More stories

  • in

    ‘Our Father’ Review: A Doctor’s God Complex Revealed

    A new documentary tells the story of siblings who unite to bring to justice the fertility specialist who impregnated their mothers with his sperm without consent.At the beginning of the gripping Netflix documentary “Our Father,” the camera creeps through a hallway toward a door with a doctor’s nameplate on it and into an examination room decorated with embroidered Bible verses, gynecological charts and baby photos. A foreboding score plays.There are no jump scares in Lucie Jourdan’s debut feature, about the biological children of Dr. Donald Cline, an Indiana fertility specialist, who for nearly a decade inseminated patients with his own sperm without their knowledge. But make no mistake, “Our Father” is a horror movie. Cline’s deception upends the lives of his unsuspecting patients’ children, and the film is rife with harrowing insights about medical malfeasance and God complexes.At the center of it is an unflinching protagonist. An only child, Jacoba Ballard was stunned when, after taking a DNA test, she received notifications of several half siblings from a genealogy website. Cline had assured hopeful parents that the clinic he operated never used a donor more than three times. We learn from the film that Ballard, who’s now in her 40s, is Sibling No. 0. The last sibling interviewed in “Our Father” is No. 61.Jourdan makes potent — and, at times, speculative — use of re-enactments. In a scene reminiscent of cinema’s version of a detective hunting a suspect, Ballard sits at a desk, evidence papering the wall. Except she is wearing a bright red hoodie, as if to declare, “This is what it looks like to take down the Big Bad Wolf.”There are interviews with Cline’s partner in the clinic and a nurse who assisted him, as well as a sit-down with a former Indiana prosecutor as the documentary tries to address the plaint, “How could this have happened?” “Our Father” also looks into Cline’s possible connection to QuiverFull, a conservative Christian movement that champions procreation. But it is the siblings — their anguish and their anger, as well as the compassion they extend to one another — that drive the narrative.Our FatherNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 37 minutes. Watch on Netflix. More

  • in

    ‘Kamikaze Hearts’ Review: Truth or Fiction

    Juliet Bashore’s porn-world quasi documentary is a delirious and distressing portrait of two women’s tempestuous relationship.Juliet Bashore’s “Kamikaze Hearts” is a porn-world quasi-documentary about the underground scene in 1980s San Francisco that shivers spit and cold sweat. Originally released in 1986, it is now receiving a national rollout courtesy of a new 2K restoration.A prism of ideas about performance, sex, identity, addiction, labor and much more, the film also plays like a bout of frenzied, opioid-induced delirium. It’s not exactly pleasurable — and it’s filled with disorienting longueurs — but it really sticks.The apparent drama centers on the tempestuous relationship between the unhinged porn star Sharon Mitchell and her hapless lover Tigr. We follow these women over the course of a few days working on the set of a new adult film based on the opera “Carmen.”That project will never be completed, because there is no adult “Carmen” film. The entire work — the tensions on set between the women performers and their sleazy male bosses, Mitchell and Tigr’s increasingly intense spats — was scripted and storyboarded, with the performers, many of them actual adult film professionals, improvising and playing versions of themselves.Much like porn, in which real sex acts are performed in fake contexts, this self-referential haze of a film blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction. Perhaps the technology-inundated audiences of today, numb to the unstable realities and meta-universes that characterize the online experience (and franchise films, for that matter), won’t feel as impressed. Yet Tigr and Mitchell feel as alive as a fresh fever. And when we see the two women, who are actual heroin addicts, shoot up on camera, what could be more real?Kamikaze HeartsNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes. In theaters. More

  • in

    ‘Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story’ Review: An Event With Unique Flavor

