MARCH


Friday 3

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Visconti's THE LEOPARD (1963, Italy)

Lead by its charismatic patriarch, a family of aristocrats struggles to survive the tumultuous period of Italian unification. From the battlefield to the ballroom, the word ‘epic’ only begins to describe this classic film, which is singular in vision and deep humanity.

Why we show this film:
In the 1860’s, America was occupied by the Civil War. We often forget that Italy was also in the throes of a national conflict, the effects of which are still very much in evidence. This is another giant of a film: big themes and grand vistas... a somewhat less popular film than War & Peace but sharing many of its themes. The aristocratic family in question here are losing their grasp on things during the Italian campaign of Girabaldi and the unification of Italy. What’s extraordinary about the film is that it creates with fine detail and keen observation its own universe. Visconti, the director, came from this world and is qualified to lead us through it with all its baroque complexities. It’s also one of the great costume dramas; the art direction, photography, historical detail are some of the finest in film.


Friday 10

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute (800 Chestnut Street)
Akira Kurosawa's RAN (1985, Japan)

Kurosawa’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.  In feudal Japan, an elderly lord decides to divide his land and castles among his three sons, but in a fit of pride turns on his youngest son.  This film, filled with vivid color and breathtaking battle scenes, is Shakespeare as you’ve never seen him before.

About the director:
The Japanese film industry has produced a number of fine directors, but few are as well known in the West as well as Kurosawa. He began 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.

Kurosawa was always influenced by western filmmaking. He was especially found of film noir and gangster films and in his work, made those genres his own. Roshoman 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 17

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Carol Reed's THE THIRD MAN (1949, UK)

A pulp novelist travels to Vienna in search of a job, only to find his friend dead under mysterious circumstances.  A fascinating look at post-WWII Europe with murder, corruption and intrigue thrown into the pot. This is film-noir at its finest!

Why we show this film:

Carol Reed produced several intelligent, wonderfully scripted thrillers of which The Third Man is the most celebrated.  He developed a new style of chase scene, with dramatic camera angles and silhouettes against bright light, that gives his work a great sense of urgency and influenced directors for decades.

The Third Man deals with how faulty reasoning can make monsters of people.  It is packed with colorful incidents which reflect the Hitchcock films of the 30’s, and is carefully paced toward its spectacular ending chase scene through the Vienna sewers. 


Friday 24

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW (1979, USA)

One of the most breathtaking war films ever made.  Adapting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War, this film follows a special ops officer sent into the jungle to assassinate a renegade colonel.  Beautiful, haunting imagery and a poetic narrative bring the tragedy of the war to life.

WARNING: violence, drugs and profanity.

Why we show this film:
War films come in all varieties. During a war they are often gung-ho, patriotic flag waivers that urge men into battle with tales of heroism and justice. When the reality and horror of war sinks in the films concentrate on anti-heroes, injustice, and the ugly, realistic and hideous aspects of battle. Apocalypse Now follows the latter model, but is unusual even in this respect because it is modeled on a novel by Joseph Conrad (The Heart of Darkness) which takes place in 1890's Africa and does not, in fact, involve a war at all.

Yes, Apocalypse Now takes place during the Vietnam War, but it is not a realistic depiction of war so much as an expressionistic view of conflict and the chaos and confusion that develop from it. It stands alone among war films, raisedby a profoundly poetic narrative and unforgettable imagery. Its brilliant editing, use of sound, excellent performances all add to this dynamic film.

About the director:
Francis Coppola is one the most important American film directors. He is among the first generation of directors spawned by film schools at NYU, UCLA and USC (Lucas and Scorcese are others). In the 60’s he began as one of schlock producer Roger Corman’s wonder boys, rising through the ranks to the point where he had enough clout to make serious films. His film The Conversation won him a following in Europe and his next two, The Godfather I & II, brought him the status as a master. His zenith as a filmmaker climaxed with the epic undertaking of Apocalypse Now. He continues to produce and direct films to this day.