The film we will discuss on Friday August 21st is American Beauty.
A telesales operative becomes disillusioned with his existence and begins to hunger for fresh excitement in his life. As he experiences a new awakening of the senses, his wife and daughter also undergo changes that seriously affect their family. Critically acclaimed, this film won Oscars for Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Film.
The Third Friday Film Forum is a faith development opportunity that is both social and spiritual. Watching these films and engaging in the discussion that follows, helps us educate ourselves, learn more about different circumstances, cultures or history, as well as provide criticism and/or commentary on events.
Columbine will continue its Film Discussion Forum with eleven movies each year, shown on the 3rd Friday of each month except December. Please contact the series coordinator, Darrell Dodge, if you have a film to propose. The film for the next month is selected at the end of the discussion for that month, from a blind selection of not more than 10 proposed film titles.
Until the end or easing of COVID-19 meeting restrictions, the films will not be shown at CUUC for members and friends, and the discussions will be held on ZOOM. Movie ratings will be provided for films that have been rated. When regular showings are resumed, film industry guidelines that restrict attendance to CUUC members or pledging friends will be followed.
Most films are now shown on streaming services.
The discussion will begin on ZOOM at 7:00 pm.
We will try to end about 8:00 pm.
November 15th – The Exorcist (1973)
October 18th – Memento (2000)
September 20th – I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
August 16th – Arrival (2016)
July 19th – Man of la Mancha (1972)
June 21st – No film
May 17th – The Sea Inside (2004)
April 19th – If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
March 15th – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
February 15th – 20 Feet from Stardom
January 18th – The Intouchables
November 16th – I Am (2011)
September 21st – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
August 17th – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
July 20th – 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968)
June 15th – Sideways (2004)
May 18th – Waking Ned Devine, (1988)
April 20th – Cinema Paradiso (1989)
March 16th – Tampopo (1985)
February 16th – In and Out (1997)
January 19th – The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
November 17th – Melancholia (2012)
July 21st – He Named Me Malala (2015)
June 16th – Denial (2016)
May 19th – Thank You For Smoking (2006)
April 21st – Citizen Kane (1941)
March 17 – The Imitation Game (2014)
February 17 – The Old Man and the Sea (1958)
January 20 – Under the Gun (2016)
October – Unspeakable
September – The Box (2009)
August – Imitation Game (2014)
June – The Giver (2014)
May – The Starfish Throwers (2014)
April – District 9 (2009)
March – Half Like Me (2015)
February – Selma-The Bridge
January – Growing Up Trans
My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Cloud Atlas (2012)
A Place at the Table (2012)
June – Pride (2014)
FILMS IN 2020
May 15th, 2020, 7:00 pm – Lion (2016)
In 1986, Saroo, a five-year-old boy, lives with his elder brother Guddu, his mother and his younger sister in Khandwa, India. Guddu and Saroo steal coal from freight trains to trade for milk and food. One day, Saroo follows his brother to a job and they arrive at a nearby train station, where Saroo decides to stay back and take a nap. Guddu tries to wake him up, but Saroo is too tired. When Guddu does not return, Saroo searches for him and boards a train presuming Guddu is aboard. He falls asleep again in one of the compartments, and wakes up to find the train in motion. After several days, it arrives in faraway Calcutta, where he does not understand the local Bengali language. He stands at a ticket counter and tries to obtain a ticket home, but the attendant does not recognise the name of his village, which Saroo says is “Ganestalay”. He spends the night in the station with some street children, but is then woken up and forced to run when a group of men try to kidnap them. (from Wikipedia)
25 years later, he sets out to find the family he has lost.
The film is available on Amazon. We will discuss the film on Zoom at 7:00 pm.
April 17th, 2020, 7:30 pm – Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Midnight Cowboy features Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in a classic film about friendship and loss in the unforgiving environment of New York City.
“Virile, but naive, big Joe Buck leaves his home in Big Spring, Texas, and hustles off to the Big Apple in search of women and big bucks. In NYC, JB meets up with frustration, and with “Ratso” Rizzo, a scruffy but cordial con artist. Somehow, this mismatched pair manage to survive each other which in turn helps both of them cope with a gritty, sometimes brutal, urban America, en route to a poignant ending.
“Both funny and depressing, our “Midnight Cowboy” rides head-on into the vortex of cyclonic cultural change, and thus confirms to 1969 viewers that they, themselves, have been swept away from the 1950’s age of innocence, and dropped, Dorothy and Toto like, into the 1960’s Age of Aquarius.