    Gumbo, fried oysters, po’ boy sandwiches. And then there’s the music. This documentary gives an overview.As has been demonstrated in films as wide-ranging as “Monterey Pop,” “Woodstock,” and “Summer of Soul,” music festivals can’t help but get part of their vibe from their settings. As musicians from all over the world testify in the documentary “Jazz Fest: A New Orleans Story,” directed by Frank Marshall and Ryan Suffern, the Louisiana city’s annual jazz festival has an irreproducible flavor because it happens in the cradle of American music.The movie’s opening montage, featuring familiar famous faces ranging from Tom Jones to Pitbull, is — happily — a bit of a fake out. These big names and others get some play (and in what some might consider an unfortunate feature, Jimmy Buffett gets a lot of play) but the movie is conscientiously attentive to the festival’s homegrown eclecticism.Exploring the musical atmosphere of New Orleans itself, the film features experts laying out the distinctions between Cajun and Zydeco, for example. While both are dance music that trades in old melodies, the latter features electric guitar and washboard and comes at you “like a freight train.”The entrepreneur George Wein, who founded the Newport Jazz Festival, had a hand in Jazz Fest’s creation, sagely taking on the musician Ellis Marsalis (you may be familiar with the pianist’s work, or that of his sons, who include Wynton and Branford) as his New Orleans docent. The organizational work was soon handled by the young music enthusiast Quint Davis, who’s still in charge today.The ebullient history — which also cites on-site food tents as a mind-blowing component of the fest’s appeal — becomes tearful when Hurricane Katrina decimates New Orleans in 2005. But the music came back like a miracle, and the movie reports that after a two-year postponement because of Covid-19, the event is currently on the comeback trail again.Jazz Fest: A New Orleans StoryRated PG-13 for a little saucy language. Running time: 1 hour 34 minutes. In theaters. More

  • in

    ‘Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life’ Review: A Gay Porn Star Is Born

    The director Tomer Heymann situates the notion of celebrity in the context of not just performance and gay culture but also familial intimacy.“Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life” has a somewhat sensationalist appeal: It’s a documentary about the rise and fall of the eponymous Israeli gay porn superstar. But the director, Tomer Heymann, finds idiosyncratic insights within typical narrative beats about fame and power — two mercurial things that, for the film and Agassi himself, don’t exist in a vacuum. Heymann situates the notion of celebrity in the context of not just performance and gay culture but also familial intimacy, with striking detail.Agassi, now retired, shot to fame after appearing in the Lucas Entertainment gay porn film “Men of Israel” in 2009, and Heymann documents the actor’s aggressive rise to notoriety. He Skype calls his mother from Berlin frequently, even as his stardom intensifies. She’s caring and supportive, albeit long distance. She approves of his awards-show garments (harness, lace garters, heels) through the computer. It’s with her that he puts on pause his craving of being wanted and his desire to perform. (“Jonathan Agassi,” after all, is a pseudonym, a character.) In contrast, he does not like talking about his absentee homophobic father, to whom he refers by first name. That Heymann outlines Agassi’s family dynamics with such detail facilitates a dialogue between the two parts of Agassi’s life: his gay pornography and his home.“Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life” achieves an impressive level of formal closeness with its subject while maintaining a critical distance from him, following his personal moments closely without over-sentimentalizing interactions. The film mostly abstains from judgment. When Agassi is alone, Heymann catches the performer vacillating wildly between self-awareness (about performance, desire) and naïveté. And when things fall apart, the safety of mom is there, waiting.Jonathan Agassi Saved My LifeNot rated. In English and Hebrew, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes. In theaters. More

