This year’s summer program of free screenings kicks off June 17 at Vilas Hall. (Photo: “Port Of Shadows” screens July 1.)
The UW Cinematheque routinely offers some of the best film programming in the city (for free), and its summer offerings are scaled back from its fall and spring seasons, but still pretty hefty. The two main series they’ve put together for the summer are New French Restorations, and Wisconsin’s Own Orson Welles: A Centennial Celebration (Part III). There is also an amorphous catch-all “Special Presentations” series running on Friday nights shoving a kaleidoscope of cinema pleasures into our face-holes. The full schedule should be up later today on the Cinematheque website.
Over the past year, Cinematheque has wrung a lot of great programming from the fact that Orson Welles was born a century ago in nearby Kenosha. This, the third (and final?) series, will present a number of films where Welles acted for other directors, and includes Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949, screening on July 2), arguably the greatest films ever made (I *will* fight you on this), Prince Of Foxes (also 1949, screening July 30) which he acted in as a means of getting money to finish shooting his own Othello, and Black Magic (screening July 23, and also from 1949—that was a busy busy year for ‘ol OW!), which he more or less co-directed with Gregory Ratoff, as well as four selections. The number of Welles films you can’t see for numerous dumb reasons greatly outnumbers the ones you can, so you should absolutely treasure every opportunity you get to see nice prints of this stuff.
As for the New French Restorations series, the big dog of the bunch will arguably be a brand new 35mm print of Robert Bresson’s “bold, revelatory example of first-person cinema” (according to Ctek’s program notes) Diary Of A Country Priest (1951, screening June 24; the Criterion DVD has been long out of print). For those who pointedly prefer to spend a warm July evenings in cool dark rooms, the “heartbreakingly beautiful world of loneliness” found in Marcel Carné’s Port Of Shadows (1938, screening July 1) should do just the trick, or perhaps Claude Autant-Lara’s “picaresque black comedy” A Pig Across Paris (1956, screening July 15) is more your style. Personally, I can’t wait for the “sly humor, slow-burning eroticism, and timeless behavioral insight” of Éric Rohmer’s third entry in his Four Seasons quadrilogy, A Summer’s Tale (1996, screening July 22). Timeless behavioral insight, you guys!
Finally, the Cinematheque staff curated a general hodgepodge of films screening (in 35mm!) on Fridays under the “Special Presentations” banner, including the bleakly comic patriotic idiocy of William Klein’s Mr. Freedom(1969, screening July 17), the supremely underrated pulpy ’90s crime burner Miami Blues (1990, screening July 3; peep the recent “Essential Retro” nod over at The Dissolve), a pair of jaunty ’60s musicals Bye Bye Birdie(1963, screening June 19) and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1967, screening June 26), and Peter Bogdanovich’s heartwarming Depression-era comic road-romp Paper Moon (1973, screening July 24), among still others.
As always, the Cinematheque folks have made sure that there’s something for everyone, and a half dozen films here worth legitimately losing your shit over finally having the chance to see on the big screen.