- Speaking of Criterion’s two-disc DVD/Blu-ray edition of “l’Avventura,” Barnes and Noble is currently offering its semi-annual 50% sale on titles in this most distinguished of video catalogues. Usually, due to the expenses incurred with restorations, research and the considerable background materials and brochures produced for their DVD and Blu-ray releases, Criterion titles can be pricey—in the $30-$40 range, and much higher for boxed sets. So this kind of sale really means something, and it doesn’t happen that often. (And it ends next week.)
- There will be more on Paul Schrader in this space soon, but there’s no time like now to catch up with this exceptional and irascibly brilliant American filmmaker. He’s just donated his personal print collection to the UCLA Film Archive and, in turn, the Archive is launching Friday at the Billy Wilder Theatre (with “American Gigolo” and “Light Sleeper”) a comprehensive survey of Schrader’s amazing filmography, up to an including his new, intensely controversial drama set in the Los Angeles porn netherworld, “The Canyons,” starring a reportedly extraordinary Lindsay Lohan. (Yes, that Lindsay Lohan.)
- Also at UCLA’s Wilder is the most interesting presentation of new European non-fiction cinema anywhere in the city this summer: a Sunday 7 p.m. double-bill of two films by Sylvain George derived from his guerilla-like filming of a pitched battle in the port city of Calais between undocumented workers and police. The first, “May They Rest in Revolt (Figures of War),” is one of the decade’s most virtuoso displays of a filmmaker freed from all constraints capturing the immediate moment in front of his lens. The follow-up, “The Fragments (My Mouth, My Revolt, My Name),” is a brilliant tapestry of the footage that didn’t make it into “May They Rest in Revolt.” It places our current national immigration debate in an entirely fresh context, and may alter how one looks at what we used to charmingly call the “documentary.”
- In one of those impossible choices that regularly beset Los Angeles cinephiles, Sunday night at 7 is also the time slot for “Constructions of Los Angeles,” L.A. Filmforum’s latest presentation (at their usual home at the Steven Spielberg Theatre in the Egyptian) with the Academy Film Archive and “Pacific Standard Time.” Filmforum director Adam Hyman and Academy curator Mark Toscano have teamed up for a tantalizing program of short works looking at older Los Angeles (such as Laure Lourie’s 1940 footage of Bunker Hill) as well as new work including an interesting Antonioni tie-in to “L’avventura”—Stephen Connolly’s “Zabriskie Point (Redacted),” reconsidering Antonioni’s only Los Angeles film.
- Outfest, Los Angeles’ long-running LGBT festival (and consistently the city’s highest grossing and most heavily attended film festival) opens this weekend—opening night on July 11, running through July 21. One can only hope that the quality of the selection improves; the festival’s history of generally audience-pleasing piffles instead of more daring and challenging work runs against that hope, but we’ll see. A notable highlight on one of our great, late thinkers and contrarians: “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia.”
- The Hitchcock 9 series at LACMA, the first assemblage ever of the complete (restored, on digital) lineup of Hitchcock’s silent-era British movies, concludes Friday and Saturday with such notables as “Blackmail” (1929) and his directing debut, “The Pleasure Garden” (1926), as well as pianist Robert Israel’s live accompaniment. Last week’s screening of “The Lodger” was something special.
- Two films from the official Cannes 2012 competition are finally in commercial release. Thomas Vinterberg’s “The Hunt,” about a man unjustly accused of pedophilia, is most memorable for Mads Mikkelsen’s slow-boil performance (and quite a contrast to his opaque cool in NBC’s “Hannibal”.) Sergei Loznitsa’s wartime fable “In the Fog” isn’t in the class of his astonishing 2010 “My Joy,” but it creates a bubbling tension in its depiction of clashing moralities that makes Loznitsa an artist best viewed on the big screen.
Robert Koehler, who blogs on film for arts·meme, is a film critic for Film Comment, Cinema Scope and Cineaste.