Sundays may be a “wan, stuff shadow of a robust Saturday” or a day of “forced leisure for folks who have no aptitude for leisure,” but a weekend is still a weekend. We wait for the pleasure of a Friday night, knowing the burdens of the work week have a brief respite, and what better way to indulge seeing some great films—be it new to you treasures or your favorite classics. And this weekend from BAM and MoMA to The Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center there are more than enough wonderful films showing for you to happily disappear into. Here are 28 films to see in New York that have us running to the theater.
***FRIDAY, JUNE 12***
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN, Alejandro Jodorowsky
The follow-up to his Midnight Movie sensation El Topo, writer-director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s THE HOLY MOUNTAIN caused a scandal at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival with its flood of sacrilegious imagery, existential symbolism and outrageous violence. Once again, Jodorowsky plays the allegorically named lead, “The Alchemist,” who assembles a group of people from all walks of life and renames them for the planets in the solar system. Putting his recruits through strange mystical rites and divesting them of their worldly baggage, he leads them on a trip to Lotus Island to ascend the Holy Mountain and displace the immortal gods who secretly rule the universe. This gorgeous new digital restoration, overseen by the filmmaker himself, returns Jodorowsky’s most visually extravagant film to all its trippy splendor.
THE TRIALS OF SPRING, Gini Reticker
Three courageous women in post-2011 Egypt fight for the original goals of the Arab Spring – “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice” for all. The battles they wage each day reflect the country and its women at an uncertain crossroads. A formerly veiled widow provides guidance for revolutionaries 40 years her junior. A young women’s rights activist demands an end to sexual harassment. A human rights defender from a rural military family is arrested and tortured in 2011, setting off a personal quest for justice that mirrors the trajectory of Egypt’s uprisings. Directed by Academy Award-nominated Gini Reticker (Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Asylum, and A Decade Under the Influence), THE TRIALS OF SPRING reveals the vital and under-reported role of women in the region.
UNDER THE VOLCANO, John Huston
Day of the Dead, November 2, 1938, Cuernavaca, and as ex-wife Jacqueline Bisset and half-brother Anthony Andrews spectate, ex-Consul Albert Finney starts soused and then reallystarts drinking in “the best drunk performance I’ve ever seen in a film” (Roger Ebert). Adapted from the famously difficult novel by Malcolm Lowry.
TO SLEEP WITH ANGER, Charles Burnett
One of independent American cinema’s true masters (and the subject of a MoMA retrospective in 2011), Charles Burnett is perhaps best known for his 1981 masterpiece Killer of Sheep. To Sleep with Anger is every bit that film’s equal, a modern-day trickster narrative that draws significantly from traditions of African American folklore, and adds an undercurrent of the mystical to the poetic realism found in his earlier work. A film about the specter of migration, To Sleep with Anger centers on Harry Mention, a stranger in the village (played with satanic charm by Danny Glover) who threatens the domestic harmony and patriarchal authority of a contemporary middle-class black family in Los Angeles.
THE INNOCENTS, Jack Clayton
This ultra-creepy adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw stars Deborah Kerr as governess to a pair of seemingly cherubic orphans. But something sinister is afoot: Are the children being haunted by ghosts? Or is it all in her head? This atmospheric chiller captures the frightening ambiguity of James’ novella, and features Kerr in one her best roles.
RUMBLE FISH, Francis Ford Coppola
Anthology Film Archives
In 1983, still reeling from the financial and critical disaster of ONE FROM THE HEART, Francis Ford Coppola made back-to-back films based on novels by Oklahoma writer S.E. Hinton. The first, THE OUTSIDERS, is a sensitive and affecting young adult classic that helped introduce a who’s-who of soon-to-be stars (including Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, and Tom Cruise). Sharing much of that film’s crew, as well as actors Dillon and Lane (who are joined by Mickey Rourke, Nicolas Cage, and Dennis Hopper), RUMBLE FISH is a very different kettle of fish: set within the ritualized milieu of a motorcycle gang, shot on high-contrast black-and-white film (with occasional flashes of color), and with an experimental score by Stewart Copeland of The Police, it’s among Coppola’s most boldly stylized films, and one of the most avant-garde commercial films of the 1980s. Like much of Coppola’s 1980s work, it was terribly undervalued at the time, and is ripe for rediscovery.
