Sunday January 17 6:30 pm Cinéma VA-114 JOUR DE FÊTE
(1949, France, 79 min., v.o.f.s-t.a.) Jacques Tati
It is celebration time in a little French town and the traveling fair is on the way! The big folk dress up for the occasion and the little ones are just overjoyed. Francois, a local postman, is distracted from his duties by all the festive activities including a tiny mobile cinema screening a film on the latest techniques used by the speedy postal system in America. The film inspires him to improve his efficiency as a postal worker, with hilarious results.
Poetic and nostalgic with a hint of irony, JOUR DE FÊTE is an absolute marvel of French comedy. It is hard to believe this was the first film by Jacques Tati (1908-1982), so masterful is the direction. Tati came from the world of the Music Hall where his comedic stage acts made him a hit in the 1930s. During that time he wrote scripts for a few short films in which he starred, also playing in films by such accomplished directors as Claude Autant-Lara.
JOUR DE FÊTE evolved out of a character and situations created in the second short film he directed entitled L’ECOLE DES FACTEURS (1946). Tati’s situation comedies are as simple as they are effective: confused men try to set up a massive tipsy tent pole, a carousel is transformed into a running track. The film is also famous for its use of exaggerated or oddly juxtaposed sound effects: a cackling hen in a barber shop, amorous flirtations to the sound of a B-western, a pesky fly turning up at the oddest times. The spoken dialogue is often relegated to the background or buried by the sound effects, centering the film more on the visual gags and Tati’s physical near-pantomime. As an actor, his comedic timing is worthy of comparison to Chaplin or Keaton (who he worshiped). Many of the iconic scenes will have you howling with laughter and marveling at Tati’s creative ingenuity. Projected will be the restored version with selective color tints and English subtitles.
Our feature will be preceded by one of the most celebrated short films of all time; the Palme d’Or and Oscar-winning THE RED BALLOON (1956, France) projected as a rare vintage Technicolor print.
Part comedy, part crime thriller with doses of sexy burlesque and gender-bending drag, SOME LIKE IT HOT is a major classic that all true cinephiles must experience at least once on the big screen with an audience laughing along.
It is the year 1929 in Chicago. Jazz musicians, Joe and Jerry, accidentally witness a violent settling of accounts between two rival mob gangs. Suddenly having to avoid a mafia-style farewell, the pair has no choice but to flee. To better ensure their safety, they decide to blend in with an all-female orchestra while dressed up in drag under the names Josephine and Daphne.
In one of the all-time great American comedies, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon deliver one of the funniest performances ever to usher in the “New Hollywood” of the 1960s. Most outstanding is the remarkable talents of Marilyn Monroe as the beautifully seductive singer, Sugar Kane.
Expect a steady stream of increasingly awkward and funny situations as our two heroes make every effort to avoid detection by the mob, while falling in love with irresistible Sugar Kane. All the madness is so brilliantly put together by director Billy Wilder, a master of many genres (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SEVEN YEAR ITCH, SUNSET BLVD, IRMA LA DOUCE).
As for Curtis and Lemmon, what is more challenging for an actor than playing two “roles” at once? Between Joe and Jerry, or rather, Josephine and Daphne, who will win the heart of Sugar kane? Come see all the fun for yourself! (35mm print with French sub-titles.
Sailor and Lula, a young couple from Cape Fear, North Carolina go on the run from her domineering mother. Due to her mother’s machinations, the mob becomes involved. Adapted from Barry Gifford’s novel, the film has an erotic charge owed partly to the us-against-the-world quality of desperate lovers on the run, and partly to the chemistry between its stars, Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern.
Four years after BLUE VELVET, Lynch essentially taps into the same story of two innocents navigating a world of unimaginable depravity and evil. Without the containment of a tightly plotted modern noir, he instead chooses to go with a road movie. Because dramatic tonal shifts can happen within the space of a few seconds and because little detours can be sprung at any time, WILD AT HEART makes for an absolutely thrilling ride. To reach its destination, the film pushes the pedal to the metal and burns a ton of rubber on the ‘yellow brick road’ it attempts to parody.
Particularly gorgeous and romantic is Angelo Badalamenti`s score as well Chris Isaak’s hit “Wicked Game.” Also unforgettable is Willem Dafoe as skin-crawly ‘Bobby Peru’, one of the many intense characters our lovers encounter on their strange journey. Won’t you please step into the darkened cinema and join us for a wild ride. (sorry, no seatbelts) Guest speaker: Randolph Jordan
After BLADE RUNNER made Dutch actor Rutger Hauer a household name, he became much in demand as a Sci-Fi and crime thriller action hero. Among many of such films he appeared in, this slick British production set in a futuristic London half under water, definitely stands out.