  • in

    The Strange Afterlife of George Carlin

    In the closing monologue from a recent episode of his HBO talk show, Bill Maher cataloged a series of social conditions that he suggested were hampering stand-up comedy and imperiling free speech: cancel culture, a perceived increase of sensitivity on college campuses, and Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars.Near the end of his remarks, Maher invoked the comedian George Carlin, a personal hero whose iconoclastic spirit, he seemed to believe, could never thrive in such a thin-skinned and overly entitled era. “Oh, George,” he said, “it’s a good thing you’re dead.”Carlin, the cantankerous, longhaired sage who used his withering insight and gleefully profane vocabulary to take aim at American hypocrisy, died in 2008. But in the years since, it can feel like he never really left us.On an almost daily basis, parts of Carlin’s routines rise to the surface of our discourse, and he is embraced by people who span the political spectrum — they may rarely agree with each other, but they are certain that Carlin would agree with them.Carlin’s rueful 1996 routine about conservatives’ opposition to abortion (“they will do anything for the unborn, but once you’re born, you’re on your own”) became a newly viral phenomenon and was shown on a recent broadcast of the MSNBC program “11th Hour.” A video clip of a Carlin bit about how Americans are ravenous for war (“so we’re good at it, and it’s a good thing we are — we’re not very good at anything else anymore!”) has been tweeted by Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota. On the right-wing website Breitbart, Carlin has been cited as an expert on bipartisanship (“the word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out”) and hailed as a rebel who didn’t acquiesce to authority.Carlin is a venerated figure in his chosen field who unites performers as disparate as Joe Rogan and Jim Gaffigan, but he’s also someone whose influence transcends comedy. He is a touchstone shared by the psychologist Steven Pinker, the rapper and actor Ice Cube and people on social media who equate the pandemic with George Orwell novels. Carlin’s indignant voice feels so impossible to duplicate that quotes he never said and entire essays he didn’t write are often wrongly attributed to him.George Carlin on “Saturday Night Live” in 1975. His fans include Joe Rogan and Jim Gaffigan.Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank, via Getty ImagesThere’s a strange afterlife that Carlin enjoys, not just as a comic but also as a moral compass. Few of us care in quite the same way if our choices in life would meet the approval of Johnny Carson or Andy Kaufman.That Carlin’s work endures long after him is not only a testament to his talents; it’s a sign that his frustrations, which he expressed humorously but felt authentically, still resonate with audiences, and that the injustices he identified in American society persist to this day.“There’s something about his righteous aggravation — it’s a rare point of view, and it’s rare that it’s a natural point of view,” said Marc Maron, the comedian and podcaster. “It’s not something you can pretend to make happen. Aggravation is not always funny.”And Carlin’s routines, particularly from his splenetic, late-period specials, have hardly lost their punch. It’s still bracing to hear the bitter wordplay in his lament: “It’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”When he spoke, “you always felt like you were hearing the truth, or his truth,” said the comedian Bill Burr. “He was giving you the truth of what he felt, which most of us don’t do. It’s refreshing to listen to another human being tell you exactly how they feel, even if it’s 180 degrees removed from what you agree with.”But the durability of Carlin’s material can be dangerous, too. Dislocated from the time and circumstances that inspired his work, the arguments he delivered can be made to serve purposes he didn’t intend.As those who were closest to him have learned, when he is unable to advocate for himself, he can be made to seem like he supported any opinion at all.“It is a daily battle for me,” said Kelly Carlin, the comedian’s daughter. “At first I was like, I’ll be the interpreter and tell them what I think he meant. And then it was like, this is not my job. It’s like trying to push back a tidal wave sometimes.”The continuing relevance of Carlin’s material is partly a result of how he learned to compose and refine it over a career that spanned nearly 50 years.As he explained in a 1997 interview on “The Chris Rock Show,” he essentially saw himself as a playful provocateur. “I like to bother people,” he said, adding that he tried to figure out “where the line is drawn, and then deliberately cross it and drag the audience with you. And have them happy that you did it.”Carlin with his daughter, Kelly, on the left and his first wife, Brenda. He’s the subject of a new documentary.George Carlin’s Estate, via HBOCarlin is well-known for pivoting from a strait-laced, suit-and-tie approach to standup in the late 1960s and early ’70s and for immersing himself in the counterculture that shaped his personal politics.But a new two-part HBO documentary, “George Carlin’s American Dream,” which will be shown May 20 and 21, illustrates how his professional trajectory consisted of numerous ups and downs — multiple efforts to rediscover his voice and refine his material when his personal radar detected he was out of step with the times.