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January 2007 Block Cinema Film Calendar

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January 10, 2007 | 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 IDs and senior citizens. Films in the “Reeltime” 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 winter, Block Cinema is screening three new film series. The “New Jack Cinema” series is a retrospective of films made by predominately black directors with largely black casts during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The series showcases works by filmmakers Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles, John Singleton and the Hughes Brothers, whose films focus on the deterioration of the inner cities of New York and Los Angeles. Alongside artists in hip-hop, graffiti, DJing (a person who selects and plays pre-recorded music) and break dancing, film as a medium let these bright young directors express the sense of sorrow, injustice and rage felt by many in these communities.

The “Ride Lonesome: The Western Hero” series pays homage to popular conceptions of the American frontier and the larger-than-life depictions of rugged male heroes, including Daniel Boone, Natty Bumppo, Tom Mix, Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody.

The “Fritz Lang: Relentless Emergencies” series looks at the films of Austrian director Fritz Lang. From his first American film, “Fury” (1936), Lang's pictures had a narrative directness, an intense stylistic refinement -- often from adapting German Expressionist filmmaking to Hollywood -- and a brutally efficient pace. Lang was fascinated by the give and take between man and society and how they played out on the battlefield of justice, whether that was newspaper offices or the lair of the criminal underworld.

New Jack Cinema, “Straight Out of Brooklyn,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 (Matty Rich, 1991, United States, 79 minutes, 35 mm). Directed by Matty Rich when he was 19, ”Straight Out of Brooklyn” is about a beleaguered family feverishly trying to get out intact from Brooklyn's notorious Red Hook housing projects. Fed up with his family's no-hope prospects and skeptical of getting into college when young men his age are being killed or incarcerated, Dennis (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) confides to his buddies his scheme to intercept a drug dealer's cash pickup and then get out. Rich also wrote the screenplay and acts in this bleak and tragic micro-budget production.

Fritz Lang, “Fury,” 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 12 (Fritz Lang, 1936, United States, 90 minutes, 35 mm). In Lang's first American film, Spencer Tracy is wrongly accused of kidnapping, barely avoids justice at the hands of a lynch mob, and then, after planting evidence of his own death, gleefully watches as his “killers” are brought to justice. “Fury” is as sharply pessimistic a film as one would expect from an Austrian émigré from Nazi Germany. Film critic Fred Camper will introduce the film.

Westerns, “My Darling Clementine,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17 (John Ford, 1946, United States, 97 minutes, 35 mm). Henry Fonda turns in a brilliantly understated performance as Wyatt Earp in this mythic tale of a man and his family. But the town of Tombstone itself is the film's central character. Among the works that made John Ford a Hollywood icon, “ My Darling Clementine” is a western without the extraneous fluff or false macho posturing.

New Jack Cinema, “Do the Right Thing,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 (Spike Lee, 1989, United States, 120 minutes, 35 mm). Drawing inspiration from a tragic event of the time -- “The Howard Beach Incident,” in which a Trinidadian teenager died at the hands of a racist mob -- director Spike Lee hammered out a screenplay on a day in the life of Bedford-Stuyvesant in just 15 days. The film is a realistic look at a neighborhood's tragic spiral of racial tension and miscommunication. The ensemble cast includes Ossie Davis, Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Rosie Perez and Lee himself.

Fritz Lang, “Man Hunt,” 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19 (Fritz Lang, 1941, United States, 105 minutes, 35 mm). Lang may have left Germany in 1934, but the country's National Socialism and questions of state power and justice dominated his narratives for decades afterwards. “Man Hunt,” one of Lang's most-beloved World War II thrillers, is an early example of these uber-themes. The plot focuses on Thorndike, a British big-game hunter in the Bavarian Alps, who stumbles across Hitler in his crosshairs, for which the Gestapo beat him and leave him for dead. Escaping to London, Thorndike discovers that another man has assumed his identity.

Fritz Lang, “Ministry of Fear,” 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19 (Fritz Lang, 1944, United States, 87 minutes, 35 mm). Ray Milland portrays an ex-asylum inmate who is released after serving two years for the “mercy” killing of his incurably ill wife. Milland is tossed into the midst of a spy chase when, in purchasing a ticket to London upon leaving the asylum, he is drawn to the crowds at a British fair and wins a cake by guessing its weight. The cake contains a capsule, which was meant to be delivered to enemy agents. The screenplay is based on a Graham Greene novel.

Westerns, “Red River,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24 (Howard Hawks, 1948, United States, 133 minutes, 35 mm). A film that is often termed a psychological western, “Red River” tells the story of a cattle drive led by Tom Dunson (John Wayne), whose pride and stubbornness cause his own downfall. Departing from the simple hero vs. villain structure, Hawks focuses on the conflicted relationship between Dunson and his adopted son Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift) who, as Dunson becomes more belligerent and dangerous, leads a mutiny against him.

New Jack Cinema, “Juice,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25 (Ernest R. Dickerson, 1992, United States, 95 minutes, 35 mm). This Harlem-set rap thriller examines the implosive relationship and the average day of four African-American high school students. They skip school to play video games, shoplift records and have close encounters with rival gangs.

Fritz Lang, “The Woman in the Window,” 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 26 (Fritz Lang, 1944, United States, 99 minutes, 35 mm). Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), a professor of criminology with an interest in Freud, finds himself alone with his fantasies after his family leaves the city for an early vacation. Soon after their departure, he's covering up a murder. Precisely calibrated, “The Woman in the Window” is an archetypal psychological thriller in which Lang continued to adapt the visual and tonal style of German Expressionism to American cinema.

Westerns, “The Searchers,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31 (John Ford, 1956, United States, 119 minutes, 35 mm). Ford bends the western to address race relations, a pressing national concern at the time this film was made. Returning from the Civil War, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) hopes to find on his brother's Texas ranch the America he had fought to preserve. A Comanche raid shatters these hopes and launches him on a five-year quest to rescue his niece (Natalie Wood) from her Native American kidnappers. Kevin Bell, assistant professor of English in Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, will introduce the film.

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