Reel DC: Domestic drama edition

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Reel DC is The DC Line’s selective and subjective guide to some of the most interesting arthouse and repertory screenings in the coming week.



(Kino Lorber)

Director Xavier Legrand’s heartbreaking drama follows a bitter custody fight between Miriam (Léa Drucker) and the hot-tempered Antoine (Denis Ménochet). This slow-burning horror movie moves from the dryly clinical milieu of a legal hearing to an explosive confrontation, and it’s no wonder that the director counts among his influences both Kramer vs. Kramer and The Shining. Ménochet comes off like a Gallic James Gandolfini and even elicits a little sympathy despite his blind rage, while Thomas Gioria is perfect as Julien, the kid caught in the emotional crossfire.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema.

(Ann Ray/Bleecker Street)


The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2011 blockbuster Savage Beauty, which surveyed the work of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, was so spectacularly staged that one of its galleries moved me to tears. Directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui can’t hope to capture the thrill of the catwalk or that theatrical, almost cinematic exhibition, but with the help of sharp editing, a score by Michael Nyman and footage from McQueen’s eye-popping runway shows, this movie is the next best thing. Read my full review at Spectrum Culture.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema.

(The Criterion Collection)


The National Gallery of Art’s centennial celebration of Ingmar Bergman continues with this 1953 drama about a traveling circus. This is no Cirque du Soleil; a clown (Anders Ek) has painful flashbacks about his wife (Gudrun Brost) being humiliated before a group of rowdy soldiers, and a circus owner (Åke Grönberg) is humiliated by his young mistress (Harriet Andersson). The movie was originally released in the U.S. as The Naked Night to lure audiences with the promise of sexy European entertainment, but what they got was an early dose of the Swedish director’s signature psychosexual anxieties.

This weekend the National Gallery will screen two additional early films from the Swedish director, Lesson in Love (Aug. 4 at 4 p.m.) and Summer With Monika (Aug. 5 at 4 p.m.). The AFI Silver’s share of this career retrospective offers several Bergman titles from 1968 and 1969: Shame, The Passion of Anna, The Rite and Hour of the Wolf. See the AFI calendar for dates and showtimes.

Sawdust and Tinsel screens Saturday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. at the National Gallery of Art, East Building Auditorium. Free.

(Courtesy of the Avalon)


Presented in conjunction with the Embassy of the Czech Republic, the Avalon’s Lions of Czech Film series features this 2017 biopic of Russian poet Anna Barkova, who was imprisoned for 22 years in the gulag. Director Marta Nováková tells the poet’s story through offbeat vignettes that invite comparisons to Věra Chytilová, whose 1966 film Daisies was a landmark of the Czech new wave. Yet as The Prague Reporter writes: “The style here, cartoonishly over the top, is striking. But how am I supposed to reconcile it with the intense true-life story at the heart of the film?”

Watch the trailer.

Wednesday, Aug. 8, at 8 p.m. at the Avalon. $12.50.

(South China Morning Post)


The Freer’s 23rd annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival continues with a new digital restoration of a 1979 crime thriller that was the first feature directed by Ann Hui, one of the major figures in the country’s cinematic new wave in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The film is based on the case of a ménage à trois that turned into a murder.

Sunday, Aug. 5, at 2 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art. Free.

(Vinegar Syndrome)


In this 1980 horror film directed by George Bowers, who spent most of his career on an editing deck, a divorced teacher (Trish Van Devere) movies to a small town to live in her late aunt’s old house. At night, she’s followed by a mysterious hearse and is harassed by an elderly attorney (Joseph Cotten, who had seen better days) who thinks he should have inherited the house. Roger Ebert wrote that Van Devere played her role “in the spirit of a detergent commercial,” but The New York Times’ Janet Maslin admired the “resolutely level-headed performance” in a  “moderately scary and pretty unpleasant” film. Hosted by the Washington Psychotronic Film Society.

Watch the trailer.

Monday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m. at Smoke and Barrel. Free.

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