“The film’s direction is masterful; the casting is perfect; the acting is top notch; the script is crisp and cogent; the cinematography is engaging; and the music enhances all of the above. Deservedly, it won the best picture Oscar of 1969.” Best IMDb review: Lechuguilla IMDb.com
Length: 113 min, Rating: R
Discussion Facilitator: Susan Stein
March 20th, 2020, 6 pm – Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolan’s “Inception” is number 13 in IDBd’s “Best Films” ranking. Staring Leonardo de Caprio (Cobb) an enterprising fixer who sells dramatized vivid dreams to people who want to influence others, in whose brains the dreams are implanted; Ellen Page, an enthusiastic and highly talented student dream-maker; Ken Watanabe, a wealthy industrialist who wants to purchase a competing corporation; Cillian Murphy, the reluctant heir of that corporation, who wants to honor his father’s memory; and Marion Cotillard, Cobb’s dead wife, who keeps showing up in strange places. Michael Kaine makes his obligatory appearance in this Nolan masterpiece as Cobb’s teacher and conscience. You’ll probably want to watch it again online.
This is an extremely strong film, with excellent story development, a thrilling musical score by Hans Zimmer, and mind-boggling special effects. Oscar wins for cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects. Winner of the best Science Fiction film, writing, music, special effects and directing by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA.
February 21st, 2020, 6 pm – Dead Poets Society (1989)
Starring a young Robin Williams and an even younger Ethan Hawke, Dead Poet’s Society is the story of painfully shy Todd Anderson (Hawke) who has been sent to a traditional all boys private school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His roommate, Neil Perry (Robert Shawn Leonard), although exceedingly bright and popular, is under the thumb of his overbearing father (Kurtwood Smith). The two, along with their friends, meet Professor Keating (Robin Williams), their new English teacher, who encourages them to read and write actual poems instead of studying analytical literary systems. He tells them of the Dead Poets Society, a group of radical poets of which he was a member when he was in school, and encourages them to go against the schools orthodoxy, seize the day and think for themselves.
January 17th, 2020 6 pm – Get Out (2017)
More than just a standard-issue horror/thriller/comedy, this brutal, smart movie is impeccably made, as well as surprising, shocking, and funny, while also offering a compassionate, thoughtful look at race. Get Out follows Chris, a young African-American man who uncovers a disturbing secret when he meets the family of his white girlfriend for a weekend at their home in upstate New York, where his simmering uneasiness about their reception of him eventually reaches a boiling point.
The discussion will be led by Sue Zloth of the Dismantling Racism Study Group.
FILMS IN 2019
November 15th, 2019 6pm – The Exorcist (1973)
When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
The Exorcist remains a very powerful film and was a cinematographic milestone in 1973. Repeated duplication of the genre has, no doubt, ‘desensitized’ a new generation of movie-watchers, though it remains an unnerving masterpiece. It is not difficult to understand why the film generated such a seismic global impact all those years ago, since it imposed an unprecedented sensory attack on the viewer. Regan’s vile physical appearance, combined with her vile language and blasphemous diatribe sent a shock wave around the world. Moreover, many people seemed to believe the claims that the film was based on a true story and could therefore actually happen to them. Electricity consumption must have soared for several months in 1973 as people who had seen the film slept with their lights on! (IMDb Review)
Winner of two Academy Awards (Screenplay and Sound); Four Golden Globes (Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Linda Blair) Best Director (William Friedkin), and Best Screenplay (William Peter Blatty).
Rated R; 2 hrs 2 min; at least 20 spin-offs.
October 18th, 2019, 6pm – Memento
Directed by Christopher Nolan
“Memento chronicles two separate stories of Leonard, an ex-insurance investigator who can no longer build new memories, as he attempts to find the murderer of his wife, which is the last thing he remembers. One story line moves forward in time while the other tells the story backwards revealing more each time.” (Written by Scion013 on IMDb)
“‘Memento’ wins this year’s prize for inducing the most audience participation. Not only is the film thought-provoking and unusually absorbing, but it also places us in the main character’s shoes. How can we be in the same mental status with the main character when he cannot remember anything? Writer/director Christopher Nolan has that answer: he tells the story backwards. We begin at the end and work our way towards the beginning. However, each individual scene plays running forward, often overlapping, providing us with clear, constructive transitions. The main character, Leonard, is confused in prospects of time and experience, and so are we. (by Blake French on IMDb)
September 2019, 6pm – I Am Not Your Negro
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, “Remember This House.” The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and assassinations of three of his close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of this manuscript. Filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. Written by Jwelch5742 IMDb
The film was deemed 2016 Best Documentary by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, took home the People’s Choice Award from the Toronto International Film Festival and won a creative recognition award from the International Documentary Association, to name a few.
