Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 3/14/19 – 3/20/19

The story on this week’s New Orleans big screens is music: from local brass to Norwegian black metal to outer-space synths. Shake off that post-Mardi Gras funk and soak in the sounds. Here are the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in the city this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Climax I usually have very little patience for shock value schlockteur Gaspar Noé’s edgelord posturing, but I can’t help but be excited for his latest provocation. It appears to be a psychedelic interpretive dance gore fest, like a We Are the Flesh-themed dance party. Also, bless their hearts, A24 is pushing the film into wide release, so you can see all its extremist glory on the corporate big screens of mainstream venues like AMC for an extra layer of sadistic novelty.

Buckjumping A New Orleans music scene documentary about local dance traditions that premiered at last year’s NOFF, screening now as a special presentation in the Seeing Music series at NOCCA this Thursday, March 14.

Apollo 11 The Space Race is a subject that’s had more than its due over the decades of cinema since the Cold War, but this documentary offers something new by pulling raw materials directly from the past. Restoring 70mm footage from NASA’s historic 1969 mission to the Moon and setting it to a spooky analog Moog-synth soundtrack, this promises to be a one-of-a-kind big screen spectacle, despite the over-familiarity of its subject.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Lords of Chaos – Rory Culkin stars in a true-crime dramedy about the infamous 90s black metal band Mayhem, whose “breakup” story involved a spectacularly violent murder. It’s a darkly funny satire about how hardline shithead metal nerds are mostly just trust fund kids with loving parents & aimless suburban angst – zapping all of the supposed Cool out of their church burnings, murders and animal cruelty by treating them as the edgelord trolls that they were. Screening only at the new & improved Zeitgeist cinema in Arabi, which is continuing its adventurous film programming in a more proper, immersive theatrical environment.

Greta Isabelle Huppert revives the post-Baby Jane psycobiddy thriller in a late-career goof-em-up from once-respected British director Neil Jordan. It takes a little patience for the psychobiddy antics to heat up, but once Huppert is fully unleashed her crazed old-lady-killer cruelty leads to some A+ delirious camp.

Fighting with My Family British comedy mainstay Stephen Merchant writes & directs a shockingly compelling biopic about WWE wrestler Paige in her early rise to power. This is the most I’ve cried and the hardest I laughed in a movie I didn’t expect either from since that Breakfast Club-style reboot of Power Rangers. Even if you have zero interest in pro wrestling as an artform, it’s still very much worth your time.

-Brandon Ledet

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Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

I saw the first Happy Death Day film at the historic Prytania Theatre in Uptown New Orleans, blocks away from the film’s shooting locations around the college campuses on St. Charles Ave. As a horror franchise, this series is a little too tongue-in-cheek to take especially seriously, but there was still something eerie about that geographic proximity. The Happy Death Day films have a killer hook in how they adapt the late-90s slasher model to the Groundhog’s Day time-loop narrative structure, generating a body count horror film where the exact same body can be stabbed to death dozens of times with little consequence, as our protagonist wakes up in the same time loop every time she’s taken out by her masked killer. For New Orleanians, the familiarity of the film’s scenery only adds to that cosmic terror, but in unexpected ways that extend beyond the oak trees & streetcars in the blurred background of the college campus setting. It’s the inspiration the film pulls from our most terrifying local sports mascot for its serial killer’s design that really makes this series a nightmare. As I noted in my review of the original film, the fictional school mascot mask the killer wears bears “a striking resemblance to the (even more terrifying) King Cake Baby mascot that appears at our local NBA games,” an observation I suspect was common among local horror nerds. The Blumhouse team behind that film’s recent sequel, Happy Death Day 2U, gleefully emphasizes that comparison in a scene set at a college basketball game, where characters note in the dialogue how strange it is that a sports team would have a baby for a mascot, and how creepy the baby costume is – almost as if the film were directly trolling The Pelicans for their seasonal King Cake Baby appearances. This was likely infuriating to Jonathan Bertuccelli, the designer of the King Cake Baby (who is currently suing Blumhouse for the killer’s resemblance to his ungodly creation), but it personally just made me appreciate the series more for ditching the pretense that the connection was a coincidence.

