June Films: Fonda, Visconti, Hammer Horror, Putin’s Russia, and One-off Documentarists
British gothic may be the only European genre to equal Italian westerns. There are people who have been waiting years for something like “Hammer’s House of Horror, Part I: The Classic Years (1956–1967),” which, opening with Val Guest’s mystical yeti thriller Abominable Snowman (1957), includes most of the studio’s Werewolf, Frankenstein, and Christopher Lee-dominated Dracula films. At the Quad, May 30 – June 19.
“Jane Fonda in the ’70s” celebrates an artist who was a life-actor as well as a movie star. Her Oscar-winners Klute and Coming Home are screening along with such rarities as the 1972 F.T.A. (an anachronym for “Fuck the Army”), a feature-length documentary of the seditious revue that Fonda and company toured US army bases, and Introduction to the Enemy, Haskell Wexler’s documentary of Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden in Vietnam. Only an hour long, it’s paired with Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin’s outrageous yet fascinating Letter to Jane, a 52-minute analysis of a news photo which the filmmakers appear to believe Fonda took of herself. At Metrograph, June 1-8.
The latest installment of Anthology’s ongoing series “Documentarists for a Day,” devoted to non-fiction films by mainly fiction filmmakers, offers four programs of Éric Rohmer’s educational (and sometimes experimental) TV documentaries, unknown outside of France, covering historical figures from Blaise Pascal and Victor Hugo to Stéphane Mallarmé and Louis Lumière. Other moonlighting directors are Claire Denis, Martha Coolidge, Manoel de Oliviera, Spike Lee, Satyajit Ray, Raúl Ruiz, and Orson Welles. At Anthology Film Archives, June 6 – June 21.
The headline with which the Film Society of Lincoln Center announced “Visconti: A Retrospective”—“A Complete Retrospective of The Italian Cinema Titan”—says it all. A maestro whose front-loaded oeuvre compares favorably to those of any of his compatriots, Visconti moved fluidly from the operatic neo-realism of Ossessione (1943), inspired by James M. Cain, and La Terra Trema (1948) to the magnificent historical spectacles of Senso (1954) and The Leopard (1963). The series ends with a week-long run of a new 35mm print of Visconti’s near four-hour study of the mad Bavarian monarch, Ludwig (1973). At the Film Society of Lincoln Center, June 8-28.
Autocrat as auteur? “Putin’s Russia: A 21st Century Film Mosaic” mixes some thirty features and documentaries made during the 19 years of Putin’s reign. Films by the internationally known directors Alexander Sokurov, Andrey Zvyagintsev, and Aleksei German are interspersed with those of local heroes, the genre filmmakers Aleksei Balabanov and Timur Bekmambetov, as well as documentaries on everything from an arctic military base and a Moscow garbage dump to Stalin’s legacy and the spread of fake news. At the Museum of the Moving Image, June 15–July 15.