New Film Programs Abuzz in L.A.

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There is something in the air and it’s more than Spring pollen. The film programming that has currently reared its head in the Los Angeles area seems more than usually compelling. One can begin with the always inventive and cutting edge American Cinematheque, programming at both the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

At the Egyptian, the “Oh, the Animation” program recently took the most macabre of subjects and transmogrified them into filmic whimsy. Australia’s Paul McDermott had his marvelous animated short The Girl Who Swallowed Bees on display. Using cut-outs, paint, pen and ink and live action, this astounding work tells the tale of a girl who wishes to end it all but when the aforementioned insects take refuge in her body, things strangely become euphoric. McDermott uses perfectly the honey-smooth voice of Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) and charming, evocative music from Adrian Van De Velde.

Also impressive in the program was Argentinian Juan Pablo Zaramella’s Lapsus, a deceptively simple looking black and white animation about a tiny nun who loses her head, literally, as she enters a symbolic area of the unknown. Zaramella brilliantly creates humorous but profound sight gags that speak to life versus death, faith versus doubt and our ever-curious flirtation with the dark side of life.

Where else but at the Egyptian would a cineaste find a series like “Velvet Hustlers and Weird Lovemakers: Japanese 60s Action Films,” running April 25-27? One also looks forward in May to a week of films from the British consulate and, at both the Egyptian and Aero, a 70-millimeter film festival.

Speaking of the latter format, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills has a sold-out screening April 26 of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with Tom Hanks hosting and special guests star Keir Dullea and effects wizard Douglas Trumbull. But ongoing is their “Great to Be Nominated” series of Oscar noms, each Monday at 7 PM, through August 25. It spans films from 1993-2007 and this is the fifth and final year of the program, so don’t say you were told too late to participate in what is turning into a golden Spring of film exhibition.

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