INCREASINGLY forgotten by many critics (his films seem to be disappearing rapidly from greatest-of-all-time lists), Ingmar Bergman has directed some of the finest works in movie history, including "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries," "Persona," "Cries and Whispers" and "Fanny and Alexander."
Fortunately, all of those classics and more can be seen in a crosstown Bergman retrospective at the American Film Institute, the National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The National Gallery will show Bergman's early films of the 1950s, Sunday through Aug. 22, including "The Virgin Spring," "Smiles of a Summer Night," "Wild Strawberries," "The Magician," "The Seventh Seal," "The Devil's Eye," "Sawdust and Tinsel" and "It Rains on Our Love." The American Film Institute is showing his later works of the 1960s and 1970s, Wednesday through July 29 at both AFI locations (the Silver Spring theater and Kennedy Center). And the Museum of Women in the Arts will show three films from his earliest period.
The combined series starts Sunday at the National Gallery's East Building auditorium (where all shows are free) with a screening Sunday at 4:30 of "The Virgin Spring." The show moves to the AFI Wednesday (when Bergman turns 86), with AFI daily shows of "Fanny and Alexander" through July 18. The Kennedy Center will show the film daily from July 19 through July 22.
The AFI is also showing "Through a Glass Darkly," "Winter Light," "The Rite," "The Silence," "Persona," "Hour of the Wolf," "Shame," "The Passion of Anna," "Cries and Whispers," the restored version (282 minutes) of "Scenes From a Marriage," "The Magic Flute" and "Autumn Sonata."
The Museum of Women in the Arts (1250 New York Ave. NW) is showing three: "Secrets of Women" Wednesday at 7, "Dreams" July 28 at 7 and "Brink of Life" Aug. 11 at 7.
For more details, visit www.AFI.com/silver, www.nga.gov/programs/film.htm and www.nmwa.org.
THE 'FORBIDDEN ZONE'
Far be it from me to even think of recommending breaking the law, but after screening "Forbidden Zone," a bizarre 1980 cult film opening Friday as part of the Landmark movie theater chain's midnight movie series, I found myself almost (repeat, almost) wishing for a little something to, er, enhance my viewing pleasure.
Controlled substances aside, "Zone" is a long, strange trip in and of itself (actually, it's only 73 minutes, but, in my experience, that's longer than a typical nightmare). Produced and directed by Richard Elfman (brother of musician Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo fame and father-in-law of actress Jenna Elfman), the black-and-white film is fairly indescribable, except by allusion to a host of other things. Part profane, no-budget high-school play, part music video, part Yiddish vaudeville skit and part Mack Sennett film comedy, "Zone" pays simultaneous homage to "Eraser Head," B-movies, Terry Gilliam's animations from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" and the early film oeuvre of John Waters.
With a plot involving sex, drugs, violence and rock 'n' roll (courtesy of Danny Elfman, who wrote, arranged and recorded the zany music in a two-week binge), "Zone" features a mostly no-name cast headlined by a more-incomprehensible-than-ever Herve Villechaize and cheesy-movie fixture Susan Tyrell. Who should see this film (which is, amazingly, still unavailable on DVD and almost impossible to find on video)? The following groups, in this order: Danny Elfman fans; Villechaize fans; Tyrell fans; and anyone else wandering the streets of the city at midnight who's looking for a legal way to expand your consciousness.
"Forbidden Zone" plays Friday and Saturday at midnight at Landmark's E Street Cinema, at E and 11th streets NW (Metro: Metro Center), with giveaways of free soundtrack CDs signed by Danny Elfman; then on July 16 and 17 at Landmark's Bethesda Row, 7235 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda (Metro: Bethesda). Call 202-452-7672 or 301-652-7273.
-- Desson Thomson and Michael O'Sullivan