>BAROSSA FILM CLUB OPENS 2013 SEASON 7 PM FRIDAY FEBRUARY 15TH WITH “LOCAL HERO”
“Local Hero” was released in 1983 and is regarded by many critics as one of the best British comedies of the 1980’s. Bill Forsyth’s whimsical tale of sweet-natured corporate rapacity features standout performances by Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert. Lancaster plays Texas billionaire Felix Happer, who would rather gaze at the stars than worry about his multi-national oil company. Happer dispatches Mac MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) and Danny Oldsen (Peter Capaldi) to the small Scottish fishing village of Ferness to negotiate buying the entire town so Happer can drill for oil in the North Sea. Much to Mac’s surprise, the entire town is happy to sell itself for big money, and the local innkeeper, Gordon Urquhart (Denis Lawson) — who is also the town’s accountant and mayor — works with Mac on the negotiations. But a wrinkle appears in the deal when Ben Knox (Fulton Mackay), an old man who lives in a shack on the beach which has been owned by his family for centuries, refuses to sell. His reasons? “Who’d look after the beach then? It would go to pieces in a short manner of time.” The deal stalls so seriously that Happer travels to Ferness to oversee negotiations as Mac and Danny are seduced by the charm of the Scottish town.
This is a lovely film, a delight not to be missed, and a great way to start our 2013 season. You are invited to join us for wine and cheese at 7 pm, with the French short film “A Private Lesson” screening at 7.30 and then the main feature after a ten-minute break for further refreshments.
FRIDAY MARCH 15TH 7.30 PM “PATHER PANCHALI”
This 1955 film put Indian film-making on the map of European and American sensibility, and is still regarded as one of the great movies of its time. Pather Panchali (Father Panchali), Indian director Satyajit Ray’s first feature film, relates the story of an impoverished Bengalese family. When the father (Karuna Bannerjee) leaves for the city to pursue a writing career, the mother (Karuna Banerji) is left with the responsibility of caring for the rest of the brood. Gradually, the film’s true central character emerges: Apu (Subir Banerji), the family’s son. Though excruciatingly realistic at times, Pather Panchali takes an occasional timeout to dwell on the purely cinematic. For example, when the mother receives a postcard bearing good news, Ray dissolves to a pond, where a pair of water skates scamper about. The music by Ravi Shankar at first seems to be at odds with the action; soon, however, we come to accept the music as a logical outgrowth of the events at hand. A multiple award winner, Pather Panchali was the first of Ray’s celebrated “Apu Trilogy” (the other two entries were 1956’s Aparajito and 1959’s The World of Apu). The film was also released as The Song of the Road and The Lament of the Path.
A trailer was not available but some scenes can be viewed on youtube:
FRIDAY APRIL 12TH 7.30 PM “IN THE BEDROOM”
Character actor and noted photographer Todd Field made his directorial debut with this emotionally powerful drama, which earned enthusiastic reviews at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl) is a handsome and amiable young man who has recently graduated from high school and is spending the summer working as a lobster fisherman before heading off to college in the fall. Frank is also involved with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), an attractive woman ten years his senior who is separated from her husband Richard (William Mapother), though their divorce has not yet been finalized. Frank’s parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) wonder if it’s wise for their son to be pursuing a romance that he won’t be able to continue in a few months; Matt trusts Frank and leaves him to make his own decisions, while Ruth quietly but firmly registers her objections. One day, Richard snaps, and breaks into Natalie’s home; when he discovers Frank is there, he viciously kills him. The wheels of justice turn in an unexpected direction, and Richard is released on bail, free to go his own way as he awaits his trial. Matt and Ruth are both deeply traumatized by the event; while Matt tries to deal with his hurt by retreating into his work and avoiding his feelings, Ruth instead becomes increasingly withdrawn, losing interest in her job as a music teacher and spending her nights chain smoking in front of the television. In the Bedroom was adapted from the short story Killings by Andre Dubus.
