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Film Picks

[whitespace] By Richard von Busack

The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
May 12-13 at the Castro Theater

The premiere of an unrated new film by Dario Argento, the Italian horror/suspense director known here for his ghastly Deep Red, Opera and Suspiria. Set in Florence, The Stendhal Syndrome stars Argento's daughter, Asia, as a policewoman on the trail of a murderous rapist in Florence. Ennio Morricone composed the score.

Girls, Girls, Girls!
May 10-13 at the Roxie Theater

A mini-festival of 13 rare pictures featuring hellcats on the warpath, 1934-57. May 10: Ladies Love Danger (1935)/She's Dangerous (1937). The former is a backstage mystery. In the latter, smoky Eastern European criminalette Natalie "Tala" Birell tangles with Cesar Romero. May 11: Birell again, in a real obscure one: Women in the Night (1948). She plays a woman forced to become a comfort girl for the Nazis at a Shanghai nightclub. Billed with the grindhouser Allotment Wives (1945), in which Kay Francis heads a ring of blackmailers who kiss (servicemen) and tell (their wives). May 12: A triple bill of Lady in the Morgue (1938), The Notorious Sophie Lang (1934) and Black Doll (1937). Black Doll and Lady in the Morgue are wisecracking detective pictures directed by Otis Garrett with the accent on irony and speed. The Notorious Sophie Lang, condemned by the Catholic Church at the time, follows Gertrude Michaels as a crime queen who leads the police into the underworld. May 13: Joan Crawford in the most reputable film on this docket: the 1955 melodrama Queen Bee. "She's so excitingly good when she's so wonderfully bad," crowed the poster for this Oscar-nominated (for photography) opus. The ornery actress nearly wears out her toes kicking the asses of her rich Southern family. If that's not mean enough, stay for the second feature: Ida Lupino in Women's Prison (1955). Lupino plays a touchy prison warden who goes around rearranging the faces of her convicts with a big ring of keys. Here is a mini-festival that all but asks viewers, "What the hell are you looking at?"

Mishima (1985)
May 16 at the Roxie Theater

Paul Schrader's stunning observation of the life of the Japanese novelist, bodybuilder and fascist Yukio Mishima. Mishima ("My whole life's longing is for death and night and blood") is a natural subject for Schrader, creator of boxed-in types like Travis Bickle (in Taxi Driver) and the elder and younger Whitehouse (in Affliction). Ken Ogata plays the tormented author, but the real highlight of the show is the dramatic score by Philip Glass. It is his best work for the movies and was later borrowed in parts for The Truman Show.

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From the May 10, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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