Monday, July 27, 2009
BRAZILIAN FILM FESTIVAL & PARTY
Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY
August 2-7, 2009
Brazilian Cinema’s Top Films
At the Tribeca Cinemas
Opening Day Kicks Off At Central Park’s SUMMERSTAGE
With A Spectacular Brazilian Party Including A Performance
From Sizzling Singer Sílvia Machete
And Screening Of The Most Successful Film
In The History of Brazilian Cinema…
“If I Were You 2"
Headlines the Brazilian Film Fest Opening Party
Here in a performance clip from YouTube.
Link to More Machete on YouTube.
Opening night kicks off on Sunday, August 2 at 7:00pm with an extravaganza at Central Park’s SummerStage featuring a concert by leading singer/entertainer/acrobat/pin-up Sílvia Machete, followed at 8:00pm by a screening of Daniel Filho’s comedy, “If I Were You 2,” the most successful film in the history of Brazilian Cinema.
Sílvia will perform songs from her latest release, “I’m Not a Saint,” in a show that mixes music, circus and theatre performances.
At last year’s kick off Opening Night event, over five thousand people partied through the day and night, and proved that Brazilian culture is undeniably contagious and wildly fun.
Then for the next six days and nights, the Tribeca Cinema will host five daily screenings showing the best of Brazilian filmmaking, all of them eligible for the 2009 Audience Award.
Among the highlighted films being screened during this annual festival:
The documentary “Simonal – Nobody Knows How Tough It Was,” directed by Cláudio Manoel, portrays the life of the famous 70’s singer.
Director José Alvarenga Jr’s, comedy “In Therapy,” deals with the pleasures and challenges of modern life.
Actress Letícia Sabatella makes her debut as a co-director with screenwriter Gringo Cardia in the documentary “Hotxuá”, a poetic view of the Indian tribe Krahô, a very smiley group that chooses a high priest of laugh.
Internationally famous cinematographer Walter Carvalho presents his latest film as a director, “Budapest”, based on the homonymous book by Brazilian singer Chico Buarque.
Many of the filmmakers and cast from the VII Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY film presentations will be in New York to attend the festivities and participate in Q & A sessions following the films.
PROGRAM OF THE VII CINE FEST PETROBRAS BRASIL-NY
FEATURE-FILMS – TRIBECA CINEMAS
The Ballroom --- (Drama), directed by Laís Bodanzky, unfolds during an old-timers dance night in a ballroom in Sao Paulo and follows the dramas and joys of five couples attending the dance. The film mixes comedy and drama, while dealing with love, solitude, betrayal and lust in an environment full of music and dance. Note: The Ballroom, originally scheduled, has been replaced by THE CHILDREN'S ORCHESTRA (See below.)
Budapest (Drama), directed byWalter Carvalho, tells of José Costa, a Brazilian ghost writer. Returning from a ghost writer’s convention, his airplane is rerouted to Budapest, where his life is also rerouted when he meets Krista and with her help, learns "the only language in the world which, according to the tongue-wagers, the devil respects”.
Children's Orchestra (Drama), directed Paulo Thiago, Mozart Viera, a 25-year old humanist and dreamer, creates a children’s woodwind orchestra in the poor dry Northeaster region of Brazil to play Mozart, Bach, Villa Lobos, etc. To help the orchestra, a governor creates the music and Life Foundation. Local leaders and the political mob ruling the region become envious of Mozart and try to manipulate him, but Mozart will not be controlled. Their hatred leads to the demoralization of the Foundation and finally its end. But with the strong reaction of the artist and the Church help end the judicial proceedings so that the Foundation can be reopened.
Favela On Blast (Documentary), directed by Leandro HBL and Wesley Pentz (DJ Diplo), is a documentary that shows the culture of funk carioca, a musical rhythm that merges the American electronic funk from the 1980s with several Brazilian sounds. Probably one of the most interesting musical movements in the world, the baile funk, has its roots in one of the most violent and poor places, the shanty towns in Rio de Janeiro.
The Herb Of The Rat (Drama), directed by Julio Bressane. He and She walk through a cemetery by the sea. Their names are just like the pronouns. They don’t know each other and they are the only living beings on site. At a certain moment She slips in a lose rock, tumbles and is saved by He. She is a teacher, her father died three days ago and now she is alone in this world. Since she is facing such a predicament, He offers to take care of her for as long as he lives. And this is the beginning of a strange relationship.
Hotxuá (Documentary), directed by Letícia Sabatella and Gringo Cardia, is a poetic record of the indigenous Krahô tribe, a smiling people which designate a high priest of laughter, called the Hotxuá, to strengthen and unite the group through joy.
If I Were You 2 (Comedy), directed by Daniel Filho, takes place after a first experience of exchanging bodies. Cláudio and Helena decide to divorce and, to make things worse, they find out that Bia, now a 18 year older, is about to get married – and that they will be grandparents. In the middle of the crisis, they exchange bodies once again.
In Therapy (Comedy), directed by José Alvarenga Jr.,tells the story of Mercedes, a forty-some year old woman that is dealing with the pleasures and challenges of modern life, decides, without being quite sure why, to start visiting a therapist.
Loki - Arnaldo Baptista (Documentary), directed by Paulo Henrique Fontenelle, is a biopic of musician Arnaldo Baptista, ex-member of the Mutantes, told through the strokes of a painting done by the artist himself. The spectator is brought into his life through the painting and historical images that show the most important moments of his artistic career, showing how he became one of the most famous Brazilian rock stars.