Unfortunately, if you’re watching this series solely to see the King Cake Baby live out his rightful destiny as a horror movie villain, the first Happy Death Day is much better suited to your needs. Happy Death Day 2U allows itself much less time for slayings & cheeky repetitions of late-90s slasher tropes, which means less screentime for the terrifying infant. To be honest I’m not even sure this sequel is enough of a horror movie in general for me to recommend it in that context. It frequently strays from the serial murder half of its premise to further explore the mechanics of its time loop conceit. Whereas the first Happy Death Day’s time loop crisis appears to be a cosmic morality tale about the serial-murdered protagonist’s selfishness, Happy Death Day 2U provides concrete sci-fi explanations as to how the time loop was initiated. Instead of being chased through scary hospitals & frat house hallways for the majority of the runtime, return protagonist Jessia Rothe spends most of the film in her college’s Quantum Mechanics lab with several hopeless nerds trying to figure out how to break out of her time-loop crisis for a second time. Her recurring slayings are explained to be the result of a proton laser machine on the fritz, which has blurred the borders of alternate timelines & dimensions – a very different sentiment than the Universe temporarily changing its own rules specifically to teach one mean sorority girl a lesson. There are still baby-mask murders interspersed throughout this newfound sci-fi paradigm, but for the most part this film feels more like an 80s college campus comedy than a high-concept late-90s slasher. The resetting timelines antics feel like they belong to a previously unadapted Back to the Future sequel screenplay. The flustered college dean who attempts to shut down the supernatural shenanigans of the Quantum Mechanics lab feels as if he were airdropped into the picture from a contemporary Animal House knockoff. There’s an All That-level broad caricature of a blind French woman that’s allowed an alarming amount of screentime in the film’s climactic shift from sci-fi campus comedy to heist thriller. The jokes in Happy Death Day 2U are broad, but they’re also conceptually ambitious enough to be surprising & rewarding. Most horror sequels stay fresh by upping the brutality of their gore; this one does so by dropping the horror pretense altogether and gleefully digging around in the genre grab-bag for a new toy every few minutes – mostly to the audience’s perplexed delight.

When considered in the abstract, divorced from its context as a local curio, Happy Death Day 2U is the best kind of horror sequel: the kind that offers an entirely different flavor & mouthfeel than its predecessor instead of just funneling in more of the same. Its delayed fascination with the mechanics of the Groundhog’s Day time-loop narrative structure is a well-timed participation in a larger, still-growing zeitgeist as well. Other recent media like Russian Doll & Edge of Tomorrow have found pop culture gazing back into the temporal abyss in similarly comedic fashion; Happy Death Day 2U only outdoes them by allowing its inherent silliness to go as broad as possible, really leaning into the unnecessarily complex narrative mechanics necessary to pull this kind of story off. A mean sorority girl bully being killed over & over again on her birthday until she becomes a better person, always resetting to the same starting point, is more or less a manageable conceit. This follow-up to that relatively straightforward Groundhog’s Day-as-a-slasher launchpad is ambitiously, irreverently convoluted by comparison – expanding into the realms of doppelgangers, alternate timelines, and quantum physics to push this newly refreshed subgenre to its conceptual extreme. It even makes things doubly hard on itself by returning to the square-one reset point of the first film, so that it has to maintain the same cast & production design continuity to make any sense for those of us attempting to follow along. Hilariously, the movie also takes on this increasingly convoluted endeavor without an upfront recap of what happened in the previous film, as if everyone in the world has already seen Happy Death Day (not to mention having seen it recently enough to remember all the details of its plot). When Rothe begrudgingly does provide a “Previously on . . .” recap roughly 15 minutes into the film, she rushes through it, annoyed at the obligation. Whether or not you’re enamored with the sci-fi campus comedy deviations Happy Death Day 2U takes from its initial horror template, you have to admire its confidence that its audience is following along with every non-sequitur indulgence as if it makes perfect logical sense (and, for the most part, it does).

