Critic's Picks: A November To-Do List for Film Buffs in Los Angeles
L.A. cinephiles can choose among screenings of favorites from Frederick Wiseman and Eric Rohmer, a retrospective devoted to Robert Altman, a series of classic war movies and more this month.
ROBERT ALTMAN RETROSPECTIVE AND OTHER RARITIES AT AFI FEST | 6925 Hollywood Blvd.
November tends to be a lighter than usual month on the Los Angeles repertory calendar on account of AFI Fest, the city's most popular annual movie-going event. This year, however, the festival is doing its part to please classic cinema fans with an expanded selection of older titles, including a 12-film retrospective dedicated to American iconoclast Robert Altman. Although all the films in the Cinema's Legacy section will be presented digitally, a number of them aren't readily available to stream (or otherwise exist in subpar condition on DVD), including master documentarian Frederick Wiseman's epochal first feature Titticut Follies (Nov. 11), Juan Ibanez's Mexican rarity Los Caifanes (Nov. 11) and French New Wave figurehead Eric Rohmer's La Collectionnesuse (Nov. 11). As for the Altman sidebar, films will be screened in a combination of DCP and 35mms prints and, well, you can't really go wrong. Along with such unimpeachable classics as Nashville (Nov. 16, DCP), Short Cuts (Nov. 12, 35mm) and McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Nov. 10, 35mm), a few of the director's lesser-known gems will see the light of day, including California Split (Nov. 11, 35mm), starring Elliot Gould and George Segal as odd couple gamblers, the Jennifer Jason Leigh-starring period piece Kansas City (Nov. 15, 35mm) and the strangely seductive Vincent van Gogh biopic Vincent & Theo (Nov. 13, 35mm), featuring Tim Roth in one of his best roles as the troubled artist.
DIEGO RISQUEZ TRILOGY PRESENTED BY LOS ANGELES FILMFORUM | 251 S Main St.
Venezuelan veteran Diego Risquez is the subject of a rare showcase in Los Angeles this month as part of Los Angeles Filmforum's ongoing Pacific Standard Time series "Ism Ism Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America." At the turn of the 1980s, Risquez embarked upon an ambitious trilogy of films concerning the mythical histories of Latin America; originally shot on Super 8 and 16mm, these feature-length works stand as arguably the era's most beautiful and persuasive examples of narrative storytelling in the small-gauge format. Beginning mid-month, Filmforum will be presenting 35mm blowup prints of the entire "Amerika Trilogy" at three venues: On Nov. 15 at the Downtown Independent, the trilogy's opening entry, Bolivar, a Tropical Symphony, the first Super 8 film ever selected for the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival, will screen at a show co-presented by Acropolis Cinema (the monthly screening series I own and help organize). Following four days later, on Nov. 19, the trilogy continues with 1984's Orinoko, New World at the Autry Museum of the American West, before closing in grand fashion the next evening, Nov. 20, with 1988's Amerika, terra incognita at downtown's REDCAT theater.
TAIWANESE RESTORATIONS AT THE BILLY WILDER | 10899 Wilshire Blvd.
The UCLA Film and Television Archives' Taiwanese Film Biennial is on at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum throughout November; though primarily focused on contemporary films, the series reaches back this month for a trio of classic features, each screening in new digital restorations. Up first, on Nov. 18, is director Wan Jen's 1995 film Super Citizen Ko, the second in a trilogy of "Super Citizen" films by the New Taiwanese Cinema veteran concerning the contemporary repercussions of Taipei's politically fraught past. The following evening, Nov. 19, brings with it a pair of films: Chen Hung-min's 1968 swordplay classic Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters, followed by Chen Yao-chi's deliciously titled Moon Fascinating, Bird Sweet, from 1978, a romantic melodrama starring national icon Brigitte Lin as a school teacher who becomes romantically obsessed with the widowed father of one of her young students.
WEDNESDAY WARTIME MATINEES AT THE NEW BEV | 7165 Beverly Blvd.
The New Beverly Cinema's recently launched Afternoon Classics series rolls on through November with a inspired selection of midcentury wartime classics, all screening on 35mm. On Nov. 8, there's John Frankenheimer's World War II thriller The Train, a film noteworthy, among other reasons, for bringing Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau together onscreen, followed in back-to-back weeks by the William Wyler classics Mrs. Miniver (Nov. 15), featuring Greer Garson and Teresa Wright, and the Oscar-winning The Best Years of Our Lives (Nov. 23), also starring Wright alongside the ensemble of Myrna Loy, Fredric March, Dana Andrews and Virginia Mayo. And closing out the month, on Nov. 29, will be Henry King's Twelve O'Clock High, a thrilling piece of propaganda starring Gregory Peck as an Air Force general valiantly leading a disaffected crew through the perils of war-torn America.