Who’s ready for a trip down the streets of Rome, Amityville, the films of Brad Pitt and Federico Fellini? Every month in Los Angeles there are retrospective showings, and among this month’s films are Jaws, Roman Holiday and Princess Mononoke, playing at theaters within driving distance of Angelenos. So hop in your car and get ready to brave traffic — these wonderful classics are worth seeing on the big screen.

Jaws (1975):

Jaws is opening wide again, and you can expect human jaws to hit the floor. When Steven Spielberg’s film hit theaters, audiences were not ready for the director’s masterful building of suspense, causing many to scream, faint and float out of the theater. Of course, now audiences like to pick apart the shark’s practical effects, which look like a cardboard cutout from an elementary school play. But that’s only because laughter is the best medicine for fear. What makes Spielberg’s film so effective is the pace, the feeling of dread that rises to the surface, the way his camera moves like a predatory shark and the way he lulls you into the fictional town of Amityville, where even more tension plays out. What studios seem to have forgotten since Spielberg introduced cinema to blockbusters is that, perhaps even more than fictional monsters, it’s the human drama that matters most. Because his four protagonists are so riveting, their ploy to take down the shark so mesmerizing, we continue to swim through Jaw’s choppy waters.

July 2, 7:30 p.m., Regency Academy Cinemas

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): 

The greatest science fiction movie ever made. 2001: A Space Odyssey exists in another universe from anything else in the genre. Stanley Kubrick’s vision is a humane, ethereal, magical, philosophical, expansive, intimate and immensely entertaining masterpiece. There aren’t enough words in the Thesaurus to throw at Kubrick’s movie, which has gone on to inspire everything from Gravity to Barbie, so we are just going to mention some of the film’s attributes. The images, for instance, are a giant step for mankind in the technology department. How do you have someone walk upside down on a spaceship or zip through a kaleidoscopic black hole? The ideas have been discussed for decades and the story of how humans evolved through technology and may perish from that very same technology is indelibly original. A wonderful space adventure that leaves space to dazzle.

July 5, 7:30 p.m. Aero Theater

Jules and Jim (1962):

Butch and Sundance. Goose and Maverick. Harold and Lloyd. Jules and Jim. Bromances have long been a favorite among movie fans, but only one can claim to be the first bromance on screen. That would be Jules and Jim, the title characters of Francois Truffuat’s groundbreaking, graciously moving masterpiece, in which two best friends run headfirst through life at a whimsical pace. They travel, adventure, fight in a war, admire women, party, relax and eventually fall for the same girl, Jeanne Morreu’s Catherine, who remains one of cinema’s most intoxicating figures. Truffaut matches their vibe through jump-cuts, freeze-frames, handheld cameras, montages, newsreels, split screens, bike rides through the countryside; basically anything he can to exude energy. The result is one of the most enjoyable films ever made. A bromance worth rooting for.

July 6, 3 p.m, Vidiots

8 ½ (1963):

A movie about a director making a movie about a director making a movie? What is this, movie Inception? Try a portal into the mind of a director. Federico Fellini brings his life — a circus of friends, family and Italy — to the screen through the alluring gaze of Marcello Mastroianni, who plays a famous Italian director not sure how to make his next film. Not unlike Fellini, he’s got a whirlwind of things distracting him, brought to life through fantastical dream sequences, fantastic camerawork and dazzling, disorienting editing. There’s never been a more powerful — or beautiful — production about the act of cinematic production itself. From the opening scene of Mastroianni floating over cars, across the ocean before being summoned down by a priest, to the finale where everyone gathers on set for a meta shot, this is cinema at its most cinematic. Lights, camera and delightful action.

