Matt & Jim's Film Forum
Please join us for a classic film and lively discussion afterward!
(all screenings are at 7 pm in the Polygon Room of the Forum)
2015-16: 15th season (American Mythology):
Fri., Nov. 6 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) (credits) John Ford brings together two of the greatest actors of a generation, Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne, in this 1962 masterpiece. Wayne’s gunslinger represents the West’s past reliance on violence to bring justice while Stewart’s lawyer incarnates the modern civilized system of laws. Whose ways will win out when their town is challenged by the lawless Lee Marvin? (123 mins)
Fri., Dec. 4 On the Waterfront (1954) (credits) (detailed film notes) "It is necessary to stand up to corruption, even at great personal risk." This is the universal truth of this highly acclaimed (nominated for 11 Oscars, it won 8) 1954 American crime drama, directed by Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, and Rod Steiger. At the time the film resonated on many levels, speaking to the McCarthy hearings, trying to defend those in Hollywood, such as Kazan himself, who "named names." The moral imperative also applied to those who would later stand up to McCarthy and HUAC, and to those today who are willing to sacrifice all for what they see as right. In addition to political statements, however, the film is important in changing the nature of Hollywood movies, both in terms of acting style (Brando's brilliant "Method style" performance as longshoreman Terry Malloy) and also the location and feel of studio pictures. (108 mins)
Sat., Jan. 9 His Girl Friday (1940) (credits) (detailed film notes) Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell team up as a pair of competing newspaper reporters (and ex-spouses), each desperate to outdo the other in the pursuit of a scoop. Sometimes referred to as “the fastest comedy ever made,” this film is full of witty dialogue uttered at breakneck speed, ably directed by Howard Hawks. Ralph Bellamy is along for the ride, and, as usual, does not get the girl. (92 mins)
Fri., April 1 American Beauty (1999) (credits) Rotten Tomatoes says that this 1999 romantic drama is "A biting, penetrating and often humorous take on contemporary life in suburban America." We say that Kevin Spacey is outstanding as office worker Lester Burnham who has a mid-life crisis when he becomes fixated on his teen daughter's best friend Angela (Mena Suvari). The movie has an impressive supporting cast including Annette Bening and Chris Cooper, and was an immediate popular and critical hit. It won five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Actor (Spacey), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. But how does the film hold up after 16 years and great changes in American society and film sensibilities? [Rated R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content. (122 mins.)]
Mon., June 6, 6:30 pm The Searchers (1956) (credits) (detailed plot analysis) In this revered Western, Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) returns home to Texas after the Civil War. When members of his brother's family are killed or abducted by Comanches, he vows to track down his surviving relatives and bring them home. Eventually, Edwards gets word that his niece Debbie (Natalie Wood) is alive, and, along with her adopted brother, Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), he embarks on a dangerous mission to find her, journeying deep into Comanche territory. SPECIAL SHOWING at Beverly's Cabot Cinema (details here)
2014-15: 14th season (What's Left Out?):
Fri., Nov. 7 Caché. (2005) (credits) The theme of this our 14th Season of films and discussion is "What's Left Out." We couldn't ask for a better director for leaving things out and making the audience work than Michael Haneke. Caché (Hidden) stars Daniel Auteuil as Georges Laurent, a literary critic/ host/ editor of a popular TV show (think Bernard Pivot and the popular French program Apostrophes) and Juliette Binoche as his faithful and caring wife who tries to understand what is hidden in the man she loves. After an amazing opening shot that disorients and tests the audience as it shows unedited reality, the film asks us and the characters to figure out why the family is receiving surveillance tapes recording their lives. What has Georges forgotten (or tried to edit out) from his past? This provocative example of contemporary French cinema harkens back to Hitchcock's Rear Window as well as to the Algerian crisis of the 50's and 60's. The last shot alone will give us ample fodder for a terrific conversation. (In French with English subtitles.)
