Friday, June 29
Throughout the 1960s and '70s, the Shaw brothers (Runje, Runde, Runme and Run Run) reigned supreme as the owners of the largest independent film studio in the world: Shaw Brothers Studio. Although prolific in many genres, their excursions into martial arts action-adventure proved to be the most popular with Western audiences. The American Cinematheque is in the midst of a three-night tribute to these Hong Kong–based master moguls. Friday night's program includes two extravagantly bizarre horror mashups, Black Magic 2 and Human Lanterns. But the third and final film of the evening is by far the most controversial. The Boxer's Omen is being advertised by the Cinematheque as “one of the craziest damned things you'll ever witness in a movie theater.” If you doubt their boast, just run a Google search and browse the images. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., June 29, 7:30 p.m.; $15. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.
Sunday, July 1
L.A. Filmforum's 1968: Visions of Possibilities series continues with a rare screening of No Vietnamese Ever Called Me N****r. Directed by David L. Weiss, this cinéma vérité documentary captures an anti-war march inspired by Martin Luther King's United Nations speech, which criticized the number of black soldiers drafted during the Vietnam War. The protest began in Harlem and culminated at the U.N., and Weiss alternates between street footage of the march and interviews with returning G.I.s, resulting in a vivid portrait of the times. Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Sun., July 1, 7:30 p.m.; $10. (323) 466-3456, lafilmforum.org.
Tuesday, July 3
Veteran animator Don Bluth's decision to secede from Disney and begin his own production company in 1979 (along with 11 other former Disney employees) is an important footnote in film history. His first feature as an independent, The Secret of NIMH, revives the classical hand-drawn tradition with beautifully detailed scenery and fluid action sequences. There's also a strong vein of mysticism running through the story of a group of lab rats who gain extraordinary intelligence as a result of experimental testing. Bluth will be in the spotlight of this month's Tuesday Matinees series at LACMA. Kids' tickets are only $2, so bring the whole family. LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-Wilshire; Tue., July 3, 1 p.m.; $4. (323) 857-6000, lacma.org.
The Skirball Cultural Center will screen On the Waterfront as part of its Cinema Tuesdays series. One of the key American films of the 1950s, Elia Kazan's dockside drama won multiple Oscars, including Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor and Supporting Actress. Budd Schulberg's story of a browbeaten boxer (Marlon Brando) who blows the whistle on his corrupt waterfront boss includes the justly famous “I coulda been a contender” monologue. Eva Marie Saint shines in her screen debut, and Leonard Bernstein contributes an original score. Controversially read as an allegory for the HUAC/McCarthy hearings, the film is essential viewing. Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Brentwood; Tue., July 3, 1:30 p.m.; free. (310) 440-4500, skirball.org.
Thursday, July 5
The Great American Pastime never got a more mythic treatment than in Barry Levinson's The Natural, based on Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel concerning an aging rookie's magical turnaround. Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a modern King Arthur in cap and cleats, and his bat, “Wonderboy,” is his Excalibur. Supported by Caleb Deschanel's burnished cinematography and a stirring Randy Newman score, the film may succeed in raising a few goosebumps on the flesh of even the most cynical viewer. The Nostalgia Americana continues with Stand by Me, Rob Reiner's affectionate adaptation of Stephen King's short story about a group of boys in 1950s who trek across town to see a dead body. The double feature is an appropriate chaser to the Fourth of July festivities. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica; Thu., July 5, 7:30 p.m.; $12. (323) 466-3456, americancinemathequecalendar.com.