Tag Archives: American Cinematheque

AGNÈS

“Each film has its history, its beauty or not beauty, and its meaning.  The meaning can change over the years for people who watch the film, because there is a lot of evolution in the sense of history, the sense of understanding.  But when you speak about 35 millimeter or DCP or video, it’s unimportant. The film is what it is, but what is different are the people who made the film…

“I change.  I wouldn’t do the same film today about Cuba or about the Panthers or about women.  Each film has a date glued to it.  And what we try is to overcome the date and make a meaning that can be more than 1962 or 1961 or whatever.” — Agnès Varda

Varda—mother of the nouvelle vague—was born outside Brussels, made some of her most important films in California, and died this morning at her home in Paris.

Active into her late eighties, local audiences remember many of her recent trips to Los Angeles, presenting retrospectives at the American Cinematheque and LACMA, giving talks at the AFI festival, and receiving a Governor’s Award from the Academy in 2017.

Varda—who directed Cléo de 5 à 7 in Paris in 1961—and her husband Jacques Demy (1931–1990) first came to Los Angeles in 1966, Demy eventually directing Model Shop (1969) and Varda making shorts—Uncle Yanco, Black Panthers—in preparation for her first California feature, the remarkable Lions Love (… and Lies) (also 1969). Varda’s final completed work is the soon-to-be-released documentary Varda par Agnès.

From top: Agnès Varda on the set of Lions Love (… and Lies); Varda shooting her second feature Cléo de 5 à 7 in Paris in the early 1960s, photograph by Roger Viollet; Anouk Aimée (left), Jacques Demy, and Varda in Los Angeles during the shoot of Demy’s Model Shop; scene from Varda’s Black Panthers (1968), shot in Oakland; Sabine Mamou (right) and Mathieu Demy—Varda and Demy’s son—in Varda’s feature Documenteur (1981), shot in Los Angeles; Venice Beach scene from the documentary Mur Murs (1981); Varda and Jane Birkin on set, Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), photograph by Jean Ber; Varda in Varda par Agnès (2019). Images courtesy Ciné-Tamaris.

SENSO AND SANDRA AT THE AERO

The final week of the American Cinematheque’s Luchino Visconti retrospective begins with a rare double bill: SENSO (1954)—screening in a 4K DCP—and SANDRA (1965).

With SENSO—unseen on the big screen in Los Angeles for nearly ten years—Visconti took a decisive step away from neorealism. His first feature in color—a gorgeous palette of fiery reds and pastel blues—SENSO opens in an opera house, a reflection of the grand musical and theatrical productions Visconti directed in Rome and Paris in the 1950s.

Alida Valli and Farley Granger were not the director’s first choices for the roles of the Countess and the Lieutenant—Callas, Ingrid Bergman, and Brando were all in negotiation—but the leads give two of their greatest performances in this extraordinarily lush tale of irredeemable character and unrequited love.

SANDRA extends the mood of aristocratic decline defined by Visconti’s previous film The Leopard. Featuring Claudia Cardinale and Jean Sorel in their prime, this elegant film noir of ghosts, betrayals, and revenge is the director’s take on Electra, as summarized by the poster tagline below.

SENSO and SANDRA

Thursday, March 28, at 7:30 pm.

Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.

From top: Alida Valli and Farley Granger in Senso (2); Valli; Count Luchino Visconti di Modrone—in playboy mode, just before Chanel introduced him to Jean Renoir, for whom Visconti worked as an assistant director in the late 1930s—photographed in Tunisia in 1935 by his close friend Horst; Visconti and Claudia Cardinale on set, Sandra; film poster courtesy Vides; Jean Sorel and Cardinale as brother and sister, Sandra.

HARMONY KORINE IN CONVERSATION

“I am always thinking about the cinema experience. That’s why I haven’t made television yet. Television is a writer’s medium. Not to say there aren’t good things in it, but television—no matter how good it is—is underwhelming. The size of it, and sitting in your living room. It’s pedestrian, whereas cinema is magic, it’s huge, it envelops you, and there’s something completely sensory when it works.” — Harmony Korine

On the eve of the release of The Beach Bum—his sixth feature—join Korine in Hollywood this week for two nights of double features and between-film conversations.

