Capital Projections: Human nature edition

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


(Well Go USA)

Ma Jin (Huang Bo) is an office grunt who’s thrilled when his lottery numbers hit big; the only problem is, he finds out just as the tour bus he’s on gets swept up in a tsunami that’s set off when a meteorite hits Earth. The survivors, including an office mate (Shu Qi) he was sweet on, must learn to survive on an island that may be the only inhabited place left on the planet. Or is it? This comedy-drama is the directorial debut from prolific Chinese comic actor Huang (Journey to the West) — imagine if Adam Sandler directed a disaster movie that’s part Poseidon Adventure and part Lord of the Flies, and you get a sense of this movie’s ambition. The Island gets better as it lets go of the comic elements inherent to its premise and becomes a cynical observer of human nature.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at Regal Rockville Center 13.

(Music Box Films)


Willi (Max Hubacher) is a German soldier who deserts his unit just a few weeks before World War II is to end. But when he finds an abandoned military vehicle — and a captain’s uniform — he can’t help but take on an officer’s airs. Based on the true story of a soldier known as “the Executioner of Emsland,” this harrowing drama marks a return to Germany for Robert Schwentke, who directed two installments of the Divergent series. Hubacher is spot-on in the difficult role of a young man who revels in a corruption that even some Luftwaffe officers find appaling. But despite the heavy material, Schwentke at times feels like he’s still in Hollywood mode, setting off brutal explosions that in an ordinary genre picture might seem cartoonish but in this context seem like a horrible nightmare. Does that make this film a satire of Hollywood corruption? Maybe not, but it’s thoroughly unsettling.

Watch the trailer.

Opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema.

(Film Movement)


The organizers of the upcoming DC Palestinian FIlm and Arts Festival are providing a preview with a screening this 2013 crime drama starring popular Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri (the Oscar-nominated Wajib) as a Sicilian mobster who strikes up an unusual romance. The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis wrote that Bakri, who will be the featured artist for the fall series, “[holds] every inch of screen” in a movie about a hit man who falls for a blind woman who suddenly regains her sight.

Watch the trailer.

Thursday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at Landmark Atlantic Plumbing. $12.

(Blogging By Cinemalight)


The Mary Pickford Theatre at the Library of Congress (disclosure: I work there, but did not work on this program) continues its monthly repertory screenings with a 35-mm print of this 1959 drama about an African-American mining engineer (Harry Belafonte) who emerges from a coal mine to learn that he is one of the last people left on Earth. Co-starring Inger Stevens and Mel Ferrer. Writer-director Ranald MacDougall (Queen Bee) directed the film, which was the first title from Belafonte’s independent production company.

Thursday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Mary Pickford Theatre, third floor of the Madison Building, Library of Congress. Free. Seating is on a first-come first-serve basis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

(Ronald Grant Archive)


The AFI’s centennial celebration of Ingmar Bergman continues next week with a 1971 drama that was the director’s first English-language film. Bergman regulars Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow star as players in one of the Swedish master’s favorite situations: the troubled marriage, which in this case is upset by the arrival of an archaeologist (Elliott Gould). The Touch does not have a good reputation, but The Guardian recently called this rarely revived title “a passionate and flawed but very engrossing film.” The Silver will also screen some of the director’s more lauded work in the coming week, including the full-length version of Scenes From a Marriage (Part 1 screens Aug. 11 at 2:30 p.m.; Part 2 screens Aug. 12 at 2:30 p.m.) and Cries and Whispers (Aug. 14 and 16 at 7:20 p.m.). Meanwhile, the National Gallery of Art will show Bergman’s 1955 film Dreams (Aug. 12 at 4 p.m.).

Watch a clip.

The Touch screens Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7:15 p.m. at the AFI Silver. $13.

(Warner Archive)


Next week the Washington Psychotronic Film Society screens what is considered one of the most enjoyable bad movies ever made. If the prospect of William Shatner playing twins isn’t enough to lure you to Smoke and Barrel Monday night, note that this challenging dual role required the actor, who was taking a break from Star Trek at the time, to play a peyote-eating half-Comanche who thinks he’s the messiah, and his estranged cowboy brother. This 1968 Western co-stars Joseph Cotten, in a dark period of his career, indeed.  

Watch a clip.

Monday, Aug. 13 at Smoke and Barrel. Free.

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