Fri., Dec. 5 Duck Soup (1933) (credits) (detailed film notes) How could we have left out a Marx Brothers film for 14 years while telling ourselves we were showing significant American (and international) films? What weren't we thinking? Well, join us is rectifying this serious cinematographic error while we watch this brilliant Depression-era comedy (most critics call this the Marx Brothers' best film) about the financial crisis of the country of Freedonia and the way its new dictator, Rufus T. Firefly, (Groucho), bankrolled by the zany heiress Mrs. Teasdale (Margaret Dumont), makes the situation only messier but definitely more hilarious. Stay away if you dislike topical (or even general) puns and timeless belly laughs.
Sat., Jan. 10 Pulp Fiction (1994) (credits) (detailed film notes) What isn’t left out of this tour de force by Quentin Tarantino? The gifted director mixes film genres, plots, locations and more during a two and a half hour roller coaster ride through the lives of gangsters played by John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Harvey Keitel, and many other stars, too numerous to mention. Definitely over the top, but fascinating to study. (Rated R, not recommended for younger students.)
Fri., Feb. 6 Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) (credits) Who is left out in our push for individualism and the nuclear family? This long neglected and touching Depression-era drama/romance (directed by Leo McCarey, who also directed Duck Soup) asks hard questions about modern life, as economic conditions force parents to separate and then move in with their children. The brilliant ensemble cast includes Victor Moore, Beulah Bondi, and Thomas Mitchell. Make Way for Tomorrow was an inspiration both for the 1953 classic Tokyo Story (one of the films from our 12th season) and also the current gem Love Is Strange.
Sat., April 4 Singing in the Rain (1952) (credits) (detailed film notes) Finally, a musical! Come see the film that many consider the greatest musical ever made, with catchy songs, great dancing, and a clever story set in the 1920’s, as Hollywood struggles to make the transition from silent films to “talkies.” Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, and Debbie Reynolds star in this perennial favorite. Will be shown rain or shine!
2013-14: 13th season (American Films: Showing Who We Are and Who We May Be):
Fri., Oct. 18 Boyz n the Hood (1991) (credits) is an influential and moving coming-of-age drama about a group of childhood friends who grow up in South Central Los Angeles. Written and directed by John Singleton (who at 23 was the youngest person ever nominated for the Best Director Award and also the first African American so nominated). Starring Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and Ice Cube, the film confronts issues of race, class, and community that are still with us today. This is an emotionally powerful movie with a spectacular ensemble cast. (112 min., rated R)
Fri., Nov. 15 Shane (1953) (credits) (detailed film notes) Alan Ladd plays a retired gunfighter working for a homesteading family in the Western Territories. Tensions between the farmers and the ranchers in the valley are running high when the ranchers bring a hired gunslinger (Jack Palance) to town and Shane is forced to intervene. Told through the eyes of the twelve-year-old narrator, this classic western is beautifully filmed by George Stevens.
Sat., Jan. 11 The Best Years of Our Lives (1945) (credits) (detailed film notes) is a remarkable film. It tells of the problems WWII veterans face upon trying to return back to their pre-war lives. There is no glory here, just real human emotion (some of the actors were actual WWII veterans). The film earned eight Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Director, as well as a special award to Harold Russell (who also won Best Supporting Actor) for “bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans.” This is one of the longest films we have shown in the Film Forum (172 min.), but well worth it. It will change the way you think about “The Greatest Generation” and about war in general.
Fri., Feb. 7 All About Eve (1950) (credits) (detailed film notes) Bette Davis in the role of a lifetime as an aging Broadway star confronted by a challenge from an ambitious young actress (Ann Baxter) who insinuates her way into her life. Memorable witty dialogue provided by writer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Nominated for a record fourteen Oscars, the film won six, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!
