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

Touch of Evil- 1958-Movie Still - H 2018
Universal Pictures/Photofest

An Orson Welles tribute, genre films starring Winona Ryder and a series of lower-profile classics screening at a pop-up drive-in are among options for SoCal cinephiles this month.

ORSON WELLES AT THE AERO | 1328 Montana Ave.

In conjunction with the long-anticipated reconstruction and release of Orson Welles’ final film The Other Side of the Wind, the American Cinematheque is hosting a six-day tribute to the director this month at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica. In addition to a special presentation of Wind (Oct. 16) and a screening of the accompanying making-of documentary by Morgan Neville, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead (Oct. 15), the series encompasses most of Welles’ major works. Up first, showing in a double feature with a digital restoration of Citizen Kane on Oct. 11 is a 35mm print of 1974’s F For Fake, Welles’ deviously clever documentary deconstruction, starring the director and his late-in-life partner Oja Kodar. Alongside digital presentations of The Lady from Shanghai (Oct. 13), Chimes At Midnight (Oct. 14) and The Immortal Story (Oct. 14), the other 35mm presentations to note are the Oct. 12 double bill of 1958’s Touch of Evil, the director’s inspired, if ultimately doomed, return to Hollywood filmmaking, and 1955’s Mr. Arkadin, the most notoriously compromised of Welles’ many sadly incomplete films; and an Oct. 13 twofer that’ll include 1942's landmark The Magnificent Ambersons, a film as beautiful and grandly tragic as any the cinema has yet produced.


The legendary Ken Jacobs will come to Los Angeles in early October for a series of special events, each uniquely illustrative of the scope and inventiveness of this ever-restless 85 year-old artist’s superlative body of work. The centerpiece of the three-day tour will be an Oct. 8 performance of the Nervous Magic Lantern at REDCAT, in which Jacobs forgoes film and video altogether and instead applies an array of filters and shutter obstructions to a homemade, hand-cranked projector, pairing the resulting light and shadow spectacle with the live sounds of musician Aki Onda. Bookending the Nervous Magic Lantern show are two additional events: First, on Oct. 7 at LACMA, Jacobs will sit for a on-stage discussion of his wide-ranging practice, which will include clips from many of his films; and second, closing the festivities on Oct. 8 at the Downtown Independent (in an event co-presented by REDCAT, Los Angeles Filmforum, 3-D SPACE and Acropolis Cinema, the screening series I organize), will be the overdue Los Angeles premiere of Jacobs’ 2013 film The Guests, wherein a fragment of an early Lumiere brothers film is turned into a strobing, feature-length 3D extravaganza.


American filmmaker Robert Beavers is making a trip of his own to Los Angeles in late October for a rare presentation of some of this most celebrated film works. Highlighting the Oct. 24 show, which takes place at the Downtown Independent in a collaboration between REDCAT, Los Angeles Filmforum and Acropolis Cinema, is a 16mm projection of 1971’s From the Notebooks of..., a rapturous domestic portrait (shot in Florence) of Beavers and his partner, the late great Gregory Markopoulos. Inspired by the writings and creative methodology of Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks is a unique meditation on the intersection of art and life, and one that continues to stand as a watershed work of the American avant-garde. Also included in the program is 1997’s The Stoas, a little-seen mid-period film that speaks to Beavers’ preternatural attention to light and rhythm. Of additional note: a second, equally essential program of Beavers’ more recent work will be presented on Oct. 26 at REDCAT.

WINONA RYDER AT LACMA | 5905 Wilshire Blvd.

This month’s Tuesday Matinees program at LACMA surveys a pleasingly strange subgenre: The genre films of Winona Ryder. The seasonly themed series kicks off on Oct. 2 with a digital presentation of 1997’s Alien: Resurrection, featuring Ryder as the newest member of a team of mercenaries, led by Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), trapped aboard a spaceship with a new breed of deadly creatures. From here the series features a trio of notable 35mm prints: Oct. 9 brings perhaps Ryder’s most popular film, Tim Burton’s beloved gothic romance Edward Scissorhands, starring Johnny Depp in the title role; on Oct. 16, Francis Ford Coppola's divisive update of Bram Stoker's Dracula; and on Oct. 30, the stop motion Mary Shelley adaptation, Frankenweenie.


Here’s something a little different: Already underway and running through November at the Elysian Park arts space Tin Flats, a weekly series of underseen classics and new experimental works are screening at a pop-up drive-in theater located in the venue’s parking lot. Presented by the France Los Angeles Exchange (FLAX), the series features young filmmakers presenting their new work, on two consecutive nights, alongside a favorite older film of their choosing. On Oct. 1 and 2, for example, Sarah Rara will screen her film Alias before Chantal Akerman’s 1989 dance film One Day Pina Asked. Other inspired pairings this month include Alison O’Daniel’s The Tuba Thieves with Charles Atlas’ 1986 feature Hail the New Puritans (Oct. 8 and 9); Brognon Rollin’s short Stone Clock, Sailing Time with Gus Van Sant’s groundbreaking 2002 feature Gerry (Oct. 22 and 23); and, just in time for Halloween, Clement Cogitore The Evil Eye with Paul Morrissey’s subversive 1970 junkie drama Trash (Oct. 29 and 30), a horror movie of an altogether different sort.