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December 2008 Film Calendar

October 30, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Block Cinema, a collaboration of the Northwestern University School of Communication and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, screens classic and contemporary films. Block Cinema is dedicated to providing the Northwestern campus, the North Shore and the Chicago area with a quality venue for repertory cinema.

All films are screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. 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 otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema screenings is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern faculty and staff, senior citizens aged 65 and older, and students with IDs. Films in the "Reeltime" and Louis Family Nature 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 visit the Block Cinema Web site at http://www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu/block-cinema.

This fall, Block Cinema is screening films in two series -- The Berlin School and WWII: The Photography of John Swope and Hollywood's Depiction of WWII.

The Berlin School series features contemporary films from what may be the next great wave in German cinema. These small-scale films explore issues of 21st century life, including the integration of East and West Germany and the dominance of globalized capitalism. The series is a special chance to see these films, which have been rarely screened in the United States. The Berlin School series closes with Maria Speth's 2007 film "Madonnen" in its Chicago-area premiere at Block Cinema Dec. 4.

Block Cinema's WWII film series relates to the Block Museum's Fall 2008 exhibition in the Main Gallery, "A Letter from Japan: The Photographs of John Swope." In that spirit, Block Cinema has programmed a series of Hollywood films that provide multisided perspectives -- often devastating, sometimes funny and always nuanced -- on World War II. World War II is the defining historical event of the 20th century, and Hollywood has grappled with its meaning ever since the studios donated their services to the U.S. Armed Forces in 1941.

The following is a listing of Block Cinema films that will be screened in December.


WWII, "The Best Years of Our Lives," 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3 (William Wyler, 1946, United States, 172 minutes, 35 mm). An immediate response to the end of World War II, this film chronicles the troubles three servicemen face readjusting to civilian life. Each man grapples with a sense of loss and alienation from his former life: Fred, haunted by his traumatic wartime experiences, bears the brunt of social exclusion and an unfaithful wife; Homer is disabled and ashamed after losing his hands in battle; Al finds himself no longer able to relate to his children or job. As John Swope's photographs visualize how the tenuous divide between "us" and "them" dissolved in the wake of Japanese surrender, William Wyler's film shows how fractured and fraught the home front really was.

Chicago-area Premiere: Berlin School, "Madonnen" ("Madonnas"), 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4 (Maria Speth, 2007, Germany, 115 minutes, 35 mm). "Madonnen" is a heartbreaking film about single motherhood that is tempered by astute serio-comic touches. Like other "Berlin School" films, it is anchored by an exceptional lead actress, in this case, Sandra Huller. A modern-day Madonna, Rita (Huller) is a single mother of five on the run from the German police. With her newborn baby in tow, she flees to Belgium in search of her natural father. He's found, but so is she, and the German police deport her to serve time in prison. Meanwhile, her mother, Isabella, must learn to play the role of mother to Rita's children, a role she never accepted in raising her own daughter. The film questions the standards set for both mothers and fathers.

WWII, "A Time to Love and a Time to Die," 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5 (Douglas Sirk, 1957, United States, 133 minutes, 35 mm). As the master of emotional melodrama Douglas Sirk's movies are overwhelming. There is no better example of his style than the devastating "A Time to Love and a Time to Die." On the Russian front in 1944, as half-dead German troops retreat among the frozen corpses of their fellow soldiers, Ernst Graeber receives his first furlough in two years. He returns home only to find his parents missing and his town nearly destroyed. Within this decimated, haunted landscape, Graeber falls in love with the daughter of a political prisoner. They find solace in one another, perhaps because a doomed world needs a doomed love.
Topics: Campus Life