Speaking selfishly, what I’d most like to see from a Happy Death Day 3 is a truce between the series’ baby-faced killer and the real-life King Cake Baby mascot. Bad-blood lawsuits between Blumhouse & the King Cake Baby’s designer aside, I think it would be incredibly satisfying to see the real deal make an official cameo in a sequel to the horror franchise that “allegedly” took inspiration from his look. That crossover synergy would even help the series’ scare factor, as there’s nothing quite as terrifying as the dead eyes & bulbous baby body of the real thing. The tonal direction of Happy Death Day 2U indicates the series isn’t especially interested in being scary at this point, but it also does convey a willingness to throw anything & everything at the screen as long as it’s good for a gag. The only x-factor there is how open to reconciliation Bertuccelli is feeling to a series he believes ripped him off; the staggering settlement he’s seeking in his lawsuit (“half the movie’s profits”) isn’t a good sign, but maybe there’s a better timeline out there where he & Blumhouse manage to work it out.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 3/7/19 – 3/13/19

Mardi Gras was beautiful and exhausting (check out our own Divine-themed walking krewe to get a taste of what of what I mean) so in the spirit of a soothing recovery, let’s keep this week’s big screen roundup short & sweet. Here are the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)
Frenzy (1972) – A London-set serial killer thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, in what ended up being his second to last feature. Playing Sunday 3/10 and Wednesday 3/13 as part of Prytania’s Classic Movies series.

Greta I honestly have no idea what’s going on in this movie beyond Isaelle Huppert & Chloë Grace Moretz trading some deliciously vicious Lifteime Movie cruelty in a struggle for power. That alone is more than enough to sell my ticket.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Fighting with My Family British comedy mainstay Stephen Merchant writes & directs a shockingly compelling biopic about WWE wrestler Paige in her early rise to power. This is the most I’ve cried and the hardest I laughed in a movie I didn’t expect either from since that Breakfast Club-style reboot of Power Rangers. Even if you have zero interest in pro wrestling as an artform, it’s still very much worth your time.

Happy Death Day 2U The locally-shot, Groundhog’s Day-riffing time loop slasher is back for a second round, this time pivoting from horror comedy to absurdist sci-fi. This is just as much ofa hoot as the first Happy Death Day, if not only for offering locals another opportunity to see sports mascot The King Cake Baby fulfill his obvious destiny as a horror movie villain.

-Brandon Ledet

Krewe Divine 2019

In 2017, a few members of the Swampflix crew decided to finally grow up and get serious about Mardi Gras. We collectively shed our annual personal crises about what themes to include in our Fat Tuesday costuming by pooling our resources to pray at the altar of a single cinematic deity: Divine. Arguably the greatest drag queen of all time, Divine was the frequent collaborator & long-time muse of one of our favorite filmmakers, John Waters. Her influence on the pop culture landscape extends far beyond the Pope of Trash’s Dreamlanders era, however, emanating to as far-reaching places as the San Franciscan performers The Cockettes, the punkification of disco, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Our intent was to honor the Queen of Filth in all her fabulously fucked-up glory by maintaining a new Mardi Gras tradition in Krewe Divine, a costuming krewe meant to masquerade in the French Quarter on every Fat Tuesday into perpetuity.

