Briefly breaking away from her high-gloss modern soap operas, Kay Francis stars as Florence Nightingale in this reverent Warner Bros. biopic. The screenplay concentrates on Nightingale’s humanitarian activities during the Crimean War of 1854-55. Defiant in the face of military bureaucracy and the male hierarchy, she organizes a volunteer group of nurses to tend to the military wounded, and also works tirelessly to update and improve the primitive, almost barbaric medical conditions of the Victorian Era.
Dixie (1943) A. Edward Sutherland, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Billy De Wolfe, Biography, Comedy, Musical
A young songwriter leaves his Kentucky home to try to make it in New Orleans. Eventually he winds up in New York, where he sells his songs to a music publisher, but refuses to sell his most treasured composition: “Dixie.” The film is based on the life of Daniel Decatur Emmett, who wrote the classic song “Dixie.”
Terence Davies (1945- ), filmmaker and writer, takes us, sometimes obliquely, to his childhood and youth in Liverpool. He’s born Catholic and poor; later he rejects religion. He discovers homo-eroticism, and it’s tinged with Catholic guilt. Enjoying pop music gives way to a teenage love of Mahler and Wagner. Using archival footage, we take a ferry to a day on the beach. Postwar prosperity brings some positive change, but its concrete architecture is dispiriting. Contemporary colors and sights of children playing may balance out the presence of unemployment and persistent poverty. Davies’ narration is a mix of his own reflections and the poems and prose of others.
Burning Blue (2013) D.M.W. Greer, Trent Ford, Tammy Blanchard, Morgan Spector, Biography, Drama, Romance
Following two fatal aircraft accidents aboard an Aircraft Carrier, a government agent is placed aboard the ship. His mission is to determine what may be at the root of these mishaps and prevent the inevitable third chain breaking accident which abruptly changes course when a sailor reports seeing one of the top ranking fighter pilots in a gay club. The aviator and three of his squadron mates and their spouses all become the subject of a deadly modern day witch hunt entangling them in a web of jealousy and deceit which tests their concept of love, friendship and honor and changes their lives forever.
Laissez-passer / Safe Conduct (2002) Bertrand Tavernier, Jacques Gamblin, Denis Podalydès, Charlotte Kady, Biography, Drama, History
In occupied France, German-run Continental Films calls the shots in the movie business. Assistant director and Resistance activist Jean Devaivre works for Continental, where he can get “in between the wolf’s teeth and avoid being chewed up”. Fast-living screenwriter Jean Aurenche uses every possible argument to avoid working for the enemy. For both, wartime is a battle for survival.
Wisconsin, 1953. John Gacy, Sr. forces his fat teenage son to have sexual relations with him during a fishing trip. Iowa, 1968. The adult John Wayne Gacy Jr. is convicted of sodomy and after 18 months he is released and settles in Des Plaines near Chicago. From 1972, John Wayne Gacy, Jr. grows up as a respected family father and businessman, even tipped for a political career with the Democrats. Alas, while he loudly abhors homosexuality, the monster uses the crawl space under his home for the vice of his abusive father: over 30 innocent boys and teenagers end up buried there, after horrible abuse ending in torturous death, causing it to reek unspeakably, being full of insects decomposing the stream of young corpses. Some victims worked for him, others he just picked up ‘for fun’ or lured in under various pretenses.
Luther compresses nearly two decades into a provocative character study that parallels Martin Luther’s deepening religious dilemmas with the irresolvable earthly anxieties that shaped his beliefs and his rebellious search for truth. We’re introduced to Luther as a young monk in 1506, as he defends his vows to his jealous and disapproving father (Patrick McGee). But as Luther’s religious commitment deepens, his faith in an increasingly commercialized, politicized, and spiritually empty Papacy atrophies until, having preached against the medieval Catholic Church’s hypocrisy, he is called to account by the very bishops he must denounce.
Der Kreis / The Circle (2014) Stefan Haupt, Matthias Hungerbühler, Peter Jecklin, Marie Leuenberger, Documentary, Biography, Drama
Zurich, 1956. The young teacher Ernst Ostertag falls head over heels in love with the transvestite star Robi Rapp and finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality. Ernst becomes a member of the gay organization DER KREIS and lives through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which in the whole of Europe is seen as the pioneer of gay emancipation.
Joel-Peter Witkin: An Objective Eye (2013) Thomas A. Marino, Joel-Peter Witkin, Eugenia Parry, Baudoin Lebon, Documentary, Biography, History
A new documentary from director Thomas Marino, taking a profound and introspective look into the life and art of the controversial artist, Joel-Peter Witkin. Along with in-depth interviews with Joel-Peter Witkin, the film features interviews from prominent artists, musicians, photographers, and scholars who share insight into the impact of Witkin’s work and influence on modern culture.
The Seagull (1975) John J. Desmond, David Clennon, Blythe Danner, Olympia Dukakis, Biography, Drama, Music
Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull centers around impassioned would-be writer Konstantin (Frank Langella, Dracula), who hopes to write plays that will shatter what he sees as the clumsy, artificial constraints of theater. But his self-indulgent mother (Lee Grant, Shampoo), a famed actress, dismisses his efforts. Her lover (Kevin McCarthy, Invasion of the Body Snatchers), a successful novelist, patronizes Konstantin and steals away the young man’s beloved Nina (Blythe Danner, Meet the Parents). Chekhov is above all a poet of love–not the raptures of consummation, but the misery of love unrequited, misdirected, spurned, and abused. His eloquent tales of heartbreak have a phenomenal compassion for the weaknesses and flaws of human beings. This TV movie, based on the 1975 production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, is intelligent and warm, with excellent performances from Langella, Danner, and Grant in particular.