FRIDAY MAY 17TH 7.30 PM “THE RING”
A disturbing videotape appears to hold the power of life and death over those who view it in this offbeat thriller. A strange videotape begins making the rounds in a town in the Pacific Northwest; it is full of bizarre and haunting images, and after watching it, many viewers receive a telephone call in which they are warned they will die in seven days. A handful of teenagers who watched the tape while spending a weekend at a cabin in the mountains scoff at the threat, but as predicted, they all die suddenly on the same night. Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts), the aunt of one of the ill-fated teens, is a journalist who has decided to investigate the matter and travels West with her young son, Aidan (David Dorfman), a troubled child who has been drawing pictures of strange and ominous visions. Rachel managed to find the cabin in the woods and watches the video herself; afterward, she receives the same phone call, and realizes she must solve the puzzle of the video and the person or persons behind it within a week. Rachel turns to her ex, Noah (Martin Henderson), an expert in video technology, who at first is convinced the story is a hoax until he digs deeper into the mystery. The Ring was adapted from a 1996 Japanese film by Hideo Nakata, which became a massive box-office success in Asia and spawned two sequels
FRIDAY JUNE 21ST “KISS ME KATE”
Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate is a musical within a musical — altogether appropriate, since its source material, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, was a play within a play. Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson star as famous Broadway singing team who haven’t worked together since their acrimonious divorce. Keel, collaborating with Cole Porter (played by Ron Randell), plans to star in a musical version of The Taming of the Shrew titled “Kiss Me Kate.” Both he and Porter agree that only one actress should play the tempestuous Katherine, and that’s Grayson. But she isn’t buying, especially after discovering that Keel’s latest paramour, Ann Miller, is going to be playing Bianca. Besides, Grayson is about to retire from showbiz to marry the “Ralph Bellamy character,” played not by Bellamy, but by Willard Parker. A couple of gangsters (James Whitmore and Keenan Wynn) arrive on the scene, convinced Keel is heavily in debt to their boss; actually, a young hoofer in the chorus (Tommy Rall) owes the money, but signed Keel’s name to an IOU. But since Grayson is having second thoughts about going on-stage, Keel plays along with the hoods, who force Grayson at gunpoint to co-star with her ex-husband so that they’ll get paid off. Later the roles are reversed, and the gangsters are themselves finagled into appearing on-stage, Elizabethan costumes and all, though that scene is less of a comic success. This aside, Kiss Me Kate is a well-appointed (if bowdlerized) film adaptation of the Porter musical. Virtually all of the play’s songs are retained for the screen version, notably “So in Love,” “Wunderbar,” “Faithful in My Fashion,” “Too Darn Hot,” “Why Can’t You Behave?,” “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” (a delightful duet delivered delightfully by Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore), and the title song. Additionally, Porter lifted a song from another play, Out of This World, and incorporated it in the movie version of Kiss Me Kate; as a result, “From This Moment On” has been included in all subsequent stagings of Kate. This MGM musical has the distinction of being filmed in 3-D, which is why Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson throw so many chairs, dishes, and pieces of fruit at the camera in their domestic battle scenes
FRIDAY JULY 19TH “HANUSSEN”
The third collaboration, after Mephisto and Colonel Redl between Szabó, Brandauer and cinematographer Lajos Koltai. Klaus Schneider (Brandauer) is an Austrian sergeant whose clairvoyant gifts first attract moderate acclaim during his recuperation from fighting in WWI. In hospital he forms friendships with two people who will help him to shape his future: Jewish psychologist Bettelheim (Josephson) and Nowotny (Eperjes), an ambitious army acquaintance who decides to promote Schneider’s talents. On tours of Vienna and Berlin under the stage name of Hanussen, Schneider’s phenomenal predictions bring him into contact with the decadent post-war elite; and despite his apolitical stance, his prophecies of Hitler’s rise to power inevitably implicate him with the Nazis, threatening his friendships and precarious sense of stability… Brandauer’s dominating screen presence is perfectly suited to the role of the charismatic seducer, whose abilities to transfer his will and to control respondents serve as a not so subtle metaphor for the rise of Fascism. Szabó heightens the mysticism with a pervading sense of menace which, together with Koltai’s exquisite visuals, captivates attention throughout
FRIDAY AUGUST 16TH “LONELY HEARTS”
Norman Kaye is a delight as Peter, the 50ish piano tuner with a whimsical streak who meets shy, sheltered single Patricia (Wendy Hughes), a woman 20 years his junior, through a dating service. This unlikely couple hits it off right away, much to the disapproval of her smothering parents.