Our initial krewe was a small group of Swampflix contributors: site co-founders Brandon Ledet & Britnee Lombas, regular contributor CC Chapman, and repeat podcast guest Virginia Ruth. Last year we were joined by local drag performer Ce Ce V DeMenthe, who frequently pays tribute to Divine in her performances. There’s no telling how Krewe Divine will expand or evolve from here as we do our best to honor the Queen of Filth in the future, but for now, enjoy some pictures from our 2019 excursion, our third year in operation as Swampflix’s official Mardi Gras krewe:

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Eat shit!
Krewe Divine

The Big Easy (1986)

The only reason it’s so difficult for actors to nail a genuine New Orleans accent is that it’s always been difficult for actors to nail a New Orleans accent. There have been so many wildly inaccurate Cajun French & Antebellum South accents attributed to the city in films & television over the years that out-of-towners have a very distorted idea of what New Orleanians sound like. It’s especially strange if you consider that most low-level impressionists already have a perfect New Orleans “Y’at” accent in their arsenal; they just don’t realize that we sound almost exactly like New Yorkers. Of all the wildly off-base, Cajun-fried, Southern belle accents I’ve heard attributed to the city over the years, none have ever matched Dennis Quaid’s in The Big Easy in terms of pure preposterousness. It’s not that Quaid exaggerates the stereotypical inaccuracies of the big screen N.O. accent. It’s that he sounds like no human being who has ever existed on the planet. He turns the bad New Orleans accent into a baffling spectacle, a truly singular “What the fuck were you even going for?” experience for folks down the road. It’s as confusing as it is mesmerizing. It’s also hilarious.

Quaid stars in The Big Easy opposite Ellen Barkin. He’s a spicy Cajun NOPD officer; she’s the federal DA cracking down on the corruption that runs rampant throughout his department. They learn a lot from each other. She teaches him that his “good guys” vs. “bad guys” binary philosophy is a lot less cut & dry than he explains it to be, considering the bribe money local police extort from the public as if they were working for tips. In return, he teaches her the most valuable thing she could learn from a Cajun firecracker: how to fuck good. The Big Easy arrived at the height of the Joe Eszterhas era of the erotic thriller. It shamelessly exploits the cheesy, sleazy backdrop of New Orleans as an excuse for hedonistic sex & violence (the same way it’s exploited in Cat People ’82 & Zandalee). Barkin enters the city as a frigid, nervous woman who does not know how to relax, and Quaid’s space-alien version of a suave Cajun romantic awakens her inner sexual goddess. Meanwhile, the pair continually find horrifically mutilated, bullet-riddled corpses left by cops & mobsters around the city and collaborate on the paperwork that will dismantle that corruption, which are about as strange of aphrodisiacs as I can imagine.

Of course, the main draw of The Big Easy for locals is the 80s era tourism of New Orleans at is sleaziest. The movie wastes no time there, opening with an aerial helicopter shot of the bayou while drunken zydeco music blares on the soundtrack. The first spoken dialogue is of a radio DJ announcing “It’s 2a.m. in New Orleans, The Big Easy, and we’re stirring up that gumbo!” That’s when Quaid & Barkin meet at the scene of a homicide on the steps of the 80s World’s Fair pavilion (blocks away from my office). Other tourist stops include Voodoo stores, Bourbon St. strip joints, Antoine’s, Tipitina’s, the Cabrini bridge, and nighttime drives down Decatur. Chef Paul Prudhomme drops by the hot-and-dangerous couple’s diner table while they down Dixie beers among neon-lit crawfish signs and conspicuous bottles of Tabasco. Local actors John Goodman & Grace Zabriski appear in bit roles. The St. Aug marching band soundtracks a police chase. The pronunciation of terms like “Whre y’at?” & “Tchoupitoulas” are discussed at length in the dialogue. Even the film’s steamiest sex scenes are set to tender zydeco music, because nothing is allowed to touch the screen here unless it’s being served up Cajun style. It’s a dedication to shameless New Orleans tourism that makes The Big Easy especially entertaining as a locally-set novelty.

