Spring 1999 (1)

Fri, Sat, and Sun, Jan 22,23,24 at 7 and 9:30 plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
With all that is truly scandalous in the movies these days - namely the dimwit dramaturgy and the anything-for-a-buckism that passes for Hollywood entertainment - it is something of a shock to realize that Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita still has the power to offend. Proof is the book's new movie adaptation, directed by Adrian Lyne, scripted by Stephen Schiff and starring Jeremy Irons as the passionate pedophile Humbert Humbert, a man entranced by nymphets... As far as its subject matter goes, this Lolita is shocking, all right, but it's not exploitative. Neither, of course, was Nabakov's 1955 novel nor Stanley Kubrick's antic, brilliant 1962 movie version. Lolita, in whatever form it takes, should be shocking. But this new movie incarnation makes its appearance during a particularly schizophrenic time in our culture. Despite all the media attention given over to the sexual exploitation of children, there has never been another time when the image of the nymphet has been so fawned over and commercialized. Nymphets peer out at us, posse-like, from fashion pages and movie screens. What in the end may prove shocking to audiences of this new Lolita is not so much its cast of characters as the apparent seriousness of its intent. (Peter Rainer, Westword)
UK, 1997. Color, in English. 137 mins., 35mm.

Wed, Jan 27 at 7 and 9pm Only!
Ma Vie en Rose is the first film of a very talented, funny and tender filmmaker named Alain Berliner. Its extraordinary hero, 7-year-old Ludovic, is a boy quite certain that when he grows up he will be a girl. His unshakable conviction, not to mention his habit of dressing in girl's clothing, throws his suburban bourgeois parents into a tizzy. Their son's difference is a problem for everyone but Ludo himself, the calm center of a storm that shakes the family, and their angry scandalized community, to its roots. The issue of gender is a delicate one, and Berliner and screenwriter David Ansen navigate this tricky terrain with charm, tact and sudden bursts of whimsy as the film takes us inside Ludo's candy-colored, TV-inspired fantasies. Young Georges Du Fresne may be the most enchanting child actor to come along in years. Ludo's story, told with the bold strokes of a fable, will break your heart and make you smile, often at the same time. (David Ansen, Newsweek)
Belgium, 1997. Color, in French with English Subtitles. 88 mins., 35 mm.

Thurs and Fri, Jan 28 and 29 at 7 and 9pm.
When George Dyer, amateur boxer and part-time burglar, breaks in through the skylight of a painter's studio in swinging London, it is his misfortune that the artist is most definitely in residence. "Take your clothes off," says Dyer's intended victim, who turns out to be the painter Francis Bacon, "come to bed, and you can have whatever you want." So begins the tortured love affair between Bacon, the late 20th century's premier visual interpreter of charnel house romance, and the younger man who would become his muse, model, and millstone. Dyer's three roles make up a miserable triptych in Love Is the Devil, a first feature by British writer-director John Maybury... Though Maybury was denied the use of Bacon's paintings, Love Is the Devil evokes the artist's visual signature with astonishing and disturbing results: actors' faces, distorted by barroom mirrors and cracked windows, morph into twisted masks; their bodies seem to be ripped open, as if consumed by fire... Despite an uncomfortable intimacy with Bacon's visions, Love Is the Devil is in the end, as the subtitle says, "a study for a portrait" of a maddeningly elusive artist, who recognizes the destructive demon within himself and then watches, transfixed and delighted, as the beast runs wild. (Justine Elias, Village Voice)
UK, 1998. Color, in English. 90 mins., 35mm.

