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Five Directors

The concluding offerings of this series focus on the work of two contemporary masters, Andrei Tarkovsky and Robert Altman. Each, in his own very different way, has broken new ground in making compelling art of the fiction film.


May 1 (Monday) 7 pm
HFA Archival Print

The Sacrifice (Offret)

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Sweden/GB/France 1986, 35mm, color,
143 min.

With Erland Josephson, Allan Edwall, Susan Fleetwood
English/Swedish with English subtitles

Tarkovsky’s final film and his ultimate metaphysical testament, The Sacrifice merges the vivid experience of a nuclear attack with the disintegration of a writer’s family and in so doing, merges dream with reality, sanity with madness. Filled with powerful images that resist simple narrative explication, the film portrays the isolation of the artistic sensibility and the potential for disaster that the human race has inflicted on itself. Shot in Sweden with cinematographer Sven Nykvist and featuring Bergman regular Erland Josephson as the central character (explicitly likened to the protagonist of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot), the film is a profoundly disturbing and yet, in its final moments, uplifting work.

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May 8 (Monday) 7 pm
HFA Archival Print

McCabe and Mrs. Miller

Directed by Robert Altman
US 1971, 35 mm, color, 120 min.
With Warren Beatty, Julie Christie,
René Auberjonois

In the American Northwest of the late nineteenth century, an insecure, romantic con man (Beatty) and an ambitious British prostitute (Christie) try to make a go of it in business but run up against spreading corporate powers who are invading the lucrative frontier. One of the era’s most memorable “anti-westerns,” McCabe and Mrs. Miller manages to combine trenchant political satire with the pleasures of classical cinema. Altman built an entire town in Canada, exposed his cast and crew to snow and rain, and worked closely with cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond to achieve this eerily beautiful film, a lyrical act of mourning for America’s little people and their hopes.

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May 14 (Sunday) 8:30 pm
May 18 (Thursday) 8:30 pm

HFA Archival Print

Nostalghia

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
Italy/Russia 1983, 35mm, b/w and color, 126 min.

With Oleg Yankovsky, Erland Josephson, Domiziana Giordano
Italian/Russian with English subtitles

Tarkovsky’s penultimate film, his first made outside the Soviet Union, concerns a Russian musicologist working in Italy who longs for his homeland as he takes an interest in a wise fool and his radical political activism (Josephson, in a role that prefigure The Sacrifice). Evocative of the director’s emotional response to his own displacement, the landscapes, colors, and aging architecture of Italy and Russia are incorporated here into the subjective world of the characters’ melancholy, anxiety, and hope.


May 15 (Monday) 7 pm
May 17 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Nashville

Directed by Robert Altman
US 1975, 35mm, color, 159 min.
With Lily Tomlin, Ronee Blakley, Karen Black, et al.

Altman’s most acclaimed film (it was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture), Nashville presents twenty-four characters and as many crisscrossing stories in a masterful reinvention of narrative construction, all set to a remarkable sound track of country music that participates wholly in the storytelling. The film is a satirical exploration of the southern city and its music business during one weekend in which a music festival and a political rally coincide. Hypocrisy, greed, and lust run rampant here but the songs are crazy and beautiful and the cast superlative. With its epic scale, cinematic inventiveness, and penetrating political insight, it is one of the great American films.

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May 16 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Images

Directed by Robert Altman
US/Ireland 1972, 35mm, color, 101 min.
With Susannah York, René Auberjonois, Hugh Millais

One of Altman’s most personal and experimental films, and a favorite of his still, Images centers on a woman (York) who, left mostly alone as she stays with her husband in a cottage in Ireland, experiences erotic and violent delusions. Altman’s style, at once wild and carefully controlled, delivers ambiguity to the story as it probes the psyche, history, and temperament of this complicated woman.

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May 16 (Tuesday) 9 pm

The Long Goodbye

Directed by Robert Altman
US 1973, 35mm, color, 112 min.
With Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt,
Sterling Hayden

Raymond Chandler’s 1940s detective novel is adapted to Los Angeles of the 1970s, replete with nude hippies, marijuana brownies, freeways, all-night supermarkets, mobsters in leisure suits, and movie people in modernist houses on the Malibu beach. Gould portrays the hard-boiled Phillip Marlowe character as a bumbling, bewildered figure who nonetheless imparts a sweetly moral dimension. The film is especially notable for its sound track (as is often the case in Altman’s work), which plays as important a role as the vibrant visuals, wisecracking dialogue, and unique performances in relaying clues to the mystery’s surprising solution.

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