Release Date: June 29, 2009
Summer Films at the National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC—This summer, the National Gallery of Art's film program provides a great variety of films combined with concerts and discussions. The six ciné-concerts feature films from the 1920s and 1930s combined with pianists and orchestras in live performance. July's Salute to Le Festival des 3 Continents highlights a collaborative effort between the National Gallery of Art, the Freer Gallery, and the French Embassy to bring avant-garde, classic, and new cinema from Asia, Africa, and Latin America to Washington audiences. The Gallery's annual showcase of recently restored and preserved films, From Vault to Screen, will focus on the collections of La Cinémathèque de Toulouse, Anthology Film Archives, and UCLA Film and Television Archive, among others. A highlight of this series will be the presentation of the restored Manhatta by Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand. This screening concludes with a discussion with Charles Brock, curator of American art, National Gallery of Art, and Bruce Posner, the film historian responsible for the restoration. Other notable film events at the Gallery include Carl Theodor Dreyer: The Late Works, and Alain Resnais: The Eloquence of Memory, a retrospective of the influential French director's work occurring at the end of the summer.
All films are shown in the East Building Auditorium. Programs are free of charge but seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis. Doors open approximately 30 minutes before each show. Programs are subject to change. Films are shown in original format. For current information, visit our Web site, www.nga.gov/programs/film, or call (202) 842-6799.
Stanley William Hayter: From Surrealism to Abstraction
Sunday, July 5, at 2:00 p.m.
Three archival films on the British painter and printmaker are featured in association with the exhibition Stanley William Hayter: From Surrealism to Abstraction. The first, A New Way of Gravure (Jess Paley, 1950, 12 minutes), shows the artist at work in Atelier 17; the second, The Other Side of the Mirror (Julian Hayter, 1976, 30 minutes), is a documentary by the artist's son; and the third is Stanley William Hayter: The Artist as Teacher (Ohio State University, 1970, 12 minutes). (54 minutes total)
Visible Silence: Marsden Hartley, Painter and Poet
Introduction by Michael Maglaras
Saturday, July 11, at 1:00 p.m.
A new film essay on the American modernist from Lewiston, Maine—whose peripatetic life, personal tragedy, and original style have made him a topic of endless fascination—is discussed by the filmmaker Michael Maglaras. (2008, digital beta, 65 minutes)
Man with a Movie Camera
Alloy Orchestra on stage
Saturday, August 1, at 3:30 p.m.
The Alloy Orchestra returns to the National Gallery to perform its stirring original score for Vertov's legendary silent masterpiece, an avant-garde portrayal of urban life, work, and leisure in Soviet cities that ultimately advanced the arc of experimental filmmaking. (Dziga Vertov, 1929, 35 mm, silent with live music, 70 minutes)
Léon Morin, Priest
Sunday, September 6, at 4:30 p.m.
New Wave forebear and auteur maudit Jean-Pierre Melville accepted an offer to adapt Béatrix Beck's Prix Goncourt-winning novel Léon Morin, prêtre, a book Melville considered "the most accurate picture of the French under the Occupation." A young widow (Emmanuelle Riva), relocated to a provincial town, experiences a spiritual turn toward God and her handsome confessor, the village priest (Jean-Paul Belmondo). "Maximum emotional and metaphysical toughness to inveigle the most skeptical of observers into acknowledging the operation of divine grace"—Chris Petit. (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1961, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 114 minutes)
George C. Stoney: American Documentarian
A Reunion of All My Babies
followed by Flesh in Ecstasy and How the Myth Was Made
Saturday, September 26, at 2:30 p.m.
An afternoon with the distinguished documentary filmmaker George C. Stoney (b. 1916) includes a dialogue between Mr. Stoney and Patricia Aufderheide, professor of film and media arts at American University's School of Communication.
