Man with a Movie Camera (Director: Dziga Vertov)
In the 1920s, Soviet cinema was a hotbed of formal experimentation and audacious image-making, but few films from the era can match the sheer propulsive power of Man with a Movie Camera. Dziga Vertov’s silent classic is an ode to the modern Soviet city, circa 1929. Piecing together footage from several Russian cities, the film recreates a typical day from dawn until dusk, showing citizens at work and at play in a bustling metropolis. Drawing on a wide range of innovative techniques, bursting with energy and ideas, Vertov’s film remains as thrilling and dynamic today as it was when first released nearly 80 years ago.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of Man with a Movie Camera! I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the salmon pink cover).
Rashomon (Director: Akira Kurosawa)
Description from Criterion.com: This riveting psychological thriller that investigates the nature of truth and the meaning of justice is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. Four people give different accounts of a man's murder and the rape of his wife, which director Akira Kurosawa presents with striking imagery and an ingenious use of flashbacks. This eloquent masterwork and international sensation revolutionized film language and introduced Japanese cinema--and a commanding new star by the name of Toshiro Mifune--to the Western world.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of Rashomon! I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
Journey to Italy follows an unhappy English couple (Ingrid Bergman & George Saunders) on holiday in Naples. Set against a stunning backdrop that includes sun-dappled villas, bubbling volcanic pools, and excavations of Pompeii’s ruins, the film charts the steady dissolution of the couple's marriage. Can the pair find some kind of salvation amid the beautiful ruins of the old world?
Released in 1954, Journey to Italy is one of the greatest accomplishments of Roberto Rossellini, the pioneering Italian neorealist director. Poorly received in its time, the film would go on to serve as a major touchstone for the French New Wave in the 1960s, as well as influence filmmakers as diverse as Michelangelo Antonioni and Martin Scorsese.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of Journey to Italy! I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
Please take note of the venue change. Whyte Avenue Art Walk is occurring at the same time, so I thought we should try a café a little further down the avenue, where it might not be so busy.
German director Fritz Lang created one of the masterworks of early sound cinema with M. This 1931 film is a suspenseful portrait of a city seized by panic and paranoia as a serial killer (vividly portrayed by Peter Lorre in a career-making performance) stalks the children of Berlin. As police efforts to catch the killer falter, the denizens of the criminal underworld take up the cause, and the rival manhunts will create a deadly vise that slowly crushes the lone killer at the heart of this chaos. Caustic and unsettling, the film is simultaneously a harrowing depiction of an individual gripped by his own private demons and a society succumbing to mob rule.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of M! I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
This year marks the centenary of the great Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman. To celebrate, we’ll be discussing Wild Strawberries, one of the films that helped secure his reputation and made him a staple of arthouse cinemas in the 1950s and 60s. This bittersweet road movie focuses on Isak Borg, a 78-year-old professor who is heading on a road trip to receive a prestigious academic honour. He will be joined by his daughter-in-law and a motley assortment of hitchhikers on a journey that will stir up unexpected and sometimes painful memories. This warm, sensitive film, one of Bergman’s finest achievements, is a thoughtful look at one man’s attempt to come to terms with a lifetime full of regrets.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of Wild Strawberries! I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
Considered by many to be one of the great film comedies—if not one of the great films, period—Playtime is Jacques Tati's grand satiric vision of the modern city. The director himself appears as his comedic alter-ego, the perpetually perplexed Monsieur Hulot, but the real star is the elaborate set created by Tati just for the film. It's a surreal maze of glass and steel, where a traffic circle can become a carousel and neon lights a halo. Follow along with Hulot as he tries to navigate the comedic chaos of city living, and pay close attention as you watch—the film is renowned for its intricately conceived and carefully buried gags, which can be found lurking in every corner of the frame. Check out the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrYB8hgyq4s
Come on out and join us in a discussion of a film that's been described as "a masterpiece among masterpieces." I'll leave a copy of Andre Bazin's What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
A landmark in African cinema, Souleymane Cissé’s 1987 film Yeelen (Brightness) has been described by critics as an “extraordinarily beautiful and mesmerizing fantasy” and “a masterwork of metaphysical realism.” Set in 13th century Mali, the film is based upon one of the legends of the Bambara people. A young man, Nianankoro, attempts to unravel the secrets of nature, and in the process draws the wrath of Soma, his magician father. The ensuing power struggle between father and son will unleash forces that could destroy both men—and everyone around them. For all the film’s visionary wonders, its themes of corrupt power and intergenerational conflict should be universally recognizable to all viewers.
Check out the trailer: https://vimeo.com/200607771
Come on out and join us in a discussion of this remarkable film! I’ll leave a copy of Andre Bazin’s What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
David Foster Wallace declared it “one of the great U.S. films of the 1980s.” Guy Maddin called it “the last real earthquake to hit cinema.” Roger Ebert once dismissed it as “sophomoric satire.” Yes, it’s David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
This 1986 film is the tale of Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan), a genial all-American college kid from Lumberton, North Carolina, who discovers an unseen world of violence and depravity lurking in his hometown after stumbling across a severed ear in a vacant lot. His attempt to uncover the ear’s origins brings him into the lives of mysterious beauty Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini), and Frank Booth, a volatile sadomasochist played by Dennis Hopper in a career-topping performance. As his once-sedate existence unravels, the naïve Jeffrey will be torn between a seductive underworld of sex and violence and the lulling comforts of a middle-class life. Can he survive the snares and traps of his journey from innocence to experience? Tune in, dear reader, to find out.
Come on out and join us in a discussion of this provocative classic! I’ll leave a copy of Andre Bazin’s What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (look for the pink cover).
The Earrings of Madame de… (Dir: Max Ophuls)
This month, we’ll be discussing The Earrings of Madame de..., one of the most beautiful achievements of Max Ophuls. I’ll leave a copy of Andre Bazin’s What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to make it easy to spot us (watch for the pink cover).
Description from Criterion.com:
The most cherished work from French master Max Ophuls, The Earrings of Madame de… is a profoundly emotional, cinematographically adventurous tale of deceptive opulence and tragic romance. When an aristocratic woman known only as Madame de… (Danielle Darrieux) sells a pair of earrings given to her by her husband (Charles Boyer) in order to pay some debts, she sets off a chain reaction of financial and carnal consequences that can end only in despair. Ophuls’s adaptation of Louise de Vilmorin’s incisive fin de siècle novel employs to ravishing effect the elegant and precise camera work for which the director is so justly renowned.
Note: Available streaming on Kanopy through the Edmonton Public Library.
Close-up (Dir: Abbas Kiarostami)
Welcome to the relaunched Arthouse Film Forum! Each month, we’ll gather to discuss a different film representing the best in classic or contemporary cinema. Consider this like a book club, but for film. We’re going to kick-off the discussion series with Close-up, a one-of-a-kind work from the great Abbas Kiarostami. See the description below from Criterion.com for more details on the film:
“Internationally revered Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami has created some of the most inventive and transcendent cinema of the past thirty years, and Close-up is his most radical, brilliant work. This fiction-documentary hybrid uses a sensational real-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a stunning, multilayered investigation into movies, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves. With its universal themes and fascinating narrative knots, Close-up has resonated with viewers around the world.”
I’ll leave a copy of Andre Bazin’s What is Cinema? Vol. 1 on the table to help identify us (watch for its iconic pink cover).
Note: To ensure everyone has quick and easy access to the films, we’ll be focusing on selections available at the Edmonton Public Library in both streaming and physical formats. For example, Close-up is available not only on DVD and Blu-ray, but also streaming through the library’s Kanopy service, which can be found at https://www.epl.ca/teen-subject/watch/