Lonely Hearts begins as Mrs. Thompson’s funeral degenerates into farce – the mourners lose the hearse. Returning to his gloomy family home, Peter Thompson suddenly confronts his loneliness. A few weeks off 50, he still wears an atrocious toupee and his closest emotional attachment is to a dachshund. Painfully aware of what he considers to be the futility of his existence, he decides to embark upon an adventure. He goes to a lonely hearts’ club and pays for ‘an introduction’. He is shown the photograph of a comparatively young and attractive woman. On being reassured that Patricia wants an older man, he invests in a new toupee. For Patricia, also a victim of a smothering family, their first meeting requires some courage. Painfully shy and sexually inhibited, she embarks on a tentative relationship with Peter. She becomes traumatized by his first clumsy attempt at love-making. Previously elated, Peter is now tormented and desperate. Patricia rejects his attempt to explain, he has a grotesque encounter with a prostitute, and some clumsy shoplifting leads to his arrest and public humiliation. When Patricia finally goes to his aid, it’s as much a declaration of independence from her domineering parents as a declaration of love.
Lonely Hearts is a sensitive love story simply told, but with a rich vein of compassion and humour.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 20TH “NORTH BY NORTHWEST”
In a way it’s unfair that this 1958 Alfred Hitchcock classic should get a big screen re-release. In colour, superbly produced and at once slickly suspenseful and delicately witty, this has none of the ricketiness or technical shortcomings of many accepted film greats, which means it can go toe-to-toe with whichever big-scale action movie happens to be around. Not only does it have as many thrills as any current blockbuster – there’s a nail-biting bit with a whiskied-up Cary Grant in a car with no brakes on a sinuous coast road – it also has star power and real heart.
A silver-haired Grant is Roger Thornhill, a useless ad man who gets mistaken by foreign spies for a CIA agent. Unable to believe what is happening to him, Grant is chased across the map by baddies under the direction of bisexual mastermind Mason, who imports and exports government secrets. In the process of escaping certain death by car, biplane and a fall from Lincoln’s nose, Grant falls for double agent Saint and develops a backbone.
Set-pieces such as the biplane attack and Grant’s disruption of a stuffy auction are justly famous, but watch this again and marvel at the sheer confidence with which Hitchcock tells the absurd story, and the immaculate performance Grant gives as a light leading man who acquires depth as his grey flannel suit is shredded. North By Northwest (the title comes from Hamlet) also benefits from Ernest Lehmann’s spot-on script and Bernard Herrman’s edgily magnificent music. A justifiable masterpiece
FRIDAY OCTOBER 18TH “CRIES AND WHISPERS”
“Cries and Whispers” stars Liv Ullman and Ingrid Thulin as the sisters of dying cancer patient Harriet Andersson. Both sisters have already had brushes with death: Ullman has had an affair which prompted her husband’s suicide, while Thulin has long wanted to do away with herself, at one point mutilating her own vagina out of self-hatred. As for Andersson, she has been in pain so long that she feels as though she’s in the midst of death-in-life. With her two sisters wrapped up in their own problems, Harriet turns to her housekeeper Kari Sylwan for comfort; Sylwan has herself suffered the death of a child, and has developed a philosophical attitude towards impending doom. One of the most influential moments of the film — when two of the sisters share the innermost thoughts that they’d kept from one another for so many years — is filmed without benefit of dialogue, with the music of Chopin (enhanced by cinematographer Sven Nykvist’s carefully selected camera angles) “speaking” for the ladies. While “Cries and Whispers” only won the Oscar for cinematography, the film did very well for itself in international awards contests.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 15TH 7 PM WINE CHEESE AND “KITCHEN STORIES”
Kitchen Stories is based on actual Swedish studies that analyzed women’s kitchen routines in the 1950s, in order to improve housework techniques. But this time, a team of Swedish researchers converge on a small village in rural Norway, to observe the kitchen habits of bachelors. The rules are strict, there must be no communication between the scientists and volunteers. But when the grumpy Isaac (Joachim Calmeyer), becomes the subject for Folke (Tomas Nordstrom), interaction is inevitable. Bent Hamer has written and directed an original, intimate tale, perfectly interpreted by actors, Calmeyer and Nordstrom – who are cheeky and lovable in their roles. Kitchen Stories is a unique view of rural Norwegian life in the 50s that proves that even in the most absurd situations, remarkable connections can be found.