As laughably unconvincing as Dennis Quad’s accent is in the movie, he becomes endearing as a local-boy novelty through osmosis as you learn to accept the singular, space-alien lisps & rhythms of his made-up dialect. After all, the wildly inaccurate movie-star attempt at a New Orleans accent has in its own way become part of the city’s DNA. We are often delighted by our own shameless cheese, so it’s easy to fall for Quaid’s peculiar “Cajun” charms as he sings at a fais do-do and shows off his various alligator toys: gator plushies, gator dolls, gator lamps, etc. Barkin is also charming in her own right as the outsider to this world, her mannerisms often reminding me of (a much more stable) Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence. The pair even drum up some genuine erotic tension in their clashing personalities, especially in a courtroom sequence where she’s pressured to interrogate him on the witness stand. Mostly, though, the entire production plays like a ridiculous joke – shamelessly mixing its Skinemax-tier sex with its grotesque mafia-violence gore to achieve something beautifully sleazy & New Orleans-appropriate in its B-movie majesty. Quaid has said in interviews that he regrets the quality of his performance in The Big Easy, a mistake he blames on Hollywood’s collective coke problem in the 1980s. I personally think he has nothing to apologize for, as his preposterous “Cajun” accent and old-fashioned N’Awlins hedonism make The Big Easy a true gift for anyone who loves the city – a trashy, campy delight.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 2/28/19 – 3/6/19

We’re exhausted from the Oscars; Mardi Gras might just finish the job and kill us all. In that spirit, let’s keep this week’s big screen roundup short & sweet.

There are still a few great Oscar-nominated movies playing around town but you either already know where to find them or you’ve already seen them. Either way, we’re all tired of talking about them. Here are the few other movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Greta I honestly have no idea what’s going on in this movie beyond Isaelle Huppert & Chloë Grace Moretz trading some deliciously vicious Lifteime Movie cruelty in a struggle for power. That alone is more than enough to sell my ticket.

Happy Death Day 2U The locally-shot, Groundhog’s Day-riffing time loop slasher is back for a second round, this time pivoting from horror comedy to absurdist sci-fi. The first Happy Death Day was a hoot, if not only for offering locals an opportunity to see sports mascot The King Cake Baby fulfill his obvious destiny as a horror movie villain.

Movies We Already Enjoyed

Fighting with My Family British comedy mainstay Stephen Merchant writes & directs a shockingly compelling biopic about WWE wrestler Paige in her early rise to power. This is the most I’ve cried and the hardest I laughed in a movie I didn’t expect either from since that Breakfast Club-style reboot of Power Rangers. Even if you have zero interest in pro wrestling as an artform, it’s still very much worth your time.

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – To commemorate the passing of legendary Hollywood director Stanley Donen, The Prytania Theatre is screening his beloved musical on Ash Wednesday, when we’ll all need a good pick-me-up. From my review for our Roger Ebert Film School series: “A comedy about a fictional movie studio’s struggles to transition from the Silent Era to talkies, Singin’ in the Rain takes great pleasure in staging Technicolor recreations of old forms of entertainment like black & white silent romance pictures & traditional vaudeville acts. Hollywood’s favorite subject in general has always been itself, echoing an even more ancient tradition of art about art, and Gene Kelly’s career seems to be an essential part of that introspective self-indulgence.” Screening Wednesday 3/6, 7:30pm at The Prytania Theatre.

-Brandon Ledet

The Last Slumber Party (1988)

One of the most surprising twists of the extremely twisty documentary Shirkers was how much of its narrative involved our home city, New Orleans. For a movie with a main conflict centered in early-90s Singapore, an alarming amount of its third act was filmed around the corner from my house just a couple years ago. This tangent of local tourism was inspired by the dastardly villain of Shirkers, Georges Cardona, having once resided here as a hostile indie cinema saboteur, the same role he would later play in Singapore. However, instead of stealing & hoarding the entirety of a D.I.Y. film production the way he would later leave his mark on Shirkers, Cardona just “lost” a small portion of the feature film he made with buddies in New Orleans. Forming a local film collective called Light House Media Center with his indie cinema peers, Cardona volunteered as the crew’s cinematographer on their “graduate” project: a feature titled The Last Slumber Party. There’s no full-length documentary on The Last Slumber Party’s troubled production like there is for Shirkers, for a couple reasons: Cardona merely sabotaged a small portion of the film’s negative, so, unlike Shirkers, it was still able to be released as a “finished” product. Also unlike with Shirkers, The Last Slumber Party is so uninspired as a microbudget genre picture that it holds practically zero cultural significance. That is, unless (like me) you live in New Orleans and have an embarrassing fondness for dirt-cheap regional slashers.

