Indywood, the new movie theater at 630 Elysian Fields between Chartres and Royal, has shown Mardi Gras-themed movies in its first month or so of existence. Starting tonight, Thursday, March 6, Indywood branches out with a trio of cult movies screening through Saturday night, March 8.
Robert Flaherty's 1948 Louisiana Story is a prime example of the "docufiction" genre. It was shot on location in the Louisiana Bayou, features non-professional Cajun actors, and was nominated for an Oscar in the long-gone "Story" category. The film screens Thursday through Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Classic 1967 Spaghetti Western Death Rides a Horse stars Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law, and was the recipient of multiple on-screen references by admirer Quentin Tarantino in his Kill Bill movies. The film screens Thursday through Saturday at 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
At midnight on Friday night it's exploitation movie producer-director Roger Corman's 1955 Swamp Women, which had the rare distinction of being included in Harry Medved's 1978 book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time (And How They Got That Way).
All tickets are $5 and BYOB is encouraged. You may need it to get through Swamp Women. More info here.
In anticipation of Wes Anderson's new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel — currently scheduled to open in New Orleans on March 21 — The Prytania Theatre will present weekly screenings of some of the writer-director's best movies. The screenings are scheduled for Sunday nights at 10 p.m. and tickets are $10. Here's the schedule:
The Royal Tenenbaums - March 9
The Darjeeling Limited - March 16
Moonrise Kingdom - March 23
Fantastic Mr. Fox - March 30
Rushmore - April 13
Indywood Theater, the new home of Lousiana-centric movies at 630 Elysian Fields in the Marigny, has added an all-day mini-Mardi Gras film festival movies to its lineup for this Sunday, March 2. Here's the schedule:
Mardi Gras Made in China - 2:00 p.m.
Dance For a Chicken - 5:00 p.m.
Bury the Hatchet - 7:00 p.m.
Always For Pleasure - 9:00 p.m.
Tickets are $5 and BYOB is encouraged. More info including film descriptions here.
The French Ciné-Club, a series of french language films with English subtitles presented by l'Alliance Française de La Nouvelle-Orléans (AFNO), presents Eric Rohmer's 1996 romance Conte d'été (A Summer's Tale) tonight, Monday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m. at Cafe Istanbul inside the New Orleans Healing Center, 2372 St. Claude Avenue. Conte d'été was the the third film in the Tales of the Four Seasons series directed by Rohmer, who was an original member of the French New Wave of the late 1950s and '60s. The trailer above is in French but the Ciné Club promises to provide English subtitles. General admission is $5, free for members. More info here.
While many of us lament the long, slow demise of old-school video rental stores, one woman from Pickens, South Carolina would probably now describe herself as something less than nostalgic.
According to a report by the Fox Carolina TV news team, Kayla Finley, 27, went to her local police station in Pickens, South Carolina this month to report a crime and was arrested for petty larceny. It seems she never returned the VHS copy of Monster-In-Law — a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda — that she rented from her local (and now defunct) video store in 2005, and an arrest warrant was issued. Old warrants never expire, even in the age of Video On Demand.
Pickens is a small town just south of the Blue Ridge Mountains and about halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta, with a population of 3,142. The owner of the video store in question informed authorities that he does not wish to press charges against Finley, but not before his former customer spent one long night in jail.
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won last year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar with A Separation and narrowly missed a nomination in that category for this year’s awards with The Past. Like that earlier film, The Past begins as a perceptive family drama and evolves into something akin to a detective story in its final act, this time involving a reconstruction of past events that may allow the film’s protagonists to move forward with their lives. But there’s something uniquely universal and relatable about The Past. There are no heroes or villains in the film, just a group of multi-faceted characters whose flaws and personal struggles are easily recognized from daily life. Farhadi here becomes not only the face of Iranian cinema in the West but also a world-class storyteller with a style all his own.
