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October 8 - November 19, 2003

The Moving Image: Film and Visual Representation

October 8 (Wednesday) 7 pm - Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov

Sunrise

Directed by F. W. Murnau
US, 1927, b/w. silent, 100 min.
With George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston

The great German director Murnau, known especially for his use of moving camera shots to explore three-dimensional space, arrived in Hollywood as sound films were coming into vogue. His first American film, shot silent but released with a musical track, was based on a melodramatic German novel. Murnau, along with renowned cameramen Karl Struss and Charles Rosher, transformed the material by merging the psychological realism of the domestic drama with a lyrical depiction of both the quiet country village and the bustling city—connected by the protagonists’ celebrated streetcar journey through the different visual landscapes.

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October 15 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Voyage in Italy (Viaggio in Italia)

Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Italy, 1953, b/w, 100 min.
With Ingrid Bergman, George Sanders

Tensions pile up in Rossellini’s deeply moving and beautifully nuanced story of a frustrated and bored British couple (Bergman and Sanders) who struggle to keep their marriage alive. The film resembles a diary as it meditates on the problems of the jaded communication between the spouses on their visit to Naples. As Rossellini has stated, “it was very important for me to show Italy, Naples, and that strange atmosphere in which is found a very real, very immediate feeling: the feeling of eternal life, something that has entirely disappeared from the world.”

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October 22 (Wednesday) 7 pm

L’Avventura

Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy, 1960, b/w, 145 min.
With Monica Vitti, Gabriele Ferzetti, Lea Massari
Italian with English subtitles

After an argument with her lover during a yachting party, a woman disappears from the Sicilian island they’ve been exploring. Both the lover and her best friend set out to find her, but the urgency of their search dissipates as they fall into a disquieting sexual relationship. Antonioni’s celebrated film, which he once described as “a detective story back to front,” displays the director’s fascination with landscape, geometry, and architectural forms as means of expressing the troubled state of Italy’s postwar middle class.

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October 29 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Craig’s Wife

Directed by Dorothy Arzner
US, 1936, b/w, 75 min.
With Rosalind Russell, John Boles, Billie Burke

 

Rosalind Russell’s wild performance dominates Dorothy Arzner’s adaptation of George Kelly’s play about a woman’s struggle to control every inch of her home. By assuming the housewife’s perspective and confining plot and conflict to discrete moments within the home, Craig’s Wife takes the cult of domesticity to a strange extreme. Through the director’s subtle yet subversive treatment of domestic space, a fascinating portrait emerges of a housewife who walls herself up, brick by brick, in a pathological tomb of her own creation.

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

All Night Long (Toute une nuit)

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
French with English subtitles

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 19 (Wednesday) 7 pm

Russian Ark (Russkij kovcheg)

Directed by Alexander Sokurov
Russia/Germany, 2002, color, 95 min.
With Sergei Dontsov, Mariya Kuznetsova, Maksim Sergeyev
Russian with English subtitles

The ultimate cinematic tour de force, Alexander Sokurov spent more than seven months rehearsing with some two thousand actors and extras for what would become a single, continuous 87-minute tracking shot. Using the Hermitage in St. Petersburg as his location, Sokurov was allowed only one day by the directors of the museum to complete the shot, and the results are magnificent. Journeying through two-hundred years of pre-Soviet Russian history, a stranger leads the camera through the halls of the venerated museum, encountering such notables as Nicholas and Alexandra and Catherine the Great. As the film builds to its astonishing climax, Sokurov’s merging of technical marvel and artistic vision becomes fully realized.

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