24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: LACMA

LACMA film series celebrates California noir

May 17, 2012 |  5:00 am

Kiss me deadly lacma noir california

Los Angeles is the city of sunshine and light, the city that's like a day at the beach, the city that ... you get my drift. That line of chat may work with the suckers, the tourists and the rubes, but if you live here, you know there's a corrosive darkness lurking below the surface in perpetually sunlit L.A., a spiritual malaise that makes this town rotten to the core.

Hardly the City of Angels, this is a place where bad people come to do worse things and live to tell the tale. Or so the crackerjack films featured in “The Sun Sets in the West: Mid-Century California Noir” would have you believe.

Starting Friday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Bing Theater, in conjunction will the museum’s “California Design, 1930-1965” exhibition, “California Noir” features a superb selection of 10 little-seen films that benefit greatly from the widescreen, 35mm treatment. Though the films are squeezed into four packed nights, it’s genuinely exciting to have a classic repertory series back at LACMA, especially one of such first-rate quality from beginning to end.

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Around Town: Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, rides again

March 29, 2012 |  6:00 am


The American Cinematheque celebrates the legacy of King of Cool Steve McQueen at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood from Thursday through Sunday.

"Low Rider: The Super Charged Cinema of Steve McQueen" opens with one of his quintessential films, the 1968 detective thriller "Bullitt," in which he plays the unflappable, Mustang-driving San Francisco detective Frank Bullitt. Directed by Peter Yates, the film features one of the seminal car chase sequences ever put on film. Following "Bullitt" is McQueen's disappointing final film, 1980's "The Hunter," which was released shortly before his death.

Screening Saturday is the 1973 prison epic "Papillon" and the rarely seen 1963 comedy drama "Soldier in the Rain" with Jackie Gleason. McQueen's first wife, Neile Adams, will be on hand to sign her book "My Husband, My Friend" before the screening Saturday of 1963's classic World War II action-adventure "The Great Escape," which made McQueen a superstar.

The series concludes Sunday with Norman Jewison's sophisticated 1968 romantic caper thriller "The Thomas Crown Affair" with Faye Dunaway and 1972's thriller "The Getaway," directed by Sam Peckinpah, and also starring Ali MacGraw, who became the actor's second wife.

The Cinematheque's Aero Theatre wants you to pass the time by "playing a little solitaire" Thursday evening with a 50th anniversary screening of the iconic political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate," directed by John Frankenheimer, and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and an Oscar-nominated Angela Lansbury.

With the Farrelly brothers' take on the venerable comedy team "The Three Stooges" opening on April 13, the Cinematheque gets into the "nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" spirit Sunday at the Aero with a double bill of Stooges slapstick -- 1962's "The Three Stooges Meets Hercules" and 1965's "The Outlaws Is Coming," which also features Adam West and several daytime kiddie TV hosts who showed Three Stooges shorts.

The Aero's "Wednesdays with Robert Altman" series kicks off with his 1971 revisionist western, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" with Warren Beatty and an Oscar-nominated Julie Christie. www.americancinematheque.com

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' "Inside the Booth: A Journey Through Projection," kicks off Thursday evening at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. Presented by the academy's Science and Technology Council, the series -- hosted by the academy's chief projectionist Marshall Gitlitz and silent film historian and projectionist Joe Rinaudo -- is a three-week exploration of the evolution of the motion picture camera.

The opening program, "The Birth of Projection," shines the spotlight on the works of such film pioneers as George Eastman and George Melies, features a demonstration of hand-cranked films and a screening of Buster Keaton's 1924 classic "Sherlock Jr.," in which he plays a projectionist who wants to become a detective. Though the event Thursday is sold out there will be a stand-by line.

Besides the series, there is also an exhibition, "Tech Art 2: The Projection Story," at the venue that features 30 color images of projection equipment shot by photographer Vince Gonzales, as well as projectors and other equipment. 

The series continues April 19 and May 4. www.oscars.org

Jason Reitman presents "The Big Lebowski," his final installment in his "Live Read" series for Film Independent at LACMA, on Thursday evening at the Leo S. Bing Theatre. The event is sold out but there will be a stand-by line.

