"One of last year's best films, Ken Jacobs's Seeking the Monkey King is showing Saturday at Anthology as part of a program presented in support of Occupy Wall Street," writes J Hoberman in one of the last pieces he'll turn in at the Voice. "Covering 500 years of American history, this furious beatnik analysis makes a people's historian like Howard Zinn seem like a Chamber of Commerce booster, particularly as delivered amid [JG] Thirlwell's industrial-strength rhapsodic noise drone, against the seething apocalypse of melting glaciers and crystallized lava that soon becomes an ongoing Rorschach test." See, too, David Phelps's essay. Seeking the Monkey King is "showing with several of Jacobs's short works (19th-century stereopticon slides treated as material for a cyclotron) and excerpts from his 3D footage of Zuccotti Park. Other films showing in the series are An Injury to One (2002), Travis Wilkerson's lucid, form-conscious essay on the 1915 lynching of an IWW organizer in Butte, Montana; a selection of YouTube clips documenting various Occupy Wall Street protests; and, another blast from the past, Peter Whitehead's evocative personal documentary The Fall (1969), on the occupation of Columbia's Low Library."
On his site, Whitehead is offering free DVDs of The Fall through March 1. Supplies, one would assume, are limited, so you know what to do.
Updates, 1/7: Steve Macfarlane for the L: "Covering much of the same physical and political space as Chris Marker, Whitehead is simultaneously more playful and less patient; his interest is less in linkages between historical happenstances than in juxtaposing specific images to stimulate thought patterns."
At GreenCine Daily, Steve Dollar talks with Audrey Ewell, Jem Cohen and Jonathan Demme about Occupy Cinema.
"As a director and producer, eventually with his own studio, [Raj] Kapoor lived the auteur's dream," writes Rachel Saltz. "In a mostly formulaic and conservative industry, he made inventive, personal films that were entertaining and accessible but also something more. Socially conscious and Socialist-inclined with nation-building themes, they resonated in — and maybe even helped to define — a newly independent India busy inventing itself." She recommends the Museum of Modern Art's "well-chosen eight-film series" Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema to Kapoor newbies, as it focuses "mainly on Kapoor's heyday, the late 1940s to 50s. And for those already familiar with Kapoor, the series offers a rare opportunity to see his films as they should be seen: on the big screen, in new 35-millimeter prints." Update, 1/7: For Simon Abrams, writing in the L, "what's most striking about Kapoor's filmography are the traces of David Lean-style visual poetry that ultimately shape them."
Also in the New York Times, Ken Johnson on George Kuchar: Pagan Rhapsodies, an exhibition at MoMA PS1 featuring 32 films and videos, on view through January 15: "He was a national treasure, and he is an artist who truly deserves his spot on the list for the Whitney Biennial opening in March."
London. "Newly restored so that both Michael Ballhaus's cinematography and Peer Raben's score can dazzle once more," Fassbinder's Despair (1978) opens today at BFI Southbank. "Vladimir Nabokov's novel is adapted by Tom Stoppard into an icy, psycho-melodramatic nightmare," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw. "At the film's conclusion, Artaud, Van Gogh and Unica Zürn are acknowledged: the names of Grosz and Magritte also come to mind. Its subtitle is A Journey Into Light. But that is not where this journey's heading. A superb surrealist noir." More from David Jenkins in Time Out London. Through January 19.
Vienna. Two series open tomorrow at the Austrian Film Museum: Giuseppe De Santis (through February 8) and Elio Petri (through February 9).
Toronto. Canada's Top Ten is unreeling at TIFF Bell Lightbox through January 15 and the series will eventually roll on to Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa. The selection is the subject of a Cinema Scope roundtable.
Los Angeles. On Saturday, and in conjunction with the Armory Center for the Arts exhibition Speaking in Tongues: The Art of Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken, 1961-1976 (on view through January 22), the Los Angeles Filmforum and Cinefamily present Wallace Berman's Underground. Then on Sunday, this time in conjunction with the MOCA exhibition Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981 (through February 13), the LA Filmforum and MOCA present Dangerous Ideas: Political Conceptual Work in Los Angeles, 1974-1981. Michael Goetzman has an overview of that program in the LA Weekly. Related listening: Tyler Green talks with Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight about the highlights of Pacific Standard Time.
Lists. The results of the DVD Beaver poll are in. Top DVD: VCI's release of Joseph Losey's The Prowler. Top Blu-ray: Masters of Cinema's release of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. For the DVD Talk team, it's RHI's Laurel & Hardy: The Essential Collection and New Line's Lord of the Rings Trilogy: Extended Editions. DVD Verdict? Sony's Blu-ray release of David Fincher's The Social Network. And: "Ten Digital Fix contributors. Ten lists. A lot of great discs. But surprisingly little crossover."
Cinespect votes up its "Top Ten Films of 2011," Marilyn Ferdinand looks back on her year and, at J-Film Pow-Wow, Nicholas Vroman lists the top five films that opened on Tokyo last year and Matthew Hardstaff picks his top five Japanese films on DVD.
Nominations for the Writers Guild Awards are out. And BAFTA's long list still has 15 films in each category.
Obit. "Eve Arnold, one of the first woman photojournalists to join the prestigious Magnum Photography Agency in the 1950s and traveled the world for her work but was best known for her candid shots of Hollywood celebrities, has died," reports Mary Rourke for the Los Angeles Times. "She was 99." See a gallery of her work at everyday_i_show.