Where A Separation went deep into modern Iranian society — which most Western viewers had never experienced in a narrative film — The Past drops us in the bland but surprisingly familiar suburbs of Paris. The film begins with its only Iranian character, Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa), who has returned to finalize his divorce from Marie (The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo), the French woman he left behind to return to his native land. But Ahmad’s nationality is only peripheral to The Past’s story. He returns to the house he once knew, where Marie now has a fiancé, her fiancé’s young son, and two children from a previous marriage — including a troubled teenage daughter with a terrible secret. The even-tempered Ahmad is drawn into escalating family strife through his shared past with Marie and her kids. The past may make us who we are, but unresolved conflicts can prevent us from becoming who we ought to be.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP...
Chalmette Movies has announced a three-day run for Dirty Wars, the Oscar-nominated documentary based on Jeremy Scahill's bestselling book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. The national security correspondent for The Nation magazine, Scahill also produced, co-wrote, and narrates the film, which is described as "a global investigation of the secretive and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)." It examines secret American military actions in Indonesia, Yemen, Somalia, Thailand, and many other locales. The film with be screened on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 2:30 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 24 and Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. More info here and here.
Bayou Sundance is a new documentary about the degraded Bayou Bienvenue Wetlands Triangle just north of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward. A product of the the Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, the film will have its premiere on Thursday, February 20 at 6:00 p.m. at the All Soul’s Community Center, 5500 St. Claude Avenue. A Q&A with the film's creators including co-director Happy Johnson will follow the screening. Admission is free. More info here.
It would be a shame if those not in the habit of watching documentaries about visual artists stayed away from Cutie and the Boxer. This Oscar-nominated first film from first-time director Zachary Heinzerling tells a story to which just about anyone can relate. The film examines the lives of Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, two Brooklyn-based artists who’ve been married for 40 years. There’s plenty of familiar struggle here — to fulfill artistic visions, to make the rent, and in 80-year-old Ushio’s case, to regain his early stature as an artist while in the twilight of his career. But this is not a typical struggling artist story. A meditation on marriage, long-term relationships and personal identity, Cutie and the Boxer quietly generates the kind of emotional range typically reserved for narrative films.
Heinzerling shot the film over five years but spent the first three waiting for the Shinoharas to forget about his presence and make possible the kind of fly-on-the-wall footage he wanted. The brash Ushio was a member of New York’s early ’70s pop art avant-garde known for an action-painting technique in which he punches his canvas with paint-filled boxing gloves. Twenty-one years his junior, the more introverted Noriko was a wide-eyed 19-year-old art student just arrived in New York when she came under Ushio’s spell. She became his de facto assistant as well as his wife, and neglected her own art in the bargain. Noriko finally finds her own voice as an artist through comics-style drawings and paintings depicting the couple’s history together through thinly veiled characters named Cutie and Bullie. Much to Ushio’s chagrin, it is Noriko’s journey of self-discovery that finally takes over the film.
Cutie and the Boxer uses animation to bring Noriko’s drawings to life, and a minimalist score by experimental composer Yasuaki Shimizu strikes a fitting note of melancholy. All these elements lead back to the still-evolving personal relationship at the center of the film. The Shinoharas’ story is funny and sad and universal. Their unlikely presence at the upcoming Oscars may provide one of few reasons to stick with the inevitably over-long broadcast.
Cutie and the Boxer begins an exclusive one-week run tonight, February 14, at Chalmette Movies. More info here.
Yet another Oscar-nominated documentary making its New Orleans debut just before this year’s awards, The Square takes us into the heart of the Arab Spring by immersing us in the protests at Cairo’s Tahrir Square that toppled two corrupt government regimes between 2011 and 2013. The film is beautifully shot by Egyptian American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim and notable for its unwavering sense of purpose. It allows three central characters to illuminate the Egyptian struggle for freedom: Ahmed Hassan, a charismatic and streetwise young leader of the protests; Kahlid Abdalla, the British Egyptian movie actor (The Kite Runner) who became the face of a revolution; and Magdy Ashour, a devout member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was a full participant in the protests, but whose conflicting loyalties expose the social complexities of modern Egypt. Eight people get an “edited by” credit for The Square, which mainly speaks to the mountain of footage used to assemble a tightly structured and fast-paced film. It may be just a snapshot of a unique time in history, but it’s one that many will look to for inspiration in the years ahead.
The Square begins an exclusive one-week run today at Zeitgeist Movies. More info here.
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