Monday, July 3, 7 p.m.
Double Feature: Two documentaries by Les Blank
The Maestro: King of the Cowboy Artists (USA, 1994)
Director: Les Blank with Maureen Gosling and Chris Simon
Runtime: 53 minutes
This portrait of the free-spirited painter and singing cowboy Gerald Gaxiola is a testament to creativity unencumbered by commerce.
What happens when a dedicated husband and father quits his job, adopts the persona of a Western-Movie Singing Cowboy, takes on the entire art establishment (including Christo and Andy Warhol), and refuses to accept money for his art? Meet Gerry Gaxiola, AKA The Maestro, an ex-wage slave who gave up everything to make art for its own sake. The Maestro’s story could inspire a whole new generation of Van Goghs.
Dry Wood (USA, 1973)
Director: Les Blank and Maureen Gosling
Runtime: 37 minutes
Blank ventured back to Southwest Louisiana for this work of ramshackle beauty, an immersion in the region’s black Creole community that teems with delightful detail. The featured music in this Les Blank film is that of “Bois Sec” (Dry Wood) Ardoin, his sons and Canray Fontenot. Theirs is an older, rural style of Cajun music which Blank uses to weave together incidents in the lives of the Fontenot and Ardoin families. Highlights include a rollicking country Mardi Gras, work in the rice fields, a “men’s only” supper, and a hog-butchering party (that follows the hog from the kill to sausage). Like other Blank films, it expresses respect for living life ‘simply, lovingly, openly and slowly’.
About the director: An uncompromisingly independent filmmaker, Les Blank made documentaries for nearly fifty years, elegantly disappearing with his camera into cultural spots rarely seen on-screen—mostly on the peripheries of the United States, but also occasionally abroad. Seemingly off-the-cuff yet poetically constructed, these films are humane, sometimes wry, always engaging tributes to music, food, and all sorts of regionally specific delights.
Monday, July 10, 7 p.m.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (UK, 2015)
Director: Matt Brown Rated: PG-13
Cast: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Stephen Fry, Toby Jones, Jeremy Northam
Written and directed by Matthew Brown, the biopic is the true story of friendship that forever changed mathematics. In 1913, Srinivasa Ramanujan (Patel), a self-taught Indian mathematics genius, traveled to Trinity College, Cambridge, where over the course of five years, forged a bond with his mentor, the brilliant and eccentric professor, G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons), and fought against prejudice to reveal his mathematic genius to the world. The film also stars Devika Bhise, Stephen Fry and Toby Jones. This is Ramanujan's story as seen through Hardy's eyes.
Monday, July 24, 7 p.m.
SOLARIS (Soviet Union, 1972)
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky Rated: PG Runtime: 166 minutes In Russian, German with English subtitles
Cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Jüri Järvet
Ground control has been receiving mysterious transmissions from the three remaining residents of the Solaris space station. When cosmonaut and psychologist Kris Kelvin is dispatched to investigate, he experiences the same strange phenomena that afflict the Solaris crew, sending him on a voyage into the darkest recesses of his consciousness. With "SOLARIS," the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky created a brilliantly original science-fiction epic that challenges our conceptions about love, truth, and humanity itself.
Monday, August 7, 7 p.m.
Kings of the Road (Germany, 1976)
Director: Wim Wenders Rated: NR Runtime: 176 min, B&W In German with English subtitles
Cast: Rüdiger Vogler, Hanns Zischler, Lisa Kreuzer
A roving film projector repairman (Rüdiger Vogler) saves the life of a depressed psychologist (Hanns Zischler) who has driven his Volkswagen into a river, and they end up on the road together, traveling from one rural German movie theater to another. Along the way, the two men, each running from his past, bond over their shared loneliness. "Kings of the Road," captured in gorgeous compositions by cinematographer Robby Müller and dedicated to Fritz Lang, is a love letter to the cinema, a moving and funny tale of male friendship, and a portrait of a country still haunted by war.
Wenders began the film without a script. Instead, there was a route that he had scouted out beforehand: through all of the little towns along the Wall that still contained a movie theater in this era of cinematic mass extinction. The old moving van with the film projectors in the back becomes a metaphor for the history of film—it is no coincidence that the film is dedicated to Fritz Lang. This “men’s story” also treats the themes of the absence of women, of loneliness, and of postwar Germany. At one point, Bruno says to Robert: “The Yankees have colonized our subconscious.”
