Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

PLAYING LECUONA

Friday, May 6th, 2016

PLAYING LECUONA is a musical journey though the works and living spaces of Ernesto Lecuona, the internationally acclaimed pianist and piano composer from Latin America. Serving as guides through Lecuona’s music are the three most gifted Latin Jazz pianists in the world: Chucho Valdes, Michel Camilo, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Valdes fuses Latin Jazz together with Afro-Cuban rhythms in Lecuona’s native Havana; Camilo recreates elegant aural soundscapes in New York and the Canary Islands; and Rebalcaba fuses Jazz and Flamenco in Seville, the heart of Andalusia-Spain and a source of great inspiration to Lecuona. Together, these three musicians provide a rich portrait of Lecuona’s music and its influence.

Screening as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival.

2016 Sundance Film Festival Shorts

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Showcasing a wide variety of story and style, the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is a 95-minute theatrical program of eight short films selected from this year’s Festival, which over the course of its more than 30-year history has been widely considered the premier showcase for short films and the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers. Including fiction, documentary and animation from around the world, the distinct 2016 program traverses vibrant styles from wild comedy to reflective poetry. Each breaks through its limited timeframe with a high level of artistry and story that will resonate with audiences long after it ends.

Affections
Written and directed by Bridey Elliott. U.S.A., 16 minutes.
This comedy about isolation and loneliness follows a young woman who is adrift and seeking intimacy in the most unlikely places.

Bacon & God’s Wrath
Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction, Presented by YouTube
Written and directed by Sol Friedman. Canada, 9 minutes.
A 90-year-old Jewish woman reflects on her life experiences as she prepares to try bacon for the first time.

Edmond
Short Film Jury Award: Animation, Presented by YouTube
Written and directed by Nina Gantz. United Kingdom, 9 minutes.
Edmond’s impulse to love and be close to others is strong—maybe too strong. As he stands by a lake contemplating his options, he reflects on his defining moments in search of the origin of his desires.

Her Friend Adam
Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance (Grace Glowicki)
Written and directed by Ben Petrie. Canada, 17 minutes.
A boyfriend’s jealous impulse spirals out of control in 16 minutes of romantic doom.

Jungle
Written and directed by Asantewaa Prempeh. U.S.A., 13 minutes.
The lines between trust, betrayal, and forgiveness are intertwined for two Senegalese vendors as they try to make a living on the streets of New York City.

The Grandfather Drum
Written and directed by Michelle Derosier. Canada, 13 minutes.
As the balance of the world turns upside down for the Anishinabek people, the elder Naamowin builds a healing drum to save his grandson and his people.

The Procedure
Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction, Presented by YouTube
Written and directed by Calvin Lee Reeder. U.S.A., 4 minutes.
A man is captured and forced to endure a strange experiment.

Thunder Road
Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Presented by YouTube
Written and directed by Jim Cummings. U.S.A., 13 minutes.
Officer Arnaud loved his mom.

A LITTLE PRINCESS

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

35mm print!

Chosen by Ashley S., Manager

“Springing from the world of gloomy privilege that shaped Frances Hodgson Burnett’s stories (“Little Lord Fauntleroy,” “The Secret Garden”), the new film version of A LITTLE PRINCESS achieves something irresistible: a bright, beautiful and enchantingly childlike vision. Shaking off the solemnity that smothers many a well-meaning, high-minded family film, this one revels in an exuberant sense of play, drawing its audience into the wittily heightened reality of a fairy tale. The material, like the title, is a tad precious, but the finished film is much too spirited and pretty for that to matter. A LITTLE PRINCESS also arrives without benefit of big names or a whopping Hollywood pedigree. That makes it even more of an unself-conscious delight.

“As directed by Alfonso Cuaron, an energetic Mexican-born film maker of prodigious talent, A LITTLE PRINCESS takes enough liberties to re-invent rather than embalm Miss Burnett’s assiduously beloved story. (Reviewing the more cloying 1939 film version starring Shirley Temple, one critic described Miss Burnett, with her penchant for sensitive, well-born children, as ‘a lady with coronets on the brain.’)

“There’s a hint of magical realism to the spring and fluidity of Mr. Cuaron’s storytelling, and it breathes unexpected new life into this fable. Set by Miss Hodgson in England, in ‘a big, dull, brick house, exactly like all the others in its row,’ the tale now unfolds in a fanciful, expressive and handsome set that’s almost entirely green. This building is the New York girls’ school to which Sara Crewe (Liesel Matthews) is relegated after an exotic childhood spent in India. And it has been ingeniously rendered to inspire all the awe and terror a child in such altered circumstances might feel.

