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September 23 - November 25, 2003

Film Architectures

September 23 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
September 24 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm
Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

Metropolis (Das Schicksal einer Menscheit im Jahre 2000)

Directed by Fritz Lang
Germany, 1926, b/w, silent, 130 min.
With Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich

The greatest science-fiction film of the silent cinema, Metropolis was made by Lang at Berlin’s Ufa studio with an unprecedented budget for its huge sets, inspired by the New York skyline. Set in the twenty-first century, the story is derived partly from medieval legends, partly from the dystopic vision of a future of intensified conflict between capital and labor. Photographed in Expressionist style and designed to display powerful geometric symmetries, many of the film’s sequences are unforgettable, especially the dramatic laboratory creation of the robot-woman.

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October 7 (Tuesday) 7 pm - Director Tsai Ming-Liang in Person

What Time Is It There? (Ni neibian jidian)

Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang
Taiwan/France, 2001, color, 116 min.
With Kang-sheng Lee, Shiang-chyi Chen, Yi-Ching Lu
Mandarin/French/Taiwanese with English subtitles

Tsai’s most recent feature, What Time Is It There? is composed of long sequence shots that connect the tale of a young man grieving the death of his father in Taipei with the story of an attractive young Taiwanese woman on vacation in Paris. The two are initially brought together when she stops in the man’s makeshift stand to buy a dual-time watch in advance of her trip. The young man ends up selling her his own watch and finds his grief transformed into an obsession with the woman and the distant locale of Paris. He begins to immerse himself in French culture and embarks on a mission to reset all the clocks in Taipei to Paris time. Tsai elegantly intercuts the shopkeeper’s eccentric behavior back in Taiwan with the woman’s own odd encounters in Paris, including crossing paths with Jean-Pierre Leaud at a Paris cemetery.

The Skywalk Is Gone (Tien chao bu jien le)

Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang
Taiwan/France, 2002, color, 25 min.
With Lee Kang-Sheng
Mandarin with English subtitles

This small-scale urban story takes up where What Time Is It There? left off—as the Parisian traveler from the earlier film returns to Taipei and searches for the skywalk where she had purchased her watch from the grieving vendor. It is no longer there. She is forced to cross the busy city street instead, a metaphor for the disconnectedness of contemporary urban life. The absent skywalk is a symbol both for the longing of the characters and a figurative bridge between their first story and what promises to be director Tsai’s next feature.

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September 23 4 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
September 24 (Wednesday) 6:30 pm
Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

The Man with the Movie Camera (Chelovek s kinoapparotom)

Directed by Dziga Vertov
USSR, 1929, b/w, silent, 80 min.

Truly an experimental documentary, Dziga Vertov's masterpiece exemplifies the montage aesthetic of the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s through its kinetic juxtaposition of shots and sped-up and slowed-down motion. Using his own concept of the "kino eye"—the cinema eye that illuminates the real world as not ordinarily seen—Vertov creates a city symphony depicting a day in the life of an urban metropolis.

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October 21 (Tuesday) 7 pm

La Notte

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy/France, 1961, b/w, 122 min.
With Marcello Mastroianni, Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti
Italian with English subtitles

 

The second film of Antonioni’s celebrated trilogy (initiated by L’Avventura and concluding with L’Eclisse) is a key work of modernist cinema. Exploring the alienation of the Milanese bourgeoisie within the landscape of the city and the lavish villas of its periphery, La Notte follows a couple—an exhausted novelist coasting on his reputation (Mastroianni) and his disenchanted wife (Moreau)—from an afternoon visit to a dying friend in a hospital, through a book-launching party at the home of an industrialist, to the couple’s separate nocturnal forays.

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October 14 (Tuesday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

The Fountainhead

Directed by King Vidor
US, 1949, b/w, 114 min.
With Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Raymond Massey

This adaptation of the epic novel by Ayn Rand, whose controversial “objectivist” philosophy articulated a neo-Nietzschian vision of free enterprise, relates the compelling story of an aspiring architect (Cooper) who refuses to compromise his purist agenda. Vidor’s stylized interpretation transforms the skyscrapers and interiors of New York into an abstract backdrop for the sexual tensions and ideological conflicts of this highly charged drama.

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November 4 (Tuesday) 7 pm
November 5 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Toute une nuit (All Night Long)

Directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium, 1982, color, 90 min.
With Aurore Clément, Tcheky Karyo, Jan Decorte
French with English subtitles

On a sultry summer night in Brussels, various bodies in search of love collide: some succeed, others do not. Fashioned from the shards of two dozen pulverized melodramas, Akerman’s urban nocturne foregrounds small gestures as it captures the shape of solitude itself. Locations criss-cross as characters meet and embrace, dance and split up, yank one another into cabs, or merely watch the action from doorways and stairwells. The choreography of indoors and out, upstairs and down, attraction and rejection distills the complex machinations of urban romance into a sweetly rhythmic dance.

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November 11 (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
November 12 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Playtime

Directed by Jacques Tati
France, 1967, color, 152 min.
With Jacques Tati, Barbara Dennek, Jacqueline Lecomte

In this brilliant sendup of the absurdities of modernist architecture, actor-director Tati reprises the beloved character of Monsieur Hulot, who does battle with urban space as he observes a group of American tourists on their peregrinations around a Paris of modern office blocks and skyscrapers. The extraordinary metropolis of glass and concrete, designed by Eugene Roman, combines with Tati's incomparable articulation of sound, image, and performance in this hilarious yet poignant analysis of the modern condition.

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November 18 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Contempt (Le Mépris)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France/Italy 1963, color, 103 min.
With Brigitte Bardot, Michel Piccoli, Jack Palance
French with English subtitles

Based on Alberto Moravia's novel Il Disprezzo (A Ghost at Noon), Godard's early masterpiece focuses on the breakup of a marriage as it delivers sharp commentary on the state of international filmmaking. A scriptwriter (Piccoli), conscripted to craft an adaptation of Homer's Odyssey, is caught between the film's earnest director (Fritz Lang) and its crass producer (Palance), who imagines a vulgarization of the story. Marital and professional contempt reach a crescendo as the locale shifts from Rome to a modernist villa in Capri, where Godard places the moral choices into stark relief.

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November 25 (Tuesday) 7 pm

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House

Directed by H. C. Potter
US 1948, b/w, 94 min.
With Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Melvyn Douglas

Fed up with crowded big-city living, advertising executive Jim Blandings (Grant) decides to seek a roomy house in the country. Construction of the new home, however, is beset by myriad problems, from doors and windows that don't fit to plumbing that won't function to a wife more concerned with coordinating colors than containing costs. Blandings - an expert at crafting catchy, seductive advertisements - buys into his own exaggerated sales pitch, but just as he becomes absorbed in the romantic image of a wonderful, extravagant home he becomes equally embittered over the reality of the actual product.

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