Sat and Sun, Jan 30 and 31 at 7 and 9:15 plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee.
The Eel is Japanese master Shohei Imamura's first film in eight years (and the movie that shared the Palme d'Or with Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival). Violence is not verbal, nor sex consensual, in Imamura's films - his wildly sensationalist oeuvre is populated by a raunchy assortment of killers, prostitutes, and pornographers. ("I am interested in the lower part of the human body and the lower part of the social structure" is the one-sentence manifesto that emblazons the Cinematheque Ontario's recent monograph on his work.) The Eel's pre-titled prologue is a movie in itself. Tipped off by an anonymous letter, the innocuous salaryman Takuro - played by Koji Yakusho of Shall We Dance? - returns home early from an all-night fishing trip and, catching his wife in flagrante, stabs her to death. Eight years later, the wife-killer is paroled from prison, along with pet eel, and sets up shop in shop in some obscure corner of Japan... Ferocious yet gentle, its tone shifting once more to gangster drama and then black comedy, The Eel concludes with a lunatic yet symmetrical turn of events that culminates in an unexpectedly hallucinatory and touching ending. Ultimately, The Eel is the unconscious made tangible. (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)
Japan, 1998. Color, in Japanese with English subtitles. 117 mins., 35mm.

Wed, Feb 3 at 7 and 9pm only!
One can see why the veteran director Edouard Molinaro (best known for his comedies, especially La Cage au Folles I and II) would have gone for Beaumarchais as a subject. In fact, picturesque as the hero's adventures may seem, the real Beaumarchais' life was much more fantastic than that depicted in the film, which leaves out copyright lawsuits, allegations that he murdered his first wife (whose name Beaumarchais took), harp lessons for the king's daughters, and arms dealing in Holland. The decision to simplify was, however, a wise one, and indeed Beaumarchais' problem is whether it wants to show its multi-faceted hero Beaumarchais as playwright, political activist, philanderer or opportunist. In the end, the film opts for the pleasing myths of eighteenth century France - as the cradle of revolution culture and libertinage - all rolled into one character, played by the gifted Fabrici Luchini... Connoisseurs of well-crafted costume dramas will find much pleasure in Beaumarchais (decors and costumes are glorious) and should rush to see it in the cinema. (Ginette Vincendeau, Sight & Sound)
France, 1996. Color, in French with English subtitles. 100 mins., 35mm.

Thurs and Fri, Feb 4 and 5 at 7 and 9:30pm
The movie is told through the eyes of Channe, a girl whose father is a famous American novelist. In the 1960's, the family lives in Paris, on the Ile St. Louis in the Seine. Bill Willis (Kris Kristofferson) and his wife, Marcella (Barbara Hershey), move in expatriate circles ("We're Euro-trash"), and the kids go to a school where the students come from wildly different backgrounds. At home, dad writes, but doesn't tyrannize the family with the importance of his work, which he treats as a job ("typing is the one thing I learned in high school of any use to me"). There is a younger brother, Billy, who was adopted under quasi-legal circumstances, and a nanny, Candida, who turns down a marriage proposal to stay with the family. All of this is somewhat inspired by fact. The movie is based on an autobiographical novel by Kaylie Jones, whose father, James Jones, was the author of From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line and Whistle... The movie was directed by James Ivory and produced by Ismail Merchant, from a screenplay by their longtime collaborator, the novelist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. [A Soldier's Daughter] is one of their best films. (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
UK, 1998. Color, in English. 124 mins, 35mm.

Sat and Sun, Feb 6 and 7 at 7 and 9pm plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
Nothing could be more welcome than Warner Bros.' reissue of MGM's 1939 The Wizard of Oz. A work of almost staggering iconographic, mythological, creative and simple emotional meaning, at least for American audiences, this is one vintage film that fully lives up to its classic status and should play with outstanding success to contemporary audiences of all ages. Happily, Warners has done a first-rate job in technologically reproducing and enhancing the look and sound of the picture. The initial black-and-white Kansas section has been printed in an attractive, subtle sepia, and the special effects involved in creating the twister are outstanding even by today's standards. On a dramatic level, these early sequences depicting Dorothy's farm life and the characters around her possess an impressive economy and generate a surprising amount of feeling on their own. The moment when Dorothy opens the door on the riot of color that is Munchkinland still represents one of the great visual coups in the history of American cinema, and leads to the extended musical sequence involving the little people that has no known equivalent; even while reveling in the fabulous music, clever lyrics, berserk art direction and costume design, and amazing faces and voices on display, film-wise viewers will no doubt also ponder the sheer perversity of the scene's conception as well as the real-life challenges that went into finding all these pint-size performers. (Todd McCarthy, Variety)
US, 1939. Color, in English. 101 mins., 35mm.

