See JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY for Free!

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

The UW Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies starts again this week with an opportunity to view the acclaimed and influential music documentary Jazz on a Summer's Day (1959)

JAZZ ON A SUMMER'S DAY (1959, 85 min.) Filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island and directed by world-renowned photographer Bert Stern, Jazz on a Summer's Day features intimate performances by an all-star line-up of musical legends including Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, and closes with a stunning midnight rendition of The Lord's Prayer by Mahalia Jackson to usher in Sunday morning. Setting the template for all contemporary concert movies, Jazz on a Summer’s Day features the innovative editing of soon-to-be-director Aram Avakian (End of the Road, Cops and Robbers) and has been beautifully and extensively restored in 4K from the best surviving vault elements by IndieCollect.​

Beginning September 3, the Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities to view this new restoration of Jazz on a Summer’s Day at home for free. To receive access, send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu and make sure to have the word JAZZ in the subject line or the first line of the email.

On our Cinematalk podcast, we proudly present a new episode exploring Jazz on a Summer's Day. On the first segment, UW Madison Film Professor Jeff Smith talks with the Cinematheque's Mike King about the cultural and historical significance of the artists who appeared at Newport and the influence of Jazz on a Summer’s Day on subsequently made concert movies. In the second segment, Cinematheque's Ben Reiser talks with his fellow SUNY Purchase classmates, filmmakers Jeff Kushner and Bob Gosse, about their Film Professor, Aram Avakian, and Avakian's contributions to Jazz on a Summer's Day. Listen below or here on Soundcloud.

Stay healthy and safe. We value your support for the Cinematheque and we look forward to being able to watch movies with you soon in the proper cinematic settings of 4070 Vilas Hall and the Chazen Museum of Art.

See Two French Crime Classics for Free!

Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

The UW Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies concludes its Summer programming season this week with an opportunity to see (or see again) two great French crime movies that played on our big screen in recent years: Jules Dassin's Rififi and Claude Sautet's Classe Tous Risques.

RIFIFI (DU RIFIFI CHEZ LES HOMMES, France, 1955, 120 min., French with English subtitles): A down-and-out ex-con plans a brazen daytime robbery in order to recover his underworld status. Working in exile from McCarthy-era Hollywood, Dassin transplants his American noir aesthetic to the dark streets of Paris in this edgy heist film. Rififi’s cinematic tour-de-force: a 30-minute burglary sequence performed entirely without dialogue.

CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (Claude Sautet, France/Italy 1960, French and Italian with subtitles): In this hard-hitting French film noir, Lino Ventura plays a career thief who executes a broad daylight payroll heist on the streets of Milan. With the help of a new partner (Jean-Paul Belmondo), he returns to France after holing up in Italy, and realizes, perhaps too late, that there’s more to life than being a gangster. Following up on 50s masterworks like Rififi while anticipating 60s thrillers like Le SamouraiClasse Tous Risques has been virtually unseen in this country for over 40 years. It’s a penetrating study of a tough guy at the end of his rope, with the first teaming of Ventura and Belmondo, two of French cinema’s greatest icons. 

The Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities to view Rififi and Classe Tous Risques at home for free. To request access, send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu and make sure to include the word RIFIFI in the subject line or the first line of the email. Everyone making a request will receive access to view both movies

We also invite you to listen below to a wonderful interview with Rififi director and co-star Jules Dassin from New York Film Forum's Director of Repertory Programming Bruce Goldstein.

Cinematheque-at-home programming will resume in early September. Stay healthy and safe. We value your support for the Cinematheque and we look forward to being able to watch movies with you soon in the proper cinematic settings of 4070 Vilas Hall and the Chazen Museum of Art.

Cinema in a Time of Crisis

Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

On Friday, July 24 UW Cinematheque Director of Programming Jim Healy participated in an online webinar hosted by George Eastman Museum in Rochester, NY. The subject was "Cinema in a Time of Crisis" and you can now view the complete discussions below.

From the George Eastman Museum description: Cinema is an immediate, immersive, and communal experience. It is an exhibition of artwork tied directly to a specific place and time. As cinemas around the globe prepare to operate in a current and post-pandemic world, new challenges are posed. Curator of Film Exhibitions Jared Case and former curator Jim Healy, now Director of Cinematheque Film Programming at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, discuss the uncertainties of the current climate and plans for the immediate future, including programming and the safety of the audience. The discussion includes a recorded conversation with former Curator of Film Exhibitions Jurij Meden, now Curator of the Film Program at the Austrian Film Museum.

