It’s the 20th anniversary of Alfonso Cuarón’s impossibly sexy, funny Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN, which we’ll screen on December 8.
It’s the 20th anniversary of Alfonso Cuarón’s impossibly sexy, funny Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN, which we’ll screen on December 8.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present this month’s film in our popular Anniversary Classics Abroad program: Regis Wargnier’s compelling and increasingly timely thriller, East/West. Wargnier had won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for his earlier historical epic, Indochine. The Oscar-nominated star of that movie, Catherine Deneuve, collaborated with him again in another fascinating historical drama with an exotic backdrop.
Inspired by true events, East/West tells a story of Russian émigrés living in Paris who were lured back to the Soviet Union after the end of World War II. Russian dictator Josef Stalin promised these refugees a complete pardon if they returned to their homeland. But when they actually returned, many of these refugees were executed or sent to labor camps or forced to live in squalor. The main characters in the story are a doctor (Oleg Menchikov) with a French wife (Sandrine Bonnaire). Deneuve has a vivid supporting role as a visiting French actress who ultimately plays a key role in helping the married couple.
At a time of increasing oppressiveness under the Putin regime in Russia, this reminder of harsh living conditions under the rule of an earlier dictator takes on renewed relevance. Wargnier wrote the screenplay for East/West with Louis Gardel and two Russian writers, Rustam Ibragimbekov and Sergei Bodrov. Bonnaire, the star of earlier French films Vagabond, La Ceremonie, and Monsieur Hire, confirmed her enormous appeal in this picture. Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle (A Little Princess, Sense and Sensibility, Gosford Park), who had worked with Wargnier on Indochine, again contributed a vibrant score.
The Los Angeles Times’ Kevin Thomas declared, “East/West has the scale and rich period atmosphere of Indochine while gradually evolving into an acutely suspenseful thriller.” Writing in Movieline magazine, Stephen Farber paid tribute to the director: “Regis Wargnier has a gift for making sweeping popular entertainment,” and he added, “Sandrine Bonnaire gives a marvelously expressive performance.” The New York Times’ A.O. Scott called East/West a “sumptuous, moving new film,” and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald hailed it as “a suspenseful and hugely engrossing drama.”
Our 20th anniversary presentation of EAST/WEST screens Wednesday, March 18, at 7pm in Glendale, Pasadena, and West L.A. Click here for tickets.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series launch 2020 and the new decade with the 50th anniversary of the American release of FELLINI SATYRICON, the first installment of our monthly Abroad program.
The provocative adaptation of Petronius’s Satyricon, written in the first century AD during the reign of Nero in imperial Rome, is our fourth presentation of the films of Federico Fellini, one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in the history of cinema. Fellini garnered the third of four directing Oscar nominations for this effort; the Anniversary Classics Series has now showcased all of these nominated films, including La Dolce Vita, 8 ½, and Amarcord.
FELLINI SATYRICON, written by the Italian director with frequent collaborators Brunello Rondi and Bernardino Zapponi, is a freeform adaptation, emulating the fragmentary nature of Petronius’s work that survived. Petronius retold “degenerate” versions of Roman and Greek myth, and Fellini was fascinated by the gaps in the narrative, choosing a style that simulated hallucinatory dreams.
In the fevered tale, two students, Encolpius (Martin Potter) and Ascyltus (Hiram Keller), pursue the love of their young slave Giton (Max Born) through nine episodes of lurid hedonism. Petronius was a sensualist who celebrated and mocked decadence simultaneously, and Fellini matched that vision in the students’ travels and adventures in “grotesque drama and lurid fantasy,” as noted by Roger Ebert. Fellini achieved that effect through the vivid use of color, which was an ironic embrace of a medium the director disdained earlier in his career, preferring black-and-white hues in the 1950s and early 1960s in masterpieces like La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and La Dolce Vita.
Another frequent collaborator, cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno, fully realized Fellini’s vision; as described by TV Guide, “The masterful cinematography and stunning use of color, achieved through the use of deliberately artificial light sources, lend the film an almost hypnotic sheen.”
