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September/October 2006 Film Calendar

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September 26, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema is a collaboration of the Northwestern University School of Communication, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the student-run Film and Projection Society.

All films are screened in the Pick-Laudati Auditorium at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Free parking is available in the lot directly south of the museum.

Unless noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, students with ID's and senior citizens. Films in the “Reeltime” and “French and Italian” series are free. Special events are $10. Season passes are $20. Tickets are available 30 minutes before show time.

For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or go to the Block Cinema Web site at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

This fall, Block Cinema will screen three new film series. The “Stanley Kubrick” series will focus on films by director, writer and cinematographer Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999), one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century. Kubrick's innovative cinematic techniques helped redefine the medium. His independent filmmaking career began with cinematographically driven short works such as “Day of the Fight” (1951). Block Cinema will present this early film, which shows the influence of street photography on Kubrick's camera work. Unlike many directors, Kubrick frequently insisted on operating the camera himself and there are a few cinematic tricks that distinguish him, notably sweeping tracking shots, aerial pans and frequent zooms. His films also include repeated and intense close-ups.

The “Couples on the Run” series combines three distinctive American genres -- the road movie, the gangster picture and film noir. This film series melds tragic love with crime and violence. Films like “Bonnie and Clyde” (Oct. 26) and “Badlands” (Nov. 9) introduced a new kind of American couple doomed by their own vices, but redeemed by their love for each other.

The “Fantasy Films from the 1980s” will feature mind-bending, comic and over-the-top fantasy films from this decade. Produced by Jim Henson, Wolfgang Peterson, Sam Raimi, Terry Gilliam, Rob Reiner and others, they are marvels of unapologetic silliness set in lands populated by elfin beings. To the generation who grew up with them, these are the movies (“Labyrinth” (Sept. 29), “The Dark Crystal” (Oct. 6), “The NeverEnding Story” (Oct. 13), ”Time Bandits” (Oct. 20), “Princess Bride” (Oct. 27), “Flight of the Navigator” (Nov. 3), “Conan the Barbarian” (Nov. 10) and ”The Lost Boys” (Nov. 17) that launched slumber parties.

In addition, the Reeltime Independent Film and Video Forum is a presentation of award-winning independent feature, documentary and short-subject films and videos. The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art and the Evanston Public Library, in partnership with project directors Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer, jointly sponsor the free series. Each screening is followed by a discussion with the audience.

Also scheduled is a French and Italian Movie Weekend (Sept. 30-Oct. 1).

The department of English, Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, The Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, School of Communication, School of Music, The Office of the President, Norris Center Bookstore and Alumnae of Northwestern University will sponsor its first annual One Book/One Northwestern “Othello” Project. The entire Northwestern community is encouraged to read “Othello” and see it come to life in its many incarnations and forms. Related events will be held throughout the fall quarter. As part of this project, Block Cinema will screen Orson Welles' 1952 film “Othello” (Oct. 11). For more information visit <http://www.wcas.northwestern.edu/>.

SEPTEMBER 2006 FILMS

Stanley Kubrick, “The Killing,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, free (Stanley Kubrick, 1956, United States, 84 minutes, 35mm). “The Killing,” one of the great crime films of the 1950s, was written in collaboration with pulp novelist Jim Thompson (“The Grifters,” “The Killer Inside Me”). Written directly for the screen, Thompson joined with Kubrick to concoct a story about a desperate gang of lowlifes, led by grim, determined mastermind Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden), who devises and executes a complex racetrack robbery.

Couples on the Run, “You Only Live Once,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28 (Fritz Lang, 1937, United States, 86 minutes video). Depression-era Hollywood produced a slew of movies about sympathetic criminals victimized by an unfeeling society, but few have the power of this Fritz Lang tale of crime and revenge. Henry Fonda is Eddie Taylor, a convict released to a new life. Sylvia Sidney is his new bride, convinced of his essential goodness. Their dreams are crushed by a hostile world, as their every ambition turns into a dead end.

The 80s, “Labyrinth,” 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 (Jim Henson, 1986, United States, 111 minutes, 35mm). This fantasy combines the imaginative visuals of puppet master Jim Henson with a surreal script written by Monty Python veteran Terry Jones. While babysitting her screaming baby brother, teenage Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) offhandedly wishes that he be kidnapped by goblins. Unfamiliar with sibling sarcasm, Jareth the Goblin King (David Bowie) translates Sarah's wish into action. When Sarah protests, Jareth offers her a deal: if she can make her way through his magic labyrinth in 13 hours, she will get her brother back. If not, Jareth will claim him as his own.

