In this ever-changing world in which we live in, there’s simply too much stuff to process in a “seasonal film preview.”With our monthly Film Preview and Power Rankings feature, we hope to aide you in organizing your film agenda around the top film events of the month ahead. Rankings are determined by the Tibetan Method. Your June 2016 Film Preview follows. Your May 2016 Film Preview can be found here, if you’re feeling nostalgic.
As the New York Film Festival is to Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Telluride and Toronto, BAMcinemaFest is to Sundance, South By Southwest, True/False, Sarasota and Maryland. In regular-person language: BAMcinemaFest brings the best of the American indie and microindie fests together under one roof. Expect local heroes (Ira Sachs’s Little Men; Robert Greene and Kate Lyn Sheil’s Kate Plays Christine), Employee Picks (Todd Solondz’s Weiner Dog, above, which opens June 24; Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World), documentaries about JT Leroy and Sandy Hook, and new hits from up-and-comers Chad Hartigan, Joel Potrykus, Jeff Baena, Brady Corbet, Dean Fleischer-Camp, Andrw Neel, Ti West… Plus shorts and classics. June 15-26 at BAM.
New York Asian Film Festival
Isn’t Asia… enormous? Mmm. And so is Subway Cinema’s annual portal to an alternative universe of melodrama, crime and corruption, martial artistry, street life, and so much more from the emerging and established commercial and genre cinema from the other side of the Pacific. This year’s festival, the 15th, is advertising “quality over quantity,” which for the NYAFF means about 50 or so features, nbd. June 22-July 15 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the SVA Theatre.
Brian De Palma and De Palma
Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s portrait of the director as a voyeur received good notices at NYFF for its monomaniacal detail; it’s the occasion for a comprehensive, mostly-35mm retrospective encompassing counterculture comedies, softcore Hitchcock thrillers, up to the filmmaker’s baroque commercial peak and beyond. Drill, baby, drill.
De Palma opens June 10; retrospective June 1-30 at the Metrograph.
“Genre Is a Woman”
Countering behind-the-camera-typecasting, programmer Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan serves up a bumper harvest of “Women’s Pictures” from the 40s up to the present day, including Ida Lupino’s noir The Hitch-hiker, Kathryn Bigelow’s sci-fi drama Strange Days, Cindy Sherman’s slasher comedy Office Killer, Katt Shea’s erotic thriller Poison Ivy, and Stephanie Rothman’s sexploitation romp The Student Nurses. Plus Spheeris, Heckerling, Reichardt, Wishman, Harron, Loden, Arzner… June 3-16 at Film Forum.
Hong Sang-soo and Right Now, Wrong Then
Korean writer-director Hong is too prolific for Western distributors to keep up with, so this retrospective is a vital chance to catch up—and to soak up the richness of variation within his deceptively similar films, anatomies of inconsequential social catastrophes, unfolding in hilariously harrowing real-time, and given depth and mystery by structural doublings-back and a background whiff of if-a-tree-falls surrealism. His latest, Right Now, Wrong Then, concerns a traveling mid-career filmmaker trying to connect with a woman over a bottomless bottle of soju—but if think you’ve heard this one before, don’t let that stop you.
Right Now, Wrong Then opens June 24; retrospective June 3-19 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) returns with another mix of pulp, gore and throbbing retro glitz, this time a psychological-slasher film starring Elle Fanning as a new arrival in the LA fashion scene. At Cannes, it was alternately embraced and reviled for its poptimistic pretention. Opens June 24.
Death and Daydreams: Works by Zoltán Huszárik
When the 50-year-old Huszárik committed suicide in Budapest in 1981, he had two feature films to his name. The first, an adaptation of Gyula Krúdy’s Szinbád, is now regarded as one of the masterpieces of Hungarian cinema—though these screenings of a new digital restoration will be its first American projection in decades. His shorts, also newly preserved by the Hungarian National Film Archive, have never screened here before, though they’ve made Huszárik a household name on the really good torrent networks. June at the Spectacle.
Luminosity: The Art of Cinematographer Mark Lee Ping-Bing
The Taiwanese DP whose pretty, moving pictures make Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films so ravishing and immersive receives a retro of his own, showcasing his work across four decades on period pieces, romances, meditations and musicals for filmmakers from Hou to Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui, Tran Ang Hung, Tian Zhuangzhuang and Jay Chou. June 16-30 at MoMA.
Thom Andersen and The Thoughts That Once We Had
The only major American essay filmmaker (right? I’m sure you’ll let me hear it in the comments, this issue inspires fierce partisanship) gets a retrospective including his films on film, with entry points from Eadweard Muybridge and Spencer Williams to the Hollywood Blacklist and Los Angeles, itself. The occasion is his new film, which pairs excerpts from Deleuze’s writings on cinema with an eclectic selection of clips. Andersen will be on hand for the opening weekend, demonstrating that the closure of Mars Bar has not dimmed AFA’s lure for gnomic, forbidding visiting filmmakers. The Thoughts That Once We Hadand retrospective both June 3-12 at Anthology Film Archives.
‘Til Madness Do Us Part
The latest film by Chinese documentarian Wang Bing (West of the Tracks) clocks in at a brisk-for-him 228 minutes, but don’t assume it’s lighter fair: the film is an embedded portrait of a mental institution in remote Zhaotong, in Southwest China, where the disturbed, the dangerous, and the discriminated-against live together with little supervision. June 9-15 at Anthology Film Archives.
