SEPTEMBER


Friday 2

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute (800 Chestnut Street)
Terry Gilliam's BRAZIL (1985, UK/USA)

A darkly comic film about a future gone mad with rules, paperwork and paranoia. Our hero, a timid bureaucrat, only wants to fix a simple typo but finds himself caught up in a battle between terrorist plumbers and a repressive police state. An all-time favorite of our students.

Why we show this film:
Brazil is a great example of a director with a unique vision at the height of his powers, but also one of the best example of "dark comedy”—comedy that reflects life’s more frustrating, tragic and cruel aspects. Brazil is not only startlingly unusual, it’s filled with the kind of flights of fancy that only a Monty Python could imagine which makes it very much one of a kind.

The performance of Jonathan Price in the title role has a perfection of tone seldom reached with other comedians, and the prophetic episodes in the film about homeland security, domestic terrorism, plastic surgery, and the erosion of privacy seem pretty not so far-fetched nowadays. Nevertheless, the film remains funny and outrageous, and has always been enthusiastically received by our students.

About the director:
After years of frustration working in advertising as an illustrator in New York, Terry Gillian moved to London and took up with a group of friends who eventually became Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the series he alternated as animator, actor and script-writer... and director, which lead to his third career after the comedy group broke up, starting with Time Bandits, another bizarre, fantastical and surprisingly dark comedy that established him as a bankable director. 

He followed this with Brazil, his Kafka-like examination of a futurist nightmare. Unfortunately he ran into a long struggle with Universal studios, who cut the film by 17 minutes and refused to release it. The film was submitted to critics and wound up winning the LA film critics award, which helped its release. Gillian followed it up with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas among others.


Friday 9

Cine Club @ Randall Museum (199 Museum Way)
MONTY PYTHON'S THE MEANING OF LIFE (1983, UK)

A now, for something completely different! This Monty Python classic is packed with some of their most outrageously funny sketches that will take you from the cradle to the grave and beyond. This film teaches you everything you need to know; birth control, unnecessary surgery, how to tell whether you’ve been bitten by a mosquito or a tiger—it’s all there.

Warning: nudity and sex (but it’s a riot).

Why we show this film:
We like to start the year off with a splash and this year's pair of Monty Python related films do just that. The Meaning of Life is considerably more lighthearted than ex-Python Terry Gilliam's film, but it shares a lot of the absurdity and satire that made Monty Python legends of comedy.

This film was actually made well after Monty Python had finished as a regular sketch comedy group. Many of the members had already gone on to more lucrative film careers, but they rejoined to make a film as they had done with with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). It was their final project with all original members as Graham Chapman died in in 1989.


Saturday 10

Art Saturday @ Downtown Art Galleries

11 am Meet at Yerba Buena Gardens outside Metreon.

11:15 Walking tour of downtown art galleries (Modernism, Anglim Gilbert, Fraenkel, YBCA, etc.)

1 pm Picnic lunch in Yerba Buena Gardens


Friday 16

Cine Club @ Harvey Milk Rec Center (50 Scott Street)
Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE (1941, USA)

This is the real deal.  This story of a newspaper magnate, his life, his loves and his death, stands as a defining moment in film history and is considered by many to be the greatest of all time. Welles’ performance as Charles Foster Kane is iconic, and the film developed new techniques in filmmaking and storytelling that have been copied endlessly. Don’t miss out!

Why we show this film:
As far as American cinema goes, there isn't really a film that surpasses Citizen Kane. For a start, it asks important questions: What does it mean to be happy? What are American values? What is the actual value of power, wealth and fame? These are major questions and ones worth contemplating, particularly in our culture of celebrity worship and conspicuous consumerism. It’s original title was American. It’s about ambition, about integrity, about bad decisions, and about, let’s see, politics, and art and so on and so on.

