35mm film series at the Waterville Opera House
October 2016—April 2017
Tickets: $9 / $5 for students
Series Pass: $50 (admits one to all screenings)
October 10, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
A problematic romance; a less problematic revolution. Sean Connery (the first James Bond!) and Brooke Adams (a past Railroad Square guest who first rose to prominence in Terrence Malick’s DAYS OF HEAVEN) star in Richard Lester’s (best known for A HARD DAYS NIGHT, THE THREE MUSKETEERS and ROBIN AND MARIAN) knowing, sharp, beautiful, underrated and offbeat anti-romance set against the Cuban revolution. “A political film within which no one speaks about politics and a love story in which no one speaks about love,” as Lester put it, CUBA follows Connery’s mercenary British officer to Cuba to help train Batista’s army against Castro and Guevara’s strengthening guerilla movement while attempting to revivify a lost love affair with Adams’ Alexandra, now married to a corrupt plantation owner. Said director Steven Soderburgh of Lester’s characteristic mix of the humorous, the romantically anti-romantic and the heroically anti-heroic, “That’s a fascinating movie….The things that people disliked about it when it came out are what makes it interesting now, its refusal to sort of play to the idea of a war-torn romance. An absolute refusal to be sentimental or easy about anything. Brooke Adams’ character was really fascinating. Here’s a woman who says ‘Look, I don’t know what little fantasy you’ve got in your head, but don’t play it out on me, because I’m not that.’ And this guy (Sean Connery) who’s wrestling with the fact that the kind of guy he is, is obsolete now…It’s a really interesting movie.” And a beautiful one that should dazzle in this gorgeous, rare 35mm print screening! R. 1979. 122 Min.
November 21, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
“A swooning love letter to Paris, to cinema and to love” – The Guardian. Bernardo Bertolucci, arguably one of the greatest directors of all time, whose emotional, exuberant style graced masterpieces from THE CONFORMIST to LAST TANGO IN PARIS, from his Oscar Best Picture winner THE LAST EMPEROR to his 5 hour epic, 1900, is more youthful, energetic and cinematically and politically revolutionary than ever in this relatively recent dazzler. “The personal is political” was the litany of the heady days of 1968’s spring in Paris and elsewhere as it felt like everything old and deadly was really about to crumble. While most students take the lead in the May ‘revolution’, a French poet’s twin son Theo and daughter Isabelle enjoy the good life in his grand Paris home. As film buffs they meet and ‘adopt’ modest, conservatively educated California-based student Matthew. With their parents away for a month, they drag him into an orgy of indulgence of all senses, losing all of his and the last of their innocence. A sexual threesome shakes their rapport, yet only the outside reality will break it up. Michael Pitt, Eva Green and Louis Garrel star. In English and in French with English subtitles. NC-17. 2003. 115 Min.
December 19, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
The great French director Louis Malle (ATLANTIC CITY, AU REVOIR LES ENFANTS) deals with the possible coming of revolution obliquely, as a warmly human comedy, in the pastoral, Spring 1968-set MAY FOOLS. “You feel in its images a sense of sunny embrace, a feeling of comfort and leisure and warm sensuality. You absorb it, the way you do the dappled light in the paintings of Renoir, or a clear, vivid day with a blanket laid out in the grass and wine rising in your blood. You bask in it. The film’s spirit is one of affectionate satire, and its style suggests a commingling of Chekhov and Mozart and both Renoirs — the filmmaker, Jean, and his father, Pierre Auguste. The story it tells is projected against the events of May 1968 when, all over France, a wave of radicalism threatened to leave sweeping social changes in its wake. The film’s setting, though, is far away from the strikes and the riots and the free-thinking students who led them. At the rather ramshackle old country estate where the movie takes place, these upheavals are threatening only in a distant, abstract way….But with the mother’s death and the gathering of the clan for her funeral, the world teeters as precariously on the edge of revolution as the rest of the country. Everywhere, change is in the air…For a moment, they all lose their inhibitions. Picnicking under a tree, they drink wine and smoke pot and let their fantasies soar. And in that idyllic instant, something new seems to be dawning. These sun-licked afternoon scenes have a dreamy lyricism and beauty; they’re masterful in a quiet, understated way. Malle and Carriere poke gentle fun at the fatuity of this bourgeois play-acting, but they don’t begrudge the characters their kicks….The movie’s spirit is infectious; its effects are the same as those of Stephane Grappelli’s music — it makes your limbs hang looser, your soul unclench”—Hal Hinson, Washington Post. In French with English subtitles. R. 107 Min. 1990.