August 2019, 6 pm – Arrival (2016)
“Arrival” doesn’t need self-regarding jolts. It’s based on Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” one of those unassumingly smart science-fiction puzzles that blend absorbing storytelling with meditations on the universe, being, time and space. Part of what makes it so enjoyable is that Mr. Chiang not only raises questions about the nature of reality and what it is to be human, but he also embeds them in his writing through different verb tenses and times. In one section, he rummages around in the past; in another, he jumps onto a separate timeline. The movie — the script is by Eric Heisserer — does something similar with cutaways to Louise’s life, shardlike glimpses that help fill in the whole.
“Arrival” is a science-fiction parable in a distinctly more idealistic hopeful key than most movies in this genre, one in which the best solutions don’t necessarily materialize in a gun sight. It has a little action, a bit of violence and clenched-jawed jittery men. Mostly, it has ideas and hope, as well as eerie extraterrestrials who face off with a soulful linguist-heroine, Louise Banks (Amy Adams), the story’s voice of reason and its translator.
Manola Dargis, New York Times
July 2019, 6 pm – Man of La Mancha (1972)
“Bringing big Broadway musicals to the screen has always posed tremendous problems for film makers. The results have by and large been unsatisfactory, with few exceptions… Arthur Hiller’s concept for “Man of La Mancha” is clearly the antithesis of what had become expected of the musical on film. He decided to use the film media not as a device for augmentation in a broad sense, but rather to focus in on the characters and bring them as close to the audience as possible using naturally many close-ups. They are the crux of the film; not massive sets, huge choruses or dazzling choreography. “Man of la Mancha” boasts two fine songs; the rest are pretty mediocre, which justifies Hiller’s keeping the music as a device to serve the characters and not the other way around. From the very start with the credits appearing, the audience is geared up for one of those massively orchestrated rousing overtures. Yet, what we are offered is an underscored, almost chamber music style overture setting the tone for the entire film. The message as with chamber music is clear; the focus is on the content, not the trappings.
“O’Toole gives a bravura performance, one of his finest, while Loren too, is perfect in her role. Sure the soundtrack is not one to listen to in the way one would a Broadway musical. But both O’Toole’s and Loren’s shaky vocals are in perfect sync with the fragility of their characters and hence very human and very moving. If more Broadway musicals had been brought to the screen with such a clear concept as was “La Mancha”, the movie musical may have enjoyed far greater success.” (Graham Clark, IMDb)
Facilitated by Susan Stein
May 17th, 2019, 6 pm – The Sea Inside (2004)
“The Sea Inside” was written, produced, directed, and scored by Alejandro Amenábar, and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of 2004.
The film is based on the real-life story of Ramón Sampedro, who was left quadriplegic after a diving accident, and his 28-year campaign in support of euthanasia and the right to end his life. The film explores Ramón’s relationships with two women: Julia, a lawyer who supports his cause, and Rosa, a local woman who wants to convince him that life is worth living. Through the gift of his love, these two women are inspired to accomplish things they never previously thought possible. Despite his wish to die, Ramón taught everyone he encountered the meaning, value and preciousness of life. Though he could not move himself, he had an uncanny ability to move others. The film stars Javier Bardem and Belen Rueda.
