2018 First Wednesday of month movies


January 3 – Bridge of Spies (2015) 2 hrs 21 mins. With Cold War tensions at their height, a Brooklyn insurance lawyer defends KGB spy Rudolf Abel and negotiates the release of U-2 spy-plane pilot Gary Powers. A meticulously composed and enjoyable thriller, with reliably outstanding work from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and authentic re-creations of the period. Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance, above, as KGB spy). Six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

***


February 7 – The Big Sick (2017) 1 hr 57 mins. Pakistan-born aspiring comedian Kumail connects with American grad student Emily. He finds himself forced to face his family’s expectations and her feisty parents. A rich bouquet of emotion from belly laughs to broken hearts and back again, it adapts the real-life story of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, who inject the insight of personal experience into commitment across cultural boundaries and mortal horizons. Named by the American Film Institute and the Producers Guild as one of the top films of the year.

***


March 7 – A Taxi Driver (2017) 2 hrs 17 mins. A powerful true story. In May 1980, a Seoul taxi driver drives a foreign journalist to the city of Gwangju where university students are protesting the martial law regime. In just a month of its release, 14 million out of a population of 51 million saw the film. In Korean, with English subtitles.

***


April 4 – Equinox Flower (1958) 1 hr 58 mins. When a young woman wishes to marry the man of her choice, her father objects, primarily because she did not seek his permission before becoming engaged. A balanced picture of Japanese family life, made with loving irony. The performers are flawless. This exquisite dramedy directed by Yasujiro Ozu is gentle, spare, and ultimately elusive, in a quietly satisfying way.

***


May 2 – My Journey through French Cinema (2016) 3 hrs 12 mins. Insightful and affable, this autobiographical voyage of discovery with Bernard Tavernier is packed with enticing clips and sharp observations. A treat for everybody who loves classic Gallic movies but also for people who just plain love movies – from anywhere. In French, with English subtitles.

***

(Originally scheduled to be shown on June 6, but rescheduled because of venue unavailability)
June 8 – The Commissar (1967) 1 hr 43 mins. Hard-as-nails pregnant commissar Klavdia Vavilova is billeted and bonds with the family of a poor Jewish blacksmith Yefim Magazannik, during the Russian Civil War. But the war draws ever closer. Based on a short story by Vasily Grossman praised by Isaac Babel and Maxim Gorky. Not released for 20 years, it was awarded the Silver Bear prize at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival. An unforgettable film, beautifully shot, its images are rendered with magnificent feeling. In Russian, with English subtitles.

***

(Rescheduled to Friday, July 6, because the usual First Wednesday falls on the 4th of July)
July 6 – The Tillman Story (2010) 1 hr 34 mins. NFL player turned U.S. Army Ranger Pat Tillman (above, left, with his brother Kevin) was much more complex than what he was portrayed to be. Falling under the narrative of a grand drama, you almost forget you’re watching a documentary, as it goes into the circumstances of his death in Afghanistan and his family’s struggle to unearth the truth. Riveting, unflinching, morally incisive, it will grab your attention from beginning to end. Narrated by Josh Brolin.

***

(Rescheduled to Friday, August 3, because MRHS is holding another event on the First Wednesday)
August 3 – Two Daughters (1961) 1 hr 52 mins. Stories by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore about a rural postmaster who teaches an orphan girl to read and write, and about a law student who marries the village tomboy. Audrey Hepburn presented an honorary Oscar at the 1992 Academy Awards to director Satyajit Ray “in recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.” In Bengali, with English subtitles.

***

September 5 – Che, Part One: The Argentine (2009) 2 hr 8 min. Steven Soderbergh’s epic biography is not written from the point of view of history, but from Guevara’s own point of view, based on his writings. Benicio Del Toro gives a heroic performance, not least because it’s self-effacing, winning the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival.

***

(Originally scheduled to be shown on October 3, but rescheduled because of venue unavailability)
October 10 – A Time to Live and A Time to Die (1985) 2 hrs 18 mins. An autobiographical feature film on growing up in Taiwan in the 1950s. It conveys a density of familial detail that we usually encounter only in certain novels. Like many great films, it makes you see the world anew, as if for the first time. Directed by Hou Hsiao-hsien, “the world’s greatest working narrative filmmaker” (J. Hoberman). In Chinese with English subtitles.

***

November 7 – Salt of the Earth (1954) 1 hr 34 mins. When an injunction is issued against striking mine workers in Grant County, New Mexico, the wives take up battle, leaving their husbands to care for home and children. One of the first American drama films to advance the feminist social and political point of view. Herbert J. Biberman, one of the Hollywood Ten, directed this independent masterpiece, America’s only blacklisted film.

***

December 5 – Autumn Tale (1998) 1 hr 47 min. A widow-and-winemaker’s best friend tries to find her a new husband, but the ad posted in the newspaper attracts more than one possibility. “As sublimely warming an experience as the autumn sun that shines benevolently on the vineyard” (New York Times). Delightfully unpredictable, nuanced, civilized entertainment, it mines emotional truth from tiny moments with exquisite finesse. Directed by Eric Rohmer. In French, with English subtitles.

***

Saturday afternoon movies shown by the First Wednesday movie programmer
to help out in months which had 5 Saturdays:

Saturday, March 3 – Sweet Land (2005) 1 hour 50 mins. A German mail-order bride comes to Minnesota to marry a Norwegian immigrant farmer. In a post-World War I, anti-German climate, the local minister forbids the marriage. A poignant and lyrical celebration of land, love, and the American immigrant experience. The amber majesty of the farm country becomes an elegiac metaphor for memory, family and history.

***

Saturday, Sept. 8 – The Settlers (2016) 1 hr 46 min. Stands out in terms of the substantial access it obtained to several generations of the movement’s leaders. Veteran Israeli director Shimon Dotan tells the story with the intensity of a feature-film drama. “Smart, thorough and thoughtful” (Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times). In Hebrew, English and Arabic, with English subtitles. Not rated.

***

Saturday, Dec. 8 – I, Daniel Blake (2016) 1 hr 40 min. A carpenter recovering from a heart attack befriends a single mother and her two kids as they navigate through the Kafkaesque benefits system. With humor, warmth and despair, the journey is heartfelt and emotional. From legendary British director Ken Loach. This picture won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Rated R for language.

###

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