Engage in a lively debate with any cinephile and the topic of black & white films is bound to come up. Engage in a lively debate with any cinephile on the topic of black & white films long enough and the words "crisp" and "classic" and "superior" and "shimmery" will likely be said.
And engage in a lively debate with any cinephile on those words and how they apply to black & white cinema and three movie titles will be eventually spoken: "L'Avventura," "Sunset Boulevard," and "Raging Bull."
So call it a matter of the cinema stars aligning or call it a lucky summer weekend, but those three gems -- from the 1950, 1960, and 1980, respectively -- will all be playing on the silver screen in the days ahead. (And, now that we think of it, was the term "silver screen" born from those early b&w films? Discuss.)
"L'Avventura": The 1960 Michelangelo Antonioni film won the Jury Prize at Cannes and went on to befuddle, delight, bewitch, occasionally madden, and always intrigue viewers with its questions about wealth, life, and existence. No small potatoes here. Oh, and check it: It's a new 35mm print, meaning extra gloriousness, and Cinefamily at Silent Movie Theatre is showing it nightly through Thursday, July 18.
"Sunset Boulevard": If you've been wanting to visit the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo -- one of SoCal's vintage-iest movie palaces -- this is the film to see. Gloria Swanson poses on a staircase while claiming the pictures got small (we do love how she pronounces "pictures" as "pick-chas" in this scene). The Billy Wilder phenom rolls from July 12 through 14.
"Raging Bull": Martin Scorsese took some Martin Scorsese-type risks when he made a film in 1980 in glowy black and white. But it worked. Boxing, disappointment, big wins, and other heart-tugging matters play out in the Robert De Niro-starrer. The Aero Theatre steps into the ring with the acclaimed film on Saturday, July 13.