Writing Through Film/Media

Wednesday, August 25 at 7pm


Jacques Tati (France 1967) 116 min. DCP. With Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Rita Maiden. French and German with English subtitles.

Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in an age of high technology reached their apotheosis with Playtime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the lovably old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a baffling modern world, this time Paris. With every inch of its super-wide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting record of a modern era tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion.


Wednesday, September 1 at 7pm


Lee Chang-dong (South Korea 2018) 148 min. DCP. With Ah-in Yoo, Steven Yeun, Jong-seo Jun. Korean with English subtitles.

An adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s 1992 short story, itself inspired by William Faulkner’s similarly titled 1939 story “Barn Burning,” the latest from Korean master Lee Chang-dong (Secret Sunshine, Poetry) traces an unusual romantic triangle. It is also an tense “character study that morphs, with masterly patience, subtlety and nary a single wasted minute, into a teasing mystery and eventually a full-blown thriller. To reveal more would ruin the story’s slow-building pleasures, which are less about the haunting final destination than the subtle, razor-sharp microcurrents of class rage, family-inherited pain, everyday ennui and youthful despair that build in scene after scene, even when nothing more seems to be happening than a simple or not-so-simple conversation” (Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times). Named the best film of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival by two critics’ groups (the International Federation of Film Critics and the International Cinephile Society).


Wednesday, September 8 at 7pm


Mati Diop (France, Senegal, Belgium, 2019) 105 min. DCP. With Mame Bineta Sane, Amadou Mbow, Traore, Nicole Sougou. Wolof with English subtitles.

In Senegal’s bustling capital, two young lovers sneak private moments with the urgency of youthful desire, knowing their time is limited, as Ada (newcomer Sané) is soon to be wed to a wealthy but frivolous man. Meanwhile, Souleiman (first-time actor Traoré) hasn’t been paid for weeks and is forced to leave land for the sea in hopes of finding a better life. When he sets off, Ada is haunted by his memory and, then, perhaps more.

Like the works of Denis and Matías Piñeiro, Diop’s film rejects a simple narrative framework, instead focusing on the poetic and thoughtful, with politics that simmer beneath the surface. And like her uncle, the iconic filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty — whose work also explored migration — she refuses a reductive portrait of those dreaming of a better life. Leaving comparisons aside, Diop stands very much on her own two feet with an evocative and stunning study of how love and loss haunts us all. Known for her work in front of the camera (starting with Claire Denis’ 35 Rhums) and her body of short films, Mati Diop made her highly anticipated leap to feature filmmaking. The jump was an assured one, as Atlantics picked up the Jury Grand Prize in Cannes Competition, making Diop the first Black woman to win an award in the French festival’s 72-year history. (Toronto International Film Festival program notes).


Wednesday, September 15 at 7pm


Alfred Hitchcock (US 1954) 114 min. 35MM. With James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey.

Hitchcock’s brilliant meditation on cinema and voyeur- ism binds the viewer to the perspective of photojournalist Stewart, bound to a wheelchair with a broken leg and obsessively spying on his West Village neighbors. One of the Master of Suspense’s greatest successes.