Animation historians and authors Jerry Beck and Adam Abraham will be on hand Friday evening at LACMA for "Madcap Modernism: Mid-Century Cartoons from UPA and Beyond," which features two programs of innovative theatrical animation shorts from the 1950s.  LACMA's Tuesday matinee series at the Leo S. Bing Theatre presents one of the jewels in Preston Sturges' comedic crown: the 1942 romantic comedy "The Palm Beach Story," starring Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert, Mary Astor and Rudy Vallee. www.lacma.org

UCLA Film &Television Archive's "Spencer Tracy: The Natural Thing" comes to a close Friday evening at the Billy Wilder Theater with the actor's final film, 1967's "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner," which also stars Katharine Hepburn, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton.  Karen Kramer, the widow of producer/director Stanley Kramer, will be the special guest.

The archive's Wednesday evening series at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles features two thrillers from William Castle: 1964's "Strait-Jacket," starring Joan Crawford and 1961's "Homicidal." www.cinema.ucla.edu

New Beverly Cinema showcases the Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton ("Michael Clayton") Friday and Saturday with screenings of her most recent film, 2011's "We Need to Talk About Kevin," in which she plays the mother of a disturbed son and Sally Potter's 1992 version of Virginia Woolf's novel, "Orlando." www.newbevcinema.com

Film at Redcat presents "Narrative Bodies: Films and Videos by Abigail Child," Monday evening. Child will be appearing in person at the program, which features many of her avant-garde films including 1977's "Peripeteia I" and 1986's "Perils." www.redcat.org

 Paul Mazursky and actor George Segal will be reminiscing about "Blume in Love," the filmmaker's 1973 romantic comedy starring Segal and Kris Kristofferson, after a screening Tuesday evening at the Skirball Center. www.skirball.org

Silent screen legend Harold Lloyd would have been 119 on April 20, and the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre is celebrating his birthday Wednesday with a screening of two of his comedies: 1926's "For Heaven's Sake" and 1923's "Why Worry?" His granddaughter, Suzanne Lloyd, will introduce the screening.  www.cinefamily.org


Regal Cinemas, country’s largest theater chain, will play 'Bully'

'Hunger Games': Should Jennifer Lawrence really look hungrier?

Claude Francois biopic 'My Way' opens City of Lights, City of Angels

--Susan King

Photo: Steve McQueen, left, and Robert Vaughn in "Bullitt." Credit: File photo

Johnny Depp to kick off Film Independent's LACMA movie series

September 13, 2011 | 11:12 am

mber Heard and Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary."
Johnny Depp will kick off the new Film Independent at LACMA Film Series on Oct. 13 with the premiere of "The Rum Diary," starring the Oscar-nominated actor. Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art made the announcement Tuesday.

The series replaces LACMA's longstanding weekend film series, whose curators included the late Ron Haver and more recently, Ian Birnie. Film Independent at LACMA is curated by film critic Elvis Mitchell in collaboration with LACMA film coordinator Bernardo Rondeau and Film Independent's programming team.

The series' weekly schedule officially begins Oct. 27, but there will be four earlier events, starting with the world premiere of Bruce Robinson's "The Rum Diary." In addition to Depp, the film stars Amber Heard and Aaron Eckhart, all of whom will be in attendance.

Writer-director Sean Durkin and actress Elizabeth Olsen will be on hand on Oct. 16 for the screening of the Sundance Film Festival hit "Martha Marcy May Marlene. " Two days later, LACMA will screen Charlie Chaplin's 1936 masterpiece, "Modern Times," with his 1922 short "Pay Day."

Jason Reitman will present a live read of John Hughes' script for the 1985 teen classic "The Breakfast Club" on Oct. 20. LACMA promises a surprise cast.

The official weekly series begins with Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1961 drama "Accatone!"

