Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jun 15-18: Soul Food Classics in Janus Film Series

Fabulous chance to see many of the great films on the big screen, most in pristine new 35mm prints, as Pacific Cinematheque does a retrospective of Janus films, the acclaimed distributor of cinephile specialties. First a list of what's showing, followed by detail on the specifically "soul food" titles.
The 400 Blows
Jules and Jim
Antoine and Colette + Zéro de conduite
Cléo from 5 to 7
Summer with Monika
The Earrings of Madame de…
Death of a Cyclist
Cría Cuervos
The Seventh Seal
Day of Wrath
Wild Strawberries
Fires on the Plain
The Organizer
The Lady Vanishes
High and Low
The Cranes Are Flying
Ballad of a Soldier
W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism

The Seventh Seal
Friday, June 15 – 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 16 – 9:30 pm
Sunday, June 17 – 7:30 pm
Sweden 1957. Director: Ingmar Bergman. A very modern meditation on the absence of God, presented in the guise of a medieval morality play, The Seventh Seal cemented Ingmar Bergman's reputation as a Serious Artist, and remains one of cinema's most famous (and most parodied) works. Max von Sydow stars as Antonius Blok, a battle-weary knight who returns from the Crusades to find his native Sweden ravaged by plague. Observing the horrors around him – disease-ridden peasants dying gruesome deaths, religious zealots parading in orgies of self-flagellation, fear-crazed vigilantes burning “witches” at the stake – the once-pious knight begins to doubt the existence of a God who would permit such suffering. When the white-faced, black-robed figure of Death finally comes for him also, Blok gains a brief reprieve by challenging the spectre to a game of chess he must inevitably lose. The Seventh Seal has achieved iconographic status in the popular imagination, and contains some of film's most unforgettable images. It was also something of a milestone in “intellectual” or “serious” cinema, and was instrumental in creating the art house vogue for Bergman's work. “Bergman's most ambitious film” (Georges Sadoul). B&W, 35mm, in Swedish with English subtitles. 95 mins.

Day of Wrath
Friday, June 15 – 9:20 pm
Saturday, June 16 – 7:30 pm
Monday, June 18 – 9:20 pm
Denmark 1943. Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer. Perhaps the greatest film ever made by one of the greatest filmmakers who ever lived” (2006 New York Film Festival), this 1943 drama, made during the darkest days of Denmark's Nazi occupation, exemplifies the deliberate, intense, beautifully austere style for which Dreyer's films are celebrated – a style Paul Schrader famously described, with that of Ozu and Bresson, as “transcendental.” In a small Danish village in the early 17th-century, an aging pastor has an elderly woman burned at the stake as a witch, and is cursed by her as she dies. The pastor's young wife is unhappy Anne (Lisbeth Movin, in an extraordinary performance), daughter of an accused witch he once spared. When Martin, the pastor's son by a previous marriage, returns from sea, Anne falls in love with him – and finds herself accused of witchcraft. Many of Dreyer's key concerns here find expression: questions of faith, problems of good and evil, suffering and martyrdom, the psychology of victimized women. (Dreyer's own mother died a horrible death after an unsuccessful abortion). “The masterpiece of a genius of cinema ... The use of extended silences and ambiguity, the portrayal of states of being, and the poetic inflections of the whole presage the modern cinema and set it a standard of excellence seldom surpassed” (Amos Vogel). B&W, 35mm, in Danish with English sub-titles. 105 mins.

Wild Strawberries
Sunday, June 17 – 9:20 pm
Monday, June 18 – 7:30 pm
Sweden 1957. Director: Ingmar Bergman. Winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin in 1958, and now often cited as one of Bergman's greatest films, Wild Strawberries is an intensely moving, lyrical work of affirmation and reconciliation. Victor Sjöström, Sweden's pre-eminent director before Bergman, gives “the finest performance in any Bergman film” (James Monaco) as Isak Borg, an aging, eminent professor travelling by car from Stockholm to Lund, where he is to receive an honorary degree. Accompanying him is daughter-in-law Marianne (Ingrid Thulin), whose marriage to Borg's son Evald (Gunnar Björnstrand) is deeply troubled. A flood of memories, daydreams, and nightmares assails the elderly protagonist along the way, forcing him to take stock of his life, re-evaluate his relationships, confront his shortcomings, and accept his mortality. The drama unfolds over a 24-hour period; the dream sequences are amongst the most memorable in the Bergman canon, while the single-shot transitions, from present to past and back again, are impressive. “In every respect a great film ... a profoundly modern work of art” (Eugene Archer). “The best Bergman film of the Fifties, much closer to a true philosophical tragedy than his more ambitious The Seventh Seal ” (Georges Sadoul). B&W, 35mm, in Swedish with English subtitles. 94 mins.

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