Summer 2001 Film Schedule
The North Carolina Museum of Art rockets into the first summer of the 21st century with a selection of classic science fiction films. Robots and Monsters reflect our fears that the future will challenge our concept of what it means to be human. But, we've made this far! It's 2001!
All film screenings at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Bring a blanket, a beach chair and a picnic to Movies on the Lawn, the Triangle's most convivial filmgoing experience. This summer, triangle.com will sponsor weekly contests and prizes. Log onto their website (but not yet!) for the latest contest updates, ticket information or the low down on the fabulous concert schedule, only hinted at here. For the complete summer film and concert schedule as well as directions to the NCMA, visit ncartmuseum.org. Or, call the Museum box office at (919) 715-5923.
Celtic Weekend! June 1 concert at 8 p.m. with Cherish the Ladies hosted by Fiona Ritchie, and:
Billy Elliot (2000) Directed by Stephen Daldry. Julie Walters, Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Jamie Draven (110 min.) Rated R for language.
Billy is a dreamer trapped in a coal-mining town in northern England. His working class family views his artistic aspirations as effeminate, compared to manly sports and the ritual suicide of the mine. His talent for ballet turns out to be both a release for his anger, and for the life-long disappointments of his hard-bitten dance teacher. The miners' strike was a defining event in modern British history and was really a class war, a bitter conflict Billy reenacts in his own home. Soaring musical numbers pave his path to a life outside County Durham.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Directed by Robert Wise. Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Sam Jaffee, Hugh Marlowe. Score by Bernard Herrmann. (92min.) Not rated, but suitable for all ages. Screenings preceeded by a Theremin concert by virtuoso performer and composer Eric Ross.
Klaatu, an extra-terrestrial ambassador on a peace mission, and his robot, Gort, land in Washington D.C. in their flying saucer. Klaatu dismisses the Cold War consuming Earth as a "petty squabble" but fears its capacity for triggering mass destruction. Politicians, soldiers and the media are the enemy, squared off against the sane influences of women, children and an Einstein-ish scientist. The evocative theremin score is by the maestro who wrote music for films from Citizen Kane to Vertigo and Psycho to Taxi Driver, thrillingly underscoring the mission of an inerstellar Messiah. "Gort! Klaatu barada nicto!"
June 9: (2 p.m.)
Theremin, An Electronic Odyssey (1993) Directed by Steven M. Martin. Documentary (84 min.) Rated PG for brief strong language. Screening preceeded by a Theremin lecture/ demonstration by Eric Ross.
The spooky, wailing sound of the Theremin has accompanied scenes of the cinefantastic, from Hitchcock's Spellbound to Tim Burton's Ed Wood. But, the life of its inventor truly justifies the description "stranger than fiction." Leon Theremin's electronic odyssey begins with his 1920 invention of a musical instrument played, not by touching it, but by disturbing the surrounding magnetic fields. He lived a Manhattan high-life between the wars, but was kidnapped off the street by the KGB and forced to create eavesdropping devices for Stalin. And, that's not all…
Alien (1979) Directed by Ridley Scott. Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver (117 min.) Rated R for violence; unsuitable for children.
Royal College of Art graduate Ridley Scott collaborated with surrealist artist H. R. Geiger to tart up a 1950s monster movie in a brilliant fusion of high tech and corrupting flesh. At the end, kick-butt spacebabe Ripley has "a stupefying confrontation with the most repulsive creature ever seen on the screen." (Gene Wright). Don't forget: In space, no one can hear you scream.
Aliens (1986) Directed by James Cameron. Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser (135 min.) Rated R for violence; unsuitable for children.
Ripley, sole survivor of the last Alien attack, pits her maternal instincts against those of the Alien Queen in this scary, exhilarating sequel. James Cameron, sizzling from his success with Arnold in The Terminator, jettisoned Ridley Scott's perversely biological environment for a crisply technological one. Heavily laced with Vietnam-era combat lingo, Cameron endorsed the description, "Hellcats of the Pacific in Space." Does Aliens surpass the original?
Buena Vista Social Club (1999) Directed by WimWenders. With Ibrahim Ferrer, Ruben Gonzalez, Eliades Ohhoa, Compay Segundo, Ry and Joaquim Cooder. (105 min.) Rated G.