“He would do that every decade or so,” said Judd Apatow, the comedian and filmmaker who directed the documentary with Michael Bonfiglio. “At the moment when it seemed like he was out of gas, he would suddenly recharge and reinvent himself.”As he evolved from a fast-talking parodist of TV and radio to a rhetorical bomb-tosser, Carlin had a set of standards that remained consistent. “He had deep core values that were good,” Bonfiglio said: “Take care of other people. Take care of the planet. There was a sense of fairness and rooting for the underdog. Those would shine through, even in his darkest stuff.”But over the decades, as Carlin watched America’s retreat from Vietnam and its entrance into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as corporate power grew more intractable and environmental catastrophe felt unavoidable, his feelings of bitter disappointment flooded into his routines.At times, Maron said, “his anger became more pronounced than his ability to speak funny within it.” But in every hourlong set he performed, Maron added, “there would be one bit that was worth the entire special.”Carlin’s personal politics were readily identifiable. Kelly Carlin said her father was “99 percent progressive” and that he raised her in a manner that today might be contemptuously dismissed as woke.“He taught me from Day 1 that the Black and brown people have always been oppressed, horribly and systematically, by the owners of wealth,” she said. “He had a pure disdain and loathing for white men in America.”That leftist bent was unmistakable in Carlin’s standup, too: He railed against police violence, championed prison reform and environmentalism and condemned organized religion.But he was also critical of Democrats and “guilty white liberals,” while he endorsed other ideas that conservatives supported. He despised euphemism and the policing of language, reviled what he called “the continued puss-ification of the American male” and rebuked his countrymen who would “trade away a little of their freedom for the feeling — the illusion — of security.”Using language that would later be echoed by Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, Carlin observed in a 2005 routine that the interwoven systems of American economy and government were not designed to ensure the prosperity of the average citizen: “It’s a big club and you ain’t in it,” he said.“The table is tilted, folks,” Carlin added. “The game is rigged.”Carlin didn’t hesitate to criticize presidents by name — Bill Clinton and George W. Bush among them — but, more often, he spoke in broader terms and addressed institutional failings.“There were other court jesters before Carlin and alongside Carlin, but Carlin was more powerful and dangerous to the king,” said Journey Gunderson, the executive director of the National Comedy Center, which is home to more than 25,000 items from Carlin’s archives.What gave him his potency, Gunderson said, was that he turned his standup “into a call to action.” Carlin, she said, “taught everyone where to find the power that they have and encouraged them to use it.”Carlin at a benefit for the Bitter End in New York in 1992. He was “99 percent progressive,” said his daughter, but also took some positions that echoed those of conservatives today.Ed Bailey/Associated PressThat approach gave Carlin’s comedy a longevity that not even the work of his esteemed predecessor Lenny Bruce has attained.“It requires a scholarship to appreciate Lenny Bruce,” Maron said. “You’ve got to sort through a number of very dated impressions and news stories. Whereas George was always making things totally accessible.”(Even in her father’s later years, Kelly Carlin said, if he had an idea for a topical joke, rather than put it in his act, he would share them with people like the broadcaster Keith Olbermann, who was then the host of “Countdown” on MSNBC. Olbermann confirmed this, saying that Carlin sent him “a couple of one-liners about Bush” and a sports joke he keeps framed on his wall.)For the most part, Carlin left behind no protégés or appointed successors. When he died, no one else could say they spoke on his behalf. And while the generations of stand-ups that have followed may have a sincere reverence for him, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are fluent in the jokes he told.“A lot of us know that you’re supposed to say Carlin is an influence, but I don’t think a lot of us can back that up,” the comedian Nikki Glaser said.A lack of familiarity with Carlin’s words, his history and his values can lead to misapprehension when his arguments are stretched to fit present-day conditions he didn’t live to see.Several times during the pandemic, Carlin has drawn attention for a routine from his 1999 special, “You Are All Diseased,” in which he mischievously suggests that a childhood spent swimming in the polluted Hudson River was the reason he didn’t catch polio.(“In my neighborhood, no one ever got polio,” he fulminates. “No one, ever. You know why? ’Cause we swam in raw sewage. It strengthened our immune systems. The polio never had a prayer.”)As Kelly Carlin explained, some viewers concluded — wrongly — that her father would have opposed coronavirus vaccines.