Facilitated by Carol Carpenter
April 19th, 2019, 6 pm – If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)
Two years after sending shockwaves through the film world with “Moonlight,” which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, Barry Jenkins is back with “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Needless to say, the film is excellent and is everything one could hope a follow-up to “Moonlight” would be. The film follows a young African-American couple in Harlem before and during when the man is wrongfully accused of sexual assault. While such difficult subject matter could feel slightly tone-deaf to some in the era of #MeToo, viewers should rest assured that Jenkins handles the material with a delicate and incredibly thoughtful sense of sensitivity. Like “Moonlight,” the film’s aesthetic qualities feel almost lyrical in tone, which is a beautiful sight to behold. The score is also superb as well, managing to be both quietly rousing and emotionally stirring. (14 October 2018 | IMDb by bastille)
March 15th, 2019, 6 pm – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or the Good, the Better and the Best, as I prefer calling it, is a bizarrely sublime and a uniquely aesthetic masterpiece. The actors in title roles have given such extraordinarily superb performances, that it would be impertinent and disparaging to merely regard their swell work as acting. In fact their brilliant portrayals have immortalized Blondie, Sentenza/ Angel Eyes and the enigmatic Tuco. Lee Van Cleef is fiendishly unforgiving as the merciless Angel Eyes. Clint Eastwood is rugged yet suave, cocky yet adorable as laconic cigar-smoker Blondie, a role that laid the foundations of his illustrious career. But it is Eli Wallach, who steals the show with his captivating portrayal of Tuco, a portrayal that is as entrancing as it is enlightening. Wallach is amusing, capricious, nonchalant, uncanny and yet tenacious as Tuco, perturbed by his insecurities and dampened by his solitude. It is the tacit amicability between Blondie and Tuco and their mutual hostility towards the evil Angel Eyes owing to the vestiges of virtue present in them, redolent of their moribund morality, which gives the story, the impetus and the characters, a screen presence that is not only awe inspiring but also unparalleled.
“Sergio Leone’s magnificent and ingenious direction in synergy with Ennio Morricone’s surreal music, Tonino Delli Colli’s breathtaking cinematography and Joe D’Augustine’s punctilious editing makes the movie, a treat to watch and ineffably unforgettable. Initially aimed to be a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, continues to stand the test of time in its endeavor to attain apotheosis (if it hasn’t attained it yet). It will always be remembered as European cinema’s greatest lagniappe, not only to the Western genre, but to the world of cinema.” (murtaza_mma, IMDb)
Facilitation by Doug Eulberg
February 15th, 2019, 6 pm – 20 Feet from Stardom (2013)
The backup singer exists in a strange place in the pop music world; they are always in the shadow of the feature artists even when they are in front of them in concert while they provide a vital foundation for the music. Through interviews with veterans and concert footage, the history of these predominately African-American singers is explored through the rock era. Furthermore, special focus is given to special stand outs who endeavored to make a living in the art burdened with a low profile and more personal career frustrations, especially those who faced the very different challenge of singing in the spotlight themselves. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (on IMDb)
As a special treat, attendees are invited to bring in a CD or an iPod/iPhone copy of their favorite backed-up song to share.
Facilitation by Maureen Flanigan
January 18th, 2019, 6 pm – The Intouchables (2011)
“It’s neither condescending nor patronizing; it’s simply human, beautifully so. The give-and-take between Philippe and Driss is honest and sharply humorous; each has a wit that tends to the inappropriate, which bonds them in ways that have nothing to do with race, social status or anything else, other than a shared ability to laugh at things that might appall others.
“Cluzet, who looks more like Dustin Hoffman with age, gives a wonderfully dry performance as a rich man trying to regain control of a life that suddenly slipped from his grasp. It’s a terrific bit of acting, accomplished only with his face, his head and, most particularly, his eyes, which can be amazingly expressive.
“As noted, Sy is like a force of nature in this role, capable of introspection but also of dazzling energy. A scene in which he breaks loose on the dance floor to the sounds of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland” is one of the most merry in recent memory: an explosion of physical joy in an environment that has been sapped of it.
“Uplifting, life-affirming and funny – they’re among the best words to describe “The Intouchables.” Ignore the nay-sayers; this is a film that will touch your heart in the most direct way imaginable.” Marshall Fine, Huffington Post
FILMS IN 2018
“November 16th, 2018, 6 pm – I Am
“What’s wrong with the world? What can we do about it? You might not expect these questions to haunt the mind of the director of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” and “The Nutty Professor.” But in the painful aftermath of a cycling accident, Tom Shadyac started to think differently about his life and success. And he started asking questions.
“He traveled around, enlisting the aid of what he calls “significant minds” — journalists, scientists, spiritual leaders like Desmond Tutu, scholars like Noam Chomsky — to understand life’s essential questions. “I Am” is his documentary about his quest.
“Self-deprecating and an eager student, Mr. Shadyac makes for a likable host in this whirlwind tour of the world of big and not-so-big ideas. (He delivers the news, for example, that money does not necessarily guarantee happiness.)