Romance (Drama), directed by Guel Arraes. Is it possible to have a happy and reciprocal love? Theatre actor/director Pedro and actress Ana aren’t able to reach that conclusion before a new man enters her life and creates obstacles.
Saens Peña Square (Drama), directed by Vinícius Reis, tells of high school teacher Paulo, his wife Teresa, a manager of a local foodstore, and their schoolage daughter Bel, that live in a rented flat in Sans Pena Square, the heart of Tijuca, an old and traditional suburb in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. An unexpected and alluring job offer may have a profound effect on the routine of this family and even jeopardize a 20 year marriage.
Simonal – No One Knows How Tough It Was (Documentary), directed by Cláudio Manoel, Micael Langer and Calvito Leal, portrays the impressive trajectory of a former army private, that reigned sovereign in pop culture and ended up being ostracized for a crime he swore innocence. Was Simonal an informant during the Brazilian dictatorship? Was he friendly with the military? Or was his greatest crime being black, millionaire and a sex symbol in a country and time where racist was latent in the society?
Smoking I Wait (Documentary), directed by Adriana L. Dutra. In the attempt of quitting the addiction, a smoker decides to study the subject and produce a documentary where she will show her worries and the different aspects of what is considered the most lethal industry of the twentieth century.
Threshold (Drama), directed by Rafael Conde, narrates a story of love and mystery which takes place in an old house inhabited by the young Maria, whose fame as a saint extends well beyond the mountains of the interior of Brazil. The arrival of two new characters has a disturbing affect on Maria: a traveler, for whom “Holy Maria” develops an intense passion, and Aunt Emiliana, an elderly lady determined to prepare for the great miracle.
Veronica (Drama), directed by Mauricio Farias, is a public school teacher going through difficult times – childless, with an ailing mother and an ex-husband seeking reconcilliation that she’ll have none of. Everything changes when one of her students is left at school beyond hours and catch both up in a web of action.
Wandering Heart (Documentary), directed by Fernando Grostein Andrade, intimately follows acclaimed singer Caetano Veloso from São Paulo to New York and Japan, during the release of his first album recorded solely in English. It takes considerably more than a week-long series of shows at Carnegie Hall, accolades in the New York Times, or the admiration of friends like Pedro Almodóvar, David Byrne and Michelangelo Antonioni to make Caetano feel comfortable outside of Brazil.
Tickets are on sale at http://www.ticketweb.com/ and are $10 for each film. The VII Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY full program, schedule, film descriptions and ticket information can be found on http://www.brazilianfilmfestival.com/ or by calling 646-827-9333.
Labels: Arnaldo Baptista, Brazil, Cine Fest Petrobras Brasil-NY, Daniel Filho, If I Were You 2, José Alvarenga Jr, Loki, Silvia Machete
Sunday, July 26, 2009
ERIN BURNETT ON AFRICA
Erin Burnett (who may have the nicest, most enigmatic, and most persistent smile on television) did an extraordinary report on Africa on CNBC.
The focus of the show (at least the title) was investment in Africa; the coverage itself was actually far broader.
Reporting in the US is mostly local, some national, a bit about Europe, a little about world terrorism, some reports of wars, and an occasional mention of a celebrity doing something somewhere else in the world, perhaps Africa. Erin's program and her other daily reports while she was travelling, may have had more broadcast time about Africa than all other reports on Africa, cumulatively, on all channels combined for months or years.
Flitting around from topic to topic, and country to country, and wearing outfit after outfit, looking cool and comfortable even while talking about 102 degree temperature, the report was coherent, visually interesting, intellectually honest, and as comprehensive as you can be when talking about a whole continent and dozens of countries in an hour.
Aside from the script, the opportunity to see Africa and Africans (in a context other than Wild Animals or Superstar Dramatic Films) was revealing.
The biggest opportunities in Africa include tourism, a wealth of natural resources (including oil, diamonds, and special minerals needed for manufacturing), agricultural exports, and the need to build infrastructure.
The problems for Africans and investors include the lack of infrastructure, crime (including corruption, violence, kidnapping, and the diversion of resources), illness (including AIDS and malaria), wars, unstable governments, and unemployment.
Several people interviewed pointed to job creation as the major need, one that could itself help alleviate some of the other problems, and pointed out that certain kinds of aid (eg gifts of food, and medical assistance) do not attack job creation.
Other comments on "aid" to Africa, separate from this show (for example in Bamako, a movie shown at the NYFF, and Stiglitz' book, Making Globalization Work) have noted other problems: including unfair contracts with western companies that extract resources, and stipulations by international agencies when giving aid that ends up doing more harm than good to education and health, and leaves a residue of debt.
It's a fine program. Erin did a great job as reporter and executive producer. More broadcast time should be devoted to Africa, and the rest of the world.
In addition to the program, CNBC has a website with addtional information about Africa.
Labels: Africa, Bamako, Erin Burnett, Stiglitz
COLD CEREAL PACKAGING
I do not understand why packaging for cold (dry) cereals (eg rice, corn, wheat... with various brand names and varying amounts of excess sugar) is so badly designed. It is usually hard to open, and much harder to close. It usually has some kind of waxed paper that can not be re-sealed, and an outer cardboard box that can not be closed at all: with an ineffective flap that can not stay closed even when the box is not twisted out of shape as it usually is.
