6 Great Movies to See in L.A. This Week

Return to Oz
Return to Oz

Friday, Feb. 13

USC’s Movies We Love series presents the misunderstood and underappreciated Return to Oz at 7 p.m. L. Frank Baum purists have always been somewhat divided on this 1985 follow-up, as it hews closer to the books while also suggesting that the land of Oz exists solely in Dorothy’s mind. Beyond that, this strange foray into the fantasy genre stands in sharp contrast to the 1939 film, mostly in a good way. A Q&A with co-writer/director Walter Murch and producer Paul Maslansky will follow the screening. Admission is free but an RSVP is required. cinema.usc.edu

Classic romances abound on screens big and small this Valentine’s Day weekend. Anyone in the mood for love who’d prefer something a little more contemporary than The Philadelphia Story or Gone With the Wind would do well to start their Friday night at the Egyptian Theatre, where Brokeback Mountain screens at 7:30. Darker and less uplifting than some of your other options, Ang Lee’s adaptation of Annie Proulx’s novella is an affecting love tale made even sadder by the presence of Heath Ledger, whose exceptional performance earned him his first Oscar nomination. (And if you have to see The Philadelphia Story, it’s at the Aero at 7:30.) americancinemathequecalendar.com

Monday, Feb. 16

Denizens of San Francisco may be familiar with the street performer known as Space Lady, but her appearance at Cinefamily’s Lost & Found Film Club marks a rare excursion into our fair city. The real-life Susan Dietrich Schneider is known for airy synth renditions of tunes such as “Major Tom,” which tonight will accompany a selection of celestial 16mm shorts, including the 25-minute Rescue Party. cinefamily.org

River of No ReturnEXPAND
River of No Return

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Tuesday, Feb. 17

At 1 p.m., LACMA’s Tuesday Matinee series presents Otto Preminger’s River of No Return. The Austrian-American director was one of the finest filmmakers working in Hollywood for several decades running, with films such as Laura and Bonjour Tristesse rightfully earning him a spot at the forefront of American cinema. (Along with Billy Wilder and myriad other directors and technicians, Preminger emigrated from Europe during the 1930s.) Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe star in the 1954 Western, he as a convicted killer just released from prison and she as a singer. lacma.org

Quentin Tarantino’s affinity for kung fu is on proud display at the New Beverly yet again: The Magic Blade and Bastard Swordsman screen back-to-back at the New Beverly starting at 7:30. Both ultra-rare films were produced by the vaunted Shaw Brothers Studio, purveyors of some of Hong Kong’s finest action cinema. thenewbev.com

Thursday, Feb. 19

Another Ozu double feature at Cal State Northridge, this time of The Only Son and There Was a Father. Though CSUN’s semester-long retrospective is still in the early phase of the Japanese master’s career, tonight’s screening of The Only Son marks his transition into the talkies. As with a great many of Ozu’s films, both it and There Was a Father largely concern the struggles of ordinary families in what was then present-day Japan. csun.edu

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