“Darwinism, Western mores, loneliness, the economy, the will to war: Mr. Shadyac and his significant minds consider all this and more in what sometimes seems like an enthusiastic teacher’s stream-of-consciousness lesson to a restless classroom. There are even animated sequences to illustrate complicated scientific points.” – from The New York Times
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Facilitator: Leslie Patten
October 19th, 2018, 6 pm – On the Beach
Although there’d been doomsday dramas before it, Stanley Kramer’s On the Beach was considered the first important entry in this genre when originally released in 1959. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, the film is set in the future (1964) when virtually all life on earth has been exterminated by the radioactive residue of a nuclear holocaust. Only Australia has been spared, but it’s only a matter of time . . . the Australian population reacts in different ways: some go on a nonstop binge of revelry, while others eagerly consume the suicide pills being issued by the government. When the possibility arises that rains have washed the atmosphere clean in the Northern hemisphere, a submarine commander (Gregory Peck) and his men head to San Diego, where faint radio signals have been emanating. The movie’s all-star cast includes: Peck as the stalwart sub captain, Ava Gardner as his emotionally disturbed lover, Fred Astaire as a guilt-wracked nuclear scientist, and Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson as the just starting out in life married couple.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Golden Globes Winner: Best Original Score, Ernest Gold;
Golden Globes Nominee: Best Motion Picture – Drama; Best Director, Stanley Kramer; Best Supporting Actor, Fred Astaire
Running Time: 134 minutes
Facilitator: Darrell Dodge
September 21st, 2018, 6 pm – The Shawshank Redemption
Written and directed by Frank Darabont, based on the 1982 Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. This film tells the story of banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murder of his wife and her lover, despite his claims of innocence. Over the following two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, contraband smuggler Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and becomes instrumental in a money laundering operation led by the prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton). The path to redemption for Andy and Red is long and winding, ending on a beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico 20 years later.
William Sadler, Clancy Brown, Gil Bellows, and James Whitmore appear in supporting roles.
The Shawshank Redemption is at the top of most “Best Films” lists, proving once again that box office totals are not indicative of a film’s quality.
Running Time: 142 minutes
Facilitators: Doug and Melanie Eulberg
August 17, 2018, 6 pm – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
“As the movie opens, Joel (played by Jim Carrey) is seized with an inexplicable compulsion to ditch work and take the train to Montauk, and on the train he meets Clementine (played by Kate Winslet). For all they know they have never seen each other before, but somehow there’s a connection, a distant shadow of deja vu. During the course of the film, which moves freely, dizzyingly, forward and backward in time, they will each experience fragmentary versions of relationships they had, might have had, or might be having.
“At some point before the technical beginning of the movie, Joel and Clementine were in love, and their affair ended badly, and Clementine went to Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkinson) at Lacuna Inc., to have Joel erased from her mind. Discovering this, Joel in revenge applies to have his memories of her erased. But the funny thing about love is, it can survive the circumstances of its ending; we remember good times better than bad ones, and Joel decides in mid-process that maybe he would like to remember Clementine after all. He tries to squirrel away some of his memories in hidden corners of his mind, but the process is implacable.
For Jim Carrey, this is another successful attempt, like “The Truman Show” and the underrated “The Majestic,” to extend himself beyond screwball comedy. He has an everyman appeal, and here he dials down his natural energy to give us a man who is so lonely and needy that a fragment of memory is better than none at all. Kate Winslet is the right foil for him, exasperated by Joel’s peculiarities while paradoxically fond of them.” – from the Roger Ebert Review (thumbs up)
Running Time: 108 minutes
Facilitator: Darrell Dodge
July 20, 2018, 6 pm – 2001, A Space Odyssey
“This film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution, deals with themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life. The film is noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of spaceflight, pioneering special effects, and ambiguous imagery. Sound and dialogue are used sparingly and often in place of traditional cinematic and narrative techniques, and the film is famous for employing a number of pieces of classical music, among them Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II, and works by Aram Khachaturian and György Ligeti.” (From Wikipedia)
The after-viewing discussion is sure to be interesting.
