A quick sip from UW Cinematheque’s spring firehose

The free campus film program’s upcoming lineup features Chazelle, Varda,Tarkovsky, and much more.

The free campus film program’s upcoming lineup features Chazelle, Varda,Tarkovsky, and much more.


“Faces Places.”

UW Cinematheque has rolled out its spring series of more than 50 meticulously curated and free screenings, many of them tough to find on DVD or streaming services spread between the Chazen Museum of Art and and Cinematheque’s home screening room in Vilas Hall.

The most immediate highlight of the season, without a doubt, will be La La Land (Feb. 23), presented by wunderkind director Damien Chazelle as part of a look back at his so far quite sturdy filmography. Also screening with that series will be his breakthrough film, Whiplash (Feb. 2) (which most people have seen by now but if not then here’s your chance), as well as Grand Piano and 10 Cloverfield Lane, both of which he co-wrote (and are presented here as a double feature on Feb 9). But for my money the gem of the bunch is Chazelle’s 2009 feature debut Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench (Feb. 16), which he made just a few years after he was old enough to legally drink and I don’t believe has screened in Madison since 2010. A complexly jaunty musical that clearly contains some of the DNA he’d later spin to Oscar gold with La La Land, it’s a film that’s ripe for rediscovery. Along with these works Chazelle has had a direct hand in, there will be a day-long quadruple feature on Feb. 24 of films that the director has hand picked as being some of his all time favorites, including John Ford’s 1946 western My Darling Clementine and Jean Rouch’s 1961 lightly existential French documentary Chronicle Of A Summer.

Cinematheque’s “Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen” will be returning, but this time out it’s split between two themes. Cherry-picked from a new book by esteemed UW-Madison film professor David Bordwell, the first will be a deep dive into films from the 1940s that pushed the envelope of storytelling conventions. The first film in that series, Arthur Ripley’s The Chase (Jan. 28), will be preceded by an hour-long lecture from Bordwell, so get there early to stake out a spot. The other Sunday series will highlight some of the best known (yet still underseen) works by renegade Swiss director Alain Tanner. Personally, I’m having a harder time getting excited about the Tanner picks than the smorgasbord of golden-age Hollywood that Bordwell has brought to the table, but your early spring Sunday matinee mileage may vary.

Each season of Cinematheque screenings kicks off with a decidedly strong entry and this time around they’re leading off with the Madison premiere of Faces Places (Jan. 26 & 27), the latest from director Agnes Varda and street photographer JR. Following the duo as they trek across the French countryside creating galleries of outdoor photographs of everyday people, it’s a moving and delightful film that landed near the top of just about every critic’s 2017 documentary list (and more than a few all around movies-of-the-year rankings) that I came across. Among other films making their Madison debut, we’ll also get a look at 24 Frames (April 28), the final film from Abbas Kiarostami, which apparently put its Cannes audience to sleep but… in a good way.

Other films on the slate this winter include a horror movie from 2009 (Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell, April 21, with cinematographer and UW-Madison alum Peter Deming on hand), Werner Herzog’s most famous feature (Fitzcarraldo, April 14), a pulpy bank robber movie that pairs Walter Matthau and Joe Don Baker (Charley Varrick, May 4), and a trifecta of Andrei Tarkovsky restorations.

Attempting to repackage the Cinematheque lineup as soon as they release it is not unlike attempting to drink from a fire hose (I haven’t even mentioned the duo of Taiwanese films on the docket or the UCLA Festival of Preservation series!), so take some time and let it all wash over you. If you’re looking for more detailed individual previews, those will be coming down the pike in the form of calendar entries soon, so keep your eyes peeled there.

Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen: Reinventing Hollywood

The Chase, 1946 (David Bordwell in person)

Unfaithfully Yours, 1948

Five Graves To Cairo, 1943


Sorry, Wrong Number, 1948

The Guilt Of Janet Ames, 1947

My Name Is Julia Ross, 1945 (Preceded by “Bugs Bunny In Little Red Riding Rabbit”)

Hangover Square, 1945

Sunday Cinematheque at the Chazen: Alain Tanner

Jonah Who Will Be 25 In The Year 2000, 1976

The Salamander, 1971

Charles, Dead Or Alive, 1969

The Middle Of The World, 1974

Messidor, 1979

In The White City, 1983

Light Years Away, 1981

Damien Chazelle

Whiplash, 2014

Grand Piano, 2013

10 Cloverfield Lane, 2016

Guy And Madeline On A Park Bench, 2009 (Preceded by the original Whiplash short film)

La La Land, 2016 (Damien Chazelle in person)

Chazelle Selects

Chronicle Of A Summer, 1961 (Restored 2K DCP)

Sink Or Swim, 1990

St. Louis Blues, 1929

Black And Tan, 1929

Jazz Dance, 1954

My Darling Clementine, 1946

LACIS Film Series

The Bitter Stems, 1956 (Restored by UCLA Film & TV Archive)

Lucia, 1968 (New 4K version)

Vazante, 2017

Zama, 2017

Special Presentations

Fitzcarraldo, 1982 

Drag Me To Hell, 2009 (UW Madison alum Peter Deming in person)

Charley Varrick, 1973

Premiere Showcase

Faces Places, 2007

The Other Side Of Hope, 2017 (Presented w/ support from Middle Eastern Studies program)

The Insult, 2017 (Presented w/ support from Middle Eastern Studies program)

24 Frames, 2017

UCLA Festival of Preservation on Tour

The Bitter Stems, 1956

Sons Of The Desert, 1933 Preceded by the short Berth Marks)

Good References, 1920 (Live piano by David Drazin)

Trouble In Paradise, 1932 (Preceded by the Fleischer Studio’s treat Dinah)

Stranded, 1965

The Plastic Dome Of Norma Jean, 1966

Desert Hearts, 1985

The Lost Moment, 1947 (Preceded by Slavko Vorkapich & John Hoffman’s doc Moods Of The Sea)

The Murder Of Fred Hampton, 1971 (Preceded by The Jungle)

Open Secret, 1948

He Walked By Night, 1948

At the Chazen: Gulpilil X 2

Walkabout, 1971

The Tracker, 2002

New Taiwanese Restorations

Daughter Of The Nile, 1987

Legend Of The Mountain 1979 (new 4K restoration)

Tarkovsky in 4K

Solaris, 1972

Stalker, 1979

The Sacrifice, 1986

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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