Sat., Mar. 29 E. T. (1982) (credits) (detailed film notes) directed by Stephen Spielberg. Join us in watching this great American movie, our final film of the season. E.T. was a blockbuster when it came out, surpassing Star Wars as the highest grossing movie of all time (a record it held for 10 years until being overtaken by Jurassic Park). E.T. was also nominated for 9 Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and was the winner of 4. We are sure you have watched this delightful and moving film, but we suspect you have never discussed it before. (115 min.)
2012-13: 12th season (Foreign Settings):
Fri., Nov. 2 The African Queen (1951) (credits) (detailed film notes) Directed by John Huston, this film unites two of the great stars of the mid-20th century, Humphrey Bogart, playing crusty captain Charlie Allnut, and Katherine Hepburn, playing dour Methodist missionary Rose Sayer, both (in life and in the film) a bit past their prime, on board the eponymous craft, well past its prime. The boat becomes part of the allied cause in World War I as Charlie and Rose fight not to fall in love. The story is touching without being sentimental and can be enjoyed by everyone. The African Queen is smart and entertaining, truly an American classic.
Sat., Dec. 1 Tokyo Story (1953) (credits) When the British Film Institute, which reassesses its ratings every ten years, changed their number one all-time film for the first time in 50 years from Citizen Kane to Vertigo, we took another look at their web site. Their number 3 pick for this decade, Tokyo Story, caught our eye. BFI writes that director Ozu Yasujiro has "refined his art to the point of perfection, and crafted a truly universal film about family, time and loss." (The screenplay, which follows an older couple as they visit their children and discover their indifference and selfishness, was influenced by Leo McCaryís 1937 masterpiece Make Way For Tomorrow, a film we both find moving and ahead of its time.) Neither of us has seen this film, and we are looking forward to watching and discussing this critically acclaimed movie together with you.
Sat., Jan. 26 Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) (credits) This classic film tells the story of a 16th Century Spanish expedition going down the Amazon in search of the lost city of gold. The movie could fit as much into a theme of obsession as into our current one of exotic settings. The film's tagline is "A breathtaking journey into the heart of darkness," and it certainly is that, as well as a look into both the fearlessness of the great German filmmaker Werner Herzog as well as the manic madness of the late actor Klaus Kinski.
Fri., Feb. 15 Angel (1937) (credits) A lesser-known, but by no means lesser, film by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Marlene Dietrich as the bored wife of a British diplomat (Herbert Marshall) who initiates an affair with the charming Melvyn Douglas and is then surprised to discover its impact on her marriage.
Fri., Apr. 5 A Separation (2011) (credits) Winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, A Separation tells the story of an Iranian couple arguing about moving abroad to provide more opportunities for their daughter or remaining in Iran to care for the husband's father. The arrival of a caretaker on the scene complicates the situation and leads to questions about moral and personal responsibility.
2011-12: 11th season (Class):
Fri., Nov. 4 Fargo (1996) (credits) (detailed film notes; Critical essay; Critical interview) The most recently added movie to the U.S. National Film Registry, this 2006 black comedy by the Coen Brothers introduces us to the intelligence, skill, and dry wit of a pregnant police chief (Frances McDormand--winner of an Academy Award for Best Actress) who outsmarts a local car salesman (William Macy) who thinks he has pulled off the perfect crime. Not for the faint of heart (there are some grisly scenes), this clever, and brilliantly written film (also winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay) will make you reevaluate your opinions about the American Heartland. (Rated R)
Sat., Dec. 3 City Lights (1931) (credits) (detailed film notes) Our first time showing a silent film, City Lights seems the perfect place to start. Chaplin's 1931 film, made after talkies had become popular, was one of his favorites and immediately became a hit in an America two years into the Great Depression. The Little Tramp returns to make us laugh and also feel the separation of class. The film, in the words of the IMDB, contains a blend of humor and humanity that make it memorable for everyone who watches it.