Several years ago, Stoney began a follow-up to his landmark 1952 film All My Babies, a treatise on southern midwifery. Tracking down many of the people delivered by midwife Mary Francis Hill Coley, Stoney and collaborator David Bagnall reveal impressions from those most affected by the time-honored tradition. (David Bagnall and George C. Stoney, work-in-progress, digital beta, 12 minutes)
French-American sculptor Gaston Lachaise's fascination with muse and model Isabel ("Belle") Dutaud Nagle is the subject of Flesh in Ecstasy: Gaston Lachaise and the Woman He Loved. The film is also a valentine to Stoney's own companion, Betty Puleston, Belle's grandniece. (David Bagnall and George C. Stoney, 2008, digital beta, 21 minutes)
How the Myth Was Made is the story behind Robert Flaherty's legendary Man of Aran, a portrait of islanders off the western coast of Ireland completed forty years earlier. Interested in the aftermath of Flaherty's film, Stoney also delves into his own roots—his grandfather had been the island's doctor. (George C. Stoney, 1979, digital beta, 60 minutes)
El Perro Negro: Stories from the Spanish Civil War
preceded by Guernica
Sunday, September 27 at 4:30 p.m.
Media artist Péter Forgács has assembled this unparalleled collage of footage from the Spanish Civil War using the home movies of two talented amateurs, Joan Salvans and Ernesto Diaz Noriega. An extraordinary view of contemporary Spain during the chaotic 1930s, El Perro Negro: Stories from the Spanish Civil War was created for Forgács' ongoing personal chronicles of 20th-century European history. (Péter Forgács, 2005, HD-Cam, 84 minutes) Guernica combines motifs from Picasso's epic painting with Paul Éluard's poetic text on the besieged Spanish town. (Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens, 1950, 35 mm, 13 minutes)
Salute to Le Festival des 3 Continents
Le Festival des 3 Continents, held annually since 1979 in Nantes, France, presents a distinctive selection of new fiction, documentary, and classic art cinema from Africa, Asia, and South America to critics, filmmakers, and scholars from around the world. Devoted to raising awareness of important and interesting production outside the mainstream, F3C was the first festival to endorse, for example, China's Hou Hsiao-hsien and Iran's Abbas Kiarostami. The National Gallery is pleased to join the Freer Gallery of Art and the Embassy of France in saluting this vital forum on its thirtieth anniversary. Seven Latin American films from past festivals will be shown at the Gallery, African films at the Embassy of France, and Asian films at the Freer Gallery.
Acts of Men (Atos dos Homens)
followed by Antonio das Mortes
Introduction by critic Jean-Philippe Tessé
Saturday, July 4, at 3:00 p.m.
North of Rio de Janeiro, the towns of Brazil's coastal Baixada Fluminense are notorious for vigilantism, "clean-up campaigns" that have been running wild for nearly a half-century. As Acts of Men tours the once picturesque Baixada, the filmmakers find remnants of recent attacks, fearful relatives of former victims (speaking in off-camera interviews), and evidence of police participation in the general mayhem. (Kiko Goifman, 2006, 35 mm, Portuguese with subtitles, 76 minutes)
Retelling a legend in verse and song, Antonio das Mortes—mainstay of Brazil's famed Cinema Nôvo—remains a tour de force of experimentation filmed in the scorched sertão. A mercenary killer of peasant rebel-bandits (cangaceiros), Antonio is slowly and steadily lured to the peasant cause. Restored print courtesy of the Rocha family. (Glauber Rocha, 1968, 35 mm, Portuguese with live subtitles, 96 minutes)
Introduction by critic Jean-Philippe Tessé
Martin Rejtman in person
Sunday, July 5, at 4:30 p.m.
A star of the new Argentine cinema, Martín Rejtman reveals an affection for vintage Hollywood comedy in Silvia Prieto, his delightfully deadpan, absurdist portrayal of life among the younger set in Buenos Aires. Silvia (Rosario Blefari), dissatisfied with her daily routine, decides on her twenty-seventh birthday to change her lifestyle, with near ruinous results. "Rejtman gives the manic comedy of Lubitsch and Hawks a dose of quaaludes and gin"—Jason Sanders. (Martín Rejtman, 1999, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 92 minutes)
They Don't Wear Black Tie (Eles Não Usam Black-Tie)
Sunday, July 12, at 4:30 p.m.