In a 2008 world of advanced global warming, Harley Stone, a slightly psychotic cop, is hunting a serial killer who may or may not be the lord of darkness and looks suspiciously like the creature in ALIEN. Harley’s very big handgun also looks suspiciously like the one used by Deckard in BLADERUNNER. SPLIT SECOND is an engrossing B-Movie treat which, halfway through, becomes a buddy-cop thriller worthy of audience cheers and chuckles. It also features the talents of a kick-ass Kim Catrall (Sex & The City), an angry Pete Postlewaithe (Lost World, Usual Suspects), rat catcher Michael Pollard (Bonnie & Clyde) and New wave/punk sensation Ian Dury (hit song: ‘‘Sex & Drugs&Rock&Roll’’) as a sleazy stripclub owner.
On Feb. 28, half the planet will be watching Hollywood’s most popular self-congratulatory 3 hour TV commercial; the Academy Awards. What better way to thumb our noses at such pretention than by enjoying the rather unpretentious SPLIT SECOND, the night before. To be honest, this film could not possibly be considered for any Oscar category unless there was an award for ‘Just shut up and have fun!’ Adding to that fun is the projection of a rare 35mm uncut archival print preceded by vintage 80s and 90s Sci-Fi action trailers, also in that same glorious format. (This screening is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor.)
Sunday March 13 6:30pm Cinéma VA-114
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (La battaglia di Algeri)
(1966, Italy / Algeria, 121 min. Eng. Subs.) Gillo Pontecorvo
Red??????????????? Ridinghood confronts werewolves and her emerging adolescent sexuality in this highly stylised fairy tale of beauty and horror. Based on the work of Angela Carter, it stars Stephen Rae, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Micha Begese and Sarah Patterson in an impressive debut as the hooded one.
This film created a sensation when first released in 1984 which is not surprising coming from the celebrated Irish director of THE CRYING GAME (1992) and MONA LISA (1986). Besides a solid script and excellent acting, it impresses on so many visual levels; production design, costumes, photography and make-up. And what a thrill to watch special effects done by hand as ‘animatronics’ instead of cold computer-generated images. The master of blood-soaked latex, wires and armatures for this one is Christopher Tucker (STAR WARS, QUEST FOR FIRE, ELEPHANT MAN and DUNE)
Winner of many top fantasy festival awards, this wolfish treat is a perfect lead up to Halloween along with an awesome selection of vintage 70s and 80s horror trailers. Best of all you get to see it all as audiences did 30 years ago; on glorious 35mm. My, what big sprockets you have! (Note: the very rare print of our feature has small Danish subtitles that are not too distracting. Excellent condition, perfect color, uncut.) Thanks to the sponsor of this screening: Maurice Roy.
Based on a true story, this expansive film depicts the corrosive influence of drugs on society, including law enforcement, and does so in a realistic violent manner. Wanting to take things to a more complex level than he did with SERPICO (1973), Sidney Lumet created this multilayered portrait of police corruption in New York through the true life experiences of one whistle-blowing narcotics detective. The decision to inform against his colleagues has him way over his head and unable to trust anyone.
For the director it was a massive undertaking involving 130 shooting locations and 126 speaking parts based on a 240-page script that he co-wrote in only 30 days. He also had a very specific photographic vision in mind: “I decided to shoot the entire film at an aperture of 2.8 in order to give it a certain visual style. I told cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak that I did not want any normal lenses. In order to create an atmosphere of deceit, and false appearances, we only used wide angle and zoom lenses. The lighting in the first half was never on the actors but rather on the background. In the middle of the film, the lighting had to alternate between the foreground and the background, and at the end, on the contrary, the lighting was aimed on the foreground only.” The results are very impressive. You may also realise just how influential this film has been on modern police drama series such as THE WIRE. In fact, you’ll recognise a few of the actors who later went on to play key roles in some of the best crime series ever.
What you have a unique chance to experience here is an unreleased extended version that was intended for TV broadcast only. Yes, some of the ‘‘offensive’’ words have been dubbed over but all the violence and impact is intact with over 20 minutes of footage never seen theatrically or released on any format available to the public. The sharp 16mm archival print being offered here is a true director’s cut in excellent shape with perfect color as originally intended. So catch it now or catch it never! (This screening is brought to you by an anonymous sponsor)
Yes! It really has been ten years since what is arguably the best James Bond film ever, was released to a world with high expectations. Paul Hagis’ complex script does not disappoint with its reinvention of the 007 legend. As well, the brutally handsome Daniel Craig proved to be an excellent casting choice as the new multi-dimensional James Bond navigating the dangers of romantic love and international espionage.
Relive the big screen thrills of this dynamically-shot adrenaline-fueled film the way audiences did back in 2006 with a pristine 35mm cinemascope print in Dolby surround. To be preceded by vintage Bond movie trailers in that same authentic format.
Sunday April 24 6:30pm Cinéma VA-114
WOMAN IN THE DUNES (Suna No Onna)
(1964, Japan, 123 min., Eng. Subs.) Hiroshi Teshigahara
In an isolated desert-like countryside, an entomologist becomes the prisoner of a strange widow living at the base of a large sand pit. Like many early films of the Japanese New Wave, SUNA NO ONNA combines eroticism and philosophical reflection. Director Teshigahara plunges us into a sensual world of heat, sand, sweat, work and sex. The absurd relentless battle against the ever-threatening sand, a variation of the Sisyphus myth, becomes a potent metaphor for the human condition.
