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CINEMATIC CLASSICS

FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION

Tuesday, 30 July @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Metropolis (150 min.)

Director: Fritz Lang
Language: Silent, with orchestral score and German/English intertitles

Fritz Lang's Metropolis belongs to legend as much as to cinema. It's a milestone of sci-fi and German expressionism. Yet the story makes minimal sense, and the "theme" belongs in a fortune cookie; to experience the film's pagan power, you have to see the movie. But for decades we couldn't, not really--not with so many versions, all incomplete, often in public-domain prints like smudged photocopies. This Murnau Foundation restoration changes all that. Some shots, scenes, and subplots may be lost forever, but intertitles indicate how they fit into the original continuity and the characters' individual trajectories. Most crucially, the images are crisp, vibrant, and three-dimensional instead of murky and flattened. The composite sequences (the Tower of Babel, a sea of lusting eyes) have been restored to their hallucinatory ferocity. And there's one moment when you can see a bead of sweat roll down a man's cheek--in medium long-shot.--Richard T. Jameson, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 6 August @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

The Thief of Bagdad (106 min.)

Directors: Alexander Korda, Michael Powell
Language: English
Often hailed as the greatest fantasy film ever made, The Thief of Bagdad (1940) was producer Alexander Korda's crowning achievement. Deservedly winning Academy Awards for art direction, color cinematography, and special effects, this Arabian Nights adventure appeals to all ages with its fantastical tale of Abu (Sabu), the little thief who befriends the prince of Bagdad (John Justin) and foils the nefarious plans of the evil grand vizier (Conrad Veidt), who seizes control of Bagdad and covets the princess of Basra (Joan Duprez). From its gorgeous, epic-scale sets to flying horses, magic carpets, and, best of all, Rex Ingram's towering jinni of the bottle, this Thief has all the magic of the tales that inspired it, and vibrant Technicolor brings it all to life in dazzling style. Six esteemed directors worked on this infamously troubled production, but the final result exceeded all expectations, becoming an instant classic that endures to this day. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 13 August @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

The Red Balloon (34 min.) & Last Year at Marienbad (94 min.)

The Red Balloon

Director: Albert Lamorisse
Language: French, with English subtitles
Albert Lamorisse's exquisite The Red Balloon remains one of the most beloved children's films of all time. In this deceptively simple, nearly wordless tale, a young boy discovers a stray balloon, which seems to have a mind of its own, on the streets of Paris. The two become inseparable, yet the world's harsh realities finally interfere. With its glorious palette and allegorical purity, the Academy Award winning The Red Balloon has enchanted movie lovers, young and old, for generations. --Amazon.com

Last Year at Marienbad

Director: Alain Resnais
Language: French, with English subtitles
One of the most ferociously iconoclastic and experimental films of the French New Wave, Alain Resnais's 1961 feature, winner of the grand prize at that year's Venice Film Festival, is based on a script by Alain Robbe-Grillet. At its center is what seems to be a simple but unanswerable puzzle: Did its protagonist (Giorgio Albertazzi) have an affair the year before with a woman (Delphine Seyrig) he just met (or possibly re-met) at his hotel? The inquiry becomes an unsettling experiment in flattening the dimensions of past, present, and future so that any difference between them becomes meaningless, while Resnais's coldly formal but oddly dreamlike geometric compositions make space itself seem a function of subjective memory. Add to that Resnais's trademark tracking shots--long, smooth, a visual correlative of a wordless feeling--and this is a film that truly gets under the skin in almost inexplicable ways. One of the most influential works of its time. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 20 August @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

The Seventh Seal (96 min.)

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Language: Swedish, with English subtitles
Disillusioned and exhausted after a decade of battling in the Crusades, a knight encounters Death on a desolate beach and challenges him to a fateful game of chess.

 

Tuesday, 27 August @ 7:00 pm in Arts Major

2001: A Space Odyssey (167 min.)

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Language: English
The sci-fi masterpiece from acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick about a space voyage to Jupiter that turns chaotic when a computer enhanced with artificial intelligence takes over.

