Critic's Picks: A July To-Do List for Film Buffs in L.A.
From Rohmer's romances to X-rated classics, rare British dramas to '60s American experimental films, July has a wide variety of options for tentpole-fatigued Los Angeles cinephiles.
SCUM AT CINEFAMILY | 611 N Fairfax Ave.
Beginning Friday, a new DCP restoration of British director Alan Clarke’s harrowing 1979 film Scum comes to Cinefamily for a well-deserved weeklong run. Set in an anonymous British borstal, a youth detention center for only the most violent and unrepentant of young men, Scum follows the arrival and uneasy integration of three new inmates played by Ray Winstone, Julian Firth and Alrick Riley. In short, brutal order, sides are taken and the tenuous dynamic collapses, and through a series of gripping set pieces Clarke presents an unflinching vision of damaged masculinity at the dawn of the Thatcher era, interrogating the social strictures that pit these young men in savage opposition to family, government, authority and one another. In the midst of widespread critical reevaluation of Clarke’s career, Scum stands as perhaps this under-recognized filmmaker’s most potent and unforgettable achievement.
SUMMER OF LOVE EXPERIMENTS AT FILMFORUM | 6712 Hollywood Blvd.
On July 16 at the Egyptian’s Spielberg Theater, Los Angeles Filmforum shines a light on the experimental cinema of the late 1960s with an eight-film program of groundbreaking works from the fringes of the American underground. Highlighted by Storm de Hirsch’s Third Eye Butterfly, a kaleidoscopic split-screen experiment originally conceived as a double 16mm performance piece, the program swerves from era-encapsulating psychedelia such as the Blue Cheer-soundtracked Be In by Jerry Abrams; the optical rhythmic workout of Charles Levine’s Apropos of San Francisco; and the acid-tinged incantations of Ira Cohen’s Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda to Lenny Lipton’s Let a Thousand Parks Bloom, a vivid document of Berkeley’s People’s Park; and Will Hindle’s frighteningly prophetic (and amazingly titled) Saint Flournoy Lobos-Logos and the Eastern Europe Fetus Taxing Japan Brides in West Coast Places Sucking Alabama Air, which unearthed from an anonymous Death Valley hippie enclave some unsettling correlations with the Manson Family. Like the Summer of Love itself, the specter of death hovers just below the program’s hallucinogenic pleasures.
ERIC ROHMER AT CINEFAMILY | 611 N Fairfax Ave.
Cinefamily’s French film series "La Collectionneuse" will receive a residency of sorts in July, as several of the Nouvelle Vague pioneer Éric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales will screen on successive Saturday afternoons throughout the month. Screening on 35mm are My Night at Maud’s (July 15), Claire’s Knee (July 22) and Love in the Afternoon (July 29), three of Rohmer’s most rapturous creations (featuring a roll call of French acting royalty, including Jean-Louis Trintignant, Jean-Claude Brialy and Béatrice Romand), while La Collectionneuse itself will be presented digitally on Saturday. And for completists, Cinefamily on Thursday will be bringing the remaining two Moral Tales, The Bakery Girl of Monceau and Suzanne’s Career, in digital form to the new cafe and multidisciplinary arts venue Zebulon in Frogtown.
X-RATED FILMS AT THE AERO AND EGYPTIAN | 6712 Hollywood Blvd.
The American Cinematheque’s somewhat clumsily titled series “Rated X: Not for Children (But Not for Porn)” features a selection of independent and Hollywood productions that were originally slapped with the dreaded X rating, an all-but-antiquated designation for films featuring generous amounts of adult content. Split evenly between the Aero and Egyptian theaters, the series highlights many renowned filmmakers working in a most extreme vein. Of particular note are Italian iconoclast Pier Paolo Pasolini’s perverse interpretations of The Decameron and Arabian Nights (July 20, 35mm, at the Egyptian); a double bill of the British rebellion films If... and Performance (July 21, 35mm, the Egyptian); the inspired coupling of John Waters’ notorious serial-killer farce Female Trouble and Ralph Bakshi’s largely animated urban fantasy Heavy Traffic (July 22, 35mm, the Egyptian), and the stylish and seductive pairing of Pedro Almodóvar’s sex comedy Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! and Peter Greenaway’s surrealistic odyssey The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (July 13, 35mm, the Aero).
MILITANT RARITIES AT ECHO PARK FILM CENTER | 1200 N Alvarado St.
Kino Slang, a new monthly series at the Echo Park Film Center programmed by critic and curator Andy Rector, specializing in "cinematic investigations" and "historical excavations," appears set to live up to its billing with a July 27 screening of three rare works of cinematic polemicism by three directors working outside of their generally recognized styles and sensibilities. Beginning with Alfred Hitchcock's little-seen short film from 1944, Adventure Malagache, a curious foray into wartime propaganda, the program will feature Soviet filmmaker Boris Barnet's bracing WWII musical A Good Lad, followed by Portuguese master Joao Cesar Monteiro's What Shall I Do With This Sword?, a striking documentary shot on the streets of Lisbon during the the working class' protest against the threat of NATO.
GOLDEN AGE TELEVISION WRITERS AT THE BILLY WILDER | 10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Beginning Friday and running through August at the Billy Wilder Theater, the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s series “Golden Age Television Writers on the Big Screen” brings together a constellation of films (all on 35mm or 16mm) by mid-century playwrights and small-screen scribes who, for a brief moment as television first threatened Hollywood, were afforded the opportunity to work on cinema’s large canvas. The most prominent of these writers was Paddy Chayefsky, represented in the series with three films (Network, Friday; Middle of the Night, July 16; and The Bachelor Party, July 28, screening with the Horton Foote-scripted Baby the Rain Must Fall). But those looking to dive deeper into this era of political and socially conscious popular filmmaking are encouraged to make time for a pair of Gore Vidal-scripted films, The Best Man (Saturday, as a double feature with Rod Serling’s Seven Days in May, directed by John Frankenheimer) and The Catered Affair (July 14, paired with Tad Mosel’s Dear Heart), as well as the double bill of J.P. Miller’s Days of Wine and Roses and Reginald Rose’s Crime in the Streets (July 22), filmed by Blake Edwards and Don Siegel, respectively.