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De Palma, Siodmak, Rattigan, Quentin vs Coen, More

Looks like this roundup of festivals and events is becoming a regular Thursday feature. We begin this one in New York, sweep across the States and land back in London.

"Toughened by the scrappy late-60s NYC underground, De Palma began making commercial thrillers with Sisters (1973)," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "Subsequent regular returns to the genre have been sold as lowest-common-denominator titillations, though ironically were often too conceptual to find an audience (1976's Carrie being the most noteworthy exception). Each suspenser has two parallel plots: that of the surface narrative and that of the wires-showing construction, De Palma's booming authorial voice. No mere peacocking, this form is inextricable from his obsessive theme of schizophrenic doubling — elsewhere patterned in (in)famous split diopter lens shots and split-screen effects, which BAM's 10-film tribute offers opportunity to see in proper scope." De Palma Suspense opens tomorrow and runs through April 20.

The New Yorker's Richard Brody on Obsession (1976): "With some scintillating visual flourishes and glaring references to Hitchcock, De Palma embarks on a regressive adventure — as much a step into the big shoes and big embrace of a cinematic daddy as an affirmation of an old-fashioned normalcy — adopted not as unconscious convention but as a counter-counterculture, a one-man restoration."

And in Time Out New York, Joshua Rothkopf calls up De Palma and the programmer of the series, none other than "superfan" Noah Baumbach.

92Y Tribeca presents a Robert Siodmak double feature tonight as part of the series Stuck on the Second Tier: Underknown Auteurs programmed by Miriam Bale. The Suspect will be followed by Phantom Lady (both from 1944). The New Yorker's Richard Brody on Phantom: "It's the story of a lonely engineer (Alan Curtis) who takes a stranger (Fay Helm) to a tawdry Broadway stage show and returns home to find his estranged wife murdered, himself accused, and his alibi, the woman, untraceable. Siodmak captures a raw, cold, indifferent Manhattan burdened by the grind of survival — cynical, uninspired, and desperately lonely." Related: Andy Rector on Siodmak's The Dark Mirror (1946): "All codes of cinema are questioned by this film."

Tomorrow evening, Anthology Film Archives will screen Anton Vidokle's New York Conversations (2010): "Shot in a Chinatown storefront converted for the occasion into an improvised kitchen/restaurant, this film documents three days of public conversations between artists, critics, curators, and a free floating public."





"From April 7th - 9th Bold Hype will be taken over by Spoke Art and Ken Harman from Hi-Fructose magazine, with their show Quentin VS Coen. Art inspired by the directors from over 100 different emerging artists." Preview several of those works here and here.

 

LOS ANGELES


"Two years ago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art director Michael Govan proposed suspending the then-41-year-old weekend film program because it was losing money for the institution," begins Richard Natalie in the LA Weekly. "After a great hue and cry, two donors, Time Warner Cable and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, stepped into the breach to fund the program. As of June 30, 2011, that temporary infusion will expire." Yesterday, though, "a statement was released announcing that current film program director Ian Birnie is stepping aside and, as of September, Film Independent, the nonprofit responsible for the LA Film Festival, will program a new film series, underwritten by the New York Times… Though details are still vague — How long will the partnership last? How much is the Times' sponsorship worth, and what exactly will it cover? — LACMA is intent on spinning this announcement as not a death knell for film presentation at the museum, but a rebirth."

 

WASHINGTON DC


Filmfest DC, opening today and running through April 17, "has come in for criticism in the past for not harboring ambitions commensurate with the signature film festival of the nation's capital," writes Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post. "But seen through a different lens, Filmfest DC is part of Washington's singular cinematic ecosystem, in which each festival — large or small — knows its mission, its audience and its place."

 

PHILADELPHIA


"Congratulations: We're now a city with two big international film festivals." The Philadelphia Weekly's Matt Prigge and Sean Burns: "Having split with the Philadelphia Film Society, which now runs the fall's Philadelphia Film Festival, TLA Entertainment finally brings us a CineFest, albeit in abridged form." Philadelphia CineFest opens tonight with the east coast premieres of Todd Rohal's The Catechism Cataclysm and Philip Rosenthal's Exporting Raymond and closes on next Thursday with Morgan Spurlock's Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Prigge and Burns offer capsule reviews of several of the films; more from Steven Rea in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

 

LONDON


June 11 will mark the centenary of playwright and screenwriter Terence Rattigan, but the BFI's going ahead with its series Terence Rattigan: What Price the Screenwriter? tomorrow — it'll be on through the end of the month. In the Guardian, Henry K Miller looks back on the ten films Rattigan wrote for Anthony Asquith, The Browning Version (1951) among them. In Prospect, David Benedict considers the fall and rise of Rattigan's reputation:

By the time of his death in 1977, Rattigan was so out of fashion that he was regarded as a throwback. In the 1950s — when theatre had far more impact on the cultural barometer than it has now — tastes changed with the class and generational shifts heralded by the likes of Look Back in Anger. From John Osborne and Arnold Wesker to Bond, Brenton and beyond, theatre had become politicized, critical and urgent. Rattigan represented everything the Angry Young Men were determined to sweep aside. Who but the conservative elderly, they argued, needed plays by a rich, knighted, closeted gay man whose characters stood by the French windows and lived by the drinks trolley? ... [But Rattigan] is the master of crafted understatement, a technique that rewards audiences who become engrossed by reading between the lines. Drama in the second half of the 20th century was all about being explicit. The Rattigan centenary — with revivals of the key plays across the country — looks set to prove the enduring power of the implicit.


"Under Soviet rule, Lithuanian film poster designers had to get their work past the cultural apparatchiks that controlled the 'Publishing House of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania,'" writes John Ridpath at the Eye blog. "Nonetheless, they produced a body of work that is artistically stunning, visually inventive and laced with cautiously coded counter-propaganda." Beginning tomorrow, "London's Rich Mix will be hosting the first-ever UK exhibition of Lithuanian film posters." And he talks with collector and photographer Marta Ovod "about the posters, their makers and Lithuania." Selections from the exhibition spice up the interview; see more in a gallery at the Guardian. The show is part of declassified and "will be accompanied by the satellite program of classic/experimental film, real-time audiovisual performance, music and talk. It will be both the convergence of a diverse range of art practices and generations having at its core the metaphor of 'layered surface' and 'disclosure' but more specifically Lithuania's contemporary pluralism."

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