Critic's Picks: An August To-Do List for Film Buffs in L.A.

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'Tokyo Story' (1953)

Doris Day classics, an Abbas Kiarostami retrospective and a series of films about dysfunctional families are among options for SoCal cinephiles seeking relief from the summer tentpole onslaught this month.

ABBAS KIAROSTAMI AT THE AERO | 1328 Montana Ave.

One of the year’s most significant touring retrospectives comes to Los Angeles this month when Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre hosts four evenings of films by the late Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami. Pairing notable features with a selection of rare shorts, the series surveys a sizable swath of the director’s most fruitful period, beginning Aug. 8 with his final two features, Like Someone in Love and the posthumously completed 24 Frames. Moving more or less backwards from there, the series continues Aug. 9 with a double bill of the director’s 1997 Palme d’Or-winner Taste of Cherry and his first foray into digital filmmaking, Ten, from 2002, followed on Aug. 10 by the1990 landmark docufiction Close-Up and the 1999 existential epic The Wind Will Carry Us. And to close things out, Aug. 11 will feature a special all-day triple bill of the director’s trailblazing Koker Trilogy, three loosely interconnected features (including 1987’s Where Is the Friend’s House?, 1992’s And Life Goes On and 1994’s Through the Olive Trees) that chart Kiarostami’s evolution from modest maker of children’s parables to preeminent chronicler of post-revolution Iran.

CINECON AT THE EGYPTIAN | 6712 Hollywood Blvd.

Those looking for a classic film fix this month need look no further than the Cinecon Classic Film Festival, celebrating its 55th edition this year. Running Aug. 29-Sept. 2 at the Egyptian Theatre, Cinecon specializes in the kind of Hollywood curios that rarely make it to the big screen anymore, and even less often in optimal formats. Kicking off with a screening of the 1928 silent film Bare Knees, the fest (schedule and showtimes still to be announced) will feature a number of restorations and archival presentations, including, to name just a few, George Seaton’s 1950 feature For Heaven’s Sake, starring Joan Blondell; the world premiere of the restored 1919 silent comedy The Delicious Little Devil; a rare revival of the 1937 Otto Preminger film Danger: Love At Work; and, finally, a special nitrate presentation of E.A. Dupont’s 1937 whodunit Night of Mystery.

DORIS DAY MATINEES AT THE NEW BEVERLY | 7165 Beverly Blvd.

While evenings at the New Beverly continue to be claimed by proprietor-in-chief Quentin Tarantino’s new film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, a variety of matinee programs fill out the remainder of this month’s calendar, including four weekends of original Disney live-action movies and a series of Monday afternoons featuring 35mm prints of such contemporary classics as Hairspray (Aug. 5), The Outsiders (Aug. 12) and Zodiac (Aug. 26). But the real treat for cinephiles is a monthlong series of Wednesday matinees dedicated to beloved actress Doris Day, who died earlier this year at the age of 97. Beginning Aug. 7 with the 1959 romantic comedy classic Pillow Talk, starring Day’s frequent co-star Rock Hudson, the series proceeds to highlight the actress’ many varied talents, from singing and dancing and screwball repartee to wielding a whip in such films as Lover Come Back (Aug. 14), Love Me or Leave Me (Aug. 21) and Calamity Jane (Aug. 28).

CARL DRYER AND ESFIR SHUB AT ECHO PARK FILM CENTER | 1200 N. Alvarado St.

On Aug. 16 at Echo Park Film Center, the Kino Slang screening series returns with two rare titles, one by a little-known female filmmaker from Soviet Russia and one by a giant of European art cinema. Beginning with the former, the double bill will open with Komsomol: Leader of Electrification, a medium-length feature from 1932 by Esfir Shub that documents the building of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station in Ukraine. Following that will be Danish master Carl Dreyer’s 1944 feature Two People, a real-time stage-to-screen adaptation set entirely in the home of a harried scientist and his loving wife (played by Georg Rydeberg and Wanda Rothgardt). Though Dreyer would soon disown the film, it nonetheless stands as a key transitional work, bridging the gothic horrors of his previous two pics, Vampyr and Day of Wrath, with the tragic elegance of his late masterpieces Ordet and Gertrud.

MARY LAMBERT, YOUNG SOUL REBELS AND AGFA RESTORATIONS AT THE BILLY WILDER | 10899 Wilshire Blvd.

As mentioned in last month’s column, the wonderful series “Runaway Hollywood: Global Production in the Postwar World” is on throughout August at the Billy Wilder Theater, courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. But the highlights don’t stop there: The Archive’s remaining calendar features an eclectic mix of titles ranging from cult classics to genre curios to trailblazing social dramas. Among the most eye-catching events is a two-night tribute to director Mary Lambert. On Aug. 3, Lambert and members of her cast will be in person to present a new restoration of the 1989 fan favorite Pet Sematary alongside a 35mm print of 1991’s Pet Sematary II, followed on Aug. 4 by a selection of the director’s short films and a 35mm print of 1987’s Siesta, starring Jodie Foster and Ellen Barkin, both of whom will appear in person. Other screenings at the Wilder to note include, on Aug. 9, the new restoration of Doris Wishman’s 1961 sexploitation classic Nude on the Moon, part of an ongoing celebration of the American Genre Film Archive, and, on Aug. 16, a special 16mm presentation of Isaac Julien’s groundbreaking 1991 feature Young Soul Rebels, presented as part of the year-round Outfest UCLA Legacy Screening Series.

NEO-NOIRS AND DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY DRAMAS AT THE AERO | 1328 Montana Ave.

Alongside the Kiarostami series outlined at the top of this column, the Aero has a fair share of other screenings to make note of this month. In addition to the final shows in the “Highballs and Screwball” series (previewed in last month’s column), there’s also an odd (but not unwelcome) two-night program (Aug. 15-16) of neo-noirs by director John Dahl, featuring 35mm prints of The Last Seduction, Rounders and Kill Me Again; a midnight screening of David Lynch’s Eraserhead on Aug. 9 (also in 35mm); and, going down every Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., a monthlong series of “Dysfunctional Family Matinees.” Say what you will about the name, but it's never a bad time to catch up or reacquaint oneself with classics like Psycho (Aug. 6), Rebel Without a Cause (Aug. 13), Tokyo Story (Aug. 20) and Make Way for Tomorrow (Aug. 27), particularly when they’re screening on 35mm in the Aero’s newly remodeled theater.