Running Time: 148 minutes
Facilitator: Jo Gall
June 15th, 2018 – Sideways
A fun Summertime film: “Sideways” follows two men in their forties, Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti), a depressed teacher and unsuccessful writer, and Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), a past-his-prime actor, who take a week-long road trip to Santa Barbara County wine country to celebrate Jack’s upcoming wedding. Sandra Oh and Virginia Madsen also star. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2004, and was released in the United States on October 22, 2004.
Payne and Taylor won multiple awards for their screenplay, with the cast also receiving accolades for their performances. Sideways won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Haden Church) and Best Supporting Actress (Madsen).
Running Time: 127 Minutes
Facilitator: Darrell Dodge
May 18th, 2018 – Waking Ned Devine
The lucky winner of the national lottery is Ned Devine, so taken by his good fortune that he now can’t be waked, because he died from the shock of it! News of the win spread quickly in the scenic little Irish village of Tully More, but not the secret news of Ned’s demise. With lottery officials closing in to confirm the prize claimed by the deceased Devine, Ned’s closest friends scheme to keep the prize money close to home, in memory of Ned of course! But as the plot twists humorously, they learn it is hard is to keep such a secret in a small town. – IMDb
Running Time: 1 hr 31 min
Facilitator: Doug & Melanie Eulberg
April 20th, 2018 – Cinema Paradiso
Start Time: 6 pm
In Rome, in the 1980’s, famous Italian film director Salvatore Di Vita returns home late one evening, where his girlfriend sleepily tells him that his mother called to say someone named Alfredo has died. Salvatore obviously shies from committed relationships and has not been to his home village of Giancaldo, Sicily in 30 years. When his girlfriend asks him who Alfredo is, Salvatore flashes back to his childhood.
A few years after World War II, six-year-old Salvatore is the mischievous, intelligent son of a war widow. Nicknamed Toto, he discovers a love for films and spends every free moment at the movie house Cinema Paradiso. Although they initially start off on tense terms, he develops a friendship with the fatherly projectionist, Alfredo, who takes a shine to the young boy and often lets him watch movies from the projection booth. At first, Alfredo considers Toto a bit of a pest, but realizing Salvatore’s skill, he eventually allows the boy to operate the film projector.
Cinema Paradiso was shot in director Guiseppe Tornatore’s hometown Bagheria, Sicily, as well as Cefalù on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Chronicling Toto’s love of the art of film making, his development as a young man, and his ultimate decision to leave his home village when the love of his life disappears with her family, it also tells the story of his return to his native Sicilian village for the funeral of Alfredo, who ultimately served as a wise father figure to his young friend and who wished to see him succeed, even if it meant breaking his heart in the process.
Seen as an example of “nostalgic postmodernism”, the film intertwines sentimentality with comedy and nostalgia with pragmatism. It explores issues of youth, coming of age, and reflections (in adulthood) about the past. The imagery in the scenes can be said to reflect Salvatore’s idealized memories of his childhood. Cinema Paradiso is also a celebration of films; as young Salvatore’s develops a passion for films shapes his life path in adulthood.
– Excerpted from Wikipedia
Cinema Paradiso was awarded the Oscar for 1989 Best Foreign Language Film.
The evocative music score was composed by Ennio Morricone and his son Andrea.
March 16th, 2018 – Tampopo
Start Time: 6 pm
“In this humorous paean to the joys of food, the main story is about trucker Goro, who rides into town like a modern Shane to help Tampopo set up the perfect noodle soup restaurant. Woven into this main story are a number of smaller stories about the importance of food, ranging from a gangster who mixes hot sex with food, to an old woman who terrorizes a shopkeeper by compulsively squeezing his wares.” (Written by Reid Gagle on IMDb)
“Like most movies about single-minded obsessions, this one quickly becomes very funny. It might seem that American audiences would know little and care less about the search for the perfect Japanese noodle, but because the movie is so consumed and detailed, so completely submerged in noodleology, it takes on a kind of weird logic of its own.” – Roger Ebert
Winner, National Board of Review (USA), Top Foreign Film, 1987
Nominee, New York Film Critics Circle Award, Best Foreign Language Film, 1987
February 16th, 2018 – In and Out
Upon winning an Academy Award, actor Cameron Drake (Matt Dillon) honors his high school teacher, Howard Brackett (Kevin Kline), who he announces, before millions of viewers, is gay. This comes as news to Brackett’s parents (Wilford Brimley, Debbie Reynolds), his principal (Bob Newhart) and especially his fiancée (Joan Cusack). As a media blitz descends upon on his small Indiana town, Brackett attempts to convince everyone that he’s your average straight American male.
