Italy, Film and the Arts


Wednesday, August 30 at 7pm

THE DECAMERON

Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy/France 1971) 111 min. 35MM. With Franco Citti, Ninetto Davoli, Angela Luce. Italian with English subtitles.

In The Decameron, based on the sexually supercharged tales of Boccaccio, the outspoken Italian postwar artist Pier Paolo Pasolini (filmmaker/poet/novelist/painter/playwright, Christian, Communist and self-proclaimed “inconvenient guest” of modern society) plays the role of an aspiring fresco painter who is advised that his completed work will never be as satisfying as his dream of that work. A bawdy comedy and one of the director’s most popular films, this first installment in Pasolini’s “Trilogy of Life” established the raw viscerality of the series, combining gorgeous period locations with poetry, social satire, slapstick and sexuality.

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Wednesday, September 6 at 7pm

CARAVAGGIO

Derek Jarman (UK 1986) 93 min. With Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Garry Cooper, Tilda Swinton.

the celebrated 17th-century painter through his brilliant, nearly blasphemous paintings and his flirtations with the underworld. Caravaggio incorporates the painter’s precise aesthetic into the movie’s own visuals, while touching on all of Jarman’s major concerns: history, homosexuality, violence and the relationship between painting and film. Derek Jarman, arguably Britain’s most visionary filmmaker, was also the world’s leading gay filmmaker of his day; with its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, the seven-year-in-the-making Caravaggio brought Jarman recognition in the United States as a major filmmaker.

“Jarman felt a kinship with the Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, not only as a fellow queer filmmaker, but also as another critically problematic director who had gained an unshakable, though partly undeserved, reputation for controversy, despite being largely drawn to ‘traditional’ material. Indeed, as Jarman himself noted of his own work, ‘Shakespeare, the Sonnets, Caravaggio, [Benjamin] Britten’s [War] Requiem, what more traditional subject matter could a filmmaker take on? And yet I’m still seen by some as a menace.’” – Brian Hoyle, Senses of Cinema

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Wednesday, September 13 at 7pm

LA SAPIENZA

Eugène Green (Italy/France 2014) 100 min. With Christelle Prot Landman, Fabrizio Rongione. French and Italian with English subtitles.

American expat Eugène Green began making films when he was 53. Thoroughly singular in form and substance, they are an expression of his deep engagement with 16th century Baroque modes of thinking. But the stories are set in contemporary Europe: La Sapienza concerns an architect who goes to Italy to complete his book on the extraordinary Francesco Borromini. He is accompanied by his wife, and their strained relationship shifts upon befriending a pair of Italian siblings, one about to embark in architectural studies, the other suffering from a nervous disorder. Both an art-as-therapy narrative and a moving tour through Borromini’s body of work, Greene’s rumination on the inner soul of people and artistic inspiration is “one of the great documents of an architect’s magisterial brilliance to appear in cinema… Gliding up and across Borromini’s intertwining arches and rings, Green’s camera caresses the intricate ridges of his Roman churches and courtyards. Tilting up until our gaze surpasses the domes’ peaks—often decorated with a cross—he stretches our eyes up into the sky, as if willing the spiritual euphoria that he believes his medium is so inadequate in delivering. And yet, as if by a miracle, it does arrive, falsifying whatever evidence compelled Green to assume he was using a medium built for solely secular pleasures” (Blake Williams, Cinema Scope).

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