Thursday, June 15, 2017

THE SUMMER OF LOVE TURNS 50, by John Hagelston

This June, we mark the 50th anniversary of “the Summer of Love.” Those few months of 1967 brought a renaissance of popular culture that spread from San Francisco’s bohemian enclaves across the entire world. With events like a “Human Be-In” at Golden Gate Park, the City by the Bay became a magnet for free-thinking young people, who flocked there by the tens of thousands during their school break to enjoy the groovy ’Frisco scene. Hippies danced to the beat of a different drummer, and if the Summer of Love was a coming-out party for the counterculture, it was certainly led by music.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Bertrand Tavernier, 76, has been one of France’s most accomplished directors, helming such acclaimed films as 1974’s The Clockmaker of St. Paul, 1981’s Coup de Torchon, 1986’s 'Round Midnight, and 2002’s Safe Conduct. But much like Martin Scorsese, whom he directed in ’Round Midnight, Tavernier is also a student of cinema who has written film criticism and is also involved in film preservation.

His latest film, My Journey Through French Cinema,  is his three-hour valentine to film, exploring the work of such directors as Jacques Becker, Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, and Claude Sautet, as well as the writer-director team of Jacques Prevert and Marcel Carne. The documentary features clips from countless films including Becker’s Casque d’or; Renoir’s La Chienne, La Bete Humaine, Grande Illusion, and Rules of the Game; Carne’s Le Jour Se Leve, Port of Shadows, and Les Enfants du Paradis; Godard’s Pierre Le Fou; Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Shoot the Piano Player; and many examples of French film noir including Melville’s Bob Le Flambeur and Le Doulos; Becker’s Touchez pas au Grisbi; and Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


In Billy Wilder’s 1950 masterpiece Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond famously declares, in reference to silent cinema stars, “We had faces then!” One actress who had the most extraordinary face was Louise Brooks.

The former dancer and Ziegfeld girl was the epitome of the 1920s, with her carefree attitude and extreme bobbed hair. She made several films at Paramount, most notably William Wellman’s gritty 1928 drama Beggars of Life.

But she is forever remembered for the three films she made in Europe - German director G.W. Pabst’s 1929 Pandora’s Box, in which she played a raw, sexual young woman named Lulu; his 1930 drama Diary of Lost Girl; and the 1930 French comedy Prix de beaute.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Starting May 18, director Oliver Stone will appear in person at the Aero Theatre for screenings of his films Nixon, U-Turn / Natural Born Killers, and Heaven and Earth / Salvador.

A director who has worked in a wide variety of genres, from horror (The Hand) and war (Platoon) to film noir (U-Turn) and sports (Any Given Sunday), Oliver Stone is characterized, above all else, by his range. Though he is often pigeonholed as a political polemicist because of movies like JFK and Salvador, Stone is closer in spirit to the Hollywood filmmakers of the classical studio system; like Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray, and others, he has made a point of injecting his personal preoccupations into recognizable popular formats, challenging himself by moving from the intimate to the epic and back again. In addition to the films listed above, he’s made a musical (The Doors), business pictures (the two Wall Streets), love stories (World Trade Center, Snowden), and one of the greatest old-school epics ever made (Alexander). It’s hard to think of another director who pushes himself and his audience harder to find new challenges with each subsequent piece of work.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Cinema has come a long way, given its brief history within the arts, but its creation, influences, and history cannot be disregarded. While once Germany served as the epicenter of the moving picture - beginning with the Lumière brothers or Georges Méliès in France - German silent cinema’s importance is often disregarded in relation to the creation of Hollywood. Many German artists immigrated to the United States to escape the wars in Europe and many took their talents with them, which helped to shape what we today regard as Hollywood. During the early Hollywood era, however, the German cinema of the Weimar Republic (1918 to 1933) held as much world fame as Hollywood.

Given the importance of this period, the American Cinematheque will be screening The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Algol on April 30 at the Egyptian Theater. The latter is a brand-new, restored version that will be shown for the first time in America, according to Munich Film Museum director Stefan Drößler, whose archive restored the movie to its current form. Between screenings, there will be a discussion monitored by John Iacovelli, Emmy-winning production designer and art director. He will be moderating the panel with LACMA curator Britt Salveson and Munich Film Museum director Stefan Drößler. They will indulge the audience in an examination of cinema during this period, Walter Reimann’s work in these movies, and Reimann’s ground-breaking design.

Why care about silent cinema?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, F for Fake and other beloved Welles classics are showing at the Egyptian starting May 5 to honor his great legacy. On Saturday May 6, 2017 – the 102nd anniversary of Orson Welles’s birth - the exceptional program includes The Merchant of Venice, his lost film from the late 1960s, which has been painstakingly restored and presented by Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Museum. Screening with it will be other mesmerizing fragments of such incomplete Welles films as King Lear, The Deep, and The Dreamers, also preserved and curated by Mr. Droessler.

Orson Welles was not a patient man, not in the “win a few, lose a few” sense that a system such as Hollywood demands. “I’m a mud turtle,” he liked to say, meaning he could go for years, even decades, even half a lifetime, staying true to this or that project. Upon his death in 1985, there remained at least six feature films in various states of progress (Don Quixote, The Deep, The Merchant of Venice, The Other Side of the Wind, The Dreamers, and King Lear) squirreled away in vaults or stashed under beds in cities around the world, not to mention complete scripts for countless others.