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Classic Film Series Fall 2004
FRIDAYS at 7:30 p.m.
(Unless otherwise noted)
Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue
UAlbany's Downtown Campus
September / October / November / December

   September 10
Directed by David Fincher
(United States/Germany, 1999, 139 minutes, color, 35mm)
Starring Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf
Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

This hyperkinetic, blood-spattered, thought-provoking adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's outré best-selling novel features Edward Norton as a "normal" guy in a dead-end job, and Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden, a self-help guru who promotes bare-knuckles fighting as the cure for American male angst. The film's razor-sharp quotable script, outstanding performance by Norton and Pitt, and off-kilter art direction enhance one of the most inventive satires of modern consumer culture ever to appear on film.

Chuck Palahniuk

NOTE: Chuck Palahniuk, on whose novel the movie FIGHT CLUB is based, will appear at the Writers Institute on Tuesday, September 21st at 8:00 p.m. Reading, Main Theatre, PAC. Autographs and photo ops begin at 7:00 p.m.

Kevin's Film Notes

   October 1
(United Kingdom, 1948, 95 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
Directed by Carol Reed
Starring Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel, Bobby Henrey
Script and story by Graham Greene

Better-known for their comic film noir, THE THIRD MAN, filmmaker Carol Reed and fiction writer Graham Greene collaborated one year earlier on this Oscar-nominated thriller, based on Greene's short story, "The Basement Room." Phillipe, the eight-year-old son of the French ambassador to England, idolizes Baines, the kindly butler. When Baines is accused of murdering his wife, Phillipe is torn between his feelings of friendship, and his own suspicions of the butler's guilt. The film will be screened in honor of the birth centennial of Graham Greene, born in Berkhamstead, Hertfordshire, October 2, 1904.

Kevin's Film Note

   October 8
(United Kingdom, 1929, 108 minutes, b&w and color tinted, 35mm, silent)
Directed by E. A. Dupont
Script by Arnold Bennett
Starring Anna May Wong, Gilda Gray, Jameson Thomas

Though she receives second-billing, Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong is the true star of this British-made masterpiece by German director E. A. Dupont, a leading filmmaker of the Silent Era. Wong portrays Shosho, a kitchen maid at a London nightclub, who is transformed overnight into a stage celebrity. Neglected for 75 years, PICCADILLY was meticulously restored and reissued by the British Film Institute in 2003. The subject of three recently published biographies, and a soon-to-be-released documentary, Anna May Wong is currently being hailed by film historians as an important rediscovery.

Silents Are Golden.com
Kevin's Film Note

   October 15
Chac the Rain GodCHAC THE RAIN GOD
(Mexico/Panama, 1974, 95 minutes, color and b&w, 35mm)
Directed by Rolando Klein
Starring Pablo Canche Balam, Alonzo Mendez Ton, Sebastian Santis
In Tzeltal and Mayan with English subtitles

Inspired by the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the Maya, CHAC THE RAIN GOD is a beautifully composed film shot with nonprofessional actors in the villages and mountains of Chiapas, Mexico. Chilean director Rolando Klein lived in a Tzeltal village for two years before recruiting locals to participate in the project. In the midst of a terrible drought, thirteen Tzeltal men set out to find a reclusive sage, a man versed in ancient knowledge who may be able to rescue their village. Widely praised at the time of its release, the film vanished after a short run. Milestone Films obtained the negative and struck a new, restored print for a second run in arthouse theaters.

Film Notes

   October 22 (NOTE: 7:00 p.m. START TIME)
(United States/France/United Kingdom, 2003, 96 minutes, color, 35mm)
Directed by Neil LaBute
Starring Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, Frederick Weller

The bland surfaces of Neil LaBute's dramas often conceal worlds of astonishing cruelty, in which men and women enjoy manipulating and doing harm to one another. In THE SHAPE OF THINGS, a pleasant, dorky museum guard named Adam becomes involved with an ambitious art student named Evelyn. Over time, Adam's friends begin to notice changes in his appearance: his hairstyle, his weight, his clothes, and more. As it unfolds, LaBute's faithful adaptation of his stage play becomes a terrifying parable about modern love and art.

Neil LaButeThis screening will be followed by film commentary by director Neil LaBute, who will also hold a 4:15 p.m. Seminar earlier in the day in the Recital Hall, PAC (on the uptown campus).