“Everyone’s like, see? George Carlin would have been anti-vaccination,” she said. “And I’m like, no. My dad was pro-science, pro-rational thinking, pro-evidence-based medicine. The man was a heart patient for 30 years. When he was a kid and the polio vaccine became available, he got the polio vaccine.”Though she generally tries to avoid intervening in these kinds of disputes, Kelly Carlin has used her social media to correct this reading. “I felt it was important that people not use him to undermine what we needed to do to get through this virus,” she said.On other modern-day topics in which George Carlin surely would have had an incendiary but clarifying take on — the Trump and Biden presidencies, social media, Elon Musk or the Marvel Cinematic Universe — no matter how much we might wish to know his thoughts, he remains frustratingly out of reach. Kelly Carlin said she could understand why audiences might long for her father’s particular brand of unvarnished honesty at this moment.“I think we are in a time of exponential uncertainty as a species,” she said. “He’s a man who looked forward and said, ‘This is not going to end well.’ He saw the chaos coming.”And Carlin remains almost universally admired as a free-speech pioneer: He was arrested in 1972 for a performance of “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” and that same routine would later play a key role when the federal government asserted its power to regulate the broadcast of indecent content.Because of that status, Carlin is frequently summoned in contemporary debates over how comedians choose to use their platforms. When controversy engulfed Dave Chappelle’s 2021 special “The Closer,” which was criticized as transphobic and prompted walkouts at Netflix, Carlin’s name was invoked, even though no one could be certain what position he might have taken: Would he have criticized Chappelle as intolerant or defended his right to express himself?Carlin was arrested in Milwaukee in 1972 on obscenity and disorderly conduct charges. The case was later dismissed and the comedian was widely admired for his free-speech stance.Bettmann Archive/Getty ImagesIn efforts to divine his opinion, some Carlin fans pointed to a 1990 interview he gave to Larry King, when he expressed his misgivings about the crude standup of Andrew Dice Clay: “His targets are underdogs, and comedy has traditionally picked on power — people who abuse their power,” Carlin said at the time.Kelly Carlin said her father “always took the stand that more speech is better than less speech” and would have supported Chappelle’s right to perform the special. But, she added, “if you’re a comedian, you’ve got to be funny.”“If you’re going to take the audience over the line, you’ve got to construct things in a way that they’re willingly crossing it with you,” she said. “Did Dave Chappelle do that for everybody? Clearly not.”Even so, Kelly Carlin said, “is it dangerous when a culture wants to shut people down for speech? I think my dad would say that is dangerous.”Like his friend and forerunner Lenny Bruce, who was arrested and convicted on obscenity charges (and who later received a posthumous pardon), George Carlin was battling the state’s power to discourage and punish his expression.Maron contended that free-speech conflicts have shifted since Carlin’s era in such a way that it doesn’t make sense to drag Carlin back into them.“That fight was already won,” Maron said. “What’s going on now is not that fight.” Today, he said, we live “in a world where anybody can really say what they want, whether anyone believes that or not.”While Carlin would still probably be dissatisfied with the state of free speech today, Maron said, his barbs would have been aimed at “the corporate occupation” of discourse, with digital monoliths like Google, Facebook and Twitter “dictating how culture thrives and is consumed.”And if a comedian wants to claim freedom of speech while using words that others deem hateful, Maron said, “you can say them all you want — you’re probably just going to be hanging around people who enjoy that kind of stuff. If that’s the company you want to keep, do what you gotta do.”Without Carlin’s humanistic spirit to guide it, contemporary standup can sometimes feel like a ruthless place. “There’s this fearlessness in comedy now that is so fake,” Glaser said. “There’s so much sleight of hand and so many illusions happening onstage to trick an audience that you’re being brave.”“There was never a cruelty to Carlin,” she said. “He always seemed filled with empathy.”Gunderson, of the National Comedy Center, described Carlin as “a leader who didn’t want to hold all the power.” The ultimate lesson he had for us, she said, is that we have “the unlimited right to challenge everything, to never stop thinking critically about any source of power or any institution” — even Carlin himself.Kelly Carlin cautioned that we should not be too beholden to any of the messages in her father’s stand-up: Of course George Carlin believed in much of what he said onstage, but what mattered most to him was that audiences learned to think for themselves. He never wanted to be anyone’s role model and was never a comfortable joiner of causes.“The moment anyone gets in a group, gets together for meetings and puts on armbands, he instantly didn’t want that,” she said.If George Carlin were around now to respond to the questions we have for him, “he would have schooled us on both sides and come up with a third-way truth that would have blown our minds,” she said. “But not solved anything. He was never looking to solve the culture wars or solve America’s problems. He was always looking to show off what he’d been thinking about at home.” More