Discover The Ross Bros' BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS for Free!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

The UW Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies continues this week with a new release that was originally scheduled to be one of the Closing Night Selections of the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival, Bill and Turner Ross's fascinating doc-fiction hybrid Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets.

BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS (US, 2020, 98 min.) It’s last call at Roaring 20’s, a dive bar on the outskirts of Las Vegas that would fit right in in Wisconsin. It’s closing down, so the regulars assemble for one last 24-hour bender, some bellying up to the bar well before noon—audience members may be tempted to place bets on who will be the last person standing. As the night deepens, emotions swirl with the inscrutable logic of drink: camaraderie withers into sniping and back again, hilarious carousing seamlessly transforms into tender soul-baring. But things are not exactly as they seem. Though the film could absolutely pass for one of the Ross Brothers' earlier documentaries, Roaring 20’s is actually in New Orleans, it’s still open, and its denizens are a specifically cast group of locals worthy of Denis Johnson or John Cassavetes. At the same time, the night we see is real; there was no script, only the barest of outlines, and those are real drinks going down. The result is a captivating and original slice of pure cinema, exactly as authentic as you feel after a few too many—which is to say, very.

After premieres at the 2020 Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets was scheduled to be one of the Closing Night Attractions of the 2020 Wisconsin Film Festival. Now you can discover it at home for yourselves while the cinemas - and bars - remain on, shall we say, hiatus. The Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities to view Bloody Nose at home for free. To request access, send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu and make sure to include the word ROSS in the subject line or the first line of the email.

On a new episode of our Cinematalk podcast, Mike King talks with Bill & Turner Ross, two of the most exciting and forward-thinking contemporary American filmmakers. The Ross Brothers discuss Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets. and shed light on the unusual production methods behind the film, and its relationship to their past work.  You can listen below, or here on Soundcloud. You can also subscribe to Cinematalk through Apple Podcasts.

Cinematalk Podcast #12: Peter Sellers Lost and Found

Thursday, July 16th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

July 2020 marks 40 years since the death of the brilliant actor and comedian Peter Sellers (1925-1980). In conjunction with the Cinematheque's "Peter Sellers: Lost and Found" selections, this episode features Cinematheque Programmers Jim Healy and Ben Reiser discussing The Ghost of Peter Sellers, Peter Medak's new documentary about the making - and unmaking - of his unreleased Sellers comedy Ghost in the Noonday Sun, and Mr. Topaze, Sellers lone effort as a feature film director. Listen below or subscribe through Apple Podcasts.

See THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS & MR. TOPAZE at Home for Free!

Thursday, July 16th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

July 2020 marks 40 years since the death of the brilliant actor and comedian Peter Sellers (1925-1980) and the UW Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies continues this week with a pair of movies to watch at home that we have packaged as "Peter Sellers: Lost and Found." The selections include a new documentary from veteran director Peter Medak, The Ghost of Peter Sellers, and a new restoration of the one feature film that Peter Sellers directed, 1961’s Mr. Topaze (aka I Like Money).

THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS (UK, 2018, 93 min.) Director Peter Medak’s documentary chronicles the disastrous production and aftermath of Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973), a pirate comedy set in the 17th Century directed by Medak and starring Peter Sellers. Fresh off the success of his cult comedy classic The Ruling Class, Medak was recruited by Sellers to helm the big screen adaptation of a children's book, a project that would also reunite Sellers with his former Goon Show compatriot Spike Milligan. Sellers arrived on the set in Cyprus depressed from his recent breakup with Liza Minnelli and things only went downhill from there. Sellers lost confidence with the film immediately and tried to sabotage it, firing producers and other crew members before turning on co-star Anthony Franciosa and, eventually, the young director Medak. Attempting to heal old wounds and end his persistent sense of personal guilt over the film's failure, Medak, after 43 years, speaks with surviving cast members and others involved with the production. Filled with clips from Ghost in the Noonday Sun, which was never given a theatrical release, and other vintage footage of Sellers, The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a fascinating depiction of a movie's unmaking.

