Get out your back-to-school clothes, because the UW Cinematheque is launching two new series this weekend. Over the next month and a half, "Love Exists: The Films of Maurice Pialat" will provide a retrospective of the work by a director who did little to endear himself, on or off the screen. Dubbed "the French Cassavetes," Pialat, who died in 2003 at 77, liked nothing better than a good fight, and his films bear the marks of his struggles, sacrificing narrative continuity for emotional immediacy. Loulou (1980), which kicks things off on Friday, Jan. 21, stars the young Gérard Depardieu as a leather-jacketed stud and Isabelle Huppert as a bourgeois femme who takes a walk on the wild side.
Also beginning this weekend is a series devoted to recently restored American films, including three directed by Otto Preminger, one of the most talked-about filmmakers of the 1950s. Laura, Advise and Consent, Anatomy of a Murder, The Man With the Golden Arm, Saint Joan, Exodus - Preminger moved around a lot, both in genre and in subject matter. But the auteurists, of whom he was a favorite, detected an "inscrutable urbanity" that ran through his work. It certainly runs through Bunny Lake Is Missing (Saturday, Jan. 22), his 1965 thriller about a husband and wife who turn out to be brother and sister, and a kidnapped child who may not exist after all. Laurence Olivier, only seeming to phone it in, plays the inspector who unravels the mystery.