Welcome to L.A. Weekly's Movie Guide, your look at the hottest films in Los Angeles theaters this week, from indie art-house gems and classics to popcorn-perfect blockbusters and new movies garnering buzz. Check here every week before you make your big-screen plans.
Friday, April 12
Matteo Garrone, the Italian filmmaker who helmed the internationally acclaimed Gomorrah and Reality (as well as the less acclaimed but equally interesting Tale of Tales), returns with Dogman. In a performance that earned him Best Actor at Cannes, Marcello Fonte plays a dog groomer and single father whose mild manners are pushed to the snapping point after he is befriended and bullied into committing crimes by a local gangster. Seedy seaside locations and an innate understanding of the primal urges that lurk within ordinary men mark this gritty neo-classic. Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Fri.-Thu., April 12-18, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 473-8530, landmarktheatres.com.
Mary Magdalene, a naturalistic biblical drama, arrives just in time for Easter, although it's uncertain whether it will find purchase with orthodox moviegoers. Rooney Mara stars as the woman from a small fishing village who, according to the canonical gospels, became one of Jesus Christ's followers and witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection. Joaquin Phoenix gives a modernist take on Jesus of Nazareth and Chiwetel Ejiofor has several fine moments as Simon Peter. Director Garth Davis (Lion) infuses the picture with a lightly feminist revisionism. The film was shot on location in Rome and southern Italy before being shelved for a year due to the Weinstein scandal. IFC Films is the distributor. Laemmle Playhouse, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; Fri.-Thu., April 12-18, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
Wild Nights With Emily is a blithely irreverent take on the notoriously private poet Emily Dickinson, portraying her not as a wretchedly unhappy recluse but as a hilarious lover whose Sapphic passions found purchase in the arms of her brother's wife. Writer-director Madeleine Olnek researched the film under the auspices of Harvard University Press and the Guggenheim Foundation, and was motivated by new research to disrupt popular conceptions of Dickinson's personality. As Emily, SNL alumnus Molly Shannon, who went to school with Olnek, proves the perfect woman for the job. Shannon will do a Q&A after the 7:30 screening on Friday, April 12. The Landmark, 10850 Pico Blvd., West L.A.; Fri.-Thu., April 12-18, 7:30 p.m.; $12-$15; (310) 470-0492, landmarktheatres.com.
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Israeli drama Working Woman centers on Orna (Liron Ben-Shlush), a mother of three who takes a job at a real estate firm out of financial necessity and must navigate escalating sexual advances from her boss. Jerusalem-based filmmaker Michal Aviad directed this intelligent, well-constructed drama that takes a hard look at a specific social issue — harassment in the workplace — from a distinctly female point of view. Aviad took years to develop the story, culling from the testimonies of several different women, and demonstrates a keen sensitivity to the moral gray areas that define life in the modern workforce. Laemmle Royal, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A. (also Town Center and Playhouse 7); Fri.-Thu., April 12-18, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
I Am Cuba is the fascinating byproduct of a deal between the Soviet Union and the Cuban government, intended to promote the new socialism under Fidel Castro. Director Mikhail Kalatozov was given carte blanche to create this portrait of a post-revolution Cuba, and the film exults in some of the most dazzling long takes ever captured on film. After a mixed reception upon its release in 1964, it was rediscovered in the 1990s and promoted by the likes of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Milestone Films has funded a new restoration that will play at various Laemmle locations throughout the week. The film's moral underpinnings are dubious, but the visual style, achieved through a combination of wide-angle lenses and a complex system of cranes and dollies, remains eye-popping even today. In other words, the best reason to see it is to see it. Laemmle Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre, 8556 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Fri.-Thu., April 12-18, various showtimes; $9-$12. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.
Also opening Friday: After; Billboard; A Dark Place; Dogman; Hellboy; Her Smell; I Am Cuba; Little; Long Day's Journey Into Night; Mary Magdalene; Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy; Mia and the White Lion; Missing Link; The Most Dangerous Year; Penguin Highway; Satan & Adam; Stockholm; Teen Spirit; Wild Nights With Emily; Working Woman