Introduction to Film/Media Studies

Monday, January 23 at 7pm


Directed by Michael Mann (U.S. 1995) 170 min. DCP. With Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer.

Touted as “a master of the modern urban noir” (BAMcinematèk), Michael Mann is also the director regularly chosen to open the Monday night series presented in Professor Ken Eisenstein’s “Introduction to Film Studies” course. In Heat (arguably Mann’s masterpiece), “a tightly wound professional thief (De Niro) and a high-achieving LAPD detective (Pacino) are locked in deadly opposition as they vector towards each other. With his typically powerful choreography of action, sense of epic scope and dazzling use of Los Angeles locales, Mann transforms a gripping heist yarn into a fugue-like existential opera.” (Adapted from BAM notes.)


Monday, January 30 at 7pm


Directed by Fritz Lang (U.S. 1956) 80 min. 35MM. With Dana Andrews, Joan Fontaine, Sidney Blackmer.

Joan Fontaine is the “Lang heroine to end (literally) all Lang heroines” (Dave Kehr), the fiancée of a man who plots his own imprisonment and framing for murder in order to help a newspaper discredit capital punishment. Described by Martin Scorsese as “a savagely stark good- bye to Lang’s adopted country,” Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is an uncompromisingly pessimistic portrait of the modern world. Print Courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.


Monday, February 6 at 7pm


Oscar Micheaux (U.S. 1932) 58 min. With Lawrence Chenault, A.B. DeComathiere, Laura Bowman.

In his seminal essay “Bad Movies,” J. Hoberman describes legendary director Oscar Micheaux as the “Black Pioneer of American film — not just because he was a black man, or because in his youth he pioneered the West, or because he was the greatest figure in ‘race’ movies and an unjustly ignored force in early American cinema. Micheaux is America’s Black Pioneer in the way that André Breton was Surrealism’s Black Pope. His movies throw our history and movies into an alien and startling disarray.” Ten Minutes to Live’s milieu is a Harlem nightclub, where a movie producer attempts to seduce a singer with the promise of a starring role. Playing with Stan Brakhage’s Burial Path (U.S. 1978, 11 minutes, 16MM). “The film begins with an image of a dead bird. The mind moves to forget, as well as to remember: this film, in the tradition of THOT-FAL’N, graphs the process of forgetfulness against all oddities of the remembered bird-shape. This film might best be seen along with Sirius Remembered and The Dead as the third part of a trilogy.” – S.B.


Monday, February 13 at 7pm

Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Directed by Frederick Wiseman (U.S. 2017) 197 min. DCP.

Frederick Wiseman’s film, EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions in the world and reveals it as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning. With 92 locations throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, the library is committed to being a resource for all the inhabitants of this multifaceted and cosmopolitan city, and beyond. The New York Public Library exemplifies the deeply rooted American belief in the individual’s right to know and be informed. It is one of the most democratic institutions in America – everyone is welcome. The Library strives to inspire learning, advance knowledge and strengthen communities.

“Critic’s Pick. Magnificent…lays bare this complex, glorious organism that is the democratic ideal incarnate… In EX LIBRIS, democracy is alive and in the hands of a forceful advocate and brilliant filmmaker, which helps make this one of the greatest movies of Mr. Wiseman’s extraordinary career and one of his most thrilling.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times


Monday, February 20 at 7pm

A Time to Love and a Time to Die

Directed by Douglas Sirk (1958 U.S.) 132 min. 35MM. With John Gavin, Liselotte Pulver, Jock Mahoney. In English, German, Russian with English subtitles.

This heartbreaking adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s anti-war novel is Sirk’s most personal film. Dedicated to the memory of the son Sirk left in Germany, it traces the life of a young soldier (Gavin) sent to the Russian Front and forced to commit atrocities before meeting a girl while on leave. A sense of encroaching death and ruination grants poignancy to the film’s ill-fated love story and detailed portrait of everyday life in Germany during the war. Beautifully shot in ’scope by key Sirk collaborator Russell Metty, it features Remarque and Klaus Kinski in supporting roles (Melbourne Cinémathèque notes).


Monday, February 27 at 7pm

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Directed by Eliza Hittman (1920 U.S.) 101 min. DCP. Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten, Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always was deservedly awarded a special jury prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival for Neorealism, even though no such prize exists. It’s a story ripped directly from the fabric of our times. Newcomer Sidney Flanigan is a revelation as the young teen who travels from her small Pennsylvania town to New York City, where she seeks an abortion amidst a world trying in so many ways not only to deny her but to crush her spirit. Brilliantly shot on location in Super 16mm by Hélène Louvart, the film captures Flanigan braving an inhumane system with a touching mix of tenderness and strength. Real life social worker Kelly Chapman adds another level of realism as a character based on herself (UCLA Hammer Museum).

“A new and radical heroic journey.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times