The cereal in the box easily becomes stale, and can be attacked by various insects if it is left out. It can best be stored in the refrigerator, but is usually so big that it takes up too much room in the fridge. Moreover, after a bit of use, the remaining cereal occupies only a fraction of the box, just wasting space.
The only explanation for this lousy packaging is that the manufacturer wants customers to waste cereal, so they will buy more.
Perhaps they would sell more if the packaging were better.
Packaging could be improved by:
1- an easy-sealing inner bag (like one-zip or liplock);
2- making little (one-serving) boxes available for all cereals, not just the (mostly sugared) collections usually available;
3- making the product available in more sizes of boxes (not just big and little);
4- making the outer box more easily closeable.
Labels: Cold cereal packaging
Friday, July 24, 2009
BLISS (THE RESTAURANT IN STONY BROOK)
Before the Stony Brook Film Festival screening (see stories below), I had a quick dinner at Bliss.
I needed to find a restaurant really quickly, since the traffic had been terrible and it was much later than I wanted it to be. I saw the sign for Bliss, and since I'd seen their ads as a sponsor of the SBFF, I recognized the name. (I'm glad they sponsored the festival: it's not only good for films and for SBFF that they were a sponsor, it turned out to be good for me!)
Great choice! My skirt steak was delicious, the roasted potatoes (they substituted for other potatoes I did not want) were among the best roasted pototes I've ever had. Veggies were very good. The service was excellent and friendly. Noticing I seemed to be a bit in a rush, the waiter was careful to point out the quicker dishes.
All in all, a very good place for a fine dinner before a Festival film, after a visit to Stony Brook University (it's very close, right at the corner of Nichols and 25A), or any other time.
Labels: Bliss, Stony Brook Film Festival
THE ANSWER MAN
This is an image from the film.
A Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The Stony Brook Film Festival opened with a genuinely pleasant, often brilliant comedy, The Answer Man (aka Arlen Faber when it played at Sundance), with Jeff Daniels, Lauren Graham and a superior supporting cast, including Kat Denning (from Nick & Norah's infinite playlist), and Nora Dunn.
The Answer Man, a Magnolia Pictures release.
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
Jeff Daniels is mostly brilliant (like the film, the script, the choice of music, and some of the cinematography), playing a religious-type author, and Lauren is properly down to earth.
The writer/director, John Hindman, may be a big new talent. This film has a slightly different trajectory than most Hollywood movies. It starts with characters who once were ordinary, but then had gotten their lives jolted into somewhat higher orbits (with disturbed psyches and disturbed behavior) by traumatic events (illness & death & disappearance of parents and lovers, and arguably undeserved sudden fame). The film starts with the characters already unhinged, and is about the way they get re-hinged.
Toward the end, the film settles (or reaches?) for an exceptionally (logically) satisfying ending: suddenly accelerating the healing process to tie everything up unusually tightly, consistently, and quickly (without the same kind of edge that spiced up the rest of the film), ending on such a quiet, off-beat, ordinary frame it could be an instant classic ending.
Labels: Jeff Daniels, John Hindman. Lauren Graham, Stony Brook Film Festival, The Answer Man
Thursday, July 16, 2009
On its way to Jupiter, the Galileo spacecraft returned images of Earth's moon. Galileo captured this composite on Dec. 7, 1992. The distinct bright ray crater at the bottom of the image is the Tycho impact basin. The dark areas are lava rock filled impact basins: Oceanus Procellarum (on the left), Mare Imbrium (center left), Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatis (center), and Mare Crisium (near the right edge). The colors in this image are "enhanced," in the sense that the camera Galileo used to photograph the moon was sensitive to near infrared wavelengths of light beyond human vision. Credit: NASA
On July 20, 2009, Neil Armstrong became the first man to step on the moon. The mission was Apollo 11.
1 -- NASA has a brief history of the landing (this is a good place to start):
and lots of science about the moon, planets, and all things space:
3 -- There are several stories about the moonlanding on space.com
4 -- The New York Times devoted the Tuesday (7/14/2009) Science Section to the moon.
5 -- CNN is planning, I think, extended programming about the moon on the 20th (but I couldn't find any programming information on their rather poor web site). Try:
6 -- For more about the moon, check out planetariums around the country. In New York,
7 -- And finally, for a complete, detailed history of moon missions... from Wikipedia:
Labels: Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong, The moon
LAST TANGO IN PARIS
I turned on TV and arrived at the middle of Last Tango in Paris (after the famous sex scene).
I could not turn away. Almost nothing happens, except: these two passionate, driven people interact. It was riveting.
Strength of desire powers acting.
Although little happens, it is all about sex. Watching the film is liberating and empowering to the audience and to creators of film drama who see it. It is an influential film in the history of cinema, and it was widely honored.
It is the subject of one of the most famous film reviews in history, by Pauline Kael.
So it is disturbing and sad that both actors, both Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider, felt humiliated and abused by the process. I would wish actors to be active, supportive, constructive, and willing participants in the process of making provocative films.
Indeed, Catherine Breillat, who had a role in the film when she was young, did develop into a critic, teacher, and provocative filmmaker.
Perhaps it was the times, perhaps the personalities, perhaps it was the extent to which Tango exceeded the sexual norms of other pictures and the extent to which it required the principal actors to expose themselves physically and emotionally.
