March 1 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Italy 1962, b/w, 124 min.
With Monica Vitti, Alain Delon, Lilla Brignone
Italian with English subtitles
In this final installment of the trilogy that began with L’Avventura and La Notte, Antonioni once again presents a middle-class couple in crisis, here set against the closely observed background of the urban environment. After an initial breakup with her lover, Vittoria (Vitti) drifts into the classic Antonioni condition, wandering aimlessly through an alienating milieu. In what is perhaps his most compelling deployment of the architectural setting, Antonioni displays an unparalleled visual style, using spatial perspective and graphic delineation to create his vision of the modern world. In the film’s famous final sequence, the narrative space of the story is revisited in the absence of its characters, suggesting perhaps, as Georges Sadoul has noted, the nature of solitude as man’s accustomed state.
March 8 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
US 1954, 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.
March 15 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Germaine Dulac
France 1927, b/w, silent, 36 min.
One of the major figures of the French film avant-garde of the 1920s and an early feminist, Germaine Dulac combined narratives of psychological realism with the visual techniques of the French Surrealist movement. In the rarely screened L’Invitation au Voyage, she employs a minimum of plot and maximum of atmosphere to convey her tale of the intense desire generated between a bored young wife and a handsome naval officer who meet in a Paris cabaret.
Directed by Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid
US 1943, b/w, 18 min.
With Maya Deren, 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.
Directed by Dorothy Arzner
US 1927, b/w, silent, 48 min.
With Clara Bow, Charles “Buddy” Rogers, Harvey Clark
One of Dorothy Arzner’s earliest films as a director, this romantic comedy was made for Paramount as a vehicle for its star, Clara Bow. An American in Paris, Bow finds herself stranded overnight in a wax museum together with a dashing French nobleman (Rogers). A love is born, but inevitable complications follow that can be overcome only through the happy marriage of American ingenuity (including Clara staging an automobile accident) and aristocratic values. As the title suggests, love manages to win out in the end."
March 21 (Tuesday) 7 pm
March 22 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Peter Greenaway
France/UK/Netherlands 1996, b/w and color, 126 min.
With Vivian Wu, Ewan McGregor
Cantonese, English, Japanese, and Mandarin with English subtitles
The 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 that is at once erudite and libidinal into a dreamlike, startlingly beautiful, and sometimes shocking narrative.
April 5 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Akira Kurosawa
Japan 1950, 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 a twelfth-century tale of three men taking shelter under Rashomon gate. A woodcutter and a priest relate to a third man two conflicting stories concerning a bandit (Mifune) who has attacked a couple wandering through the woods. When the husband is found dead and the authorities intervene, the bandit, the wife, the husband (through a medium), and the woodcutter all present different, irreconcilable versions of events. The most striking aspect of the film remains its thematic focus on the complex and unstable nature of the truth.
April 11 (Tuesday) 7 pm
April 12 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Wong Kar-wai
France/Hong Kong 2000, color, 98 min.
With Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung
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
April 19 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Sofia Coppola
US 2003, color, 102 min.
With Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Giovanni Ribisi
A bittersweet tale of modern melancholy and cultural alienation, Sofia Coppola’s second feature offers an ebullient visual style built almost entirely on the atmosphere of Tokyo’s strange blend of the international and the indigenous. A washed-up American actor visiting Japan to film a whiskey commercial (Murray) finds himself adrift in the strange, airless atmosphere of a sleek Tokyo hotel. He strikes up a friendship with a fellow guest (Johansson), the young wife of a photographer who is similarly bored and uneasy about the direction of her life. The actor’s inability to communicate with his wife, and the girl’s difficulties with her husband, bring them together in the strange and utterly foreign dream world of Tokyo at night as the pair negotiates flirtatious steps toward a romance that never materializes.
April 26 (Wednesday) 7 pm
Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
US 1999, color, 136 min.
With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
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, plus a touch of mysticism in the mix, the Wachowskis created an unparalleled vision of a future that seems very like our own present with a surreal twist.