The next month or so will bring many an opportunity to honor the late, great Leonard Cohen. You’re already aware that Film Forum is screening the tour documentary Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire. And you may have heard about “Sincerely, L. Cohen,” the tribute concert scheduled for January 24 at Music Hall of Williamsburg (tickets went on sale today). That show will feature Joan as Policewoman, Richard Thompson, Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith Group, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Ian O’Neil of Deer Tick, and Hannah Cohen (no relation), among others. To top it all off, Anthology Film Archives has announced a film program that will pay tribute to the Canadian crooner, who died in November.
On the weekend of February 17, Anthology will present “Darker,” a slate of films featuring Cohen’s music and poems. The program starts off with an early, free-wheeling doc portraying an up-and-coming Cohen in his then hometown of Montreal, before he became a denizen of New York’s bohemian hotels and launched his music career. It’s capped off by some films in which Cohen’s songs are prominent. No, Natural Born Killers didn’t make the cut, despite its haunting use of “The Future.” (Rolling Stone compiled a list of other films in which Cohen’s music features prominently.) Armelle Brusq’s intimate 1996 documentary about Cohen’s time as a Buddhist monk also won’t be in the mix, but you can watch it online.
Here are the program details, courtesy of Anthology.
Donald Brittain & Don Owen
LADIES & GENTLEMEN… MR. LEONARD COHEN
1965, 45 min, 16mm, b&w
This informal black-and-white portrait of Leonard Cohen shows him at age 30 on a visit to his hometown of Montreal, where the poet, novelist, and songwriter comes “to renew his neurotic affiliations.” He reads his poetry to an enthusiastic crowd, strolls the streets of the city, relaxes in this three-dollar-a-night hotel room and even takes a bath.
Derek May ANGEL 1966, 6 min, 16mm, b&w
In this short film, a young man, a girl and a dog attempt to fly with wings more symbolic than practical. Music by Cohen, performed by The Stormy Clovers.
Josef Reeve POEN 1967, 4 min, 16mm, b&w
This short film features four readings of a prose poem from Leonard Cohen’s novel BEAUTIFUL LOSERS. Read by Cohen himself, the poem produces a distinct emotional effect every time it is read, following the poet’s rendition and accompanying visuals.
Total running time: ca. 60 min.
Fri, Feb 17 at 7:00 and Sat, Feb 18 at 9:00.
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
BEWARE OF A HOLY WHORE / WARNUNG VOR EINER HEILIGEN NUTTE
1970, 104 min, 35mm. In German with English subtitles.
In Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s brazen depiction of the alternating currents of lethargy and mayhem inherent in moviemaking, a film crew – played by, and not so loosely based on, his own frequent collaborators – deals with an aloof star (Eddie Constantine), an abusive director (Lou Castel), and a financially troubled production. Playing out predominantly within the lobby of the Spanish hotel where the film’s cast and crew are staying, the film features a nearly nonstop succession of songs issuing from the hotel’s jukebox, with memorable airtime for Cohen’s “Suzanne,” “So Long, Marianne,” “Master Song,” “Sisters of Mercy,” “Teachers,” and “Winter Lady.”
Fri, Feb 17 at 8:45 and Sun, Feb 19 at 6:00.
MCCABE AND MRS. MILLER
1971, 120 min, 35mm. With Warren Beatty & Julie Christie.
“‘This is Bob Altman,’ the voice on the other line said. ‘I’d like to use your songs in a movie I’m making.’ Leonard Cohen was flattered but had no idea who this guy was: ‘Is there any movie you’ve done I might have seen?’ Altman mentioned his smash success M*A*S*H, which Cohen had missed. The filmmaker then said, ‘I also did a small movie that nobody saw – BREWSTER MCCLOUD.’ As Cohen later recalled to Altman biographer Mitchell Zuckoff, ‘I told him, “I just saw it this afternoon – I loved it. You can have anything you want.”’ Thus began one of the great pairings of film and soundtrack of the modern era. The movie Altman was making was MCCABE & MRS. MILLER…one of the most visionary [of all Westerns]. […] Altman’s and Cohen’s legacies would forever be linked by MCCABE. The movie is inextricably connected to Cohen’s songs. It’s impossible to imagine Altman’s masterpiece without them.” –Tim Grierson, ROLLING STONE
Sat, Feb 18 at 6:15 and Sun, Feb 19 at 8:30.
AFA MEMBERS ONLY – FREE SCREENING!
CHANTAL AKERMAN + LEONARD COHEN
Once every calendar we offer a special, AFA Members Only screening, featuring sneak-previews of upcoming features, programs of rare materials from Anthology’s collections, in-person filmmaker presentations, and more! The benefits of an Anthology membership have always been plentiful: free admission to over 100 Essential Cinema programs, reduced admission to all other shows, discounted AFA publications. But with these screenings – free and open only to members – we sweeten the pot even further.
Presented alongside our tribute to Leonard Cohen, this quarter’s Members Only event showcases Chantal Akerman’s very rarely-screened PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG GIRL AT THE END OF THE 1960S IN BRUSSELS. Produced for the series “Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge…,” which would also include …, it memorably features Cohen both as part of its soundtrack (via his song, “Suzanne”) and as part of its plot (a key moment finds the protagonist shoplifting one of Cohen’s records).
PORTRAIT OF A YOUNG GIRL AT THE END OF THE 1960S IN BRUSSELS / PORTRAIT D’UNE JEUNE FILLE DE LA FIN DES ANNÉES 60 À BRUXELLES
1994, 62 min, 16mm-to-digital
“Akerman’s film moves beyond being one of the great coming-of-age films; it is simply one of the great films. A moving, multifaceted, and magical hour, presented with honesty and subtle artistry. The film’s nuances are beyond summary. So, some sketches: A girl has decided to ditch school forever; she tears up her report card. At the movies, a boy next to her touches her leg with his; they talk, they kiss. They spend the day together. The girl makes plans to attend a party. They steal a Leonard Cohen record. She breaks into a relative’s house so the boy has a place to sleep. Things happen beyond these sketches, but I will leave them aside. These simple events are full of poetry, of confusion, discovery, ambivalence, insecurity, beauty. The title character is played by Circé Lethem (who, incidentally, is the daughter of Belgian filmmaker Roland Lethem). She is luminous. Her character thinks that her friend is much prettier, but even though she’s right she’s also wrong and it’s the boy who’s right, the boy who thinks she’s beautiful.” –Dave McDougall, MUBI
Mon, Feb 20 at 7:30. Reception at 7:00!