The return of Lynch’s Inland Empire, John Waters in town, and 70s classics

May 2022 movie repertory roundup

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A screenshot of Dern looking towards the camera, half her face cast in shadows, pitch black behind her
Laura Dern stars in David Lynch's 'Inland Empire.' (Image courtesy of Janus Films.)

The repertory lineup at Philadelphia theaters in May has something for everyone: a pair of David Lynch movies, an appearance by John Waters, and a long list of movies that made their mark at Cannes. Some highlights of what’s on area screens this month.

Mamma Mia
Wednesday, May 4, 7pm; Sunday May 8, 1pm
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr

This 2008 film, based on the hit jukebox Broadway musical featuring the hit tunes of ABBA, gets a pair of showings at the start of the month. The film, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, stars Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried as a mother and her daughter, a bride-to-be seeking to figure out which of three men (Stellan Skarsgard, Colin Firth, and the aggressively non-singing Pierce Brosnan) is her real father.

The Wobblies
Wednesday, May 4, 8pm
Lightbox Film Center, 401 South Broad Street, Philadelphia

The Lightbox is presenting a new restoration of the Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird 1979 documentary about the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union. The restoration was carried out by the Museum of Modern Art.

Inland Empire
May 6-12, various times
PFS at the Bourse, 400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia

David Lynch's last new feature film to date, Inland Empire barely received a theatrical release in 2006, but the Laura Dern-starring oddity recently received a 4K restoration from Janus Films, and is getting a weekly run in the city that loves Lynch the most.

Labyrinth
Friday, May 5, 7:30pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Jim Henson's 1986 musical fantasy starring David Bowie and a prominent codpiece, has become something of a cult classic over time. It returns to Philly as part of the Throwback Thursday Quizzo & Movie program.

The Conversation
Friday, May 6, 6pm and 8:30pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

One of the best films of the 1970s is Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 drama starring Gene Hackman as a saxophone-playing surveillance expert in San Francisco who thinks he overhears a murder plot.

Zodiac
Monday, May 9, and Thursday, May 19, both 7pm
Bryn Mawr Film Institute, 824 Lancaster Avenue, Bryn Mawr

Cinema Classics Seminar: Thursday, May 12, 6:30pm

One of the greatest journalism movies of all time, David Fincher's 2007 film starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo as a cartoonist, a journalist, and a cop trying to solve the mystery of the Zodiac killer in 1970s San Francisco. Paul Wright, PhD, will lead the Cinema Classics Seminar.

Strangers on a Train
Wednesday, May 11, 7pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

The 1951 Alfred Hitchcock classic, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel, features two people who meet on a train and promise to carry out murders on each other's behalf. Following its placement on the National Film Registry last year, the film comes to the Film Center for a screening.

A John Waters weekend:
Polyester
Friday, May 13, 9:45pm

Hairspray
Saturday, May 14, 4:30pm

This Filthy World: An Evening with John Waters
Saturday, May 14, 7:30pm
The Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge Street, Phoenixville

The stage version of John Waters’s Hairspray heads to the Academy of Music starting May 17, but if you prefer the original version—and are looking to pay a lot less—the 1988 movie (the one with Ricki Lake and Divine) is showing a few days earlier. Director John Waters himself will make an appearance that night, likely sharing some of the wilder stories from his long career.

The Thing
Friday, May 13 and Saturday, May 14, 11:59pm
Ritz Five, 214 Walnut Street, Philadelphia

This month's midnight movie at the Ritz Five is John Carpenter's 1982 horror classic, which starred Kurt Russell as one of a group of scientists who discover an ancient, frozen alien.

Taxi Driver
Saturday, May 21, 3:15 pm and 7:30pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Martin Scorsese's tale of mid-1970s New York grime, starring Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle, was the source of most of the ideas in the Joker movie a few years back, but it stands up as one of the most important films of that decade.

The Tree of Life
Sunday, May 22, 5:30pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

Probably the best film of Terrence Malick's comeback after his long post-70s hiatus was this 2011 drama, which took a meditative look at 1960s childhood with a cast that includes the likes of Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

Wild at Heart
Friday, May 27, 7pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

If Inland Empire gets you on a David Lynch kick, you'll also have a chance to check out his 1990 film. Produced around the same time as Twin Peaks, The Wizard of Oz-inspired film starred Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern and won the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year.

Sign O' The Times
Friday, May 27, 7pm
The Bowl at Clark Park, 4300 Chester Avenue, Philadelphia

The outdoor movies are here, and one of the first is Prince's rarely-shown 1987 concert film, shown in a new 4K edition. It's being presented by cinéSPEAK as part of its Under the Stars series. The showing is free but requires registration.

Pulp Fiction
Saturday, May 28, 12pm and 6pm
Philadelphia Film Center, 1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia

The Film Center is running a "Cannes I Get a Boo" bundle this month, which includes seven films that either debuted or won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, and among them is Quentin Tarantino's 1994 Palme winner, arguably the most influential film of the 1990s.

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