Friday, Feb. 16
The American Cinematheque salutes Studio Ghibli — the venerable Tokyo animation house responsible for a number of animated masterpieces — with a 35mm screening of Howl’s Moving Castle. Hayao Miyazaki’s dreamy tale of a demure teenager who stumbles into the abode of a cursed wizard attended by various fantastical creatures was adapted from a book by British novelist Diana Wynne Jones. American-made features could learn a few lessons from the film’s thoughtful pace and luminous sense of the bizarre. The Aero will show the Japanese-language version, which means audiences will be deprived of Billy Crystal’s vocal performance as a genial fire demon. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Saturday, Feb. 17
A recent restoration of Bernard Rose’s striking indie feature Ivans xtc has inspired a stand-alone, celebratory screening at the Egyptian Theatre. Shot in 1999 on a Sony camcorder, it’s one of the earliest and most trenchant examples of HD filmmaking. Based on Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych, it stars Danny Huston as a Hollywood agent who receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer at the height of his success. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Rose, Huston, Peter Weller and Lisa Enos, moderated by Larry Karaszewski. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sat., Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
UCLA is in the midst of a lavish tribute to director Michael Curtiz, the intrepid studio hand for whom Casablanca was one drop in a very large bucket. Saturday night’s double bill begins with The Unsuspected, a menacingly photographed thriller based on a Charlotte Armstrong novel about the producer (Claude Rains) of a radio crime show who commits murder. It will be followed by Romance on the High Seas, a lightweight musical starring a debuting Doris Day as a passenger on a romantic voyage to Rio. Alan K. Rode will sign copies of his new biography, Michael Curtiz: A Life in Film, in the lobby before showtime. UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Sat., Feb. 17, 7 p.m.; $10. (310) 206-8013, cinema.ucla.edu.
Tuesday, Feb. 20
LACMA’s brief retrospective of Czech-born director Milos Forman continues with his first American triumph, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Jack Nicholson cemented his reputation as a New Hollywood icon (and won an Oscar) playing McMurphy, the anti-authoritarian mental ward patient from Ken Kesey’s novel. Forman's Oscar win freed him to direct his long-gestating adaptation of Hair. Cuckoo’s Nest still holds up as a robust piece of storytelling, and the star is flanked with great actors on every side, including Louise Fletcher (in her Oscar-winning performance) as Nurse Ratched. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., Feb. 20, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
Wednesday, Feb. 21
Laemmle’s Anniversary Classics series presents Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, Pedro Almodovar’s tangy farce about an actress (Carmen Maura) on a desperate search for her ex-lover, who left without so much as an explanation. Almodovar paints in bright, pop colors and directs his actors with such passionate excess that practically every scene has the lift of a comic opera. More generally, the film is a testament to the beauty and buoyancy of Latin women, a seemingly bottomless well from which this great Spanish director continually draws inspiration. Laemmle Royal (also playing at the Playhouse 7 and Town Center 5), 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Wed., Feb. 21, 7 p.m.; $13. (310) 478-3836, laemmle.com.