Your Weekly Movie To-Do List: Gremlins and Peeping Tom
Andy Warhol's Empire
Friday, Dec. 5
UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater plays host to the west coast premiere of the newly restored Hoop Dreams at 7:30 p.m. Steve James will appear in person to introduce his film, which follows two aspiring basketball players in Chicago over the course of five years. It’s one of the most involving, influential documentaries of the last few decades—not to mention Roger Ebert’s favorite movie of the 1990s. Among its many accolades, famously, is not an Oscar win or even a nomination; outrage over this ridiculous snub led to a change in the nomination process. For more, visit cinema.ucla.edu.
At the Aero Theatre, the series Holy Fools: The Anti-Biopics of Scott & Larry lives up to its name with a 7:30 p.m. double feature of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood and Miloš Forman’s Man on the Moon, both of which were written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. The screenwriting pair (who also penned the upcoming Big Eyes) will hold a discussion between the two films, which are among the most memorable biopics of the ’90s — sensitive, funny and as fittingly strange as their subjects (Ed Wood and Andy Kaufman as portrayed by Johnny Depp and Jim Carrey, respectively). More information at americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Saturday, Dec. 6
Certain childhood movies you outgrow, while others you come to appreciate on a deeper level upon revisiting. Joe Dante’s two Gremlins films belong in the latter category, and the Egyptian is screening them both: the first on 70mm at 7:30 p.m., followed by sequel The New Batch on 35mm. (As for the third and final film in the program, Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight, this writer was too afraid of the Crypt Keeper as a child and can’t personally comment on its quality.) For more, visit americancinemathequecalendar.com before midnight.
Sunday, Dec. 7
Thanks in large part to MOCA’s Andy Warhol: Shadows exhibit, the last few months have been rife with opportunities to see the artist’s experimental films on the big screen. Los Angeles Filmforum’s 12 noon screening of Empire — silent, black-and-white footage of the Empire State Building shot on 16mm during a single day in 1964 — may be the last chance for a while. That may sound like a tough proposition given the eight-hour runtime, but there are far worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon if you’ve never blissed out to minimalist cinema. Full details at lafilmforum.org.
The Bitter Tea of General Yen
A double feature of Frank Capra’s problematic excursions into China, newly restored and screening at the Aero Theatre: The Bitter Tea of General Yen at 7:30 p.m., followed by Lost Horizons. More controversial and less successful than his best-known films (It Happened One Night, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington), General Yen stars Barbara Stanwyck and deals with interracial attraction, which was, shall we say, a bit more taboo in 1933 than it is today. Adventure drama Lost Horizon also did bad business before eventually coming to be revered. For more, visit americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Monday, Dec. 8
Mati Diop will appear in person for The Dawn of a Thousand Suns at REDCAT at 8:30 p.m. Most recognizable for her performance in Claire Denis’ 35 Shots of Rum, the 32-year-old is an accomplished filmmaker in her own right whose work has done quite well on the festival circuit. The evening will include a screening of her 45-minute Mille Soleils (A Thousand Suns), an homage to the 1973 classic Touki Bouki, as well as the short Atlantiques. More information is available at redcat.org.
Thursday, Dec. 11
Cal State Northridge’s semester-long Powell & Pressburger retrospective concludes the only way it can: with Peeping Tom at 7:30 p.m. So controversial for its lurid subject matter (read: voyeuristic serial killer with an incredibly malicious method of dispatching his victims) that it was banned in its native England and ended Powell’s career as a working filmmaker, the film came to be recognized as the masterpiece it is in the years following. As always, CSUN screenings are free and open to the public. Full details may be peeped at csun.edu.
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