Film Theory 2014

This seminar looks at various models to interpret and understand a wide range of film forms and theories—formalism, realism, psychoanalytic, etc.—to demonstrate how various frameworks can produce insight into a film’s form and meaning. Professor: Bastian Heinsohn. Screenings are free and open to the public.

Tuesday, September 2 at 1:30pm

The Big Lebowski

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (U.S. 1998) 117 min. DCP With Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore.
Mistaken for a multimillionaire, the Dude (Bridges) enlists the help of his best bowling buddies (Goodman and Steve Buscemi) to get to the bottom of the confusion in this cult favorite, part stoner comedy part noir parody.


Tuesday, September 9 at 1:30pm


The Big Sleep

Directed by Howard Hawks (U.S. 1945) 116 min. With Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely.
A classic noir tale of crime, seduction, deception and murder – crafted by a dream team of talent. Raymond Chandler’s acidic novel begat the second of the Bacall-Bogart-Hawks collaborations, a feast packed with quotables from Chandler and screenwriters William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman.


Tuesday, September 16 at 1:30pm


Directed by Ted Wilde (U.S. 1928) 86 min. With Harold Lloyd, Ann Christy, Bert Woodruff.
The “third genius” of silent comedy, Lloyd made more films than Keaton and Chaplin combined and outpaced both at the box office. Speedy was his last silent. Shot on location and featuring Babe Ruth in one of his three feature-film appearances, the film follows Lloyd’s baseball-mad hero’s efforts to save New York’s last horse-drawn streetcar from extinction.


Tuesday, September 23 at 1:30pm

The Man with a Movie Camera

Directed by Dziga Vertov (U.S.S.R. 1929) 67 min.
One of the most innovative and influential films of the silent era, Vertov’s masterpiece is startlingly modern, its groundbreaking style of rapid editing and incorporation of innumerable cinematic effects creating a brilliant and exhilarating dawn-to-dusk montage of the Russian metropolis.



Tuesday, September 30 at 1:30pm

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Germany 1973) 93 min. 35mm. With Brigitte Mira, El Hedi Ben Salem, Irm Hermann. German with English subtitles.
A beautiful homage to Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama All That Heaven Allows, Fassbinder’s improbable love story pairs a German widow with a Moroccan immigrant twenty years her junior. The prejudice and discrimination they encounter from all sides reveals a cracked humanity in this seminal work of the German New Wave.


Tuesday, October 7 at 1:30pm


Directed by Matt Reeves (U.S. 2008) 85 min. With Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller.
A giant monster invades New York City and a group of friends document the attack in this disaster movie presented as found footage. A box office hit, and named the third best film of 2008 by Cahiers du Cinéma, Cloverfield has been read by some as an opportunistic 9-11 analogy.

Tuesday, October 21 at 1:30pm

Scenes From Under Childhood

Directed by Stan Brakhage, U.S. 1967 24 min, Section 1


Directed by Hollis Frampton, U.S. 1971, 36 min. 16mm.

The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes

Directed by Stan Brakhage, U.S. 1971, 32 min. 16mm.

Focusing on two major figures from the American avant-garde, this program sets the seemingly antithetical aesthetics of Brakhage and Frampton (very close friends in the early ’70s) along a single lifeline of youth, memory and mortality.


Tuesday, October 28 at 1:30pm


Directed by Christopher Nolan (U.S. 2000) 113 min. 35mm. With Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano.
The anterograde amnesiac protagonist of Nolan’s breakthrough/cult/neo-noir hit hunts his wife’s killer, and his own identity. The film plays mind-bending narrative tricks, portraying two strands of the same story, simultaneously running backwards and forwards in time.


Tuesday, November 4 at 1:30pm

Encounters at the End of the World

Werner Herzog (Germany 2007) 100 min.3 5mm.

Sent to the formidable landscape of the South Pole by a National Science Foundation commission, Herzog interviewed a cast of unusual characters living at McMurdo Station, a 1000-person settlement of researchers. The sublime and absurd aspects of the precarious nature of human existence on this planet are examined in Herzog’s documentary, which, he assures us, is “not a film about fluffy penguins.”


Tuesday, November 11 at 1:30pm

Funny Games

Michael Haneke (Austria 1997) 109 min. With Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch. German, French, Italian with English subtitles.

One of Haneke’s most controversial and provocative films (remade by the director in a 2007 American version starring Naomi Watts), Funny Games is a harrowing portrayal of an upper-middle class Austrian family visited by two cold-blooded men who proceed to amuse themselves by torturing them psychologically and physically. Implicating his viewers in the unfolding events, Haneke tests his belief that “insofar as truth is always obscene, I hope that all of my films have at least an element of obscenity…. Pornography, it seems to me, is no different from war films or propaganda films in that it tries to make the visceral, horrific, or transgressive elements of life consumable.”


Tuesday, November 18 at 1:30pm

This is Not a Film

Jafar Panahi (Iran 2011) 75 min. Persian with English subtitles.

In 2010, Jafar Panahi, among the most influential contemporary Iranian filmmakers, was accused of collusion against the Iranian regime, sentenced to six years in jail and banned from making films for 20 years. While appealing his sentence, and under house arrest, Panahi made this clandestine documentary, shot partially on an iPhone and smuggled into France in a cake for a last-minute submission to Cannes. The film, a collaboration with documentarian Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, is a day-in-the-life chronicle, a statement of political and moral conviction and a reflection on the meaning of the art of filmmaking.


Tuesday, November 25 at 1:30pm

Berberian Sound Studio

Peter Strickland (UK 2012) 90 min. With Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco. In English and Italian with English subtitles.

A mild-mannered sound engineer arrives in Rome to supervise the soundtrack for a 1970s exploitation horror film called The Equestrian Vortex. But the film-within-the-film is never seen; instead it is left to our imaginations to supply visual analogues for the bloodcurdling screams, squishes, sizzles and splatters that we hear. The suggestive power of sound and an increasingly unhinged protagonist become ever more unsettling as the story’s line between cinema and reality blur Strickland’s meta-horror film, which established the director as an important new voice in British cinema.


Tuesday, December 2 at 1:30pm

Toy Story

John Lasseter (U.S. 1995) 81 min. Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn.

Pixar’s first feature, and the first feature created solely with computer-generated imagery, Toy Story proved a sensation, inspiring two sequels, two live stage adaptations and six theme park attractions. In a young boy’s bedroom, toys come to life when noone is looking; Pixar’s emotionally honest, exuberantly animated work delineates the now-iconic characters of Woody and Buzz Lightyear in a fable about friendship.