French and Italian Movie Weekend, “Huit Femmes,” 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, free (François Ozon, 2002, France and Italy, 111 minutes, 35mm). Three generations of French actresses are featured in this comedy-musical-murder mystery. When a wealthy industrialist is found murdered, eight women close to him become suspects. Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Danielle Darrieux, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard are the glamorous leading ladies. It will be shown in French with English subtitles.

French and Italian Movie Weekend, “Ginger and Fred,” 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, free (Federico Fellini, 1986, France, Italy and Germany, 125 minutes, 35 mm). A biting satire of television, Fellini's film is also a touching look back at lost love and frustrated ambition. Working once again with his wife, Giulietta Masina, Fellini pairs her with Marcello Mastroianni. Together they portray retired Astaire and Rodgers impersonators reunited after 30 years for a nostalgic TV variety show.

OCTOBER 2006 BLOCK CINEMA FILMS

French and Italian Movie Weekend, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, free (Jacques Demy, 1967, France and Germany, 120 minutes, 35mm). “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” was Catherine Deneuve's first big success and remains one of her best-known films. Restored to its original day-glo colors by director Jacques Demy's wife Agnes Varda in 1994, every line in “Umbrellas” is sung. It is a bittersweet love story about Genevieve (Deneuve) who adores Guy, an auto mechanic, despite her mother's disapproval.

Stanley Kubrick, ”Killer's Kiss,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 (Stanley Kubrick, 1955, United States, 67 minutes, 35mm). At age 27, Kubrick directed his second feature, “Killer's Kiss.” The film is about Davy, a washed up prizefighter, who comes to the rescue of his platinum blonde neighbor Gloria when her hoodlum lover, Vincent Rapallo, attacks her. Davy and Gloria fall in love, but their plans to leave gritty New York for a simpler life are jeopardized by a jealous Rapallo. Shot on location in New York, Kubrick's sophisticated use of sound and austere visual style created a hyper-realistic atmosphere, which he later developed as his trademark.

Stanley Kubrick, “Paths of Glory,” 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 (Stanley Kubrick, 1957, United States, 86 minutes, 35mm). Based on the novel by Humphrey Cobb, the film was initiated by Kirk Douglas, who chose the young Kubrick to direct. In one of his finest roles, Douglas plays Colonel Dax, commander of a battle-worn French regiment along the western front during World War I. His regiment is ordered on a suicidal mission to capture a German stronghold, and when the mission fails, French generals select three soldiers to be tried and executed on the charge of cowardice. Dax is appointed as defense attorney for the chosen scapegoats. Kubrick's depiction of the trial, a travesty of justice, is still relevant and powerful decades later.

Couples on the Run, “They Live by Night,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 (Nicholas Ray, 1948, United States, 95 minutes, 35mm. When Robert Altman's later adaptation of Edward Anderson's novel “Thieves Like Us” opted for the detachment of hindsight, Nicholas Ray chose the poetry of doomed romanticism, introducing his outcast lovers with the caption, “This boy and this girl were never properly introduced to the world we live in.” Though Ray never shirks from depicting violence, he focuses on the character development of his misfit innocents, contrasting their basically honorable ideals with the corrupt compromises of “respectable society.”

Couples on the Run,” “Gun Crazy,” 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5 (Joseph H. Lewis, 1949, United States, 86 minutes, 35mm). One of the most vital of all film noirs, “Gun Crazy” is a variation on the Bonnie and Clyde story, but with a bizarre set-up. Firearms enthusiasts Bart Tare (John Dall) and Annie Laurie Starr (Peggy Cummins) meet as sharpshooters in a carnival. Annie's lust for action and wealth forces the misfit couple to turn to robbing banks when married life gets tough. The film is a gripping study of a classic Hollywood combination: sex, violence and money.

The 80s, “The Dark Crystal,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 (Jim Henson, Frank Oz and Gary Kurtz, 1982, United States, 95 minutes, 35mm). Co-creators Jim Henson and Frank Oz made their cinematic puppetry debut with this fantasy, the story of a race of grotesque birdlike lizards called the Skeksis who rule their planet with an iron claw. A prophecy tells of a Gelfling (a small elfin being) who will topple their empire, so in their reign of terror they have exterminated the race, or so they think. The orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal and restore the balance of the universe.

One Book, One Northwestern: “Othello,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, free (Orson Welles, 1952, Morocco, 92 minutes, video). Operating on a meager budget, Orson Welles crafted one of film's must-see adaptations of Shakespeare. Casting himself as Othello with Micheál MacLiammóir as Iago and Suzanne Cloutier as Desdemona, Welles uses close-ups and low angle shots to create a tense atmosphere of foreboding.

