Spring Arts Guide: Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier and More

Plus 'Cruel Cinema,' Rudy Wurlitzer, and other spring film picks

Incendies
April 22
A sociopolitically pointed detective story begins in a mother’s will, as two grown Canadian twins of Middle Eastern descent discover a brother they never had—and that their long-thought-deceased father is very much alive. Denis Villeneuve’s powerful adaptation of Lebanese-born Wajdi Mouawad’s play (recently nominated for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar) unfolds in parallel time periods, tracking both the children’s mission to reconcile familial truths in their ancestral land and a trauma of yesteryear that was understandably kept secret. Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release, sonyclassics.com

13 Assassins
April 29
Anyone familiar with the hyper-prolific output of Japanese cult auteur Takashi Miike (from Audition to Zebraman) might be most shocked by his latest, not for trying to out-gonzo his notorious piano-wire amputations and women giving birth to grown men, but for being his most mature, classical film. A band of unemployed samurai vow to save the masses from a ruthless lord during the Feudal era, an impressively staged actioner with top-notch performances and, OK, some satire and sneaky subversions of the road Kurosawa paved. Magnolia, in limited release, 13assassins.com

Rudy Wurlitzer
April 29–May 5
Better known as an experimental novelist, Wurlitzer has also penned tonally cryptic, wonderfully oddball screenplays for talented filmmakers like Monte Hellman (the seminal road trip Two-Lane Blacktop), Alex Cox (the anachronistic coup satire Walker), Sam Peckinpah (the revisionist Western Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid), and Jim McBride (the post-apocalyptic teen romance Glen and Randa). Wurlitzer himself will appear in person for Anthology’s “Drop Edges of Yonder” series, alongside iconoclast guests Will Oldham and Robert Downey Sr. Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, anthologyfilmarchives.org

Heiress hearts hothead: Mélanie Thierry and Gaspard Ulliel
Etienne George, Paradis Films, an IFC Films release
Heiress hearts hothead: Mélanie Thierry and Gaspard Ulliel
Norman Jewison's Rollerball skates back in.
United Artists/The Kobal Collection
Norman Jewison's Rollerball skates back in.

Norman Jewison
May 25–30
Who is this “Relentless Renegade,” as the title of the Film Society’s retrospective dubs the now-octogenarian producer and director? Beyond a through line of social and political commentary, how does one define the essential career of a man who left television to make light comedies (40 Pounds of Trouble, The Thrill of It All), Steve McQueen vehicles (The Cincinnati Kid, The Thomas Crown Affair), adapted musicals (Fiddler on the Roof, Jesus Christ Superstar), and an increasingly diverse crop of cinematic staples (Rollerball, Moonstruck)? The Film Society of Lincoln Center, West 65th Street and Broadway, filmlinc.com

The Tree of Life
May 27
Beyond a trailer filled with masterfully impressionistic images of landscapes, shadows, and stars Brad Pitt and Sean Penn (respectively playing a father in the 1950s Midwest and his grown son in the present day), very little has been divulged about the latest from reclusive auteur Terrence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The New World). Among die-hard cinephiles, it’s arguably the season’s most anticipated event, a sure-to-be-debated tale of a “lost soul in the modern world” that reportedly features visual effects of a prehistoric Earth. Fox Searchlight, in limited release, foxsearchlight.com/thetreeoflife

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