Another month closer to spring, friends. Still, there are plenty of cold and dreary days ahead of us, perfect for sitting inside in a movie theater, watching something wonderful. The folks at the CIA, CMA, Cedar-Lee and others have a month's worth of programming for us this February. Check out my personal picks to click this month below.
As usual, 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.
Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution - 2008, France (Cleveland Museum of Art, Wednesday 2/3 at 6:45 PM)
This "cheerfully one-sided film" (New York Times) shows what happens when the mayor of a French village decrees that all lunches in the school cafeteria will be organic and locally grown.
Takedowns and Falls is a documentary film that tells the story of a group of Pennsylvania teens and their relationships within a high school wrestling team on a journey to attain a state championship. It chronicles a season of the Central Dauphin Rams in Harrisburg, PA and highlights the sacrifice of its athletes, the commitment of their families and the dedication of its coaches. Inspired by their love of the sport and their coaches, this group of teens grows up before our eyes, in an attempt to over achieve and do the impossible.
Takedowns and Falls explores themes of humility, family, friendship and teamwork via individual and team efforts to win a state title. The film transcends the sport and becomes a story about people over coming odds, and will appeal to a wide audience.
Takedowns and Falls is Spellbound meets Friday Night Lights for high school wrestling, taking place in the U.S. Mecca for the sport.
Cool As Ice - 1991, USA (Cedar-Lee, Saturday 2/6 at 9:30 & 11:59 PM)
A rap oriented re-make of "Rebel Without a Cause," with heavy emphasis on the fact that rap star Vanilla Ice has assumed the James Dean role. Not available on DVD, this flop stars Vanilla Ice & the dad from Family Ties! You may urinate yourself because you'll laugh so much during this fantastic feature. Everyone gets a free scoop of Mitchell's Homemade vanilla ice cream! Clean up in eisle seven.
Along An Eastern Shore - 2010, USA (Cleveland Museum of Art, Friday 2/5 at 7 PM)
Filmed in 2006 by Noel Maitland as a part of Ingenuity Festival, ALONG AN EASTERN SHORE is a Choreopoem set to an original score composed of written music sketches, and words by RA Washington, and featuring an ensemble of 9 Artists, and musicians. In 2009, Language Foundry Founder, J.S. Makkos commissioned artist/musician Stephe DK to provide artwork for a Limited Edition DVD Release and this will be the first time the actual film has been screened. The Cast includes some of Cleveland's finest jazz musicians, including Master Percussionist Neil Chastain, and multi reed instrumentalist, Dan Wenninger - combined with the entire Cleveland punk band THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY, and writer/musician/educator DANIEL GRAY KONTAR. Wild River - 1960, USA (CIA Cinematheque, Saturday 2/6 at 5:15 PM; Sunday 2/7 at 4 PM)
Here’s a new print of a rarely-shown Elia Kazan classic that’s not on DVD! Montgomery Clift plays a Tennessee Valley Authority official who tries to persuade a stubborn old woman (Jo Van Fleet) to leave her property before it is flooded. He also falls for her widowed granddaughter (Lee Remick). Shot on location in rural Tennessee, the movie spotlights a conflict (big government vs. little people, rugged individualism vs. the greater good) that is strikingly contemporary. And its viewpoint is unexpectedly ambivalent.
The Wedding Song - 2008, France/Tunisia (Cleveland Institute of Art, Saturday 2/6 at 9:25 PM; Sunday 2/7 at 6:45 PM)
In this sensuous and haunting new film set in Tunis in the early 1940s, two teenage girlfriends—one Jewish, one Muslim—compare their lives and prepare for their respective marriages. Then invading Nazis upset all their plans. From the director of La Petite Jérusalem. Adults only!
Automorphosis - 2008, USA (Cleveland Museum of Art, Wednesday 2/10 at 7 PM)
The new movie by the son of legendary ethnographic filmmaker Les Blank is a delightful look at some eccentrics, visionaries, and free-thinkers who have transformed their automobiles into drivable works of art (e.g., the "Peace Car" covered with eating utensils owned by spoon-bender Uri Geller).
