Spring Arts Guide: Six Films to See This Spring


Friedkin ’70s

May 2–7

The decade between 1970s Boys in the Band and 1980s Cruising was an undeniably fertile, thrilling, canonical period in the still-edgy career of William Friedkin, and BAM will celebrate it with a live appearance by the 77-year-old Oscar-winning auteur on May 2. The series, which also includes The Exorcist, The French Connection, Sorcerer, and the underrated caper comedy The Brink’s Job, is tied to Friedkin’s upcoming memoir, The Friedkin Connection, written in longhand over three years. “Hopefully, it’s readable,” he half-jests, dismissibly so after you’ve heard the reminisces of his middle-to-late 1950s start in live television and rookie mistakes on his first documentary: “By the time I got to the ’70s, I pretty much knew what I was doing after a lot of stumbles.” Though some of the iconoclastic films being screened were bona fide blockbusters in their day, Friedkin knows that that much-heralded era of grown-up cinema is gone: “Most of the films I see coming out of Hollywood are tentpoles about superheroes, robots, and vampires. It would be very difficult for Fellini and Antonioni to make films, or the French New Wave and Italian Neo-Realists. I don’t think there’d be a receptive audience in today’s generation.” Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

Simon Killer

April 5

Fresh out of graduate school and away from his home in New York, Simon (Martha Marcy May Marlene‘s Brady Corbet) mopes around Paris, woos a sympathetic prostitute (Mati Diop), gets ensnared in a blackmail scam, and slowly reveals his true deviant nature. Like its eponymous hipster nihilist, Antonio Campos’s deceptively ambiguous follow-up to Afterschool is chillingly seductive and easy on the eyes—a lush, Patricia Highsmith-esque psychodrama about pathological sexuality that makes Shame seem tame. IFC Films, in limited release,

Upstream Color

April 5

Shane Carruth’s brilliant 2004 debut, Primer—a tricky time-travel puzzle that took multiple viewings to piece together—won’t prepare anyone for how to absorb his spellbinding, more vexingly ambitious second feature. (Is it a sci-fi thriller? A metaphysical romance? A spiritual fever dream?) Amy Seimetz is the year’s first Best Actress contender as a recovering abductee made tragically susceptible to hypnotic suggestion who meets a kindred spirit in Carruth’s bottomed-out trauma victim. erbp Film, in limited release,

The Middle Ages on Film

April 11–17, May 24–30

Anthology gets medieval on our asses with two programs of their finest cinematic mead. First up is “Historical Figures and Events,” with inspired selections such as Jacques Rivette’s Joan the Maid, John Huston’s A Walk With Love and Death, and Youssef Chahine’s Saladin. Then “Literature and Legend” gallops in with Pasolini’s The Decameron, Yvan Lagrange’s Tristan and Isolde, Sergei Parajanov’s Legend of Suram Fortress, and many more. The series continues in September with “Knights of the Roundtable.” Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue,

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

April 12–18

Presented in a new 2K restoration, Frank Tashlin’s outrageous, cartoonishly crafty 1957 masterpiece may have skewered the TV advertising world inside a caricature of Eisenhower-era conformity, but it’s still timelessly funny and politically insightful. To save his own skin, Manhattan ad exec Tony Randall recruits numbskull movie queen Jayne Mansfield (slyly critiquing all Hollywood sex bombs, even herself) for a lipstick commercial, and the title question gets answered in a frenzy. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,

Frances Ha

May 17

The Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, and Greenberg showed an escalating if not unwelcome middle-aged acrimony in writer-director Noah Baumbach’s work, but this delirious and delightful return to the droll non sequiturs and affectionate friendships of 1995’s Kicking and Screaming recalls that line about Woody Allen’s “early, funny ones.” And why not, in a black-and-white, seriocomic lark that plays homage to Manhattan‘s opening, and stars co-writer Greta Gerwig as a flailing, free-spirited Annie Hall for the Girls generation? IFC Films, in limited release,