Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Coming to the VERY BEST theater near you ...

You guys like movies? I like movies. I love movies. I go see them all the time, especially the ones that are all bougie and sophisticated and such. And the schlocky horror ones. And middlebrow romantic comedies.

OK, clearly I just like going to see movies. That's why the thing I know I'll miss most about living in Cleveland Heights is my former proximity to the Cedar-Lee, why I was very pumped to see the new theater in Detroit-Shoreway finally open, and why I was super stoked today to learn about how the community development organization in my new neighborhood recently purchased the old LaSalle Theater on E. 185th with hopes of restoring it to its ancient grandeur.

Lots of great stuff happening in Cleveland, film-wise, but while celebrating the new is good, we shouldn't forget the great that is already here. Which is why I'm bringing to you another new CB feature. This time, each month, I'll give you a rundown of the films I'm excited to see at that wonderful cultural jewel, the CIA Cinematheque, and whatever other flicks I'm looking to catch.

Obviously I'm a bit late in the game this month, but there are still some goodies left this month, so do yourself a favor and check them out. (Note: These are only the ones I am particularly jonesing for - there are many others, so if our filmic preferences fail to converge, check out the schedule yourself and see what you think sounds appealing.)

A Woman in Berlin (CIA, Saturday 10/17 at 7 PM; Sunday 10/18 at 3:45 PM)
The long-suppressed subject of the mass rape of German women during the 1945 invasion of Berlin by the victorious Red Army is the focus of this powerful new drama from the director of Aimée & Jaguar. Based on the anonymous diary of an actual WWII rape victim, the film tells of a much-violated German civilian (Nina Hoss of Yella and Jerichow) who enters into a complex love-hate relationship with a Russian officer in order to secure some protection.

Waterworld (CIA, Wednesday 10/28 at 7 PM)
This futuristic action-adventure produced by Kevin Costner is one of the most expensive movies ever made. It was also a commercial flop in the U.S. (where some critics labeled it Fishtar or Kevin’s Gate), but it’s actually much better than its reputation. Set on a submerged Earth after the polar icecaps have melted, the film follows a half-man, half-fish mutant (Kevin Costner) who battles “Smokers” (filthy, petroleum-burning pirates, led by Dennis Hopper) while trying to help a woman and her young daughter find a fabled patch of dry land.

10 Rillington Place (CIA, Friday 10/30 at 7:30 PM; Saturday 10/31 at 9:30 PM)
Unavailable on DVD in the U.S., this little-known serial-killer chiller, which has been restored and re-released in a new print, is being hailed as a lost masterpiece. Based on a true case, the film stars Richard Attenborough as Richard Christie, a meek, bald, bespectacled man who, during the 1940s, became one of Britain’s most notorious mass murderers. Richard Fleischer’s matter-of-fact procedural, shot on the same street of row houses where the actual crimes took place, “will work its way into your nightmares, guaranteed” (Glenn Kenny).

Fellini's Casanova (CIA, Sunday 11/1 at 6:30 PM; Monday 11/2 at 7 PM)
Never released on Region 1 DVD, Fellini’s fantasy about the love life of fabled 18th-century libertine Casanova (Donald Sutherland) is one of the maestro’s most opulent films, with Oscar-winning costumes and a memorable Nino Rota score. 35mm print from the Universal Pictures studio archive! Adults only!

Before I sign off, I should note that while the CIA Cinematheque is the best game in town, it isn't the only one. There are a handful of other fantastic cinema options remaining this month at parts elsewhere you should dig, too. For example, the Jewish Film Festival (JFF) is taking place later in the month, with films being screened at both the Cedar-Lee and Shaker Square theaters, and the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) has some choice selections on the calendar as well.

The Way We Get By (CMA, Sunday 10/11 at 1:30 PM)
A major prizewinner at this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival and at other festivals, this touching movie profiles a trio of Maine retirees who have found renewed meaning in their lives by greeting and thanking (at all hours of the day) every U.S. soldier returning from the Middle East via the Bangor airport.

Refusenik (JFF, Shaker Square, Thursday 10/15 at 7 PM)
Refusenik is the first documentary to chronicle the 30-year movement to free Soviet Jews. It recounts how a grassroots effort, with origins in Cleveland, blossomed into an international human rights campaign. Told through the eyes of activists on both sides of the Iron Curtain, the film weaves first-person accounts of heroism, sacrifice and, ultimately, liberation.

At Home in Utopia (JFF, Cedar-Lee, Monday 10/19 at 7:30 PM)
At Home in Utopia traces the inspiring rise and inevitable fall of one community, “The Coops” (cooperative Bronx apartments), from the 1920s into the 1950s. The United Workers Cooperative Colony, a paragon of egalitarian values long before the civil rights or women’s movement, was home to many communists and communist sympathizers, and it was the most grassroots and member-driven of the Jewish labor housing cooperatives.

Nollywood Babylon (CMA, Wednesday 10/21 at 7 PM)
This eye-opening documentary surveys the Nigerian film industry—the third largest in the world after the U.S. and India—which turns out a steady stream of D.I.Y., straight-to-DVD melodramas, comedies, and thrillers, many colored by religion and superstition. An Afro-pop score and ample film clips punctuate the interviews.

The Gift to Stalin (JFF, Cedar-Lee, Thursday 10/22 at 7:30 PM)
Uprooted by Stalin’s regime, ethnic minorities are deported by rail to Central Asia under dreadful conditions. During a stopover, a Jewish boy, Sashka, is rescued by a Muslim rail worker. Lovingly cared for by a surrogate family in rural Kazakhstan, he encounters a series of adventures while dreaming of finding his exiled parents.

The Debt (JFF, Cedar-Lee, Saturday 10/24 at 9 PM)
Alternating between the 1960s and the present, The Debt tells the riveting tale of three young Mossad agents assigned to capture a Nazi war criminal and return him to Israel to stand trial. After the operation goes awry, the trio harbors a secret that will haunt them for decades until a surprising chance for redemption.

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