For more information go to www.lacma.org/film


LACMA to stage fundraising gala for its film program

Elvis Mitchell will head new LACMA film series

-- Susan King

Photo: Amber Heard and Johnny Depp in "The Rum Diary." Credit: Peter Mountain/FilmDistrict

Kenneth Turan's film picks: 'If a Tree Falls,' 'Honeymoon Killers'

July 20, 2011 |  5:03 pm

If a Tree Falls

More than both of them being excellent, what unites "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" and "Honeymoon Killers" is the fact that Thursday is the only night you can still see them.

Marshall Curry's "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front," on the last night of its run at the Nuart in West Los Angeles, is one of the best documentaries of the year. It not only expertly chronicles the rise and fall of that controversial organization, it illuminates the unexpected drama and complexities behind one of its key figures, activist Daniel McGowan.

"The Honeymoon Killers," Leonard Kastle's 1970 low-life serenade playing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is a film as heartless as its protagonists (played by Shirley Stoler and Tony Lo Bianco), and that's saying a lot. Based on the true story of the notorious Lonely Hearts Killers, executed in Sing Sing on March 8, 1951, this picture's implacability and refusal to compromise are as startling as ever.


'If a Tree Falls' review

Ian Birnie's farewell LACMA film series is a model program

More critic's choice films from Kenneth Turan

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: A scene from "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front." Credit: TJ Watt /Oscilloscope Laboratori

Elvis Mitchell will head new LACMA film series

June 16, 2011 | 12:32 pm

Veteran movie critic Elvis Mitchell has been named curator of the new weekly film series that will be staged by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Film Independent.

MitchThe organizations announced Mitchell's appointment Thursday morning, with LACMA director Michael Govan telling 24 Frames that he and other executives were "very impressed with [Mitchell's] approach to cross genres, [with] using the museum as a site and his interest in historic film."

Govan also called Mitchell "agile, someone who sets no traditional mold."

Mitchell will relocate to Los Angeles for the position, which is full-time. He will start in July, with the first programming scheduled to screen in the fall. Govan said Mitchell will work closely with other curators and officials at LACMA and Film Independent.

In April, LACMA and Film Independent  announced a series intended to showcase previews of new features and documentaries as well as retrospectives, filmmaker conversations and other programming. The news came after LACMA had faced harsh criticism for cutting back on its film offerings, and about two years after it nearly cut its film section entirely.

The museum then decided to partner with Film independent, which runs the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, the latter of which kicks off Thursday night in downtown L.A.

Mitchell, who has held reviewer positions at L.A. Weekly and the New York Times, has had a somewhat peripatetic career of late. Currently the host of KCRW's pop-culture series "The Treatment," he had initially been announced as the host of a new public-broadcasting show produced by Roger Ebert but didn't wind up in the job.

Earlier this year he signed up as co-chief film critic at Movieline but was let go about three months later.

In perhaps a reference to his own employment restlessness, Mitchell said of the LACMA announcement: “This position is a double reunion for me. Selling tickets at the Bing Theater at LACMA was my first job in L.A., and to get to return to supervise a program at a place that is an intersection of art and popular culture is a dream come true. ... I couldn’t be happier. That is, until I get started."

As previously announced, consulting curator Ian Birnie, who has been with LACMA's film department for more than a decade, is leaving the organization.


LACMA, Film Independent announce new film series

-- Steven Zeitchik and David Ng


Photo: Elvis Mitchell. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press



LACMA's Michael Govan talks partnership with Film Independent

April 6, 2011 | 12:38 pm


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Film Independent announced Wednesday morning that it was entering a partnership on a new film series that would begin in September; two years ago, LACMA nearly dismantled its 41-year-old film program until public outcry convinced the museum to reverse its decision.

Reached in London on Wednesday morning, LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan discussed the decision to collaborate with Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival. "I have known Film Independent for a long time," he said. "When we were trying to reconsider the film program, and in fact, the second year that we went back to the Hollywood Foreign Press for a grant, they suggested to us that we look at collaborations."

LACMA, said Govan, is a big believer in collaboration. "We are collaborating with the Getty on art projects and photography," he said. "We spoke with sort of every organization. Film Independent had a really nice fit for two reasons. They are very artist-centric because they support filmmakers. The idea of bringing contemporary filmmakers to help us with historic films is something that would be absolutely consistent with our art programs."

