September and October Films at Northwestern
Block Cinema to screen films from France, Germany, Italy and United States
EVANSTON, Ill. --- To celebrate the centennial of the birth of Henri Langlois (1914-1977), a founder, director and curator of the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, one of the world’s most celebrated film archives, Block Cinema will pay homage to Langlois’ heroic efforts by screening a selection of works showcasing the films and filmmakers he championed.
Langlois was responsible for saving countless films from destruction by the Nazis or decay due to indifference and neglect. As a curator, Langlois introduced the best of world cinema to future critics and filmmakers (Godard, Truffaut, Rensais and countless others) and inspired a generation of writers, scholars, curators and directors through his legendary screenings and cinema museum. The series opens on Sept. 26 with the silent film “A Girl in Every Port” featuring live musical accompaniment.
Block Cinema also will present “Fantastic Voyages,” a series of films that inspired Kenyan-born and New York-based artist Wangechi Mutu, whose work is on exhibit through Dec. 7 at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art’s Main and Alsdorf galleries this fall in a show titled “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.”
The special programs series opens Oct. 2 with an archival print of the rarely seen 1950 independent film, “Julius Caesar,” starring a young Charlton Heston -- a Northwestern alumnus -- and shot in and around Chicago and the Indiana Dunes.
Block will also host an Oct. 9 screening of the acclaimed new documentary, “In Country,” about Vietnam War re-enactors, with co-director Michael Attie in-person. And on Oct. 15 Block Cinema will co-present a screening and discussion by British experimental filmmaker John Smith with the department of art theory and practice.
All films will be screened in the James B. Pick and Rosalyn M. Laudati Auditorium at the Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.
Block Cinema’s fall schedule begins on Sept. 26. Visit the Block website for a complete list of programs.
BLOCK CINEMA ADMISSION
Unless otherwise noted, general admission to Block Cinema is $6 for the general public or $4 for Block Museum members, Northwestern faculty, staff and students, students from other schools with valid IDs and individuals 60 and older. Quarterly passes are $20. Tickets are available one hour before show time. For more information, call the Block Cinema Hotline at (847) 491-4000 or visit the Block Cinema website.
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 BLOCK CINEMA FILMS
Tribute to Henri Langlois, “A Girl in Every Port,” 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, (Howard Hawks, 1928, United States, 35mm, 76 minutes). Howard Hawks’ best-known silent film features two sailors (Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong) whose friendship leads to rowdy and amorous adventures around the world. The iconic silent star Louise Brooks plays a carnival performer who catches the eye of both men. The film combines the tough, male-centric themes found in many of the director’s later films with his adeptness at broad, physical comedy. The archival 35mm print is from the George Eastman House. It will be preceded by: “A Trip to the Moon” (Georges Melies, 1902, France, 35mm, 14 minutes). The original cinematic science fiction adventure remains as visually fresh and inventive as it was more than a century ago. Director Melies was revered by Henri Langlois, who helped ensure that great works of “the magician of cinema” would not be forgotten. “A Trip to the Moon” will be screened in a recently restored and tinted 35mm print. Pianist David Drazin will provide live musical accompaniment.
Special Program, “Julius Caesar,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2 (David Bradley, 1950, United States, 35mm, 106 minutes). Not to be confused with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.’s 1953 mega production, film collector and Chicago native David Bradley's “Julius Caesar” was the first feature adaptation of Shakespeare’s play and Bradley's second collaboration with Northwestern alumnus and then a relatively unknown Charlton Heston (Mark Antony). Shot on 16mm with post-synchronized sound recorded primarily in an Evanston swimming pool, “Caesar” is a rich marriage of low-budget student productions (much of the cast was recruited from Northwestern's theatre department) and independent small gauge filmmaking, elevated by beautiful location photography at Chicago's Museum Campus and the Indiana Sand Dunes. The film is co-presented with and introduced by the Northwest Chicago Film Society.
Tribute to Henri Langlois, “Her Man,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3 (Tay Garnett, 1930, United States, 35mm, 85 minutes). Frankie (Helen Twelvetrees) is a pretty pickpocket who works in a rowdy bar in Havana frequented by hustlers, addicts and drunken sailors. Exploited by her live-in boyfriend Johnnie (Ricardo Cortez), Frankie seems resigned to her abysmal lot until she meets earnest sailor Dan (1930s heartthrob Phillips Holmes). Undeniably pre-Code in its frank depiction of vice, the film is also notable for its fluid camerawork and virtuosic tracking shots that were rare in early sound films. When Henri Langlois was invited in 1967 to New York to curate a series of American films at the Museum of Modern Art, Langlois, who relished bringing obscure films to the fore, chose “Her Man” for opening night.