  • in

    New York’s Movie Theaters, From Art-House to Dine-In

    New York is the nation’s moviegoing capital, especially for cinephiles who treasure archival prints, experimental cinema and concession stands that go far beyond the standard offerings. Below is a guide to the city’s art houses.Alamo DrafthouseFinancial District, 28 Liberty Street, Suite SC301, Manhattan. Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn. drafthouse.com.This dine-in chain, based in Austin, Texas, has a hip aesthetic and is noted for its brews, queso and screenings of cult classics, in addition to regular showings of new releases. A revived version of Kim’s Video has set up shop within the Manhattan location. A Staten Island theater is scheduled to open this summer.Angelika Film CenterAngelika Film Center, 18 West Houston Street, Manhattan. Cinema 123 by Angelika, 1001 Third Avenue, Manhattan. Village East by Angelika, 181-189 Second Avenue, Manhattan. angelikafilmcenter.com.The original Angelika Film Center is the downtown six-screen theater where you can catch art-house releases, like “Petite Maman” or “Anaïs in Love,” while the subway rattles underneath. The brand name has also been appended to the Village East, whose main auditorium is a gorgeous old Yiddish stage theater. In addition to showing new releases, it hosts “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and periodic revival screenings, and like its uptown sibling, the Cinema 123, it is equipped to show 70-millimeter film.Anthology Film Archives32 Second Avenue, Manhattan; anthologyfilmarchives.org.New York’s polestar of avant-garde film (and the preservation of it) for more than 50 years, Anthology was started by some of experimental cinema’s most important promoters (Jonas Mekas, P. Adams Sitney) and practitioners (Stan Brakhage, Peter Kubelka). In addition to retrospectives, the theater hosts a rotating series, Essential Cinema, that is free with membership; programming includes seminal narrative works by Alexander Dovzhenko and F.W. Murnau and medium-expanding nonnarrative films from Ken Jacobs and Michael Snow.Brooklyn Academy of Music30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn; bam.org.At any given time in the main BAM building in Fort Greene, three out of four screens show new releases, while one holds retrospectives, such as ones on films shot in New York City in the 1990s or others that place David Lynch’s work alongside movies he influenced. Occasional screenings take place at the BAM Harvey Theater a few blocks away.Film at Lincoln CenterElinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street, and Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street, Manhattan; filmlinc.org.Lincoln Center’s film arm, the hosting organization of the New York Film Festival, runs a year-round theater with one of the largest screens in town: the Walter Reade. There you can catch adventurous revivals, such as programs on the Hungarian director Marta Meszaros or the Japanese actress-director Kinuyo Tanaka, and contemporary series, like the annual Rendez-Vous With French Cinema. Across the street is the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, which houses two screens and a food-and-wine bar, Indie.Film Forum: Come for the popcorn; stay for the cinematic edification.Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesFilm Forum209 West Houston Street, Manhattan; filmforum.org.A New York institution for more than 50 years — it has been at its present location since 1990 and added a fourth screen in 2018 — Film Forum hosts some of the most extensive retrospectives in town, often showing dozens of films from a director or from stars like Toshiro Mifune and Sidney Poitier. Regular attendance constitutes a cinematic education in itself, and the popcorn, to which moviegoers apply sea salt themselves, is a delicacy.French Institute/Alliance FrançaiseFlorence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street, Manhattan; fiaf.org.This classy venue with excellent sightlines hosts screenings on Tuesdays. The programming consists of new and vintage films from France, with English subtitles, bien sûr. Series typically have a theme — it might be Wes Anderson selecting favorites by Ophüls and Truffaut or a program of recent French comedies.IFC Center323 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan; ifccenter.com.This Greenwich Village five-screen theater boasts four first-rate auditoriums (and one cubbyhole) and typically shows many more than five movies in a given week, usually with a short beforehand. Shows can start as early as 10 or 11 a.m. and, on the weekends, as late as midnight. The concession stand sells T-shirts that substitute directors’ names for those of heavy metal bands.Japan Society333 East 47th Street, Manhattan; japansociety.org.This theater’s annual Japan