2018 FALL CINEMA SERIES
September 5: HAIL, CAESAR!
Ethan and Joel Coen, 2016, USA
The Fall season opens with the Coen Brothers’ love letter to the Golden Age of American cinema, a madcap tribute to the studio legends, bathing beauties, gossip columnists, and bygone genres that made Hollywood the ultimate dream factory. Shot by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, and featuring a starry cast including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Ralph Fiennes, and Jonah Hill, this delightful comedy reconstructs the production methods of countless frivolous musicals, historically inaccurate epics, and over the top aquatic extravaganzas. Behind all that glitter, the politics of the Cold War and the Red Scare were working at full steam. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Production Design. 106 min.
September 12: I'M NOT SCARED
Gabriele Salvatores, 2003, Italy
Shot from the perspective of its young protagonists, this coming-of-age tale revolves around Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano), a good-natured, imaginative boy who hares around the countryside with his sister and a gang of friends. When Michele discovers a terrible crime committed by the adults of his small town, he needs to make a difficult and undesirable decision that will inevitably mark his transition into adulthood. Based on the eponymous bestseller by Niccolò Ammaniti and directed by Gabriele Salvatores (Academy Award winner for Mediterraneo), I’m not scared won several awards (including Best Cinematograph and Music) at top international film festivals. 108 min.
September 19: PLEASANTVILLE
Gary Ross, 1998, USA
David (Tobey Maguire) is a 1990s kid with a 1950s addiction: a classic b&w TV series called Pleasantville, where life is simple, firemen rescue cats from trees, toilets don’t exist, and married couples sleep in separate beds. When David and his sister (Reese Witherspoon) get into a fight over the remote control and break it, a mysterious TV repairman shows up to replace it with a new clicker that zaps the two siblings straight into Pleasantville. The exhilarating adventures that ensue in this monochromatic world of OZ will inevitably change David’s relationship with reality, but before he can learn Dorothy’s lesson (“there’s no place like home”), he’ll have to deal with the unpredictable changes that occur to people who have been denying reality for too long. Nominated for 3 Academy Awards, including Best Score, Costume Design, Art Direction. 124 min.
September 26: WILD AT HEART
David Lynch, 1990, USA
Angry, scared, and oversexed, Lula (Laura Dern) and Sailor (Nicolas Cage) are on the run from Lula’s psychopathic mother (Diane Ladd). Determined to make it to California, they get involved with a series of grotesque, dangerous characters (Willem Dafoe, Crispin Glover, Isabella Rossellini, and Harry Dean Stanton), which turn their getaway into a Bonnie-and-Clyde rampage across the Deep South. Like in his cult TV series Twin Peaks, shot and released around the same time, David Lynch takes a classic genre (the road movie) and turns it upside down, through a spectacular pastiche styles, genres, and narrative fragmentation, where the boundaries between dream and reality are continuously blurred by cinematic references to The Wizard of Oz. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. 125 min.
October 3: SHADOW OF A DOUBT
Alfred Hitchcock, 1943, USA
Alfred Hitchcock fell in love with Northern California while he was shooting Rebecca (1940) and was looking for a location that would resemble the cliffs of Monte Carlo. He found it in small cove near Carmel. The following year he was back, trying to create a fictional English town around Big Sur, for Suspicion (1941). A couple of years later, while looking for the backdrop for his psychological thriller Shadows of a Doubt he ventured further North, in the small town of Santa Rosa (population 13,000, in 1943). He completed production in 4 weeks, shooting the exteriors around Railroad Square, at the train station, the library, and the Tower Theater, and using a small studio lot for the interiors. Similarly to what George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola would do with Petaluma in American Graffiti and Peggy Sue Got Married, several years later, Hitchcock used Santa Rosa to convey a mythical, stylized idea of Americana, based on a personal experience, “the most pleasant one on a film location,” according to the master of suspense. And as he stated in many late interviews, Shadow of the Doubt remained his favorite film, among the ones he directed. Starring Joseph Cotton and Teresa Wright. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. 108 min.
October 10: FRIDA
Julie Taymor, 2002, USA, Canada, Mexico
Selma Hayek produced, choreographed and played the leading role in this powerful and impassioned biopic on the life, art and political action of Frida Kahlo, the prolific Mexican painter revered by the Chicano, the Feminist, the LGBTQ and the Surrealist movement. Thanks to stunning tableaux vivants of Kahlo’s paintings and through the usage of a wide range of techniques, including stop-motion animation, visionary director Julie Taymor brings to life the creative process of a strong, resilient, and talented woman, who took the painful and tormented relationship with her body, her complicated love story with Diego Rivera (Alfred Molina) and turned them into art. Nominated for six Academy Awards, the film won Best Original Score and Make-up. 123 min. Cultural Anthropologist and Mexican-American studies specialist Dr. Amanda Morrison will be offering an introduction to the film.
October 17: ISLE OF DOGS
Wes Anderson, 2018, Germany, USA
Set on a remote “refu-centre” off the coast of Japan, where thousands of pet dogs have been abandoned due to a flu outbreak, Wes Anderson’s second incursion into animation features the usual trademarks of his visual and narrative style (i.e., symmetrical frame compositions, crafted miniatures, camera looks, chapterized narratives) enriched with references to Japanese theater, cinema, and popular culture. Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Direction at the Berlin Film Festival, the film features the voices of Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, and Scarlett Johansson. 101 min.