The director, Bernardo Bertolucci, recently made The Dreamers with Eva Green (a fine film that captures the spirit of 1968 better than any picture since Godard's La Chinoise). This is another strongly sexual picture that crosses boundaries (but perhaps not, relative to other films now, to the extent of Last Tango). I hope Eva and the other actors involved felt they were creative participants rather than hapless victims in the process of creating the film.
I hope other directors and actors can collaborate sucessfully on new projects that are extreme, provocative and intense.
Labels: Bernardo Bertolucci, Eva Green, Last Tango in Paris, Maria Schneider, Marlon Brando
Friday, July 10, 2009
STONY BROOK FILM FESTIVAL 2009
It's 14 years old, and seems to be getting better every year!
Thursday July 23 – Saturday August 1
At the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University.
I had a very good time at last year's Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF-08). The screening facilities are exceptional, the whole Stony Brook Campus is inviting and friendly, and the crowd is great. The selections were excellent last year, and this year seems particularly interesting.
Last year, Mary Stuart Masterson showed her remarkable first film, The Cake Eaters. One year later, her film, now also on DVD, seems to be generating interest all around the world. This year SBFF is showing a film that her husband directed (and she produced).
Another film I'm interested in.... I was rehearsing an adaptation I did (a play using Shakespeare's Sonnets) at rehearsal halls in New York and I often passed signs directing actors to nearby studios for a film in production that had a great title: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Undead. Well, it wasn't a joke, it's showing up at SBFF.
Looking through the program, there are stars & new talent; provocative stories & romances; wars and unrest; lovers from antagonistic cultures; features and shorts; many countries and languages. It's mostly stories, with few documentaries. It's almost entirely relationships with very little FX. Mostly live, with just a bit of animation.
The New York Premiere of The Answer Man
The New York Premiere of The Little Traitor
Tickling Leo, written and directed by Jeremy Davidson, produced by his wife, the acclaimed actress Mary Stuart Masterson, and starring Eli Wallach, Lawrence Pressman, Daniel Sauli, Annie Parisse, Ronald Guttmann and Victoria Clark.
Blindness-Saramago in China, a documentary from China directed by Xilin Chen that grapples with the concept of intellectual property rights. Blindness tells a story about the adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Nobel Prize winning book by the same name into a play. It vividly transports the viewer to Beijing, to rehearsals by a professional theatre company, and into the negotiations going on between the play’s producer and the writer’s representative.
Life is a Banquet, which filmmaker Jonathan Gruber says is the first ever about actress and entertainment giant Rosalind Russell. Using words taken from Ms. Russell’s autobiography, the film’s narration is by acclaimed actress Kathleen Turner.
US, EAST COAST & NEW YORK PREMIERES:
Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives), who attended the Stony Brook Film Festival in 2008 when she starred in John Putch’s Route 30, stars this year in a short film dealing with autism, Flying Lessons. The short, making its New York Premiere, is by Janet Grillo and will be paired with the screening of Tickling Leo.
The Anarchist’s Wife, from Germany/Spain/France;
The Missing Person, from the U.S. and starring Michael Shannon, Frank Wood, Amy Ryan, Linda Emond, and John Ventimiglia;
Bowled Over, from The Netherlands;
The Maiden and the Wolves, from France;
The Friend, from Switzerland;
Like Dandelion Dust, from the U.S., with Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper;
Interpretation, from the U.S.;
True Beauty This Night, from the U.S.;
Light Bulb, from the U.S., with Dallas Roberts, Jeremy Renner, and Ayelet Zurer;
The Gold Lunch, from the U.S.;
In the Dark, from the U.S.;
Adopt a Sailor, from the U.S., with Bebe Neuwirth, Peter Coyote, and Ethan Peck;
After the Storm, from the U.S.;
The Painter of Skies, from Spain;
The Fairy Princess, from the U.S.;
On the Road to Tel-Aviv, from Israel.
For a complete schedule, and film passes, visit http://www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com/ or call the Staller Center Box Office, 631-632- ARTS . Tickets to parties and receptions are also available. Individual movie tickets go on sale July 13.
Labels: Mary Stuart Masterson, Nina Hoss, SBFF, The Stony Brook Film Festival
Thursday, July 09, 2009
REGISTERING A WILL
I do not understand why there is always a question about whether the latest will has been or will be found.
The trouble is that all disputes about the existence of the latest will now take place without the possibility of evidence from the person most likely to know the correct answer. A false "will" can come from anywhere and a real will can be lost or suppressed.
Wouldn't it save a lot of trouble, and prevent many errors, if there were a system providing basic evidence for the existence of the latest will? There is a system for registering copyrights! There is a system for drivers licenses. There is a system for passports.
There should be a national registration for wills. They should be entered at some local courthouse with (to the extent possible) the creator of the will, a lawyer, and a witness, together with photographic, biometric and other identification, and a simple sworn statement.
Taking the existence of the latest registered will as primary evidence for the intention of the writer of the will would make errors and fraud less likely and more difficult.
Labels: Love's Will, probate
I have remarked on some special dates. I liked May 5, 2005 (5/5/5). The devil's day was June 6, 2006 (6/6/6).