There aren’t many documentarian glimpses of late-80s New Orleans to be found in The Last Slumber Party. Besides one scene shot in a high school class room, one in a hospital, and one at a nighttime bus stop, most of the film is contained in a single suburban home in Metairie, just west of the city. The house is very Metairie once you get a sense of its aesthetic (i.e. it has no aesthetic) and the lead Final Girl wears an oversized LSU jersey as a nightgown throughout the picture, but otherwise there isn’t much that distinguishes the film as South East Louisiana regional cinema. Mostly, The Last Slumber Party is a sub-Slumber Party Massacre (and maybe even sub-Sorority House Massacre) shot-on-video slasher cheapie that faithfully follows the tropes & structure of its sleepover-massacre genre without a hint of satire. Three high school hotties invite boys & booze into their unchaperoned slumber party, only to have the festivities ruined by a crazed serial killer. Sound at all familiar? In this case, the escaped mental patient/masked murderer is dressed in a surgeon’s costume and played by the film’s director, Stephen Tyler, who you can see interviewed at length in Shirkers about his time as a friend & collaborator of Georges Cardona’s. The film’s one special effect is a prop scalpel he brandishes that squirts blood as he draws it across his victims’ necks, giving the appearance of slit throats (more or less). It’s a very gentle way of murdering young, promiscuous teens, which is actually fairly indicative of the gentle hand the film takes with its by-the-numbers genre beats in general.

The escaped convict vs. wayward teens slasher is spiritually grotesque, exploitative genre territory when it’s played straight (see: Slumber Party Massacre III), which makes it so weird that The Last Slumber Party feels so thoroughly wholesome. Its blood-squirting scalpel rig is about as tame of a source of gore as you can imagine. When teens make-out or shower, the camera shies away from exploiting the opportunity for nudity. The entire production, right down to Tyler’s crazed wide-eyed stare as the killer, feels like friends throwing a party & filming their goof-arounds, as opposed to terrorizing or arousing the audience with flesh & blood. It’s like the suburban Metairie Bro equivalent of a Matt Farley picture in that way – oddly charming in its disinterest in indulging in the nastier impulses of its genre. Also like with Matt Farley, this film’s most entertaining moments are to be found in its overwritten, underperformed dialogue. Who needs tits & gore when you can hear non-professionals deliver lines like “I’m going to the kitchen to munch out,” “What’s this? Stereo telephones?” and “Let’s go rustle up some menfolk!”? The surgeon-mask killer may be oddly wholesome in his de-sexed, goreless murders of both girls & boys, but the weirdly penned dialogue often echoes the seething anger of Sleepaway Camp, The Pit, and other weirdly hostile oddities. Teen lovers combatively refer to each other as “Whore,” “Asshole,” “Stupid Bitch,” and “Queer Bait,” as pet names. They bray “I’m not taking any more of this shit” at top volume into empty rooms. There isn’t an ounce of genuine humanity in that behavior and the “actors” seem to know exactly how silly they’re coming across. The Last Slumber Party is essentially a game of slasher movie dress-up.

