Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Month in Film

Last month I brought you word of my latest regular feature, a monthly column highlighting all the cinematic excellence and excitement taking place each new moon in the Cleve. I kinda liked doing it and, as a man of my word for as long as keeping it remains convenient, I figured I'd come back to you with a guide to your Cinematic November.

And what a November it is!

In addition to a slew of terrific films at the always excellent CIA Cinematheque, November also brings us the first-ever Cleveland Grindhouse event at the Grog Shop on November 21st, the Natural History Museum's day-long hosting of the touring Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival this Friday on November 6th, and the creation of Low Life Gallery's Rank & File Cinema Series, curated every Saturday night at about 8 PM by a revolving cast of Collinwood characters, beginning this Saturday and including yours truly on November 21st. And for those of you intellectually inclined (and your weekday lunch hour free to roam downtown), on Thursday 11/5 at noon in the CSU Schwartz library, Professor Evan Lieberman gives a lecture titled, "Atomic Anxieties: The Monster Explosion in Post-Nuclear Films."

Before getting to the meat of the post, a quick word about format. In this one, I'll list films (or film events) by title, but following chronological order. Make sense? If not, you'll pick it up pretty quickly. I'm a simpleton.

The 17th Annual Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival (The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Friday 11/6 at 6 PM)
Essentially the traveling version of an annual environmental film festival that takes place in Nevada City, CA, this event is a three-hour distillation of the very best of the year's festival programming. Whether it is the struggle for environmental justice, information on renewable energy or an educational tale about an endangered species, the films expose people to forward-thinking ideas and global awareness. The festival organizers include films in the touring program that not only highlight concerns but provide solutions, reaching people through beautiful imagery like the sweeping landscapes of the Tallgrass Prairie or the grandeur of the the rivers around the world.

The Baader Meinhof Complex (CIA, Saturday 11/7 at 9:30 PM; Sunday 11/8 at 6:30 PM; Thursday 11/12 at 8 PM)
This film is circled more times and in more different colors of ink in my calendar book this month than any other release. The story of the German communist revolutionary turned terrorist group Red Army Faction, The Baader Meinhof Complex is one of the five films nominated for this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It is by all accounts a gripping historical epic that delineates the anti-fascist origins of the radical left-wing group — which also became known as the Baader Meinhof Gang — that terrorized West Germany with bombings, kidnappings, and murders during the 1970s and into the late 1980s. The all-star cast includes Moritz Bleibtreu (Run Lola Run) as the fiery young Andreas Baader, Martina Gedeck as the older journalist and mother Ulrike Meinhof, and Bruno Ganz as the German official trying to outwit and capture them.

Friday the 13th, Part 3 in 3D (Cedar-Lee, Friday 11/13 at 9:30 PM and midnight)
Despite the fact that it comes with considerably more regularity that Halley's Comet, the occurence of a Friday the 13th never seems to get old, does it? At least not to me. Hopefully not you either, or you are probably thinking I'm pretty lame right now. (Says the guy who chronicles movie events by the month for free.) Well, for those of you determined to get over your incipient triskaidekaphobia or just have a mellow Friday night or bust out that old hockey mask your girlfriend won't let you wear around the house anymore, the Cedar-Lee has your hook-up. As part of their beloved cult film series, Cleveland Heights best commercial theater is screening Friday the 13th Part 3 in 3D. How can you not check this out?

Cleveland Surf Film Benefit (Beachland Ballroom, Sunday 11/15 at 5 PM)
Not a film screening exactly, but rather a Cleveland film happening. The filmmakers behind a new documentary about Cleveland Surfing (Out of Place) are hosting a fundraising party on Sunday, November 15th at the Beachland Ballroom. There will be select outtakes from the film and live music by The Barn Owls and The All Golden, both bands are featured on the film soundtrack. The event will include a raffle with items donated by local artists and businesses. The grand prize is a new surfboard by shaper and Ohio native Vince Labbe. Admission is free, and doors open at 5pm.