At roughly noon yesterday (and just after midnight as well) we had the very special:
In about two years we'll have the eleventh hour:
One hundred 11 milliseconds into
The eleventh second of the eleventh minute
Of the eleventh hour
Of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2011:
Labels: 123456789, 5/5/5, 6/6/6, eleventh hour, Special Dates
Saturday, July 04, 2009
PALIN'S PLANS ($$$???) & TINA'S NEW GIG (???)
In October, she seemed a big draw (Palin & Fey), a fiery speaker (Palin & Fey), and something of a joke in national politics (Palin & Fey).
Republicans (at least those generally in the McCain domain) seem more critical of Palin's exit speech than Democrats. Indeed, backing out of the Governor's mansion before the term is up is not good Presidential politics.
If Palin were serious about politics now, she would take a few year's off, go to the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and fill in the gaps in her understanding about how things work and look from the 48 & the North East & DC.
A simpler plan would be to travel around giving support to Republican candidates all over. She could build a strong base of friends and allies. But it would not solidify her credentials for the rest of the country.
Much of her talk seemed to suggest the main reason for leaving was that her personal legal fees and the state's legal bill were reaching unacceptable heights. So a likely route for her is the lecture circuit (with or without a book). As a politically slanted entertainer, or even in non-political entertainment, she could likely do very nicely.
Should she get full-force into the political wars, she would also give Tina Fey a big present. It was sometimes difficult during the campaign remembering who was who. ("Wait, is that Tina Fey on TV or really the Governor?")
Even the latest speech had a wealth of ironic humor (the Daily Show probably regrets it does not broadcast on Fridays). With the ducks and geese bobbing and quacking and honking in the background it was hard not to remember the ill-fated Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon video, when she pardoned one bird in the foreground while visible in the background less fortunate birds were, well... not fortunate birds.
Labels: Sarah Palin, Tina Fey
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
THE BARD GOES GLOBAL: SHAKESPEARE FILMS AT FSLC
A Celebration of Shakespearean Cinema from Around the Globe
Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio
Romeo + Juliet
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, USA, 1996; 120m
Photo Credit: The Film Society of Lincoln Center/The Kobal Collection
Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey
Romeo and Juliet
Directed by Franco Zeffirelli, UK/Italy, 1968; 138m
Photo Credit: The Film Society of Lincoln Center/The Kobal Collection
Directed by Orson Welles, USA, 1948; 108m
Photo Credit: The Film Society of Lincoln Center/The Kobal Collection
Toshirô Mifune and Isuzu Yamada
Throne of Blood
Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1957; 110m
Photo Credit: The Film Society of Lincoln Center/The Kobal Collection
The Film Society of Lincoln Center (FSLC) will showcase a summertime selection of films based on the works of William Shakespeare with The Bard Goes Global: Shakespeare on the International Screen, a 12 day, 18 film series beginning on Wednesday, July 15 through Sunday, July 26. Director Julie Taymor will appear in person at a screening of Titus on Thursday, July 23.
18 Films 10 Countries 12 Days (July 15-26)
Romeo & Juliet (2 versions)
Hamlet (3 versions)
Macbeth (4 versions)
Antony & Cleopatra
Midsummer Night's Dream
Merchant Of Venice
Titus (Director Julie Taymor to Appear in Person)
Comments from FSLC:
"For a medium that spent many of its early years trying to distinguish itself from theater, cinema has often gravitated toward the challenges offered by Shakespeare. How much should a filmmaker refer to its theatrical origins? Do you embrace the opportunities cinema engenders to open up the play or guard against them? Should Shakespeare's historical settings be maintained or is the essence of his greatness its timelessness? And what should be done about Shakespeare's language? Despite (or perhaps, because of) these considerations, screen adaptations of the Bard's works continue apace; thirteen Shakespeare-based films are reportedly in production.
"To help prepare for this new Bardic wave, The Film Society offers the works of William Shakespeare through films from around the world, ranging from a Mumbai gangster-style Macbeth (Maqbool) to three renditions of Hamlet, two of which re-imagine the tragedy of the Prince of Demark as a tale of corporate corruption. Along the way, celebrated films by Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, Akira Kurosawa, Aki Kaurismäki, Derek Jarman, Grigori Kozintsev, Roman Polanski, Julie Taymor, Baz Luhrmann, and many more, can be rediscovered.
The Bard Goes Global opens on July 15 with one of two interpretations of Romeo and Juliet. Franco Zeffirelli's cinematic 1968 version (also showing on Thu Jul 16 & Sun Jul 19) was described by Roger Ebert as "the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made", earning the film two Oscars, including one for Best Cinematography. The director's wildly popular adaptation of Shakespeare's most ubiquitous work very much caught the spirit of the moment: shrewdly casting beautiful teenage unknowns Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, he emphasized the glory of young love when generational conflict was reaching a crescendo. Baz Luhrmann's 1996 interpretation, Romeo + Juliet (Wed Jul 22 & Sat Jul 25), transports the star-crossed lovers, played by a 22 year-old Leonardo DiCaprio and a teenage Claire Danes, to "Verona Beach," liberally peppering the original Elizabethan dialogue with modern-day accents.