October 24: THE BRAND NEW TESTAMENT
Jaco Van Dormael, 2015, Belgium, France, Luxembourg
Belgian filmmaker Jaco van Dormael (Toto the Hero, Mr. Nobody) delivers a hilarious, irreverent, and yet never offensive religious satire, centered on a basic theological statement: “God exists and lives in Brussels,” in a small apartment, with his wife and daughter—a rebellious teenager named Ea, who undermines his authority. From his office he invents the laws of Universal Annoyance—the rules that make sure that the check-out line that you pick at the grocery store will always be the slowest, or that your phone will wait to ring until you enter the bathtub. Differently from most religious satires, this premise is not used to lecture us about bigotry, religious fundamentalism, or the dangers that similar allegorical stories pose, if taken literally. Instead, when Ea decides to escape into the world and recruit her own apostles, the film brings to life a series of bizarre, absurd, and yet genuine, loving characters, whose personal stories take the form of celebrations of the multiple, wonderful ways through which love expresses itself, regardless of religious beliefs. 114 min.
October 31: HALLOWEEN
John Carpenter, 1978, USA
Perhaps the most widely imitated film of the 1970s, John Carpenter’s acclaimed and controversial slasher movie marked an important step in the history of the horror cinema, by establishing new ways of creating suspense and by defining genre conventions that would be picked up and imitated in countless movies of the following decades. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film’s release, Halloween will be introduced by its legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey (Jurassic Park, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Apollo 13, Back to the Future, etc.). 91 min.
November 7: BLACKKKLANSMAN
Spike Lee, 2018, USA
Based on Ron Stallworth’s memoir Black Klansman, Spike Lee’s latest film tells the real story of a black detective, played by John David Washington (Denzel’s son) who, in the 1970s, managed to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan by pretending to be white, in a series of phone conversations with the clan’s leader, an by sending a white colleague (Adam Driver) to the face-to-face meetings. The result is a dark comedy that combines classic moments of disguise and mistaken identity with a mocking satire of the KKK and its members. The comparison with the current state of politics is inevitable and is impeccably delivered by Lee himself. Shot in the style of the blaxploitation films of the 1970s, the film was produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) and won the Jury’s Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival. 135 min.
November 14: A SPECIAL DAY
Ettore Scola, 1977, Italy
Throughout the 1960s, no other movie couple evoked quintessential ideas of passion, romance, beauty, and comedy “Italian Style” than Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. The chemistry and eroticism that they were able to radiate from the big screen was so indissolubly connected to their typecasting, that when in the late 1970s they agreed to play the unglamorous roles an abused housewife and a homosexual persecuted by the Fascist regime, nobody was expecting a film that would leave a memorable mark in their career. And yet, the simple but profound story of the chance encounter between these two characters, sealed the actors’ career with what critics and film historians define as the couple’s best performance. A powerful indictment of the dehumanizing aspects of Fascism, the film takes place against the ironic backdrop of the “special day” when Hitler and Mussolini sanctioned their alliance in a militarized Rome. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. Nominated for 2 Academy Awards including Best Foreign Film and Best Actor. The film is presented in a restored version supervised by director Ettore Scola. 106 min.
November 28: GLORIA
John Cassavetes, 1980, USA
Gena Rowlands is Gloria Swenson (pun intended), a classy ex-mob dame who finds herself on the run with six-year-old Phil (Juan Adames), a prematurely macho Puerto Rican boy whose family is killed by the mafia after his father entrusts him with a ledger of mob accounts. Gloria neither likes not understands children (director Cassavetes said that he “intentionally wanted to avoid a traditional mother-son relationship”), and yet she understands that the boy has no chance to survive on his own. The resulting film is an exploration of feminine strength, resilience, and personal agency, at a time when female action heroes were a hard sell—the studio delayed the film’s release for more than a year, for that reason. Directed by Indie grandfather John Cassavetes (Gena Rowland’s husband), the film won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival and Rowland was nominated for a Golden Glove and an Academy Award for best actress. 123 min.
December 5: IN AMERICA
Jim Sheridan, 2002, Ireland, UK, USA
A young Irish family emigrates to New York, in the 1980s, seeking work and solace after the tragic death of the youngest son. The father (Paddy Considine) is an actor looking for a job and the mother (Samantha Morton) tries to hold the family together and make life acceptable in the rough neighborhood where they move. The two daughters (Sarah and Emma Bolger) are the ones who manage to transition the whole family to a place of comfort. Acclaimed Irish filmmaker Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father) cowrote this semi-autobiographical movie with his two daughters. The result is a touching, uplifting, and unexpectedly funny portrayal of life from the viewpoint of the girls, who teach us that happiness depends on the lens that you use to look at your life. The film was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and 2 Golden Globes for screenwriting and acting performances and picked up over 27 of top festivals prizes both in the US and abroad. 105 min.
December 12: PAPER MOON
Peter Bogdanovich, 1973, USA
In the midst of the Great Depression, con man Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal) agrees to deliver young orphan Addie Loggins (Tatum O’Neal) to distant relatives. When he finds out that the girl can be an asset in his con-games, he lets her go along in an adventure across the American Midwest, stealing, swindling, and selling the moon. Adapted from David Brown’s novel Addie Pray, the film was renamed Paper Moon on Orson Welles’s suggestion, and became one of the most successful and beloved films by Peter Bogdanovich. Tatum O’ Neil became the youngest ever actress to be awarded an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (she was 10 years old) and Laszlo Kovacs won several awards for the deep focus b&w cinematography inspired by the frame compositions of the cinema of Howard Hawks, John Ford, and the photographs Dorothea Lange. Nominated for 4 Academy Awards and 2 Gold Globes, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Acting Performances. 102 min.