Introduction to Film/Media Studies

Monday, January 14 at 7pm

SHADOW OF A DOUBT

Alfred Hitchcock (U.S. 1943) 108 min. With Joseph Cotten, Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey. 35MM.

Set in a small all-American town Shadow of a Doubt engages one of Hitch’s most disturbing proposals: evil lurks close-by, veiled by the familiar. Cotten’s Uncle Charlie is the perfect foil for his adoring niece, a young woman whose yearning for adventure meets its match when she suspects her charming uncle may be a hunted serial killer. Hitchcock called the film his personal favorite. Preceded by the wry stop-motion animation OWL AND MOUSE (Emma Noble U.S. 2015, 5 min.).

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Monday, January 28 at 7pm

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED – Recent Restoration

Lotte Reiniger (Germany 1926) 65 min. DCP.

When The Adventures of Prince Achmed premiered in Germany, it was hailed as the first animated feature. More than seventy-five years later, it still stands as one of the great classics of animation — beautiful and utterly seductive. The film tells the Arabian Nights story of a wicked sorcerer who tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a magical flying horse and sends the rider off on a flight to his death. Beautifully restored with spectacular color tinting and a new orchestral recording of the magnificent 1926 score by Wolfgang Zeller.

PLAYING WITH

CHRISTOPHER STRONG

Dorothy Arzner (U.S. 1933) 77 min. With Katharine Hepburn, Colin Clive, Billie Burke. 35MM.

Katharine Hepburn’s first starring role, as a world-champion aviatrix modeled in part on Amelia Earhart, was directed by Dorothy Arzner, then the only woman film director in Hollywood. The film’s feminist statement goes beyond the question of the fulfilled professional woman; as critic Gerard Peary wrote, “Hepburn demonstrates with the certitude of an Isadora Duncan that a woman’s true happiness comes through intense, front-seat participation in an exciting profession…Conversely, the same happiness can be squandered away, the talented woman’s life wasted, if she should misdirect this energy toward some egocentric man…” (Adapted from Pacific Film Archive program notes).

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Monday, February 4 at 7pm

THE GENERAL – Recent Restoration

Buster Keaton (U.S. 1926) 79 min. With Buster Keaton, Clyde Bruckman. DCP.

Many critics consider The General to be the last great comedy of the silent era, and it consistently ranks as one of the greatest films of all time on international critics’ polls. Set during the Civil War and based on a true incident, the film is also an authentic-looking period piece about an engineer (Keaton) rejected by the Confederate Army and thought a coward by his girlfriend (Mack). When a band of Union soldiers penetrate Confederate lines to steal his locomotive, Keaton pursues. Seven of the film’s eight reels are devoted to the chase, a bounty of hilarious comedy and amazing stunts performed by Keaton himself. Featuring an original score by acclaimed conductor Carl Davis.

PLAYING WITH

THE MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA

Dziga Vertov (U.S.S.R. 1929) 67 min. DCP.

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.

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Monday, February 11 at 7pm

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Ernst Lubitsch (U.S. 1942) 93 min. With Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack. 35MM.

As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians caught up in a dangerous spy plot in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. A Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, shot soon after the U.S. entered WWII, To Be or Not to Be brilliantly balances political satire, romance, slapstick and wartime suspense. “What I have satirized in this picture,” Lubitsch wrote in 1943, “are the Nazis and their ridiculous ideology. I have also satirized the attitude of actors who always remain actors regardless of how dangerous the situation might be, which I believe is a true observation.” Preceded by THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY (John Ford U.S. 1942, 17 min. 35MM). Made for the U.S. Navy, Ford’s Academy Award winning documentary graphically captures the terror of battle and villainizes Japan’s Emperor. Narrated by Henry Fonda. Preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

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Monday, February 18 at 7pm

UMBERTO D

Vittorio De Sica (Italy 1952) 89 min. With Carlo Battisti, Maria Pia Casilio, Lina Gennari. Italian with English subtitles. 35MM.

This neorealist masterpiece by Vittorio De Sica follows an elderly pensioner as he strives to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic recovery. Alone except for his dog, Umberto struggles to maintain his dignity in a city where human kindness seems to have been swallowed up by the forces of modernization. His simple quest to satisfy his basic needs — food, shelter, companionship — makes for one of the most heartbreaking stories ever filmed, and an essential classic of world cinema. Preceded by THE PRIVATE LIFE OF A CAT (Alexander Hammid and Maya Deren U.S. 1944, 22 min.), an intimate study of a female cat and the birth and development of her five kittens.

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Monday, February 25 at 7pm

SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly (U.S. 1952) 102 min. With Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor. 35MM. 

Indisputably one of the greatest screen musicals ever made, Singin’ in the Rain looks back at the swiftly changing landscape of Hollywood late 20s filmmaking, when the advent of sound threatened the artistic careers of a generation of film stars. This Freed Unit production par excellence casts Gene Kelly as a silent movie idol and Debbie Reynolds as the ingénue brought in to save his leading lady’s career. With show-stopping numbers “Make ’Em Laugh” and the magnificent Cyd Charisse’s “Broadway Melody” ballet, this is musical entertainment at its most sublime, equal parts song and dance, romance and comedy, modernity and nostalgia. Preceded by DUCK AMUCK (Chuck Jones U.S. 1953, 7 min.), in which Daffy Duck is tortured by an animator constantly changing the background around him.

