Spring Arts Preview: The season in New York City’s repertory cinema

Yuki Kudo and Masatoshi Nagase hang in Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train." Credit: Lincoln Center
Youki Kudo and Masatoshi Nagase hang in Jim Jarmusch’s “Mystery Train.”
Credit: Lincoln Center

If you live in New York, then you live in one of the greatest cities for repertory cinema. Every day is a new filmic adventure, and each season brings forth a new wealth of riches. And some places even still project on film! Here’s several reasons to head inside during days that should otherwise be spent outdoors (especially if it suddenly drops 30 degrees and snows).

Tout Truffaut
(March 28-April 17)
Film Forum

Francois Truffaut is the most accessible of the French New Wave filmmakers, but his fortunes have fallen as cinephiles have discovered more challenging members. At this point Truffaut is actually underrated. After they’re done speeding through the complete Alfred Hitchcock catalogue, Film Forum will do the same for his onetime interviewer and champion. Offering the chance to rediscover a director sneakier than he sometimes seems, it boasts it all, from rarities like “Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me” and “The Green Room” to unstoppable greats like “Jules and Jim,” “Shoot the Piano Player” and even “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (in which he co-starred). (Perhaps best of all is the appearance of “L’Enfance Nue,” the first film of the pitiless Maurice Pialat, produced by Truffaut and an even rougher, more jagged “The 400 Blows.”)

Also at Film Forum: Revivals of Orson Welles’ great, under-seen “Othello,” the original (that is to say, non-Hollywoodized) “Godzilla” (in time for the new, brooding reboot) and Andy Warhol’s “The Lonesome Cowboys.”

Aesthetics of Shadow
(April 1-April 17)
Museum of Modern Art

When color took over movies, there was one casualty that was arguably even greater than the death of black-and-white: the ostentatious use of beautiful shadows. The Museum of the Modern Art continues its series with a move into Europe and America, allowing one to watch as World War II shuffled talent over to Hollywood. In addition to Josef on Sternberg’s “The Blue Angel” and F.W. Murnau’s “Sunrise,” there’s also Alfred Hitchcock’s moody “Rebecca” and John Ford’s “How Green Was My Valley,” the film that won “Citizen Kane”’s Oscar (and, some now argue, maybe rightly).

Also at MoMA: A retro for the mordant Italian filmmaker Marco Bellochio (“Fists in the Pocket,” “Good Morning, Night”).

Auteurs Gone Wild
(March 20-March 30)
Anthology Film Archives

Every great filmmaker slips up, and some do something even more interesting: making something outside their comfort zone. Anthology Film Archives explores these runts, including Henry Hathaway’s atypically florid 1935 romantic fantasy “Peter Ibbetson” (with Gary Cooper joining his beloved only in dreams), Alfred Hitchcock’s costume drama “Under Capricorn” and two Charles Chaplins: the Tramp-less 1923 drama “A Woman of Paris” and his swan song, the maligned (but not terrible) shipboard rom-com “A Countess of Hong Kong,” with an unhappy Marlon Brando doing pratfalls.

Also at Anthology: A series devoted to “Porn Noir” (devoted to a brief period when X-raters mixed sex with actual plot and production values) and the Stan Brakhage film “Tortured Dust.”

New Directors/New Films
(March 19-March 30)
Film Society of Lincoln Center/MoMA

Like last year, the Lincoln Center and MoMA’s annual survey of fresh talent includes work by established filmmakers, including “Submarine” brainiac Richard Ayoade (with the loose Dostoevsky twist “The Double) and retro-’giallo stylists Helene Cantet and Bruno Forzani (following up the striking “Amer” with the delightfully named “The Strange Color of your Body’s Tears”). But there’s plenty of very new work, including Justin Simien’s Sundance fave “Dear White People” and more worth discovering (or not).

Permanent Vacation: The Films of Jim Jarmusch
(April 2-10)
Film Society at Lincoln Center

The new vampire opus “Only Lovers Left Alive” is one of the deadpan indie master’s very best films. Celebrate this happening with a complete retro, put on by the Film Society at Lincoln Center, giving you a chance to see his 1980 No Wave debut, “Permanent Vacation,” on 35mm, plus the once-controversial anti-western “Dead Man,” made when no one cared about Johnny Depp.

Under the Influence: Scorsese/Walsh
(through March 26)
Brooklyn Academy of Music

Why pair the films of Martin Scorsese with one of his idols, Hollywood workhorse Raoul Walsh? Why not? One of many, many promising series at BAM this Spring, this toggles between “Mean Streets” and Walsh’s 1915 gangster saga “Regeneration,” between “Raging Bull” and fellow boxer pic “Gentleman Jim.” See “The Bowery,” about Lower Manhattan in the good old days, and the next day do “Gangs of New York,” when it was even scarier. You’ll see connections across the generations, as well as catch up with Walsh, a director with over 100 films to his credit, spread over five decades.

Also at BAM: Another bout of the “Science on Screen” series, “New Voices in Black Cinema,” the films of Marlene Dietrich and director Josef von Sternberg, films starring Ellen Burstyn (including the late Alain Resnais’ great, rare “Providence”), films by animator Ralph Bakshi, films scored by Ennio Morricone and Jacques Demy’s all-sung “The Young Girls of Rochefort.”

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge


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