Silver Screen Spring: Films to See This Season in NYC

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Critic’s Pick: Sunlight’s Overrated Anyway

The days may be getting longer and the temperature rising, but vernal pleasures matter little to the devotees of New York’s repertory houses, which this season provide endless enticements to stay indoors and in pitch-blackness. BAMcinématek’s “Chantal Akerman: Images Between the Images” (April 1–May 1, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, commemorates the titan filmmaker, who died at 65 last fall. Kicking off with a two-week run of her last film, No Home Movie, this near-complete retrospective showcases Akerman’s unparalleled gift for creating profoundly personal movies, whether in documentaries or literary adaptations. “In this darkness of the cinema…lies the very fascination of the film (any film),” Roland Barthes wrote in his 1975 essay “Leaving the Movie Theater.” Anthology Film Archives salutes the philosopher and semiotician with “Roland Barthes at the Movies” (April 8–14, 32 Second Avenue,, a program devoted to titles that he collaborated on, influenced, or wrote about — such as 1933’s Queen Christina, the subject of “The Face of Garbo,” his paean to that film’s star. The series also includes the theorist’s sole screen appearance, as William Makepeace Thackeray, in André Téchiné’s The Brontë Sisters (1979) — a cameo so good that Barthes almost overshadows the biopic’s high-wattage stars, Isabelle Adjani and Isabelle Huppert. And at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, “An Early Clue to the New Direction: Queer Cinema Before Stonewall” (April 22–May 1, West 65th Street and Broadway, assembles an astounding array of lavender-hued movies, in a variety of genres, made before the pivotal LGBT uprising of 1969. Expertly curated by Thomas Beard, this decade- and nation-spanning lineup reveals that even benighted eras couldn’t stop the creation of some of the most outré homo fantasias — like Charles Bryant and Alla Nazimova’s feverish Oscar Wilde adaptation, Salomé (1923). — Melissa Anderson

Miles Ahead
April 1
Sony Pictures Classics,

Don Cheadle has been trying to make a movie about Miles Davis for years, and that passion comes through loud and clear in this, his directorial debut. As Davis, Cheadle goes all-out in massive sunglasses and colorful outfits, adopting a voice so hoarse he might as well be whispering each line into somebody’s ear. And as director, Cheadle shatters biopic conventions, leaving them in the dust as he scrambles his storyline between past and present, approximating the wild rhythms of the musician’s life. — Danny King

Louder Than Bombs
April 8
The Orchard,

The Norwegian director Joachim Trier makes sad movies shrouded in pain. Reprise follows two friends whose literary ambitions drive them to unhappy ends; his subsequent Oslo, August 31st shows a day in the life of a recovering drug addict who relapses. For his English-language debut, Trier and an all-star cast (Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg, Isabelle Huppert) tell the story of a grieving family harboring secrets. — Danny King

‘Four Films Starring Vincent Lindon’
April 15–17
Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street,

The great French actor Vincent Lindon combines the physique of a brooding lion with the effortless romanticism of a leading man. In Claire Denis movies like Friday Night and Bastards, he requires no words — simply a heavy breath or a well-timed glare — to seduce. Ahead of the release of Stéphane Brizé’s The Measure of a Man, Metrograph has programmed this short Lindon series. In addition to the fierce, uncompromising Bastards, there’s Philippe Lioret’s Welcome, Alain Cavalier’s Pater, and A Few Hours of Spring, also by Brizé. — Danny King

Elvis & Nixon
April 22
Bleecker Street,

Following Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s rambunctious sort-of musical about sex and gun violence, this latest theater-bound Amazon Studios production orchestrates a square-off between Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) and Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Negotiating these two heavyweight performers — Shannon being no stranger to characters of an outspoken nature, and Spacey presumably operating in his own wheelhouse thanks to House of Cards — is Liza Johnson, who earned strong reviews for her direction of Linda Cardellini in the postwar character piece Return— Danny King

‘See It Big! Vilmos Zsigmond’
April 22­­­­­­–24
Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Queens,

The directorial giants of Seventies Hollywood are well-known — Robert Altman, Michael Cimino, Brian De Palma, Steven Spielberg — but as the cinematographer who brought the proper light and texture to their movies, the late Vilmos Zsigmond (1930–2016) belongs in the same class. For Altman, he lent a simmering visual unease (constant zooms, restless panning) to Elliott Gould’s L.A. investigation in The Long Goodbye. For Cimino, he gave the epic canvas of Heaven’s Gate a faded, golden glow — perfect for the movie’s melancholy perspective on America’s past. These two gems are joined by Spielberg’s Close Encounters and De Palma’s Blow Out in MoMI’s tribute to the DP. — Danny King

Money Monster
May 13
TriStar Pictures,

Jodie Foster may have cast Mel Gibson as a man who talks to a beaver hand-puppet, but she’s no joke as a director: Her earlier Little Man Tate and Home for the Holidays are rewarding, emotionally offbeat takes on narratives about family ties. By comparison, her new Money Monster is more thematically timely and chronologically experimental — a real-time hostage thriller set in the harsh climate of Manhattan high finance — and should challenge her in strange ways. — Danny King