Tuesday, October 3, 2017

"Exhilarating!" What Critics are Saying about DOLORES, Opening 10/6 at the AFS Cinema

It's so rare to find a documentary that enfolds you in the sweep of monumental historic events, presents a hero whose accomplishments shine a light for future generations, and does it with such good humor and rousing execution.

DOLORES, the extraordinary new doc about the legendary activist Dolores Huerta, does all these things. You will be on the edge of your seat as you hear about the sometimes bitter struggles of farm-workers to secure their basic human rights. Your heart will swell with admiration as the diminutive Huerta stands tall and delivers the truth to power even in the face of beatings and recrimination. And, if you're smart, you'll listen closely to the important lessons this extraordinary woman, now 87 years of age and still going strong, has to share.

The film, directed by Peter Bratt, features interviews with Dolores Huerta and the people who know her best and the archival footage restored and uncovered for the film is utterly fascinating.

Tickets for the AFS Cinema's run of DOLORES at the AFS Cinema, starting October 6, are on sale now.

Check out what the critics have to say about DOLORES, currently boasting a 100% score at Rotten Tomatoes:

David Talbot of the San Francisco Chronicle says: “DOLORES delivers the inspirational jolt we need”

Dennis Harvey of Variety says: “DOLORES crams a great deal of information, themes, and diverse archival materials into a sharp, cogent whole, tied together by latter-day interviews with Huerta, family members, and esteemed colleagues/supporters"

Duane Byrge from the Hollywood Reporter writes: “Mixing historical footage and interviews with her family and pertinent social activists of ‘the day,’ director Peter Bratt distills the complexity of an unstoppable woman and the impact she brought not only to workers' rights but to the expanding role of women at that time.”

And in the Washington Post, Lora Grady says: "DOLORES is a fascinating corrective to 50-plus years of American history. It's educational, to be sure, but also exhilarating, inspiring and deeply emotional.

Watch the trailer here:

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Watch This: Richard Linklater Talks About the '80s and his Upcoming Screening Series

The third installment of Jewels In The Wasteland, a series of screenings of films from the 1980's. programmed and hosted by Richard Linklater, is right around the corner.

The first screening of the series is DRUGSTORE COWBOY on Wednesday, October 4, and the series continues into December.

The October titles are currently on sale here.

At a press conference last week, Linklater gave some insight into why he has chosen to turn the spotlight on this era.

Photo credit: David Brendan Hall

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

CARPINTEROS is the Best Dominican Prison Action-Romance Movie of All Time

Of course, CARPINTEROS is the only Dominican Prison Action-Romance movie of all time. It's still really good. It blasts through the cheapness and poverty of its means with performances and a story to remember. The handheld cameras and actual prison locations work in the film's favor as we follow an new inmate into the prison. Played by Jean Jean, the man takes in the lay of the land and finds himself communicating via sign language with the inmates of an adjoining women's prison. The tough, murderous leader of the cell block has Jean Jean send some messages to his girlfriend, and, most inconveniently, the pair fall in love. 

This sets off a chain of events that ends in violence and revenge. Throughout, the filmmaking and acting is excellent and the film already feels like a modern action classic.

Filmed in a real prison in the Dominican Republic, using real inmates as extras, the film has an authenticity that can’t be bought. Handheld camerawork and crowd scenes imbued with authentic tension and anger suggest that this could be a particularly exciting documentary, rather than a narrative film. The film captures the claustrophobic, chaotic feel of the notorious Najayo Prison, providing a perfect backdrop for the violent battle that ensues.

The trailer is a little adult-contemporary for my taste, but it gives you a sense of what you'll be looking at.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Watch This: Music Of Resistance from Miriam Makeba, Mama Africa

Even if the name Miriam Makeba doesn’t ring a bell immediately, you’ll probably recognize this undeniably catchy pop song that made her famous in America- “Pata Pata’.

With swinging sixties style, Makeba was one of the first singers to bring the culture of South Africa to American audiences. Nicknamed ‘Mama Africa’, Makeba was an international celebrity, helping create and popularize the world music genre. She had an award-winning recording career, appeared on countless tv shows, and was even personally asked by President Kennedy (who was a big fan) to sing at his birthday party.

But Makeba was more than a striking face with killer pipes. She used her popularity to raise awareness about the injustices happening in her homeland under apartheid, and was an active participant in the civil rights movement in America. She testified against apartheid at the United Nations, and was later named a UN Goodwill Ambassador. Her importance on the political stage was such that when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison, he made it his mission to persuade her to return to South Africa. She continued an active recording and political career until her death in 2008.

Now is the perfect time to revisit Makeba’s legacy. MAMA AFRICA is a vibrant documentary of a woman who was a trailblazer in both the artistic and political worlds. The film is filled with gorgeous archival footage of her best musical performances and engrossing interviews with fellow artists and activists. While Makeba’s personal life story is engaging enough, the film also documents some of the most important social justice revolutions of the past 50 years, capturing the spirit and energy of the causes she championed throughout her life.

Today, Makeba’s story is just as relevant as it was in the past. Come for the tunes, stay for the revolution! Join us for MAMA AFRICA, screening as part of the ongoing Cinema Of Resistance series, at the AFS Cinema September 23 and 30.

(Lisa Dreyer)

Friday, September 8, 2017

"Black Mirror for the Big Screen"... What Critics are saying about MARJORIE PRIME

Tim Robbins and Jon Hamm

MARJORIE PRIME, the new film by Michael Almereyda (HAMLET [2000], EXPERIMENTER), opens today at AFS Cinema. Alemereyda's adaptation of Jordan Harrison's Pulitzer-Nominated play features an all-star cast including Jon Hamm, Lois Smith, Geena Davis, and Tim Robbins. Set in the near future, a time of artificial intelligence: 86-year-old Marjorie (Smith)—a jumble of disparate, fading memories—has a handsome new companion (Hamm) who looks like her deceased husband and is programmed to feed the story of her life back to her.

We're fans of the movie here at AFS, but we'd also like to share a few of the glowing reviews from critics:

“MARJORIE PRIME [is] one of the most riveting, moving films of the year.” – Marc Savlov, The Austin Chronicle

"There's more going on in this movie's 90-plus minutes than in many summer blockbusters nearly twice its length" - Glenn Kenny, New York Times Critics' Pick

"MARJORIE PRIME is exquisite - beautiful, intense, shivering with empathy." - David Edelstein, Vulture

“MARJORIE PRIME contains asteadily accumulating stream of ingenious plot twists, sometimes very subtle orsubtly revealed.” – Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Meet AFS' New Filmmaker & Community Media Resource Director Erica Deiparine-Sugars

We interviewed our new colleague, Erica Deiparine-Sugars, who has just joined us as Director of Programs for AFS’s Filmmaker and Community Media Resources Department. Erica most recently worked in the public media system at ITVS, where she spent nine years collaborating with filmmakers as the Managing Director of Programming and Production. Erica’s new role will encompass artist services, education and community media programming out of Austin Public, our community media center and the home of the public access television stations for the City of Austin.
AFS Viewfinders: Tell us more about your background, and some of the highlights of your over 20 years working in media.

Erica Deiparine-Sugars: My background is in film and TV production. As a student in production, I had the opportunity to intern with a few television stations, mostly in the areas of live news or current affairs programs. While I found more opportunities in broadcast TV, I always tried to work on short films and independent projects where I could. I worked at KXAN in Austin in the mid-1990’s, first on the floor crew then as a director for the morning news broadcast. I have a lot of fond memories from that time. 
I got interested in media literacy education later while I was in my grad program in documentary production. I started working with a local youth media organization in Chicago called CTVN (Community Television Network) that had a long-running youth-produced program on Chicago Access Network TV (CAN-TV). The show is over 30-years old! That experience really had an impact on my career and my desire to support more storytelling by and for communities that are underrepresented or ignored by mainstream media. 
For the last nine years, I worked for ITVS, a non-profit organization that funds, co-produces and presents independent documentary films for public television. I headed up the team that selected the content to fund and worked with independent producers through development and/or production. I was so fortunate to work with and learn from some amazing independent filmmakers. I am very proud to mention the organization just received an Institutional Peabody Award this past Spring and is the recipient of the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences 2017 Governors Award.

AFS Viewfinders: What excites you most about this move? Both about Austin, and career-wise? 
Erica Deiparine-Sugars: I have always been interested in working with mission-driven media organizations that are dedicated to supporting diversity of voices and making media accessible to all people. AFS’ origin story and mission really resonates with me. 
I have been working specifically with documentary filmmakers and public media over these last nine years so I am looking forward to the ability to expand my experiences with narrative filmmakers and community media makers. AFS also has a very dedicated and talented staff. There is an excitement and optimism about the new opportunities and possibilities on the horizon with Austin Public and now, the AFS Cinema. It’s hard not to want to be a part of it. 
And I love Austin. I moved to Austin in 1994 after I finished college. Like most people entering the film/TV industry, you hustle and try to jump into a lot of things. The people I met and worked with were really supportive. It is the place I feel that I got my start. I know that much has changed both with the city and the industry since I left Austin in 1997. Like many major cities, there has been a lot of growth and with it cultural shifts. But what I admire is that Austin has always been rich in creative talent and innovative thinking yet strives to stay unique and independent. I also grew up in the South (New Orleans) so Austin’s friendly, laidback cultural vibe suites me. 
AFS Viewfinders: What is your take on why media literacy is important to our community?

Erica Deiparine-Sugars: Ohh—this is a juicy question and one that I could discuss in length. So I will try to be brief. But I am encouraged by AFS commitment to media literacy and hope there are more opportunities to engage with the community around this. 
I have always believed media literacy to be a basic skill in the digital age. The definition of media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in various forms. I know most people think that “media literacy” seems overly academic but it is really a critical component for being an active and informed member of society. Many of us have likely used some part of these skills as we interact with media and communicate daily; watching TV, searching the internet, listening to music, posting a photo on Instagram, etc. These daily images, sounds and words have an affect on our behaviors, feelings and thoughts and those of our peers whether or not we are fully aware of it. Media literacy is about being active and conscious. It is the ability to really step back and think critically about what is going on. 
The mastery of these skills can actually level the power dynamic that exists in current “mass” commercial media. In addition to being a 21st century learning skill, media literacy is also one that supports social justice and equity as more people, people from different communities and socioeconomic backgrounds can access, understand and create their own media. They can start to control their own images. 
AFS Viewfinders: As a storyteller, what inspires you in your work? What drives you to help people tell their own stories? 
Erica Deiparine-Sugars: Like many of my peers, I grew up watching my fair share of television and going to movies. What struck me was that a lot of people on TV and in the films I saw didn’t look like me or have experiences that I could really identify with. Additionally, there was often a lot of homogeneity or generalities in the ways that women and people of color were portrayed. They weren’t always prominent or important characters in the storytelling. I remember being amazed and excited when I did see stories about women and communities of color particularly if it showed me something new or gave me a different perspective. I wanted more and knew there were so many stories out there that weren’t being told. 
AFS Viewfinders: Now for the required AFS Viewfinders question-- what are some of the films that have most strongly influenced you?

Erica Deiparine-Sugars: My favorite movies list is growing long and varied. So I’ll just list a few older ones (in no particular order) that have stuck with me. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

"So Much Innocence": Wes Anderson on Truffaut's SMALL CHANGE

Francois Truffaut & cast members, behind the scenes of SMALL CHANGE

Francois Truffaut's 1976 film SMALL CHANGE screens twice at the AFS Cinema in 35mm. On Sunday 8/27, as part of the family-friendly Sunday School program and as an encore screening on Wednesday 8/30.

In 2002, when director Wes Anderson, fresh from THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, was approached by the New York Times to talk about a movie that was deeply meaningful to him, he chose Truffaut's SMALL CHANGE, a charming, mostly improvised comedy about school kids in a small French town. The interview is very interesting, especially in light of some of Anderson's subsequent work, especially the very SMALL CHANGE influenced MOONRISE KINGDOM.

Anderson goes on at some length about SMALL CHANGE's specialness:
''There are all of these threads, all of these people and story lines, but it also feels very free, as though we can join any character at any moment. There are some characters who have just one scene or just one moment, and then a few who kind of continue throughout the whole movie and have their own developing stories. But when they're introduced, they're all introduced in the same way, so you're never sure who is going to turn out to be important and who's making their only appearance. It's very rare to introduce characters that way, yet it doesn't feel like a stunt the way Truffaut does it. It feels very natural.''

And remembers his time as an undergrad at the University of Texas when he read Truffaut's letters and gained a greater insight about the man and his work. He describes a letter from the very young Truffaut to a friend:
''There is a letter of apology from Truffaut that is so overstated,'' he said. ''The language is very flowery, and you get the feeling that, in this relationship, Truffaut felt himself to be intellectually superior and was the dominant personality between the two. But at this point, he was clearly guilty and kind of vulnerable and exposed, and he was trying to maintain the upper hand in their relationship at the same time he couldn't be more guilty. What's interesting is to see how this kid, who came from such a brutal background, went through all of this and came out, in the 1970's, with this humane, gentle attitude about it all.''

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The New 4k Reissue of SUSPIRIA Looks Amazing: Here's Why

The AFS Cinema is proud to present the new restoration of horror legend Dario Argento's 1977 horror classic SUSPIRIA, starting September 1. Tickets are on sale now.

Over the past four years, Synapse Films has partnered with some heavy hitters to reconstruct what is sure to be the definitive version of Argento's seminal vision. Presented in its original 98 minute runtime, rescanned from the original uncut, uncensored Italian 35mm camera negative in 4K resolution at Technicolor Rome in Italy, with the supervision of Argento's director of photography Lucian Tovoli, it's possible the film has never looked better.

Colors are everything in this film, and Tovoli's supervision has ensured they pop like severed arteries. Possibly an even bigger revelation is the sound, sourced from the original 35mm magnetic tape four-track soundtrack which accompanied SUSPIRIA during its initial first-run tour through Europe in the 1970s and has not been heard since—the pulsing score performed by longtime Argento collaborators and Italian progressive rock legends Goblin is louder and more present than ever.

The film depicts the terrifying experience of an American ballet dancer Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), as she arrives in Germany to study at the Tanz Dance Academy. During the course of her study, Suzy realizes the school, its origins, and instructors are not what they seem in this strangely beautiful nightmare of a film. Argento's remarkably bold camera movements explore the diabolically decadent cinematic environment while each measure of Goblin's frenetic, bewitching soundtrack pulls audiences further from safety. Blood pours and screams resound as each meticulously crafted frame of fear grips the screen. 

Over the years, SUSPIRIA has become a cult staple thanks to home video, its fantasy casting spells over late night party-goers and cinematic thrill seekers. And Argento's decidedly fashionable flourish in designing death continues to hex audiences worldwide. While Argento made a good number of beloved films, nothing quite affects audiences like SUSPIRIA, arguably the purest distillation of his cinematic vision.

Monday, August 21, 2017

"A Poetic Spellbinder..." What Critics are Saying About COLUMBUS

If your social media feed looks anything like mine, you've been hearing more and more people singing the praises of the terrifically engaging new film COLUMBUS. It is certainly the best-reviewed film out there today (98% on the Tomatometer), and many of the critics are pulling out the superlatives. Note Richard Brody's review below. Brody is not a guy who dusts off words like "genius" very often.

COLUMBUS opens at the AFS Cinema this weekWriter/director Kogonada will join us for our Saturday night 8/26 screening - tickets are going fast - and we look forward to talking with all our friends about this moving and daring film that shows us many new facets of our lives and surroundings. We've written about Kogonada's noted video essays before, and we can see in COLUMBUS how well he has absorbed the lessons taught by his filmmaking masters.

Yes, it really is about two people (John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson) who walk around Columbus, Indiana talking about architecture. Along the way, it becomes visual music as the characters' tumultuous inner lives are soothed and guided by the modernist spaces around them. Full admission: this kind of narrative is a tightrope walk, but we're pleased to report that Kogonada succeeds with aplomb and even manages to add some graceful flourishes along the way.

But if you don't believe us, check out what these critics have to say.

The New Yorker's Richard Brody says "Few performances—and few films—glow as brightly with the gemlike fire of precocious genius."

The Playlists' Jessica Kiang calls it "a gentle but sharply defined story, brimming with grace, compassion and performances of perfect naturalism, it is unashamedly intellectual yet deeply human."

Variety's Geoff Berkshire calls COLUMBUS a "hypnotically paced drama carried by the serendipitous odd-couple pairing of John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson is lovely and tender, marking Kogonada as an auteur to watch."

Justin Chang for the Los Angeles times writes, "What's remarkable about this wondrously assured debut is that technique never overwhelms feeling, in part because Kogonada makes the two seem inextricably, harmoniously linked."

Friday, August 18, 2017

What the Critics are Saying About Alejandro Jodorowsky's ENDLESS POETRY

Portrait of the artist as a young man, relentlessly hounded by winged death, ceaselessly threshing the tumultuous sea in a, uh, purple boat

The Chilean-born writer/director Alejandro Jodorowsky has been making films for a long time - his first feature film was made nearly 50 years ago - but he was nearly 40 years of age then, and had been active as a writer, puppeteer and mime for years before then.

In his latest film ENDLESS POETRY, the 88-year old Jodorowsky tells an autobiographical tale that, for all its veracity to the circumstances of his life, is on a par with the haunting surreal-pulp aesthetic that permeates his earlier films like THE HOLY MOUNTAIN and SANTA SANGRE.

The film, which opens today at the AFS Cinema, has been roundly lauded by critics. Here's a bit of what they're saying:

Austin Chronicle's Marjorie Baumgarten offers a "guarantee the viewer will not go home unsated."

Aaron Hillis at the Village Voice calls it, "Loopy, irreverent, and more intensely personal than anything its mystic creator has invented before."

Simon Abrams of RogerEbert.com says, "ENDLESS POETRY is as galvanizing as a lightning rod because it's equally accepting, and intolerant, a pro-individualist work about celebrating and cultivating yourself."

Variety's Owen Gleiberman says, "Make no mistake: ENDLESS POETRY is still very much a Jodorowsky film, dotted with his trademark phantasmagorical conceits, which are like candified bursts of comic-book magic realism. Yet more than any previous Jodorowsky opus, it’s also a work of disciplined and touching emotional resonance."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Joan Crawford: Forsaking All Others

The AFS Essential Cinema Series Bette & Joan, spotlighting two of the greatest film actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, is currently underway at the AFS Cinema. The series culminates in a Movie Madness party and screening of WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? on August 25.

Though they shared a profession and were contemporaries, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were notorious enemies. Both were fine actresses, and both had long careers that went through many seasons, from their years of radiant youth, through to their critically acclaimed peak years, and, much later, as stars of horror and thriller films in the PSYCHO mold. For this Essential Cinema series we lightly scratch the surface of these remarkable careers. Naturally we conclude it with the film that brought their rivalry to a screaming climax, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

See the trailer here:

Born Lucille LeSueur in San Antonio sometime between 1904 and 1906, the young woman who was to later be known as Joan Crawford developed an affection for the stage at an early age. Her stepfather ran the Opera House in the family's adopted hometown of Lawton, Oklahoma and the young Lucille was exposed to a wide variety of touring performers. Her home life, however was unhappy. The stepfather was a lech at home and an embezzler at work.

The family relocated to Kansas City, where the mother and stepfather soon split up and pre-teen Joan was compelled to work her way through Catholic school, scrubbing toilets. All this time, Crawford harbored a love of show business and as she grew up she became an uncommonly beautiful young woman with enormous eyes and radiant good health. Soon, show business began to meet her halfway.

She became a chorus girl in a number of traveling revues and, while in New York, she caught the eye of a talent scout who took a screen test of the gorgeous young woman and sent it to Hollywood. MGM, then the most prestigious studio in the movie capital, signed her to a modest contract in 1924. She was to remain with MGM for nearly nineteen years, becoming in the process one of the biggest stars in Hollywood and suffering a downfall in popularity - largely caused by a decline in script quality - that mirrored the arc of her contemporary and rival Bette Davis.

During the course of her stardom she largely created the template for what we consider a glamorous movie star to be. She capped her teeth, spent endless hours toning her legs and shoulders, drove herself to study elocution, acting, modeling, etc. She made herself into a kind of dream figure and set the standard for Hollywood goddesses to follow. In GRAND HOTEL she holds her own against the stars Greta Garbo and John Barrymore. She had already become a capital-S star.

When Crawford was dumped by MGM in 1943, she pursued her comeback with the same dedication and fervor, and it worked. She signed a budget deal with Warner Brothers to do three films. The first two movies were not hits but she had her eye on one property - an adaptation of James M. Cain's novel "Mildred Pierce." It was Bette Davis who Warner Brothers' contract director Michael Curtiz coveted for the role of Mildred, but Davis turned him down. He pursued his second choice, free agent Barbara Stanwyck, but studio head Jack Warner insisted that the role go to Crawford.

The rest is history. Crawford brought all her considerable talent to the role. It was a sensation at the box office and in the critic's columns and Crawford won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Now a bigger star than ever, Crawford became the Queen of the Hollywood Melodrama and sustained this run for several years.

As her star fell for the final time, Crawford stayed active in the business world and played occasional parts. Even in such unfortunate films as William Castle's STRAIT-JACKET and the real bottom-of-the-barrel TROG, she maintained her dignity, even when the rest of the production did not rise to her standard.

Here are the remaining titles in the Bette & Joan series:

GRAND HOTEL 8/10 & 12
Edmund Goulding, USA, 1934, 35mm, 112 min

At the center of this soapy, star-studded MGM spectacular is their versatile young romantic actress Joan Crawford, third-billed after superstars Greta Garbo and John Barrymore. Amid the parade of glamour and decadence, Crawford's beauty stands out as the film’s symbol of life and hope.

JEZEBEL 8/17 & 19
William Wyler, USA, 1938, 35mm, 104 min.

Bette Davis, passed over for the part of Scarlett O'Hara, goes after the role of a spoiled southern belle with astonishing ferocity in William Wyler's still-surprising costume drama. Henry Fonda ably holds his own as her betrothed.

Michael Curtiz, USA 1945, 35mm, 111 min.

Joan Crawford's career seemed to be at an end in 1945. But her will to survive was mirrored in her next part, the title role in this film, one of her career mileposts. She plays a devoted mother who stands by her daughter through everything, including murder.

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1961, DCP, 134 min.

One of the strangest films ever made in Hollywood, Robert Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY) directs Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in a show business-centered thriller that allows these two great actresses and forces of nature (who genuinely hated one another) to truly vent.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

From Video Essay to Screen: Why Kogonada's COLUMBUS is a Radical Movie

COLUMBUS opens at the AFS Cinema on August 25. Writer/director Kogonada will join us in person for the August 26, 7pm screening and will also attend a free screening on the same afternoon of his collected video essays.

About 5 years ago, a video essay explicating Stanley Kubrick's use of the one-point-perspective appeared on the internet and became a sensation with the group of people I sometimes lovingly call "Criterion nerds." The piece is not only brilliantly edited, it is obviously the work of a terrifically observant and intelligent person, someone who has given cinema a LOT of thought.

Here is the piece, if you haven't seen it. Don't worry, it's short.

This video-essay is one of many. Kogonada has created nearly a score of them, and his peers and acolytes have made this form extremely popular. YouTube and Vimeo are bursting with these cinephile "super-cuts." Some are good. Some betray their makers sophomoric ideas in every frame.

No one really disputes that Koganada is the master of the form. He has since been commissioned by such heavy hitters as the BFI and, the holiness of holinesses, Criterion itself to make these videos.

Super-cut video essays are a world away from narrative films, of course, and, while Kogonada has demonstrated brilliance as an editor and re-composer of other filmmakers' images, what are the odds he could manage a set, work capably with his collaborators, understand the nuances of actors, and deliver a solid film his first time around. There was every reason to think that his frame compositions would be gorgeous (and boy are they ever), but could he be a total filmmaker?

Those of us who have seen his feature COLUMBUS know the answer. He has done it. All that promise, all that brilliance, it lights up the screen. Set in the small city of Columbus, Indiana, an architectural mecca that contains some of the most jaw-dropping examples of mid-century modern buildings, the film is about a pair who come together in the shadow of these structures to make sense of the choices (design-wise and other) that they have made in their lives. This is uncommonly thoughtful writing, by Kogonada himself, and the actors, led by John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, get it.

This is a film that has emerged from a different kind of perspective. Not just the perspective of a Korean immigrant who grew up in the American midwest - that's Koganada's story - but the perspective of a man who absolutely devoured the work of Bergman, Bresson, Kubrick and Tarkovsky via optical discs and has emerged with so many lessons. Fortunately he has the judgment and restraint to share these lessons sparsely and wisely.

Here is the trailer for COLUMBUS. Come see this film with us at the AFS Cinema starting August 25.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What They're Saying about LANDLINE, Opening this Week at AFS Cinema

Director Gillian Robespierre's (OBVIOUS CHILD) comedic second feature LANDLINE has thrown the Los Angeles and New York cinema scenes for a nostalgic loop which The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday calls "a rueful glimpse of a vanished time and place. . . often unexpectedly and guffawingly funny.

Again, here Robespierre teams with actor Jenny Slate (OBVIOUS CHILD, SNL) who stars as Dana, a befuddled twentysomething languishing in 1990s Manhattan. 

Bette Davis: That Certain Woman

The AFS Essential Cinema Series Bette & Joan, spotlighting two of the greatest film actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, starts today, August 3. The series culminates in a Movie Madness party and screening of WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? on August 25.

Though they shared a profession and were contemporaries, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were notorious enemies. Both were fine actresses, and both had long careers that went through many seasons, from their years of radiant youth, through to their critically acclaimed peak years, and, much later, as stars of horror and thriller films in the PSYCHO mold. For this Essential Cinema series we lightly scratch the surface of these remarkable careers. Naturally we conclude it with the film that brought their rivalry to a screaming climax, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

See the trailer here:

Bette Davis was already an experienced stage actress before she came to Hollywood at age 21 in 1930. Signed to an exclusive contract by Universal Pictures, who could never quite figure out how to use her talents, he made a number of low-budget films for Universal and was loaned out to other studios for B-pictures.

In 1932, Warner Brothers picked up her contract and, while the directors were better, the scripts were often still poor, with EX-LADY a pretty fair example of the kind of rote story that was redeemed only by Bette's remarkable personality and presence. When she starred, on a loan-out arrangement, in RKO's IN HUMAN BONDAGE, she was finally able to fully display her volcanic talent. The parts soon got better and her reputation as one of the finest actresses of the screen spread. She won an Academy Award in 1935 for DANGEROUS but the scripts got worse again so in 1936 the headstrong Davis defaulted on her contract with Warner Brothers and went to England to make films there. Warner Brothers soon came to their senses and an agreement was reached to give Davis more prestige pictures.

JEZEBEL (1938) was a kind of gift from Warner Brothers to Davis for her trouble. Though she was considered for the part of Scarlet O'Hara in David O. Selznick's long gestating GONE WITH THE WIND project, she was never a serious candidate. The role she plays in JEZEBEL is much like O'Hara and, under the extraordinarily detailed and careful direction of William Wyler, and with Henry Fonda in support, it is one of her best vehicles and she won the Academy Award for it.

A string of excellent films followed, and Davis' reputation as a premier performer was well established. This was the period of DARK VICTORY, THE LITTLE FOXES and NOW VOYAGER, among other prestige projects. Unfortunately a losing streak at the box office followed and Davis was dropped by Warner's in 1949 only to emerge with a vengeance in 1950 with ALL ABOUT EVE, giving an iconic performance that only she could pull off. The great parts stopped coming, though and it was the sick humor and stunt casting of WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, in which she starred alongside her old rival and bitter enemy Joan Crawford, that brought her back to box office prominence. The film is bitter and razor-edged, and was a major critical and commercial success. Davis was again nominated for an Oscar.

After BABY JANE, Davis found a new audience, and was cast in a number of thrillers, with greatly varying degrees of quality. Her reputation as a 'difficult' actress preceded her and may have restricted her access to the kinds of roles that an eminence of her stature might reasonably have expected. Her final film, for Larry Cohen, was 1989's THE WICKED STEPMOTHER, during the filming of which, true to form, she walked away due to disagreements with the director.

Here are all the titles in the Bette & Joan series:

EX-LADY 8/3 & 5
Robert Florey, USA, 1933, 35mm, 67 min.

Bette Davis shines in this pre-code urban comedy about a couple, played by Davis and Gene Raymond, who have an open marriage, quite a daring idea for the time. Davis, as always, brings new dimensions and a modern flair to the film.

GRAND HOTEL 8/10 & 12
Edmund Goulding, USA, 1934, 35mm, 112 min

At the center of this soapy, star-studded MGM spectacular is their versatile young romantic actress Joan Crawford, third-billed after superstars Greta Garbo and John Barrymore. Amid the parade of glamour and decadence, Crawford's beauty stands out as the film’s symbol of life and hope.

JEZEBEL 8/17 & 19
William Wyler, USA, 1938, 35mm, 104 min.

Bette Davis, passed over for the part of Scarlett O'Hara, goes after the role of a spoiled southern belle with astonishing ferocity in William Wyler's still-surprising costume drama. Henry Fonda ably holds his own as her betrothed.

Michael Curtiz, USA 1945, 35mm, 111 min.

Joan Crawford's career seemed to be at an end in 1945. But her will to survive was mirrored in her next part, the title role in this film, one of her career mileposts. She plays a devoted mother who stands by her daughter through everything, including murder.

Robert Aldrich, USA, 1961, DCP, 134 min.

One of the strangest films ever made in Hollywood, Robert Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY) directs Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in a show business-centered thriller that allows these two great actresses and forces of nature (who genuinely hated one another) to truly vent.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

AFS Goes a Long Way Back with A GHOST STORY Director David Lowery

When David Lowery's film AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS became a breakout hit in 2013, many filmgoers were introduced to this special talent, a writer-director poised to break into the pantheon. But, as it happened, the Austin Film Society was already very familiar with Lowery.

If you only know AFS as the home of film exhibition, it may surprise you to know that AFS has given over 1.7 million dollars to nurture filmmakers and help them make career leaps via the AFS Grant, which you too can apply to receive for your project. This grant is funded by AFS members, donors, and people like you who attend films at the non-profit AFS Cinema.