Both fascinating documentary and electrifying concert, Buena Vista Social Club is a heartfelt valentine to the musicians of old Havana. Ry Cooder writes: "The players and singers of the 'son de Cuba' have nurtured this very refined and deeply funky music in an atmosphere sealed off from the fallout of a hyper-organized and noisy world. . . . In Cuba the music flows like a river. It takes care of you and rebuilds you from the inside out." Note: The film appeared in last year's schedule but had to be canceled due to rainy weather. We have rescheduled it in advance of a concert appearance by the Buena Vista Social Club later this month at Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) Directed by Joel Coen, written by Ethan Coen, Homer. George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman (106 min) Rated PG-13 for language, brief violence. Preceeded by an "Old Time Country Music Jamboree" at 7 p.m. starring the Whites (featured on the O Brother soundtrack) and the Williamson Brothers.
The Coen Brothers shaggy dog Odyssey follows a trio of chain gang fugitives across the parched, Depression-era South. Clooney brings real Movie Star wattage to a verbose con man devoted to his Dapper Dan hair pomade. This audacious comedy begins with an invocation to the Muse, and combines the Greek epic with an inspiring country roots soundtrack, an homage to 1930s prison films and a Klan rally staged like Dorothy's rescue from the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West.
High Fidelity (2000) Directed by Stephen Frears. John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Todd Louiso, Jack Black (113 min.) Rated R for language and some sexuality.
Rob, played with romantic pizazz by Cusack, owns Championship Vinyl, a specialist record store on an unfashionable Chicago street. He's either relieved or upset (or both) that his live-in love has moved out, and is obsessed with archiving both his pop record collection and his failed romances. The store's misfit shop clerks, loudmouth Jack and mousy Dick, help him compile endless top five lists (episodes of Cheers, records made by blind musicians, Dustin Hoffman films, side one track ones…) in this smart and funny adaption of Nick Hornby's novel.
Forbidden Planet (1956) Directed by Fred M. Wilcox. Leslie Nielson, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Warren Stevens (98 min.) Not Rated; a bit scary for the youngest.
Shakespeare and Freud collide under the green skies of Altair IV. Leslie Nielson (in his MGM starlet days) plays a proto-Captain Kirk whose space ship scouts for a long-lost Earth colony and unleashes forces best left alone. Suavely mysterious Dr. Morbius and his chaste daughter Altaira appear to be the only survivors…but are they? Robby the Robot plays Ariel in this lavish outer space version of The Tempest.
Toy Story II (1999) Directed by John Lasseter. Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer (85 min.) Rated G.
When a corpulent collector toynaps cowboy doll Woody, the rest of the Toy Story gang set off on a rescue mission to Al's Toy Barn, and Beyond! A jokey and breathless chase, II gleams with Hanks' tender reading of Woody and the addition of Joan Cusack's spunky cowgirl Jessie. An animated identity crisis for Woody and Buzz Lightyear, II scolds the "mint in box" Boomer fetishizing of childhood artifacts to champion the joy of simple play.
Chicken Run (2000) Directed by Peter Lord, Nick Park. Voices of Julia Sawalha, Mel Gibson, Jane Horrocks (84 min.) Rated G.
Plucky Ginger yearns desperately for freedom in this poultry P.O.W. film from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. Are the anxious inhabitants of Tweedy's Farm doomed to become chicken pies? Ginger enlists a cocky American rooster to change their fate. Richly detailed with English eccentricities and not beholden to sunny Disney-esque plotting, Chicken Run is both hilarious and unsentimental.
Silent Film Weekend with the Alloy Orchestra!
Metropolis (1926) Directed by Fritz Lang. Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Frohlich, Rudolph Klien-Rogge (90min.) Not rated, but suitable for all ages.
Inspired by the skyline of 1920s Manhattan, Lang created a throbbing, dystopian uber-city of the year 2000, where a decadent aristocracy thrives on the sweat of laboring hoards underground. Filtered through both German Expressionism and Christian theology, this dark fairy tale pits man against machine, and the head against the heart. Brigitte Helm plays the good Human Maria and the bad Robot Maria, created in an unforgettable, iconic scene. The imagery set a precedent for all future SF films, "Metropolis fills the imagination." (Roger Ebert).
Nosferatu (1922) Directed by F.W.Murnau. Max Schreck, Alexander Granach, Gustav von Wangenheim (83 min.) Not Rated, but scary for the youngest.
