Special Presentations and New Restorations
On our January-May calendar, you can see new DCP restorations of Leo McCarey’s deeply romantic 1939 classic Love Affair; Chameleon Street, a landmark in African-American independent filmmaking; a marvelous 1923 Swedish silent, Norrtullsligan; Wong Kar Wai’s fan favorite Chungking Express; and, digitally restored to its (literal) eye-popping 3-D glory, Flesh for Frankenstein, an Andy Warhol production. Plus, special 35mm screenings of Slaughterhouse-Five, King Hu’s Dragon Inn, What’s Up, Doc?, Heathers, and Johnny Guitar!
- Sat., Jan. 22 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Dunne and Boyer are two classy strangers who meet aboard a luxury liner and fall in love. Both involved with other people, they make a promise to meet on New Year’s Eve at the Empire State Building…then fate intervenes. Spiritually and comically inspired, director McCarey later remade Love Affair as An Affair to Remember. Available for decades only in highly inferior public domain versions, this new restoration of McCarey’s superb original brings the sparkle back to one of the 1930s most magical and heartwarming classics. Restored by The Museum of Modern Art and Lobster Films with support from The Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.
- Sat., Jan. 29 | 4:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Everyman Billy Pilgrim (Sacks) has become unstuck in time, zipping back and forth across his life’s most important events: his childhood, his marriage, his abduction by aliens to the planet Tralfamadore, and, most significantly, his days as a prisoner-of-war before and after the horrific bombing of Dresden, Germany. Kurt Vonnegut enthusiastically praised director Hill’s very faithful adaptation of his most famous novel, a deeply personal, beautifully absurd science-fiction/anti-war hybrid.
- Sat., Feb. 5 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Chameleon Street reveals the absurd but true story of Michigan con man William Douglas Street (charismatically portrayed by writer and director Harris). Street used his uncanny powers of intuition to successfully impersonate a lawyer, a surgeon, a journalist, and a foreign exchange student. Filmmaker Harris subtly and comically uses Street’s saga to play with themes of race, class, and performance in modern American identity. Criminally underseen in the three decades since it won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Harris’ debut feature has now been beautifully restored in 4K digital.
- Sun., Feb. 13 | 2:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In a complex plot filled with intrigue and set in 1457, a palace eunuch, who also happens to control two royal intelligence agencies, is determined to kill the exiled children of an executed defense minister. The children soon come under the protection of three warriors, swordsmen Xiao and Zhu Ji and Zhu Ji’s sister Zhu Hui, who poses as a boy. The scene for a showdown is set when all of the characters meet at the titular location where, “Eavesdropping, poisoned wine, games of deceit, and sudden death spice up the evening...before the conflict finally surface and the long battle to protect the children can begin” (David Bordwell, Planet Hong Kong). This martial arts classic made in Taiwan by legendary director King Hu has a compellingly digressive story and a great ensemble of primary and secondary villains that put it in the same class as films by Sergio Leone and Quentin Tarantino. Shot in color and anamorphic widescreen, Dragon Inn also features some of the most exciting fight sequences ever choreographed for an action movie, one of the reasons the film broke Southeast Asian box office records on its original release. Print courtesy Wisconsin Center for Film & Theater Research. Co-presented with WUD Film.
- Sun., Feb. 20 | 2:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In a decaying Taipei movie theater with several hundred seats, a handful of viewers turn up to see a screening of King Hu’s martial arts spectacular, Dragon Inn. The motley denizens of the cinema include senior citizens, pickup artists on the prowl, a lonely ticket clerk and a young projectionist. Co-presented with WUD Film.
- Fri., Mar. 11 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Fresh off the triumphant The Last Picture Show, Bogdanovich set himself up with a daunting, nigh-impossible challenge: recreate/update the screwball brilliance, non-stop hilarity of Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby. That he succeeded beyond any reasonable expectation is due in no small part to the spectacular chemistry of leads O’Neal and Streisand, as well as scene-stealing turns from Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton, and, Madeline Kahn in an astonishing screen debut. Filled to the brim with supremely witty dialogue and featuring a climactic chase through the streets of San Francisco that out-Bullitts Bullitt, What’s Up, Doc? is a must-see on the big screen.
