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March 9 - May 4, 2005

Philosophy and Film: Deleuze


March 9 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Foolish Wives

Directed by Erich von Stroheim
US, 1921, b/w, 117 min.
With Erich von Stroheim, Maude George, Mae Busch

Initially a twenty-four reel film, von Stroheim’s exploration of adultery focuses on a suave and libidinous European (posing as a Russian count) who charms and deceives an American diplomat’s wife. Von Stroheim, the writer, director, art director, and star of the film, fused his characteristically baroque sets with the moral depravity and perversity of his character. Although the film’s length would be reduced through a number of successive cuts, its psychological complexity and realism remain. To ensure visual reality, Stroheim insisted that an exact replication of the casino, hotel, and the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo be built on the Universal backlot.

March 16 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

An Autumn Afternoon (Samma no Aji)

Directed by Yasujiro Ozu
Japan, 1962, color, 112 min.
With Chishu Ryu, Shima Iwashita, Schinichiro Mikami

Ozu's last film and one of his most sublime, An Autumn Afternoon was undoubtedly influenced by the death of his mother, with whom he had lived all his life. The film is suffused with an autumnal sense, evocative of the end of things, that is countered by its gently satirical portrait of contemporary Japan. An Autumn Afternoon returns to a perennial Ozu theme: a widower's decision to marry off his only daughter, despite her objections. Having done the right thing, the old man becomes painfully aware of his isolation and loss, and in the fashion of other disaffected elders within the Ozu universe, finds a measure of solace in drunken comradeship.

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March 23 (Wednesday) 9:15 pm

The Earrings of Madame de…

Directed by Max Ophüls
France/Italy, 1953, b/w, 102 min.
With Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer, Vittorio de Sica
French with English subtitles

With his characteristic use of long tracking shots that transcend space and his ability to coax sensitive performances from his actors, Max Ophüls created in The Earrings of Madame de... what film critic Andrew Sarris has described as “the most perfect film ever made.” The story follows the movement of a pair of diamond earrings that a debt-laden socialite (Darrieux) pawns back to their maker. Originally commissioned by her husband (Boyer) and given to her the day after her wedding, the earrings pass through a series of hands only to wind up back in the woman’s possession.

April 6 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Directed by Alain Resnais
France/Japan , 1959, b/w, 91 min.
With Emmanuelle Riva, Eiji Okada, Bernard Fresson
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 express temporality through associative cuts that bridge the past and the present, Resnais presents the subjective point of view of a French woman who, haunted by her past during the war and filming an historical recreation of the atomic blast in Hiroshima, falls in love with a Japanese man.

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April 13 (Wednesday) 9 pm

My American Uncle (Mon oncle d’Amérique)

Directed by Alain Resnais
France, 1980, color, 126 min.
With Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Roger Pierre
French with English subtitles

Richard Roud characterized this work as “one of the greatest films about the human condition ever made.” The film’s engaging structure brings the theories of the French behavioral scientist Henri Laborit (who actually appears in the film to provide exegesis) together with the stories of three ordinary French citizens (each with a cinematic alter-ego): a Parisian actress, a media executive with political aspirations, and a farmer turned textile-plant director. Each responds to pressures, as Laborit’s theories would predict, through flight, struggle, or inhibition—and each takes solace in the hope that the proverbial “uncle” made good in America, and will come through to save the day. An unqualified commercial success, the film was awarded a special Critics’ Prize at Cannes.

April 20 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Fortini/Cani

Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danèle Huillet
Italy/France/West Germany/UK/US, 1976, color, 85 min.
With Franco Fortini, Luciana Nissi, Adriano Aprà
Italian and German with English subtitles

Based on the writer Franco Fortini's book "The Dogs of Sinai," Fortini/Cani reflects on the Nazi occupation of Italy during World War II and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fortini, a Jewish Communist, reads passages from his book, in which he discusses the rise of fascism in Italy and the growing anti-Arab sentiment in Western culture, while Straub and Huillet present seemingly tranquil landscape images. The third film in a highly unconventional trilogy on Zionism, Straub and Huillet's work presents ideas that are as topical today as they were thirty years ago.

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April 27 (Wednesday) 9:30 pm

First Name: Carmen (Prénom Carmen)

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France/Switzerland, 1983, color, 84 min.
With Maruschka Detmers, Jacques Bonnaffé, Myriem Roussel
French with English subtitles

 

While many argue that Godard's later films pale in comparison to his seminal work from the 1960s, First Name: Carmen belies this myth. All of the classic Godard trademarks are here: fatalism, romantic scorn, socialist rhetoric, visual symbolism, tortured narcissism (with Godard himself playing Carmen's lecherous filmmaker uncle), and a healthy dose of Americanisms. Loosely based on Bizet's opera, this Carmen has its heroine rob a bank in order to fund a film she wants to make. Weaving Beethoven's late quartets with the cacophony of Parisian traffic and high tragedy with comic farce, Carmen becomes at once a parody of the director's own work from the 1960s and a prototype for a new cinema for its own time.

May 4 (Wednesday) 9 pm

Mulholland Drive

Directed by David Lynch
US/France, 2001, color, 147 min.
With Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Ann Miller

Although ambiguous and open to interpretation, Lynch's film demonstrates both the fantasy of Hollywood success and the ghastly reality of failure. He presents the story of an eager actress who befriends a beautiful female amnesiac and ascends the Hollywood ladder based on sheer talent. However, through a convoluted narrative structure, Lynch establishes this storyline as a fantasy or dream that masks the horror of the actress's actual existence. Both erotic and horrifying, the film utilizes exaggerated performance, dream sequences, portals, and shared names to distinguish between reality and fantasy – a fantasy that, in many ways, reflects the film experience.

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