Max Schreck played Dracula, not like Lugosi's suave nobleman, but as a vile, rat-like living corpse. Bram Stoker's Dracula has been "undead and in print" (James Craig Holte) since first published in 1897. This early version changed the names (to evade copyright) and is a waking nightmare, an undisputed masterpiece of horror. If Willem Dafoe's bravura performance as Schreck in Shadow of a Vampire whetted your appetite for the source, behold the vampire: Nosferatu. Shown with: Dragonflies, the Baby Cries, a new (2000) silent film by Jane Gillooly. Neighborhood children hear a mysterious signal and gather in a dark wood to weave a magic spell.
August 3: (The African Queen will not be shown as scheduled. The distributor of this film has gone out of business, a sad state of affairs for all repertory programmers.)
In A Lonely Place (1950) Directed by Nicholas Ray. Humphrey Bogart, Gloria Grahame, Frank Lovejoy (94 min.)
"I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me." Volatile screenwriter Dixon Steele is suspected of a hatcheck girl's murder but is alibied by a sultry neighbor. Bogart gave one of his sharpest performances as a self-destructive denizen of Hollywood's shadows in this moody film noir. Directed by Nicholas Ray, who would soon immortalize James Dean as the "Rebel Without a Cause."
Alfred Hitchcock's birthday celebration!
North by Northwest (1959) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason (136 min.) Not rated, but suitable for all ages.
The innocent man wrongly accused + the cool blonde temptress + the heartstopping climax = classic Hitchcock. An advertising executive having a drink at the Plaza Hotel is mistaken for a spy and finds himself running for his life from a crop duster in a deserted Midwestern cornfield and skittering off the giant heads of Mt. Rushmore. "North by Northwest is rightfully acclaimed as Hitchcock's greatest comic thriller" (Paul Condon and Jim Sangster).
Best in Show (2000) Directed by Christopher Guest, Written by Guest and Eugene Levy. Guest, Levy, Parker Posey, Michael Hitchcock, Catherine O'Hara (90 min.) Rated PG-13 for language and sexual references.
Is Christopher Guest the funniest man in America? His third "mockumentary" (after This Is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman) follows some single-minded and possibly deranged aspirants to the title "Best in Show" at the Mayflower Kennel Club. All dialogue is improvised and the crackerjack cast finds humanity as well as humor in their oddball characters. Denied permission to film at a real dog show, Guest staged his own and had his actors and their dogs coached by a professional handler for the ultimate in canine authenticity.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Directed by Ang Lee. Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi (119 min.) Rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and brief sexuality.
Ang Lee reinvents the Hong Kong martial arts movie with Yuen Wo-Ping's soaring choreography embellishing an epic historical romance. Propelled by the fury of an exquisitely beautiful princess, the quest for a legendary sword awakens slumbering passions. Preceeded by a live demonstration by Shaolin kung-fu master Hu Jianqiang.
Gladiator (2000) Directed by Ridley Scott. Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed (154 min.) Rated R for intense, graphic combat. Unsuitable for children.
A noble hero brought low by the treachery of a corrupt usurper claws his way back to glory in this satisfying revenge fantasy. Ridley Scott's impeccable recreation of ancient Rome and Russell Crowe's form-fitting armor revivify the sword and sandal epic. Gladiator was the big winner at the Oscars this year; but don't forget, in 1941, How Green Was My Valley beat out Citizen Kane.
All film screenings at 9 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Bring a blanket or beach chairs and a picnic to Movies on the Lawn, the Triangle's most convivial filmgoing experience. This summer, triangle.com will sponsor weekly contests and prizes. Log onto their website (but not yet!) for the latest contest updates, ticket information or the low down on live performances. For a complete film and concert schedule and directions to the NCMA, visit ncartmuseum.org. Or, call the Museum box office at (919) 715-5923.
(Photos from The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet from Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Material Store. Metropolis photo of that bad Robot Maria from Screen Deco (1985) by Howard Mandelbaum and Eric Myers, Nosferatu photo from the Janus Films catalogue I booked from in college in the 1970s. In a Lonely Place photo from The Great Movie Stars The Golden Years by David Shipman (1970). North by Northwest photo from Ian Cameron's The Heavies (1967) which I bought because it had biographies and filmographies of every Special Guest Villain on 1960s tv. I admit, at the time, Martin Landau, on the right of Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, meant much more to me than that.)