- Sun., Mar. 13 | 2:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Adapted from a novel by the Swedish feminist Elin Wägner (translated into English as “Men and Other Misfortunes”), Norrtullsligan (or, The Norrtull Gang) concerns the life and work of four women clerical workers who also room together in the Stockholm neighborhood of Norrtull in the 1920s. They have different problems with family, boyfriends, and more or less abusive employers. Director Lindberg and screenwriter Hjalmar Bergman find exciting cinematic ways to depict the oppression and solidarity of this fairly new sector of the Swedish working classes. A restoration from the Swedish Film Institute with a newly recorded score will be screened. (BB)
- Fri., Mar. 25 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
One of the great unheralded concert films, Trances provides a showcase for Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane. In a series of ecstatic live performances, the rhythmically intricate band tears it up for their fervently devoted audience, who are frequently seen surrounding the stage in rapture. Between songs, the film joins the band on the streets of Casablanca and in intimate conversation about the meaning behind their songs. A testament to the communal exhilaration and energy of live music, Trances was the first film Martin Scorsese selected for restoration in his World Cinema Project. Restored in 2007 by The World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Ahmed El-Maanouni and Izza Genini. Restoration funding provided by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority. Presented with the support of UW Madison’s Middle East Studies Program.
- Fri., Apr. 1 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Teenager Veronica (Ryder) is having a hard time negotiating high school social life, but most of the pressures she’s facing are created by her “friends,” a trio of mean girls all named Heather. New-to-school J.D. (Slater) becomes Veronica’s boyfriend and offers a solution to alleviate her problems: homicide. This stylish, outrageous, and quotable satire, written by Daniel Waters, remains one of the key cult movies of the late 1980s. 35mm print courtesy Academy Film Archive. Presented with the support of University Theatre and their production of Heathers: The Musical, April 14-24.
- Fri., Apr. 15 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Strong-willed saloon-casino owner Vienna (Crawford) squares off against her nemesis: the shrieking Emma Small (McCambridge), who wrongly blames Vienna for her brother’s death. One of the most resonant of all westerns because of its Freudian, feminist, and anti-Red Scare hysteria themes, it’s also one of the most fun due to director Ray’s melodramatic flourishes and the incredible cast he assembled: Crawford, Hayden, Ernest Borgnine, Scott Brady, Ward Bond, and McCambridge, the screen’s other great Wicked Witch of the West.
- Sat., Apr. 16 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
The Midnight Express food stand is the spot where two stories of heartbreak and longing overlap in Hong Kong. Both tales center around lovesick cops (Kaneshiro and Leung) and the women (Wong and Lin) who, at least temporarily, become involved with them. Chungking Express became a cult favorite due to its light, charming, and clever tone, plus the beautiful, neon-infused cinematography, and memorable use of The Mamas and The Papas’ “California Dreaming” and The Cranberries’ “Dreams.” A 4K DCP restoration will be screened.
- Sat., Apr. 30 | 4:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Godard has crafted a brilliant three-part examination of the contemporary war-ravaged world and its politics using both fictional and documentary footage. Beginning with a hellish montage of war images from 1940 to the present, the film moves into a section set at an artists’ conference in modern-day Sarajevo (where Godard himself has come to participate) and concludes with a surreal final section set in an ambiguous paradise. 35mm print courtesy Yale Film Archive. Preceded by Stan Brakhage’s The Dante Quartet (1987, 35mm, 6 min.). Presented in conjunction with UW Madison’s “Dante After Dante” conference, April 28-22, and with the additional support of the UW’s Department of French and Italian, the Center for European Studies, and the Anonymous Fund.
- Sat., Apr. 30 | 7:00 PM4070 Vilas Hall
In what is perhaps the most “out there” adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic, Baron von Frankenstein (Kier) creates a pair of male and female monsters from discarded and purloined body parts. His plan to have his zombies mate and create a master race is thwarted by farm hand Nicholas (Dallesandro), who is having an affair with the Baron’s sexually frustrated wife (van Vooren). One of two (the other is Blood for Dracula) taboo-breaking variations on classic horror movies filmed in Europe by director Morrissey and produced by Andy Warhol, Flesh for Frankenstein has an abundance of campy, laugh-out-loud humor and, best of all, plenty of 3-D gross out effects. Restoration courtesy of Vinegar Syndrome and the American Genre Film Archive.