Rarely have we seen such an invasively nightmarish tale involving a natural element. We think of THE WIND (1928) by Victor Sjöström or the finale in Von Stroheim’s GREED (1924). Equally as vehement and troubling here is the battle of the sexes. The confrontation between the man and the woman is fueled by a ways of life and feelings that are irredeemably opposed. Confronted by his sudden odd existence, the entomologist comes to question liberty, free will, conscience and individuality. Such questions also confronted a post-war Japan going through social transformations while caught between modernity and tradition. The film draws its strength from a perfect balance between nihilism and physical beauty, matter and ideas, detail and wholeness, timelessness and history.
A one time a painter, potter and master of floral arrangement (ikebana), Teshigara is a meticulous composer of images and a very fine screenwriter. His direction is carried along by the minimalist music of Toru Takemitsu (RAN by Kurosawa) while actors Eiji Okida (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR by Renais) and Kyôko Kishida (who has worked with greats such as Ozu et Ichikawa) put in deeply passionate performances. This near-perfect film is without a doubt one of the great masterpieces of Japanese cinema.
This film noir in brilliant color and cinemascope tells the story of a crooked lawyer and a showgirl trying to break free from Chicago mob life. It stars a rock solid Robert Taylor as the club-footed lawyer, stunning Cyd Charisse as the leggy showgirl (with dance numbers to make our projector catch fire) and a big-fisted Lee J. Cobb as the brutal mobster king.
In the hands of any other director, this would have been a routine MGM crime flick but with the legendary director of Rebel Without A Cause guiding things, it is elevated to something quite remarkable. Ray’s handling of colour and scope is as masterful as ever and as in all his films, ideas and emotions are transformed into stunning visuals.
This screening is a major highlight of our Winter-Spring series if only for one reason. We are privileged to have as a guest speaker, Nicca Ray from New York City. Yes. She happens to be the daughter of Nicholas Ray. Having grown up on the sets of several of her father’s movies, she has a unique perspective on his life that she can’t wait to share with us. She is also writing a book on her father’s life. Another reason to attend is our projecting of a rare 35mm archival print (avec sous-titres Francais)
Sunday May 22 6:30pm Cinéma VA-114
(1973, U.S., 77 min.) Ralph Bakshi
This is arguably the best film ever made by controversial animation wizard Ralph Bakshi. Along with COONSKIN (aka STREETFIGHT) it is a celebration of Black American culture; both the ugly and the beautiful. Both the oppressive and the triumphant. Thin on story, this largely impressionistic piece takes us on a trip through the mind of a cartoonist in the big city ghetto seeking escape through art while living with his sleazy Italian father and his over-bearing Jewish mother. It cleverly combines live action with explosive animation. Bakshi’s other animated works include; FRITZ THE CAT, WIZARDS, LORD OF THE RINGS, AMERICAN POP and COOL WORLD.
HEAVY TRAFFIC surprises and shocks but in a way that seems totally natural to the spirit of the film. It is explicit without total exploitation. The musical soundtrack on this film is a particular standout that will leave you humming the tunes all the way home. The uncut version we are screening was given an ‘X’ rating so, it is strictly 18+ admission.
Preceded by half a dozen animated shorts that either inspired Bakshi or reflect his world. The shorts alone are worth the price of admission. (Screening is sponsored by Mondo Québec.)
Saturday May 28 W.P. United Church 7pm
INTOLERANCE (1916) + LIVE musicians!
(U.S., 180 min., English inter-titles) D.W. Griffith
This year marks the centennial of what has been called by many respected film historians; “The Greatest Movie Ever Made”. Often the innovative risk taker, director Griffith created a film that was ahead of its time in many ways. For one, its unusual narrative structure told four stories at once. “Babylon”: The evil high priest conspires against the wise and just king, selling the city to the Persian conqueror who destroys the nation’s happiness and murders its ruler. “Judea”: The jealous Pharisees conspire to send Christ the great savior to the cross. “Renaissance France”: Evil courtiers persuade the Catholic king to slaughter all the Protestants. “Modern Day”: A young man is falsely convicted of murder and his wife is unjustly robbed of her baby while desperate efforts are made to save him from the gallows.
Tying the four stories together is the theme of the selfish, frustrated and inferior dictating to the common man. Also tying it all together is Griffith’s brilliant control of editing, which keeps all the parallels in the story quite clear, creating a great breathtaking climax. It never fails to elicit major audience applause.
Its cost was a reputed $2,000,000 which adjusted for inflation would be over a billion dollars today. Some of the sets reached over 100 feet high and Hollywood itself was engulfed by the artificial cities he built as a backdrop for this astounding opus. The film’s bigness is obvious, but it also succeeds as an intimate human portrait.
This colossal masterwork must be seen on a big theatrical screen to be truly appreciated. And what better way than accompanied by four live musicians in an old gothic church. Adding to the experience is a very fine 16mm print projected at its original silent speed restored in the original color tints. Don’t miss this one chance to be part of the cinematic event of the season!