VIDEODROME, David Cronenberg
Hardcore pornography, sadomasochism, mind control and living televisions: the effect that technology has on our brains never been on such gross display as it is by the king of body horror, David Cronenberg, in Videodrome. Centering around the discovery of an underground program called “Videodrome” by television executive Max Renn (James Woods) for his sex-oriented network, the film chronicles his continuous obsession of finding the program’s origin. Hallucinatory and full of gore, Cronenberg viscerally displays what happens when our addictive relationship to technology shifts from online and into reality.
THE PEARL, Emilio Fernández
Pearl diver Pedro Armendáriz has hit bottom on dry land, broke and hungry because of too-turbulent seas, his scorpion-stung son is unable to get treatment because the doctor demands prepayment. But then, with calmer seas, he dumb-lucks onto the biggest pearl he’s ever seen. Everything will go great now, right? Right? From the novel by John Steinbeck, and shot by Figueroa on dazzling Pacific coast locations.
THE DAMNED, Joseph Losey
Biker exploitation meets atomic-age sci-fi in this delirious cult classic from director Joseph Losey. In a sleepy town on the English coast, a gang of outlaw teens terrorizes an American tourist (Carey) who makes a shocking discovery: a secret bunker where a government scientist is performing radioactive experiments on children. Legendary British horror studio Hammer Films produced this fascinatingly offbeat parable of Cold War-era paranoia.
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, Jim Sharman
Museum of the Moving Image
New technologies and interactive media are changing the role of the audience. But for the past four decades, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has transformed the passive screening experience into an active and participatory story about identity, sexuality, and self-awareness. In celebration of the film’s 40th anniversary, Future of StoryTelling presents a special showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring a live reenactment from the official New York City Shadow Cast, followed by a Q&A with the founders of the RHPS fan club that helped spark one of the original super fan communities. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite character!
LOS OLVIDADOS, Luis Buñuel
Back from reform school, teenager El Jaibo beats up a blind beggar, then murders a squealer. Buñuel’s no-compromise report from the slums has since influenced everything from Truffaut’s The 400 Blows to City of God. His Best Director Award at Cannes prompted the international discovery of his work.
NEVER TOO YOUNG TO ROCK, Dennis Abey
Anthology Film Archives
This bizarre but delightful Glam Rock extravaganza brings together a plethora of then-popular bands, including Mud, The Glitter Band, Scott Fitzgerald, The Rubettes, Slik, and Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band (less a who’s who! than a who’s who?). Featuring performances by all of the above, as well as cameos from Freddie Jones, Herman’s Hermits-member Peter Noone, and more, NEVER TOO YOUNG embeds the whole thing in a story involving a near-future dystopia in which pop music has been banned from TV in the UK. A young man named Hero (Peter Denyer) and his driver (Jones) convert an old ice cream van into a Group Detector Van, and travel around Britain in search of groups to play at a huge concert. Has to be seen to be believed!
***SATURDAY, JUNE 13***
YOJIMBO, Akira Kurosawa
One of Kurosawa’s most perfectly crafted samurai sagas, this action-packed adventure stars Toshiro Mifune as a shiftless ronin who lends his services to two warring gangs and craftily pits them against each other. With a tour-de-force performance from Mifune, breathtaking visuals, and a dark comic undercurrent,Yojimbo is a master class in genre filmmaking. Remade by Sergio Leone as A Fistful of Dollars.
YOLANDA AND THE THIEF, Vincente Minnelli
Dave Kehr writes, “Vincente Minnelli, a superb pictorialist as well as a great director, let his imagination run wild, and the result is a captivating, dreamlike film composed of startling, outrageous, and sometimes sublime images. It has nothing to do with good taste—and that may be the secret of its peculiar appeal. It’s kitsch liberated, personalized, and intensified, to the point where taste drops out and the film becomes an act of crazy artistic courage.” Although Yolanda and the Thief was a commercial flop and the subject of derision for years thereafter—“It perhaps needs to be seen by anyone who wants to know what killed the MGM musicals,” Pauline Kael wrote with her poison pen—its fairy tale plot, about an heiress and the swindler who pretends to be her guardian angel, is articulated with a riotous visual splendor. With art direction and choreography inspired by Tiepolo, Miró, and Tanguy, especially in the dream ballet, Yolanda and the Thief took Technicolor’s already fantastical palette in thrillingly surreal directions.
