Saturday, July 27, 2013
Saturday, January 5, 2013
January 17 – Jiro Dreams of Sushi – 2011 (USA; in Japanese with subtitles) – 81 min., PG (Documentary)
January 24 – Beasts of the Southern Wild - 2012 (USA) - 93 min., PG-13 (Drama/Fantasy)
January 31 – Searching for Sugar Man - 2012 (Sweden/UK) - 86 min., PG-13 (Documentary)
February 7 – Sleepwalk with me - 2012 (USA) - 90 min., PG-13 (Comedy)
February 14 – Le Quattro Volte - 2010 (Italy) - 88 min., Not rated (Drama)
February 21 – Margin Call - 2011 (USA) - 107 min., R (Drama/Thriller)
February 28 - Undefeated - 2011 (USA) - 113 min., PG-13 (Documentary)
March 7 – Le Havre - 2011 (Finland) - 93 min., Not rated (Comedy/Drama)
March 14 – BERNIE - 2011 (USA) -104 min., PG-13 (Comedy/Crime/Drama)
March 21 – Inside Job - 2010 (USA) -105 min., PG-13 (Documentary)
April 4 - Oslo, August 31 - 2011 (Norway) - 95 min., Not rated (Drama)
April 11 – Life in a Day - 2010 (USA/UK) - 95 min., PG-13 (Documentary)
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
"YOU ASKED FOR IT!"
Thursday, October 4 - A Separation (Iran, 2011)
Thursday, October 11 - The Searchers (USA, 1956)
Thursday, October 18 - A Better Life (USA, 2011)
Thursday, October 25 - Undefeated (USA, 2011, documentary)
Thursday, November 1 -The Perfect Game (USA, 2009)
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Sandy: “I finally got around to Taxi Driver last night and I don’t know what I thought. When Betsy follows Travis into that porno theater, the movie lost me.”
Todd (nodding his head): “Yes. That scene always gets to me too. Why didn’t she just dump him at the ticket window? I love the dirt and grime in that movie though and it has two of my favorite scenes.”
Sandy: “Ooh, I bet you’re gonna say, ‘You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me?’”
Todd: “Yep. And the other is when Travis says ‘All the animals come out at night – whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets. I go all over. I take people to the Bronx, I take’em to Harlem. I don’t care. Don’t make no difference to me. It does to some. Some won’t even take spooks. Don’t make no difference to me.”
Sandy (eyes popping): “You’re weird. You actually memorized that?”
Todd: “Sure. It’s one of the most quotable movies ever. I slip bits into conversation every day. I don’t recommend telling the boss he needs to get organ-a-zized though.”
Sandy: “Not pretty?”
Todd (staring at his shoes): “No.”
Todd (after a long pause): “I don’t think it’s Scorsese’s best movie of the ‘70s though. I’m like a total fanboy of Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”
Sandy: “I’ve never seen it. Is it really that good? Nobody ever talks about it.”
Todd: “Good? It’s just about perfect. And it has so many things in common with Taxi Driver. Harvey Keitel plays a great psycho, Jodie Foster plays a streetwise kid, Kris Kristofferson is the love interest, and the taxi station guy has a funny bit as a bar owner. He keeps saying to Alice, ‘I don’t even have a piano in here’ and it’s hilarious.”
Sandy: “Why is that funny?”
Todd: “You gotta see it I guess. But, trust me. It’s hysterical.”
Sandy rolls her eyes.
Todd: “Critic Robin Wood was too hard on the movie. He paired it with An Unmarried Woman – which is pretty crappy – as an example of how women’s liberation doesn’t really happen in Hollywood movies because both women end up shacked up with burly, bearded men who take care of them.
“What he doesn’t mention is that Alice was far more torn apart over leaving her best friend – a woman – than leaving her husband. The classic romantic challenge of the story isn’t between Alice and David (played by Kristofferson), but between Alice and Flo. David is just as potentially violent as all the other men in Alice’s life and she doesn’t make up with him until he promises things will be different. She decides not to go to Monterey which symbolizes marriage as she’s always known it (the movie opens with a scene in Monterey that evokes The Wizard of Oz) and we never get a neat, final image of Alice and David in each other’s arms or some such crap.
“No, Alice doesn’t live here – with ‘here’ meaning traditional marriage – anymore. I see her in some sort of mutually supportive relationship with both David and Flo after the movie ends.”
Sandy (lost in thought): “I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t mind shacking up with a burly, bearded Kris Kristofferson.”
The boss pokes his head into the break room and drums his fingers against the side of the fridge.
They fill their coffee mugs and head back to their desks, until their next break.
Friday, April 6, 2012
My wife often accuses me of being a pessimist. I prefer to think I just have something of a melancholic nature.
I’m not a popular picker of movies in my house. A typical exchange on a Saturday night goes like this.
“Let’s watch a movie together.”
“How about The Last Picture Show?”
“Is it funny or all dreary and depressing?”
“Ummm, never mind.”
My first two girlfriends, many years ago, bore a striking resemblance to the girl in the painting The Wistful Look by James Carroll Beckwith. The first kept asking why I wanted to be with someone so morose. The other has since inspired many a dreary and depressing short story.
My fiction has had a definite preoccupation with suicides (I’ve known two people who did so and one who tried, twice). And murder and zombies have also found their way into my sad little tales.
By the way, I’m telling you this, not to make you listen as I lie upon a couch, but to tell you, in a roundabout way, why I felt a strong connection to Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, Von Trier being a most melancholy man.