Wed, Feb 10 at 7 and 9:15pm only!
Director Raul Ruiz along with his co-writer Pascal Bonitzer center Généalogies D'un Crime on actual events of a Viennese child psychologist who said that our personalities were developed by the time we turned five. She also predicted that her toddler nephew would become a murderer and indeed he did kill her later in his life. Several times throughout the film, a poem is read aloud about how a man fell in love with the ghost of a woman he killed and later the ghost killed him. This sets the film's circular kharmic direction. Catherine Deneuve plays Solange, a lawyer who takes on a case right after the death of her young son. The case consists of a young man named Rene who killed his famous psychologist aunt named Jeanne Higgins. While investigating the murder, Solange stumbles on Jeanne's journal of Rene's sordid life and soon Solange loses herself in Jeanne's persona... Like a precocious kid obsessed with games, Director Raul Ruiz circles so quickly and so deftly around his characters that audiences must give their utmost attention to appreciate the crazy repercussions of each fleeting scene. The film is perfect for Catherine Deneuve fans who loved her in Roman Polanski's Repulsion and Luis Bunuel's Tristina... Like the Addams Family meets Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom, Généologies D'un Crime is a hilarious yet disturbing comedy with a gothic tone. (Blue Velvet, Movie Magazine International)
France, 1997. Color, in French with English subtitles. 113 mins., 35mm.

Thurs and Fri, Feb 11 and 12 at 7pm only!
The epic love story set against the Civil War returns to the big screen with a restoration that utilizes Technicolor's new, state-of-the-art three-strip dye transfer process. The new prints revive the vivid color and hues which made Gone With the Wind such an epic event in film history. In addition, 12 minutes of the film's negative have been digitally restored to eliminate scratches, photochemical smudges and other imperfections. The film has remastered sound and is being presented with Max Steiner's original music composed for the audience's entrance into the theater, intermission and exit. Gone With the Wind will also be projected in its original aspect ratio of 1:33 x 1, allowing audiences to see 1/3 more of the image (on the top and bottom) than previous modern day moviegoers have experienced.  For movie fans everywhere, this will be a truly memorable motion picture event that can only be experienced in a theater setting.
USA., 1939. Color, in English. 22 mins., 35mm.

Sat and Sun, Feb 13 and 14 at 7 and 9:30pm, plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
Solondz's cinema of cruelty was introduced to the world with his 1996 indie hit Welcome to the Dollhouse, a portrait of the tormented 12-year-old Dawn "Weiner Dog" Weiner, which not only offered the antidote to 40 years of domestic sitcoms, but remains the funniest, bleakest movie on the subject of suburban adolescence ever produced in this country. This shopping mall Los Olvidados was not to every taste (The New Yorker declared it "hateful"), and Happiness, which has already strewn its share of psychological debris at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals, is scarcely less splenetic. His ambitions having grown, Solondz creates in Happiness a world of Weiner dogs. A portrait of an upper-middle-class, nominally Jewish extended family, this is the Hannah and Her Sisters that the Woodman might make today, with an explosive assist from the Farrelly brothers... Even more than in his previous film, Solondz's style is clinical - if not pathological - in its lack of inflection. Every character is simultaneously the prisoner of desire and the victim of rejection. The mode is less black comedy than a particularly brutal and impassive mode of psychological slapstick. Winner, International Critics' Prize 1998 Cannes Film Festival.  (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)
USA., 1998. Color, in English. 134 mins., 35mm.

Wed, Feb 17 at 7 and 9pm only!
Brigitte Rouan's first feature as director, Outremer ('90), dealt with familial and romantic problems in a post-colonial setting. Her second feature is set in Paris with the director herself taking the central role of Diane Clovier, a 40-ish wife and mother who works for a small publishing house. She loves her lawyer husband, Philippe (Patrick Chesnais), and her sons, and she's good at her work. But everything falls apart when she meets 20-something Emilio (Boris Terral), a handsome, outgoing, utterly charming and quite amoral type who works for an aid agency... Rarely has amour fou been as graphically and deliriously played onscreen as in this handsomely produced film, and Rouana herself participates in some fairly steamy sexual encounters with her lithe co-star. Yet the film's in-depth analysis of this woman's needs and long-repressed yearnings ensures that pic isn't exploitative. Diane may be foolhardy, and blind to the hurt she's causing her family, but she's also terribly human, and Rouan's fine, warts-and-all performance explores every nuance of the character.
France, 1997. Color, in French with English subtitles. 97 mins., 35mm.