MR. TOPAZE (I LIKE MONEYUK, 1961, 97 min.) In this adaptation of a play by Marcel Pagnol, Peter Sellers plays Albert Topaze, a poor but proud French schoolmaster who, unwilling to sacrifice his principles, loses his job after he refuses to alter the failing grades of one of students. Seizing the opportunity to exploit his well-known honesty, actress Suzy Courtois (Nadia Gray) convinces her lover, the corrupt city council member Castel Benac (frequent Sellers co-star Herbert Lom), to hire Topaze as a managing director for one of his shady businesses. But when Topaze learns he is being used, he cunningly turns the tables on Benac. The only feature film ever directed by Sellers, Mr. Topaze also features the actor at his inimitable, physical best, playing opposite a stellar supporting cast that includes the aforementioned Gray and Lom, plus Leo McKern, Billie Whitelaw and Michael Gough. Impossible to see for decades outside of the few surviving prints held at the British Film Institute's National Archives, Mr. Topaze has been digitally restored and color corrected by the BFI and can now be discovered by Sellers fans.

The Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities to view both The Ghost of Peter Sellers and Mr. Topaze at home for free. To receive access, simply send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu that contains the word SELLERS in the subject line.

And, on a new episode of our Cinematalk podcast, Cinematheque Programmers Ben Reiser and Jim Healy discuss The Ghost of Peter SellersMr. Topaze, and several other Peter Sellers movies. Scroll below to listen or subscribe and listen through Apple Podcasts.

See Hong Sang-soo's WOMAN ON THE BEACH for Free!

Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

The UW Cinematheque's free series of view-at-home movies continues this week with another memorably awkward look at modern romance from Hong Sang-soo, Woman on the Beach (2006). One of South Korea's most acclaimed and prolific artists, Hong's work has been showcased over the last two decades at the Cinematheque and the Wisconsin Film Festival. Last month, we provided the opportunity to view Hong's Hill of Freedom at home for free and it is now available here for a rental price, proceeds from which will benefit the Cinematheque.

WOMAN ON THE BEACH (2006, South Korea, 127 min, Korean with English subtitles) A filmmaker travels to a sparsely populated seaside resort town to get some writing done on his next project.  While seeking inspiration, he becomes romantically entangled with a pair of women—first his assistant’s companion, then a second woman who reminds him of the first.  On the surface, this pair of overlapping love triangles appears to be one of Hong’s most breezily conventional films, but embedded within Woman on the Beach’s straightforward story is a trickier web of narrative rhymes and variations—a kind of Vertigo by way of Eric Rohmer—as its characters attempt to overcome their own preconceptions of one another (Mike King). This selection is brought to you in part with the support of UW Madison Center for East Asian Studies.

The Cinematheque has a limited number of free opportunities to view Woman on the Beach at home. To receive your free access, send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu and simply put the title of the film, Woman on the Beach, in the subject line or the first line of the email.

On a new episode of our Cinematalk podcast, Cinematheque programmers Mike King and Zach Zahos discuss Hong and Woman on the Beach. The episode complements our earlier podcast with Mike King and Professor David Bordwell's in-depth discussion of Hong's career and Hill of Freedom. To listen to this talk on Woman on the Beach, scroll below, or visit Soundcloud here. You can also subscribe to Cinematalk through Apple Podcasts here.

Cinematalk Podcast #11: Hong Sang-soo's WOMAN ON THE BEACH

Thursday, July 9th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

As a complement to our earlier podcast with David Bordwell discussing Hill of Freedom and the cinema of Hong Sang-soo, episode 11 of Cinematalk takes a closer look at another superb and semi-autobiographical Hong feature, Woman on the Beach (2006). 

In Woman on the Beach, a filmmaker travels to a sparsely populated seaside resort town to get some writing done on his next project.  While seeking inspiration, he becomes romantically entangled with a pair of women—first his assistant’s companion, then a second woman who reminds him of the first.  On the surface, this pair of overlapping love triangles appears to be one of Hong’s most breezily conventional films, but embedded within Woman on the Beach’s straightforward story is a trickier web of narrative rhymes and variations—a kind of Vertigo by way of Eric Rohmer—as its characters attempt to overcome their own preconceptions of one another.  

Discussing Woman on the Beach on this episode of Cinematalk are Mike King and Zachary Zahos, both programmers for the Cinematheque and Wisconsin Film Festival. You can listen to the episode below or here on Soundcloud or subscribe through Apple Podcasts.

THE GREAT SILENCE: Supplemental Viewing

Friday, June 19th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

The following blog post contains spoilers for The Great Silence.

As discussed on our Cinematalk podcast with Alexander Payne, the ending of The Great Silence fulfills Sergio Corbucci's icy, pitiless vision of an America where murder drives the economy. Watching the bleak story unfold, it is hard to imagine that the movie could conclude any other way, and yet...

