Monday, July 20, 2009

The Rep Report

NEW YORK: Those of you who've been meaning to catch up with your Stalin-era Russian light entertainments won't want to miss "Red Diva: Lyubov Orlova: First Lady of the Soviet Screen" at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (May 1-4). A celebrated stage performer who would eventually marry the director Grigori Aleksandrov, who, with Eisenstein, worked on the script of Strike, acted in Potemkin and assisted with the direction on October, Orlova was the sweetheart of the Soviet Union in such pictures as The Circus (1936), Jolly Fellows (1934), and Volga Volga. She died in 1975, but not before a small planet discovered by a Soviet astronomer had been named after her. Top that, Ginger Rogers!

If that's not enough to satisfy your pinko tastes, you can ride your hog over to Film Forum and stick it to the man by checking out the new restored 35-mm. print of Easy Rider. The critic David Thomson once ranked the blockbuster commercial success of Dennis Hopper's hippie dream among the greatest tragedies ever to befall the movies, and God knows that, from Peter Fonda's stoic Mr. Cool performance as Captain America to what may be the most overwrought trip sequence in the history of cinematic psychedelia (filmed in a New Orleans graveyard, where dead people were trying to sleep), it does not lack for sources of embarrassment for those who made it and anyone trying to watch it with their eyes uncrossed. Yet, as our own Sarah Clyne Sundberg noted here recently, it remains an excellent source of prime-period Jack Nicholson. And when Saint Nich's not onscreen, you can just close your eyes and listen to the best collection of counterculture-era rock that K-Tel never produced.

The Museum of Modern Art's Julien Duvivier retrospective begins today and runs though May 25. Duvivier may be best remembered here for the 1937 Pépé le Moko, starring Jean Gabin (and remade by Hollywood as Algiers, with Charles Boyer), and for good reason: it's a masterpiece of the genre that it helped to create, the poetic French melodrama. But the opening night selection, Poil de carotte (1932), is an unusual, beautiful childhood reverie that very different in some ways from most of the director's later work.

TORONTO: Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival, opened last night and runs through May 10. The filma generating buzz include the boxing film Big John, Ashes of American Flags starring the band Wilco, the behind-the-scenes Asian stunt work film Action Boys, Winnebago Man, and Best Worst Movie, which nobody in Austin has been able to shut up about since last month's SXSW Festival.

PORTLAND: The Portland Documentary & eXperimental Film Festival, or "PDX Fest" for short, runs May 6 through the 10th. It kicks off with a loving memorial tribute to the late Bruce Connor.

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