Media Arts Preview: Horror, Mystery and Palm Trees

Big City Forum
Los Angeles offers a rich subject for artistic inquiry, evidenced this week by several permutations of the city in film, video, drawing, planning and provocative discussion.

Thursday, March 1A Man Escaped
Film Independent at LACMA presents a spotlight on film-genius Robert Bresson with two of the director's films: A Man Escaped, a film described by Martin Scorsese as "a completely pure experience, with absolutely nothing extraneous -- it functions like a delicate and perfectly calibrated handmade machine," followed by Four Nights of a Dreamer, described by film critic Dave Kehr as "a very beautiful and essential film." The first film screens at 7:30 p.m.; the second film screens at 9:20 p.m.

Friday, March 2
The Echo Park Film Center is home to the Los Angeles Transgender "Best of Fest" Film Festival featuring a program of shorts from the larger festival screening tonight at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available now.

The Bloody ChildUCLA continues Cinema as Sorcery, its tribute to the work of L.A. filmmaker Nina Menkes with a screening tonight of The Bloody Child, a fragmented narrative about a crime set near a marine base in the desert. "Revealed gradually in jarring and obtuse narrative shards, Menkes' feature reveals a story of horror and mystery: that of a man discovered in the midst of a terrible crime, and the torpor of shock and banality that follow among the group of Marines who come across the scene." The film screens at 7:30 p.m. at the Billy Wilder Theater. The tribute continues on Wednesday, March 7, with the filmmaker's 2007 feature, Phantom Love, screening at 7:30 p.m.

Incendiary TracesSunday, March 4
In Landscape as a Weapon: An Incendiary Traces Event, a group of artists and scholars will talk about L.A.'s unique "engagement with visual representation, military territorialization and flora appropriation." Explain the curators, "This program will offer historical and contemporary variations on how the palm-dotted landscape is represented for political and cultural purposes, while tracing assorted perspectives on landscape imagery that extend from 19th century drawing and painting practices." The talk begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Velaslavasay Panorama. Free reservations here.

Alice in WonderlandAlice in Wonderland has been adapted to the screen several times, but many admire William Sterling's 1972 version, starring Peter Sellers and Dudley Moore, best. The Hammer Museum, touting the film's "inventive production design and costumes, and original songs," will screen the film today as part of its Family Flicks series at 11:00 a.m.

Wednesday, March 7
Big City Forum will take up residence at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena through June with a series of discussions dedicated to "livability, sustainability, community, and the politics of place in Los Angeles." The first of the talks, titled Fast Forward: Los Angeles on the Verge, takes place tonight at 7:00 p.m. with a discussion of urban planning and architecture with Dana Cuff, Roger Sherman, Jessica Varner, Edward Soja, Linda Taalman and Ava Bromberg, who will moderate.

Bookchin

Thursday, March 8
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions presents Now he's out in public and everyone can see, a new 18-channel video installation by L.A. media artist Natalie Bookchin; the piece is another in the artist's series of brilliant YouTube compilations, in this case focusing on video diaries that recount media scandals involving African American men. "Bookchin's work creates a critical context for otherwise isolated and scatter-shot online voices, drawing links, making connections, and locating tropes between individual rants and responses." LACE will host a reception tonight, 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.

About the Author

Holly Willis teaches in USC's School of Cinematic Arts and writes about new media art. She is the author of "New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image" and editor of "The New Ecology of Things" on pervasive computing.
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