January 19th, 2018 – The Motorcycle Diaries
This leisurely drama follows a real-life 1952 road trip by two young men across South America. One of them, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, will later become a Communist revolutionary and Fidel Castro cohort nicknamed “Che.” Ernesto (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a 23-year-old medical student from a privileged Buenos Aries background who joins pal Alberto (Rodrigo de la Serna) for a four-month tour of South America to celebrate Alberto’s 30th birthday and give Ernesto some time with his girlfriend. They ride on Alberto’s 1939 motorbike. In Chile the vehicle conks out for good, and Ernesto’s girlfriend breaks up with him via letter. The pair now hike overland, finding shelter and trying to keep to their itinerary, which ends with a humanitarian visit to a leprosy clinic. There’s no hokey stroke-of-lightning moment when Ernesto realizes his destiny, just little incidents in which the pair witness injustice, usually against the native Indians, the poor, or anyone opposing corporations or landowners. Alberto is mostly into scamming and chasing girls, but an epilogue explains that his trip with the future Che changed Alberto’s life forever.
November 17th 2017- Melancholia
Melancholia is a 2011 science-fiction drama-psychological thriller film written and directed by Lars von Trier and starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård, Cameron Spurr, and Kiefer Sutherland. The film’s story revolves around two sisters, one of whom is preparing to marry, as a rogue planet appears about to collide with Earth. The film premiered in May 2011 at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, where it was critically lauded. Kirsten Dunst received the festival’s Best Actress Award for her performance. Many critics and film scholars have considered the film to be a masterpiece.
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald:
Melancholia opens with some staggeringly beautiful images, set to Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, that won’t make sense on first viewing (a horse collapsing to the ground, Justine emanating small lightning bolts from her fingertips) but end up being a preview to the craziness ahead: They’re postcards from the apocalypse. Von Trier also shows you the end of the world in that opening prologue, letting you know he’s not kidding around and that the movie is not going to wuss out. As Melancholia nears its climax, you share the panic and fear the characters are experiencing: This Armageddon feels real, and the decisions the characters have to make are heartbreaking … This is a tremendous, daring movie.
Running Time: 2 hr 25 min
Rating: R (nudity, profanity)
Facilitator: Darrell Dodge
July 21st – He Named Me Malala
He Named Me Malala is a 2015 American documentary film directed by Davis Guggenheim. The film presents the young Pakistani female activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who has spoken out for the rights of girls, especially the right to education, since she was very young. The film dramatizes how she miraculously survived and has become even more eloquent in her quest after being hunted down and shot by a Taliban gunman as part of the organization’s violent opposition to girls’ education in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. The title refers to the Afghani folk hero Malalai of Maiwand, after whom her father named her. The film stars Malala herself and members of her family. Cameo appearances by Bono and Jon Stewart.
From a review by Lloyd Bayer on IMDb:
“The film begins in Birmingham, United Kingdom, in 2013, where the Yousafzai family is based post recovery period. Although you don’t see a scar, Malala bears a lopsided smile whenever she is asked a question. There is sadness in her eyes along with bashful insecurity but also wisdom and an inner strength much beyond her age. ‘Three years have passed’, she recalls, not of the attempt on her life, but having left her beautiful home in the Swat Valley province of Pakistan. Surrounded by Afghani Mountains, we are shown images of this scenic region (which is always presented as a place of bloodshed and massacre by the media) before Malala begins her story. This is also where the narrative shifts from Malala to her father, beginning with his version of a ‘love marriage’ to Malala’s mother. As a self-taught public speaker, Ziauddin’s story is as incredible as his daughter Malala’s. While it’s clear where the latter gets her courage and insight from, it’s the development of a symbiotic father-daughter relationship that makes this a documentary that must be seen. Riveting, and at times overwhelming, He Named Me Malala is a delight to watch, and so is Malala Yousafzai.”
