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Considered a key film about the French reaction to the Algerian war, Le Joli Mai, or literally “Lovely May,” is also a tone poem for the French New Wave and many of its concerns, both philosophical and formal. The film’s impetus was the ceasefire between France and Algeria in 1962, ushering in a moment considered by some as “the first spring of peace”—the first time since 1939 that France was not involved in any war. The essay film Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme produced, one of the first to be shot portable 16mm camera with direct sound, is a very personal treatise on the lingering discontent and complexities as reflected in Parisian society at that moment. Although Marker was still alive when the restoration on Le Joli Mai began, he sadly passed away before it was complete. His co-director on the film, Lhomme (one of France’s most renowned cinematographers), supervised the work and the re-edit to bring the documentary closer to what Marker had originally wanted—a lasting tribute that premiered at Cannes in 2013 and is now here in the Twin Cities.

Le Joli Mai screens only twice: Monday and Tuesday, January 6 and 7, 7:00pm both nights.

It’s cold. We know. Come see a movie!

 

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Often lumped in with l’enfant terrible filmmakers like Catherine Breillat and Gaspar Noé, Bruno Dumont has softened his approach since Twentynine Palms (2003) made you want to through your Milk Duds at the screen. A more even temperament has added an interesting dimension to his work, but it is also somewhat relative, given the difficult, brutal, and sometimes confusing material found in Flanders (2006), Hadewijch (2009), and Hors Satan (2011). His most recent promises to be another experiment in these same waters (and on us), but with an unusual tick of conformity in structure: a historical biopic starring Juliette Binoche.

Camille Claudel 1915 takes place over three days in an asylum where Claudel has been institutionalized and where she would eventually die. Forget the fiery costume aesthetics of the 1988 Bruno Nuytten/Isabelle Adjani film – Dumont subdues all colors to ash, moderates all emotions with resignation and heartbreak, and casts real-life mentally disable people in supporting roles. The result is something unique to the combination of Dumont’s rigor and Binoche’s humanity.

Camille Claudel 1915 screens Monday, December 9 and Tuesday, December 10 at 7:00pm and 9:00pm. Advanced tickets available at trylon.org

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“Elmer Gantry is an all American boy! He’s interested in money, sex…and religion.”

Burt Lancaster was nominated four times for a Leading Actor Oscar (From Here to Eternity, Elmer Gantry, Birdman of Alcatraz and Atlantic City), but only pulled down a win once for Elmer Gantry, screening tonight and tomorrow at the Trylon. Based on the novel of the same name by Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry tells the story of a slick con man, played by Lancaster, and a pious agent of God, played by Jean Simmons, who team up for a hard-to-beat religious roadshow. Lancaster uses his charisma to create award-winning appeal as the fiery preacher, but his past is about to catch up with him in the form of a woman scorned!

As with our entire Burt Lancaster series, Elmer Gantry will be presented on beautiful 35mm. Buy tickets in advance for screenings on Monday and Tuesday, November 11 and 12, at 7:00pm.

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Halloween Italian style continues at the Trylon this week with Mario Bava’s Lisa and the Devil. Edited, recut, and reshot as The House of Exorcism when it was released in the US in 1976, we present the film in its original form with Bava’s lush cinematography and disturbing story intact. Telly Savalas (aka Kojak) takes a devilish turn as Leandro, a mad puppetmaster who sends Lisa, an innocent young tourist, on a road to hell and back…literally. Not for the faint of heart, Lisa and the Devil is a classic in the Italian horror genre.

Lisa and the Devil screens Monday and Tuesday at 7:00 and 9:00pm. Advanced tickets available at trylon.org. Big collared shirts encouraged.

 

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The following post is by Trylon volunteer and programer John Moret who is a regular contributor to All-Star Video.

The 1970s was a golden age for American Cinema. John Cassavetes should stand up next to Robert Altman as one of the reasons that is so. Unfortunately, he is too often overlooked by the likes of Spielberg, Coppola and Scorsese.  He is in every way their equal, but chose to work in decidedly unmarketable territory… character pieces that resemble the complexities of real life. He deplored violence and his films share little resemblance to the extremely popular gritty directors of his day. For instance, during the making of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, he hesitated during the filming of the titular scene. Production stopped for hours as he debated with his producer over including the violent sequence in the film. In the end, the producer convinced him, the title of the film was The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, after all.

Cassavetes was famously generous. He often worked with a small group of performers and friends. His wife, Gena Rowlands, was a brilliant actress that often led the troupe both on and off camera. They were known to work in their home, often cooking themselves for the cast and crew. Some of them would live with the couple in hard times. Cassavetes acted regularly in mediocre (and some brilliant, ie: Rosemary’s Baby) films to fund his small budget, completely independent directorial efforts.

His films range from jazz surrealism (Shadows) to reflexive stage drama (Opening Night). They are about social structures, family, love and the quiet moments we each have in our solitude. And, every one of them is infused with compassion and humor. He pulls the best possible performance out of every actor. As a viewer, you almost feel as if you know each and every character. He is also one of the best directors of actors to ever have graced the silver screen. Rowlands’ performance here and in A Woman Under the Influence can stand with any other actress in any other film.

And, so we come to Love Streams. His last film. A merging of all the themes from his earlier work. It is a sad and yet optimistic goodbye to a style that has never been duplicated.

In the vein of Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence, Love Streams is about mental illness and those who love the mentally ill.

It is a true vision of illness. A film like Silver Linings Playbook is a sweet-natured little film, but it is in the end just a romantic comedy with likable characters. Robert and Sarah, on the other hand are not stuck in a formula. We have no idea how their journey will end. Ultimately, they are both mad and have so little to rely on, outside of their love for one another. Sarah begins with a declaration and by the end the sentence turns to a question.

“Is love a continuous stream?  Does it stop?”

The BFI put this film as one of the top 250 films of all time (no. 231 to be exact), and it absolutely deserves it.

This film is two and a half hours of living with very flawed, real people. It is, at times, excruciating. Such as the scene in the backyard of Jack’s house where Sarah tries desperately to make her husband and daughter laugh, and instead they stare blankly, without mercy. Rowlands is so in tune with her character that I began to see her as Sarah by the end.

Cassavetes performance is a tour de force of hard emotional avoidance. However, his performance is also funny and compassionate. At one moment, he turns to his son that he hasn’t seen since his birth (while giving him beer for breakfast) and explains, “I don’t like men.  I don’t make any money on them. They’re not interesting to me. Someday, when you’re 14, go hitch-hike across the country and see real men. Not the ones here in suits. See what they’re really like.” A few moments later, he leans back and says, “I don’t like women anyway, you know. I like kids and old people. They don’t need anything. They’re innocent.”

Love Streams is unavailable on DVD and to buy a used VHS in the states, it will cost you a pretty penny.

The Trylon’s 35mm screenings will be a rare treasure not to be missed.

Love Streams (1984) directed by John Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands and Cassavetes screens September 27-29, Friday and Saturday 7:00 & 9:30 pm, Sunday 5:00 & 7:30 pm. Advanced tickets available at trylon.org.