Thurs., May 19
The first of two must-see mini-retrospectives from the American Cinematheque this weekend is the Aero's six-film look at classic horror director Tod Browning (all screenings at 7:30 p.m.). The series kicks off Thursday with a double bill of The Unknown and The Unholy Three, continues Friday with Bela Lugosi in Dracula and Lionel Barrymore in London After Midnight, and concludes with Browning's most famous film, Freaks, and The Devil Doll. Browning's singular approach to aberrant psychology makes all of his films worth a look, but The Unknown, featuring an armless Lon Cheney and 18-year-old Joan Crawford as a woman afraid of men's hands, shouldn't be missed.
Fri., May 20
Across town at the Egyptian the American Cinematheque offers up a four-film series of the work of actor-director Albert Brooks, perhaps the last great classical comedian, featuring double bills of Broadcast News and Real Life (Friday, 7:30 p.m.) and Modern Romance and Defending Your Life (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).
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Sat., May 21
On the occasion of its brief theatrical run earlier this year, Karina Longworth called The Red Chapel "an infectiously funny, gonzo glimpse into the sausage-making process of propaganda." This Danish-made docu-comedy will be back for one night only at the Cinefamily, where it's paired with a clip show of some of North Korea's finest entertainment (7 p.m.).
Sun., May 22
Though it's not animation in the strictest sense, Los Angeles Filmforum's inclusion of Michael Robinson's These Hammers Don't Hurt Us — a deeply moving exploration of love, loss and cultural nostalgia via a Liz Taylor–Michael Jackson mash-up, and the most beautiful film of 2010 — in "Triumph of the Wild: New Experimental Animation" (7:30 p.m.) is cause for celebration. Directors Eric Leiser, Alice Cohen and Gina Marie Napolitan will be present to discuss their films. The evening also includes work from David O'Reilly and Martha Colburn, among others.