Cuts series is probably the largest single showcase of recent Japanese cinema on the New York cinephile’s calendar. For the rest of the year, new movies share screen space with classics, often shown on 35 millimeter.Light Industry361 Stagg Street, Brooklyn; lightindustry.org.This microcinema, which specializes in experimental film and typically holds screenings on Tuesday nights, hosted its final program at its longtime Greenpoint location in April. It will reopen by June on Stagg Street. Past screenings have varied widely; they’ve included early work by William Castle, a four-hour Mexican serial from 1919, Hollis Frampton and Owen Land films on 16-millimeter and a marathon of “Police Squad!” episodes.Maysles Cinema343 Lenox Avenue, Manhattan; maysles.org.This small (about 60 seats) Harlem venue specializes in documentaries — it was founded by the director Albert Maysles, of “Grey Gardens” fame. The programming often places an emphasis on social issues and local artistry.Metrograph7 Ludlow Street, Manhattan; metrograph.com.An ever-changing (and expensive!) selection of international candies, a nook of a bookstore and a high-class restaurant, the Commissary, are among the features of this Lower East Side two-screen venue, which opened in 2016. (Many don’t notice, but it sits across the street from the neglected Loew’s Canal Theater.) The retrospectives, such as a recurring series of the programmers’ favorites, organized alphabetically, have a correspondingly artisanal feel.Museum of Modern Art11 West 53rd Street, Manhattan; moma.org.MoMA has been showing movies since the 1930s, when Iris Barry, the museum’s first film curator, helped advance the idea that films should be collected as art. Today the institution’s two main theaters screen films from its own collection and archives around the world (the annual series To Save and Project highlights recent preservation work). Admission to most screenings is free with membership.Museum of the Moving Image36-01 35th Avenue, Queens; movingimage.us.The high ceilings and blue wall padding give a faintly futuristic feel to the 267-seat Redstone Theater, the main auditorium in this museum in Astoria. That works well when a favorite like “2001: A Space Odyssey” is playing on 70 millimeter. More specialized fare sometimes is shown in the Bartos Screening Room down the hall.Nitehawk CinemaProspect Park, 188 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn. Williamsburg, 136 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn. nitehawkcinema.com.These stylish dine-in theaters have several screens that show new releases and perennial favorites (“Carrie,” “Face/Off”) from brunch time to midnight-snack time. Both venues have bars.The Paris Theater, once a destination for French film, is now leased by Netflix.An Rong Xu for The New York TimesParis Theater4 West 58th Street, Manhattan; paristheaternyc.com.Once a go-to destination for French cinema and films with a literary pedigree, the Paris briefly closed in 2019, but then was leased by Netflix, which uses it for theatrical runs of its streaming titles (like Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog”) and older movies intended to complement them. It’s one of the few remaining New York theaters with a balcony.Quad Cinema34 West 13th Street, Manhattan; quadcinema.com.When this Greenwich Village theater opened in 1972, having four screens was unusual. (“A new way to go to the movies,” boasted a New York Times ad on the first day.) It reopened in 2017 after a renovation that gave it bigger, comfier seats for viewing new art-house releases, like “A Hero” or “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair.” Plus, there’s an adjoining bar.Roxy Cinema New York2 Sixth Avenue, Manhattan; roxycinematribeca.com.Located in the basement of the Roxy Hotel, this plush red screening room offers a mix of revivals (often on 35-millimeter film) and second-run programming — recent releases that have been in theaters awhile.Spectacle124 South Third Street, Brooklyn; spectacletheater.com.A grungy Williamsburg microcinema started in 2010, Spectacle has a calendar as eclectic as it is inscrutable. There’s horror and martial-arts fare that tends toward the obscure, along with a lot of international titles that never turn up in other New York venues.United Palace4140 Broadway, Manhattan; unitedpalace.org.One of the original Loew’s Wonder Theaters — movie palaces built in the late 1920s, with one in each borough except Staten Island (Jersey City got it instead) — this architectural marvel in Washington Heights is an attraction in itself. It’s now run by an organization that promotes interfaith artistic events, but the theater also hosts concerts and, generally once a month, movie screenings. Lin-Manuel Miranda, a neighborhood resident, chipped in for a new screen and projector. More