Storm - 2009, Germany/Denmark/Netherlands (CIA Cinematheque, Thursday 2/11 at 9:15 PM; Friday 2/12 at 7:30)
Kerry Fox and Anamaria Marinca (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) star in the new drama from the director of Requiem. It’s a political thriller about a Hague lawyer who’s prosecuting a Bosnian Serb Army commander for war crimes. But when her key witness perjures and kills himself, she must travel to Sarajevo and quickly find another person to testify against the military leader.
Mine - 2009, USA (Cleveland Museum of Art, Friday 2/12 at 7 PM; Sunday 2/14 at 1:30 PM)
New Orleans residents try to reunite with pets they abandoned during Hurricane Katrina in this compelling documentary. Since many of these animals were sent to shelters or adopted by others, there are numerous custody battles. Preceded at showtime by John Harden’s 13-min. short film La vie d’un chien (The Life of a Dog, USA, 2005), a take-off on Chris Marker’s La Jetée.
Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage), a homicide detective with the New Orleans Police Department, is promoted to Lieutenant after he saves a prisoner from drowning in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, during his heroic act, he severely injures his back and is put on prescription pain medication.
A year later, Terence—struggling with his addictions to sex, Vicodin and cocaine—finds himself in the battle to bring down drug dealer Big Fate, who is suspected of massacring an entire family of African immigrants.
Uncertainty - 2009, USA (Capitol Theater, Wednesday 2/17 at 7:30 PM)
Uncertainty stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins as two young lovers who find themselves at a crossroads in their relationship while standing on the Brooklyn Bridge one July 4th. The flip of a coin propels them into two distinct (but alternating) narratives unfolding on both sides of the East River: a domestic drama set in Brooklyn, and a Manhattan-set thriller in which they’re chased through Chinatown by an assassin.
Unmade Beds - 2009, Britain (CIA Cinematheque, Thursday 2/18 at 6:45 PM; Friday 2/19 at 9:45 PM)
The youthful, anything-goes spirit of the French New Wave permeates this lovely, lyrical movie about two foreigners (he’s Spanish, she’s French) living the Boho life in the same London warehouse. While trying to find themselves, they find each other.
The Sun - 2005, Russia/France/Italy/Switzerland (CIA Cinematheque, Thursday 2/18 at 8:40 PM; Friday 2/19 at 7:30 PM)
One of last year’s most acclaimed movies was first shown at the Cinematheque in January 2007 as a “Cinematheque Elite” presentation. (The print then came from outside the country.) Now this major film from the director of Russian Ark has finally landed U.S. distribution. The Sun is a portrait of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito (Issey Ogata) as he surrenders his country—and his presumed divinity—to his American captor and protector, General Douglas MacArthur, at the end of WWII. Set within the confines of Hirohito’s isolated, servant-heavy compound, the film says a lot about the remoteness of world leaders who wage war.
Paradise - 2009, USA (Cleveland Museum of Art, Friday 2/19 at 7 PM)
The ordinary becomes extraordinary in this diaristic film that, according to the New York Times, "is essentially a series of home movies, but home movies of a very high order." Shot over a decade in nine different countries, Michael (Hamlet, Nadja) Almereyda’s new movie contains 44 distinct scenes captured on digital video—from images of children at play to candid moments at a Sonic Youth concert and on the set of Terrence Malick’s The New World. Almereyda will introduce the film and answer questions after the screening. Cleveland premiere.
Odd Man Out - 1947, Britain (CIA Cinematheque, Saturday 2/20 at 5 PM; Sunday 2/21 at 4 PM)
This film noir masterpiece was made by Carol Reed two years before his better-known The Third Man. James Mason plays a wounded IRA gunman who stumbles through the streets of Belfast looking for help while trying to avoid the police. A suspense classic with metaphysical overtones, it’s one of the great British films.
The Man From London - 2007, France/Germany/Hungary (CIA Cinematheque, Saturday 2/20 at 7:15 PM; Sunday 2/21 at 8:25 PM)
The most recent feature from the great Hungarian director of Sátántangó and The Werckmeister Harmonies is a moody drama of crime, guilt, and complicity based on a novel by Georges Simenon. A railroad worker witnesses a waterfront murder at a boat-train junction one foggy night and ends up with a suitcase full of cash, which he hides from his wife (Tilda Swinton). Then a man from London comes looking for it.
