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March 5 - April 17, 2002

TOPICS IN FILM
Frames of Mind

 


March 5 (Tuesday) 7 pm

THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER

Directed by Peter Greenaway
France/Netherlands/UK 1989, 35mm, color, 120 min.
With Michel Gambon, Helen Mirren, Alan Howard

Greenaway’s grisly, color-coded fugue built on themes of gluttony, adultery, fashion, art, and retaliation makes this his most deliciously nefarious venture. The film’s blend of violence, eroticism, melancholia, and satire recalls a classic Jacobean revenge play, but the look is pure Rembrandt meets Gaultier. The film may be read as political commentary on Thatcher’s Britain, visual commentary on the intersection of artistic practices in painting, architecture, and design, or as social commentary on the very status of the human soul in barbarous times.

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March 6 (Wednesday) 7 pm

REAR WINDOW

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
US 1954, 35mm, color, 112 min.
With James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter

An intriguing study of obsession, Rear Window tells the story of L. B. “Jeff” Jefferies (Stewart), a temporarily wheelchair-bound photographer who uses his convalescent time to spy on the tenants of other apartments on his block through his own “rear window.” Amid a growing suspicion that one of his neighbors has committed murder, he enlists his girlfriend (Kelly) and maid (Ritter) to gather evidence, with near-tragic results. Hitchcock’s use of camera angles, shot predominantly from Jefferies’s apartment window, draws viewers into the tantalizing world of voyeurism.

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Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
March 12 (Tuesday) 7 pm

BED AND SOFA

Directed by Abram Room
USSR 1927, 35mm, b/w, silent, 95 min.
With Nikolai Batalov, Vladmir Fogel

Bed And Sofa is a simple story of a domestic mÈnage ‡ trois—simple, that is, until the female member of the trio discovers she is pregnant. Once believed lost, the film was rediscovered during the 1970s and has since become regarded as a little Russian masterpiece of the silent era. Bed And Sofa is notable for its frankness—unusual for the era—for the extraordinary fluidity of its camera work in a confined set, and for the natural performances from the cast.

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March 13 (Wednesday) 7 pm

FILMS BY WOMEN ARTISTS

THE SMILING MADAME BEUDET (La Souriante Madame Beudet)

Directed by Germaine Dulac
France 1922, 16mm, b/w, silent, 32 min.
With Alexandre ArquilliËre, Germaine Dermoz, Madeleine Guitty

Employing techniques of early French impressionistic style, Germaine Dulac’s The Smiling Madame Beudet is often viewed as an early feminist film. Romantic Madame Beudet is married to a dull, insensitive oaf. She dreams of taking lovers and of killing the husband off, but her plans to do him in are ironically twisted in the end.

MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON

Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid
US 1943, 16mm, b/w, 18 min.
With Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid

Dancer, ethnographer, philosopher, and “visual poet” Maya Deren began making films in the early 1940s—psychodramas in which the filmmaker navigates a path through anxiety-laden psychodramas. In her first and most famous work, a woman (Deren) dreams within dreams about suicide and about inanimate objects that assume threatening aspects.

HÔTEL MONTEREY

Directed by Chantal Akerman
Belgium/US 1972, 16mm, color, 65 min.

This early, experimental work by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (Jeanne Dielman, Golden Eighties) is a complex portrait of a New York City welfare hotel that melds structured, minimalist views with the intimacy of silent poetry. Photographed by cinematographer Babette Mangolte, the film explores empty passageways with a detached gaze, hinting at the lives of the off-screen inhabitants.

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March 19 (Tuesday) 7 pm
March 20 (Wednesday) 7 pm

THE PILLOW BOOK

Directed by Peter Greenaway
France/UK/Netherlands 1996, 35mm, b/w and color, 126 min.
With Vivian Wu, Ewan McGregor
Cantonese, English, Japanese, and Mandarin with English subtitles

Controversial British filmmaker and artist Peter Greenaway deploys a broad arsenal of formal effects (varying screen widths, multiple imagery, textual inscription) to construct this complex story of a beautiful fashion model-turned-writer who is obsessed with calligraphy and the flesh. Based on the classic tenth-century Japanese text by Sei Shonagon of the same title and radically transposed by Greenaway to modern day Japan and the information age, The Pillow Book melds a timeless erotics and a fascination with language into a startlingly beautiful, and sometimes shocking narrative.

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April 3 (Wednesday) 7 pm

RASHOMON

Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Japan 1950, 35mm, b/w, 88 min.
With Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo
Japanese with English subtitles

One of the first Japanese films to receive worldwide acclaim, Rashomon is the twelfth-century tale of a murder, told from the multiple, irreconcilable perspectives of the crime’s participants and witnesses. The murdering bandit (Mifune), the spirit of the victim, the widow, and a woodcutter each retell their versions of the event as Kurosawa casts a critical eye on the unstable nature of truth.

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April 9 (Tuesday) 7 pm
April 10 (Wednesday) 7pm

THE STORY OF ADELE H.

Directed by FranÁois Truffaut
France 1975, 35mm, color, 98 min.
With Isabelle Adjani, Bruce Robinson,
French with English subtitles

In 1863, the beautiful young daughter of the writer Victor Hugo crosses the Atlantic in desperate pursuit of a British lieutenant she believes is her fiancÈ, her lover, and her destiny—despite the fact that he has rejected her. Based on AdËle Hugo's diary, written in code and deciphered in 1955, the film presents what Truffaut described as the “autopsy of a passion.” Nineteen-year-old Isabelle Adjani was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of an unhinged woman whose burning desire dooms her to madness.

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April 16 (Tuesday) 7 pm
April 17 (Wednesday) 7 pm

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (Hua yang nian hua)

Directed by Wong Kar-Wai
France/Hong Kong 2000, 35mm, color, 98 min.
With Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung
Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles

A swooningly cinematic unfolding of romantic desire, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood For Love paints the industrious world of 1960s Hong Kong in luxuriant color, texture, and sound. This paean to love follows two lonely professionals from the same apartment building who circle each other romantically after they begin to suspect their spouses are having an affair. At once restrained and sensual, the film layers detail upon detail to create a ravishing, hypnotic portrait of urban desire.

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April 23 (Tuesday) 7 pm

HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR

Directed by Alain Resnais
France/Japan 1959, 35mm, 91 min.
With Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada
French with English subtitles

Resnais’s first feature film is greatly indebted to Marguerite Duras’s screenplay and is considered one of the finest films of the early French New Wave. Using a radically novel approach to expressing temporality through associative cuts that bridge past and present, Resnais presents the subjective point of view of a French woman in love with a Japanese man who is haunted by a past love and remembrances of the war.

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April 24 (Wednesday) 7 pm

THE MATRIX

Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
US 1999, 35mm, color, 136 min.
With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne

One of the top grossing films of the 1990s, Andy and Larry Wachowski’s The Matrix set a new benchmark in movie special effects. Blending the kind of classic science-fiction stories found in Alien, Soylent Green, and The Terminator with Chinese martial-arts films, Japanese animation, and American comic art, and adding a touch of mysticism to the mix, the Wachowskis created an unparalleled vision of a future that seems very like our own present—with a surreal twist.

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