If you want a fun, over-the-top slasher with cartoonish characters dancing to early MTV jams, having horned-up pillow fights, and being torn apart in outrageous spectacles of practical effects gore, watch Slumber Party Massacre II. The pleasures of The Last Slumber Party are more muted. Its friends-putting-on-a-show hangout vibe is adorably dorky. It dialogue is absurdly awkward. The logic & length of its final twenty minutes pushes past excruciating dullness to reach something that can only be described as sublimely stupid. Most importantly, it never stops being weird throughout that someone as menacing & bizarre as Georges Cardona was involved with something so innocuous, so wholesome, and frankly, so complete. Every time the camera pans in an interesting way or frames a character in a window or mirror, you’re reminded of the bizarro presence of cinematographer Georges Cardona, who would soon move on to derail the lives of three teen girls in Singapore while his fellow Lighthouse Media “graduates” got jobs on the crew of Sex, Lies, and Videotape. The Last Slumber Party is worth a look as Shirkers supplementary material and as a local relic, but I doubt it has much value outside those contexts. Now excuse me while I go to the kitchen to munch out.

-Brandon Ledet

Oscar-Nominated Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 2/21/19 – 2/27/19

In so, so many ways it’s crunch time in New Orleans right now.  Parades are rolling, Mardi Gras costume supplies are frantically being hot-glued together, and everyone’s social calendars are bursting at the seams.  Awards Season movie distribution slows down for no one, though, and the 2019 Oscars ceremony is arriving this week whether or not this city is prepared for it.

To help keep the volatile clash of Oscar buzz & Bourbon Street daquiri buzz manageable, we’re going to keep this week’s local screenings round-up as simple as possible. Here are some recommendations for Oscar-nominated movies that are screening around New Orleans, what they’re nominated for, and where to find them.

Roma, nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Best Supporting Actress (Marina De Tavira), Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, and Best Original Screenplay – Alfonso Cuarón’s staggering black & white period-piece epic & personal memoir is a major Oscar contender, but most people have  only had a chance to see it at home on Netflix. We’re one of the few cities where audiences can fully immerse themselves in its lush cinematography & meticulously detailed sound design on the big screen. Returning for a second theatrical run at The Broad Theater.

The Favourite,  nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Olivia Colman), Best Supporting Actress (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, and Best Production Design – Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun! Only playing at The Broad Theater.

If Beale Street Could Talk, nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Regina King), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture winner Moonlight with an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel set in 1970s Harlem. Brimming with gorgeous costumes, sensual romance, and a seething indictment of America’s inherently racist system of “justice.” Only playing at The Prytania Theatre.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse nominated for Best Animated Feature Film – In the abstract, the concept of a 2010s CG animation Spider-Man origin story sounds dreadful. In practice, prankster screenwriter Phil Lord explodes the concept into a wild cosmic comedy by making a movie about the world’s over-abundance of Spider-Man origin stories (and about the art of CG animation at large). Spider-Verse is a shockingly imaginative, beautiful, and hilarious take on a story & a medium that should be a total drag, but instead is bursting with energetic life & psychedelic creativity. Playing at AMC Elmwood & AMC Westbank.

Cold War, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director, and Best Cinematography – A Polish romance drama from the director of Ida, covering multiple decades of a single relationship in 90 swooning minutes of crisp black & white splendor and despair. Playing only at The Broad Theater. Playing at The Broad Theater & AMC Elmwood.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week (French Film Fest Edition) 2/14/19 – 2/21/19

 

In so, so many ways it’s crunch time in New Orleans right now.  Parades are starting to roll, Mardi Gras costume supplies are frantically being hot-glued together, and everyone’s social calendars are bursting at the seams.  Movie distribution slows down for no one, though, and there are two major cinematic events on the horizon worth keeping an eye on: the 22nd annual New Orleans French Film Fest and the 2019 Oscars ceremony.

There are over a dozen titles screening at The Prytania in the coming week for the New Orleans French Film Festival, and The Broad Theater is the final resting place for many of the more worthwhile artsy-fartsy Oscar nominees, so we’re going to keep this week’s local screenings round-up as simple as possible. Here are some recommendations for movies to see at the city’s two most essential indie spots.

Essential Movies Screening at The New Orleans French Film Fest

Beauty and the Beast (1946) Jean Cocteau’s masterful black & white fairy tale adaptation, included as part of Prytania’s regular Classic Movies series. Beauty and the Beast is screening Sunday 2/17, 10am, and Wednesday 10/20, 10am, at The Prytania.