Thurs and Fri, Feb 18 and 19 at 7 and 9pm
The World's Best Commercials is a human zoological exhibit, a freak show of the beautiful and the profane, at once profound and idiotic. The commercials are by turns touching, scary, wacko, oblique, witty and lewdly hilarious. The range of products and messages run the gamut from Pepsi-Cola's loonily cruel "soap on a rope" - an ad in which an ordinary guy imagines sharing a shower stall with supermodel Claudia Schiffer - to a Dutch enigma made for an insurance company that features U.S. President Bill Clinton and a nasty voodoo doll... Compiled annually by Toronto's Ad-films, it is a slick showcase of the black arts of advertising, presenting some of the most original and diverse commercials from around the globe. According to Adfilms executive Keith Stinson, this compendium is designed primarily for North American audiences and gives them a rare opportunity to see how products and social messages are presented in foreign markets as far afield as Thailand, Argentina, Finland and Krgyzstan. (John Haslett Cuff, The Globe and Mail)
Canada, 1997. Color, in English. 75 mins., 16mm.

Sat and Sun, Feb 20 and 21 at 7 and 9pm, plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
The first time we see Ray Joshua, the young black hero of director Marc Levin's impressive feature debut Slam, we get a vivid taste of the conflicting forces that rule him... Like love Jones, last year's look at creative black twentysomethings in Chicago, Slam tells the world that poetry is cool. It's not only cool, Ray comes to believe, but it's a reason for being, a reason to get out and go straight. Convincing an audience - any audience - of that in 1998 is a pretty tall order. But Levin has chosen just the right actor to bring it off. On the screen, the noted New York City performance poet Saul Williams embodies two Rays: The lean, cat-quick one we first meet, full of sinew and wile, knows the ways of the street; the starved-looking, acetic Ray we come to know later, artistic and vulnerable, aspires to heaven. Even the timbre of his voice - an uncanny aural double for the young Sidney Poitier - suggests transcendence. In his tortured journey from one kind of "slam" (the city jail) to another (the poetry reading in a nightclub that transforms his destiny), we find the saga of everyone who looks and looks and eventually sees the light. (Bill Gallo, Westword)
US, 1998. Color, in English. 103 minutes, 35mm.

Wed, Feb 24 at 7 and 9pm only!
Bruno Dumont's first feature, a study of small-town boredom and desperation, adopts the title of the most famous work by the unorthodox theologian Ernest Renan. This 1863 historicising of Christ's biography presents him as human, a great leader around whom supernatural narrative have been spun. Dumon reveals himself as an uncompromising new talent by sticking to the film title's invocation of Renan's spiritual humanism. In an early sequence, twenty-year-old Freddy (an unemployed epileptic) and his friends stand silently in a hospital room around the comatose AIDS sufferer Cloclo until one of them seeks solace in a nearby biblical print of the raising of Lazarus. It is the film's one explicit reference to Renan, who considered the miracle a deliberate fraud. Cloclo does not rise from the dead... La Vie de Jésus is centrally concerned with physical being and unrecognized spiritual needs. Dumont emphasizes throughout the bodies of his protagonists and their involuntary distresses and ecstasies. (Richard Falcon, Sight & Sound) Winner of both the 1997 Prix Jean Vigo for best first feature and the International Critics Prize, 1997 Chicago Film Festival.
French, 1997. In French, with English subtitles. 96 minutes, 35mm.