Question-and-Answer Session with David Simon, creator and producer of HBO's “The Wire,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12. In today's golden era of television, outsiders are creating some of the medium's best work. David Simon was a crime beat reporter for the Baltimore Sun for 13 years before writing “Homicide,” which was spun into a television show (“Homicide: Life in the Street”) for NBC from 1993 to 1999. The public is invited to attend a question-and-answer session with Simon about his career; about “The Wire,” a show that pushes the boundaries of the stories that television can tell and the demands it can make of its audience; and about “Baltimore,” the city in which all of Simon's dramas are set and shot.

The 80s, “The NeverEnding Story,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 (Wolfgang Peterson, 1984, United States and Germany, 102 minutes, 35mm. Escaping from a group of schoolyard bullies, Bastian Bux hides out in a bookstore where he finds a mysterious old leather-bound book that tells the story of a magical, doomed world called Fantasia. Fantasia's only hope is Atreyu, a young warrior who has to save the world from the ominous Nothing. As Bastian reads of Atreyu's trials and exploits, the line between the book and Bastian's reality becomes blurred until it is unclear who the savior of Fantasia actually is -- Atreyu or Bastian.

The 80s, “Evil Dead II,” 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 (Sam Raimi, 1987, United States, 85 minutes, 35mm). Writer-director Sam Raimi's blood-soaked follow-up to his creepy “Evil Dead” isn't a sequel but a remake on a bigger budget. With plenty of decapitations, zombies, supernatural demons and gore, the film is a sophisticated slapstick version of the horror genre. Raimi uses every horror convention that exists and exaggerates it with special effects. It is a wacky and horrifying adventure featuring Bruce Campbell.  

Reeltime World Premiere, “Jamesie: King of Scratch,” 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, free (Andrea Leland, 2006, United States, 70 minutes, video). Reeltime will host the world premiere of Evanston filmmaker and Reeltime co-founder Andrea Leland's “Jamesie: King of Scratch.” A spirited musical journey to the Caribbean, the film focuses on “Scratch band” music, a form of folk music from the Virgin Islands. The documentary features the legendary “King of Scratch,” 79-year-old James “Jamesie” Brewster, who is known for his playful compositions, raunchy lyrics and lively performances. Leland will attend the premiere.

Couples on the Run, “Thelma & Louise,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19 (Ridley Scott, 1991, United States, 129 minutes, 35mm). “Thelma & Louise” is a smart and funny gender reversal of the standard Hollywood buddy formula and a road movie extraordinaire. Thelma is trapped in an unsatisfying marriage and Louise is stuck in a dead-end waitress job. When the two friends hit the road to take a break from their stultifying lives, a flight from banality soon becomes a flight from the law. The film stars Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Brad Pitt.

The 80s: “Time Bandits,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20 (Terry Gilliam, 1981, United Kingdom, 110 minutes, 35mm). Working from a script co-written with his fellow “Monty Python” veteran Michael Palin, director Terry Gilliam let his prodigious imagination loose for this comedy-fantasy, in which a kid named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his TV-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), they plunder treasure from Napoleon (Ian Holm), cross swords with Robin Hood (John Cleese) and perform magic tricks with Agamemnon (Sean Connery) while the Evil Genius (David Warner) watches their every move.

Stanley Kubrick, Double Feature, “Day of the Fight,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 (Stanley Kubrick, 1951, United States, 16 minutes, 35mm).  Based on Kubrick's pictorial for “Look” magazine in 1949 entitled “Prizefighter,” “Day of the Fight” is the documentary account of a day in the life of middleweight Irish boxer Walter Cartier. The short opens with a recounting of boxing history, narrated by veteran newscaster Douglas Edwards, after which the camera follows Walter as he prepares for his bout. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Stanley Kubrick, 1968, United Kingdom and United States, 139 minutes, 35mm). Based in part on Arthur C. Clarke's 1948 short story “The Sentinel,” Kubrick's “2001: A Space Odyssey” expands the original material, creating a strange and grand cinematic monolith. While a loose narrative emerges surrounding the search for the source of bizarre architectural objects, it becomes apparent that the film is a quiet meditation on man's existence in the universe. (There is no dialogue for the first and last 20 minutes of the film).

Couples on the Run, “Bonnie and Clyde,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 (Arthur Penn, 1967, United States, 111 minutes, 35mm). Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) is bored until the unpredictable Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) stirs things up with a string of bank robberies. Beatty and Dunaway strut through the film, displaying an idle ruthlessness matched only by their coolness.

The 80s, “The Princess Bride,” 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27 (Rob Reiner, 1987, United States, 100 minutes, 35mm. After the beautiful Princess Buttercup is kidnapped and forced to marry the odious Prince Humperdinck, it is up to Wesley, her true love, to rescue her. This swashbuckling comedy features some of the silliest fantasy scenes ever put to film, including rodents of unusual size and Billy Crystal as Miracle Max.