Welcome home to the NCMA auditorium! We will be screening most Friday nights at 8:00 pm from September to May. Enjoy a glass of wine at Art in the Evening in the dazzling new building and then join us in our traditional space with our precious, state of yesterday’s art reel to reel projection, which allows us to show gorgeous 35mm prints from the nation’s film archives. “Is cinema art, or is it information?”* We believe that cinema on celluloid (not DVD) in a theater is the precise equivalent of seeing an original work of art in an art museum.
We begin with a series of new prints from Janus Films of the work of Japanese master director Akira Kurosawa, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth. We showed his endlessly admired and copied The Seven Samurai in our first Winter Film Series in 2000, and we are delighted to present this definitive version, over an hour longer than the one we screened a decade ago. Some aspects of booking 35mm prints have become more difficult over the last decade, but some immeasurably better. The first time we screened this film, it was a print that had been circulating for many years. A restored print, of the original release length, with retranslated subtitles was a wish that might never have been granted, had home video not increased the demand for the best the big screen has to offer.
The second half of the Fall presents films evoking the world of Norman Rockwell, a theme which will continue into the Winter Film Series 2011. A not quite WW II hero, two self-reliant little girls and the perfect small town which may not be quite so perfect, as well as some enlightening entries from the archives of AV Geeks will serve as a complement to the NCMA exhibition “American Chronicles.”
*James Quandt, Senior Programmer at the TIFF Cinematheque in Toronto,Canada, Spring 2010 Cineaste
AK @ 100
The Seven Samurai
(1954) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji Miyaguchi (207 min.)
A beloved movie epic, filled with rip-snorting action, mocking humor and delicate humanity. Beleaguered farmers reluctantly engage a band of wandering samurai to defend them from ruthless bandits in this endlessly imitated classic adventure…”this greatest of filmmakers gave employment to action heroes for the next 50 years”(Roger Ebert). Film notes for Seven Samurai.
(1948) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Reizaburo Yamamoto (98 min).
An alcoholic physician laboring in a post-war Tokyo slum treats a volatile gangster, fatally ill with TB. Kurosawa and Mifune’s first collaboration is this unforgettable film noir, set amidst a squalid urban swamp symbolizing Japan’s national despair. “I wanted to take a scalpel and dissect the yakuza” (Akira Kurosawa). Film Notes for Drunken Angel.
Ikiru (To Live)
(1952) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Takashi Shimura Nobuo Kaneko, Miki Odagiri (143 min)
A meek bureaucrat smothered by numbing routine, using his rubber stamp to cancel out hope, learns he has only a short time to live. He decides to make one small difference in the world. A brilliant performance by Kurosawa’s other muse, Takashi Shimura in “one of cinema’s noblest, most humane pinnacles” (Elliot Wilhelm). Film Notes for Ikiru
(1962) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Toshiro Mifune, Yuzo Kayama, Tatsuya Nakadai, Keiju Kobayashi (96 min).
A cynical warrior helps an idealistic group of young nobles vanquish evil in a light hearted samurai romp. Mifune revisits Yojimbo’s hero Sanjuro, whose scruffiness contrasts satirically with the elegant manners of the elite who desperately need his protection. A perfect 100% positive rating on the Rotten Tomato Meter. Film Notes for Sanjuro.
(1971) Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Yuri Solomin, Maxim Munzuk (140 min).
A touching friendship forms between a young army officer tasked with surveying Siberia’s vastness, and a grizzled frontiersman. The howlingly windy steppes and raging rivers are the unforgettable setting for this Best Foreign Film Oscar winner. “The epic simplicity of this film is something that only the subtlest genius could achieve.” (Newsweek). Film Notes for Dersu Uzala.
Norman Rockwell: Sunshine and Shadow
Hail the Conquering Hero
(1944) Written and directed by Preston Sturges. Eddie Bracken, William Demarest, Ella Raines (101 min).
Woodrow Lafayette Pershing Truesdale, a fluttery 4-F, dare not disappoint his mother by returning home after being ejected from the service for hay fever. Some tough Marines back from Guadalcanal hatch a plot creating small town comic mayhem in one of Sturges’ perfect comic gems. “A scathing delight” (Jonathan Rosenbaum). Introduced by NC State Film Studies Professor Marsha Orgeron. Paramount/Universal Archive Print
(1934). Directed by David Butler. Shirley Temple, James Dunn, Jane Withers (85 min).
Plucky Shirley is the mascot of a ragtag group of pilots, while her mother works as a maid serving a mercenary couple waiting for wealthy Uncle Ned to croak, enriching them and their horrifically bratty daughter. Temple’s first big hit includes her signature song “The Good Ship Lollipop.” Fox Archive Print. Film Notes for Bright Eyes
(1973) Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn. (102 min) PG
A shamelessly entertaining movie about a Depression-era father-daughter (maybe) team of shameless swindlers, won Tatum O’Neal an Oscar. Jewel-like photography, rat a tat dialogue and expert comic timing make it “everything a road picture is supposed to be, a life-changing personal journey, a quest, a bit old-fashioned and a hoot” (Roger Moore Orlando Sentinel). Paramount Archive Print. Film Notes for Paper Moon.
Skip Elsheimer, the visionary behind AV Geeks, shares vintage educational films from his collection, spotlighting The Four Freedoms illustrated by Norman Rockwell: Freedom from Want, Freedom to Worship, Freedom of Speech and Freedom from Fear. Skip will introduce “Despotism” (1946) and “How to Lose What We Have” among others.
(1998). Written and directed by Gary Ross. Toby McGuire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen. (124 min).
David’s pained adolescence fades when he escapes, via B&W tv reruns, to a peaceful little sitcom town named Pleasantville. Don Knotts (in his last film) plays a tv repairman with a magical remote which zaps him and his reluctant sister into the small screen. But, utopia can be suffocating. Film notes for Plesantville.
All films are shown in 35mm and begin Fridays at 8:00 pm
The galleries and Iris Restaurant will be open prior to screenings
Box Office: (919) 715-5923
Tickets: $5.00/$3.50 NCMA Members
Series Passes $35/$25 NCMA Members
Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.
For more information about the NC Museum of Art: ncartmuseum.org
Thanks to Paul Ginsberg (Paramount/Universal) Brian Block and Caitlin Robertson (Fox) and Brian Claussen Paramount/Swank)