Until the Light Takes Us - 2008, USA (CIA Cinematheque, Saturday 2/20 at 9:50 PM; Sunday 2/21 at 6:30 PM)
Norwegian black metal was a 1990s Nordic offshoot of heavy metal that branched out from music, makeup, and pagan imagery to vandalism, church-burning, and killing. This new documentary explores the black metal scene through interviews with some of the movement’s key players, including Gylve “Fenriz” Nagell of Darkthrone and Varg “Count Grishnackh” Vikernes of Burzum, currently serving a 21-year prison sentence for arson and murder.
Found Footage Festival - 2009, USA (Beachland Ballroom, Sunday 2/21 at 7 PM)
The Found Footage Festival is a one-of-a-kind event showcasing videos found at garage sales and thrift stores and in warehouses and dumpsters throughout the country. Curators Pickett and Prueher host each screening in-person and provide their unique observations and commentary on these found video obscurities. From the curiously-produced industrial training video to the forsaken home movie donated to Goodwill, the Found Footage Festival resurrects these forgotten treasures and serves them up in a lively celebration of all things found.
Those Lips, Those Eyes - 1980, USA (Cedar-Lee, Sunday 2/21 at 2 PM)
Those Lips, Those Eyes is a coming-of-age story about a young man who works behind the scenes at a summer theater exactly like Cain Park, in a city exactly like Cleveland Heights in the 1950s. The screenplay was written by the late David Shaber who worked at Cain Park with founder Dina Rees Evans. And the reason the place in the movie looks so much like Cain Park is that it was actually filmed there in the late 70s—before the amphitheater had a roof and when the seating was stone and concrete benches. The film is not only a look at life in Cleveland Heights (and the rest of our country) in the 50s, it's also a historical documentation of the original Cain Park.
This event is a fundraiser on behalf of the Friends of Cain Park. Tickets are $30 and include the movie, snacks, wine, and other beverages. Those interested should make their check payable to "Friends of Cain Park" and mail to 2195 Delaware Drive, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44106. Any questions? Call 216-791-5149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harmony and Me - 2009, USA (Cleveland Museum of Art, Wednesday 2/24 at 7 PM)
In this very funny indie comedy, a pathetic sad sack recently dumped by his girlfriend seeks consolation from his friends and family, who are little help.
Night And Day - 2008, South Korea (CIA Cinematheque, Friday 2/25 at 8:10 PM; Saturday 2/26 at 9 PM)
A self-absorbed 40-year-old Korean painter who has impulsively flown to France to avoid a possible drug rap in Seoul finds himself a fish out of water in contemporary Paris. Though he happens to cross paths with an old girlfriend, and eventually falls for a two young art students, he spends much of his time wandering through the city, worrying about the wife he left behind, and generally behaving badly in a midlife-crisis kind of way. This wry and delightful comedy by internationally acclaimed Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo (Woman on the Beach) is perhaps his most enjoyable movie yet.
The White Ribbon - 2010, USA (Opens 2/26 at Cedar-Lee with numerous screenings to follow)
The film's title refers to the loss of innocence. Crisply shot in black and white, the film is set in a rural German village just prior to World War I. Voiced by an old man (Ernst Jacobi) who used to be the village schoolteacher, the story reveals mysterious goings-on.
A doctor falls off his horse, apparently tripped by a rigged wire. The son of the local baron is found beaten. A barn is burned down. So who is to blame?
As the war approaches, suspicion begins to escalate, perhaps presaging Germany's next 30 years. In German with English subtitles.
Brighton Rock - 1947, Britain (CIA Cinematheque, Saturday 2/27 at 5:15 PM; Sunday 2/27 at 4 PM)
Moving to Cleveland a couple years ago for work, I soon learned how rich the cultural community around town was. Whether rock shows or poetry readings, edgy gallery openings or string quartets, Clevo has it all. I do my best to bring you some coverage and advocacy about what I think you should check out, support, and exploit.