The producers of The Great Silence requested that Corbucci shoot an alternate ending, one where Sheriff Burnett (Frank Wolff) has miraculously survived the frozen lake and returns to aid Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Pauline (Vonetta McGee) in their final confrontation with Tigrero/Loco (Klaus Kinski). And don't worry about the bullets that seemed to have already destroyed Silence's hand, he has come up with a protective, secret plan similar to Clint Eastwood's in A Fistful of Dollars.

In addition to this "happy" ending (look at that smile on Trintignant), it seems the producers were able to devise a second alternative ending by re-editing the existing footage into a more ambiguous (and confusing) ending that suggests Pauline and the group of outlaw hostages have their lives spared. Both of these alternative endings can be found on Film Movement's excellent blu-ray release of The Great Silence. Most sources confirm that neither of these alternate endings were ever shown to audiences.

North American distribution and intellectual rights to The Great Silence were acquired in 1969 by 20th Century Fox, and it has been suggested that Fox was interested in remaking the film as a vehicle for Clint Eastwood. Unfortunately, the movie was shelved when Fox studio head Darryl Zanuck determined that the movie was too grim a trip to lay on American ticket buyers. It was not until the 21st century that most Americans had a chance to see one of Corbucci's finest efforts. Interestingly, the Italian distributors decided to use a pull quote from Zanuck to promote the movie in their original release trailer. Zanuck's comments translated: "The Best Italian Western of Recent Times."

Also discussed on the podcast, here is part one of Western, Italian Style a short documentary exploring the phenomenon of Italian Westerns narrated in English by Frank Wolff and featuring behind-the-scenes footage of The Great Silence. Plus, interviews with Corbucci, Trintignant, and other notable action directors like Sergio Sollima and Enzo G. Castellari.

And here is part two of Western, Italian Style:

Hear Alexander Payne & See THE GREAT SILENCE for Free!

Thursday, June 18th, 2020
Posted by Jim Healy

This week, the Cinematheque is providing free access to another restored Western, Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence (Il Grande Silenzio). Originally released in Europe in 1968 but not given an official US release for 50 years, The Great Silence stands alongside Robert Altman’s McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Andre De Toth’s Day of the Outlaw as one of the great snow-covered Westerns. In the story, an unethical judge looking to clean up his small, remote mountain community invites a group of ruthless, murdering bounty hunters to invade. American actress Vonetta McGee plays Pauline, whose husband is gunned down by a loathsome killer (Spaghetti Western veteran Klaus Kinski). Looking for revenge, Pauline then hires a mysterious, mute drifter, known only as Silence, played by European cinema legend Jean-Louis Trintignant. 

The Great Silence is a violent, mythic, and nihilistic tale that provides a grim vision of capitalist America where murder equals money, a theme it shares in common with Sergio Leone’s "Dollars" trilogy. Director and co-writer Sergio Corbucci, who had previously directed Westerns like the classic Django and the Burt Reynolds vehicle Navajo Joe, wisely stayed away from the typical sun-baked locations of other Spaghetti Westerns in favor of Italy’s snowy Dolomite mountains. Corbucci achieves a unique and appropriately icy mood, one that is reinforced by the haunting score of the director's frequent collaborator, composer Ennio Morricone. 

The Great Silence screened in its recent restoration at the 2018 Wisconsin Film Festival, and now, the Cinematheque has a limited number of opportunities for you to view The Great Silence at home. Simply send an email to info@cinema.wisc.edu, and remember to put the word SILENCE in the subject line or the first line of the email.

On our Cinematalk podcast this week, we are privileged to welcome one of the finest of all contemporary filmmakers, Alexander Payne. Our discussion begins with a look at The Great Silence and the mythic qualities of the Western genre. We also touch on the development of his cinephilia, the future of moviegoing, and "the three H's".

Usually writing in collaboration with Jim Taylor, Alexander Payne is the renowned director of sophisticated comedies for adults like Citizen RuthElectionAbout SchmidtSidewaysThe DescendantsNebraska, and Downsizing. He is the recipient of two Academy Awards for his screenplays and he is also a passionate movie-lover. In 2014, he visited madison to present a Wisconsin Film Festival screening of another 60s Italian classic, Dino Risi’s Il Sorpasso. He also joined us at that time for a Cinematheque screening of Nebraska. This week he spoke to us from his hometown and the frequent setting of his movies, Omaha, Nebraska. You can hear this episode through Soundcloud, by subscribing through Apple podcasts, or simply scroll below, click, and begin listening.

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