This American Cinematheque presentation of Korine’s films from the last twenty years includes his masterpiece Spring Breakers. All films will be screened in 35mm.

GUMMO and JULIEN DONKEY-BOY

Tuesday, March 19, at 7:30 pm.

TRASH HUMPERS and SPRING BREAKERS

Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 pm.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top: Rachel Korine in Spring Breakers; Bunny Boy in Gummo; Ewen Bremner in Julien Donkey-Boy; Trash Humpers. Images courtesy the artist, A24, Warner Bros., and Drag City.

WAR AND PEACE

In its expression of the epic, cinema has shifted from the battlefield to the computer, generating worlds beyond belief from bits of code. Hollywood—forever wary of the shrinking screen—embraced the live-action epic as a foundational genre, grown spectacular in the 1950s in a thwarted attempt to divert audiences from their newly purchased television sets. Millions of dollars were spent, millions were often lost, and even the masters of the form—Cecil B. DeMille, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, David Lean—were constrained by time, budget, and the whims of their producers.

No such limitations impeded the completion of Sergey Bondarchuk’s WAR AND PEACE (1966), the greatest epic in cinematic history and a Cold War triumph of Soviet filmmaking. This seven-hour retelling of Leo Tolstoy’s work was filmed over the course of five years, cost $100,000,000 (pre-inflation), and employed over 100,000 actors—including regiments of Red Army troops who precisely re-enacted Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.

So, the battles are here—as is the jaw-dropping sacking and burning of Moscow—but so are the day-to-day dramas of Bondarchuk’s three aristocratic protagonists: Prince Andrei (Vyacheslav Tikhonov), Natasha (dancer Ludmila Savelyeva), and Pierre (Bondarchuk himself). For Tolstoy, WAR AND PEACE was more of a philosophical explication than a novel, and Bondarchuk does not neglect the author’s theoretical digressions motivation, will, memory, and regret.

This weekend in Santa Monica, the American Cinematheque presents a screening of a new digital restoration of this four-part masterpiece, with an encore in Hollywood in April.

WAR AND PEACE

Sunday, March 10, at 2 pm.

Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.

Saturday, April 27, at 2 pm.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

War and Peace stills courtesy Mosfilm. From top: firing squad; Ludmila Savelyeva (right) as Natasha at her first society ball; Vyacheslav Tikhonov, as Andrei, on the battlefield (2); religious procession.

ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS

ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS(1960)—Luchino Visconti’s sixth feature—marked a return to the director’s neo-realist roots while simultaneously advancing the grand style he adopted in the mid-1950s with Senso.

“One of the most sumptuous black-and-white pictures I’ve ever seen.” — Martin Scorsese

This epic story of a southern Italian family transplanted to Milan stars Annie Girardot, Claudia Cardinale, Katina Paxinou, and—on the male side—a veritable Alasdair McLellan portfolio avant la lettre, led by Alain Delon in the title role of Rocco Parondi.*

“Like all migrants, they are in search of opportunity, but instead they find an environment that only magnifies their respective strengths and weaknesses.” — Scott Eyman

As part of the American Cinematheque series Luchino Visconti—Cinematic Nobility—co-presented by Luce CinecittàROCCO will screen twice this month in a DCP restored by Cineteca di Bologna in association with Titanus.

ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS

Saturday, March 2, at 7:30 pm.

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 pm.

Aero Theatre

1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.

*When a judge with the same name threatened to sue the filmmakers, the family name “Pafundi” in the original negative was changed, post-production, to “Parondi.”

From top: Alain Delon in Rocco and His Brothers; Renato Salvatori as brother Simone and Annie Girardot as Nadia; Luchino Visconti (second from left) on set; Max Cartier, as brother Ciro, and Delon; Salvatori (left), Visconti, Claudia Cardinale as Ginetta, and Delon on set; Delon, with Rocco Vidolazzi as younger brother Luca.