 

Tuesday, 10 September @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Solaris (160 min.)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Language: Russian, with English subtitles
The Russian answer to 2001, and very nearly as memorable a movie. The legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky made this extremely deliberate science-fiction epic, an adaptation of a novel by Stanislaw Lem. The story follows a cosmonaut (Donatas Banionis) on an eerie trip to a planet where haunting memories can take physical form. Its bare outline makes it sound like a routine space-flight picture, an elongated Twilight Zone episode; but the further into its mysteries we travel, the less familiar anything seems. Even though Tarkovsky's meanings and methods are sometimes mystifying, Solaris has a way of crawling inside your head, especially given the slow pace and general lack of forward momentum. By the time the final images cross the screen, Tarkovsky has gone way beyond SF conventions into a moving, unsettling vision of memory and home. Well worthy of cult status, Solaris is both challenging art-house fare and a whacked-out head trip. --Robert Horton, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 17 September @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Sleeper (89 min.)

Director: Woody Allen
Language: English
If Interiors was Woody Allen's Bergman movie, and Stardust Memories was his Fellini movie, then you could say that Sleeper is his Buster Keaton movie. Relying more on visual/conceptual/slapstick gags than his trademark verbal wit, Sleeper is probably the funniest of what would become known as Allen's "early, funny films" and a milestone in his development as a director. Allen plays Miles Monroe, cryogenically frozen in 1973 (he went into the hospital for an ulcer operation) and unthawed 200 years later. Society has become a sterile, Big Brother-controlled dystopia, and Miles joins the underground resistance--joined by a pampered rich woman (Diane Keaton at her bubbliest). Among the most famous gags are Miles's attempt to impersonate a domestic-servant robot; the Orgasmatron, a futuristic home appliance that provides instant pleasure; a McDonald's sign boasting how-many-trillions served; and an inflatable suit that provides the means for a quick getaway. The kooky unthawing scenes were later blatantly (and admittedly) ripped off by Mike Myers in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery--Jim Emerson, Amazon.com 

 

Tuesday, 1 October @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Stalker (163 min.)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Language: Russian, with English subtitles
Challenging, provocative, and ultimately rewarding, Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker is a mind-bending experience that defies explanation. Like Tarkovsky's earlier and similarly enigmatic science fiction classic Solaris, this long, slow, meditative masterpiece demands patience and total attention; anyone accustomed to faster pacing is likely to abandon the nearly three-hour film before its first hour is over. On the other hand, those who approach Tarkovsky's work in a properly receptive (and wide awake) frame of mind are likely to appreciate the film's seductive depth of theme and hypnotic imagery. Set in what appears to be a post-apocalyptic future (although the time-frame is never specified), the eerie and unsettling story focuses on the title character, Stalker (Aleksandr Kajdanovsky), who leads characters known only as the Writer (Anatoli Solonitsyn) and the Scientist (or Professor, played by Nikolai Grinko) into a mysterious region called The Zone. Tarkovsky films their journey as a long odyssey, or religious pilgrimage, and center of The Zone--said to be under an alien influence--is where each of these men hopes to find a kind of personal transcendence. Despite obvious parallels to The Wizard of Oz, Tarkovsky's film is devoid of special effects or any fantastical elements typically associated with science fiction or fantasy. Instead, Stalker makes astonishing use of sound and bleak-but-beautiful imagery to envelope the viewer into the eerie atmosphere of The Zone and the dank, colorless landscape that surrounds it. And while the film's glacial pacing may be off-putting to some viewers, there's no denying that Stalker has a mesmerizing power of its own, including a thought-provoking and highly debatable ending that propels the film to a higher level of meaning and significance. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 8 October @ 7:00 pm in Arts Major

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (118 min.)

Director: Ridley Scott
Language: English
To call this cut of Blade Runner ‘long awaited’ would be a heavy, heavy understatement. It’s taken 25 years since the first release of one of the science-fiction genre’s flagship films to get this far, and understandably, Blade Runner: The Final Cut has proved to be one of the most eagerly awaited DVD releases of all time.