Out Of Place Trailer from Kurt P Vincent on Vimeo.

The CIA Cinematheque Presents ... at the Newly Renovated Capitol Theater (Thursday 11/19 at 7:30 PM)
In what is essentially a meeting of the finest film institution in the Greater Cleveland area paying a curatorial visit to the newest institution, join John Ewing of the CIA Cinematheque as he travels westward to program a double feature event at the recently remodeled and newly opened Capitol Theater in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

The evening's first selection is a 1927 silent Buster Keaton gem, The General, which features Keaton as a Southern train engineer who crosses enemy lines to retrieve a steam locomotive and drive it back to the Confederacy, with Union soldiers and spies in hot pursuit. The second screening makes up for the silence of the first by screening Nights and Weekends, a leading example of the hyper-rhetorical mumblecore genre to find its way to Cleveland. Directed by, written by, and starring genre stalwarts like Joe Swanberg (Alexander the Last) and Greta Gerwig (Hannah Takes the Stairs).

Cleveland Grindhouse Film Festival (Grog Shop, 11/21 at 4 PM)
The idea for the first annual Cleveland Grindhouse Film Festival was conjured up by actress Brenna Lee Roth (Twilight: New Moon, Killer Biker Chicks). The festival will help raise funds for her non-profit organization, Growing Our Future Today, which is currently working with PBS to film a documentary entitled Future Fuels that will teach high school & college students about the benefits of eco-friendly bio-fuels.

In addition to the film screening schedule, which will feature films by created by Cleveland area film makers including award winning director, Mark Cray (The Girl, The Horror Convention Massacre), attendees will have opportunities to meet and mingle with folks like Lisa Neeld (2009 Playboy cover model) and Robyn Griggs (One Life to Live, Another World), listen to tunes from Kent's Night Owl Elixir, and attend a special after party at the B-Side Lounge.

What Is It?/It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. (Cinematheque, Friday 11/20 at 7:30 PM)
Perhaps best known for playing Michael J Fox's dorky dad on Back to the Future or the evil villain in the Charlie's Angels remake, Crispin Glover has also steadily developed a reputation as one of the most artistically ambitious, culturally fluent, and controversial filmmakers of his generation. Those of you that are a fan of this actor or interested in art film should make plans in advance to catch the double feature screening of the first two films of his projected It trilogy, What is it? and It Is Fine! Everything is Fine.

I went to the screening when Glover was last through town in 2008 and I can say both that these films are unmissable for anyone that supports on-the-edge art but are also not for the faint of heart or soft of stomach. There are some images and directorial choices that will disturb you, which is as much the point as the difficult narrative arc that ultimately reveals Glover's sentimental and tender side. Think Fellini meets Lynch then run through a Gloverian meat grinder.

Beeswax (CIA, Saturday 11/28 at 9:30 PM; Monday 11/30 at 6:30 PM)
As a genre, "mumblecore" gets a bad rap. Maybe because it is a bad name for a genre. Who knows? I'll tell you one thing, this genre and the group of directors who provide its pulse are the closest thing we have going to compare to the new wave awesomeness of France in the 1960s, so we ought to cherish it while it is still blooming, rather than drop serious coin during retrospectives in a decade or two. Among the mumblecore directoriate, there are two names that loom on high (and do so for good reason): Andrew Bujalski and Joe Swanberg. And fortunately for Cleveland, this month gets both.

Bujalski's contribution, Beeswax, has him returning to his usual style and theme, a talky, mid-twentysomething, post-bohemian crowd navigating social and professional situations as best as anyone can. Check out the film website here for more.


Bob Ignizio said...

I caught the Glover movies last time as well, and am glad I did. They're tough to watch at times, but give you a lot to think about.

LM said...

Baader is a great film. It's very exciting and surprising. The film accurately portrays the RAF's rise and fall, but it can be hard to believe that the events in the film really happened. Highly recommended