The calendar’s deepest and most extensive series is “Down and Dirty in Gower Gulch”; these six restored and preserved Poverty Row pictures largely shot near Gower Street in 1930s Los Angeles screen every Wednesday from July 3 through 31. As some of the earliest examples of American independent cinema, they were effectively made outside the standard studio system by Monogram, Reliance, Republic, and others, now seeing preservation and restoration efforts by UCLA Film and Television archives. While their budgets were perhaps diminutive compared to the likes of 20th Century Fox or Universal at the time, smaller crews were afforded a newfound levels of freedom to not only experiment with form but pointedly address controversial themes. Such is the case for the extreme personality of Lowell Sherman’s False Faces (1932) on July 17, about a quack surgeon and sociopathic social climber in Chicago, portrayed with aplomb by the director himself. Every feature film in the series is also preceded by a short from pioneering animators like Max Fleischer and Ub Iwerks as well as a time capsule Metrotone newsreel from William Randolph Hearst’s parent company.
Other scattered gems include Claire Denis’ lesser-known enigmatic French-language thriller, The Intruder (2004), on Friday, June 28, a suitable companion with her latest feature, High Life, screening the prior evening. Starring Michel Subor as hermetic Jura Mountains-dwelling ex-mercenary Louis, The Intruder [L’intrus]’s narrative finds him trekking to Tahiti to seek a heart transplant. Denis’ faithful cinematographer Agnès Godard lends her wondrous eye to scale the film’s vistas as well as hone in on chilling interpersonal moments.