July Films: a Bi Gan crypto-noir, remembering Carolee Schneemann, and ‘Christ Stopped at Eboli’
Chinese director Bi Gan’s first movie, Kaili Blues, was a mental travelogue constructed around a highly choreographed forty-one-minute take. His second, Long Day’s Journey into Night, is a moody crypto-noir that veers midway into Tibetan Book of the Dead territory and 3-D. As the protagonist falls asleep, the audience is instructed by an intertitle to put on the 3-D glasses they’ve been handed before the show. It’s really something else. Museum of the Moving Image, June 30–July 14.
Originally made for Italian television some 40 years ago, Francesco Rosi’s Christ Stopped at Eboli filmed anti-fascist Carlo Levi’s memoir of internal exile on location in the isolated region of southern Italy the book describes. At 220 minutes, Rosi’s film is an immersive, engaging 20th-century saga taking place over the course of a single year in an isolated backwater. Its belated American premiere in April was something of a cinematic event and it’s been revived by popular demand. Film Forum, July 12-18.
“In Memoriam: Carolee Schneemann” commemorates the death this year of a significant (and significantly underappreciated) American painter, filmmaker, and performance artist with a rare double-projection of Kitch’s Last Meal (1973-78), an epic “home movie” shot over a period of years in super 8 (and showing in double-16mm). A relationship ends as does the life of the artist’s cat. It’s accompanied by a shorter film, Infinity Kisses – The Movie (2008), another formally adventurous meditation on interspecies communication. Anthology Film Archives, July 15.
A short series of long movies, “Intimate Epics” presents films not easily accommodated by revival house schedules: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999), Hu Bo’s An Elephant Sitting Still (2018), Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1991), Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), Edward Yang’s A Brighter Summer Day (1991), and Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975). All are ambitious; the last two are masterpieces and the theater is air-conditioned. BAM, July 19-23.
There could hardly be a better moment to acknowledge the achievement of Iran’s greatest filmmaker. A nearly complete survey, including a number of new restorations, “Abbas Kiarostami: Life as Art” starts in New York and travels the country, making its first stop in Berkeley with Kiarostami’s first feature The Traveler (1974). IFC Center, opens July 26; BAMPFA, August 2 through December 21.