THE HIRSHHORN MUSEUM and Sculpture Garden concludes their free spring- summer season this Friday evening at 8 with a rare screening of Rudolf Thome's 1983 caper thriller Closed Circuit. First presented at the Berlin International Film Festival in early 1984, the film (in German with English subtitles) stars Bruno Ganz as a Berlin loner who is persuaded to use his knowledge as a computer specialist to divert the flow of funds from a large bank. Of particular interest is Laurie Anderson's appearance as, well, Laurie Anderson. The screening is free, and the museum is on Independence Avenue at Eighth Street SW. Call 357-2700 for more information.
Washington-based producer John Simmons has begun production on a 13-week series called What's At the Movies? Currently being test- marketed on WDCA-TV, Channel 20, the half- hour show premiered June 23 at 9 with behind-the-scenes glimpses of Cocoon, Prizzi's Honor (as part of a John Huston tribute), Lifeforce and Return to Oz. This Sunday's show (same time, same station) will feature spots on Pale Rider, The Emerald Forest (including an interview with director John Boorman), Back to the Future (incorporating a chat with star Michael J. Fox), and the new Arnold Schwarzenegger sword'n'sorcery epic, Red Sonja. Simmons also urges film fans to tune in "at exactly 9" for a "first look" at Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Just a reminder about this weekend's attraction at the Sidwell Cinema and Cafe: Friday through Sunday, they'll be showing Carlos Diegues' bawdy 1980 comedy/drama Bye, Bye Brazil. If you haven't heard the one about the fleabitten traveling sideshow in the South American hinterlands, this may be just the thing. In Portuguese with English subtitles, "Bye, Bye Brazil" will screen daily at 7:35 and 9:40. Arrive 30 minutes before showtime and take advantage of the expanded cafe, which features homemade sandwiches and desserts. The Sidwell Friends School is at 3901 Wisconsin Avenue NW, opposite McLean Gardens. Call 537-8178.
Another reminder, this one about the continuing Showcase of Eastern European Cinema being presented by The Smithsonian Institution's Resident Associate Program. On July 2 at 7, the series concludes with Pyotr Todorovsky's 1984 Russian love story, Wartime Romance, and Karen Chakhnazarov's Russian musical The Jazz Men, which depicts the growth of Eastern European jazz from the Black Sea to Moscow. Both films will be subtitled in English; the double bill is $6 for members and $7.50 for non-members. The screening will be held at the American History Building's Carmichael Auditorium. Call 357-3030.
The American Film Institute Theater begins a new roster of programs July 4 with special events, a prime package of 23 screwball comedies (most from the vintage Hollywood studio years) and an astonishing collection of rock'n'roll films. In the first week alone you can see Hollywood outtakes and rare footage, Frank Capra's Oscar-winning social free-for-all You Can't Take It With You, a double bill of A Hard Day's Night and Help!, the "Hungarian Graffiti" film Time Stands Still, and even Taylor (An Officer and a Gentleman) Hackford's underrated first feature, The Idolmaker (with star Ray Sharkey, in person).
Also scheduled to begin in the next week is a tribute to Chinese filmmaker Xie Jin. For complete program and ticket information, call the AFI box office at 785-4601 between noon and 9 every day. While you're at it, make sure to get a copy of "Preview," their program guide; they're soliciting a list of five must-see films from all patrons, to be presented in a series planned for early 1986.
The Ontario Theater, long a showplace for live music acts and imaginative triple bills of slasher, chop-socky or just plain bad movies, has been completely renovated by the Circle organization. The acquisition took just about all the local industry-watchers by surprise; the lease was assumed on June 7, and Tobe Hooper's Lifeforce reopened the facility as a first- run house just two weeks later. In that tumultuous 14-day period, a new 1,100-square-foot screen was installed (second in size only to the Uptown's great curved monster), the projection system was refitted with 70mm capabilities and Dolby/Kintek stereo and the whole place was redecorated. In fact, other than the paint still being a little tacky, just about all the restoration work was completed by June 21. Unfortunately, most of the seats didn't arrive on time, so for the first night of operation patrons had a choice of 200 seats in a theater that normally holds 1,200 (the largest single- level auditorium in town). The chairs arrived later that night, and the finishing touches have now been completed on this grand old movie house. The reissue of E.T. and a horror pic called Fright Night are next in line.
Speaking of E.T., the reissue of Steven Spielberg's hugely successful film is now set for July 12. (Some 1,000 new prints will be struck to supplement the 300 usable ones left over from the more than 2,000 copies first made). It's been bounced around on the schedule recently because another Universal title, Back to the Future, has been pushed forward from July 19 to July 3 on the strength of positive advance word-of-mouth, to take advantage of the July 4 holiday. Interestingly enough, as the summer release schedule changes to adapt to current business, a number of films could move from Friday to Wednesday openings: Lawrence Kasdan's much-anticipated western, Silverade, has now been moved from July 19 to July 10; and local exhibitor/distributor Ron Goldman will open one of his most recent acquisitions, Satyajit Ray's The Home and the World (starring A Passage to India's Victor Bannerjee) July 3. Also opening July 3 is the new Boorman film, The Emerald Forest, with Powers Boothe as an American who loses his son for 10 years in the Amazon jungle.
Despite the four-day Memorial weekend grosses being 44 percent above last year's tally, business for the first three weeks of the summer was off 5.5 percent over the same period last year, indicating to many that, unlike last Christmas, when Beverly Hills Cop was strong enough to carry weaker titles, current box-office champ Rambo just can't carry the standard for some of the more lackluster releases. Adding to this uncertainty is the industry's double standard about Spielberg: while The Goonies was one of the year's biggest openings to date, it didn't open as strongly as industry analysts predicted; thus, it's a "troubled" picture.
By the time the fourth week of summer began, it was clear that so far Rambo is the only film to open with the kind of surge enjoyed by no less than four films last summer: Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Gremlins and Star Trek III. This, in turn, spells trouble for the season and places a lot of pressure (perhaps undeservedly so) on the tardier summer releases.
In international production news, David Bowie is reportedly one of only two actual people in the new Jim Henson fantasy, Labyrinth, now filming in London (no word on who the other human is). George Lucas is the executive producer on that project . . . Bob Swaim, American-born director of the recent French thriller La Balance, will follow his next film, Half Moon Street (to be shot in London this summer) with a long-planned film of the comic strip Mandrake the Magician, to star Kevin Kline as the prestidigitator . . . Following the July 12 regional release of the climactic film in his zombie trilogy, Day of the Dead, George A. Romero will direct Stephen King's Pet Sematary; no new word on the current status of The Stand, the long-promised King/Romero treatment of the former's post-apocalyptic tome . . .