An April To-Do List for Film Buffs in L.A.

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The Dardenne brothers' 'La Promesse' (1996)

Among highlights on the Los Angeles retrospective and revival scene this month are a timely series of films about refugees, a run of modern French classics and screenings of favorites from Paul Mazursky, Jonathan Demme and more.

TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL | 6712 Hollywood Blvd.

The TCM Classic Film Festival, arguably Los Angeles’ most anticipated annual cinephile event, returns to multiple venues throughout the heart of Hollywood this year, featuring another diverse array of classics both beloved and ripe for rediscovery. Of particular note is a quartet of nitrate prints screening at the Egyptian Theatre, newly outfitted to handle this most volatile and vivid of celluloid materials. One nitrate print will screen each day of the event, beginning with Alfred Hitchcock’s original British production of The Man Who Knew Too Much (Thursday), and followed by Otto Preminger’s seminal noir Laura (Friday), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s harrowing psychodrama Black Narcissus (Saturday) and Mitchell Leisen’s Technicolor musical Lady in the Dark (Sunday), starring Ginger Rogers as a magazine editor whose fraught professional life flowers into dreams of grandiloquent romance. Rogers also pops up in William A. Seiter’s Rafter Romance (Friday), included in perhaps the festival’s most intriguing section, titled Discoveries. Other Discoveries presented on 35mm include Ernst Lubitsch’s So This Is Paris (Friday), Jack Conway’s Red-Headed Woman (Friday), Frank Perry’s David and Lisa (Saturday), Elia Kazan’s America, America (Saturday), and Richard Boleslawski’s Theodora Goes Wild (Saturday). And for those just looking for the comforts of a classic — say, Howard Hawks’ Red River (Saturday) or Twentieth Century (Friday), Jacques Torneur’s Cat People (Friday), or Ernst Lubitsch’s One Hour With You (Friday) –– there’s no shortage to explore.

JOSEF VON STERNBERG AT LACMA | 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

It’s been quite a while since the Film at LACMA program has been featured in this column, and even longer since they’ve warranted such an enthusiastic recommendation. But their unofficial mini-tribute to director Josef von Sternberg is without question one of April’s most essential repertory events. Running each Tuesday afternoon throughout the month at the museum’s Bing Theater, the all-35mm series focuses on the Austrian emigrant’s early 1930s sound films, each starring his longtime muse Marlene Dietrich. Things get underway on this week with the wartime romance Morocco, co-starring Gary Cooper, and continue with the revered cross-continental train thriller Shanghai Express (April 11), the Catherine the Great period epic The Scarlet Empress (April 18), and the sordid Carnival-set romance The Devil Is a Woman (April 25). 

MODERN FRENCH MASTERWORKS AT CINEFAMILY | 611 N. Fairfax Ave.

Cinefamily’s French film series "La Collectionneuse" is hosting not one but two events in April, each featuring masterworks of a more modern vintage. First, on Sunday, will be Chris Marker’s immortal 1983 cross-continental travelogue Sans Soleil, which would be a must on almost any occasion but particularly on 35mm, as it will presented that evening. Later in the month, celebrated provocateur Bruno Dumont, whose latest comic extravaganza Slack Bay opens in Los Angeles on April 28, will be on hand to present both his darkly humorous four-hour miniseries Li’l Quinquin (April 26) and his landmark 1997 debut La Vie de Jésus (April 27), an allegorical tale of a mentally stunted young man exploring love and lust in the French countryside.

REFUGEES ON FILM AT THE BILLY WILDER | 10899 Wilshire Blvd.

In a pointed bit of political programming, the UCLA Film and Television Archive will present “In Transit: Refugees on Film” throughout the month at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater. Spanning multiple decades and continents, the series touches on a number of global crises while simultaneously illuminating the virtues of many international cinemas. Things get off to a star-studded start on Friday, with the post-WWII double bill of Lewis Milestone’s Arch of Triumph, starring the trio of Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton, and the Heddy Lamar vehicle A Lady Without Passport, directed by Joseph H. Lewis. Also playing in double features alongside newer films are Ousmane Sembène’s epochal debut Black Girl (Saturday, in a new digital restoration) and La Promesse, by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (April 16, on 35mm). And finally, screening solo and on 35mm: Boat People (April 21), a post-Vietnam treatise by Chinese veteran Ann Hui; and Gregory Nava’s El Norte (April 23), a pioneering independent production whose story of Guatemalan teens trekking across Mexico to the U.S. remains as urgent as ever.

CLASSICS AND CURIOSITIES AT THE NEW BEV | 7165 Beverly Blvd.

One hopes that an even stranger month than normal at the New Beverly warrants less of a discerning eye than it does reward the odd viewing risk. So while a Wednesday and Thursday double bill of two 1960s comedies starring television icons (What’s So Bad About Feeling Good, featuring Mary Tyler Moore, and Never a Dull Moment, starring Dick Van Dyke), as well as a pair of Elvis Presley films (Clambake and Fun in Acapulco, April 18, screening on IB Tech prints), are enticing entities, it’s the known quantities that can’t help but draw attention: John Carpenter’s cult favorites Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China (Tuesday); Akira Kurosawa’s humanist epic Red Beard (Friday and Saturday); Ringo Lam’s HK classic City on Fire (April 11, screening with a new print of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs); Katherine Bigelow’s stylish vampire flick Near Dark (April 15), starring the recently departed Bill Paxton; Jonathan Demme’s influential ‘80s dramedies Something Wild and Married to the Mob (April 19 and 20); the L.A. detective saga Hickey & Boggs and the hallucinatory post-hippie excursion A Name for Evil (April 23 and 24), both featuring Robert Culp; and, finally, the Paul Mazursky classics Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Down and Out In Beverly Hills (April 26 and 27).

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