SEVEN FILMS AT RAILROAD SQUARE CINEMA

Presented by Colby Center for the Arts and Humanities

 

BLACK GIRL

Ousmane Sembène, 1966

OCTOBER 8, 2018 | 7:15 P.M.

Ousmane Sembène, the most internationally renowned African director of the 20th century, made his feature debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring Black Girl (La noire de . . .). Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot—about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white couple and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a figurative and literal prison—into a complex, layered critique on the lingering colonialist mindset of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s. In French with English subtitles. Unrated. 65 Min. 1966.

 

JONAH WHO WILL BE 25 IN THE YEAR 2000

Alain Tanner, 1976

November 14, 2018 | 7:15 p.m.

A sweet, smart, hopeful and funny visionary film from our past imagines a future very different than the one we now know has happened. Alain Tanner’s beloved film follows eight casually utopian veterans of the consciousness of the ‘60s as they navigate a new world they themselves are trying to create through their eccentric but very deep idealism.  The European equivalent of The Return of the Secaucus 7 (though Jonah came first!), looking at the lives of a group of men and women in their 30s as they confront the slim gains of the "revolutionary" sixties. Max, a dissatisfied copy editor; Myriam, a redhead into tantric sex; and Marie, a supermarket checker who gives unauthorized discounts to the elderly, search for renewed meaning on a communal farm. Director Alain Tanner collaborated with John Berger on a nonpareil screenplay, and a cast of great French actors take flight with their somewhat disillusioned but still very real hopes. In French with English subtitles. Unrated. 116 Min. 1976.

 

THE GREAT DICTATOR

Charlie Chaplin, 1940

DECEMBER 5, 2018 | 7:15 P.M.

Charlie Chaplin sees the present in 1940...and turns Adolph Hitler into a deeply satirized figure before the full force of World War 2 even happens in this astonishing comedy, forever memorable for the image of Chaplin’s Hitler clone, here named Adenoid Hynkel, literally playing with a world globe, which he bounces off his butt and head. Chaplin plays the part of both Hynkel, dictator of Tomania, and of a humble Jewish barber in this one-of-a-kind classic…with echoes that reverberate still…An Oscar nominee in its day for both Chaplin and Best Picture, it’s now simply seen as among the greatest films ever made, simultaneously funny and chilling. Unrated. 125 min. 1940.

 

THE VISITOR

Tom McCarthy, 2007

january 9, 2019 | 7:15 p.m.

It’s the post 9/11 U.S. when Tom McCarthy (who was to go on to make the Oscar-winning Spotlight) made this “heartfelt human drama that sneaks up and floors you” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) about our fear of immigrants. Richard Jenkins notched a Best Actor Oscar nomination as a nerdy Connecticut professor “who seems to move through life in a trance. We meet Walter as he leaves his safe, dull perch, teaching global economics at a Connecticut college, and travels to Manhattan to present a paper at an academic convention. At a barely used apartment he and his late wife kept in the city, Walter finds a beautiful young woman soaking in his bathtub. She’s Zainab (the wonderous Danai Gurira), from Senegal. Zainab and her boyfriend Tarek (Haaz Sleiman excels), a Syrian musician, aren’t squatters. They rented the place from a scam artist. After a few awkward moments, Walter invites the couple to stay till they find new digs. But it’s Walter who finds something — himself. When Tarek, who gives the uptight Walter lessons on the African drum, is arrested, Walter tries to intercede with U.S. Immigration” —Travers. PG-13. 104 Min. 2007.

 

CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS

Werner Herzog, 2010

February 6, 2019 | 7:15 p.m.

“To call this movie fascinating is akin to calling the Grand Canyon large”—Hollywood Reporter. Legendary director Werner Herzog takes us on a literal journey to our past. For over 20,000 years, Chauvet Cave has been completely sealed off by a fallen rock face, its crystal-encrusted interior as large as a football field and strewn with the petrified remains of giant ice age mammals. In 1994, scientists discovered the caverns, and found hundreds of pristine paintings within, spectacular artwork dating back over 30,000 years (almost twice as old as any previous finds) to a time when Neanderthals still roamed the earth and cave bears, mammoths, and ice age lions were the dominant populations of Europe. Since then, only a handful of specialists have stepped foot in the cave, and the true scope of its contents had largely gone unfelt—until legendary director Werner Herzog managed to gain access. Herzog captures the wonder and beauty of one of the most awe-inspiring sites on earth, all the while musing in his inimitable fashion about its original inhabitants, the birth of art, and the curious people surrounding the caves today. G. 89 Min. 2010.

 
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THE LADY EVE

Preston Sturges, 1941

march 6, 2019 | 7:00 p.m.

Do you think the movement for women’s equality in movies is a recent development? How about a movie that clearly—and charmingly, and hilariously and wittily—argues casually for her absolute SUPERIORITY in a Hollywood romantic comedy from 1941? The Lady Eve is all that and more as the fantastic Barbara Stanwyck runs comic, erotic and romantic circles around her handsome but befuddled paramour Henry Fonda in Preston Sturges’ masterpiece. Stanwyck plays Jean Harrington, a card shark on an ocean liner who plies her trade on the outclassed rich boy played by Fonda. Featuring one of the great closing lines in cinema history as well as everything else in its treasure trove. What a trove! Unrated. 94 Min.

 
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LEVIATHAN

Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014

april 10, 2019 | 7:15 p.m.

Kolia lives in a small town near the Barents Sea in North Russia. He has his own auto-repair shop. His shop stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya and his son from a previous marriage. Vadim Shelevyat, the mayor of the town, wants to take away his business, his house and his land. First he tries buying off Kolia, but Kolia cannot stand losing everything he has, not only the land, but also all the beauty that has surrounded him from the day of his birth. So Shelevyat starts being more aggressive. “Leviathan is easily the most important and imposing film to emerge from Russia in recent years. Since its story conveys a sense of pervasive political corruption, it has been read as a daring and scathing critique of conditions in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and it is certainly fascinating to contemplate on that level. Yet there’s much more to writer-director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s singular artistic vision than simple political allegorizing, as the hypnotic opening of Leviathan makes clear”—Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com. Oscar nominee: Best Foreign Film. In Russian with English subtitles. R. 140 Min. 2014.