March 2007 Film CalendarFebruary 12, 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>.
Block Cinema is screening three new film series this winter. 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.
MARCH 2007 FILMS
New Jack Cinema, “Friday,” 8 p.m. Thursday March 1 (Felix Gary Gray, 1995, United States, 95 minutes, 35 mm). Set in south central Los Angeles, “Friday” spans 16 hours in the lives of best friends Craig and Smokey. The friends spend the day smoking and drinking, but they desperately need to find enough money by 10 p.m. to pay off Big Worm, a drug dealer. If they fall short, Big Worm plans to kill them. Written by rapper and actor Ice Cube, “Friday” is smart, infectious and happily amoral.
Fritz Lang, “Human Desire,” 8 p.m. Friday, March 2 (Fritz Lang, 1954, United States, 91 minutes, 35 mm). As cold, hard and steely gray as the railroad tracks that mark the action, “Human Desire” is Lang's version of Emile Zola's novel “La Bête Humaine.” Centered on the murderously self-destructive marriage of Vicki and Carl Buckley, Lang's picture looks deep into the human heart and sees only fear, rage and jealously. The film stars Glenn Ford.
Westerns, “Unforgiven,” 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 7 (Clint Eastwood, 1992, United States, 130 minutes, 35 mm). Clint Eastwood returned to the genre that defined so much of his career with this Academy Award-winning western. When a brothel puts a $1,000 bounty on two cowboys who savagely mutilated a prostitute, retired outlaw Bill Munny (Eastwood) recruits partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) for one last job. The story follows the dusty trail of many westerns -- the outsider (Eastwood) faces off against the corrupt sheriff (Gene Hackman) -- but it also wanders off the path and investigates questions of racism, violence and the mythology of the West.
New Jack Cinema, “Don't be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood,” 8 p.m. Thursday, March 8 (Paris Barclay, 1996, United States, 89 minutes, 35 mm). A juiced-up parody of African-American “hood” movies, “Don't Be a Menace” is ruthlessly funny at the expense of pretty much every other film in this series. The main character, Ashtray, returns to his roots and meets his father. But so much for plot summary. With pointed tag lines like, “Finally, a movie that proves that justice isn't always poetic, jungle fever isn't always pretty and higher learning can be a waste of time,” “Don't Be a Menace” isn't about itself so much as everything that preceded it. It's riotous, incoherent and hilarious.
Fritz Lang, “While the City Sleeps,” 8 p.m. Friday, March 9 (Fritz Lang, 1956, United States, 100 minutes, 35 mm). Perhaps Lang's most underrated movie, “While the City Sleeps” is as much about Lang's “mise en scène” (the direction of a film, emphasizing the image created by setting, props, lighting, actors movements, etc.) as it is about the plot. In order to win control of the city paper, newspapermen try to track down a sex murderer, “The Lipstick Killer,” sympathetically portrayed by John Barrymore. Without an ounce of narrative fat, “While the City Sleeps” is a startlingly direct investigation of the motives that drive the engines of American justice. With Lang, unlike almost every cop show on television, justice is never for its own sake. Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum will introduce this film.