After her husband is paralyzed and attempts suicide, Bess is ordered by him to satisfy her sexual needs with other men, with tragic results. As she gradually goes blind, Selma shoots a man who is trying to steal from her and is tried and executed. Grace is persecuted by everyone in a town except a dog named Moses. These aren’t stories from the world’s happiest guy.
Von Trier’s latest stars Kirsten Dunst as Justine, a young woman who suffers from melancholia. She can be seemingly happy one moment and so depressed the next that she can hardly move. Most of the first half of the movie shows us her wedding reception. She has married a sweet guy, but she spends the evening refusing his wedding night advances, having sex on a golf course with a co-worker before spurning him, and telling her boss what she really thinks of him. Basically, she rejects her life.
She can’t cope with the everyday. It reminded me of how despairing I become if my wife tells me she has been feeling tired lately. What would I do without her I wonder? It reminded me of the despair I feel every time I pay bills.
The second half of the movie deals with its huge element. In a state of depression, Justine is holed up on an estate with her sister Claire, brother-in-law John, and their young son. They all watch helplessly as a giant rogue planet named Melancholia tracks Earth on a collision course.
Von Trier was inspired by the insight that melancholics can be surprisingly tranquil in the face of catastrophe. Justine watches the planet approach with calm detachment. It’s Claire who freaks out and John who downs a bottle of sleeping pills.
I often think about how short human history is in the scheme of the universe and how quickly it could all be over. The Sun does something unexpected and suddenly it is as if The Holy Bible, Shakespeare, and Stephenie Meyer had never happened. I don’t run around stocking a shelter full of supplies and buying rifles though. I just sit back and enjoy the possibility of Stephenie Meyer never happening.
As Melancholia nears Earth, birds fall from the sky and we and Justine observe them abstractly in slow motion. These images feel un-real in the way I remember images of people falling from the Towers on 9/11 feeling. I’m glad they felt that way. They would’ve been overwhelming otherwise.
On Thursday, January 12, at 7:00 PM, we will host the world premiere of the locally produced documentary, tentatively titled "Sh..." It relates the story, so far, of The Group That Opened The Box. I've seen it and loved it. We will be selling series tickets in the Sidney J. Lee Auditorium (BSC campus) lobby before and after the screening. There will also be much opportunity for discussion.
The series then continues at the Grand Theaters with the ageless classic "Harold and Maude." This film has meant something different to me each decade of my life as my identification has gradually shifted from Harold to Maude.
All screenings on Thursdays at 3:00 and 5:30 at the Grand Theaters are:
January 19 - Harold and Maude, USA 1971
January 26 - The Interruptors, USA 2011
February 2 - Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, Thailand 2010*
February 9 - The Guard, Ireland 2011
February 16 - Meek’s Cutoff, USA 2010
February 23 - Fish Tank, UK 2009
March 1 - Tabloid, USA 2011
March 8 - Beginners, USA 2010
March 22 - Another Year, UK 2010
March 29 - The Tree of Life, USA 2011*
April 12 - Touching the Void, USA 2003
April 19 - The Illusionist, UK/France 2010
* - Designates the film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Monday, March 5, 2012
She had me. Hayao Miyazaki snuck this one in on me, the household movie know-it-all. My excuse, it wasn’t officially directed by the master. His protégé Hiromasa Yonebayashi did the honors. But, it has Miyazaki’s fingerprints all over it. From the very first image of too blue sky and white, billowy clouds; I knew I was in good hands.
As a young man passes through a tunnel of trees to arrive at an old house born as if from fairytales, I settled back into my seat with a sigh. Memories of My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Ponyo – my three favorite Miyazaki movies – danced through my thoughts.
My daughter and I talked about the movie afterwards:
Me: I knew I was going to love that movie from the very first shot. Miyazaki has such a passion for nature. I’ve never seen an animated movie so filled from corner to corner of the frame with life, trees and plants and flowers.
Her: I just love all the moments when he holds on images of nature and how that nature always seems to be opening up before us. There’s something so delightfully, I dunno, random about his view of nature.
Me: He is probably the cinema’s most passionate environmental activist. He should be a spokesperson for Greenpeace or something. Just think about the great spirit of the river in Spirited Away, nauseated to overflowing with the river’s pollution. And, of course, saving the environment is everything in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Her: And nobody does sunsets better. I forget I’m watching an animated movie sometimes because nobody else makes them the way he does.
Me: This movie seemed a first in a way. He has always loved to include magic in his movies. Parents who make pigs of themselves and then literally turn into pigs, a little fish that turns into a little girl so she can befriend a little boy, and a young witch flying around on a broomstick in Kiki’s Delivery Service are all Miyazaki favorites. But, here, he makes tiny people living beneath the floor of a house seem completely natural.
Her: I agree, totally. He is so good at making all of his characters, no matter how fantastic, seem real. It’s like mom reading the Pern stories and wanting to have her own pet dragon. This movie made me want to have my own dollhouse filled with little people. Remember how I wanted my own pet dust creatures after watching Totoro? That’s what his stories and his imagination do for me. And the stories are so touching they make me cry.
I highly recommend that parents share Arrietty with their kids. A mother sat in front of us with her two small children, so small they were dwarfed by their boxes of popcorn. And those kids were totally enraptured. They had chattered nonstop before the lights went down. But once the tale of tiny borrowers journeying through an enormous kitchen to steal a sugar cube got underway, they sat perfectly still, not another peep.
Their mom looked pleased. She sat back, laughed, and had a great time as well. Miyazaki is very healthy food for young kids of all ages.