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.
The Straight Story (1999) David Lynch, Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz, Biography, Drama
Alvin Straight is a very old man with a quiet life in a small country town. When his brother gets seriously sick, he decides to put away their differences and visit him after many, many years. So, alone, he begins a long journey through hundreds of miles, just to see again his brother, even if it’s the last thing he will ever do… Based on a true story.
Bismarck (1940) Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Paul Hartmann, Friedrich Kayßler, Lil Dagover, Biography, Drama
‘Three hundred men’ is one long night at Saint Jean de Dieu, in Marseille. The center welcomes and confines three hundred homeless men every night over the winter. This documentary is neither the description nor the chronicle of the life of a shelter. It portrays humanity reduced to its essence, when only remain speech, humor, anger or madness to affirm that one still exists.’
Machuca (2004) Andrés Wood, Matías Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Biography, Drama, History
Santiago, capital of Chile during the Marxist government of elected, highly controversial president Salvador Allende. Father McEnroe supports his leftist views by introducing a program at the prestigious “collegio” (Catholic prep school) St. Patrick to allow free admission of some proletarian kids. One of them is Pedro Machuca, slum-raised son of the cleaning lady in Gonzalo Infante’s liberal-bourgeois home. Yet the new classmates become buddies, paradoxically protesting together as Gonzalo gets adopted by Pedro’s slum family and gang. But the adults spoil that too, not in the least when general Pinochet’s coup ousts Allende, and supporters such as McEnroe.
Rupa u dusi / Hole in the Soul (1994) Dusan Makavejev, Rambo Amadeus, Melodie Annis, Dennis Jakob, Documentary, Biography, Comedy
D’homme à hommes / Man to Men (1948) Christian-Jaque, Jean-Louis Barrault, Bernard Blier, Hélène Perdrière, Biography, Drama, War
The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) Charles Walters, Debbie Reynolds, Harve Presnell, Ed Begley, Biography, Comedy, Musical
Majestic mountains are in the background and a waterfall in the foreground. Is that a canoe on the river? No it’s a cradle with a baby. The buoyant Molly Brown has survived the first crisis of her life – a flood. Sixteen years later she sets out to make her way in the world. Can she sing and play the piano? She assures the Leadville saloon keeper that she can and learns quickly. Soon she is the bride of Johnny Brown, who in a few years will be able to replace the original cigar wrapper wedding ring with a replica in gold and gemstones.
1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) Ridley Scott, Gérard Depardieu, Armand Assante, Sigourney Weaver, Adventure, Biography, Drama
Big budget account of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas. Released in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery. Shows the disastrous effects the Europeans had on the original inhabitants, and Columbus’ struggle to civilize the New World.
Jim Sledden’s 1998 documentary Brakhage is an interesting, well-constructed portrait of avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage, who made almost 400 film in the 50 years up to his death in 2003. Along with fellow artists Jonas Mekas and Maya Deren, he’s regarded as one of the most important of American experimental filmmakers, and his influence can be seen in everything from music videos to title sequences from such films as Se7en. Starting with the psychodramas so typical of young filmmakers, he eventually moved into more abstract films, even physically manipulating the celluloid itself by gluing things to it or scratching it with a variety of implements.