January 16, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
“The much-hyped “Malcolm X” happens to be a spiritually enriching testament to the human capacity for change — and surely Spike Lee’s most universally appealing film. An engrossing mosaic of history, myth and sheer conjecture, this ambitious epic manages to sustain itself for 3 hours 21 minutes, and also overcomes an early frivolity of tone and Lee’s intrusiveness to achieve a stature befitting its subject. Lee, whose enormous affection for his hero suffuses his work, nevertheless resists the temptation to sanitize Malcolm as Richard Attenborough did Gandhi. The civil rights leader, as eloquently portrayed by Denzel Washington, emerges as an immensely likable human being — a onetime black separatist who overcame his own prejudices. Still, this biopic will ruffle a few white feathers – and probably a few black ones too; that’s a given — but “Malcolm X” addresses itself to all Americans, reminding us none too gently with its opening footage of the Rodney King beating that the work is never done”—Rita Kempley, Washington Post. NY Film Critics Best Actor Award to Washington, as well as Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. R. 201 Min. 1992.
ZERO FOR CONDUCT
THE RED BALLOON
February 20, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Revolution begins young—and can be quiet or loud in this double bill of remarkable, timeless yet timely masterpieces from France. In the legendary Jean Vigo’s ZERO FOR CONDUCT (the basis for the 1968 IF…, starring Malcolm McDowell), four boarding school boys start a surrealist rebellion against their repressive administration and teachers. Initially banned, ZERO FOR CONDUCT now looks fresher than when it was made in the ‘30s. Paired with it is a film about the interior revolution a child can make internally by refusing to accept the world as imposed on them. Tormented by his cruel classmates, ignored, by adults, Pascal, the young hero of Albert Lamorisse’s truly charming fable, is befriended by a red balloon that starts to follow him around Paris. It is to prove, literally and otherwise, a way out. Astonishingly this 34 minute film from France won an Oscar in 1957 for Best Screenplay, as it wins the hearts of all who see it. Both films unrated but would likely be G or PG. In French with English subtitles. 44 min/36 min. 1933/1956.
I AM CUBA
March 6, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
“When Mikhail Kalatozov’s I Am Cuba—a long-lost, phantasmagoric Cuban-Soviet propaganda film from 1964—was rediscovered and reissued in late 1995 (with the prominent support of Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola), critic Terrence Rafferty wrote the following in his New Yorker review: “They’re going to be carrying ravished film students out of the theaters on stretchers.” That’s about right. Personally speaking, I certainly needed medical assistance to reattach my jaw, which had dropped permanently to the floor during one of the film’s famed tracking shots. Though I Am Cuba is fascinating enough as an historical footnote the reason it endures is almost exclusively cinematic: Given the virtually unlimited resources of two countries at their disposal, Russian director Kalatozov (The Cranes Are Flying) and his cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky turned the newly Communist Cuba into a lush playground where they could experiment with wide-angle lenses, whooshing camera moves, and towering crane shots held for minutes at a time. Their assignment was to affirm the revolutionary spirit that had just given birth to a new Cuba, but within those broad parameters, they were free to pull off all the technical wonderments they could dream up. After all, in a movie where the country itself serves as voiceover narrator, there’s no danger in getting bogged down in the particulars of character….The four vignettes that comprise the film have a poetic simplicity, building from personal hardships and tragedy to the triumphant movement of the collective…. But where a run-of-the-mill propaganda film might drive home its Communist sentiments with, say, a hammer and sickle, Kalatozov and Urusevsky’s technical acrobatics carry them across with dazzling, unceasing sensuality….”—Scott Tobias, AV Club. Unrated. In Spanish with English subtitles. 135 Min.1964.
DUCK, YOU SUCKER (ONCE UPON A TIME…THE REVOLUTION)
April 17, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
After he birthed Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and reimagined the American West in reality and myth in one of the greatest films ever made, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, what could Sergio Leone do for an encore? The answer is ONCE UPON A TIME…THE REVOLUTION, his comic/tragic historical tango of the Mexican revolution and the unlikely heroes who help foment it, Rod Steiger’s Mexican peasant and James Coburn’s Irish Revolutionary Army munitions expert. “Rapturous and more than slightly insane” (A.O. Scott, New York Times), DUCK, YOU SUCKER is “a vastly entertaining film about the aftermath of the Mexican revolution. Coburn, a fugitive from the Irish “troubles,” and Steiger, a Mexican bandit, team up to rob a bank and unwillingly become the focus of the counterrevolutionary forces. A marvelous sense of detail and spectacular effects–good fun all the way”—Çhicago Reader. PG. 138 Min. 1971.
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