Film Theory

Tuesday, January 16 at 1:15pm

TOUCH OF EVIL

Orson Welles (U.S. 1958) 111 min. 35MM. With Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles.

A bomb rolls into a small, seedy border town in one of cinema’s most astounding opening shots. The ensuing thriller – Welles’ monstrously corrupt detective investigates, with the help of a Mexican narc (Heston) recently wed to Janet Leigh – is the stuff of a deliriously grotesque noir nightmare. “The tallest tree in the wilderness of Welles’ post-Kane career! The dialogue is as intricately overlapped as the lighting is cross-hatched; the cameos are as vivid as possible in a black-and-white movie; the camera work and blocking have the coordination of an Olympic pole vaulter” (J. Hoberman).

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Tuesday, January 23 at 1:15pm

FANTÔMAS I & II

Louis Feuillade (France 1913) Total run time 116 min. With René Navarre, Georges Melchior, Edmund Bréon. French with English intertitles.

Based on the phenomenally popular French pulp novellas, Louis Feuillade’s outrageous, ambitious Fantômas series became the gold standard of espionage serials in pre-WWI Europe. René Navarre stars as the criminal lord of Paris, the master of disguise, the creeping assassin in black: Fantômas. Resourceful Inspector Juve (Bréon) and his friend, journalist Jerôme Fandor (Melchior), pursue him. We’ll screen the first two features of the 5 1/2-hour epic: Fantômas in the Shadow of the Guillotine and Juve vs. Fantômas.

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Tuesday, January 30 at 1:15pm

THE LONEDALE OPERATOR

D.W. Griffith (U.S. 1911) 17 min. With Blanche Sweet, George O. Nichols,
Dell Henderson. Silent.

Known most notoriously for his Civil War epic The Birth of a Nation (1915), D.W. Griffith was also the director of more than 450 films–remarkable less for his output and more for the evolving sophistication of acting, editing and camera techniques found therein. Lonedale’s simple scenario (by Mack Sennett) intercuts three primary spaces with an escalating rhythm. Within this frantic adventure, it also manages a subtle character study of a self-willed, quick-witted girl who bluffs her way out of a threatening situation.

and…

HYPOCRITES

Lois Weber (U.S. 1915) 50 min. With Margaret Edwards, Adele Farrington, Myrtle Stedman. Silent.

Lois Weber was the most important and prolific of all American women directors of the silent era, well known in her time and now finally getting contemporary recognition thanks to scholarship and recent restorations by Milestone Films. Hypocrites, a complex film in both narrative and technique, follows the parallel stories of an early Christian ascetic and a modern minister in a series of vignettes that expose the hypocrisy of a congregation confronted by the Naked Truth, literally portrayed by a nude woman. A controversial film – its release was delayed for months by the difficulty of distributing a film with full nudity – Hypocrites was widely admired, and propelled Weber to the front ranks of silent directors.

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Tuesday, February 6 at 1:15pm

FAR FROM HEAVEN

Todd Haynes (U.S. 2002) 107 min. 35MM. With Julianne Moore, Dennis Quaid, Dennis Haysbert.

Indie luminary Todd Haynes’ crossover success was Far From Heaven, a magnificently controlled re-creation of the stylistically sumptuous, thematically subversive 1950s Hollywood melodramas of director Douglas Sirk. A portrait of desire thwarted by the social restrictions of a repressive era, the film is set in 1957 Hartford, Connecticut, where a suburban wife and mother (Moore) is drawn to her handsome African-American gardener (Haysbert), as her marriage to her troubled husband (Quaid), a business exec with a scandalous secret life, unravels. Adapted from The Cinematheque (Vancouver) program notes.

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Tuesday, February 13 at 1:15pm

TIME BANDITS

Terry Gilliam (1981 UK) 116 min. DCP. With John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall.

In this fantastic voyage through time and space, a boy escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarfs. Featuring a darkly playful script by Gilliam and his Monty Python cohort Michael Palin (who also appears in the film), Time Bandits is at once a giddy fairy tale, a revisionist history lesson and a satire of technology gone awry.

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Tuesday, February 20 at 1:15pm

DESIGN FOR LIVING

Ernst Lubitsch (U.S. 1933) 90 min. 35MM. With Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins.

Three expatriate Americans in Paris — a struggling painter (Cooper), an unpublished playwright (March), and their self-appointed critic and muse (Hopkins) — resolve to establish a platonic garret dedicated to art. But a dusty couch calls, and soon the lady is switching with casual promiscuity from one friend to the other. The ménage à trois’ ensuing complications have nothing to do with virtue in Lubitsch’s devilishly erotic and innuendo-laden adaptation of Noel Coward’s play. Adapted from PFA program notes.