SANJURO, Akira Kurosawa
The mighty Toshiro Mifune delivers one of his most unforgettable characterizations as the rough-and-tumble ronin Sanjuro, who leads a band of nine samurai wannabes in a fight against government corruption. Kurosawa plays this sequel toYojimbo for laughs, irreverently spoofing the conventions of his own samurai movies, while showcasing his mastery of the widescreen frame in the bravura action sequences.
NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, John Huston
Defrocked clergyman turned tour bus guide Richard Burton gets caught in a flesh vs. spirit tango in a Mexican coastal village, as he becomes the object of desire for Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr, and Lolita-like Sue Lyon. Skillful adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, keyed by Figueroa’s sensual photography of soon-to-be notorious Puero Vallarta.
NOSTALGHIA, Andrei Tarkovsky
Anthology Film Archives
This brooding late masterpiece by Tarkovsky, his penultimate feature film, is a darkly poetic vision of exile. It was the first of his features to be made outside of Russia, the home to which he would never return. According to Tarkovsky, in Russian the word “nostalghia” conveys “the love for your homeland and the melancholy that arises from being far away.” This debilitating form of homesickness is embodied in the film by Andrei, a Russian intellectual doing research in Italy. Written with frequent Michelangelo Antonioni collaborator Tonino Guerra, NOSTALGHIA is a mystical and mysterious collision of East and West, shot with the tactile beauty unique to Tarkovsky.
THE EPIC OF EVEREST, J.B.L Noel
The third attempt to climb Everest culminated in the deaths of two of the finest climbers of their generation, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, and sparked an on-going debate over whether or not they did indeed reach the summit. Filming in brutally harsh conditions with a hand-cranked camera, Captain John Noel captured images of breathtaking beauty and considerable historic significance. The film is also among the earliest filmed records of life in Tibet and features sequences at Phari Dzong (Pagri), Shekar Dzong (Xegar) and Rongbuk monastery. But what resonates so deeply is Noel’s ability to frame the vulnerability, isolation and courage of people persevering in one of the world’s harshest landscapes.
THE PIRATE, Vincente Minnelli
A flamboyant riff on the swashbuckler adventure, Minnelli’s comic musical is an extravagantly costumed period piece featuring a wonderful Cole Porter score. Gene Kelly exudes a rakish charm as the travelling showman Serafin, masquerading as a notorious pirate to woo the chaste but restless Caribbean girl Manuela (Garland). Hailed by the filmmaker Lindsay Anderson as a “daring experiment in artifice,” The Pirate is a marvel of screwball antics, sensuous choreography, knowing camp, and stylized Technicolor surfaces. Describing Kelly’s erotic ballet sequence, “Mack the Knife,” Stephen Harvey writes, “With a Douglas Fairbanks rope trick, Serafin-as-Macoco plummets down to earth from the mast of his ship; as the blood-and-charcoal backdrop lights up with rhythmic blasts of flame, he careens about his ravaged domain, wielding a large pole to daunt burly rivals and feminine conquests alike.”
THE STORY OF THREE LOVES, Vincente Minnelli
With its international A-list cast and European art house sensibility (an MGM sound stage passes for London, Rome and Paris), this seldom-screened omnibus film is a triptych of love stories told in flashback, each centering on a passenger aboard an American-bound ocean liner. The first concerns the tragic fate of a talented ballerina, The Red Shoes’ Moira Shearer (in her only American film), who dances beautifully to Frederic Ashton’s choreography for Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paginini under the possessive eye of James Mason—while the third, also directed by Gottfried Reinhardt, revolves around a trapeze duo (Kirk Douglas and Pier Angeli, both affecting) whose fortunes are likewise complicated by the risks of their art. At the center is Vincente Minnelli’s remarkable “Mademoiselle,” in which a boy is transformed into a young man by a witch’s spell, leading to an impossible romance with his governess (Ethel Barrymore, Leslie Caron, Farley Granger, and Ricky Nelson imbue the fairy tale with bittersweet tenderness, and Minnelli with ingeniously conceived color symbolism). “One of the great neglected pleasures of 1950s MGM….[The Story of Three Loves] testifies to the influence of patriarchal French existentialism on American pop culture” (Jonathan Rosenbaum).