In a colorful working-class quarter in São Paulo, Tião and Maria, faithful lovers and friends, find their respective families, caught in webs of poverty and factory strikes, are at odds with their forthcoming marriage. Basing his film on a 1960s play by Gianfrancesco Guarnieri, Leon Hirszman's brilliant direction earned him a special jury prize in Cannes and a Golden Lion in Venice. (Leon Hirszman, 1981, 35 mm, Portuguese with live subtitles, 130 minutes)
The Realm of Fortune (El imperio de la fortuna)
Saturday, July 18, at 4:00 p.m.
Juan Rulfo's short story El gallo de oro was the source for Arturo Ripstein's resplendent tale of a poor Mexican peasant who sets out with one injured gamecock to find his fortune in village gambling and cockfighting. El imperio de la fortuna was, in part, an homage to Luis Buñuel's work in Mexico. (Arturo Ripstein, 1985, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 130 minutes)
A Week Alone (Una semana solos)
preceded by A Stain in the Water
Sunday, July 19, at 4:30 p.m.
Argentine director Célina Murga and her group of largely adolescent actors shape a spare yet gripping portrait of life within a fashionable gated community. While parents are away, the children take charge, behaving more or less as they please. Oddly, no one even tries to run away. In this condition of conformity, a stranger joins them. "A contemporary, if less urgent, version of Lord of the Flies"—Gustavus Kundahl. (Célina Murga, 2008, 35 mm, Spanish with subtitles, 110 minutes)
The short A Stain in the Water (Una mancha en el agua) records the director's experience with the mighty Paraná River. (Pablo Romano, 2005, digital video, 20 minutes)
From Vault to Screen: New Preservation
The National Gallery's annual showcase of recently preserved and restored films from international archives this year focuses on the work of La Cinémathèque de Toulouse, Anthology Film Archives, UCLA Film and Television Archive, George Eastman House, Library of Congress, Museum of Modern Art, British Film Institute, Cineteca Nazionale, L'Immagine Ritrovata, and La Cinémathèque française, with special thanks to Tim Lanza, Mike Mashon, Natacha Laurent, Antoine Sebire, Kim Tomadjoglou, Caroline Yeager, and Il Cinema Ritrovato, the annual festival in Bologna, Italy, devoted to history, restoration, and rediscovery.
followed by N.Y., N.Y. and other New York scenes
Discussion by Bruce Posner and Charles Brock
Saturday, July 11, at 3:30 p.m.
Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand's majestic short Manhatta was recently given new brilliance through Lowry Digital Images' restoration technology. Bruce Posner, historian of early experimental cinema who spearheaded the project, and Charles Brock, associate curator of American art at the National Gallery, discuss the complex process of its preservation. Special thanks to the Library of Congress and Aperture Foundation. (Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, 1921, 35 mm, score by Donald Sosin, 11 minutes)
Avalon Fund (original 2K digital film restoration made possible by Anthology Film Archives, Aperture Foundation, British Film Institute, DTS Digital Images, The Lane Collection, The Library of Congress, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Museum of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art, And Nederlands Filmmuseum. New music score composed by Donald Sosin. Additional funding by Filmmakers Showcase, Paul Strand Trust for the benefit of Virginia Stevens, Turner Classic Movies, and Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1893–1941. Special Contents of this Edition Copyright 2008 The Museum of Modern Art / Anthology Film Archives.
N.Y, N.Y. is Imax pioneer Francis Thompson's gracefully abstract portrayal of a day in the life of the city. (Francis Thompson, 1957, 35 mm, 15 minutes) A selection of silent, turn-of-the-century New York scenes includes At the Foot of the Flatiron Building, Beginning of a Skyscraper, and Ghetto Fish Market, among others. Preserved by the Library of Congress from the paper print collection. (1896–1909, 35 mm, approximately 10 minutes)
British Documentary Movement
Friday, July 17, at 3:00 p.m.