Fellini was questioned why he employed non-Italian actors to play the leads, and he elaborated on his casting choices, “They looked innocent…with Italians there is always a feeling of morality, but the Anglo-Saxon face has something detached, something crazy, something elegant.”
Critical reception varied from measured appraisals such as Rex Reed, who saw it as an “explosion of madness and perversion, designed like grand opera of the absurd,” to full endorsement from the New York Times’ Vincent Canby, calling it “the quintessential Fellini film, a travelogue through an unknown galaxy, a magnificently realized movie of his and our wildest dreams.”
In a retrospective review in 2001, Roger Ebert wrote, “It is so much more ambitious and audacious than most of what we see today that simply as a reckless gesture, it shames these timid times.”
See it Wednesday, January 22nd at 7pm in Glendale, Pasadena, and West L.A. Click here for tickets.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present this month’s installment in our popular Anniversary Classics Abroad program: a landmark in the Italian neorealist movement and a special Academy Award winner in 1949, Vittorio De Sica’s THE BICYCLE THIEF.
De Sica and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, another of the key figures in this new wave of filmmaking, worked together several times over the course of their careers, on such films as Shoeshine, Umberto D, Miracle in Milan, Two Women, Boccaccio ’70, and the director’s final film, A Brief Vacation.
One of the hallmarks of the neorealist movement was to shoot on the streets of postwar Italy rather than in the studio and often to cast non-actors for increased verisimilitude. For THE BICYCLE THIEF, De Sica cast a newcomer and former factory worker, Lamberto Maggiaroni, in the title role.
The story, very loosely adapted from a novel by Luigi Bartolini, highlights the desperate circumstances of a working class family in Rome. The father finds a job as a courier, but when his bicycle is stolen, the family’s livelihood is threatened. He and his young son set out to find the thief and retrieve the bicycle, but there turn out to be no easy solutions for this family in crisis. Enzo Staiola plays the son, and Lianella Carell plays the hero’s wife.
In addition to its special Oscar (in the years before the Academy introduced a regular category for foreign-language films), THE BICYCLE THIEF earned a nomination for best screenplay.
Although some Italian critics disparaged the film for promoting a negative picture of postwar Italy, THE BICYCLE THIEF was embraced in most other parts of the world.
When it opened in America, the New York Times’ Bosley Crowther raved, “Again the Italians have sent us a brilliant and devastating film in Vittorio De Sica’s rueful drama of modern city life.”
In 1952 the British magazine Sight and Sound polled international critics to name the ten greatest movies in cinema history, and The Bicycle Thief topped the list.
Endorsements continued over the years. Pauline Kael wrote, “This neorealist classic, directed by Vittorio De Sica and written by Cesare Zavattini, is on just about everybody’s list of the greatest films.”
When a restored version was released in the United States many years later, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times observed, “This film manages to appeal to the better angels of our nature in a way that only deepens as we grow older along with the film.”
THE BICYCLE THIEF also inspired filmmakers in many other countries, including India’s Satyajit Ray and Britain’s Ken Loach.
Don’t miss our 70th anniversary screenings on Tuesday, November 19, at 7PM in Glendale, Pasadena, and West LA. Click here for tickets.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present our Anniversary Classics Abroad program for October: Louis Malle’s LACOMBE LUCIEN, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film of 1974.
The film was one of the movies, following Marcel Ophuls’ monumental documentary ‘The Sorrow and the Pity,’ that scrutinized French collaboration with the Nazis during World War II.
Malle’s movie tells a fictional but provocative story, written by the director and novelist Patrick Modiano, about a teenage boy who savors the power he accrues when he joins the Gestapo during the final months of the war.
LACOMBE LUCIEN takes place in 1944, after the Allies have landed in Normandy but the Nazis are still fighting to retain their hold on the country. Lucien Lacombe is an uneducated peasant boy who first tries to escape his humdrum life by volunteering for the Resistance.