Sat., Jan. 21 My Man Godfrey (1936) (credits) (detailed film notes) William Powell and Carole Lombard star in this wonderful Depression Era comedy where one of the items in a scavenger hunt for the weathy is to find "a forgotten man." Powell is that man, and Lomard's character soon falls in love with him, posing the question, what is the difference between the rich and the poor? Nominated for six Academy Awards.
Fri., Feb. 17 The Rules of the Game / La règle du jeu (1939) (credits) This 1939 film by the great French director Jean Renoir looks at upper class French society just before World War and is a classic comedy of manners. This movie is often cited as one of the top ten films in World Cinema and clearly influenced Altman's Gosford Park.
Sat., Mar. 31 Gosford Park (2001) (credits) Robert Altman's 2001 film about the upstairs/downstairs worlds of a 1932 mansion. The film is in the Altman style but also very much speaks to Renoir's Rules of the Game. (We encouage you to see both films, and we hope our post-film discussion will be able to refer to both.) Maggie Smith steals the show, but the entire cast is top notch. (Rated R for some language and brief sexuality.)
2010-11: 10th season (Not Just Black and White):
Sat., Oct. 23 Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) (credits) Charles Laughton stars in Leo McCarey's comedy gem about an English valet won in a poker game and taken to the "uncivilized" American west
Fri., Dec. 3 Some Like It Hot (1959) (credits) (detailed film notes) This Billy Wilder comedy (rated #22 of all-time by the AFI and starring Jack Lemon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe) shows that even gender is not black and white.
Sat., Jan. 22 In the Heat of the Night (1967) (credits) (detailed film notes) Winner of 5 Academy Awards, this powerful film deals with 1960's race relations as a black detective (Sidney Poitier) tries to help a white sheriff (Rod Steiger) solve a murder case in the rural South.
Sat., Feb. 12 private screening, off campus (The Last Picture Show)
Sat., April 9 Transamerica (2005) (credits) The classic-American road picture told in the most non-traditional of ways, with Felicity Huffman (nominated for an Academy Award as best actress) plays a man about to become a woman. (rated R)
2009-10: 9th season (Les invités):
Sat., Nov. 14 It Happened One Night (1934) (credits) Frank Capra's sparkling comedy, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.
Fri., Jan. 29 The Graduate (1967) (credits) Tim Bakland presents this Mike Nichol's classic, starring Dustin Hoffman as a recent college graduate who does not know what to do with his life.
Fri., Feb. 19 La Grande Illusion (1937) (credits) Christiane presents Renoir's brilliant study of social class and humanity during WWI
Sat., April 3 The Lives of Others (2006) (credits) A fascinating German film about an East German surveillance officer who becomes (too?) absorbed in the lives of his subjects.
2008-09: 8th season (Contemporary Resonances):
Fri., Oct. 17 The Election: The War Room (1993) (credits) A documentary of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and the organization that ran it.
Fri., Nov. 14 A long, futile war: Paths of Glory (1957) (credits) (detailed film notes) Masterful anti-war film by Stanley Kubrick with a powerful performance by Kirk Douglas as a French WWI colonel who takes on his superiors.
Fri., Jan 23 Paul Newman: The Hustler (1961) (credits) (detailed film notes) Paul Newman as Fast Eddie, an up-and-coming pool hustler, who plays against the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) in a single, high-stakes match.
Fri., Feb. 13 The uncertain moral universe: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) (credits) Complex Woody Allen film about crime, moral responsibility, and human relations.
Fri., Apr. 17 The energy crisis and Big Oil: Local Hero (1983) (credits) One of the best "little films" of all time, about an American oil company man who goes to Scotland for a big oil deal and winds up discovering much more than he bargained for.
2007-08: 7th season (American Films):
Fri., Nov. 2 Philadelphia Story (1940) (credits) (detailed film notes) George Cukor's film of a Broadway comedy about a society girl (Katherine Hepburn) who longs for down-to-earth romance. Cary Grant plays her ex-husband, and Jimmy Stewart a fast-talking reporter who falls in love with her.