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Tuesday, February 27 at 1:15pm

FOOTLIGHT PARADE

Lloyd Bacon (U.S. 1933) 104 min. 35MM. With James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell.

The backstage saga of this Depression-era musical stars James Cagney as a producer tasked with saving the stage from the doom foreseen in talking pictures. He’s inspired to create entertainment on a massive scale, and the ingenuous choreography of Busby Berkeley delivers, with cascading dancers and fancy foot and camerawork the likes of which Hollywood had never seen. Preserved by the Library of Congress.

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Tuesday, March 6 at 1:15pm

MOULIN ROUGE!

Baz Luhrmann (Australia/US 2001) 127 min. 35MM. With Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, John Leguizamo.

Baz Luhrmann’s phantasmagorical musical has been hailed as one of the most visually inventive and wildly kinetic films in recent memory for its mixture of turn-of-the-century Parisian nightlife, late-20th-century pop music and astonishingly ornate production and costume design (American Cinematheque program notes).

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Tuesday, March 20 at 1:15pm

CLUELESS

Amy Heckerling (U.S. 1995) 97 min. 35MM. With Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Brittany Murphy.

This beloved teen comedy was a sleeper hit anchored by Alicia Silverstone’s plucky, Beverly Hills high school embodiment of a privileged young woman who manipulates and schemes, using her wealth, beauty and popularity to make matches and earn good grades. But, like the protagonist in Jane Austen’s 19th century novel Emma, Cher has a good soul, and at the root of her escapades and relationships are feminist undertones; Clueless is also a liberating look at women and their friendships with one another.

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Tuesday, March 27 at 1:15pm

EDGE OF TOMORROW AKA LIVE DIE REPEAT

Doug Liman (U.S. 2014) 113 min. DCP. With Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson.

This huge summer blockbuster blends science- fiction alien warfare with Groundhog’s Day’s repeating plot structure. The addition of a stupendous visual-effects budget and a “metaphorical overlay of fantasy and history” (the landing at Normandy) whips up a “well-wrought yarn [with] a shiver of curious power” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker).

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Tuesday, April 3 at 1:15pm

JEANNE DIELMAN, 23, QUAI DU COMMERCE, 1080 BRUXELLES

Chantal Akerman (Belgium, France 1975) 201 min. 35MM. With Delphine Seyrig, Jan Decorte, Henri Storck. In French with English subtitles.

A singular work in lm history, Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman meticulously details, with a sense of impending doom, the daily routine of a middle-aged widow whose chores include making the beds, cooking dinner for her son and turning the occasional trick. Made when the artist was only 25 years old, the movie can be seen as an exacting character study, as one of cinema’s most hypnotic and complete depictions of space and time and – as it was hailed by feminist critics when it came out – as an impressive alternative to well-intentioned but conventional political documentaries and features.

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Tuesday, April 10 at 1:15pm

HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR – Restoration!

Alain Resnais (France/Japan 1959) 92 min. DCP. With Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson. French and Japanese with English subtitles.

One of the classics of cinema and a pillar of the French New Wave, Hiroshima Mon Amour depicts a brief a air between a French actress (Riva) and a Japanese architect (Okada) in the rebuilt and thriving Hiroshima of 1959. The couple’s bliss is slowly eroded by the unavoidable memories of the war and atomic mass destruction. Due to its harrowing anti-nuclear stance Hiroshima was kept out of the main competition at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, to avoid offending the U.S. It was nevertheless awarded the International Critics’ prize.

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Tuesday, April 17 at 1:15pm

SURNAME VIET, GIVEN NAME NAM

Trinh T. Minh-ha (U.S. 1989) 108 min. 16MM. 

Vietnamese-born Trinh T. Minh-ha’s profoundly personal documentary explores the role of Vietnamese women historically and in contemporary society. Using dance, printed texts, folk poetry and the words and experiences of Vietnamese women in Vietnam and the United States, Trinh’s film explores the difficulty of translation, and themes of dislocation and exile.

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Tuesday, April 24 at 1:15pm

THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO

David Fincher (U.S./Sweden/Norway 2011) 155 min. 35MM. With Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer.

A disgraced journalist (Craig) accepts an invitation to investigate a 40-year-old unsolved murder on behalf of the victim’s uncle (Plummer), while a tattooed hacker (Mara) looks into the reporter’s fall from grace. Their discovery of a secret history of murder and sexual abuse festering beneath the veneer of Sweden’s industrial past is darkly and sleekly told, in David Fincher’s first installment of the American remake of Steig Larsson’s hit Millennium series.

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