July 10, 7:30 p.m., Academy Theater

Blow Out (1981):

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(The Criterion Collection)

This is like a Reddit thread come to life. Anyone who has been down the conspiracy rabbit hole knows that some crackpot ideas can seem more like possibilities than a crackhead spewing nonsense. Maybe the moon landing wasn’t real? Maybe we do have aliens in cages? Maybe birds don’t actually exist? Okay, so the last one is a meme, but you get the idea. Conspiracies are fun to suss out, and there’s a perverse thrill in watching someone like John Travolta’s soundman try to discover if he really did hear a gunshot in his audio recording or if he’s simply going insane. The answers aren’t as mysterious as in Antonioni’s Blow Up, but they remain hauntingly satisfying here. 

July 10, 10 p.m., Los Feliz Theater

Princess Mononoke (1997):

Disney princesses are just so lame. They always need saving, are always flustered and care more about keeping their hair perfect than keeping the town safe. Not Princess Mononoke. No, siree. This princess trades mascara for massacre, riding her wolves into battle as she protects the forest from a crippling plague of industrialism. Led by another feminist warrior, Lady Eboshi, the humans fight a valiant battle against the forest spirits, but fans of Hayao Miyazaki know that nature always prevails. His films seem to breathe nature, fantasy and poetry as naturally as the trees inhale the air. He’s anime’s greatest director, hand drawing images so textured they could be framed in a museum, and this is one of his finest pieces. 

July 13, 3 p.m., Studio Ghibli Fest

Roman Holiday (1953):

Italy? Check. Comedy? Check. Audrey Hepburn? Check. A screenplay that people still quote today? Check. Check out Roman Holiday for one of cinema’s most endearing escapes. Featuring Hepburn in her breakout role, a performance every bit as unvarnished as the Roman architecture that surrounds her, Roman Holiday follows a princess who grows bored of her pompous surroundings and sets out for an undercover day with commoners, one of whom is a reporter with the scoop of the century. That is, until he falls in love with her. Can you blame him? Hepburn is a ray of sunshine warming everything around her, her youthful smile and shy yet spontaneous persona an image of sheer beauty. You’ll never forget your day in Rome with Hepburn; her grin is the stuff of dreams.

July 13, 3:45 p.m., Vidiots

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984):

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(Studio Ghibli)

More Miyazaki! Every summer fans of animation are blessed with Ghibli Fest, in which the studio’s films are played on the big screen. With their bright colors, sweeping scope and rip-roaring, crowd-pleasing stories, it’s no wonder people schlep out to see the films of Miyazaki every year. Who else can direct a film about a heroine who takes on giant worms, speaks in Japanese and fights to preserve nature and make it accessible to all? I’ll wait … No, but seriously, this is majestically entertaining stuff, the kind of film that everyone enjoys.

July 15, 3:50 p.m., Alamo Drafthouse

Clueless (1995):

Did you really think we would leave Clueless off our list? As if! Amy Heckerling’s high school comedy remains a funny update on Jane Auesten’s Emma. The film sees a self-obsessed Cher (Alicia Silverstone) looking for love in high school, where she takes a girl under her wing so she can become a matchmaker. With a smile the size of her dad’s bank account and a yellow skirt that inspired Halloween costumes, she’s one of the most iconic cinematic high school students, along with Ferris Bueller and Max Fischer. She’s the piece that ties this hilarious, quotable and surprisingly moving comedy together.

July 19, 8:30 p.m., My Valley Pass 

Fight Club (1999):

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(20th Century Fox)

The first rule of Fight Club? Don’t talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club? Let David Fincher tap into his imagination without studio interference. While it might seem like a gamble to make a blockbuster centered around fight clubs, bone-crunching violence and dark philosophizing about how modern society is run by consumerists, there are explosive playoffs to letting Fincher do his thing. As he follows a desk clerk’s (Edward Norton) encounter with a gangster (Pitt), who introduces him to a ring of fighters, he doesn’t just bury his way into an underground fight club but into the mind of his characters. Played with bruised vulnerability by Norton and extreme machismo by Pitt, these characters become more than just names in a story. They become talking points in our own society.

July 27, 11:59 p.m., New Beverly Cinema






























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