Thurs and Fri, Feb 25 and 26 at 7 and 9:15pm
Touch of Evil, the project with which - some 16 years after Citizen Kane - the 42-year-old Orson Welles tried (and failed) to stage a Hollywood comeback, is a movie of transcendent movieness and still-astonishing virtuosity... As re-edited according to the Welles memo, the "restored" Touch of Evil is less transformed than it is more itself. The credits have been removed from the justly celebrated, four-minute, over-under-sideways-down opening crane shot. The Tamiroff scenes are funnier, the soundtrack is additionally layered, the chronology is sharper... Citizen Kane gave what would eventually be called "film noir" a new visual vocabulary and narrative structure; Touch of Evil effectively rung down the curtain on one of the most fertile movements in Americaan popular culture (as far as Hollywood went, the next new move would be made by Alfred Hitchcock with Psycho.) Not for nothing did Welles have Dietrich tell him, "Your future is all used up." (J. Hoberman, Village Voice)
U.S., 1958. B&W, in English. 111 mins., 35mm.

Sat and Sun, Feb 27 and 28 at 7 and 9pm, plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
Watching this marvelous adaptation of Christopher Bram's acclaimed novel is like a filmic epiphany, a small but superhuman effort haunted by entrancing images and exciting performances that filmmaker Bill Condon conjures up in his speculative and seductive account of the final days of James Whale (played by Ian McKellen), without question one of Hollywood's most welcomed (and, regrettably, later disenchanted) additions in its golden age. As a bit of background, Whale's openly gay lifestyle was long rumored to be the reason for his banishment just ten years after his successful debut as director of Journey's End. (And, later, Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein.) However, in this fictionalization, we pick up years later as an aging but dapper Whale leads a semi-reclusive life in a self-imposed exile, his longtime personal relationship with MGM executive David Lewis (later a producer at RKO) now ended on a seemingly friendly level, and his departure from his decade in Tinseltown now more fully understood as a particular disenchantment from a changing corporate leadership within the film industry. (Elias Savada, Nitrate Online)
U.S., 1998. Color, in English. 105 mins., 35mm.

Thurs and Fri, March 4 and 5 at 7pm only!  Special Price: $4 stud./$5 gen.
The Modern Music Festival '99 presents 8 short films in two evenings of screenings and open discussions with filmmakers and composers. Music and Film explores the integral nature of art music and experimental film and the subsequent landscape they create. Print I (Thursday) begins with Stan Brakhage and composer James Tenney. The duo speak about their more than forty-year collaboration as depicted by the films Interim, Ellipsis..., and Christ Mass Sex Dance. Brakhage's film incorporating the music of John Cage, In Between, is also screened. Print II (Friday) offers a second night of screenings that include Phil Solomon's Remains to be Seen (music of Charles Ives), and The Exquisite Hour (music of Ives and Renaldo Hahn, sound design by Solomon). Russ Wiltse and Hobart Bell collaborate in the Boulder premiere of Trilogy, blending the musical score of Charles Eakin, the poetry of American Kenneth Patchen, and the lithographs of German artist, Paul Wunderlich. The electronic music score of John Drumheller merges with the visual images of Robert Schaller's A Trip to the Beach in this brief set of three vignettes. Five filmmakers and three composers will be on hand for one-on-one discussions with audience members in this Modern Music Festival first. The festival is dedicated to the creative works of living artists bringing together

Sat and Sun, March 6 and 7 at 7 and 9:15pm, plus a 3:00 Sunday Matinee
Though it dedicates itself to avoiding directorial egotism, in accordance with strict rules of the Danish filmmakers collective known as Dogma 95, Thomas Vinterberg's Celebration is still a virtuoso feat. Five years out of film school and colosally assured, Mr. Vinterberg strips away the conventions of ordinary filmmaking (as per the group's manifesto) and furiously devises new, unfettered ways of telling a story... Dogma 95, in brief: Look, Ma, no genre stories or superficial action. No special lighting or extra sounds. No tarting up the location with props; no optical tricks; no camera work that isn't hand-held. No black-and-white or flashbacks. And for the director, goodbye to an actual credit and so-called personal imprint. "My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings," say the group's Vows of Chastity. "I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations." The Celebration, which easily accommodates allusions to both Cries and Whispers and The Godfather, features a large, credible cast... They and Mr. Vinterberg (who wrote the screenplay with Mogens Rukov) suceed dizzyingly well in making this a party to remember. (Janet Maslin, The New York Times) Winner of the Special Jury Prize,1998 Cannes Film Festival.
Denmark, 1998. Color, in Danish with English subtitles. 105 mins., 35mm.