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Five Directors (Part II)

This series of works by influential directors from the second half of the twentieth century began with films by Ingmar Bergman and Satyajit Ray and continues in March and April with more Ray and films by Jean-Luc Godard and Andrei Tarkovsky. The series will conclude in May with the work of Robert Altman. Each of these directors broke new ground in making serious and compelling art of the fiction film. In their respective ways they invented new forms, explored new territory in human psychology, offered new political and cultural critiques, and made a strong case for reawakened spirituality as the desperate need of late twentieth-century humankind.


March 6 (Monday) 7 pm

Devi

Directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1960, 35mm, b/w, 93 min.
With Chabi Biswas, Sharmila Tagore, Soumitra Chatterjee
Bengali with English subtitles

A carefully nuanced study in religious obsession, Ray’s film takes up the story of Biswas, who is convinced that his young daughter-in-law, Tagore, is in fact the goddess Kali reincarnated. Baroque and melodramatic in both its images and story, it mounts a lucid and compelling argument against the destructive nature of fanaticism and superstition—a message that is reinforced as Tagore gradually loses all sense of her own individuality. The images are striking and there are intriguing glimpses into religious fervor on the sub-continent.

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March 13 (Monday) 7 pm

Days and Nights in the Forest (Aranyer Din Ratri)

Directed by Satyajit Ray
India 1969, 35mm, 115 min.
With Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Shubhendu Chatterjee
Bengali with English subtitles

Four young men spend their country holiday in an unused bungalow where they come into contact with the villagers, meet a rich family, and develop relationships with women before returning to their urban existence. Anton Chekhov and Jean Renoir come to mind (Ray had worked as an assistant on Renoir’sThe River), especially in the magical picnic scene. But the subtle revelation of character through the purposefully slow tempo and the deceptively simple cinematic effects are the master Indian director’s own creations.

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March 20 (Monday) 7 pm

Breathless (À Bout de Souffle)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France 1959, 35mm, b/w, 89 min.
With Jean Seberg, Jean-Paul Belmondo
French with English subtitles

One of the most important films to emerge from the French New Wave, Breathless is set in the fifties, when the influence of American culture in France was being felt at every level of life. Godard presents a story of boy-meets-girl animated by myths of innocence abroad and of the alienated gangster of B-movies. Belmondo’s interpretation of an anarchic criminal— confused, bitter, and cynical—was his first major role and launched his career. Godard conceived of Jean Seberg’s character as a direct continuation of the pampered but worldly creature she played in Otto Preminger’s Bonjour Tristesse. Describing the impact of the film after forty years, critic Phillip Lopate summarizes: "It seemed a new kind of storytelling, with its saucy jump cuts, digressions, quotes, in jokes and addresses to the viewer. And yet, underneath all these brash interventions was a Mozartean melancholy that strongly suggested classical measure."


April 3 (Monday) 7:00 pm

My Life to Live (Vivre sa vie)

HFA Archival Print
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France 1962, 35mm, b/w, 85 min.
With Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André Labarthe
French with English subtitles

Using interview techniques, direct sound, long takes, texts, quotations, and statistics, Godard creates a documentary tone for this film about Nana S. (Karina), a girl from the provinces who can’t pay her rent and is initiated into prostitution in Paris. Godard’s film is a probing and dazzling examination of prostitution but, above all, a passionate celluloid love letter to Karina, then the director’s wife. His close-ups of her face bring to mind the incomparable faces of another era: Louise Brooks, Lillian Gish, and Falconetti.

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April 9 (Sunday) 8 pm
April 10 (Monday) 9 pm

Passion

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France/Switzerland 1982, 35mm, color, 87 min.
With Isabelle Huppert, Michel Piccoli, Jerzy Radziwilowicz

One of Godard's most acclaimed works of the 1980s, Passion consists of a series of parallel and interwoven stories about provincial life: a factory worker (Huppert) fights with her boss (Piccoli) over union issues; a filmmaker (Radziwilowicz) works in a big studio creating elaborate tableaux based on famous European paintings; the factory owner's wife runs a small hotel and carries on an illicit affair. With humor and uncanny editing and storytelling techniques, Godard presents a fascinating vision of modern economic and gender conflicts, alienation, and desire.

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April 10 (Monday) 7 pm

Hail Mary (Je vous salue, Marie)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France 1985, 35mm, color, 103 min.
With Myriem Roussel, Thierry Rode, Philippe Lacoste
French with English subtitles

Jean-Luc Godard’s startling modernization of the Annunciation and Nativity stories—with the Virgin as the basketball-playing daughter of a gas station manager and Joseph as her jealous, taxi-driving boyfriend—is one of the most controversial films in the history of cinema.

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April 17 (Monday) 7 pm

Andrei Rublev

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
USSR 1966, 35mm, scope, b/w and color, 165 min.
With Anatoly Solonitsyn, Ivan Lapikov, Nikolai Grinko
Russian with English subtitles

One of the most significant films of the modern cinema, Tarkovsky’s historical epic was conceived as a monumental parable that portrays not only the great Russian medieval painter of frescoes and icons through the seven "epochs" of his life, but also the authentic environment, rituals, and sociopolitical tenor of the time. Masterfully conceived and realized, the film was shelved for years by the Soviet censors, who found it "too dark" and "politically inappropriate."

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April 24 (Monday) 7 pm

Stalker

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
USSR 1979, 35mm, color, 161 min.
With Aleksandr Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko
Russian with English subtitles

Two disenchanted intellectuals wish to explore the Zone, a mysterious region at the center of which a room, said to offer knowledge of one’s most secret desires, is located; they hire a stalker for their guide, whose obsession with the Zone takes on religious and mystical overtones. Conceived in an epic form, the film represents the peak of Tarkovsky’s cinematic career, exemplifying what he calls "poetic, philosophical and spiritual cinema."

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