THE Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will devote Friday and Saturday evenings to pioneer French comedian Max Linder in its Linwood Dunn Theater. On Friday, Linder’s filmmaker daughter, Maud, will present her memorable documentary “The Man in the Silk Hat,” preceded by two Linder shorts. On Saturday, “The Three Must-Get-Theres” (1922), a lively parody of the Douglas Fairbanks “Three Musketeers” and one of Linder’s several American films, will screen along with several shorts.
Linder cut a dapper figure in top hat and tails yet developed a slapstick comedy style, which Chaplin acknowledged as his greatest influence. It also established Linder as international cinema’s premier comedian before World War I.
The UCLA Film Archive’s Jacques Rivette retrospective, which runs Friday through Oct. 28, is a major event. Although Rivette has been the least prolific of the New Wave filmmakers, with the exception of Jean-Luc Godard, he is arguably the most challenging.
The series opens with “Celine and Julie Go Boating” (1975), a daunting 193-minute exploration of the blurring between fantasy and reality that lacks the rich implications of his earlier work. Celine (Juliet Berto) and Julie (Dominique Labourier) are free-spirited Parisians who create a fantasy about a little girl who is murdered -- and then set about rescuing her. The film’s last 10 minutes constitute a stunning coup de theatre, but the three hours its takes to get there, while intriguing, are tough going.
With luck, “Celine and Julie” won’t be off-putting to those uninitiated with the work of this unrelenting filmmaker, whose seminal 1960 debut feature, “Paris Belongs to Us” (Wednesday), is the more appropriate introduction. In this highly demanding film, made piecemeal over several years, Rivette attempts to reveal the effect of the fear of totalitarianism and the threat of nuclear warfare on young people. He also tells the story of a girl (Betty Schneider) coming of age -- of learning that Paris belongs to no one. Playing an actress rehearsing for Shakespeare’s “Pericles,” Schneider is searching for tape-recordings of a Spanish guitarist who has died under mysterious circumstances (her director wants them for incidental music).
The film takes the form of a detective thriller in which Rivette gives no clues and forces us to focus on his characters and see in them the same fears that affect everyone. What makes this film so difficult (yet worth the effort) is the combination of Rivette’s reticent style with the immensity of his theme.
Note: The UCLA archive will also present Terry Riley on Film at 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the composer appearing with a program of his experimental films. And at 7 p.m. Sunday, Austrian filmmaker-theorist Peter Kubelka will appear at UCLA with his work, including the local premiere of his “Poetry and Truth” (2003). Kubelka will also present the film at 8 p.m. Wednesday at REDCAT, along with his “Metaphoric Films.” UCLA: (310) 206-FILM; REDCAT: (213) 237-2800.
The 2005 Arpa International Film Festival, which was founded in 1997 to present Armenian cinema, will screen more than 50 features, documentaries, shorts and animated features from 18 countries at the ArcLight, Monday through Oct. 7.
Opening night offers a revival of Peter Rosen’s “Khachaturian” (2003). Enthralling and informative, it celebrates the music of the great Soviet composer (1903-78) who, drawing from Armenian folk music, was an idealistic supporter of communism after the revolution. However, after World War II, he ran afoul of Stalin’s decision to condemn artists admired in the West.
Khachaturian, a survivor par excellence, was ordered to get back to his Armenian roots, which inspired his acclaimed ballet “Spartacus,” whose hero is a slave who led a rebellion against the Roman Empire. Because the ballet did not premiere until 1954, a year after Stalin’s death, Khachaturian always wondered whether the dictator would extol him again -- “or order me shot.”
Among the offerings the festival’s staff is highest on is its closing-night attraction: Vijay Singh’s slight, amiable “One Dollar Curry,” a comedy in English set in Paris, where resilient, undocumented Indian immigrant Nishan (Vikram Chatwal), struggling to survive in the streets with a less-than-stellar curry stand, passes himself off as one of his country’s greatest chefs.
Max Linder tribute
* “The Man in the Silk Hat”: 7:30 p.m. Friday
* “The Three Must-Get-Theres”: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1313 N. Vine St., Hollywood
Info: (310) 247-3000
Jacques Rivette retrospective
* “Celine and Julie Go Boating”: 7:30 p.m. Friday
* “Paris Belongs to Us”: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Melnitz Hall, UCLA campus
Info: (310) 206-FILM
Arpa International Film Festival
* “Khachaturian”: 7 p.m. Monday
* “One Dollar Curry”: 10 p.m. next Thursday
Where: ArcLight, 6360 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood
Info: (323) 663-1882