There’s a subtle play on words in the title of The Act of Killing. In this unusual Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature soon to play at the Flint Institute of Arts, former leaders of 1960s Indonesian death squads are challenged to recall their memories of murder – by re-creating classic cinematic genres. We see their mayhem acted out through Hollywood-style gangster scenarios, gritty Western scenes, and lavish musical numbers. The result is what the British newspaper The Guardian called “the most compelling thing you’ll ever see,” even as it’s difficult to watch this Danish-British-Norwegian production made by acclaimed filmmakers Werner Herzog, known for Grizzly Man, and Errol Morris, famous for The Thin Blue Line. The movie’s director, Joshua Oppenheimer, has called for the United States and the United Kingdom to acknowledge their connection to the five-decades-old anti-Communist purges. Viewers of the FIA’s Friends of Modern Art film series can decide if they agree on April 25-27. (115 min., not rated)
The FIA’s cinema schedule for the month begins April 4-6 with another film set in Southeast Asia. The Rocket is an inspirational tale that takes place in war-torn Laos, in which a boy leads his family and new friends to find a new home, then builds a giant rocket to enter a dangerous competition. “Lovely, resonant, and deeply accomplished” was the verdict on the film delivered by The Playlist. (96 min., not rated)
On April 11-13, the museum presents A Touch of Sin, in which Chinese society’s rapid turn toward modernization is examined through four independent stories about random acts of violence. This Tarantino-esque display has been lauded by Film.com as, “by far the best action film of the year… a blockbuster spectacle of stylized gunplay and the violence of revenge.” (133 min., subtitled, not rated)
Familiar names top the cast list April 17-19 for the showing of the U.K. comedy, Le Week-End. Jeff Goldblum, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan star in a comedy about an English couple vacationing in Paris – where they chance to meet an old friend. Notting Hill director Roger Michell directed this film praised by Time Out London as “lightly played and shot all over Paris with energy and wit.” Please note that the FIA is closed on Easter Sunday, so there’s no show on April 20. (93 min., R)
Set to screen April 3, the month’s “Best of FOMA” selection is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the 1964 French pop-art musical directed by Jacques Demy. In this timeless film, Catherine Deneuve stars as a young woman with a life-changing decision. (91 min., not rated)
All FIA screenings begin at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays – and select Thursdays – and 2pm on Sundays. Tickets, available at the door, are $6 general admission, $5 for FIA members, and $4 for FOMA members. For more details, call the museum at 810.234.1695 or visit flintarts.org.
Associate curator of Film at the Flint institute of arts, Ed Bradley was entertainment editor and film critic at the Flint Journal from 1989-2007. He teaches Journalism at the University of michigan-Flint and Film appreciation in the Fia art School, and has authored two books on early Hollywood cinema.