“In this film’s harmonious world, anything from a bird to a balloon to the weather can conspire to intensify the characters’ thoughts. Mr. Cuaron makes that clear from the opening sequence, a brilliantly colorful staging of an Indian myth (among the film’s clever amplifications of the original material) that sets the prevailing tone of inviting artificiality. One of the film’s loveliest moments finds Sara and her father (Liam Cunningham) dancing on the deck of an ocean liner as they sail to America. The patent phoniness of the waves, the boat and the moonlight enhance the film’s faith in the power of imagination.

“Left in America to be educated while her father fights in World War I, Sara finds herself under the wing of Miss Minchin (Eleanor Bron), the schoolmistress whose fondness for her students is directly linked to their parents’ financial standing. Since Sara is rich enough to earn the nickname of the title (which is also an endearment from her widowed father), she is very well-treated, at least while the money holds out.

“Admired by schoolmates who wear matching middy dresses and hair ribbons, Sara is given ostentatiously grand quarters that befit her initial status. In keeping with the story’s spirit of noblesse oblige, she finds time to befriend younger girls and charm them with her storytelling skills. She also makes friends with Becky (Vanessa Lee Chester), the school’s scullery maid, who becomes her greatest ally once Sara experiences a severe reversal of fortune. Like Mary Lennox of ‘The Secret Garden,’ Sara is both patrician and bereft, with only the magic of her own daydreams to sustain her.

“A LITTLE PRINCESS is now a more joyous, operatic story than it was on the page (or on the stage, where Miss Burnett’s works have been enduringly popular). It’s also missing the pet rat that was meant to be a lovable character, thus offering another example of the film makers’ acumen. As written by Richard LaGravenese (whose whimsy fits more easily here than it did in “The Fisher King”) and Elizabeth Chandler, A LITTLE PRINCESS even injects some elements of contemporary reality into a tale that could well have remained unrelievedly quaint. The film crosses lines of race and class as well as those of time and space.

“From the huge head of an Indian deity, used as a place where stories are told and children play, to the agile way a tear drips from Sara’s eye to a letter read by her father in the rain, A LITTLE PRINCESS has been conceived, staged and edited with special grace. Less an actors’ film than a series of elaborate tableaux, it has a visual eloquence that extends well beyond the limits of its story. To see Sara whirling ecstatically in her attic room on a snowy night, exulting in the feelings summoned by an evocative sight in a nearby window, is to know just how stirringly lovely a children’s film can be.” -Janet Maslin, New York Times

Part of the series “Classic IFC Center”

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

DCP projection

Chosen by Sean R., floor staff

“Grand Guignol runs head-on into 40s film noir and the result is this chilling, hysterical 1962 movie by the master of the bleak (black) vision, Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen, Ulzana’s Raid, Emperor of the North, Kiss Me Deadly). Bette Davis, garish and loony, is a former child star who passes the time torturing her crippled sister Joan Crawford. Aldrich’s direction and dynamite performances from the two old troupers make this film an experience.” -Don Druker, The Chicago Reader

Part of the series “Classic IFC Center”

ACE IN THE HOLE

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

DCP projection

Chosen by Harold, floor staff

ACE IN THE HOLE greets the new movie year like a punch in the gut, a kick in the nuts, a bucket of bile flung in the face. Hello, nasty! … Here is, half a century out of the past, a movie so acidly au courant it stings: a lurid pulp indictment of exploitation, opportunism, doctored intelligence, torture for profit, insatiable greed, and shady journalism.

“Kirk Douglas stars, sneering, as one of the meanest motherfuckers in the movies. Charles Tatum, failed reporter and alcoholic snot, finds himself at the end of his line in Albuquerque. Strutting into the offices of the local paper, greeting a Native American employee with a sarcastic hand and racist ‘How!,’ he bullies up to editor Jacob Q. Boot (Porter Hall), offering the services of a ’250-dollar-a-week reporter for 50 bucks. Make it 45.’ Stitched in needlepoint and framed above a desk, the Albuquerque Sun-Bulletin motto admonishes, ‘Tell the Truth.’ ‘Wish I could coin ‘em like that,’ Tatum quips to the secretary. ‘If I ever do, will you embroider it for me?’

“Skip ahead a year…and the Big Story is nowhere to be found, certainly not at the podunk rattlesnake hunt to which Tatum finds himself assigned. En route to the pseudo-story with newbie photographer Herbie Cook (Robert Arthur) in tow, Tatum pulls up to a tumbleweed trading post run by Mr. and Mrs. Minosa. There’s a hubbub up the hill at the ancient Indian burial cliffs. Seems the walls fell in on Leo Minosa (Richard Benedict) as he was looting around for artifacts. Seems Tatum finally found his ticket back to the big leagues.