In addition to two renderings of Romeo and Juliet are four very unique adaptations of Macbeth: Orson Welles' 1948 director's cut (Sat Jul 18), painstakingly restored by the UCLA Film & TV Archive (and out of print on DVD); Kurosawa's 1957 masterwork, taking place in medieval Japan, Throne of Blood (Wed Jul 15 & Sun Jul 19), praised by critic Harold Bloom as "the most successful film version of Macbeth"; Vishal Bhardwaj's imaginative 2003 Mumbai gangster rendition, Maqbool (Fri Jul 24 & Sun Jul 26) starring Irrfan Khan (Slumdog Millionaire, The Darjeeling Limited, The Namesake); and Polanski's 1971 collaboration with influential critic Kenneth Tynan (Tue Jul 21, Wed Jul 22 & Sun Jul 26).
Also included are three versions of Hamlet. Svend Gade and Heinz Schall's restored Danish silent from 1920 (Sat Jul 25)which premiered at the 2007 New York Film Festival with original polychrome tints intact features live piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin. This unique and madcap take on the story of the Prince of Denmark stars Danish diva Asta Nielsen playing the title role; Hamlet was born a princess and her gender was kept hidden. Finally, on Thursday, July 16 and Sunday, July 19 will be Michael Almereyda's 2000 edition starring Ethan Hawke & Bill Murray and on Thursday, July 23, Aki Kaurismäki's 1987 deadpan noir comedy Hamlet Goes Business (also showing on Fri Jul 24 & Sun Jul 26).
Other highlights include directorial debuts from Charlton Heston with Antony and Cleopatra (Sat Jul 18 & Mon Jul 20), Al Pacino in Looking for Richard (Wed Jul 22 & Sat Jul 25) and Laurence Olivier with his 1944 blockbuster Henry V (Wed Jul 15). In the biggest budgeted British film of the time, Olivier creates one of the most beloved Shakespeare adaptations at the movies, earning him a special "Honorary Oscar".
The Angelic Conversation
Derek Jarman, UK, 1985; 81m
Described by the director as "a dream world, a world of magic and ritual, yet there are images there of the burning cars and radar systems, which remind you there is a price to be paid in order to gain this dream in the face of a world of violence," this powerful examination of love and desire balances 14 Shakespearean sonnets (read by Judi Dench) with often astonishing tableaux that evoke everything from classic friezes to contemporary performance art. The project was shot on Super-8 then transferred to 35mm, giving each image a haunting effect, like paintings suddenly animating into life.
Sat Jul 18: 9:30pm
Thu Jul 23: 4:30pm
Antony and Cleopatra
Charlton Heston, UK/Spain/Switzerland, 1972; 160m
After years of monumental leading roles, Charlton Heston's first project as a director was this prime example of a character brought down by passion. He glided into the role of the Roman conqueror who Cleopatra (Hildegarde Neil) first abhors, then over whom she gradually and forcefully exerts her power. Rarely seen, this deeply felt rendition of Shakespeare's second Roman tragedy was a true labor of love for Heston, who co-wrote the screenplay, and presents a little-remembered side of the headliner's immense talent.
Sat Jul 18: 1:00pm
Mon Jul 20: 1:00pm
Svend Gade and Heinz Schall, Germany, 1920; 110m
Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin
Screened at the 2007 New York Film Festival, this very different approach to Hamlet was long available only in black and white. See it now in its original polychrome tint, thanks to a lovingly restored print courtesy of the German Film Institute. Danish screen diva Asta Nielsen was at the height of her popularity when she took on the title role with a twist: the Prince was born a Princess. For reasons of royal succession, her gender was disguised, a secret known only to Hamlet's parents and nursemaid. The text acquires provocative new resonance in this assertive, ever-powerful silent.
Sat Jul 25: 6:30pm
Michael Almereyda, USA, 2000; 112m
"Visually both brilliant and dark...This Hamlet may be closer to inspired collage than to poetic drama, but it releases the old fable with its emotional force intact."-David Denby
When the CEO of a major media conglomerate dies, his artsy son Hamlet (Ethan Hawke) discovers that something is rotten in the Denmark Corporation. Imagining, like Kaurismäki, the contemporary world of corporate skullduggery as an equivalent to medieval court intrigues, Almereyda creates a cool, steel-and-glass labyrinth for Shakespeare's most internal character, in which reflections and corporate branding brilliantly serve this executive prince's sense of wounded vanity. With Sam Shepard, Diane Verona, Kyle MacLachlan, Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, and Bill Murray as Polonius.
Thu Jul 16: 3:45pm and 9:15pm
Sun Jul 19: 4:00pm
Hamlet Goes Business / Hamlet liikemaailmassa
Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, 1987; 86m
Having tackled Dostoevsky with his first feature, Finnish malcontent Aki Kaurismäki confronted Shakespeare with his fourth: the somewhat clueless son of a deceased business magnate is visited by his father's ghost and, finally, given something to do. Lusciously shot in black and white and edited with the crisp pace of a B-movie, Hamlet Goes Business is remarkably faithful to its source-albeit rendered in Kaurismäki's trademark deadpan style. The final act, in which Hamlet re-stages his version of The Murder of Gonzago, is one of the comic highpoints of the director's career.
