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Close Encounters: Reverend Edward Mark


Introduced by the Reverend Edward Mark
February 22 (Thursday) 7 pm

The Tarnished Angels

Directed by Douglas Sirk
US 1958, 35mm CinemaScope, b/w, 91 min.
With Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone, Robert Stack

Adapted from William Faulkner’s Pylon and considered by the author to be the best film realization of any of his novels, The Tarnished Angels is set in New Orleans during the 1930s. Reuniting the cast from Sirk’s previous film, Written on the Wind, the film stars Robert Stack as a World War I ace pilot who works as a carnival flier, Dorothy Malone as his parachute-jumper wife, and Rock Hudson as a newspaper reporter who looks on as Stack’s unhappy family fights a battle for survival. Through the film’s striking black-and-white CinemaScope camera work, director Douglas Sirk’s pre-occupation with the space of interpersonal relationships has never been more clearly or dynamically expressed. The illusion of freedom afforded by flight stands in stark contrast to the hobbled, earthbound concerns of Sirk’s characters. As German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder succinctly noted: "I have rarely felt fear and loneliness so much as in this film."

The Harvard Film Archive takes great pleasure in welcoming back to the Cambridge movie scene one of the community’s legendary programmers. From 1965 to 1996, Reverend Edward Mark ran the film series at the Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, where he was the minister. An Iowa native, he first came to love the movies while visiting his grandmother in Omaha, Nebraska.

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January 30 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Close-Up (Nama-ye nazdik)

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Iran 1990, 35mm, color, 100 min.
Farsi with English subtitles

A young man aboard a crowded Tehran bus, Ali Sabzian, introduces himself to a middle-aged woman as Mohsen Makhmalbaf (celebrated director of The Cyclist, Salaam Cinema, and Gabbeh). On the pretext of scouting locations for a film project, he enters intimately into the life of her family. Deeply suspicious of the stranger, the father investigates the guest and, ultimately, the con artist is exposed and arrested. At this stage, Abbas Kiarostami and his film crew enter the story to film the impostor’s actual trial. The events preceding the young man’s arrest have been reconstructed, using the real-life participants. Kiarostami captures the narrative through the contrasting perspectives of a journalist covering the arrest, the deceived family members, and the unstoppable Sabzian. What emerges gradually in Close-Up is a narrative of continual Escher-like turns and a brilliant exploration of the nature of cinematic truth and illusion.

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