Just as LACMA does, he added, Film Independent sees "themselves as an educational organization," Govan said. "So they had a lot of energy, tremendous enthusiasm to work with us to raise money. So after talking with everybody, it seemed like a good fit."

Before Wednesday's announcement, LACMA and Film Independent partnered on an early screening last year of the Oscar-nominated drama "Winter's Bone."

"They bring a huge constituency," Govan said of the organization. "That's a constituency we have never had. And they bring an enormous expertise. We have been working on this for a while and then recently it came together that both boards were excited about going forward."

Govan had nothing but praise for Ian Birnie, who has worked at LACMA for the last 15 years, currently as consulting curator for the film department. Birnie will be leaving in September when the Film Independent era begins. LACMA and Film Independent will be hiring a new programmer for the film department.

"This is evolution, not revolution," Govan said.

-- Susan King

Photo: LACMA Chief Executive Michael Govan. Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

LACMA, Film Independent collaborate on new film series

April 6, 2011 | 10:17 am

Getprev-1 This post has been corrected. See note at bottom for details.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which nearly did away with its 41-year-old film program two years ago before a public outcry reversed the decision, announced Wednesday morning that it had entered into partnership with Film Independent to create a new film series. The museum's agreement with the nonprofit organization behind the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival is effective immediately, with new programming to begin in September.

"In conversations with the film community over the past year, we have decided that collaboration and partnership is the most effective way to advance the shared mission of our organization," Michael Govan, LACMA director, said in a statement.

Not part of this new partnership is Ian Birnie, who has been with LACMA's film department for 15 years and is currently the museum's consulting curator. He will be leaving in the fall. Birnie's final film series will be a Tim Burton retrospective this summer that is timed with the Burton exhibition opening at the museum on May 29.

Film Independent's programming department and a new lead programmer, starting this summer, will serve as curators; the New York Times is the series' sole presenting sponsor.

As in the past, the new programming will include previews of feature-length narrative and documentary films, archival films and repertory series, international films, along with conversations with new and veteran filmmakers and artists, family films and special guest-curated programs. There will also be monthly post-screening receptions.

And senior citizens who frequent the Tuesday matinees at the Leo S. Bing Theatre will be happy to know that those screenings will continue under the new arrangement.

"Our partnership with LACMA," Film Independent executive director Dawn Hudson said in a statement, "is a wonderful way for Film Independent to further strengthen our commitment to championing film artists and bringing their work to a larger audience."

For the record, 10:53 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said the announcement about the new film series was made Tuesday.


Martin Scorsese and Michael Govan on the future of films at LACMA

Martin Scorsese's open letter to Michael Govan and LACMA

'Black Swan' wins four Spirit Awards, including best feature and best actress

-- Susan King

Photo: LACMA. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Betsy Sharkey's critics pick: 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?'

February 9, 2011 |  4:30 pm

They Shoot Horses Recently, as I was re-watching 1969’s “They Shoot Horses, Don't They?” -- an unsparing look at the desperation of a Depression-era dance marathon starring Jane Fonda -- I couldn't help but wonder how many reality TV creators had used it as a template, so closely do the shows that clog broadcast and cable channels echo its ethos and pathos.

If nothing else, the film captures the human condition and its historical context in a way typical of so many Fonda films. As such, it's a good choice to kick off LACMA's weekend series Friday night at 7. (A full schedule of films can be found here.)

Through February, the museum will feature the actress' best work -- "Coming Home," "Barefoot in the Park" and more, ending with a double bill on the eve of the Oscars, Feb. 26, with two of my favorites: “On Golden Pond” and “Julia,” one on the ravages of age, the other, the ravages of war. Sadly, the series highlight, a Valentine's Day conversation with the actress hosted by my colleague, Kenneth Turan, sold out long ago.

