Spring Guide: Kick-Ass, Even Darker than The Dark Knight

Aaron Johnson's secret vigilante

 

Jean Renoir

April 9–May 10

France's great humanist auteur died in 1979, leaving behind not just one vibrant masterwork but arguably a few: The '30s alone saw Grand Illusion, La Bête humaine, and his multifaceted class comedy The Rules of the Game, which flopped upon release but has since been canonized. More than 20 films brighten BAM's essential series, including early silents, his underrated Hollywood work of the '40s (This Land Is Mine, The Woman on the Beach), and rare gems like his 1959 Jekyll-and-Hyde adaptation, The Doctor's Horrible Experiment—plus 1926's Nana, here screened with live piano accompaniment. BAM, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, bam.org

 

No One Knows About Persian Cats

April 16

With this shaggily entertaining and rather moving docudrama, Kurdish Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi (A Time for Drunken Horses) surveys his country's hipster music scene—including rappers, metalheads, and prog rockers—which is largely forced to remain underground since Western genres and female singers aren't permitted by the government. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves, real-life tunesters Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad travel around in search of new bandmates and the proper paperwork to perform in Europe. Are you ready to rock, Tehran? That's complicated, sadly, but the soundtrack is still awesome. IFC Films, in limited release, ifcfilms.com

'Northern Exposures'

April 16–May 4

If you are curious (yellow) about how the Swedes do it, check out this ambitious 35-film showcase, subtitled "Social Change and Sexuality in Swedish Cinema, 1913–2010" (Ikea ottomans not provided): 1938's A Woman's Face inspired David O. Selznick to whisk Ingrid Bergman away to Hollywood; 1951's teen romance One Summer of Happiness once shocked for its nude swimming scene; and 2004's multi-thread comedy Four Shades of Brown proves Let the Right One In director Tomas Alfredson has long been working on that dark streak. The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th Street and Broadway, filmlinc.com

 

Metropolis

May 7–20 

Several attempts have been made to restore Fritz Lang's 1927 magnum opus, a legendary but incomplete work of German expressionism whose visual effects and dystopian architecture inspired Blade Runner and Star Wars, and still impress today. For some eight decades, key scenes had gone missing for disputed reasons—that is, until three whole reels turned up in a small Argentinean museum in 2008. As complete as you'll ever see this silent sci-fi stunner, the all-new restoration finally reveals that the curvy Maschinenmensch is really a dude! (Just kidding.) Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, filmforum.org

Survival of the Dead

May 21

Loosely spun off from Diary of the Dead, horror-meister George A. Romero's sixth riff on the zombie post-apocalypse doesn't satirize his sociopolitical frustrations as in flesh-muncher movies past, but who cares when we're having such sick, giddy fun? Renegade soldiers escape the undead masses by venturing to a tiny island off the coast of Delaware, inadvertently perching themselves between two Irish clans warring over what to do with the "deadheads." If the invasion ever happens for real, find Romero—he knows a thousand ways to kill a ghoul. Magnolia Pictures, in limited release, magpictures.com

Micmacs

May 28

As whimsical and wonderful as Amélie, French fabulist Jean-Pierre Jeunet's gently surreal return to cinema (after, literally, A Very Long Engagement) channels Buster Keaton, Mission: Impossible, The Big Sleep, and Tex Avery cartoons. An adult orphan (Dany Boon) with a bullet lodged in his noggin joins a makeshift family of junkyard eccentrics to take sweet comic revenge on two weapons manufacturers: the one who made his slug, and another whose landmines killed his pop. Clever wordplay meets magic realism, while human cannonballs and contortionists ice the cake. Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release, sonyclassics.com

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