Monday, August 14, 7 p.m.
The Red Shoes (USA, 1948)
Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger Rated: NR Runtime: 133 minutes
Cast: Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Léonide Massine, Robert Helpmann
The singular fantasia from Powell and Pressburger is cinema’s quintessential backstage drama, as well as one of the most glorious Technicolor feasts ever concocted for the screen. Shearer is a rising star ballerina torn between an idealistic composer and a ruthless impresario intent on perfection. Featuring outstanding performances, blazingly beautiful cinematography by Jack Cardiff, Oscar-winning sets and music, and an unforgettable, hallucinatory central dance sequence, this beloved classic, now dazzlingly restored, stands as an enthralling tribute to the life of the artist.
Monday, August 28, 7 p.m.
Concussion (USA, 2015)
Director: Peter Landesman Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 123 minutes
Cast: Will Smith, Stephen Moyer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Marsan
A doctor discovers a brain disease in former football players, but the NFL denies his claims.
A dramatic thriller based on the incredible true David vs. Goliath story of American immigrant Dr. Bennet Omalu, the brilliant forensic neuropathologist who made the first discovery of CTE, a football-related brain trauma, in a pro player and fought for the truth to be known. Omalu's emotional quest puts him at dangerous odds with one of the most powerful institutions in the world.
Monday, September 4, 7 p.m.
Scarecrow (USA, 1973)
Director: Jerry Schatzberg Rated: R Runtime: 112 minutes
Cast: Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Dorothy Tristan, Ann Wedgeworth, Richard Lynch
An ex-con learns the value of friendship in Jerry Schatzberg's picaresque road movie: Trying to hitch a ride on a desolate California road, ex-con Max (Hackman) meets ex-sailor Lion (Pacino). They are both headed east, as Max dreams of opening a deluxe car wash in Pittsburgh and Lion believes that the wife and child he left behind will still welcome him home. The two decide to journey together, forging an increasingly deep yet uncertain friendship. When the pair hits Detroit, Max must decide if he should forge on alone or sacrifice his carefully guarded savings to help his friend.
Pacino's first film after his triumph in "The Godfather" (1972), and Hackman's follow-up to "The Poseidon Adventure" (1972) and his Oscar for "The French Connection" (1971), "Scarecrow" won the 1973 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Monday, September 11, 7 p.m.
Ashes and Diamonds (Poland, 1958)
.Director: Andrzej Wajda Rated: NR Runtime: 103 minutes, B&W
Cast: Zbigniew Cybulski, Waclaw Zastrzezynski, Adam Pawlikowski
On the last day of World War II in a small town somewhere in Poland, Polish exiles of war and the occupying Soviet forces confront the beginning of a new day and a new Poland. In this incendiary environment we find Home Army soldier Maciek Chelmicki, who has been ordered to assassinate an incoming commissar. But a mistake stalls his progress and leads him to Krystyna, a beautiful barmaid who gives him a glimpse of what his life could be. Gorgeously photographed and brilliantly performed, Ashes and Diamonds masterfully interweaves the fate of a nation with that of one man, resulting in one of the most important Polish films of all time
Monday, September 25, 7 p.m.
Amy (UK, 2015)
Director: Asif Kapadia
Runtime: 128 minutes
Cast: Amy Winehouse, Yasiin Bey, Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett, Pete Doherty
A look at the life of talented but troubled British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011. The film includes rare interviews with the subject and previously unreleased songs.
Despite just two albums to her name, Amy Winehouse is one of the biggest music icons in British history. With a voice often described as a combination of Billy Holiday, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, Amy Winehouse was a pop star with soul; a once in two generational musical talent whose appeal crossed cultural and demographic boundaries. But while her music made her a star, her chaotic personal life stole headlines.
The film has received 33 nominations and has won a total of 30 film awards, including for Best European Documentary at the 28th European Film Awards, Best Documentary at the 69th British Academy Film Awards, Best Music Film at the 58th Grammy Awards, the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 88th Academy Awards and for Best Documentary at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards. The success of the film and the music from the soundtrack of the same name also led to Winehouse's second posthumous nomination at the 2016 BRIT Awards for "British Female Solo Artist."