But back to “They Shoot Horses.” Fonda plays a worn-down Hollywood hopeful paired with a dreamy farm boy, the wonderfully enigmatic Canadian actor Michael Sarrazin. Nearly every stereotype we associate with reality TV turns up in the film: Bonnie Bedelia as the pregnant waif with Bruce Dern as her ruthless spouse; Red Buttons trying to pass for a decade or so younger to worm his way into the competition; Fonda, certain this is her last chance to get her life right; and Gig Young in his Oscar-winning turn as the master of ceremonies, orchestrating the conflicts and crashes with an eye to what will keep the seats filled and the crowds entertained.

Director Sydney Pollack's frenetic energy infusing the film allows us to witness the best and worst of human nature as couples spin and back-stab through days and nights in their fight for a few dollars or a few moments of fame.

Two of its truths stay with me: Despite the promise, there are no happy endings in these contrivances, and, sadly, history does repeat itself.

-- Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Michael Sarrazin and Jane Fonda in "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Kenneth Turan's film pick of the week: 'Full Moon' (Chaudhvin Ka Chand)

January 19, 2011 |  4:02 pm

Chaudhvin Ka Chand

"Slumdog Millionaire" introduced a wider audience to the modern Bollywood style of filmmaking, in which song and melodrama freely mix, but opportunities to see the classics of the 1950s and '60s, the era known as the Golden Age of Indian cinema, are rare indeed. In conjunction with its "India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow" exhibition, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is presenting 1960's "Full Moon" (Chaudhvin Ka Chand), a film starring and produced by the gifted Guru Dutt, who died tragically young in 1964 at the age of 39. Get a glimpse of where it all began. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at LACMA's Bing Auditorium.

Though he wasn't behind the camera on this film, Dutt was also a gifted director, and fans of the genre would be well-advised to track down a DVD of his best known film, 1957's "Pyaasa," a two-hour and 33-minute musical fantasy from India, stylishly shot in black-and-white, that mixes delicate singing with social consciousness and bogglingly melodramatic plot twists.

"Pyaasa" follows an unappreciated poet named Vijay who finds life more to his liking in the slums of a big city and in the arms of a woman of questionable virtue. Vijay’s work takes off when he is mistakenly reported dead and, among other things, he eventually gets to crash his own memorial service. Yes, it's like that.

-- Kenneth Turan, Times film critic

Photo: "Full Moon" (Chaudhvin Ka Chand) features Waheeda Rehman, left, and co-star/producer Guru Dutt. Credit: Gala Entertainment

Kenneth Turan's film picks of the week: 'The Big Combo' and 'They Made Me a Fugitive' at LACMA

October 7, 2010 |  7:15 am


Few moviegoing pleasures equal the chance to see impeccable prints of classic film noirs on a bigger-than-life screen. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art's tribute to the Film Foundation offers two of the best in a double bill Friday at 7:30 p.m.

Though its name is not well known, the Film Foundation has provided an invaluable service during its two decades of existence. A nonprofit founded by Martin Scorsese and other filmmakers, it has, in partnership with key film archives around the world, helped fund the preservation and restoration of more than 500 films, including the features in this series.

First up Friday is Joseph H. Lewis' "The Big Combo," one of the signature works of the king of noir cinematographers, John Alton, the man whose corrosive shadows are legendary. Also on the bill is a little-seen but superb British noir, Alberto Cavalcanti's "They Made Me a Fugitive," staring Trevor Howard as a man who gets trapped in the criminal life.

In addition to seeing some great films, patronizing this series is a way to express support for the LACMA film program, which is far from on stable ground at the museum. Go on Friday, take in the rest of this rich series and demonstrate to the unfeeling, always skeptical LACMA brass that film is an art people care about.

-- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: Richard Conte, with Jean Wallace, plays a psychotic corporate crime boss in the classic film noir "The Big Combo." Credit: UCLA Film and Television Archive


LACMA's '20th Anniversary Tribute' a treat for film fans

LACMA's weekend film series gets extended -- but 'still in jeopardy'

Martin Scorsese: An open letter to Michael Govan and LACMA

Turan on LACMA plans: 'What are these people drinking?'


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