The Moviegoer: June 25-July 1

Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson, left, Howard Da Silva as Benjamin Franklin and William Daniels as John Adams in the 1972 movie “1776.”
(Columbia Pictures)

Center Stage: African American Women in Silent Race Films In the first half of the 20th century, hundreds of movies coined “race films” were created by black writers and directors, mostly outside of the Hollywood system. These films starred all black casts in stories that eschewed the negative stereotypes seen in mainstream studio movies. These films, which were marketed to and largely seen by black audiences, offered actresses such as Evelyn Preer, Flo Clements and Cathryn Caviness the kind of meaty leading roles that would likely pass the modern Bechdel Test. More than half of these film were lost over time, but the California African American Museum will screen five of them: “Within Our Gates” (1920); “The Symbol of the Unconquered” (1920); “By Right of Birth” (1921); “The Scar of Shame” (1927); “The Blood of Jesus” (1941). CAAM, 600 State Dr., Los Angeles. (213) 744-7432. The series starts on June 28 and the films will screen in the above order starting at 10 a.m., Tue.-Sat. through Oct. 15. Beginning July 2, the films will also screen at 11 a.m. on Sundays; the museum is closed on Mondays. Free.

Freeway Writer-director Matthew Bright’s surprising and satiric 1996 take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale is an almost Lynchian black comedy, complete with a blond anti-heroine (19-year-old Reese Witherspoon), and effective performances from Kiefer Sutherland and Brooke Shields as Bob and Mimi Wolverton as well as Amanda Plummer, Brittany Murphy and Dan Hedaya. Granny (Kitty Fox), by the way, lives in modern-day Stockton in this iteration of the tale. A 35 mm print will screen at the Cinefamily, Silent Movie Theater, 611 N. Fairfax Ave., Los Angeles. (323) 655-2510. June 25, 8 p.m. $12; free for Cinefamily members.

The Hippopotamus Once-acclaimed British poet turned alcoholic and disgraced theater critic Ted Wallace (Roger Allam) is hired to investigate a series of what he sniffingly refers to as healing “miracles” at an English country manor. The 2017 film, based on the comic novel of the same name by British wit Stephen Fry, even features an uproarious (and now prescient) interruption of a Shakespeare play. After the film will be a Q&A featuring Stephen Fry, Roger Allam and the filmmakers recorded this year at the Hay Festival in Wales. Laemmle Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Laemmle Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino; Laemmle Playhouse, 673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. June 28, 7:30 p.m. $15 for adults; $12 for seniors.

My Neighbor Totoro Beloved Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s gentle 1988 story is about Mei and Satsuki, two sisters who discover a host of spirits living in and around their new home, not far from what turns out to be a matter-of-factly enchanted forest. Miyazaki’s more recent films such as “Ponyo,” “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” have shown him to be one of the world’s modern filmmaking masters. The gentle giant, Totoro, a rabbit-like spirit, has his own cult-following and even made a cameo appearance in “Toy Story 3.” “My Neighbor Totoro” is the first in the six film monthly Studio Ghibli Fest. The English dubbed version of the film will screen on June 25 and the Japanese-language, English subtitles version will screen on June 26. AMC, Cinemark, Edwards, Regal and other theaters, June 25, 12:55 p.m. June 26, 7 p.m. $12.50


1776 More than a decade before the birth of “Hamilton” composer-playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Broadway musical “1776,” about the behind-the-scenes machinations of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Hancock to get the Declaration of Independence signed at the Second Continental Congress, won three Tony Awards. the American Cinematheque screens the 1972 film adaptation of “1776,” starring William Daniels, Howard Da Silva and Ken Howard, as part of its Independence Day 2017 celebration. A discussion with director Peter H. Hunt will follow. Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 260-1528. June 30, 7:30 p.m. $12; $8 for Cinematheque members.

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