The Nun (1966) A controversial French New Wave political drama about a young woman (played by Anna Karina) who is locked away in a nunnery against her will. The Nun is screening in a new digital restoration Sunday 2/17, 2:15pm (preceded by live music at 1:45pm), and Tuesday 2/19, 12pm, at The Prytania.

The Image Book The latest sensory film collage essay from French New Wave iconoclast Jean-Luc Goddard, a deliberate deconstruction of cinema as an art form. The Image Book is screening Thursday 2/21, 5:30pm, at The Prytania.

Non-Fiction A drama from indie cinema mainstay Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper, Cold Water, Clouds of Sils Maria) set in the publishing industry of Paris, co-starring Juliette Binoche. Non-Fiction is screening Thursday 2/21, 7:45pm (preceded by live music at 7:15pm) at The Prytania.

Oscar Nominated Films Screening at The Broad

The Favourite Yorgos Lanthimos follows up the stubbornly obscure The Killing of a Sacred Deer with his most accessible feature yet: a queer, darkly funny costume drama about a three-way power struggle between increasingly volatile women (Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz). It’s both a gorgeous laugh riot and a pitch-black howl of unending cruelty & despair. Fun! Only playing at The Broad Theater.

If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture winner Moonlight with an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel set in 1970s Harlem. Brimming with gorgeous costumes, sensual romance, and a seething indictment of America’s inherently racist system of “justice.” Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Shoplifters Hirokazu Kore-eda continues the themes of makeshift families struggling to survive in the bowels of poverty that he explored in previous works like the stunning drama Nobody Knows. Awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes and recently nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, this film is an event, albeit an emotionally traumatic one. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Cold War A Polish, Oscar-nominated romance drama from the director of Ida, covering multiple decades of a single relationship in 90 swooning minutes of crisp black & white splendor and despair. Playing only at The Broad Theater. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

-Brandon Ledet

Movies to See in New Orleans This Week 2/7/19 – 2/13/19

Here’s a quick rundown of the movies we’re most excited about that are screening in New Orleans this week, including a few Oscar contenders.

Movies We Haven’t Seen (Yet)

Cold War A Polish, Oscar-nominated romance drama from the director of Ida, covering multiple decades of a single relationship in 90 swooning minutes of crisp black & white splendor and despair. Playing only at The Broad Theater. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas Somehow not a gory horror cheapie, this emotional YA romance anime has what’s got to be the most provocative title of the year so far. Screening Thursday 2/7 & Sunday 2/10 via Fathom Events.

Oscar-Nominated Shorts Showcases Both The Prytania Theatre & AMC are packaging this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts in three category-specific showcases: live-action narrative, live-action documentary, and animated shorts. I’m personally only intrigued by the animation package, but it’s honestly just nice to have the opportunity to see short films in a proper cinema, outside of a film festival.

Movies We’ve Already Enjoyed

The Sons of Tennessee Williams (2011) An essential local documentary about our city’s largely overlooked gay Mardi Gras tradition, detailing the gay krewes & ball culture of both past & present. Screening Wednesday 2/13 at The Prytania Theatre with a Q&A from director Tim Wolff and a performance from drag queen Puddin Tain (to benefit The Krewe of Armenius, who are featured prominently in the doc).

If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins follows up his Best Picture winner Moonlight with an adaptation of a James Baldwin novel set in 1970s Harlem. Brimming with gorgeous costumes, sensual romance, and a seething indictment of America’s inherently racist system of “justice.” Only playing at The Broad Theater.

Shoplifters Hirokazu Kore-eda continues the themes of makeshift families struggling to survive in the bowels of poverty that he explored in previous works like the stunning drama Nobody Knows. Awarded the Palme d’Or at Cannes and recently nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, this film is an event, albeit an emotionally traumatic one. Only playing at The Broad Theater.

-Brandon Ledet