  • in

    ‘Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon’ Review: Beyond ‘Crazy Train’

    Forty years after Rhoads’s death, small rock venues across the nation still host tribute shows honoring him. This new documentary explains why.As those of a certain generation (OK, boomer) are well aware, a sobering number of rock greats met their ends in aviation catastrophes. The documentary “Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar Icon” delves into the 1982 plane crash that took Rhoads’s life. Just 25, and still the relatively new guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, Rhoads didn’t much like flying. But, wanting to take some aerial photos to send his mom, he accepted a ride in a private plane piloted by a guy who thought it was funny to fly dangerously close over the tour bus in which Osbourne and crew were sleeping.It’s a sad end to a story that, as told in this movie directed by Andre Relis, is weirdly lopsided. Rhoads made both his name and arguably his best music over a period of only two years or so, with Osbourne on the albums “Blizzard of Ozz” and “Diary of a Madman.” Before that, he had been a founding member of the band Quiet Riot. Relis’s movie spends a lot of time on the pre-superstardom Riot years, which are replete with tales of internecine weirdness and elusive record deals redolent of “This Is Spinal Tap.”While his eclectic, sometimes classically inflected approach is heard to memorable effect on the Osbourne records — his riff for the song “Crazy Train” is one for the ages — attempts here to pin down what made Rhoads great vary. One friend marvels that he could play “fast,” “slow,” “crunchy” and “blues.” A guitar tech, Brian Reason, on the other hand, gives a nicely wonky breakdown of Rhoads’s showstopping solo style, with insights into his use of effects and the volume control.Rhoads comes off as a pleasant guy (never a big partyer; he tried to counsel Osbourne on his excessive drinking) and a genuine ax savant who died with a lot more music in him.Randy Rhoads: Reflections of a Guitar IconNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. More

  • in

    ‘The Sanctity of Space’ Review: Such Great Heights

    In this mountaineering documentary, climbers chronicle their obsessive quest for alpine glory.The Tooth Traverse is a five-mile alpine route across the skyline of the Mooses Tooth massif in the Central Alaskan Range. Wind-whipped and sun-beaten, its rocky peaks brushed with sheets of ice and snow, the traverse is highly technical and profoundly forbidding. For the filmmaker-mountaineers Renan Ozturk and Freddie Wilkinson, it’s also an obsession.The documentary “The Sanctity of Space” covers how the pair spend the better part of a decade endeavoring to become the first to complete the Tooth Traverse — even in the face of accidents, injuries and the kinds of close calls that could easily have been fatal. At one point, Ozturk explains that his romantic partner has left him because she could no longer stand his dangerous vocation. In the very next scene — a title card reads “One Week Later” — we find Ozturk in a gurney, wrapped head-to-toe in bandages, flitting in and out of consciousness. These are risks, the filmmakers suggest, inherent to the lives they lead.Ozturk and Wilkinson devote some of the film’s running time to the biography of one of their mountaineering heroes, the explorer and photographer Bradford Washburn. Though Washburn’s life was certainly interesting, these sections feel digressive and not well integrated.“It is belief as much as anything that allows one to cling to a wall,” James Salter wrote in his mountaineering novel “Solo Faces.” “The Sanctity of Space” is at its best when conveying the power of that belief — when a helmet-mounted GoPro captures the sheer expanse of a pitch mid-ascent, say, or when an aerial shot from a circling helicopter makes a climber appear minuscule against the vast face of a daunting peak. It’s this glory that the climbers were dedicated to pursuing, and through their eyes we can well understand the beauty of the quest.The Sanctity of SpaceNot rated. Running time: 1 hour 41 minutes. In theaters. More