When they reject him for being too young, he stumbles into an opportunity working for the Gestapo in his town and discovers a taste and talent for brutality. His loyalties are complicated, however, when he falls in love with a beautiful Jewish girl who is in hiding with her father and grandmother.
Malle found a brand new actor, Pierre Blaise, to play the part of Lucien. He was working as a woodcutter when Malle discovered him. Although his debut performance was highly acclaimed, Blaise’s career was cut tragically short when he died in a car crash just a year after the release of the film. But Aurore Clement, cast as the young Jewish girl, went on to have a long and rewarding career in French cinema, even appearing in some American movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Paris, Texas.’
Distinguished European actors Therese Giehse and Holger Lowenadler filled out the cast. Lowenadler, who played Clement’s cultivated father, was voted best supporting actor of the year by both the National Society of Film Critics and the National Board of Review.
Critics praised the film for its dispassionate insight into how perfectly ordinary people could be seduced by a taste of power and violence. Pauline Kael wrote, “Malle’s film is a long, close look at the banality of evil; it is—not incidentally—one of the least banal movies ever made.”
The New York Times’ Vincent Canby wrote, “’Lacombe Lucien’ is easily Mr. Malle’s most ambitious, most provocative film.” Leonard Maltin called it a “subtle, complex tale of guilt, innocence, and the amorality of power; masterfully directed.”
Although it is a vivid historical recreation, the film remains startlingly timely in its examination of the deadly lure of fascism.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present the latest offering in their monthly Abroad program with 25th anniversary screenings of the American release (and Oscar winner) of the delightful Spanish comedy BELLE EPOQUE. The Academy Award winner for foreign-language film will play at three Laemmle locations: West Los Angeles, Glendale, and Pasadena on September 18.
Starring Penelope Cruz (Oscar winner for Vicky Christina Barcelona) in only her second film, the period pastorale is set in 1931 with the beginning of the disruptive Spanish Civil War, chronicling the amorous adventures of a young Army deserter, Fernando (Jorge Sanz), who seeks refuge in the country house of a reclusive old anarchist painter, Manolo (Fernando Fernan Gomez). After finding employment as the household cook, Sanz also finds his carnal appetites stimulated by Gomez’ four daughters, played by Maribel Verdu, Ariadna Gil, Miriam Diaz-Aroca, and Cruz. As the youngest of the siblings, Cruz impatiently awaits her turn as the amorous partner of Sanz. As the sexual games seemingly reach a climax, the return of the opera singer family matriarch from a world tour with her manager-lover brings the plot to a boil.
Writer-director Fernando Trueba (co-scripting with Rafael Azcona and Jose Luis Garcia Sanchez) concocts the right recipe of food and sex, with a soupçon of political commentary, and the result charmed the Academy, audiences, and critics of the day.
Roger Ebert noted how the film celebrated sensuality and the human body: “Here is a film so inviting you would love to sit in the sun with old Manolo and his friend the priest and talk about the great matters of life.”
Leonard Maltin found the film a “delightfully earthy, cheery comedy.”
Upon receiving the Oscar, Trueba paid tribute to his inspiration in his acceptance speech, “I would like to believe in God in order to thank him, but I just believe in Billy Wilder, so …thank you, Mr. Wilder.”
Our 25th anniversary presentation of BELLE EPOQUE screens on Wednesday, September 18th at 7pm in Glendale, Pasadena, and West LA. Click here for tickets.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present this month’s installment in our Anniversary Classics Abroad program: one of the most popular and entertaining foreign films of the 1960s, Philippe de Broca’s action romp, THAT MAN FROM RIO.
De Broca, the director of intimate, character-driven films like The Five-Day Lover, shifted gears with this bigger-budget comic thriller. Two top stars of French cinema, Jean-Paul Belmondo and Francoise Dorleac (the sister of Catherine Deneuve who died tragically in an auto accident just three years later), added to the film’s allure.
