SEPTEMBER


Friday 4

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER (1982, UK/USA)

This mesmerizing thriller set in a dystopian future follows a burnt-out police detective who is forced to take one last assignment hunting down rogue androids who have blended in among Los Angeles’s human population. Its special effects are still dazzling over 30 years later, but its exploration of what it means to be human is what makes this film a classic.

Why we show this film:
We show Blade Runner every few years because it is a classic of sci-fi filmmaking, exemplifying many of the best aspects of the genre. It presents a fascinating and imaginative future while raising questions relevant to us in the present. At first glance, it follows a somewhat stock thriller plot—a dangerous enemy that can hide in plain sight is on the loose in Los Angeles—but Blade Runner manages to keep the plot twists coming while taking the Frankenstein themes of being an outsider, of displacement, and of what it means be human, to new heights. Visually, the film is breathtaking, creating a world at once completely foreign and yet believable. There are few films to equal its visual abundance. This is Ridley Scott at his best.

About the director:
Ridley Scott is a director who came to filmmaking from the world of television commercials, having produced ads so strong they’re considered classics today (the 1984 Apple commercial being his most famous). His first feature, The Duellists, a Napoleonic War period drama, won the prize for new director at the Cannes Film Festival. It was an artistic triumph, but a commercial failure. He then came to Hollywood and turned out a number of blockbusters starting with Alien and then Blade Runner, each an instant classic. More recent films of note include Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Prometheus.


Friday 11

Cine Club @ CCA
Oliver Hirschbiegel's DOWNFALL (2004, Germany)

An absorbing recreation of the last days of Adolf Hitler and his closest staff in their Berlin bunker as they reluctantly come to terms with their inevitable defeat. This film captures the paranoia, the delusion and the madness with chilling precision and brilliance.

Warning: graphic wartime violence.

Why we show this film:
There are many films about the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, but there are very few about his last days.  The British film Hitler, The Last Ten Days, starring Alec Guiness in the title role,  is filled with florid and chilling monologues especially written with that great actor in mind, giving an almost theatrical tone to the war zone.  With Downfall, a German director and his writers blend a documentary style with a powerful performance from Bruno Ganz to create a profoundly realistic and human portrayal of the dictator and his supporters. This doesn't diminish the horror of his crimes so much as sharpen our understanding of how they came to pass. This film recreates the end of a very dark era for humanity, and is one of the best history lessons we have on film.

About the director:
Oscar Hirschbiegel began his career as a painter and  graphic artist, then moved through a number of projects for television before making his first feature, Das Experiment about the rise of fascism in a German secondary school (forgettably remade for America as The Experiment in 2010). Downfall gained him a great deal of International renown, and remains the most important of his films to date.


Saturday 12

Art Saturday @ De Young Museum

10:45 Meet in the De Young courtyard.

11:00 Enter the museum and visit the J.M.W. Turner show, after which we will treat you to lunch at the cafe.

English painter J.M.W. TURNER (early 1800s) is one of world’s great artists, a visionary whose work reflected the later impressionists and also has much affinity to 20th century abstraction. His obsession with light gives his work a mysterious visual poetry, and his last swirling, vibrantly alive depictions of trains and ships are startlingly modern. Students can get an impression of how quirky, and unusual an artist he was from Mike Leigh’s recent film, Mr Turner. At right is a clip from the film and an interview with the director to help get you started!


Friday 18

Cine Club @ CCA
Satyajit Ray's PATHER PACHALI (1955, India )

This debut film from India’s most famous director was made with a tiny budget and a mountain of talent. It follows the struggles of a brother and sister growing up in rural Bengal, and captures the atmosphere and rhythms of daily life as their father searches for steady employment and their mother toils to provide for food and shelter. An endearing masterpiece.

Why we show this film:
Though this is the first film in a series (The World of Apu trilogy) it holds up on its own.  The characters—a sensitive young boy, his struggling father, kleptomaniac sister, quarrelsom aunt and long suffering mother—are all brilliantly etched. You feel you are entering this moment in India's history.  The images, the rituals, the texture of daily life all work to bond you to the characters.  This is an old fashioned “story film” as good as they come.

About the director:
Ray  studied painting and art history at the University of Calcutta before starting a career as an illustrator. One of the books he illustrated, Pather Panchali, left a deep impression on him. He dreamed of filming it, but in 1940’s India making a living as a filmmaker was an unattainable dream. In 1950 he visited London where he saw Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. This classic neo-realist film was filmed on location with non-actors on a tiny budget. Ray was so moved and excited, he returned to India and began filming with friends on weekends with the encouragement of French film maker Jean Renoir. To fund the film, he spent his salary and sold all his possessions. He was in despair, almost at the point of abandoning the project, when the Bengal government stepped in and gave him money to complete it.

In 1955, Pather Panchali was shown at the Cannes Festival and caused a sensation. It introduced Indian cinema to the West and won the Jury prize. Ray went on to complete the trilogy with Aparajito and The World of Apu. He continued making masterful humanist films for the next thirty years, and was given an honorary Academy Award just before his death in 1992.


Friday 25

Cine Club @ SF Art Institute
Federico Fellini's AMARCORD (1973, Italy)

Fellini’s glorious tribute to his childhood, full of evocative atmosphere and delightful imagery, recreates life in a small Italian town through the eyes of an attentive adolescent boy. Every episode with his family, his mischievous friends and the eccentric townspeople is positively magical.

Why we show this film:
At Cine Club we show a Fellini film every year. Amacord is one of his most popular works, capturing much of the awe and wonder of life in a small Italian town with all the colorful characters in place just the way a teenage boy might remember.  It’s one of the least aggressively bizarre films he’s made, but its rich imagery, honestly shaped scenes and big splashes of film magic make it a milestone of his later films.

Amarcord_Smile.gif

About the director:
Federico Fellini is one of a handful of directors who define 20th Century film in. He began his career as an artist and during the early 40’s wrote a number of radio and film scripts while assisting an actor friend's traveling theater company.  At the end of the war, they opened the Funny Face Shop, an arcade for American soldiers that specialized in quick portraits, photos, voice recordings for the folks back home. 

One day a visit from director Roberto Rosselini brought Fellini  in on collaboration for the script for Open City, and he followed this with work on Paisan, both sterling film classics. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts on his own, Fellini directed Il Vitelloni (the Loafers) which brought him great success. He followed this with one triumph after another, all in a post neo-realist style. These include La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and La Dolce Vita. Out of his work emerged a new style which announced itself with 8 ½—a theme driven, plot-less film filled with atmosphere, color and astounding characters and flights of fantasy.  From this the adjective “felliniesque” has entered our vocabulary.   Amacord is one of the first of his late style


Saturday 26

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