Winter Film Series 2019


January 11:

Being There (1979) Directed by Hal Ashby.  Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Melvyn Douglas (130 min) PG. DCP

A mentally handicapped man’s pithy observations are mistaken for political wisdom and he is lionized by Washington insiders.  Chance the Gardener speaks in educated tones, and wears his late employer’s tailored suits, bestowing instant credibility on his pronouncements in a nation starved for sound bites that sound like prophecy.  Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC stands in for the DC home of an ailing millionaire.  “Satire is a threatened species in American film, and when it does occur, it's usually broad and slapstick…"Being There,'' is a rare and subtle bird that finds its tone and stays with it. It has the appeal of an ingenious intellectual game, in which the hero survives a series of challenges he doesn't understand, using words that are both universal and meaningless. (Roger Ebert) Film Notes for Being There.

January 18:

The King of Comedy (1982) Directed by Martin Scorsese.  Robert De NIro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bergman (109 min) PG.  DCP.

Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring comic living in his mother’s New Jersey basement, is convinced he deserves a shot with the King of Late Night, Jerry Langford.  An everyday schlub, hungry for fame, he stalks his idol, a career plan which takes increasingly desperate turns in this film made before, but foreshadowing, the longing for celebrity in the reality tv and internet era.   “It's very funny, and it ends on a high note that was, for me, both a total surprise and completely satisfying. Yet it's also bristly, sometimes manic to the edge of lunacy and, along the way, terrifying” (NY Times) Film notes for The King of Comedy

January 25:

Dave (1993) Directed by Ivan Reitman.  Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Frank Langella (110 min) PG-13, 35mm print from UNCSA

Dave is an ordinary guy with an uncanny resemblance to the current inhabitant of the White House.  When President Mitchell has a stroke, Dave steps in, but turns out to have his own big hearted ideas about how to run the country.  Ghostbusters director Reitman and former political speechwriter Gary Ross (Big) plump up their fantasy with political cameos and a sparkling comic turn by Oscar winner Kline.  “Mixing comedy and corn with surprising savvy…. It’s a winner.  The movie is selling the myth that the little guy can make a difference. Reality may give the lie to such sweet blindness. But for two blissful hours, Dave makes for a soul-satisfying game of let’s pretend” (Rolling Stone). Film notes for Dave

February 15:

Girls About Town (1931) Directed by George Cukor.  Kay Francis, Lilyan Tashman, Joel McCrea. (80 Min) 35mm print from Universal Archive
Two good-hearted, gold-digging “party girls” exploit their rich escorts with a clear conscience.  Teaming up with a wronged wife for some sweet revenge proves sisterhood is powerful.  Francis and Tashman were promoted as fashion rivials, and they swan in an endless round of drool-worthy gowns by Travis Banton.  This risqué Pre-Code comedy was a favorite at the last TCM Film Festival. “Under George Cukor’s direction (this was only the second film he directed on his own) their adventures are more elegant than lewd” ( Film notes for Girls About Town

February 22:

The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) Directed by Jean Renoir.  Rene Lefevre, Florelle, Jules Berry (79min) French with English subtitles.  DCP

A murderer on the run is also the wildly successful author of France’s rootin’ tootin’ cowboy, “Arizona Jim.” Renoir (Grand Illusion) and his screenwriter, Jacques Prevert (Children of Paradise) are fully on the side of the office workers, laundresses, street kids and typesetters victimized by the monstrous publisher, Batala.  "Of all Renoir's films Monsieur Lange is the most spontaneous, the richest in miracles of camera work, the most full of pure beauty and truth. In short, it is a film touched by divine grace." (Francois Truffaut) 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Film Notes for M. Lange.

March 15:

Rosita (1923) Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.  Mary Pickford, George Walsh, Holbrook Blinn (90 min) Restored by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Louis B. Mayer Foundation, RT Features, The Film Foundation, and The Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation. Special thanks to The Mary Pickford Foundation and Filmmuseum München.

A fiery street singer in Seville, Spain, catches the eye of both a handsome nobleman, and a lecherous king.  Pickford, America’s Sweetheart, invited Lubitsch to American to showcase her in the style of the rambunctious historical epics he directed to acclaim in Europe.  Rosita was a smash hit, but Pickford later vilified it, letting it decompose; this new MoMA print restores it to a proper place in cinema history. “Seen in its glorious restoration, it’s difficult to fathom her objections….Rosita is a gorgeous valentine, if not to the star then to the industry she personified (NY Times). Film notes for Rosita

March 29:

Falbalas (1945) (Fancy Frills) Directed by Jacques Becker.  Ramond Rouleau, Micheline Presle, Jean Chevrier (111 min) French with English subtitles. DCP

A tyrannical fashion designer pauses in midst of frantic preparation for his seasonal collection to poach a friend’s  fiancée.  Surrounded by women, but understanding nothing about them, this rediscovery by Rialto Pictures is adorned by fabulous designs of a real Parisian couturier, Marcel Rochas. Shot just after the liberation of Paris, it’s catnip for lovers of 1940s fashion.  “With its brooding, doom-laden photography, intense performances and razor sharp editing, Falbalas feels more like a film noir thriller than a conventional melodrama” ( Film notes for Falbalas


April 19:

The Sea Wolf (1941) Directed by Michael Curtiz.  Edward G. Robinson, Ida Lupino, John Garfield (104  min) Restored DCP.

A brutal sea captain rescues shipwreck victims and then submits them to his authority, using John Milton’s credo for Lucifer as his guide, “Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”  A nautical film noir adapted from a Jack London novel, shot in the style of German Expressionism and directed by Casablanca’s Curtiz, “Filmed at the onset of the Nazi power grabs in Europe and the beginning of the war, in this allegorical pic the captain is depicted as a malevolent dictator, like Hitler, who uses cruelty to keep his subjects in line and promises to make his loyal subjects rich with lies about obtaining stolen riches” (Ozu’s Movie Reviews). Film Notes for The Sea Wolf

April 26:

Shakespeare Wallah (1965) Directed by James Ivory.  Shashi Kapoor, Felicity Kendall, Geoffrey Kendall DCP

A ragtag theatrical troupe scrambles for engagements in an India losing interest in colonial era entertainments.  Indian superstar Kapoor plays a handsome playboy who flits between flirtations with a jaded  Bollywood actress and the fresh innocence of the troupe’s ingénue. The story is based on the diaries of Geoffrey Kendall, the actor manager of the touring  company Shakesperiana, and shot with Ivory’s keen documentary eye.  “A lark, a fling, a protean evocation of life between cultures, 1965’s Shakespeare Wallah, the second Merchant Ivory production, remains a breezy and beguiling study, comedy, romance, elegy” (Village Voice) Film notes for Shakespeare Wallah



All films are shown in 35mm when possible, check listings for format

Fridays at 8:00 pm unless noted

The galleries and Iris After Dark will be open prior to screenings

Box Office: (919) 715-5923

Tickets to most films: $7.00/$5.00 NCMA Members

Special Events may have different pricing

Introductions are by Film Curator Laura Boyes unless otherwise noted.

For more information about the NC Museum of Art: