Evening movies at Morningside Gardens

at the MRHS Office in Building 1

7:30 pm

This program strives to show films that are exceptional, challenging, and compassionately depict the human condition. The descriptions below are adapted from dvd blurbs and film reviews.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 1 hour 41  minutes

A European schoolteacher escorts an Arab prisoner in Algeria’s Atlas mountains in 1954. This suspenseful drama is based on and develops Albert Camus’ most anthologized short story. The film resonates with a quietly intense performance from Viggo Mortensen in a French speaking role. The prisoner is played with extraordinary restraint by Reda Kateb. In French and Arabic, with English subtitles.

*     *     *

Coming soon

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1971)
1 hour 34 minutes

Vittorio De Sica’s moving, splendidly recreated portrait of an aristocratic and a middle-class Jewish family in Ferrara, Italy, in the late 1930s. Academy Award for Best Foreign-language Film. English subtitles.

*     *     *

Coming soon

No Greater Love (1959)
Part 1 of The Human Condition trilogy
3 hours 28 minutes

Tatsuya Nakadai, in an incredible, subtly modulating performance, plays the leading role of a Japanese mine supervisor whose kindly treatment of POW laborers during World War II incurs the wrath of his superiors. He is ordered to don a uniform and fight for his country. This is the first part of Masaki Kobayashi’s The Human Condition trilogy, which stands as an achievement of extraordinary power and emotional resonance: at once a celebration of the resilience of the individual conscience and a purging of forced complicity in guilt. “Kobayashi’s monumental film can clarify and enrich your understanding of what it is to be alive.” (A.O. Scott, New York Times). “Unquestionably the greatest film ever made” (David Shipman, The Story of Cinema). In Japanese, with English subtitles.

*     *     *

Coming soon

Battle of Berlin and The Final Assault (1971)
2 hours 30 minutes

Parts 4 and 5 of a prodigious dramatization of the Soviet counter-offensive against the Nazi invasion. It includes extended depictions of Stalin, Marshall Zhukov, Hitler, Roosevelt, and Churchill. May 7 is the 72nd anniversary of Germany’s surrender. In Russian and German, with English subtitles. The New York Times has been running since February a series of articles on the 100th anniversary this year of the Bolshevik Revolution.

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Recently shown films

April 12, 2017
Sunset Song (2016)
2 hours 15 minutes

A woman’s endurance amidst the tribulations of rural Scottish life in the early years of the 20th century, told with poetic realism by Terence Davies, Britain’s greatest living auteur. The film is epic in emotional scale and deeply romantic at its core.

*     *     *

March 22, 2017
Travels with My Aunt (1972)
1 hour 49 minutes

Henry Rollins, a British local bank manager, is startled at his mother’s funeral by his long-lost Aunt Augusta, now in her 70s, with carrot-red hair as flaming as her past. She is played by Maggie Smith in a style that makes Lucille Ball look like an under-actor. Alec McCowen, as Henry, gives a Dirk Bogarde sort of performance. Augusta and Henry (and various lovers, schemers and dead bodies) occupy a series of hotel rooms the likes of which hadn’t been seen in movies since Mae West invited Cary Grant inside in “She Done Him Wrong”. Directed by George Cukor, based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Graham Greene.

*     *     *

March 13, 2017
A Man Called Ove (2016)
1 hour 56 minutes

A retiree with strict principles and a short fuse spends his days enforcing his townhouse neighborhood’s rules and visiting his wife’s grave. Ove has given up on life, when a young Swedish/Iranian family moves in next door. As an unlikely friendship between Ove and his neighbors begins to form, Ove’s past happiness and heartbreaks come flooding back and what emerges is an unexpected, funny and heartwarming tale of human connection that reminds us life is sweeter when it’s shared. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In Swedish, with English subtitles.

*     *     *

February 16, 2017
The Other Son (2012)
1 hour 45 minutes


A moving tale of two young men, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, who discover they were accidentally switched at birth – their fathers not quite able to deal with the revelations; the mothers finding the capacity to love both children they now share. The skill and sensitivity of the actors turn a parable of tolerance into a graceful and touching story of real people in a surreal situation. Directed by Lorraine Lévy. In French, Hebrew, Arabic and English. With English subtitles.

*     *     *

January 26, 2017
A Film Unfinished (2010)
1 hour 29 minutes


This potent documentary uses a long-lost film reel to illustrate how the Nazis controlled images of Jewish life during World War II. Though the Nazis made a propaganda movie of contented Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, the missing spool exposes the truth. Director Yael Hersonski shows how the imagery was staged to distort historical knowledge and, with the aid of Jewish survivors’ testimony, chronicles the horrifying reality of ghetto life.