About the director:
Orson Welles was the boy wonder: as a child he wrote poetry, painted, played the piano, made puppets, acted, and performed magic shows. His father died when he was twelve and he became the ward of a Chicago doctor. Instead of going to college, he chose a drawing tour of Ireland and while in Dublin bluffed himself into an interview with the director of the Gate Theater, landing a role in their current production. He returned home, secured a role in a famous touring theater company, married a Chicago socialite and hooked up with a producer named John Houseman. Together they formed the Mercury Theater, which branched into radio, and caused the nation to shake with a production of “The War of the Worlds” (broadcast in the style of a live news report).

He was finally invited to Hollywood, originally for a version of Conrad’s The Heart Of Darkness that never got off the ground. Then Citizen Kane established him as a controversial genius of film, but things were never the same. He began a new film, The Magnificent Ambersons, but made the disastrous mistake of leaving before the it was edited to film a documentary in Brazil. One disappointment followed another, as films were taken from him, re-edited and ruined in his estimation.

His focus became divided between living the life of a famous celebrity (he married film legend Rita Hayworth) and struggling to make his own films. He was labeled “box-office poison," was decried for being temperamental and difficult, and he struggled to make any films. He continued to triumph as an actor, most notably in The Third Man and Touch of Evil, both memorable examples of film noir. He made several more films before he died, but none rose to the level of his first.


Friday 23

Cine Club @ Harvey Milk Rec Center (50 Scott Street)
Mike Van Diem's CHARACTER (1997, Netherlands)

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A stunning, powerhouse of a film.  An illegitimate son struggles to gain the love of the father who has abandoned him and a father compulsively grinds down his son in order to build his “character”.  This film starts with an emotional wallop and never lets up.

Warning: violence and rape.

Why we show this film:
This is a wonder of a cinema. It’s filmed with such authority, following one riveting scene after another with perfect style and tone, it seems hard to believe a first time director could produce such a film. Moreover, it’s a film with a clear overall vision and concept that forces you to think and grapple themes and issues many of us never bother with: what is it like to be abandoned or ignored by your parent? What are the obligations of family to one another? What are your own family's values and what do they mean to you?

It’s wonderful to watch the hero rise in the world through his own energy and cleverness, but astonishing to see the terrible road-blocks thrown in his way by his own father. It is one of the most powerful films you’ll see, and it helps you ponder and wonder about your own life. Great film making can inspire that.

About the director:
Mike Van Diem began work in television and short films. Character was his first feature length film and won Van Diem an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. After that great success he came to Hollywood, but finding no suitable projects turned to directing commercials until 2015 when he directed The Surprise, which was well reviewed but did not have nearly the international response as Character.


Saturday 24

Art Saturday @ SFMOMA

11 am Meet at SFMOMA by the Richard Serra sculpture (Howard Street entrance)

11:15 Tour of the new SFMOMA

1 pm Picnic lunch in Yerba Buena Gardens


Friday 30

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute (800 Chestnut Street)
Mike Leigh's SECRETS AND LIES (1996, UK)

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A young woman seeks out her birth mother and is shocked by what she finds. Most scenes were almost entirely improvised with actors only having a few basic details to work from. Equally funny and deeply moving, you’ll not forget this film’s perfectly etched performances and all too human characters.

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Why we show this film:
This film continues the exploration of the many degrees and types of family that began in last weeks Character. Here the focus is on choices. Can you choose your family? Can family choose you? How does one make peace with past decisions?  What does family mean to people who don’t have any, and what does it mean to people caught in a dysfunctional one? Secrets & Lies covers a lot of emotional ground and is blessed with some of the deepest and most beautiful performances you’ll ever see.

About the director:
Mike Leigh is a prolific film maker, but with a few exceptions his work has never been terribly mainstream; his films are too probing and often deal with unorthodox subject matter. Leigh began making a number of films for the BBC, developing his own unusual techniques for working with actors. He often works without a full script, developing scenes with themes or ideas through a series of improvisations. This process can take months, until the actors have thoroughly entered their character’s persona. While filming, actors only receive the script a scene at a time, which produces a spontaneity and authenticity most films don’t have. This film brought him international fame, and he has more recently had critical hits with biography based films Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake, and Mr. Turner.