From Britain's pioneering documentary movement of the 1930s and 1940s, these shorts combined propaganda, poetry, and modernist ideas to inspire a war-weary nation. The selection includes Eastern Valley, in which unemployed miners from South Wales create a farming cooperative (Paul Rotha and Donald Alexander, 1937, 16 minutes); Airport, a typical day at London's Croydon airfield (Roy Lockwood, 1934, 20 minutes); The Silent Village, a Welsh mining village's reenactment of the Nazi obliteration of Lidice, Czechoslovakia (Humphrey Jennings, 1943, 36 minutes); and Summer on the Farm (Ralph Keene, 1943, 11 minutes). From the collection of the National Film Archive, London. (83 minutes total)
followed by La Chute de la maison Usher
Philip Carli on piano
Saturday, July 18, at 1:00 p.m.
Vignettes from Edgar Allen Poe's life and from his popular love poem The Raven compose this early screen adaptation. Surviving in a rare 28 mm print (28 mm was used for amateur filmmaking at the time), it was recently preserved on 35 mm by George Eastman House, with funding provided by Saving America's Treasures. (Charles Brabin, 1915, 35 mm, silent, 57 minutes)
La Chute de la maison Usher is French avant-gardist Jean Epstein's mix of motifs from several Edgar Allen Poe tales. "My general impression [of his work]," said Epstein. The film's spare beauty, dramatic lighting, and interesting effects make up for the outré tweaking of Poe's texts. Luis Buñuel coauthored the screenplay. (Jean Epstein, 1928, 35 mm, silent, 63 minutes)
Saturday, July 25, at 1:00 p.m.
'A Santanotte is a beautiful example of the Neapolitan film genre sceneggiata ("scenes with songs"), based on theatrical forms (café chantant, dialect theater) and inspired by popular songs. Italy's first woman director, Elvira Notari, shot the film on location in Naples' working-class neighborhoods. A recording of the great tenor Fernando De Lucia (c. 1922) performing 'A Santanotte (well known at the time) accompanies the film. (Elvira Notari for Dora Film, 1922, 35 mm, silent with Italian intertitles translated live, 62 minutes)
The Cigarette Girl from Mosselprom
Andrew Simpson on piano
Saturday, July 25, at 3:30 p.m.
Cigarette seller Zina from a state-run Mosselprom shop attracts the attention of three men—bookkeeper Nikodim, cameraman Latugin, and Oliver MacBride, an American in Moscow on business. This satire of city life, mocking everything from movie-making to interaction between the sexes, was one of the most successful of all Soviet silents. "A bourgeois comedy," noted some contemporary critics. Preserved by La Cinémathèque de Toulouse. (Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky, 1924, 35 mm, Russian titles translated live, 90 minutes)
Ben Model on piano
Sunday, July 26, at 4:30 p.m.
Douglas Fairbanks, in an electrifying performance as the rowdy Argentine cowboy proficient with pistols and señoritas, shows a complexity of character not apparent in earlier roles. The talents of Lupe Vélez and the film's impressively stylish visual flourishes underscore the virtuosity of this great work of the late silent era. (F. Richard Jones, 1927, 35 mm, silent with live music, 115 minutes)
The Green Goddess
David Arner on piano
Saturday, August 15, at 3:30 p.m.
British writer William Archer's popular 1921 stage melodrama proved a perfect vehicle for the multitalented George Arliss. Cast as the colorful Rajah of the Princedom of Rukh—a tyrant who cleverly exploits a band of English travelers when their plane lands on his turf—he starred in the Broadway version and then reprised the role for a second screen adaptation. Preserved by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with support of Warner Bros. and the NEA Media Arts Program. (Sidney Olcott, 1923, 35 mm, silent with live music, 89 minutes)
Saturday, August 22, at 1:00 p.m.