Time: The film will start at 6:00 pm. Please arrive at 5:45; bring a light dinner if you wish. (Running time: 1 hr 28 min) Rating: PG13
Facilitator: Lisa Dudek
June 16th – Denial
Based on the acclaimed book “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” Denial recounts Deborah E. Lipstadt’s (Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz) legal battle for historical truth against David Irving (Cannes Award winner Timothy Spall), who accused her of libel when she declared him a Holocaust denier. In the English legal system in Defamation, the burden of proof is on the accused, therefore it was up to Lipstadt and her legal team to prove the essential truth that the Holocaust occurred. Also starring two-time Academy Award nominee Tom Wilkinson, the film is directed by Emmy Award winner Mick Jackson (“Temple Grandin”) and adapted for the screen by BAFTA and Academy Award nominated writer David Hare (The Reader). Producers are Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff. Written by Bleecker Street
Time: The film will start at 6:00 pm. Arrive at 5:45 (Running time: 1 hr 48 min)
Facilitator: Melanie Eulberg
May 19th – Thank You for Smoking
This 2006 comedy/satire, directed by Jason Reitman, is about Big Tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor (played by Aaron Eckhart). Naylor makes his living defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers in our modern neo-puritanical culture. Confronted by health zealots out to ban tobacco and an opportunistic senator who wants to put poison labels on cigarette packs, Nick goes on a PR offensive, spinning away the dangers of cigarettes on TV talk shows and enlisting a Hollywood super-agent to promote smoking in movies. Nick’s newfound notoriety attracts the attention of both tobacco’s head honcho and an investigative reporter for an influential Washington daily. Nick says he is just doing what it takes to pay the mortgage, but the increased scrutiny of his son and a very real death threat may force him to think differently. Cast includes Sam Elliott, Katie Holmes, David Koechner, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, J. K. Simmons and Robert Duvall.
“The film forces us to focus on the nature of message ‘spinning,’ word twisting, and other communication and negotiation strategies used as much to confuse as to clarify. This is the stuff of advocating, selling, and persuading with which we are bombarded daily in our ‘infomercial’ society. In watching the movie, the viewer is obligated to separate the strategies and techniques of influencing from the purposes and ends to which they are placed in service. The fact that manipulative and deceptive strategies are used is less troubling than whether it is being done for good or ill.” – Robert Benjamin, Mediate.com
Time: The film will start at 6:00 pm. Arrive at 5:45 pm to get settled in (Running time: 1 hr 31 min) Rating: R
Facilitator: Carol Carpenter
April 21st – Citizen Kane (NR)
Synopsis: The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, (played by the film’s director, Orson Welles), a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles’s own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. Kane’s career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is told through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate’s dying word: “Rosebud.” Considered by many critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane was voted as such in five consecutive Sight & Sound polls of critics, until it was displaced by Vertigo in the 2012 poll. It topped the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 update. Citizen Kane is particularly praised for its cinematography, music, and narrative structure, which have been considered innovative and precedent-setting. (From Wikipedia)
Time: Film will start at 6:00 pm. Arrive at 5:45 to settle in. (Running Time: 1 hr 59 min)
Facilitator: Darrell Dodge
March 17th – The Imitation Game (PG-13)
Synopsis: Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays three periods of his life. The first is the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. The second is 1928, when Alan is a youth attending boarding school. Even then, he is seen as being different and is bullied because of it. His only real friend at the school is Christopher Morcom, “Christopher” which is what he would end up naming his machine, more than just because Christopher Morcom was his friend. The third is 1951, after Alan’s Manchester home is reported broken into by his neighbor. Because nothing was stolen, Alan is quick to dismiss the police. But lead investigator, Detective Robert Nock, believes Alan is hiding something in dismissing them so quickly. What the police discover has far reaching consequences for Alan’s life, but not without Nock wanting first to know what is hidden beneath the information on the surface. (From IMDb)
(Running time: 1 hr 54 min)
Facilitator: Kathy Derrick
February 17 – The Old Man and the Sea
Synopsis: The Old Man in the film is a Cuban fisherman who has gone 84 days without a catch. His only friend is a young boy who has been barred by his father from accompanying the Old Man out to sea. On the Old Man’s 85th day out, he finally hooks a huge marlin, which he then tries to bring in and haul in from far out from shore. For three days and nights he battles the fish, which is portrayed in the film (as it had been in Hemingway’s novella) as a trial of mental and physical courage that becomes the ultimate test for him of his worth as a man.
Facilitators: Susan Stein and Brian Pendleton
January 20 – Under The Gun
Synopsis: A look at the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre where 20 children were murdered at their school by a resentful, gun-obsessed shooter, but led to no changes in American federal gun laws.
Rating – R. Run Time: 1 hr 50 min
Facilitator: Bob Pinkham