Room at the Top (1959)
You probably know the
movies, made in Britain and Hollywood over the course
of three decades, but you might not recognize the director's name. The Harvard
Film Archive rectifies that with their retrospective series Jack Clayton: Between Innocence and
Experience. It starts tonight with two of his masterpieces from the British
After the oneiric convolutions of Guy Maddin, "The Anarchic Imagination of Alex Cox," a retrospective series
playing at the Harvard Film Archive through June 11, should be a piece of cake.
Today they'll be screening Repo Man
(1984; 7 pm), Cox's first and perhaps best film. In it Emilio Estevez plays the
title debt collector whose life goes off the tracks when he repos a car with a
surprise in the trunk.
Barren Lives (Vidas Secas)
Brazilian cinema owes much of its vitality, relevance,
and international stature to the director celebrated in the Harvard Film
Archive retrospective, "Nelson Pereira
dos Santos, Cinema Novo and Beyond," which runs through May 7. For over
half a century dos Santos has made vivid neorealistic films that are
politically committed and quintessentially Brazilian.
Black Natchez (1967)
documentaries can be risky, as Ed Pincus,
one of the leading local pioneers in the field, learned in the 1970s when a
contact helping him with his 1967 documentary Black Natchez threatened his life, forcing him and his family into
seclusion. That ill-fated film will open the Harvard Film Archive retrospective
of his work, "Ed Pincus, Lost and Found,"
which will run through April 9.
Although Shoah (1985), Claude
monumental account of the Holocaust, was over nine hours long, a lot was left
out. For example, the full interview with Jan Karski, the Polish Resistance
leader who travelled to Washington
to inform President Roosevelt of the ongoing genocide that he had witnessed.
The Harvard Film Archive series Sing,
Memory: The Post-War England of Terence Davies celebrates one of the
greatest living British filmmakers. Davies's work includes period-rich,
semi-autobiographical films such as Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) - which engage in a
kind of working-class Proustian remembrance of things past- and meticulously
detailed, compelling adaptations, such as his newest film, The
Deep Blue Sea
Had F. Scott Fitzgerald been more adept at the art of
cinema, he might have had a career like that of the urbane auteur celebrated in
the Harvard Film Archive retrospective The Discreet Charm of Whit Stillman. It runs through Sunday,
opening today with his exquisite debut feature Metropolitan (1990), a Renoir-esque
exploration of the Manhattan debutante scene where socialites can be socialists
and everyone has something elegant, witty, and urbane to say.
Korean cinema has always possessed kinetic pizzazz,
but Park Kwang-su, little known in the West, helped it develop its poetry,
profundity, and political impact. The Harvard Film Archive series Park Kwang-su and the Origins
of the Korean New Wave,
which runs through February 27, will present a retrospective of the director's
films, beginning with A Single Spark (1995), an adaptation of the true story of a
factory worker who immolated himself in 1971 protesting unconscionable working
Michael Almereyda made a big indie stir with his 1994 vampire movie
Nadja followed up in 2000 with his post-modern version of Hamlet starring Ethan
Hawke. Since then he has kept a low profile making non-fiction films, including
Paradise (2009), which is essentially a visual diary recording everyday
The Robert Bresson retrospective
at the Harvard Film Archive continues with Une Femme Douce (1969), a film which, along with
Bresson's Mouchette, Au hasard Balthazar, The Trial of Joan of Arc, and others, demonstrates the great auteur's empathy with
the suffering of women and his austere acknowledgment of their dignity and
appalled that Tilda Swinton was snubbed for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for
her role as the beleaguered mother of a sociopath in Lynne Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin. See what they're talking about at this preview
screening of the harrowing, and sometimes hilarious, film at the Harvard Film
Every new film by Claire Denis is a cinematic event, even more so when the
great French director is on hand to discuss it afterwards. She'll be doing so
at tonight's screening of her most recent film, White Material (2009), which stars the
inimitable Isabelle Huppert as the determined French matriarch of a family-run
coffee plantation in an African country convulsed by civil war.
His films blow through the over-produced pabulum of
most current cinema like a brisk, purifying breeze. The Harvard Film Archive
opens its massive month-long retrospective The Complete Robert Bresson with Pickpocket ( 1959; 7 pm + January 22
at 5 pm), a meticulously detailed portrait of a young man learning the title
trade that is both a how-to masterpiece and an existential enigma.
Henri-Georges Clouzot has often been compared to Hitchcock,
but even the master of suspense couldn't come up with some of the excruciating
twists that are in the French director's masterpiece Diabolique (1955). The mistress (Simone Signoret) and the
wife (Vera Clouzot, the director's spouse) of the headmaster of a miserable
boarding school agree that the guy is a pig and plot to do him in.
He took his inspiration
from Alfred Hitchcock by way of Jean-Paul Sartre and made ingeniously
suspenseful movies that were all the more powerful because of their existential
implications. That is especially true of The Wages of Fear (1953), the opening
film for the Harvard Film Archive retrospective The Complete Henri-Georges Clouzot, which runs through December 18.