“If act one of ACE makes for a respectable (if unusually sour) setup for the hard-boiled story of a hard-luck scribe, it now tunnels into darker territory. Tatum colludes with the corrupt local sheriff (Ray Teal), a spineless engineer (Lewis Martin), and the supremely jaded Mrs. Lorraine Minosa (Jan Sterling) to keep Leo buried for the benefit of his copy. ‘I’ve met a lot of hard-boiled eggs in my life,’ Lorraine sizes up Tatum, ‘but you? You’re 20 minutes.’

“The zippy script comes courtesy of Walter Newman, then a 20-year-old radio writer who wrote an initial treatment called ‘The Human Interest Story’; Lesser Samuels, a former playwright brought in for polish; and Wilder himself as the executive wordsmith. He had just fallen out with longtime writing partner Charles Brackett, and was fresh off the success of a little number called Sunset Boulevard. For his next picture, Wilder would not only direct and write but produce, giving him greater control over his material. He took the opportunity to lash out with a vengeance.

“Twenty years before the phrase ‘media circus’ entered the lexicon, Wilder imaged a literal one sprung up around the invisible spectacle of a man trapped in a mountain. Fueled by Tatum’s tabloid reports (‘Ancient Curse Entombs Man!’), a slew of gawkers, hucksters, and rival journalists descend on the scene in a frenzy of crass curiosity. A literal carnival soon joins the fray, the appropriately named ‘Great S&M Amusement Corp.’ Its Ferris wheel soon lights the midnight drill that’s slowly driving Leo insane—and getting to him at a far slower pace than more sensible, less profitable rescue strategies.

“Meanwhile, Tatum and Lorraine are going at their own s/m routine that begins with slaps, hair pulling, and mutual disdain, and ends with strangulation by cheap mink stole and partial disembowelment. Less sympathetic heroes are inconceivable, to say nothing of the film’s depiction of the crowd as thrill-seeking opportunists. Bitter to the end, ACE IN THE HOLE nearly suffocates on cynicism. Small wonder it died on release. ‘Fuck them all,’ said Wilder. ‘It is the best picture I ever made.’” -Nathan Lee, The Village Voice

Part of the series “Classic IFC Center”

LOVES OF A BLONDE

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

35mm print!

Chosen by Elizabeth T., membership

“A graduate of Prague’s state-sanctioned film school and part of a loose cinematic collective finding its voice in the mid-’60s, Milos Forman helped lead Czechoslovakia’s cinematic vanguard into boldly politicized, highly personalized territory… Though his neorealistic debut, Black Peter (1964), is considered the first official salvo of the Czech New Wave, Forman’s second film would be the one to truly capture the moment, define the movement and pave the way for the country’s entry into international art houses.

“Like Italy’s I Vitelloni and France’s The Four Hundred Blows, LOVES OF A BLONDE is both regionally representative and universal in its portrayal of generational restlessness. Unlike those earlier totems, however, this fresh, funny character piece about a flaxen-haired factory girl (Brejchová) takes place in a nation straining at the leash of its Communist patrons. Even lunkheaded government officials could pick up on the fact that the movie’s digs at ineffectual bureaucrats and military horndogs doubled nicely as flipped birds to the powers that be.

“At the center of this gentle satire stands Brejchová, whose wide-eyed, frog-mouthed face is the dictionary definition of beguilingly offbeat beauty. It’s impossible to think of any actor who could have better embodied Blonde’s bittersweet blend of heartbreak and humor; her look at the film’s end, triumphant even as she returns to her daily grind, suggests both romantic conquest and a youth revolution in miniature.” -Time Out (New York)

Part of the series “Classic IFC Center”

TIKKUN

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Showtimes available Mon Jun 6

Haim-Aaron is an ultra-Orthodox religious scholar from Jerusalem whose talent and devotion are envied by all. One evening, following a self-imposed fast, he collapses and loses consciousness. The paramedics announce his death, but his father, refusing to let him go, takes over resuscitation efforts and, beyond all expectations, Haim-Aaron comes back to life. After the accident, the scholar remains apathetic to his studies. He suddenly feels a strange awakening in his body and suspects that God is testing him. When his father notices these changes in his son’s behavior, he tries to forgive him, tormented by the fear that he has crossed God’s will when he resuscitated him.

CITY LIGHTS

Monday, April 25th, 2016

DCP projection

Chosen by Asha P., admin staff

“If only one of Charles Chaplin’s films could be preserved, CITY LIGHTS (1931) would come the closest to representing all the different notes of his genius. It contains the slapstick, the pathos, the pantomime, the effortless physical coordination, the melodrama, the bawdiness, the grace, and, of course, the Little Tramp–the character said, at one time, to be the most famous image on earth.