Special Programs, “In Country,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9 FREE (Michael Attie and Meghan O'Hara, 2014, United States, video, 80 minutes). The new documentary “In Country” follows a “platoon” of Vietnam War re-enactors (many of them actual veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan) who re-stage battles deep in the Oregon woods. Weaving together scenes of their reenactments and their real lives, plus archival footage from the Vietnam War, “In Country” blurs the boundaries between reality and fantasy, and past and present to tell a story about men haunted by their own experiences on the front line. The screening will be introduced by co-director and new Northwestern faculty member, Michael Attie, a lecturer in the department of radio/television/film and associate director of the department’s new master of fine arts program in documentary media. The screening is co-presented with Northwestern University’s MFA in Documentary Media program.
Tribute to Henri Langlois, “Journey to Italy,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10 (Roberto Rossellini, 1954, Italy, DCP, 86 minutes). Misunderstood on its release, “Journey to Italy” is now regarded as one of Italian filmmaker Roberto Rossellini’s greatest masterpieces. It depicts the deteriorating marriage of a British couple (George Sanders and Rossellini’s real-life wife Ingrid Bergman) while on vacation near Naples and on the island of Capri. One of several remarkable films made by Rossellini and starring Bergman, “Journey” marks the director’s move away from his Neorealist roots towards a modernist approach that anticipates the 1960s and beyond (critics from Cahiers du Cinema considered it the first “modern” film). A favorite of Langlois, “Journey to Italy” possesses an emotional complexity that was years ahead of its time.
Special programs, Visiting Artist Screening and Discussion, John Smith, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, Block Museum of Art, Pick-Laudati Auditorium, FREE (approximately 100 minutes). Together with Northwestern’s department of art theory and practice, CATE (Conversations at the Edge), and the University of Chicago’s Film Studies Center, Block Cinema will co-host an in-person visit by London-based, experimental filmmaker John Smith for a screening and a discussion. A prolific filmmaker since the early 1970s, Smith’s film and video work combines humor with word, sound and image play. His Oct. 15 program includes work from 1975 to 2001, focusing on themes as disparate as linguistic theory, amphibians and skinheads. Films include “Associations,” “Om,” “Gargantuan,” “Lost Sound” and “Shepherd’s Delight.” The screening is sponsored by Weinberg College’s department of art theory and practice.
Fantastic Voyages, “Space is the Place,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, FREE (John Coney, 1974, United States, 35mm, 85 minutes). The inimitable jazz musician and far out futurist Sun Ra plays himself in this sci-fi feature in which he travels through space and time to save the black race while being pursued by FBI agents who want to assassinate him. An avant-garde jazz score by Sun Ra himself (a favorite figure of Block Museum featured artist Wangechi Mutu) rounds out this Afro-futurist classic. This year marks not only Sun Ra’s centennial, but also the film’s 40th anniversary.
Tribute To Henri Langlois, “The Shanghai Gesture,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 24 (Josef von Sternberg, 1941, United States, 35mm, 91 minutes). Disappointed by the conventional offerings at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1949, Langlois and author/filmmaker Jean Cocteau organized a film festival in nearby Biarritz that they named “Festival du Film Maudit,” meaning “cursed” or “damned” films. Included were many films that were overlooked or dismissed by critics. One of these was “The Shanghai Gesture,” which follows the exploits of Mother Gin Sling (Ona Munson), the outrageously coiffed proprietress of the city’s most notorious gambling den (designed to resemble Dante’s circles of hell). Gene Tierney stars as the troubled daughter of Gin Sling’s former lover, and Victor Mature plays a Fez-wearing hustler. The archival 35mm print is from the George Eastman House.
Fantastic Voyages, “Fantastic Planet,” 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30, FREE (Rene Laloux, 1973, France and Czechoslovakia, 35mm, 72 minutes.) An animated cult classic, “Fantastic Planet” is set in a terrifying future world in which Oms (diminutive human-like beings) are kept as pets or exterminated by the Traggs (giant blue creatures) until one Om escapes and struggles to unite his species before they are eradicated. Though dark in subject matter, “Fantastic Planet” is strange, beautiful and richly constructed. Note: Due to its violent and sexual content this film may be unsuitable for younger audiences. The film inspired Block Museum guest artist Wangechi Mutu’s “The End of eating Everything,” featuring singer/songwriter Santigold. The Block will screen Mutu’s 8-minute, 10-second on-loop video in the Alsdorf Gallery through Nov. 30.
Tribute to Henri Langlois, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 31 (Robert Wiene, 1920, Germany, DCP, 75 minutes). How are the mysterious Dr. Caligari and his sinister somnambulist Caesar able to predict the future? What do they have to do with the recent murders in Holstenwall? A monumental work whose influence on popular culture and the horror genre is difficult to overstate, “Caligari,” with its iconic Expressionist sets, is a film that demands to be seen on the big screen. Presented in a new digital restoration. Pianist David Drazin will provide live musical accompaniment.