• + Google Calendar
  • + iCal Export
Parasite

October Films: NYC in 1981, Urban Japan, an Israeli Expat in France

 

Revisiting a now mythologized period of New York history, the series “NYC ‘81” conflates independent features (Squat Theatre’s performance movie Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free) with Hollywood productions (Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City); exploitation films (Abel Ferrara’s punk feminist Ms. 45) and documentaries (Frederick Wiseman’s Model) to provide a multi-dimensional view of the city in decay. Metrograph, October 4–20.

*

Charlie Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and Barbet Schroeder’s General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait (1974) set the table for “No Joke: Absurd Comedy as Political Reality”—a series devoted to pseudo-documentarians and other pranksters. Among the lesser seen, more outlandish political cartoons are Paul Verhoeven’s 1997 fascist parody Starship Troopers; Dušan Makavejev’s 1985 cultural imperialism satire The Coca-Cola Kid; William Klein’s 1969 mock superhero movie Mr. Freedom; and Martin Scorsese’s 2013 corporate gangster film, The Wolf of Wall Street. “An Evening with The Yes Men” features the activist trickster team of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano in person for a conversation with clips of their greatest stunts. Museum of the Moving Image, October 9–November 16.

*

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (The HostMotherSnowpiercer) has a taste for pulpy genre and outrageous metaphor. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, Parasite is a rambunctious comedy of class relations in which an enterprising poor family connives to insinuate itself into a fabulously clueless plutocratic household. The premise has echoes of Joseph Losey’s The Servant, though Losey’s creepy satire is positively genteel in comparison to Bong’s over-the-top, increasingly violent farce. As in Snowpiercer, revolution is both inevitable and futile. IFC Center, opening October 11; Film at Lincoln Center, opening October 16.

*

Béla Tarr’s Sátántangó is one of the 20th century’s great unseeable films—a mind-boggling seven-and-a-half-hour movie about the decline of a backwoods collective something-or-other, adapted by László Krasznahorkai from his novel. Released in 1994, five years after the fall of Hungarian communism, the movie is an exemplary exercise in anti-Socialist dirty realism—a film with far fewer shots than the average ninety-minute feature that, constructed out of morose chunks of real time, is not so much narrative as experiential. Film at Lincoln Center, opening October 18.

*

“Shitamachi: Tales of Downtown Tokyo” maps Japan’s urban scene from the late 1920s through the early twenty-first century. Taken as a whole, this sprawling thirty-eight-film series is rife with tales of class struggle, mass hysteria, crime, and prostitution, sometimes couched as popular entertainment. Master filmmakers Kenji Mizoguchi, Yasujiro Ozu, and especially Akira Kurosawa are all represented, along with Japan’s most celebrated export Godzilla and rarely seen gems like Shôhei Imamura’s manic period piece Eijanaika and Mikio Naruse’s understated geisha melodrama Flowing. Film Forum, October 18–November 7.

*

Synonyms, an artful act of cinematic aggression by the acclaimed Israeli director Nadav Lapid (PolicemanThe Kindergarten Teacher), puts a supremely alienated Israeli expat in France—or maybe in a French movie—with hilarious, troubling, and continuously surprising results. The movie won the top prize at the last Berlin International Film Festival and was among the strongest movies in a generally strong New York Film Festival. Film at Lincoln Center and Quad, opening October 25.

Category: Film