Your Weekly Movie To-Do List, Including Boogie Nights and The Phantom Tollbooth

The Phantom Tollbooth
The Phantom Tollbooth

Friday, Feb. 6

USC presents An Evening With William Friedkin and Sorcerer, his recently re-evaluated masterwork from 1977. The ambitious story of a ragtag group led by Roy Scheider (Jaws, All That Jazz) transporting big rigs full of volatile nitroglycerin across South America was an expensive flop at the time of its release, which came just a month after Star Wars. The phenomenal success of Friedkin’s prior two films — The French Connection and The Exorcist — only made the disappointment sharper. Sorcerer has come to be appreciated in the years and decades since, in part because of the same unwieldy qualities that made it so hard to process in the first place. Friedkin will do a Q&A after the film. cinema.usc.edu

Fill your sing-along quota with an 8:15 showing of 42nd Street at Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo. The Depression-era backstage musical, which marked Ruby Keeler’s transition from Broadway to the big screen, is credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy and reviving the Hollywood musical. Two highly regarded producers are staging one last show, which has the potential to turn disastrous when a newcomer (Keeler) has to step in as the lead on the eve of opening night. With choreography by Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. (Note: The film plays again Saturday at 8:15 p.m., with a 2:15 matinee both Saturday and Sunday.) oldtownmusichall.org

SorcererEXPAND
Sorcerer

Saturday, Feb. 7

Upcoming Events

Boogie Nights — which, for anyone keeping score at home, remains Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film — plays at LACMA at 7:30. Mark Wahlberg went a long way toward being taken seriously as an actor by playing porn sensation Dirk Diggler in this landmark of the late 1990s, which also features standout work from Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Don Cheadle, Heather Graham and Oscar nominee Burt Reynolds. Anderson evokes smut’s heyday with both fondness and longing, as Nights is set during the transition from film to video. lacma.org

Sunday, Feb. 8

UCLA’s Family Flicks program presents a free matinee of The Phantom Tollbooth, Chuck Jones and Abe Levitow’s adaptation of the classic children’s book by Norton Juster, at 11 a.m. Bored young Milo is transported to the Lands Beyond, a journey marked by a shift from live-action to animation. Puns and all manner of other wordplay abound in the uniquely inventive fictional world, where a war is being waged between numbers and words. Juster’s book may just be the best of its kind, and Jones’ adaptation was the famed animator’s only foray into feature filmmaking. cinema.ucla.edu

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Influential film-essayist Harun Farocki passed away last July, a loss that Los Angeles Filmforum has been commemorating with screenings of several of his works. Wie man sieht (As You See), the fifth in this series, plays tonight at the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles at 7. The film takes a look at women featured in porn magazines. lafilmforum.org

The Aero continues its 75th-anniversary festivities starting at 7:30 with The Lady Eve and The Palm Beach Story, two Preston Sturges comedies from the early 1940s. A key influence on the Coen brothers (who even named O Brother, Where Art Thou? after one of his films-within-a-film), Sturges was one of the most intuitive directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. These two screwball comedies, both of which feature his characteristically rapid-fire dialogue, are among his most revered. americancinemathequecalendar.com

Thursday, Feb. 12

This week’s installment in Cal State Northridge’s semester-long tribute to Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu is a double feature: gangster drama Dragnet Girl at 7 and the original, silent version of A Story of Floating Weeds, from 1934, immediately after. Ozu’s own color remake of the film, which came about a full 25 years later, is regarded as one of his many classics, but the original lays the groundwork. Ozu’s movies occasionally require more patience than those of his contemporary Akira Kurosawa, but it’s rewarded with subtly moving portrayals of family life in all its ups and downs. csun.edu


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