In 2005, the then 24 year old Lowery applied for an AFS grant to complete his ambitious short film THE OUTLAW SON. With that film in tow, Lowery made the rounds of film festivals and began to put together the building blocks for his first feature ST. NICK, also helped along by a $6,000 AFS Grant in 2007.

When ST. NICK caught the attention of festival programmers, AFS again helped Lowery with a pair of travel grants, so he could attend a lab and festival and further advance his career.

Next, in 2011, Lowery made a short called PIONEER and was again able to travel to Sundance thanks to a $500 AFS travel grant.

By this time, Lowery's talent had been recognized and his career was well under way. After AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, Lowery signed on with Disney to reimagine PETE'S DRAGON and now he has made one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, A GHOST STORY, now playing at the AFS Cinema.

Lowery's films are just a few of the nearly 500 film and video projects that have been partially funded by the AFS Grant. We're proud to be able to help and we hope you'll join us at the AFS Cinema for this remarkable new movie.

You can watch the trailer for A GHOST STORY here:

And as a special bonus, here is the writer-director himself recommending some of his favorite ghost movies. Take notes!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Watch This: Suzanne Ciani Brings Far-Out Synthesis to 80s Kid’s TV

Suzanne Ciani may not be a household name, but the sounds she invented were in every home in America during the early 80s. In addition to her brilliant work as an electronic composer, Ciani pioneered the use of synthesizers to create musical sound effects – like the fizzy pop of a Coke bottle cap (a hard attack of resonance followed by a long decay of white noise) – and 80s advertising embraced it in a big way. Soon her sound effects were in high demand - she even designed the sensual electric coos of the Bally XENON pinball machine.

Ciani became the unofficial spokesperson for the synthesizer in the late 70s and early 80s, appearing on a slew of popular television programs to demonstrate some of the futuristic sounds of this mysterious new instrument.

The new doc A LIFE IN WAVES (playing AFS Cinema July 19 & 22) tells of Ciani’s singular path through the music industry, despite the intense zeitgeist of sexism in commercial music, to become a modern cult figure among electronic music aficionados. Not just a great story about an overlooked artist, the film is a veritable overdose of 80s aesthetic nostalgia, featuring an abundance of rich archival material including Ciani’s commercials, TV appearances and home studio. This is the stuff that Tumblrs are made of.

Here is one TV appearance that somehow didn’t make the cut: in 1980, Suzanne Ciani brought her cosmic synth sounds to the popular PBS kids program "3-2-1 Contact." With the soft-spoken patience of a kindergarten teacher, Ciani breaks down some rather sophisticated concepts of sound and synthesis, all while dropping some pretty spaced-out synth sequences. Check it out, you might even learn a few things yourself.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Peter Sellers Comedy Classic You've (Probably) Never Seen is Coming to the AFS Cinema

AFTER THE FOX (1967) closes the AFS Comedy, Italian Style series with a bang. It screens (in 35mm) on Thursday June 29 and Saturday, July 1.

When we reflect on the great Peter Sellers' comedic performances we might, understandably, first think of Blake Edwards' PINK PANTHER movies, of his performances in the early dark comedies of Stanley Kubrick, and of his seriocomic turn in BEING THERE.

But there is a Peter Sellers film that is not only a tour-de-force of comic acting, but also a loving satire of the Italian film industry. This film is written by the dream team of Neil Simon (THE ODD COUPLE, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, SWEET CHARITY and Cesare Zavattini (BICYCLE THIEVES, SHOESHINE, TWO WOMAN), and directed by the great master Vittorio De Sica.

Sellers plays a master thief, "the Fox," who, despite being a criminal mastermind, is still a Mama's boy through and through. He also has a beautiful sister, played by Sellers' real-life girlfriend Britt Ekland, of whose virtue the Fox is zealously protective. When an opportunity arises to steal a fortune, the Fox poses as an eccentric Italian movie director, engages a crew and cast (led by the surprisingly hilarious American leading man Victor Mature), and goes "on location" in a rural fishing village.

Here's a Trailers From Hell commentary from ED WOOD screenwriter Larry Karaszewski, an avowed lover of the film.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

An Introduction to UGETSU Director Kenji Mizoguchi

Mizoguchi and company behind the scenes of UGETSU

With the new restoration of Kenji Mizoguchi's late masterpiece UGETSU (1954) playing in theaters nationwide - it opens at the AFS Cinema on Saturday, June 24 - the rediscovery of this great master, whose career was roughly contemporaneous with our John Ford and who was similarly a poet of the screen, has begun again. Film scholar and essayist David Bordwell has pointed out that this Mizoguchi rediscovery happens roughly every ten years.

In his long essay here, Bordwell provides what might be the best sustained context for understanding the career and work of Mizoguchi before you plunge into the mysteries and ecstasies of UGETSU.

Mizoguchi's approach to melodrama, summarized here by Bordwell, gives an idea of his approach to genre and commercial expectations of the film markets:
"Mizoguchi refuses to beg for tears. Some directors, notably Sirk, amp up melodrama; others, like Preminger, bank the fires. Mizoguchi seems to try to extract the situation’s emotional essence, a purified anguish, that goes beyond sympathy and pity for the characters."
This purity of film essence is what makes Mizoguchi so special, and what sets him apart from his distinguished counterparts Ozu and Kurosawa, who also made a splash on the American atthouse scene in the '50s (Bordwell details this as well, and it's fascinating - well, to me it is).

Here is the trailer for a film that has often been considered one of the most beautiful ever made.

Monday, June 19, 2017

BEATRIZ AT DINNER - We Need to Talk: Opens at AFS Cinema This Week 6/22

Every once in a while a movie like BEATRIZ AT DINNER comes along and says, "we need to talk." In the midst of the seismic political, cultural and, yes, spiritual forces that quake around us now, we certainly do need to talk. And talk is what Salma Hayek's Beatriz and John Lithgow's Doug Strutt do in this provocative, insightful and even funny new film. BEATRIZ AT DINNER, currently in limited release, and expanding to more theaters, including the AFS Cinema, on Thursday June, 22.

Beatriz is a massage therapist who has had a really bad day. When she packs up to leave her wealthy client's home, her beat-up old car won't start and she is invited to stay for the evening's dinner party. As it happens the guest of honor is a business magnate and right-wing news personality played by Lithgow. Their conversations at dinner (it should be noted here that Beatriz is a Mexican-American immigrant), and interactions afterward, form the heart of this remarkably engaging film.