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Monday, March 4 at 7pm

LATE AUTUMN

Yasujirô Ozu (Japan 1960) 128 min. 35MM. With Setsuko Hara, Yoko Tsukasa, Chishu Ryu. Japanese with English subtitles.

The great actress and Ozu regular Setsuko Hara plays a mother gently trying to persuade her daughter to marry in this glowing portrait of family love and conflict — a reworking of one of the most powerful of Ozu’s family portraits, his 1949 masterpiece Late Spring. Playing with Stan Brakhage’s iconic Mothlight (U.S. 1963, 4 min. 16MM), the “essence of lepidoptera re-created between two strips of clear mylar tape: an anima animation. What a moth might see from birth to death if black were white and white were black” (SB).

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Monday, March 18 at 7pm

BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

George Roy Hill (U.S. 1969) 110 min. DCP. With Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Katharine Ross.

This hilarious and wildly romantic look at the infamous Hole in the Wall gang pairs laid back train robber Robert Redford with equally charming partner-in-crime Paul Newman. Katherine Ross is the girl in their life. When a detective agency and railroad owner turn up the heat, the boys flee all the way to Bolivia. Brilliantly scripted by William Goldman, and photographed in painterly beauty by the great master Conrad Hall (Adapted from American Cinematheque notes). Playing with J.J. Murphy’s Sky Blue Water Light Sign (U.S. 1972, 9 min. 16MM ) “My guess is that if one knows what he or she is looking at before seeing this little film, half of its excitement and a good deal of its meaning disappear. Seen in total innocence, though… Sky Blue Water is a wonder… it is one of the happiest, most uplifting short films I’ve ever seen” (Scott MacDonald, Idiolects).

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Monday, March 25 at 7pm

DAISIES

Vera Chytilová (Czechoslovakia 1966) 76 min. 35MM. With Ivana Karbanová, Jitka Cerhová, Julius Albert. Czech with English subtitles.

Maybe the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Vera Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing — food, clothes, men, war — is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.

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Monday, April 1 at 7pm

LANCELOT DU LAC

Robert Bresson (France 1974) 85 min. 35MM. With Luc Simon, Laura Duke Condominas, Humbert Balsan. French with English subtitles.

In Lancelot du lac, Bresson turns from the historical chronicle of Joan of Arc to Arthurian legend. Bresson’s unusual take deflates any notions of heroism, seeming to regard the combat of the knights as mindless slaughter. And the adulterous love between Guinevere and Lancelot, far from being either a cause or a symptom of the decline of Arthur’s reign, becomes here its most human feature. The elliptical narrative is matched by an arresting use of framing and montage that break the Arthurian mythology into sharply delineated shards of armor, bloodshed and rigorously understated pageantry. The film is notoriously dark (visually speaking), as if the celluloid itself were manifesting the kingdom’s nefarious decay (Adapted from Harvard Film Archive notes).

PLAYING WITH

MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL

Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones (UK 1975) 91 min. 35MM. With Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin.

From its opening multi-language titles to the closing arrest of the entire Dark Ages cast by modern-day bobbies, Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s irreverent wit made it an instant cult classic. Savaging the legend of King Arthur with an unending stream of anachronistic one-liners, non-sequiturs, and slapstick set pieces, the Pythonites’ Knights of the Round Table set off in search of the Holy Grail on foot to encounter one absurd escapade after another.

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Monday, April 8 at 7pm

HOLLYWOOD SHUFFLE

Robert Townsend (U.S. 1987) 82 min. 35MM. With Robert Townsend, Craigus R. Johnson, Helen Martin.

Comedian Robert Townsend channeled the frustrations of being black in 1980s Hollywood into this wildly inventive, subversive showbiz satire. Playing a struggling actor, Townsend lampoons the narrow casting of African-Americans — as slaves, criminals, and various “Eddie Murphy types” — while peppering the film with fantasy sequences in which he gets to play his dream roles, from a film noir gumshoe to a Shakespearean king to action hero “Rambro” (BAMCinématek notes). Playing with Isle of Flowers, Jorge Furtado’s acerbic look at the state of humanity (Brazil 1989, 13 min.).

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Monday, April 15 at 7pm

BALLPLAYER: PELOTERO

Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin, and Jon Paley (U.S./Dominican Republic 2011) 77 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles.

This compelling documentary, narrated by John Leguizamo, is a gritty and never before seen look inside the world of professional baseball training camps in the Dominican Republic. Playing with the Oscar-winning documentary A Girl in the River: the Price of Forgiveness (U.S. 2015, 40 min.), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s examination of the tensions between modernism and tradition in Pakistan, told through the lens of a love story.

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Monday, April 22 at 7pm

RATATOUILLE

Brad Bird (U.S. 2007) 111 min. With Patton Oswalt, Brad Garrett, Ian Holm.

This delectable tale of a rat who dreams of becoming a gourmet chef is “a nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times).

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Monday, April 29 at 7pm

LOST IN TRANSLATION

Sofia Coppola (U.S./Japan 2003) 102 min. 35MM. With Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi.

Two Americans cross paths one night in a luxury hotel bar in Tokyo. Bob (Murray) is a movie star shooting a whiskey commercial, while Charlotte (Johansson) is a young woman tagging along with her workaholic photographer husband (Ribisi). This chance meeting soon becomes a surprising friendship. A box office hit, Lost in Translation was nominated for four Oscars, earning one for director Sofia Coppola’s Best Original Screenplay (American Cinematheque notes).

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