*     *     *

December 21, 2016
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
2 hours


Shot in the streets of Algiers in documentary style, this film vividly re-creates the tumultuous Algerian uprising against the occupying French in 1957.  Its examination of the ethics and consequences of political violence has long been used as an instructional tool by the U.S. Department of Defense, and today the film continues to influence both cinema and politics. No other political movie of the past fifty years bears the same power to lift you from your seat with the incandescent fervor of its commitment. And none before or since has anchored that passion in so lucid a diagnosis of the fault lines separating exploiter and exploited.

*     *     *

November 16, 2016
Diary of a Country Priest (1951)
1 hour and 55 minutes


An austere look at the experiences of a young priest in a small French parish, Robert Bresson’s masterly Le Journal d’un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest) presents a powerful, complex exploration of faith underneath a deceptively simple exterior. Drawn from a novel by Georges Bernanos, the film centers on the priest of Ambricourt (Claude Laydu), a withdrawn, devout young man whose social awkwardness leaves him isolated from the community he is meant to serve. Further problems derive from the priest’s ill health, which limits him to a diet of bread and wine and hinders his ability to perform his duties. Growing sicker and increasingly uncertain about his purpose in life, the priest undergoes a crisis of faith that threatens to drive him away from his village and from God. Bresson presents his spiritual tale in a minimalist, unadorned style, relying on a rigorous series of stripped-down shots and utilizing non-actors in many of the supporting roles. The approach may initially seem distancing or ponderous to a contemporary audience, but the cumulative impact of the brilliant visuals and Laydu’s powerful, restrained performance is unquestionable. Almost universally acclaimed, this searching drama is generally considered one of Bresson’s finest works and a crucial classic of world cinema. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

*     *     *

September 7, 2016
Omar (2014)
1 hour and 36 minutes


A tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja. By night, he’s either a freedom fighter or a terrorist – you decide – ready to risk his life. Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game – is he playing his Israeli handler or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? A dynamic, action-packed drama about the insoluble moral dilemmas and tough choices facing those on the frontlines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up. Twisty and riveting, Omar is a well-directed crime drama with uncommon depth. The brutal and beautiful uncertainty of the human condition is as much the hero of the film as Omar. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Prize. In Arabic, with English subtitles.

*     *     *

August 10, 2016
Days of Glory (2006)
2 hours and 8 minutes


“Days of Glory” follows a small group of World War II infantrymen from North Africa through Italy and across France into Alsace. Combat sequences are filmed with exquisite precision and edited with admirable economy, and the quieter moments that allow the characters of the men to emerge find a perfect balance between dramatic impact and psychological authenticity. It is a chronicle of courage and sacrifice, of danger and solidarity, of heroism and futility, told with power, grace and feeling and brought alive by first-rate acting. Mr. Bouchareb, working from a packed, efficient script by Olivier Lorelle, has an impeccable sense of narrative rhythm.

What makes “Days of Glory” something close to a great movie is that it finds a new and politically urgent story to tell in the well-trodden (and beautifully photographed) soil of wartime Europe. The soldiers in Mr. Bouchareb’s film are told again and again that ridding France of its German occupiers is a patriotic duty, but again and again they confront their status as second-class citizens (if that) of a republic consecrated to liberty, equality and fraternity. At least since 1789, the idea of France has represented, at least in theory, both a set of universal aspirations (enshrined, for instance, in the revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man) and a particular national identity. “Days of Glory” shows just how acute, and how intricate, this contradiction can be.

“Days of Glory” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, and a special male ensemble award for Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is in French and Arabic, with English subtitles.

*    *     *

June 29 & July 7, 2016
1971 (2014)
1 hour and 20 minutes


Bill Davidon, physics professor at Haverford College and mastermind of FBI office break-in

On March 8, 1971 eight ordinary citizens broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, a town just outside Philadelphia, took hundreds of secret files, and shared them with the public. In doing so, they uncovered the FBI’s vast and illegal regime of spying and intimidation of Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. Despite searching for the people behind the heist in one of the largest investigations ever conducted, the FBI never solved the mystery of the break-in, and the identities of the members of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI remained a secret. Until now. For the first time, the members of the Citizens’ Commission have decided to come forward and speak out about their actions. 1971 is their story.

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