“When he made it, three years into the era of sound, Chaplin must have known that CITY LIGHTS might be his last silent film; he considered making a talkie, but decided against it, and although the film has a full musical score (composed by Chaplin) and sound effects, it has no speech. Audiences at the time would have appreciated his opening in-joke; the film begins with political speeches, but what emerges from the mouths of the speakers are unintelligible squawks–Chaplin’s dig at dialogue. When he made Modern Times five years later, Chaplin allowed speech onto the soundtrack, but once again the Tramp remained silent except for some gibberish.

“There was perfect logic here: Speech was not how the Tramp really expressed himself. In most silent films there’s the illusion that the characters are speaking, even though we can’t hear them. Buster Keaton’s characters, for example, are clearly talkative. But the Tramp is more of a mime, a person for whom body language serves as speech. He exists somehow on a different plane than the other characters; he stands outside their lives and realities, is judged on his appearance, is homeless and without true friends or family, and interacts with the world mostly through his actions. Although he can sometimes be seen to speak, he doesn’t need to; unlike most of the characters in silent films, he could have existed comfortably in a silent world.

“…Chaplin and the other silent filmmakers knew no national boundaries. Their films went everywhere without regard for language, and talkies were like the Tower of Babel, building walls between nations. I witnessed the universality of Chaplin’s art in one of my most treasured experiences as a moviegoer, in 1972, in Venice, where all of Chaplin’s films were shown at the film festival. One night the Piazza San Marco was darkened, and CITY LIGHTS was shown on a vast screen. When the flower girl recognized the Tramp, I heard much snuffling and blowing of noses around me; there wasn’t a dry eye in the piazza. Then complete darkness fell, and a spotlight singled out a balcony overlooking the square. Charlie Chaplin walked forward, and bowed. I have seldom heard such cheering. He had by then for many decades been hailed as one of the screen’s great creators. In CITY LIGHTS we can see the invention and humanity that coexist in his films.

“The movie contains some of Chaplin’s great comic sequences, including the famous prize fight in which the Tramp uses his nimble footwork to always keep the referee between himself and his opponent. There’s the opening scene, where a statue is unveiled to find the Tramp asleep in the lap of a heroic Greco-Roman stone figure. (Trying to climb down, he gets his pants hooked through the statue’s sword, and tries to stand at attention during “The Star-Spangled Banner” although his feet can’t find a footing.) There’s the sequence where he tries to save the millionaire from drowning, and ends up with the rock tied to his own neck; the scene where he swallows a whistle and gathers a following of dogs; the scene where the millionaire and the Tramp encounter burglars; the scene in the nightclub where Charlie sees Apache dancers and defends the woman dancer against her partner. And there are the bawdy moments, as when the Tramp, working as a street-sweeper, avoids a parade of horses only to encounter a parade of elephants; and when the millionaire pours bottles of champagne down the Tramp’s pants.

“…Having just viewed CITY LIGHTS and Modern Times again, I am still under their spell. Chaplin’s gift was truly magical. And silent films themselves create a reverie state; there is no dialogue, no obtrusive super-realism, to interrupt the flow. They stay with you. They are not just a work, but a place.” -Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

Part of the series “Classic IFC Center”

ELSTREE 1976

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Director Jon Spira, producer Hank Starrs, and original STAR WARS actor Anthony Forrest in person for Q&As Fri May 6 & Sat May 7 at 7:35pm!

ELSTREE 1976 explores the lives of the actors and extras behind one of the most celebrated franchises in cinematic history, which spans from George Lucas’ original A New Hope to J.J. Abrams’ recent record-breaking blockbuster The Force Awakens.

From the man behind film’s most iconic villain, to the actor whose character was completely cut from the final film, the documentary delves into the eccentric community these individuals have formed and how the Star Wars franchise continues to impact their lives decades later.

Viktoria

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Maya Vitkova’s stunning debut feature VIKTORIA, which had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, follows three generations of women in the final years of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria and the early years of the transition to democracy. The film focuses on reluctant mother Boryana and her daughter, Viktoria, who in one of the film’s surreal, magical touches is born without an umbilical cord. Though unwanted by her mother, Viktoria is named the country’s Baby of the Decade, and is showered with gifts and attention until the disintegration of the East Bloc. Despite throwing their worlds off balance, the resulting political changes also allow for the possibility of reconciliation. Vitkova wrote, produced and directed VIKTORIA, making it both personal and universal, and demonstrating a precocious command of all elements of the filmmaking process. Especially impressive is the film’s visual sensibility and its command of a range of shifting tones, from absurdist humor to political allegory to deeply moving familial drama.



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