Leslie Howard, England's consul-general in Moscow before and during the revolution, and Kay Francis, Comrade Lenin's secretary, find each other and much more in British Agent. From R.H. Bruce Lockhart's Memoirs of a British Agent, director Curtiz crafted a film that, aiming for accuracy and entertainment, came as close to it as any film of the era. Preserved by the Library of Congress with funding from The Film Foundation. (Michael Curtiz, 1934, 35 mm, 80 minutes)
Hollis Frampton's Hapax Legomena
Sunday, August 23, at 4:30 p.m. (parts 1 through 3)
Sunday, August 30, at 4:30 p.m. (parts 4 through 7)
One of the towering figures of the American avant-garde movement of the 1960s, Hollis Frampton (1936–1984)—theoretician, photographer, raconteur, and friend of many visual artists—completed his seven-part meditation Hapax Legomena ("words or things appearing once") in 1972. It was restored this year under the supervision of New York University professor Bill Brand, through the cooperation of the National Film Preservation Foundation, Museum of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, and New York University Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program. This extraordinary cycle is shown in its entirety over two days. (nostalgia), Poetic Justice, and Critical Mass (total running time 95 minutes) are shown August 23. Traveling Matte, Ordinary Matter, Remote Control, and Special Effects (total running time 112 minutes) are shown August 30.
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman
Friday, August 28, at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, August 29, at 2:30 p.m.
Director Albert Lewin (1894–1968) was virtually without peer in mid-century Hollywood. Aesthete, intellectual, and art collector, Lewin was hand-picked to helm Pandora and the Flying Dutchman. In this present-day version of the legend, set on the Spanish coast, a beautiful American (Ava Gardner) meets her match when a mysterious yacht captain (James Mason) pulls into port. Jack Cardiff served as cinematographer. Restored by George Eastman House in cooperation with The Douris Corporation, with funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Franco-American Cultural Fund. (Albert Lewin, 1951, 35 mm, 122 minutes)
From Novel to Screen
Two adaptations of Pierre Louÿs' celebrated 1898 novel La Femme et le Pantin (it was later also filmed by Luis Buñuel and Julian Duvivier) are presented in honor of the National Gallery exhibition The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain.
La Femme et le Pantin
Alexander Wimmer on guitar and computer
Saturday, August 8, at 3:00 p.m.
Jacques de Baroncelli was one of the first to dramatize La Femme et le Pantin. A rich Spaniard abandons his comfortable life for the love of Concha (Conchita Montenegro), a poor but proud woman who does what she must to survive. In a grand gesture, Baroncelli opens the film with a tableau of Goya's painting The Straw Mannequin. Preservation by La Cinémathèque Française. (Jacques de Baroncelli, 1928, 35 mm, silent with live music, French intertitles with soft-title translation, 100 minutes)
The Devil Is a Woman
Saturday, August 15, at 1:00 p.m.
Von Sternberg's adaptation of Pierre Louÿs' La Femme et le Pantin (this version was originally titled Caprice Espagnol) features Marlene Dietrich as the incredible Concha. "Everything—lighting, camera movements, editing, acting—is aligned in the desperate expression of the erotic power of the woman"—Ado Kyrou. Preservation by UCLA Film and Television Archive. (Josef von Sternberg, 1935, 35 mm, 80 minutes)
Carl Theodor Dreyer: The Late Works
Four rarely shown sound features and one short film by Carl Theodor Dreyer (1889–1968) are presented in recently restored or preserved prints to mark the 120th anniversary of his birth. While the director's dedication to the form and contributions to world cinema are now celebrated, his first sound film Vampyr was a commercial failure, and the war and other material matters interfered with the accomplishment of these later works. Ultimately, however, they became his most remarkable achievements. The Gallery wishes to thank the Danish Film Institute for its cooperation in loaning these films.
preceded by They Caught the Ferry
Sunday, August 2, at 4:30 p.m.
