2011 film series

LANGUAGE AND THINKING 2011 FILM SERIES

The Seventh Seal, Ingmar Bergman (1957)
Tuesday, 9 August, 7pm, Olin Auditorium
“Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight (Max von Sydow) encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess. Much studied, imitated, even parodied, but never outdone, Bergman’s stunning allegory of man’s search for meaning, The Seventh Seal (Det sjunde inseglet), was one of the benchmark foreign imports of America’s 1950s art-house heyday, pushing cinema’s boundaries and ushering in a new era of moviegoing.”
— Synopsis from the Criterion Collection

The Spirit of the Beehive, Victor Erice (1973)
Tuesday, 9 August, 9pm, Olin Auditorium
The Spirit of the Beehive (El espíritu de la colmena) is widely regarded as the greatest Spanish film of the 1970s. In a small Castilian village in 1940, in the wake of the country’s devastating civil war, six-year-old Ana attends a traveling movie show of Frankenstein and becomes possessed by the memory of it. Produced as Franco’s long regime was nearing its end, The Spirit of the Beehive is a bewitching portrait of a child’s haunted inner life and one of the most visually arresting movies ever made.”
— Synopsis from the Criterion Collection

The Fly, David Cronenberg (1986)
Wednesday, 10 August, 7pm, Olin Auditorium
Seth Brundle, a brilliant but eccentric scientist attempts to woo investigative journalist Veronica Quaife by offering her a scoop on his latest research in the field of matter transportation, which against all the expectations of the scientific establishment have proved successful. Up to a point. Brundle thinks he has ironed out the last problem when he successfully transports a living creature, but when he attempts to teleport himself a fly enters one of the transmission booths, and Brundle finds he is a changed man.
—From www.imdb.com

Planet of the Apes, Franklin J. Schaffner (1968)
Wednesday, 10 August, 9pm, Olin Auditorium
[The movie opens] with a short prologue inside a spaceship. Col. George Taylor (Heston), one of four astronauts on board, gives a mournful monologue before joining his fellows in deep sleep. Approximately six months later, their ship crash-lands on an unknown planet. One astronaut’s suspended animation chamber has failed, resulting in her death. The survivors – Taylor, Landon (Robert Gunner), and Dodge (Jeff Burton) – emerge from the vessel to explore their new world, searching for the basics of survival, food and water. Soon, they discover that their new home is inhabited. There are other humans, but they are mute, and they are treated like cattle by the dominant species. On this planet, evolution has favored the apes, who have developed into the walking, talking, thinking rulers of a society where tolerance is minimal, and superstition is valued over science.
—From the review by James Berardinelli, www.reelreviews.net

Battle of Algiers, Gillo Pontecorvo (1966)
Tuesday, 16 August, 7pm, Olin Auditorium
One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers, by Gillo Pontecorvo, vividly re-creates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. As violence escalates on both sides, children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s tour de force has astonishing relevance today.
—Synopsis from the Criterion Collection

Beau Travail, Claire Denis (1999)
Tuesday, 16 August, 9pm, Olin Auditorium
“A gorgeous mirage of a movie, Claire Denis’ reverie about the  French foreign legion in eastern Africa suggested  by Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Foretopman, benefits especially from having been choreographed (by Bernardo Montet, who also plays  one of the legionnaires). Combined with Denis’ superb eye for settings, Agnes Godard’s cinematography, and the director’s decision to treat major and minor elements as equally important, this turns some of the military maneuvers and exercises into thrilling pieces of filmmaking that surpass even Full Metal Jacket and converts some sequences in a disco into vibrant punctuations.  The story, which drifts by in memory fragments, is told from the perspective of a solitary former sergeant (Denis Lavant, star of  The Lovers on the Bridge) now living in Marseilles and recalling his hatred for a popular recruit (Gregoire Colin) that led to the  sergeant’s discharge; the fact that his superior is named after  the hero of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat and played by the  same actor almost 40 years later (Michel Subor) adds a suggestive  thread, as do the passages from Benjamin Britten’s opera Billy Budd. Most of all, Denis, who spent part of her childhood in Djibouti, captures the poetry and atmosphere–and, more subtly, the women–of Africa like few filmmakers before her. A masterpiece.”
—Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum, from the Chicago Reader

Killer of Sheep, Charles Burnett (1977)
Wednesday, 17 August, 7pm, Olin Auditorium
“The first feature (1977) of the highly talented black filmmaker Charles Burnett, who set most of his early films in Watts (including My Brother’s Wedding and To Sleep With Anger); this one deals episodically with the life of a slaughterhouse worker. Shot on a year’s worth of weekends for under $10,000, this remarkable work is conceivably the single best feature about ghetto life. It was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works in American cinema—ironic and belated recognition of a film that, until this recent restoration, had virtually no distribution. It shouldn’t be missed. With Henry Gayle Sanders.”
—Capsule by Jonathan Rosenbaum from the Chicago Reader

The Apple, Samira Makhmalbaf (1998)
Wednesday, 17 August, 9pm, Olin Auditorium
In a poor area in Tehran, some families reveal to the Social Services that one of their neighbors keeps his children from leaving the house. The social worker in charge of the investigation discovers that the two little twin girls have been living behind bars in their house since they were born. The father argues: “My daughters are like flowers. They may wither with the sun.”
—From http://www.festival-cannes.fr/