Thu Jul 23: 6:15pm
Fri Jul 24: 2:30pm
Sun Jul 26: 6:15pm
Henry V, aka The Chronicle History of Henry the Fift with his Battell Fought in Agincourt in France
Laurence Olivier, UK, 1944; 137m
"Almost continually, [Henry V] invests the art of Shakespeare-and the art of cinema as well-with a new spaciousness, a new mobility, a new radiance." ~James Agee
Olivier's debut as a film director-complete with a $2 million price tag that made it the most expensive British film production to that point-literally moves from the stage of the Globe Theater deep into the realm of cinema, as the once wild Prince Hal assumes the throne and faces down a purportedly invincible French army at the Battle of Agincourt. Made when British wartime morale was being especially challenged, Olivier's Henry V is often read as straight nationalistic propaganda. Nevertheless, it became and remains among the best-loved Shakespeare adaptations on screen.
Wed Jul 15: 1:15pm and 6:15pm
King Lear / Korol Lir
Grigori Kozintsev, USSR, 1971; 140m
The Soviet cinema made more than its share of celebrated adaptations of classic world literature, but Kozintsev's King Lear, the Shakespeare play labeled by one critic "the best suited to Russian adaptation, being the longest, wildest, starkest, and most replete with pain and suffering at all levels," is among the greatest film versions of Shakespeare in any language. Using Boris Pasternak's translation and a superb score by Shostakovich, Kozintsev fashions an exhilarating adaptation that vividly captures both the chaos of battle and the deepening madness of the king.
Sat Jul 18: 4:15pm
Mon Jul 20: 3:20pm
Looking for Richard
Al Pacino, USA, 1996; 112m
This provocative musing on the Bard's place in today's culture follows Pacino's search for the soul of Richard III. Dedicated to rescuing the work from academic speculations and giving it back to the audience, he discusses performing Shakespeare with luminaries Vanessa Redgrave, John Gielgud, and Kenneth Branagh, while working through the play in a production co-starring Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, and Kevin Spacey. Along the way, Pacino expresses both his touching reverence for Shakespeare's genius and an unbridled enthusiasm in sharing his pleasure with us all.
Wed Jul 22: 3:50pm
Sat Jul 25: 1:30pm
RESTORED DIRECTOR'S CUT
Orson Welles, USA, 1948; 108m
In the late '40s, Republic Studios president Herbert Yates moved to upgrade his B-studio by hiring name-brand filmmakers John Ford, Allan Dwan, and, following the failure of The Lady From Shanghai, Orson Welles. Welles's Macbeth, shot on the studio backlot in 23 days, brought out the true darkness of the play, but Yates grew nervous hearing that his actors were to speak with Scottish accents. He soon cut the film by 20 minutes and re-recorded the dialogue. This print, the result of exhaustive research by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, restores Welles's version, as well as the overture and original exit music.
Print courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Macbeth preservation funded by The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
Sat Jul 18: 7:00pm
Roman Polanski, UK/USA, 1971; 140m
In perhaps the least romantic take on the Scot who would be king, Polanski, working with critic Kenneth Tynan, focuses on Macbeth's (Jon Finch) bloody will to rule and downplays his ruminations on the costs. In a daring move often inspiring mention of the then-recent murder of Polanski's wife Sharon Tate, the director includes an off-stage scene, Duncan's murder, rendering it from Macbeth's point of view. Seen today, Polanski's Macbeth firmly stands alongside the era's other meditations on ultra-violence, A Clockwork Orange and Straw Dogs, as harsh rebukes to the idea that humankind's worst instincts can be controlled.
Tue Jul 21: 2:00pm
Wed Jul 22: 8:40pm
Sun Jul 26: 8:00pm
The Maori Merchant of Venice / Te Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti
Don Selwyn, New Zealand, 2002; 158m
Made by a group of New Zealand filmmakers as the first feature completely shot in the Maori language, The Maori Merchant of Venice follows Hairoka (Waihoroi Shortland), an importer-exporter and religious pariah among his fellow wealthy Maoris. The film explores the creation of his outsider status and the uses his community makes of it. In a unique role reversal, Maori actors wear silks and satins while the few Caucasian role-players are treated as exotic others, offering a fascinating cross-cultural examination of Shakespeare.
Thu Jul 16: 6:15pm
Sun Jul 19: 1:00pm
Vishal Bhardwaj, India, 2003; 132m
Composer-cum-filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj's Maqbool is an engaging update of Macbeth set in contemporary Mumbai. Maqbool (the excellent Irrfan Khan, Slumdog Millionaire) is a leading henchman for crime boss Abbaji (an award-winning performance by Pankaj Kapoor), until two corrupt cops predict he will soon take over Abbaji's criminal empire with the help of his boss's mistress, Nimmi. Bhardwaj, who co-wrote the screenplay with Abbas Tyrewala, works outside of Bollywood convention, avoiding numerous subplots to focus on Maqbool's relentless rise to power and his inevitable collapse.
Fri Jul 24: 8:15pm
Sun Jul 26: 1:00pm
A Midsummer Night's Dream
William Dieterle and Max Reinhardt, USA, 1935; 132m
The romantic intrigue in the court of Theseus, Duke of Athens, has failed to pair each suitor with the right partner. That's nothing a few servings of the right magic can't cure. The only U.S. film credit for the highly influential Austro-German theater director Max Reinhardt is this Warner Bros. super-production, based on his 1934 staging in The Hollywood Bowl. Adding to his extraordinarily inventive cinematic vision are a superb James Cagney as Bottom, Olivia de Havilland as Hermia, Dick Powell as Lysander, and, unforgettably, Mickey Rooney as Puck.