From the genre cinéma fantastique, Dreyer's first sound film was based on a story by Sheridan Le Fanu, the famed Victorian writer of Gothic tales. Shot in France by the photographer Rudolph Maté, his film was "helped by a dream-like logic, as the main character embarks on a voyage through light and darkness to a point where he can imagine his own burial..."—Chris Petit. (1932, 35 mm, Danish with live soft-titles, 83 minutes) The wittily weird short They Caught the Ferry precedes the feature. (1948, 35 mm, Danish with subtitles, 12 minutes)
Day of Wrath
Sunday, August 9, at 4:30 p.m.
"Carl Dreyer's art begins to unfold just at the point where most other directors give up. Witchcraft and martyrdom are his themes—his witches...ride the erotic fears of their persecutors. In Day of Wrath he carries the heroine to the limits of human feeling, to the extremes of isolation, fear, and torment. The young second wife of an austere pastor desires his death because of her love for his son; when the pastor falls dead, she is tried as a witch..."—Pauline Kael. (1943, 35 mm, Danish with subtitles, 98 minutes)
Sunday, August 16, at 4:30 p.m.
Dreyer's interest in the effects of organized religion on personal belief systems finds expression in this adaptation of a 1925 play by Danish writer Kaj Munk, about a rural family reconciled to their neighbors through a miracle. "The simplicity of the setting only adds to the power of the understated drama, in which a stern widower's son believes he is the reincarnated Christ"—British Film Institute. (1955, 35 mm, Danish with subtitles, 130 minutes)
Saturday, August 22, at 3:30 p.m.
In Dreyer's final modernist masterwork—"equal in madness and beauty to the last works of Beethoven," according to Jean-Luc Godard—a woman's search for a romantic ideal of love ends with her casting off the four men in her life and retreating into calm isolation. "Gertrud is a film I made with my heart," said Dreyer. Adapted from Danish playwright Hjalmar Söderberg's 1906 play. (1964, 35 mm, Danish with subtitles, 115 minutes)
Alain Resnais: The Eloquence of Memory
"A creature is a memory that acts." Research scientist Henri Laborit's remark sums up the abiding artistic obsession of Alain Resnais (b. 1922), one of Europe's most thoughtful and thought-provoking filmmakers. Resnais' collaborations with powerful literary figures such as Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet are legendary and unique—he maintains that a script should be conceived apart from any concession to the medium. Yet Resnais is also a superb virtuoso of filmic technique, as this retrospective reveals. Restored prints are made possible through the cooperation of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and support of the French Embassy.
Hiroshima mon amour
Saturday, September 5, at 2:00 p.m.
A collaboration with writer Marguerite Duras ("I intended to compose a sort of poem in which the images would act as counterpoint to Marguerite's text"), Hiroshima mon amour was Resnais' first feature. Actress Emmanuele Riva visits the city and, tortured by memories of a romance with a German soldier, becomes involved with a Japanese architect whose former life was shattered by the bomb. Composer Giovanni Fusco wrote the evocative score. (1959, 35 mm, French and Japanese with subtitles, 91 minutes)
Last Year at Marienbad
Saturday, September 5, at 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, September 6, at 2:00 p.m.
In a vast château with grand formal gardens and gilded moldings, a man tries to convince a disbelieving woman that a year before, in this same setting, they had been in love. According to scriptwriter Alain Robbe-Grillet, "The film's universe is that of a perpetual present which makes any recourse to memory impossible." Losing none of its authority nearly 50 years later, Marienbad's beautiful visual puzzle is the archetype of the sophisticated art film. (1961, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 94 minutes)
Selected Resnais Shorts
Saturday, September 12, at 2:00 p.m.