BEATRIZ AT DINNER could hardly arrive at a more advantageous time. While almost everyone seems exhausted by such confrontations in their own lives, it's still not out of mind. Some resolution is desired. Cinema and its stars are best when offering resolution to what are almost impossible problems. In BEATRIZ AT DINNER the resolutions are not simple and neither are the performances.

The Austin Chronicle's Kimberley Jones says Selma Hayek's Beatriz "cuts such a striking figure, you’ll want to follow her anywhere … and where the film ultimately follows is utterly gutting."

Anita Katz of the San Francisco Examiner praises Hayek and Lithgow, "While Lithgow's Strutt can be a hoot, Hayek owns the movie. Her Beatriz is a complicated mixture of clarity and confusion, and she's a self-described old soul whose capacity for caring, however unfashionable, proves lastingly moving."

Joshua Rothkopf of Time Out praises the movie's level of discourse, "Together, screenwriter Mike White and director Miguel Arteta have an almost magical way with light-touch verbal sparring, an art that's become lost in today's broad, banter-filled comedies."

Anthony Lane of The New Yorker notes some of the movie's fascinating narrative ambiguity, which is what sets it apart from a run-of-the-mill exercise: "Arteta is clearly confident of preaching to the converted, and of whipping up indignation at those who mean us harm. Thanks to his leading players, however, the movie grows limber, ambiguous, and twice as interesting, and the sermon goes astray."

Once you see the film, you're going to want to talk about it. Join us at the AFS Cinema for a free lobby discussion on Monday 6/26 at 7pm. See you there.

Wait... Erroll Morris Made a Short Interview Film with Trump? About CITIZEN KANE?

It's almost too astonishing to be true, but Donald Trump's favorite film is CITIZEN KANE. He's said it many times, and has even displayed some insight about Charles Foster Kane's plight - along with some seemingly pretty vapid misunderstandings. Certainly he is among the few people who can identify with Kane's great wealth, his vulgarity, his emotional disconnectedness and, perhaps, the primal trauma that seems to drive Kane, his "Rosebud."

The great documentarian Errol Morris has a way of drawing his subjects out and filming them in such a way that makes them tell you things that they may not realize they are telling you. When he films an interview, the result can be like one of those Goya portraits of the members of the royal court. He captures the soul beneath the skin. It's in the eyes. It's in the incautious turn of phrase. It's everywhere. It is the great value of Morris as an artist.

Watch this 2002 commissioned interview with Trump carefully. What is Trump telling us about himself, about his unusual life circumstances and about the universality (or non-universality) of art? When he sums up the message of the film, after making some good observations, it lands with a thud. We've become accustomed to that thud in recent months, but its's so strange to hear it in relation to the arts.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

In The Zone: Stalking Hypernormalisation with Tarkovsky

Special guest post by AFS Senior Programming Intern Cameron Timmons:

We at AFS enjoy programming films we’d love for you to see and enjoy, and occasionally those have an important relationship with current events. You have probably noticed some interesting political developments globally and at home where certain circumstances have western democracies now facing critical questions of character. What does this have to do with film? A lot—but here specifically we’re thinking of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film STALKER.

By 1979, years of Soviet government repression had led to clashes with the West which left the Soviets economically and culturally bankrupt. Despite it being plainly apparent their socialist experiment had failed as their country collapsed around them, Soviet leaders insisted things were normal and the people believed them because they knew of no other alternative. The Soviet Union became a world where pageantry and patriotism masked a broken economy and broken dreams. U.C. Berkeley professor Alexei Yurchak termed this unreality ‘hypernormalisation’ in his aptly-titled book Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More.

Science fiction authors and brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky described this reality in their 1971 novel Roadside Picnic. The novel considers life following an unexplained extraterrestrial visit unwitnessed by anyone and realized only through the discovery of Zones, places subject to a kind of unreality outside natural laws where nothing is what it seems. A group of people called Stalkers venture into these Zones at great risk.

One of the reasons to venture into cinema is its opportunity of escape, and no other film offers an escape quite like STALKER. Based on a screenplay written by the Strugatsky brothers and adapted from their novel Roadside Picnic, STALKER takes audiences from their own reality into that of the Zone or ‘Zona’. Tarkovsky uses his unique cinematic skillset to examine the nature of physical reality and mental states inside the Zone. The film is an unsettling experience arising from an unsettling time in Russian history.

Western democracies, including the United States, are currently experiencing their own unsettling moment in history. Lately it seems the foundation of our American reality has begun to shift—the laws of politics are suspended, facts have an alternative, and the people have begun to divide themselves based on the reality they experience. STALKER is immediately relevant to our unsettled political reality because it shows us an iteration of reality and asks if we believe it—or if we even want to believe it.

In one section from documentarian Adam Curtis’ 2015 film HYPERNORMALISATION, the unique historical setting of STALKER’s production is explored through a series of archival clips from the period. Though not quite exacting scholarship, Curtis’ film is still a provocative study of the powerful effect politics have on individual lives.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Revisiting the Outlaw Indie TV Series SPLIT SCREEN with Host John Pierson Live 6/11

John Pierson and friend

John Pierson’s Split Screen, the essential show about American independent cinema, was a deep dive into both the great troublemakers of the 90s film scene alongside the truly obscure, interesting characters that were around at the time. Sadly, the series, which originally aired on IFC, was unavailable to the public for years, until its recent rerelease on the FilmStruck's Criterion Channel,

AFS is thrilled to join with John Pierson to host a live event presenting selections from the show on Sunday June 11.

The re-release is truly exciting news for film lovers. In what he called his “magazine-style show”, Pierson was able to capture all aspects of what was so special about the era-- it wasn’t just the big names like Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino, but the creative corners of the film world that, in the early days of the internet, took an explorer to uncover.

Pierson was just the explorer for the job, and on Sunday he will present highlights from the series and share some offscreen memories as well. We invite you to join us for this historical and entertaining event.