The action begins when Dorleac is kidnapped as part of a museum heist of a valuable statuette, and Belmondo follows her kidnappers to Brazil to save her life and find the treasure. There he battles international criminals, assassination attempts, and even a hungry crocodile on the Amazon.
The film was designed in part as a spoof of the James Bond movies that were catching fire all around the world. De Broca’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the genre, along with a series of spectacular action set-pieces, led to box office success wherever the film was shown. The film was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. De Broca wrote the script with Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Ariane Mnouchkine, and Daniel Boulanger. Veteran actors Jean Servais and Adolfo Celi co-star.
Along with the wit of the script and the skill of the performers, the film benefited from lush cinematography (by Edmond Sechan) of Paris, Rio, Brasilia, and other South American locations. The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther acknowledged the film’s homage to silent comedy: “Jean-Paul Belmondo is dandy as a fast, fearless modern-day Harold Lloyd.” He added that de Broca “uses the actual locations so vividly and artistically that they generate a kind of excitement that blends superbly with the dazzle of the plot.”
The New Republic’s Stanley Kauffmann also praised de Broca: “he has wit, tenderness, dexterity, a superb eye for composition and color, a prodigious sense of rhythm and movement, a perfect command of the medium.” Time magazine noted that the film was “shrewdly calculated to make the customer laugh out loud at all the lousy movies he has ever seen and at the same time have a wild and wonderful time watching them again.”
Join us for a perfect piece of lighthearted summertime entertainment with two of the most engaging international stars ever to grace the screen. Belmondo remained at the center of French film culture for decades, and de Broca went on to direct one of the most popular of all arthouse movies, King of Hearts.
Our 55th anniversary presentation of THAT MAN FROM RIO screens on Wednesday, August 21st at 7pm in Glendale, Pasadena, and West LA. Click here for tickets.
Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics Series present this month’s installment in our popular Anniversary Classics Abroad program, Ang Lee’s delectable 1994 comedy, EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN. Lee had directed two previous films that earned acclaim, but this 1994 film was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and propelled his career to a new level of esteem and success.
Made in Taipei, the film centers on a widowed master chef, Mr. Chu (played by Sihung Lung), who has weekly feasts for his three unmarried daughters (Kuei-Mei Yang, Chien-Lien Wu, Yu-Wen Wang), during which he tries to oversee their personal lives along with their eating habits. An ensemble piece in the spirit of movies like Love, Actually and The Joy Luck Club, the film interweaves the personal and professional stories of the three daughters, along with the issues facing their father, who also embarks on a new romantic adventure during the course of the movie. Winston Chao (who starred in Lee’s earlier film, The Wedding Banquet) and Sylvia Chang co-star.
The script by Lee, James Schamus, and Hui-Ling Wang etches all the characters with wit and finesse. Equally important to the film’s success are the lovingly photographed scenes of an abundance of Chinese delicacies, which led the movie to be compared to other memorable movies about food, including the Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast, Tampopo, and Like Water for Chocolate. Time magazine’s Richard Schickel wrote, “Like the cuisine it celebrates, this movie is tart, sweet, generous and subtle.” The New York Times’ Janet Maslin called the film “wonderfully seductive, and nicely knowing about all of its characters’ appetites.”
Variety’s Leonard Klady summed up the film’s achievement: “The overall result is a cinematic feast that will have audiences returning for Lee’s next movie meal.” Those words proved to be prophetic. Lee’s next film, Sense and Sensibility, released in 1995, was nominated for Best Picture, and over the next several years, he produced an extraordinary body of work, including the international blockbusters Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life of Pi. Lee won two Oscars for Best Director — for Brokeback Mountain as well as Life of Pi — and is now universally regarded as one of the leading auteurs of our time. His remarkable journey was prefigured by his early achievement with Eat Drink Man Woman.
EAT DRINK MAN WOMAN screens Wednesday, July 24, at 7 PM in Glendale, Pasadena, and West L.A. Click here for tickets.