Posts Tagged ‘Cinematheque’

“The Cool World” at the Cinematheque

July 15, 2010

As you may or may not know, the Cinematheque will continue its summer program tomorrow night with Shirley Clarke’s “The Cool World” (1964), her mock-cinéma verité drama shot and set in Harlem. Jacques Rivette, whose “L’amour fou” (1969) is often said to have been influenced by Clarke, named “The Cool World” one of his ten favorite films of 1964, placing it alongside such remarkable achievements as Jean-Luc Godard’s “Band of Outsiders,” Carl Th. Dreyer’s “Gertrud” and Michelangelo Antonioni’s “The Red Desert” (any of y’all seen that last one on Blu-Ray yet?). That, ladies and germs, is lofty company.

While I’ve yet to see any of Clarke’s films, I have seen the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research’s extensive collection of her films, home movies, personal documents, etc.; for whatever reason, Wisconsin definitely seems to have a thing for her. The screening, which begins at the C-tek’s new start time of 7PM, will surely be one of the most worthwhile cinematic events ’round these parts all summer. Be there.

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“Dishonored” at the Cinematheque tonight

July 2, 2010

The Cinematheque begins its summer program tonight with a screening that is, in my book, cause for celebration: Josef von Sternberg’s “Dishonored” (1931), starring—who else—Marlene Dietrich as “smoldering secret agent X-27, an Austrian spy behind enemy lines (and between enemy sheets) in WWI” (this wonderful description comes courtesy of the Cinematheque’s website, where you can also find the rest of its schedule for July).

Jean-Luc Godard deemed “Dishonored” the 10th best American sound film in the December 1963/January 1964 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, placing it alongside such untouchable masterpieces as Orson Welles’s “The Lady From Shanghai,” Otto Preminger’s “Angel Face,” Nicholas Ray’s “Bigger Than Life” and Charles Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.” The opportunity to see this film, which isn’t currently available on DVD here (or anywhere, it seems), is not to be missed.

The Dietrich-Sternberg alliance shined with a sort of negative luminosity and emotional fragility when “The Blue Angel” played at the Play Circle in January; expect tonight’s screening to be a similarly phenomenal—though probably more baroque, thanks in no small part to the Paramount C.R.E.A.M. with which the film was made—display of Sternberg’s singular cinematic artistry. The screening begins at 7 at Vilas Hall. See you there?

Summertime Cinematheque

June 17, 2010

I wanted to direct your attention toward the UW Cinematheque’s newly released summer schedule, which was announced just yesterday. The ‘theque will be rolling out an absolutely stacked (though somewhat abbreviated) program, to say the least: Josef von Sternberg’s “Dishonored” (1931), John Huston’s “The African Queen” (1952), Shirley Clarke’s “The Cool World” (1964) and a series of contemporary Baltic films, to name just an eye-popping few.

Yes, the wait was painfully long, but the Cinematheque’s summer program, so full of rarities and relatively obscure classics, looks as good as anything to grace the Madison film scene in recent memory. I hope to see y’all there.

Is there a programmer in the house?

May 25, 2010

I just stopped by the Cinematheque’s website to see whether they’ve announced their summer schedule yet (they haven’t) and discovered this: The ‘theque is looking for a new Director of Programming. Information about the job and how to apply for it can be found in a pdf here.

If I were to stumble upon such an opportunity, say, a decade from now, I’d be all over it. Alas, the “at least 3 years of programming experience” and “experience writing successful grants and managing budgets” requirements disqualify me in a big way.

So if you think you’re up to the task and you’re dying to line up at least one more phenomenal retrospective for me to catch before I leave town, you should definitely throw your name in the hat.

“Design for Living” at the Cinematheque + A symposium dedicated to Kristin Thompson

April 30, 2010

Is that a mouthful of a title or is that a mouthful of a title?

Tomorrow night the Cinematheque will screen a restored print of Ernst Lubitsch’s “Design for Living” (1933), regarded by many as one of the high priest of classical Hollywood comedy’s greatest achievements. The film’s story is well-known and—dare I say it—timeless, following a woman (played by Miriam Hopkins) and two men (Gary Cooper and Frederic March, who happens to be the Play Circle’s namesake) who vow to “forget sex” and enter into a Platonic ménage à trois. As you might expect, hijinx ensue—“The Mother and the Whore” it ain’t. The screening will begin at 7:30 at Vilas Hall.

“Design for Living” was selected by former UW professor Kristin Thompson as the capstone for a symposium dedicated to her work entitled “Movies, Media, and Methods.” The scholarly festivities will begin tomorrow morning at 9 and will run practically all day long.

Thompson is, of course, the co-author of the film studies bible that is Film Art: An Introduction. Several of the papers scheduled to be delivered at the symposium sound very interesting—in particular, a paper by University of Chicago professor Yuri Tsivian entitled “Chaplin and the Russian Avant-Garde: The Law of Fortuity in Art” (10:45AM) and a paper by University of Texas-Austin professor Janet Staiger (who co-authored The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 with Thompson and David Bordwell) entitled “Nuking the Fridge: Great Expectations and Affective Reception” (1:15PM).

Who knows, you (and I) just might learn something.

