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War crimes, screwball and Vertigo

Thursday, Dec 29 2011
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Thurs., Dec. 29

While Cinefamily's run of Battle Royale (2000) — its U.S. theatrical debut — continues through the New Year, a couple of more recent foreign offerings are closing tonight. Downtown Independent has Kinyarwanda, the Audience Award winner at Sundance, AFI and the Starz festivals, about the lives, loves and all-too-human tribulations of ordinary people during the Rwandan genocide. Zhang Yimou's Flowers of War, China's big-budget Oscar hopeful starring Christian Bale as an ambivalent American caught in the middle of the Rape of Nanking, ends its qualifying run at the Nuart.

Thurs., Dec. 29; Fri., Dec. 30; Wed., Jan. 4

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On a lighter note, there's Golden Age comedy at the Aero: Preston Sturges has Thursday night to himself, with his deep-dish-in-disguise classic Sullivan's Travels and the nigh-on-perfect The Lady Eve. Both date from 1941 and both are full of some of the wisest-cracking dialogue ever heard on-screen, delivered by a pair of the sexiest dames, Veronica Lake and Barbara Stanwyck, respectively. Friday's offering pairs another frontrunner for greatest screwball, My Man Godfrey (1936) — starring William Powell and the delightful Carole Lombard — with Howard Hawks' hectic Twentieth Century, with Lombard again, here fending off the advances of a maniacal John Barrymore. And the incomparable Sturges returns Wednesday, via his cracking script for The Good Fairy (1935), a headlong rush of exasperation, confusion and charm as Margaret Sullavan makes unwitting mischief for uptight Herbert Marshall; it's paired with the great Irene Dunne's first comedy lead role, in Theodora Goes Wild (1936).

Fri., Dec. 30

With the recent completion of B. Kite's Vertigo Variations video essay, what better time to revisit Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece, the film that cannot be seen but only reseen. Few pictures lend themselves so well to obsessive rewatching, and the American Cinematheque presents a real holiday treat with a 70 mm print of the original Vertigo tonight at the Egyptian. —Tom von Logue Newth

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