One of those hidden corners could be found in the GrrrlRiot scene of Portland, where a feminist filmmaker was churning out her own ultra-indie magazine style film series. A few weeks ago, Miranda July recently joined a Split Screen event in New York alongside Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, John and Janet Pierson, and recalled her experience getting onto Pierson's show.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"Easily One of the Best Films of the Year:" I, DANIEL BLAKE; Opens This Weekend at AFS Cinema

As you have probably read, or even seen for yourself, the AFS Cinema is open again, newly renovated, expanded and improved. We are offering the same kind of repertory, documentary, and community programming as before, only much more of it.

Additionally, we now have a New Release screen, dedicated to the best first run films. Even within the excellent cinema landscape of Austin, home to first-class venues like the Violet Crown, Alamo Drafthouse and Regal's Arbor theater, some of the most interesting and acclaimed art house titles have bypassed Austin because the screens just weren't here.

Well, there's a screen here now, dedicated to just that kind of programming. This Friday, June 2, we open the new film Palme D'Or winning film from cinema giant Ken Loach, I, DANIEL BLAKE. It is about a man, unable to look for work because of a recent heart attack, who is squeezed by the U.K.'s changing benefits system, and is compelled to join with others and fight back.

Reviews on the film have been rapturous. In her review, Marjorie Baumgarten of the Austin Chronicle calls I, DANIEL BLAKE "Emotionally involving and gut-wrenching throughout."

In the Washington Post, Ann Hornaday says the film: "brims with spirit, sympathy and candor as it tackles the catastrophic displacement brought on by economic and technological change."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Midcentury Medieval: 'Comedy, Italian Style' Begins May 26

From Pier Paolo Pasolini's chapter of the omnibus film THE WITCHES (1967)

In the Italian comedies of the sixties we find medieval obsessions — love, sex, class, religion, fate and honor — wedded to the shiny, modernist surfaces of midcentury cosmopolitan culture. The obstacles faced by our protagonists are the daunting challenges of modern life, and the tools they are equipped with are the attitudes of generations past--hence the comic tension that is the beating heart of these films. In the course of this series we encounter some of the archetypes of the Italian narrative tradition: the ruined baron who must make a marriage of convenience, the Casanova with a gnawing emptiness inside, the true lovers who must overcome familial obstacles, the brother who guards his sister’s virtue like his own treasure, the thief who was not cut out for the job, and many more. These films are joyous, beautiful, brilliant and very, very funny.

Please join us at the AFS Cinema over the next month to experience these films as they were meant to be seen.

Pietro Germi, Italy, 1961, 35mm, 105 min. In Italian with English subtitles

Marcello Mastroianni has never been funnier than in this epochal Italian comedy from director Pietro Germi in which he plays a titled (and poor) member of a noble family who is unsatisfied in his marriage and spends his life fantasizing about his wife’s attractive cousin. Full of surreal and ribald touches. One of the great classics of the genre.

IL SORPASSO 5/28 & 6/1
Dino Risi, Italy, 1962, DCP, 105 min. In Italian with English subtitles

Writer/director Dino Risi’s international hit follows an uptight young law student (Jean Louis Trintignant) as he is absorbed into the orbit of a handsome, carefree older rogue (Vittorio Gassman) and they embark upon a spontaneous cross-country voyage. During the course of the film, Trintignant’s initial admiration for his companion ripens into something more complex and revelatory. A complex, novelistic, and bittersweet film.

Various directors, Italy, 1962, Digital, 208 min. In Italian with English subtitles

During the European arthouse cinema boom of the ‘60s, some producers discovered that they could get good (and commercially viable) results by hiring big name directors and stars to make short films about an agreed upon theme, which could then be packaged into a feature. BOCCACCIO ‘70, purporting to show modern stories that might captivate the titular ribald moralist, is perhaps the best of these. With directorial contributions by Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, Vittorio De Sica and Luchino Visconti. Starring Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg, Romy Schneider and Tomas Milian.

Various directors, Italy, 1967, 35mm, 110 min. In Italian with English subtitles

One of the more unusual Italian omnibus films. This time the common thread to all the chapters is actress Silvana Mangano, who displays her versatility in comedic chapters Directed by Luchino Visconti, Mauro Bolognini, Piero Pasolini (a major highlight), Franco Rossi and Vittorio De Sica. She is joined by a first class roster of co-stars including Clint Eastwood, Alberto Sordi and Annie Girardot. A bizarre, wonderful and rarely screened film.

MAFIOSO 6/15 & 6/17
Alberto Lattuada, Italy, 1962, 35mm, 105 min. In Italian with English subtitles

MAFIOSO is nearly a companion piece to DIVORCE, ITALIAN STYLE, with its’ themes of the unsavory sides of traditional conflict resolution clashing with modern Italian values and, well, the law. Comedy star Alberto Sordi plays Sicilian expat Antonio, who has risen up through the ranks at his northern Milanese car factory but is overdue for a family visit to Sicily, where he’ll introduce his conservative peasant family to his northern cosmopolitan wife and their two young children. The return home is a comedy of clashing values that takes wildly unexpected turns, and Sordi’s character is achieved to perfection as the country boy made good who goes to absurd lengths, and stretches the limits of truth, to impress the home team while keeping the peace with his family and his wife.

Mario Monicelli, Italy, 1960, DCP, 106 min. In Italian with English subtitles

While not a household name, Mario Monicelli was one of the true masters of the Commedia All’Italiana, combining the astute observational power of a born ironist with the comedic abandon of a man drunk on the possibilities of cinema. THE PASSIONATE THIEF takes place over the course of a single New Year’s Eve in which we are introduced to a suave pickpocket (Ben Gazzara), his elderly lookout man (Toto), and the old man’s dream woman, a brash and blonde-wigged movie extra (Anna Magnani) who throws their plans into chaos. 

AFTER THE FOX 6/29 & 7/1
Vittorio De Sica, Italy/UK, 1966, 35mm, 103 min. In Italian and English with English subtitles

This film, a magnificent love child of the greatest comic minds of Rome, New York and London, is a self-aware spoof of the mid-century Italian cinema boom (as well as a shining example of it). Peter Sellers is brilliant as an Italian criminal genius and master of disguise who conceives a masterful plan to rob a gold shipment by posing as an eccentric film director in the mold of Fellini. Written by the odd couple of Neil Simon and Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica, this is a roaringly funny movie.