***SUNDAY, JUNE 14***
BUFFALO ’66, Vincent Gallo
Anthology Film Archives
For his directorial debut, actor and frequent Claire Denis collaborator Vincent Gallo made the exceedingly unusual decision to shoot on 35mm color reversal stock, giving the film a subtly distinctive look that, along with its fine performances, Cassavetes-inflected camerawork and textures, and unique tone, made it clear that this was not a typical vanity project. Gallo stars as a recently released convict who, en route to Buffalo to visit his family, kidnaps a young woman, Layla (Ricci), and forces her to pose as his wife. Strangely sanguine about the kidnapping, Layla gradually forms an unusual bond with her captor. BUFFALO ’66 displays Gallo’s unique combination of disaffected cool and emotional rawness, and features an incredible supporting cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Rosanna Arquette, Ben Gazzara, and Anjelica Huston.
HONDO, John Farrow
Striding with all of his mythical stature into the 3-D space created by long-take specialist John Farrow (with an assist from uncredited second unit director John Ford), Wayne is a dispatch rider who takes rancher Geraldine Page and her young son under his protection in the unsettled Southwest of 1874
RED BEARD, Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa and Mifune’s final collaboration yielded one of the director’s most heartfelt, moving films. In nineteenth-century Japan, a brash young doctor (Kayama) working in a poor public clinic butts heads with a wizened older medic (Mifune). What unfolds is a humanistic reflection on duty, compassion, and the passage of time.
VAMPYR, Carl Th. Dreyer
Anthology Film Archives
“Imagine that we are sitting in a very ordinary room. Suddenly we are told that there is a corpse behind the door. Instantly, the room we are sitting in has taken on another look. The light, the atmosphere have changed, though they are physically the same. This is because we have changed and the objects are as we conceive them. This is the effect I wanted to produce in VAMPYR.” –C.D.
EXCALIBUR, John Boorman
Anthology Film Archives
Blending several Arthurian legends, Boorman’s extravagant, ambitious 1981 film is one of the most visually expressive, at times almost abstract, commercial films of its time. In his retelling of the Grail legend, Boorman replaces Galahad with Perceval as the purest knight of the Round Table and makes Arthur the Fisher King. Featuring an amazing cast that includes Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicol Williamson, and pre-stardom Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, and Patrick Stewart, EXCALIBUR fearlessly and unapologetically courts silliness, and largely as a result, ultimately achieves a genuinely majestic sense of wonder. A true feast for the eyes and ears!
HIGH AND LOW, Akira Kurosawa
Kurosawa’s riveting adaptation of a novel by Ed McBain follows the wealthy head of a shoe company (Mifune) as he faces a wrenching ethical dilemma when kidnappers accidentally nab his chauffeur’s son instead of his own. As the clock ticks, he must decide: pay the ransom to save another man’s boy, or save his company from financial ruin.
HOSPITAL, Frederick Wiseman
Museum of the Moving Image
The innovative multidisciplinary magazine Esopus, founded and edited by Tod Lippy, explores themes through a wide range of creative disciplines. A selection of 100 frames from Fred Wiseman’s documentary Hospital will be featured in the upcomingEsopus 22: Medicine. To celebrate the publication, the Museum and Esopus present a rare 16mm screening of Hospital, preceded by a live Skype introduction by Wiseman. Of this study of a large New York hospital, film critic Pauline Kael wrote “It is as open and revealing as filmed experience has ever been.”
MACARIO, Robert Galvadón
In colonial times, Ignacio López Tarso’s impoverished woodcutter Macario agrees to share the whole turkey he’s planned for himself with a deathly apparition, his reward a miraculous liquid that heals any illness — but there are catches. First Mexican film nominated for Best Foreign Language Oscar. From the novel by B. Traven (Treasure of the Sierra Madre), and with Pina Pellicer (One-Eyed Jacks).