70s Black Cinema
At the outdoor plaza where Fulton Street crosses Grand Avenue in Clinton Hill, BAM and the Fulton Business Alliance present outdoor screenings of classic and lesser-known titles from heydays of Pam Grier, Diana Ross, James Earl Jones and Earth Wind and Fire. June 2-30 at the Putnam Triangle.
Swiss Army Man
The most divisive film of Sundance 2016 stars Paul Dano as a castaway and Daniel Radcliffe as the farting corpse who washes ashore one day. The feature directorial debut of Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking team behind the video for “Turn Down for What.” Opens June 24.
The Spectacle’s new weekly series (filling some of its new 5pm screening slots!) features mystery films selected by a rotating cast of its cinephile volunteers. The tantalizing synopses give juuust enough away to make a Google delve productive, if you want to spoil the fun. Saturdays at the Spectacle.
The visionary Polish director Andrzej Żuławski died in February, soon after completing his last film, adapted from Witold Gombrowicz’s novel. Writing about the film upon its director’s death, Ela Bittencourt compared it to his legendary Possession: “Both films pulsate with sexual aggression, animated as much by the characters’ verbal attacks as by the obsessive imaginations that fuel sexual conquest. And both show the unknowability of the human mind, by insisting on hyperrealism while showering us with surreal exorcist antics.” Opens June 17 at the Metrograph.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival
The annual showcase for topical nonfiction films returns with a focus on women’s and queer issues, with screenings (and a wealth of filmmaker Q&As) addressing everything from activism in China to gender dysphoria in kindergarten. June 10-19 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center.
In 1982, months before he died aged 327, Rainer Werner Fassbinder donned a leopard-print jacket and starred in this flamboyant, political dystopian thriller from his friend Wolf Gremm, who put a New German Cinema bad-boy spin on Swedish crime maestro Per Wahlöö’s novel Murder on the 31st Floor. New restoration. June 3-9 at BAM.
Local filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer’s lauded debut twists the coming-of-age story into a singular story about a tomboy who joins a dance team overtaken mysterious seizures. “It’s a psychological portrait film about a young girl finding her identity for the first time, and what it means to define yourself in the context of a group,” Holmer told us this winter. “[I]t grew out of dance and wanting to make a film about girlhood.” Opens June 3 at the Metrograph.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot, the Citizen Kane of consumer-grade video documentaries about heavy metal fans drinking in parking lots, is 30 years old. To celebrate, filmmaker Jeff Krulik presents an anniversary screening of his concise hang-out classic, keeping the buzz going with a number of outtakes and follow-up footage, as well as separate screenings of his documentary about a mythic Led Zeppelin concert at a Maryland youth center during Nixon’s inauguration, and short, loving profiles of the public-access oddballs known as “Jeff’s People.” June 17-18, Anthology Film Archives.
New Adventures in Nonfiction
Curator and critic Eric Hynes’s recurring screening-and-Q&A series continues with a two-fer of The Chinese Mayor, about a politician relocating half a million residents to save the city of Datong, and Approaching the Elephant, about an experimental school in New Jersey where the inmates/kids run the asylum/curriculum. The films are linked by their often surprisingly up-close-and-personal access to their subjects. June 26 at the Museum of the Moving Image.
Well-reviewed out of Sundance, local director Penny Lane’s tricky, crowd-pleasing documentary profiles the rise and fall of Dr. J.R. Brinkley, who in the 1910s and 20s built up an empire on a foundation of goat glands, nature’s perfect impotence cure (or are they?) (goat glands, that is. A cure for impotence. Who can say!). Opens June 22 at Film Forum.
What’s Opera Doc: Warner Bros. Weekends
It’s duck seasonrabbit seasonduck seasonrabbit season the season for nostalgically beloved Space Jam and critically beloved Looney Tunes: Back in Action, along with programs of classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts—all directed by Chuck Jones, which means a full auteur-centric Warner cartoon retrospective (Clampett! Avery! Freleng!) is still somewhere on the horizon. Saturdays at the Metrograph.
Brooklyn Film Festival
Looking beyond the big indie-circuit names at BAMcinemaFest or Rooftop Films (continuing this month, and all summer), the BFF casts a wide net, bringing together 20-odd features (doc and narrative) and dozens of shorts from all around the world, to vie for the Grand Chameleon Award. June 3-12.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
A rap-loving boy and his crusty uncle Sam Neill bond in the New Zealand woods—look, the rule is that you have to care about the thing writer-director Taika Waititi does immediately following What We Do in the Shadows, no matter what it is. They’re out in nature, might be another one of these. Opens June 24.
Open Roads: New Italian Cinema
Notable titles at this year’s installment of the NYC rep calendar fixture include Daniele Luchetti’s documentary Call Me Francis — the Pope; rom-com Solo, acclaimed actress Laura Morante’s second film as a writer-director; and a new restoration of the late Ettore Scola’s 1976 class-conscious comedy Ugly, Dirty and Bad. June 2-10 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Stonewall director Roland Emmerich takes the helm of a 20-years-after sequel to the long-forgotten highest-grossing film of 1996. Every generation imposes its nostalgia as canon once it grabs the reins of the culture. Opens June 24.