Seeing Ourselves in Film continues a conversation we began last Fall during the John Sayles’ Independent Director series: “what does it mean to be an American?”
This Winter and Spring we will look at one film from each decade 1940’s – 2010’s. We will ask ourselves:
How does Hollywood depict Americans in this film?
What happened during this decade which helped create this film?
Does Hollywood influence or reflect changes in culture? Or both?
Legendary director Nicholas Ray began his career with this lyrical film noir, the first in a series of existential genre films overflowing with sympathy for America’s outcasts and underdogs. When the wide-eyed fugitive Bowie (Farley Granger), having broken out of prison with some bank robbers, meets the innocent Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell), each recognizes something in the other that no one else ever has. The young lovers envision a new, decent life together, but as they flee the cops and contend with Bowie’s fellow outlaws, who aren’t about to let him go straight, they realize there’s nowhere left to run. Ray brought an outsider’s sensibility honed in the theater to this debut, using revolutionary camera techniques and naturalistic performances to craft a profoundly romantic crime drama that paved the way for decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come.
Cohen Media Group reissued a brand-new 4K version of Merchant Ivory’s classic, Howards End for theaters this past year. Cohen released a new (non-4K) DVD version of the film which the library carries. From Hal Erickson’s All Movie Guide,
One of the best Ismail Merchant/James Ivory films, this adaptation of E. M. Forster’s classic 1910 novel shows in careful detail the injuriously rigid British class consciousness of the early 20th century. The film’s catalyst is poor relation Margaret Schlegel (Emma Thompson), who inherits part of the estate of Ruth Wilcox (Vanessa Redgrave), an upper-class woman whom she had befriended. The film’s principal characters are divided by caste: aristocratic industrial Henry Wilcox (Anthony Hopkins); middle-echelon Margaret and her sister Helen (Helena Bonham Carter); and working-class clerk Leonard Bast (Sam West) and his wife (Nicola Duffett). The personal and social conflicts among these characters ultimately result in tragedy for Bast and disgrace for Wilcox, but the film’s wider theme remains the need, in the words of the novel’s famous epigram, to only connect with other people, despite boundaries of gender, class, or petty grievance. Filmed on a proudly modest budget, Howards End offers sets, spectacles, and costumes as lavish as in any historical epic. Nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, the film took home awards for Thompson as Best Actress, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s adapted screenplay, and Luciana Arrighi’s art direction.
It’s not often the stars align to take two icons of entertainment in two days. Taking Carrie Fisher one day and her mother, Debbie Reynolds the next is astonishing. Our hearts break and thoughts go out to the Fisher family. We could easily tell you to sit down and watch the original Star Warsor Singin’ in the Rain, but that might be too obvious. Better yet, consider watching one of Carrie and Debbie’s hidden gems to honor their passing:
Hannah and Her Sisters – Carrie Fisher has a supporting role in this Woody Allen ensemble cast about a family of sisters in NYC during the 1980’s.
Mother – Debbie Reynolds stars as Albert Brooks crazy mother in this laugh out loud comedy from 2000.
Click on the titles above to find the films in our library catalog. Mother and daughter shall be greatly missed.
Discover Carrie Fisher, author in many formats in our library catalog.
Carrie Fisher watching her mother Debbie Reynolds perform. LAWRENCE SCHILLER/COPYRIGHT POLARIS COMMUNICATIONS INC.
Disney Pixar’s Finding Dorynot only follows up the huge hit, Finding Nemo. It literally blows its competition out of the water. With over 1 billion dollars grossed domestically, watch it for the first time or watch it again and again. It’s adorable, it’s Disney, it’s a modern classic.
Want some classic fright in your life this Halloween? Why not check out 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby starring Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes. Who doesn’t love newlyweds on the Upper West Side with satanists as their neighbors? Boo!
Easy Rider recently got remastered and released by Criterion. We didn’t own a copy so we added the newly minted classic to our collection. From Roger Ebert’s website,
But it’s hard to identify with the Fonda and Hopper characters. So Hopper and his co-writers Fonda and Terry Southern write in a brilliant character, Old George (played magnificently by Jack Nicholson). And when this alcoholic, tragic ACLU lawyer from a small Southern town enters the picture, suddenly that’s us there on the bike with Fonda. And the movie starts to work.
If you follow the story closely in “Easy Rider,” you find out it isn’t there. The rough-cut of the movie reportedly ran over three hours, and Hopper edited it to a reasonable length by throwing out the story details and keeping the rest. So the heroes are suspended in an invisible story, like falcons on an invisible current of air. You can’t see it, but it holds them up.
All of this divests a motorcycle movie of its weak point (the story) and develops its strong point (the role of the self-proclaimed rebel in a conformist society). It’s not just bike freaks who get in trouble when they challenge the establishment — it’s everybody, even Old George.
And yet, “Easy Rider” suggests, it’s not as simple as that. We almost forget that the Fonda and Hopper characters have also sold out.
Alfonso Cuarón directed and co-wrote this sexy art-house hit from Mexico. The funny and moving coming-of-age story centers on two immature teens who get an education in love when they take a sexy road trip with a liberated, unhappily married woman
We have all the films from all eras on DVD and Blu-ray at both Woods and Main.
We also have a dedicated collection of Star Wars books now in their own section.
And the Children’s Library even has BB-8s for check-out. Browse everything Star Wars in our library catalog.