JANUARY


Friday 8

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Jean-Pierre Melville's ARMY OF SHADOWS (1969, France)

A group of ordinary citizens in occupied France work to sabotage the enemy any way they can, but the Nazis are slowly picking them off. How long can they evade capture and execution? A suspenseful thriller with stunning performances.

Why we show this film:
Army of Shadows fills in a lot of context about France during WWII. Many ordinary citizens gave their lives to resist the Nazis, and the characters in this film come directly from true life.  The film acts like a thriller, but also is filled with carefully etched personalities and a great suspenseful plot. The restraint Melville brings to what could be melodramatic material is what makes the film extraordinary. You’ll be on the edge of your seats.

About the director:
Jean Pierre Melville is not very well known in the US. He adopted the last name of his favorite writer, Herman Melville (Moby Dick). During WW II he worked in the French Resistance against the Nazis. Refused in his attempts to work in film, he decided to make his own films with his own money, and eventually owned his own studio. His friendship with Godard (another film maker associated with the French “new wave”) led to his habit of filming on location—but his fondness for America gangster films can be found in all his early films—the weapons, trench coats and fedoras dot many of his film noir like Le Samurai and Le Circle Rouge.


Friday 15

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Roman Polanski's CHINATOWN (1974, USA)

Corrupt policemen, two-faced politicians and perverted power brokers are pulling the strings as our hero, the hard-boiled detective, tries to get to the bottom of a suspicious death. One of the best of the neo-noir films.

Why we show this film:
Chinatown is the finest of the new film noir films that came out in the 70's and 80's. It's bolstered by an almost perfect script that places its characters in the water scandals of Los Angeles during the 1940’s. It gives you a tremendous portrait of the seedy side of Hollywood and follows the general pattern of a film noir that starts with a simple murder only to morph into a much darker tale of human greed and perversion. Also, the film stars a perfectly cast Jack Nicholson at his best. We think you'll admire and enjoy this film as much as we do.
 

About the director:
Polish director Roman Polanski’s first feature film, Knife In The Water, made him an international star but his life in Hollywood brought him a great deal of pain and trouble. Polanski has hands down the most harrowing life story of any director in history. He escaped from the Warsaw ghetto during Nazi occupation (the same one shown in The Pianist) and spent his childhood hiding from the war in the countryside. At the war’s end he sold newspapers in the street and spent the money going to the cinema. At age 14 he became an actor and worked in theater for six years, then entered the famous film school in Lodz.

He won the Berlin Film Festival with Repulsion, and won Hollywood’s approval with Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown. But tragedy follows tragedy and soon after his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, and their friends were murdered by the Charles Manson gang. Shortly after this Polanski caught having sex with a teenager. He was arrested and then let free on bail to finish a film in Europe, but never returned. He resumed making films and winning awards, including Tess and The Pianist. In 2009 he was arrested again to be extradited back to the USA, but once again was set free after the Los Angeles Police Department botched the case. He continues to make critically acclaimed films in Europe.


Saturday 16

Art Saturday @ Downtown Art Galleries

10:45 Meet in Yerba Buena Gardens outside Metreon.

11:00 Walking tour of downtown art galleries (
Modernism, Paule Anglim, Haines, Robert Koch, Fraenkel, etc.)

12:30 Picnic lunch in Yerba Buena Gardens


Friday 22

Cine Club @ CCA
Akira Kurosawa's RASHOMON (1950, Japan)

This is the film that brought Kurosawa international fame. A husband and wife are traveling through a forest when they are set upon by a bandit. With a different version of the story from each of four eyewitnesses, how can we learn what really happened?

Why we show this film:
Rashomon is one of the most influential films in history. Its cyclical plotline, the same story told from different and contradictory viewpoints, has been adapted by so many filmmakers today, but Rashomon was the first and in may ways finest use of this form. Also, Toshiro Mifune  turns in one of his iconic performances as the bandit, supposedly base on his study of the behavior or lions in the wild. (For evidence, look no further than the gifs at right!) As a major cultural touch point, this is one film you should have under your belt.

About the director:
The Japanese film industry has produced a number of fine directors, but few are as well known in the West as Kurosawa. Part of what made him accessible is that he was deeply influenced by American films, especially film noir (exemplified by Stray Dog), gangster films (Drunken Angel) and westerns (Seven Samurai). He took these genres and made them his own.

He began his career as a painter and then worked in film as an assistant director and writer for years. He became a director during World War II, and started working with the actor Toshiro Mifune in 1947 with Drunken Angel. Roshomon won the Venice Film Festival in 1951 and Kurosawa continued to produce a series of classics—Iriku, Seven Samauri, Yojimbo. His final two epics Kagemusha and Ran were made in the 80’s. He is considered one of the most important and influential directors in film history.

 

Friday 29

Cine Club @ CCA
Dino Risi's IL SORPASSO (1962, Italy)

An impulsive braggart takes a shy law student for a two-day trip to the Italian countryside. This high-speed road-trip movie paints an unforgettable picture of Italy during its economic recovery, and is filled with thought-provoking revelations about its main characters.

Why we show this film:
Some directors had long successful careers, but are remembered mainly for one film. This is one of those films. Il Sorpasso reflects the mood of its times, in this case the social malaise lurking behind the Italian economic "miracle" recovery of the 1960s—the same theme echoed in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. It quite naturally and surprisingly opens up to become a social epic of sorts, moving in and around the Italian country side giving us glimpses of a wide variety of Italian life.

It stars two actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Vittorio Gassman, at the start of their careers who went on to become two of the most famous of their generation, and the mixture of comic and social elements give the film it special flavor of serious comedy. It has all the quirky joys of the cult film it has ultimately become.

About the director:
Risi is considered one of the masters of Italian comedy, but he never achieved much fame outside Italy.  He began his career practically by chance when he met a film director at a friend's boutique who told him they needed an assistant director for a movie. Risi accepted just for fun, not for work. Later, he became a psychiatrist and wrote some articles for a local newspaper in his spare time. He returned to Rome after the war and began producing some short films and led to his deciding, yes, he really did want to direct films. Ten years of writing and working on films gave him a name in Italy, but it was with Il Sorpasso he became an overnight sensation. He directed over 50 films and died at the age of 91.


Saturday 30

Art Saturday @ Potrero Hill Art Galleries

10:45 Meet at Coffee Bar (corner of Mariposa and Florida).

11:00 Walking tour of Potrero Hill art galleries (
Jack Fisher, Catherine Clark, Hosfelt, Brian Gross, Wattis, etc.)

12:30 Picnic lunch in Franklin Square park (
17th and Bryant).