Kevin's Film Note

   October 29
The Old Dark HouseHalloween Treat

(United States, 1932, 70 minutes, b&w, 16mm)
Directed by James Whale
Starring Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton

THE OLD DARK HOUSE is a classic film from James Whale, one of the architects of the horror genre, who is also the subject of Bill Condon's Oscar-winning 1998 film, GODS AND MONSTERS. Seeking shelter from a storm in the Welsh countryside, several travellers find themselves trapped in a spooky, old mansion. Blending English gothic horror with a delightful sense of the absurd, the film features well-drawn characters, deft staging, and beautifully composed images. Believed to be lost for decades, THE OLD DARK HOUSE was rediscovered and restored by experimental director Curtis Harrington in the early 1970s.

Kevin's Film Notes
DVD Review
James Whale Bio

   November 5
(China, 2002, 92 minutes, color, 35mm)
Directed by Li Yang
Starring Li Qiang, Wang Baoqiang, Wang Shuangbao
In Mandarin with English subtitle

Primarily a noir thriller, BLIND SHAFT features two unscrupulous grifters who have engineered a successful scam to blackmail the owners of illegal coal mines in northwest China. The scam involves killing miners, faking mine collapses, and threatening to report the "accidents" to the authorities. Filmed using hidden cameras in coal mines, labor camps, and town markets, BLIND SHAFT also serves as a nonfiction exposé of labor conditions in a country where unions are illegal and where nearly 5,000 miners are killed in work accidents every year. Banned in China, the film received the Silver Bear Award for "Artistic Contribution" at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival.

Kevin's Film Notes
Kino International

   November 11 (NOTE: Special THURSDAY screening)
(Ireland/United Kingdom, 1996, 100 minutes, color, 35mm)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Starring Colm Meaney, Donal O'Kelly, Ger Ryan, Caroline Rothwell
Script and novel by Roddy Doyle

Adapted from Roddy Doyle's Booker Prize-nominated novel, THE VAN follows the hilarious adventures of two unemployed Irishmen who decide to go into business for themselves as the proprietors of a fish-and-chips van. Though it stands alone, THE VAN is the third film comedy based on Doyle's "Barrytown trilogy" of novels. It is also the third to feature Colm Meaney as the patriarch of an unruly North Dublin family, and the second to be directed by Stephen Frears. Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, THE VAN is a big-hearted, big-bellied movie that celebrates the simple pleasures of working-class life, and the resiliency of working-class people.

Roddy DoyleNOTE: Roddy Doyle, on whose novel THE VAN is based, will appear at the Writers Institute on Friday, November 12th: 4:15 p.m. Seminar in the Recital Hall, PAC and 8:00 p.m. Reading at Page Hall.

Slate Review (Luc Sante)
Kevin's Film Notes

   November 19
(France, 1956, 99 minutes, b&w, 35mm)
Directed by Robert Bresson
Starring François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock

Robert Bresson, influential French filmmaker, received "Best Director" at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival for this minimalist tale of a man interned in a Nazi prison camp. Based on the true account of André Devigny, a leading figure of the French Resistance, the film follows the day-to-day experiences of the prisoner, Fontaine, who spends every waking hour devising a plan for his escape. Bresson employs tight camera angles and closed frames throughout the film in order to enhance feelings of entrapment and claustrophobia. Many critics consider A MAN ESCAPED to be Bresson's finest work.

Kevin's Film Note

   December 3
(United States, 1946, 100 minutes, b&w, 35mm)
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Starring Jennifer Jones, Charles Boyer, Peter Lawford

Jennifer Jones plays the title role in this witty satire of the British class system based on the novel by Margery Sharp. A plumber's niece, Cluny aspires to be a plumber herself, though her ambitions are socially unacceptable. To keep her out of trouble, her uncle packs her off to work as a maid on an English country estate, but unlike the other servants, she refuses to "know her place." Charles Boyer provides the main love interest as a Czech intellectual fleeing from Nazi persecution. Buoyed by a cast of brilliant character actors, CLUNY BROWN was the final completed film of Ernst Lubitsch, the émigré director who helped to define American comedy.

"A lovely, easy going comedy, full of small surprising touches." - Pauline Kael

"Delightful comedy...takes hilarious pot-shots at the British class system, with the help of a sterling cast of character actors." - Leonard Maltin

"Lubitsch's last film and one of his most engaging comedies." - Time Out (London)

Kevin's Film Notes