For nocturnal movie lovers, Midnight Madness — the Ritz at the Bourse’s regular program of cult classics, screening every weekend as Friday turns to Saturday — is the gift that keeps on giving. This month, it will showcase two films by two stylistically divergent but equally legendary directors.
First, on February 24, it’s Blow Out, a Philadelphia-set crime thriller by suspense extraordinaire Brian De Palma. Against a dreamy backdrop of streets, train stations, and the darker corners of Wissahickon Park, this 1981 film stars John Travolta as a recording engineer who accidentally captures audio of a political assassination while he’s out gathering sound effects for trashy B-movies. He is then drawn into a dangerous, elaborate cover-up replete with serial killings, a femme fatale (played by Nancy Allen), and an ill-fated race against the clock. If the plot sounds a little familiar, that’s because De Palma conceived the film as a tribute to Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 murder mystery Blow-Up.
The following week, on March 3, the focus will shift to Japan and one of the most famous works by animation master Hayao Miyazaki. Since its release in 1997, Princess Mononoke has introduced countless viewers, kids and adults alike, to the potential of anime as an art form. Full of demons, monsters and wolf goddesses, the film is a gorgeous, fantastical epic that doesn’t shy away from the darker corners of the imagination. Like Miyazaki’s other masterpiece, Spirited Away, Mononoke is an essential part of the anime canon.
Indie flicks old and new
Iranian-American director Ramin Bahrani first turned heads with his quiet 2005 indie effort, Man Push Cart. Three years later, he came out with another talky, meditative feature, Goodbye Solo, about a Senegalese cab driver in North Carolina who makes an unlikely personal connection with one of his fares. On February 21, the Roxy Theater hosts a free screening of the film as part of its ongoing retrospective of past Philadelphia Film Festival selections.
That same evening, Cinema Ray will take to the second floor of Tattooed Mom to show Female Trouble, a classic example of the disquieting comedies of John Waters. Starring the late drag queen Divine, the scrappy film was Waters’s 1974 follow-up to Pink Flamingos and to the director’s dedication to a member of the Manson family. Admission is $4.
A celebration of camp
Exhumed Films, a local organization dedicated to all things horror, will host a celebration of the short-lived production company Empire Pictures on February 25 at International House. With a lineup of three low-budget titles from the mid-1980s — Ghoulies, The Dungeonmaster, and Trancers — the program could make a low-culture convert out of the stodgiest of cinephiles. Tickets to the whole show cost $20.