Sat., Dec. 1 Casablanca (1942) (credits) (detailed film notes) (shot by shot analysis of final scene) "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship..." The timeless romantic classic starring Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, and Claude Rains. Come see the film that all those great lines came from!
Fri., Jan. 11 Twelve Angry Men (1957) (credits) (detailed film notes) Special guest host: Matt Crowley (Waring '07) Henry Fonda tries to convince 11 other jurors that their hasty conviction of a boy on trial should be reconsidered. Gripping courtroom drama with an all-star cast including Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, E. G. Marshall, Jack Warden, and Martin Balsam.
Fri., Feb. 8 Manhattan (1979) (credits) Woody Allen's love poem to New York, beautifully filmed in black and white, with Gershwin score. Starring Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, and Muriel Hemingway.
Sat., March 29 Unforgiven (1992) (credits) (detailed film notes) "Modern" western about a one-time killer who comes out of retirement to make one more hit because he needs the money for his family. Powerful examination of morality and hypocrisy in the Old West. Stars Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, and Morgan Freeman.
2006-07: 6th season (Films We Love):
Fri., Jan. 19 Mean Streets (1973) (credits) Scorcese and DeNiro's first film shows them already at the top of their form.
2005-06: 5th season (American Films):
John Wayne’s first film with classic director John Ford. Stagecoach defined the American Western and began a rich 20-year collaboration between Wayne and Ford, ending in The Searchers (see our 2001-02 season).
Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Alfred Hitchcock. Need we say more?
Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, and Billy Wilder. Need we say more? OK, we will just say: 5 Academy Awards , the spaghetti cooking scene, and a film that ushers in the questioning of authority of the 1960’s.
What would you do if you were forced to live one day in your life, again and again? Bill Murray (costarring with Andie MacDowell, and directed by Harold Ramis) shows us his modus operandi and in the process makes us question how we live our lives.
Louis Malle teams up with Burt Lancaster and Susan Sarandon to take an outsider’s look at American culture and the American Dream. This “small” film reveals tenderness and dignity in unlikely places.
2004-05: 4th season (International Films):
Fri., Nov. 12 Italy: The Bicycle Thief (credits)
This Italian neo-realist film tells the post-WWII story of a Roman father and son as they try to eke out a life dependent on a bike as their primary means of existence. Vittorio De Sica’s film raises important moral questions that are not easily answered.
In the bleak midwinter, more than 100 years ago, a small Danish town comes alive from the hands of a talented French chef. The gourmet experience, a feast for all the senses, will have the guests (of course, that includes those of you who attend the film) “tasting” the world in new ways. (Gløgg will be served.)
Fri., Feb. 11 France: The Earrings of Madame de ... (credits)
This luxurious French drama (by Max Ophuls) traces the life of an expensive pair of earrings from wife, to lover, to...?
Vittorio De Sica, the director of The Bicycle Thief, is unforgettable as the second owner of the jewels. Come follow the peregrinations of the bijoux, and, along the way, learn about love in fin de siècle France.
Five people witness a violent crime and each tells a different version. This great Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa, starring Toshifo Mifune, looks at the nature of truth and asks, what can we really know?
Sat., June 18 Britain: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (credits)
This epic fictional biography is rarely shown in theaters, and we feel lucky to be able to share it with you. Roger Livesey plays Blimp and Deborah Kerr plays his three loves over the course of his life. You may never see two finer screen performances. This two and a half hour film from the great team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger is worth every minute.
2003-04: 3rd Season (Illusion and Reality):
Jan. 23 To Be Or Not To Be (credits)
June 4 The Crying Game (credits)
2002-03: 2nd Season (American Films by European Directors):
2001-02: 1st Season: (American Films)
Internet Movie Database (invaluable for cast lists, directors, etc.)
Tom Dirk's Greatest Films (detailed analysis of hundreds of films, memorable scenes, quotes)