Fri Jul 24: 4:15pm
Sun Jul 26: 3:45pm
Romeo and Juliet
Franco Zeffirelli, UK/Italy, 1968; 138m
"I believe Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet is the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made...because it has the passion, the sweat, the violence, the poetry, the love, and the tragedy in the most immediate terms I can imagine. It is a deeply moving piece of entertainment." ~Roger Ebert
Zeffirelli's wildly popular, Oscar-winning adaptation of Shakespeare's most ubiquitous work very much caught the spirit of the moment: shrewdly casting beautiful teenage unknowns Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, he emphasized the glory of young love when generational conflict was reaching a crescendo. Although taking great liberties with the text, he makes up what the film lacks in authenticity with a real sense of lived experience.
Wed Jul 15: 9:00pm
Thu Jul 16: 1:00pm
Sun Jul 19: 6:20pm
Romeo + Juliet
Baz Luhrmann, USA, 1996; 120m
Baz Luhrmann's eye-catching second feature transports the star-crossed lovers to an ocean-side North American suburb ("Verona Beach"), liberally peppering the original Elizabethan dialogue with modern-day accents and gun-toting action. Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes generate plenty of on-screen heat while handling the text with admirable ease. Few adaptations have played more successfully with the inherent tensions between theatrical tradition and cinematic potential. With John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, Brian Dennehy, and Paul Rudd.
Wed Jul 22: 1:30pm and 6:15pm
Sat Jul 25: 3:45pm
Derek Jarman, UK, 1979; 95m
"The concept of forgiveness in The Tempest attracted me; it's a rare enough quality and almost absent in our world. To know who your enemies are, but to accept them for what they are, befriend them, and plan for a happier future is something we sorely need." ~Derek Jarman
When a shipwreck strands Alonso on the obscure island on which he had banished his royal brother, the magician Prospero, and niece, Miranda, Prospero must decide how far to go to exact revenge. The late, great Derek Jarman presents Shakespeare's final play as a meditation on the possibility of re-invention, giving his exception visual imagination free rein in a film that combines elements of the Baroque, Gothic, and Roaring '20s.
Thu Jul 23: 2:30pm
Fri Jul 24: 6:15pm
Sat Jul 25: 9:00pm
Throne of Blood, aka Macbeth / Kumonosu jô
Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1957; 110m
When an old woman prophesizes that Lord Washizu (the great Toshirô Mifune) will one day become daimyo, the local provincial ruler, his wife Asaji (Isuza Yamada) spurs her husband into increasingly greater risks. Kurosawa's extraordinary adaptation of Macbeth, stripped of most dialogue and minor characters and performed through the stylistic filter of Japanese Noh theater, could scarcely be farther from the original. Yet few, if any, more effective screen adaptations of Shakespeare exist. Magnificently photographed on sets built on the side of Mount Fuji, Throne of Blood is one of Kurosawa's greatest achievements.
Wed Jul 15: 4:00pm
Sun Jul 19: 9:10pm
Julie Taymor, Italy/USA/UK, 1999; 162m
Julie Taymor, fresh from her stage triumph The Lion King, boldly took up the challenge of one of Shakespeare's earliest and most violent texts, grounding its horrors in recognizable if repellent emotions and her signature stunning visuals. Following his victory over the Goths, Roman general Titus Andronicus (Anthony Hopkins) returns home with the captured Goth queen Tamora (Jessica Lange). Despite her pleas for mercy, he sacrifices the queen's eldest son in memory of his own slain children. Thus begins a brutal cycle of revenge and treachery. With Alan Cumming and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Julie Taymor will be in person for this screening!
Thu Jul 23: 8:00pm
What's playing when:
Wednesday, July 15
1:15 Henry V
4:00 Throne of Blood
6:15 Henry V
9:00 Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Thursday, July 16
1:00 Romeo and Juliet (1968)
3:45 Hamlet (2000)
6:15 The Maori Merchant of Venice
9:15 Hamlet (2000)
Saturday, July 18
1:00 Antony and Cleopatra
4:15 King Lear
7:00 Macbeth (1948)
9:30 The Angelic Conversation
Sunday, July 19
1:00 The Maori Merchant of Venice
4:00 Hamlet (2000)
6:20 Romeo and Juliet (1968)
9:10 Throne of Blood
Monday, July 20
1:00 Antony and Cleopatra
3:20 King Lear
Tuesday, July 21
2:00 Macbeth (1971)
Wednesday, July 22
1:30 Romeo + Juliet (1996)
3:50 Looking for Richard
6:15 Romeo + Juliet (1996)
8:40 Macbeth (1971)
Thursday, July 23
2:30 The Tempest
4:30 The Angelic Conversation
6:15 Hamlet Goes Business
Friday, July 24
2:30 Hamlet Goes Business
4:15 A Midsummer Night's Dream
6:15 The Tempest
Saturday, July 25
1:30 Looking for Richard
3:45 Romeo + Juliet (1996)
6:30 Hamlet (1920)
9:00 The Tempest
Sunday, July 26
3:45 A Midsummer Night's Dream
6:15 Hamlet Goes Business
8:00 Macbeth (1971)
Single Screening Tickets: $7 members/students/child - $8 senior - $11 public
Series Pass ($40 public/$30 member): admits one person to five titles in the series;
only available for purchase at the box office ~ subject to availability.
Labels: enter, FSLC, Hamlet, Macbeth, Shakespeare, The Film Society of Lincoln Center