’

 

Too many treasures in this year’s edition of “To Save & Project” to name them all, but here are a few: restored prints of by two underappreciated female filmmakers, one from Hungary, the other from Senegal, Márta Mészáros’s 1977 The Two of Them and Safi Faye’s 1979 Fad’jal; two Mexican classics, Fernando de Fuentes’s gothic The Phantom of the Monastery and Soviet ex-pat Arcady Boytler’s melodrama Woman of the Port (both 1934) showing with Arturo Ripstein’s 1991 remake; and two outstanding silents, Ernst Lubitsch’s 1924 Forbidden Paradise starring Pola Negri as Catherine the Great, and F.W. Murnau’s 1926 Faust with titles by Gerhart Hauptmann. January 4–31, Museum of Modern Art.

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Gentility gets a makeover in “Pictures of Polite Society: Henry James at the Movies.” Seeming programmed in pairs, the series has two straightforward adaptations by James Ivory (The Bostonians (1984) and The Golden Bowl (2000)), two fantastic adaptations by Eduardo de Gregorio (Sérail (1976) and Aspern (1985)), two late-Forties Hollywood melodramas (The Lost Moment (1947) and The Heiress (1949)), two mid­-Nineties feminist revisions (Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and Agnieszka Holland’s Washington Square (1997), and two British versions of The Turn of the Screw (The Innocents (1961) directed by Jack Clayton and Nightcomers (1971) by Michael Winner). In a class by itself is Jacques Rivette’s Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974), somewhat inspired by James’s The Other House and projected in 35mm. January 11–24, Quad.

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Americans can be funny, even intentionally! Opening with John Landis’s hilariously puerile Animal House (1978) and Albert Brooks’s hilariously cerebral Real Life (1979), “Far Out in the Seventies” offers numerous comedic triumphs, with films by rambunctious indies Brian De Palma and John Waters, as well as a number by former stand-up artists Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner, with a special seven-film tribute devoted to the great Elaine May. Hal Ashby is represented by his two terrific social comedies, The Landlord (1970) and Shampoo (1975), and even a few European films are allowed, notably Yves Robert’s 1972 surveillance farce, The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe. January 18–February 14, Film Forum.

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Appropriate to greet the new year with a quartet of relatively recent films by one of the world’s great filmmakers. “Hou Hsiao-hsien in the 21st Century” has Hou’s candy-colored homage to a Taipei party girl Millennium Mambo (2001); an imported 35mm print of his more austere, Japanese-set Café Lumière (2003) which, Ozu in reverse, is not a story punctuated by static “pillow shots,” but is a succession of pillow shots with brief narrative interludes; his exercise in historical temporality, Three Times (2005); and the gloriously eccentric Flight of the Red Balloon (2007), a sequel to the French classic, made in Paris as a vehicle for Juliette Binoche. Opening January 25, Metrograph.

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Every film that octogenarian Jean-Luc Godard makes could well be his last. Another summarizing work, The Image Book is a compressed, expressionistic history of cinema. Full of degraded images and florid distortions, it’s brutally unpretty and stunningly beautiful. Serene in his fury, this magisterial artist cannot stop thinking about it all—technology, history, the end of the world. Opening January 25, Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Category: Film