In Guernica, Resnais integrates (in fractured cubist style) motifs from Picasso's epic painting with Paul Éluard's poetic text on the besieged Spanish town. (Alain Resnais and Robert Hessens, 1950, 35 mm, 13 minutes)
Les Statues meurent aussi, banned for years by the French censors, was a commissioned work intended to raise awareness of the perceived decline in traditional African art forms following colonization and exchange with Europe. (Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, 1953, French with subtitles, 30 minutes)
Le Chant du Styrène, a commission from Péchiney Plastics, depicts the making of polystyrene as "a noble material... demanding a great deal of knowledge." Ironic verse commentary by Raymond Queneau accompanies the visuals. (Chris Marker and Alain Resnais, 1958, French with subtitles, 19 minutes)
Muriel, ou le temps d'un retour
Saturday, September 12, at 3:30 p.m.
Antiques dealer Hélène (Delphine Seyrig), residing with her stepson in Boulogne, is attempting to meet up with a former lover. From a seemingly ordinary occurrence, Resnais and writer Jean Cayrol construct an intricate mosaic of memory and conscience. "As Hélène attempts to recapture the (illusory) happiness of her past, her stepson is driven to extinguish the memory of his role in the Algerian War. Filmed with what has been called 'hallucinatory realism' and acted with stylized intensity, Muriel is, according to Penelope Houston, 'one of the ten greatest films in the history of cinema'"—James Quandt. (1963, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 115 minutes)
Sunday, September 13, at 4:30 p.m.
The saga of celebrated swindler Serge Stavisky (Jean-Paul Belmondo)—whose rise to political power and scandalous 1934 fall brought France to the brink of collapse—is Resnais' most unambiguous creation, but also his most elegant and unsettling. "The chill stems not simply from the cold precision of the images, but from the unshakeable implications of what he allows us to witness...an atmosphere of moral degeneracy with a tact that makes it all the more insidious"—Verina Glaessner. (1974, 35 mm, French and Italian with subtitles, 117 minutes)
Friday, September 18, at 2:30 p.m.
Based on a 1929 theater piece that retains its musical structure and delightfully fussy stage conventions, Mélo highlights the transforming power of memory in what amounts to a romantic carousel. Romaine (Sabine Azéma), the wife of second-string pianist Pierre (Pierre Arditi), falls in love with Pierre's best friend, the virtuoso violinist Marcel (André Dussollier). Now ill, Pierre is cared for by cousin Christiane (Fanny Ardant). "The viewer becomes lost in the [edgy] time and space of a melo (not mellow) drama"—Pacific Film Archive. (1986, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 112 minutes)
Mon Oncle d'Amérique
Saturday, September 19, at 1:00 p.m.
With Henri Laborit's theories on the biological basis of behavior as his inspiration, Resnais compares and contrasts three ordinary humans—a would-be mogul, a left-leaning actress, and a plant manager of modest means—with laboratory mice. In its own whimsical fashion, Mon Oncle d'Amérique is a beautiful exposition on the human condition. "A riddle which proves that surrealism lives"—Tony Rayns. (1980, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 126 minutes)
Same Old Song (On connaît la chanson)
Saturday, September 19, at 3:30 p.m.
Preserving the playful tone of his late works, Renais' merrily romantic musical is accomplished with a cadre of his favorite actors, including Pierre Arditi, Sabine Azéma, and André Dussollier. Six characters dash around their beautifully stylized Paris, negotiating relationships and, at serendipitous moments, erupting into vintage song (à la Dennis Potter) with comic effect. (1997, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 120 minutes)
Coeurs (Private Fears in Public Places)
Sunday, September 20, at 4:30 p.m.
Alan Ayckbourn's 2004 play Private Fears in Public Places was Resnais' inspiration for this sequence of interwoven tales and characters in Bercy—a renovated, updated district of Paris—accomplished with his uncommonly gifted cast. "Resnais is not only a consummate technician of the cinema; he is also one of its greatest directors of actors. As his films have become more theatrical and interior, they have also embraced a deepening sense of human frailty"—Piers Handling. (2006, 35 mm, French with subtitles, 120 minutes)
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