Monday, November 13, 7 p.m.
Imitation of Life (USA, 1959)
Director: Douglas Sirk
Runtime: 125 minutes
The legendary Lana Turner stars in this 1959 version of Fannie Hurst's emotionally charged drama, which chronicles two widows and their troubled daughters as they struggle to find true happiness amidst racial prejudice.
Lora Meredith (Turner) claws her way to stardom only to realize the daughter (Sandra Dee) she has neglected for years is now a stranger to her and --worse yet-- her rival for the love of a younger man. At the same time, her African-American housekeeper, Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), finds herself rejected by her light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner), who struggles with her African-American identity.
"Imitation of Life" is one of only two dramatic films to feature gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. The other, "St. Louis Blues" (1958), actually gave her a character name.
Monday, November 27, 7 p.m.
Sullivan's Travels (USA, 1941)
Director: Preston Sturges
Runtime: 91 minutes
Tired of churning out lightweight comedies, Hollywood director John L. Sullivan (Joel McCrea) decides to make "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"—a serious, socially responsible film about human suffering. After his producers point out that he knows nothing of hardship, Sullivan hits the road disguised as a hobo. En route to enlightenment, he encounters a lovely but no-nonsense young woman (Veronica Lake)—and more trouble than he ever dreamed of.
This comic masterpiece by Preston Sturges is among the finest Hollywood satires and a high-water mark in the career of one of the industry’s most revered funnymen lampooning Hollywood pretension and excesses with the director's particular brand of sophisticated verbal wit, dialogue and fast-paced slapstick.
Monday, December 4, 7 p.m.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed (UK, 2009)
Director: J Blakeson
Rated: R for violent content, pervasive language and some sexuality/nudity
Runtime: 100 minutes
British neo-noir thriller about the kidnapping of a young woman by two ex-convicts.
"A terrifically enjoyable British film from debut writer-director J Blakeson, who on the tightest of budgets delivers a professionally honed thriller, melodramatic maybe, but socked over with cracking energy. Eddie Marsan and Martin Compston play Vic and Danny, two crims who kidnap Alice, a rich daddy's-girl played by the impressive Gemma Arterton. But Alice isn't taking it lying down. There's twist and counter-twist, cross and double-cross, and with each narrative reveal comes a firework display of Big Acting. It's taut, claustrophobic and very well put together, with nice performances all round." –Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Monday, December 11, 7 p.m.
Babette's Feast (Denmark, 1987)
Director: Gabriel Axel
Runtime: 104 minutes
In Danish, French, Swedish with English subtitles
At once a rousing paean to artistic creation, a delicate evocation of divine grace, and the ultimate film about food, the Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast is a deeply beloved treasure of cinema. Directed by Gabriel Axel and adapted from a story by Isak Dinesen, it is the lovingly layered tale of a French housekeeper with a mysterious past who brings quiet revolution in the form of one exquisite meal to a circle of starkly pious villagers in late nineteenth-century Denmark. Babette’s Feast combines earthiness and reverence in an indescribably moving depiction of sensual pleasure that goes to your head like fine champagne.
Monday, January 8, 7 p.m.
Beauty and The Beast (France, 1946)
Director: Jean Cocteau
Runtime: 93 minutes, in black and white
Jean Cocteau’s sublime adaptation of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy-tale masterpiece—in which the pure love of a beautiful girl melts the heart of a feral but gentle beast—is a landmark of motion picture fantasy, with unforgettably romantic performances by Jean Marais and Josette Day. The spectacular visions of enchantment, desire, and death in Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) have become timeless icons of cinematic wonder.
Monday, January 22, 7 p.m.
City Lights (USA, 1931)
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Runtime: 86 minutes, in black and white
City Lights, the most cherished film by Charlie Chaplin, is also his ultimate Little Tramp chronicle. The writer-director-star achieved new levels of grace, in both physical comedy and dramatic poignancy, with this silent tale of a lovable vagrant falling for a young blind woman who sells flowers on the street (a magical Virginia Cherrill) and mistakes him for a millionaire. Though this Depression-era smash was made after the advent of sound, Chaplin remained steadfast in his love for the expressive beauty of the pre-talkie form. The result was the epitome of his art and the crowning achievement of silent comedy.