And it’s been well worth the wait. Director Ridley Scott’s decision to head back to the edit suite and cut together one last version of his flat-out classic film has been heavily rewarded, with a genuinely definitive version of an iconic, visually stunning and downright intelligent piece of cinema. Make no mistake: this is by distance the best version of Blade Runner. And it’s never looked better, either.

The core of Blade Runner, of course, remains the same, with Harrison Ford’s Deckard (the Blade Runner of the title) on the trail of four ‘replicants’, cloned humans that are now illegal. And he does so across an amazing cityscape that’s proven to be well ahead of its time, with astounding visuals that defied the supposed limits of special effects back in 1982.

Remastered and restored, it remains a testament to a number of creative people whose thinking was simply a country mile in advance of that of their contemporaries. Jon Foster, Amazon.co.uk 

 

Tuesday, 15 October @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Wings of Desire (128 min.)

Director: Wim Wenders
Language: German, with English subtitles

"There are angels over the streets of Berlin," quotes the movie poster, but these are like no angels you've ever seen. Bundled in dark overcoats, they watch over the city with ears open to the heartbeat of the human soul, listening to the internal musings and yearnings of earthbound humans like existential detectives. In these delicate, astounding scenes we float through the thoughts of dozens of Berlin citizens, from the weary and worn to the hopeful and young, as the angels record the magic moments for some heavenly record. When Damiel (the empathic and sensitive Bruno Ganz) falls in love with an angel of another sort, the lonely trapeze artist Marion (willowy, sad-eyed Solveig Dommartin), he gives up the contemplation and observation of life to experience it himself.

Wim Wenders' most purely romantic film is like poetry on celluloid, a celebration of the transient and fragile moments of being human: the warmth of a cup of coffee on a cold day, the embrace of a friend, the touch of a lover, the rapture of love. Opening with an angel's-eye view of Berlin in silvery black and white (delicately captured by the great cinematographer Henri Alekan, who photographed Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast 40 years earlier), it transforms into a gauzy colour world when Damiel "crosses over" by sheer will. Peter Falk plays himself as a fallen angel with a special sensitivity for celestial visitors ("I can't see you, but I know you're there," he proclaims), and Otto Sander, whose smiling eyes brighten a face etched by eons of waiting and watching, is Damiel's partner. Wenders made a sequel in 1993,Faraway, So Close, and Hollywood remade the film as City of Angels with Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com

 

Tuesday, 22 October @ 7:00 pm in Eden Grove Blue

Pan’s Labyrinth (118 min.)

Director: Guillermo del Toro
Language: Spanish, with English subtitles

Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, Jorge Luis Borges, and Guillermo del Toro's own unlimited imagination, Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale for adults. Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) may only be 12, but the worlds she inhabits, both above and below ground, are dark as anything del Toro has conjured. Set in rural Spain, circa 1944, Ofelia and her widowed mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil, Belle Epoque), have just moved into an abandoned mill with Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal (Sergi López, With a Friend like Harry). Carmen is pregnant with his son. Other than her sickly mother and kindly housekeeper Mercedes (Maribel Verdú, Y Tu Mamá También), the dreamy Ofelia is on her own. Vidal, an exceedingly cruel man, couldn't be bothered. He has informers to torture. Ofelia soon finds that an entire universe exists below the mill. Her guide is the persuasive Faun (Doug Jones, Mimic). As her mother grows weaker, Ofelia spends more and more time in the satyr's labyrinth. He offers to help her out of her predicament if she'll complete three treacherous tasks. Ofelia is willing to try, but does this alternate reality really exist or is it all in her head? Del Toro leaves that up to the viewer to decide in a beautiful, yet brutal twin to The Devil's Backbone, which was also haunted by the ghost of Franco. Though it lacks the humour of Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth represents Guillermo Del Toro at the top of his considerable game--Kathleen C. Fennessy, Amazon.co.uk

 

Last Modified :Fri, 31 Mar 2017 11:06:22 SAST

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