Movie screenings and events in NYC
They don’t call it Alien for nothing, and while we could talk about Sigourney Weaver in her undies for days, the nightmarish star of Ridley Scott’s 1979 landmark is mainly the vision of one man: Creature designer H.R. Giger’s obscenely phallic creation stalks a remarkably excellent cast (for a monster movie, anyway), one that includes the recently departed Harry Dean Stanton.
To think of the Holocaust as somehow a thing of the past was, in documentarian Claude Lanzmann’s view, a “moral and artistic crime.” (Brooklyn Heights residents who recently woke to swastikas sprayed on a garage door know this only too well.) Devote Saturday to Lanzmann’s towering 1985 masterwork, its nine and a half hours to be shown in two halves, or “eras,” as the filmmaker called them. The experience is saturated with unforgettable details: Nazi memos referring to corpses as “pieces,” “dirt” or “figures,” and scholar Raul Hilberg revealing how Jews had to pay—via their own liquidated assets—for one-way tickets to Auschwitz.
John Candy gave one of his more deceptively complex performances—equally touching, obnoxious and borderline surreal—in this bad-luck comedy about two business travelers (the other guy is played by Steve Martin) flung together on an odyssey after their Thanksgiving flight is waylaid in Kansas. That gravy boat never seemed so distant.
After The Ladykillers, the very idea of the Coens remaking another classic had many pundits shaking their heads. But True Grit is more of a return to Charles Portis’ source novel than a reboot of the John Wayne oater. Jeff Bridges is in fine form as irascible U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, but 14-year-old Hailee Steinfeld steals the show as the vengeful orphan who hires him.
Chances are you saw this long ago as a child, or grew up watching this Saturday matinee mythology movie endlessly replayed on TV. In either case, you owe it to yourself to return this pleasantly cheesy retelling of the Greek legend. Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects are worth the price of admission alone: His skeleton army rises from the ground and wields swords against live-action warriors.
Emphasizing the prosaic and fleeting rather than the momentous and destiny-altering, this unusual Japanese film—part documentary, part fictional narrative—finds the recently deceased struggling to choose the one memory from their lives that’s most meaningful to them. It sneaks up on you, emotionally.
As subversive a studio movie as Hollywood ever made, David Fincher’s stunningly bleak serial-killer film equates the efforts of lawmen with institutionalized chaos. Seven has had a profound influence on a kind of “doom cinema,” a tribute to genius cinematographer Darius Khondji, currently being celebrated by Metrograph. He’ll be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.