“The Killers” at the Cinematheque

April 29, 2010

The Cinematheque will continue its incredibly varied Spring program on Friday night with a restored print of Richard Siodmark’s “The Killers” (1946), a noir of sorts adapted from the famous Hemingway story of the same name. The film stars Burt Lancaster in his screen debut as a murdered boxer whose doomed life becomes the obsession of an insurance investigator (played by Edmond O’Brien); “The Killers” also features a performance by Ava Gardner as the film’s requisite femme fatale. I love these remarks about the film made by the novelist Jonathan Lethem (taken from the Cinematheque’s website): “[“The Killers”] is lousy with writerly talent” and “as nested with weird resonances as it is glamorous with obvious pleasures.” What’s not to love? The screening will begin at 8:05, following two more episodes of “The Adventures of Captain Marvel” (1941) at 7:30.

“Andrei Rublev” at the Cinematheque

April 22, 2010

“Why do people go to the cinema? What takes them into a darkened room where, for two hours, they watch the play of shadows on a sheet? The search for entertainment? The need for a kind of drug? All over the world there are, indeed, entertainment firms and organizations which exploit cinema and television and spectacles of many other kinds. Our starting-point, however, should not be there, but in the essential principles of cinema, which have to do with the human need to master and know the world. I think that what a person normally goes to the cinema for is time: for time lost or spent or not yet had. He goes there for living experience; for cinema, like no other art, widens, enhances and concentrates a person’s experience—and not only enhances it but makes it longer, significantly longer. That is the power of cinema: ‘stars’, story-lines and entertainment have nothing to do with it.” – Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

Tomorrow night Madison cinephiles will receive a truly awesome opportunity: the chance to see a 35mm print of the 185-minute version of Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” (1966), an immensely sweeping and intellectually loaded work that sticks out in its director’s immensely sweeping and intellectually loaded oeuvre.

“Andrei Rublev” is dramatically slow but so busy with big ideas and shards of cinematic poetry that it’s perhaps the second best illustration of Tarkovsky’s signature aesthetics (second only to his 1975 masterpiece, “Mirror,” which is one of my all-time favorite films).

Here’s Jonathan Rosenbaum’s capsule review, courtesy of the Chicago Reader:

Andrei Tarkovsky’s first major film (1966, though banned and unseen until 1971), 185 minutes long, cowritten by Andrei Konchalovsky, about a 15th-century icon painter. This medieval epic announced the birth of a major talent; it also stuns with the sort of unexpected poetic explosions we’ve come to expect from Tarkovsky: an early flying episode suggesting Gogol, a stirring climax in color. Not to be missed.

The screening will begin at 7:30 and will be accompanied by a talk from film scholar Robert Bird, who wrote the BFI monograph on “Andrei Rublev.” Be sure to consume something caffeinated before you head to the ‘theque.

“Shadow of a Doubt” at the Cinematheque

April 8, 2010

This Friday night UW’s Cinematheque will screen a recently restored 35mm print of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt” (1943), a film that many consider to be among Hitch’s greatest. The screening will begin at 8:05, following two more episodes of “The Adventures of Captain Marvel” (which I haven’t been keeping up with and thus can’t really comment on).

For a properly Hitchcockian cocktail of style and suspense, it’s tough to beat “Shadow of a Doubt”; the opportunity to see a fresh new print of it projected on the big screen is invaluable. (The movie also happens to be the namesake for Sonic Youth’s Hitchcock-inspired song of the same name from their fourth album, Evol. The music video, which I’ve included above, is a mandatory look-and-listen. One of my absolute favorite songs by them.)

The importance of biography

March 24, 2010

Spring break is rapidly approaching and UW students are gettin’ ready to head for the hills. Some of us have cleared our last few academic hurdles, earning the right to enjoy 8 days of R&R or, in my case, coffee and I-90.

But wait! There’s still some cinematic activity on campus that you might want to consider checking out before you depart for Cancun or Daytona or wherever. (Just try not to go home—there’s no there there.)

On Thursday night at 7:30 the Cinematheque is hosting a talk with Joseph McBride, author of several biographies of canonical filmmakers (Steven Spielberg, Howard Hawks, Frank Capra, Orson Welles), the most pertinent of which is 2001’s Searching for John Ford. Here’s a link to Jonathan Rosenbaum’s rave review, which I seriously recommend reading.

According to the Cinematheque’s website, McBride is going to lecture “about the ways biographical research can inform our understanding of films”; his discourse will lead into the Cinematheque’s screening of Ford’s final film, “7 Women” (1966), on Friday night at 7:30. For us armchair film historians, this is something of a big deal. It’s a crying shame that so many of us will be on the road and unable to take advantage of such a rare opportunity (“7 Women” is currently unavailable on DVD).

One post, one measly post

February 17, 2010

I owe you guys something, anything—and “something, anything” is precisely what ye shall receive: Head on over to David Bordwell’s blog and read his latest post about the perfectly imperfect science of preserving and restoring avant-garde films. Bordwell’s post is partly inspired by “Things Are Always Going Wrong,” the excellent program of experimental shorts made by L.A.-based filmmakers in the 60s and 70s that screened at the Cinematheque last Saturday night. Not coincidentally, a portion of my column in the DC this week is devoted to discussing/raving about “Things Are Always Going Wrong,” which may prove to have been the semester’s most remarkable cinematic event. Now get out of here and let me do my work.