The season kicks off on June 21 with 1972’s “The Hot Rock.”
UW Cinematheque’s calendar slows down only slightly in these warmer months. The free film program has announced a compact but adventurous series of screenings in June and July.
One of the gems this season is French screenwriter Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s “Marseille Trilogy”: Marius (June 22), Fanny (June 29) , and César (July 6). These screenings, all in new digital restorations, happen to coincide with that series’ release as a box set from Criterion. The trilogy is set in the port city of Marseille, and stars Pierre Fresnay as the titular Marius, Orane Demazis as Fanny, the object of Marius’ affection, and music-hall star Raimu as César, Marius’ father. The romantic tension gets ratcheted up when Panisse (Fernand Charpin) takes a liking to Fanny. Pagnol also directed the third entry. All in all, this thoughtfully romantic series should be a nice flip side to the “French Tough Guys” series UW Cinematheque ran last summer, highlighting the machismo of Jean Gabin, Lino Ventura, and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Continuing with a focus on the writerly aspect of cinema, we’ll be getting a series exploring six works of novelist Donald E. Westlake, both adapted from his novels as well as original scripts he wrote. Think of this as the beach-read section of the Cinematheque schedule. We’ve got a duo of heist movies right out the gate, Peter Yates’ excellent The Hot Rock (opening the season on June 21) stars Robert Redford (this film is a fave of Janeane Garofalo’s, apparently) and Aram Avakian’s comparably farcical Cops And Robbers (June 28) (Garofalo could not be reached for comment). Both Jean-Luc Godard and John Flynn alternately tackle Westlake’s “Parker” series of novels, with Made In U.S.A. (July 12) and The Outfit (July 19), respectively. Also included are Joseph Ruben’s over-the-top loosely-rooted true-crime thriller The Stepfather (July 5) starring Terry O’Quinn as the psychotic paternal stand-in, and Stephen Frears’ The Grifters (July 26), which is criminally(!) underrated and unexpectedly underseen given that its cast boasts Anjelica Huston, John Cusack, and Annette Bening.
As always, we get the well-curated grab-bag of otherwise unrelated films corralled into a “Summer Selections” showcase. It’s always fascinating to see what amazing odds and ends show up in this section. You want campy cult footnotes ready for rediscovery? How about a rare screening of Radley Metzger’s 1969 film Camille 2000 (June 30), which followed up on the edgy erotica of Metzger’s Therese And Isabelle and set the stage for later works including Score and The Opening Of Misty Beethoven. You want remastered comedy classics? How about a spiffy new 4K restoration of the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup (July 13), which is not at all topical these days with its potent satirical jabs at nationalism and kleptocratic dictators and whatnot. You want landmarks in Japanese New Wave filmmaking? How about Hiroshi Teshigahara’s avant-garde existential allegory Woman In The Dunes (July 14), adapted by Kōbō Abe from his novel and nominated for two Academy Awards? Also on the docket are Peter Watkins’ Privilege (June 23), Ermanno Olmi’s The Tree Of Wooden Clogs (July 7), Vittorio De Sica’s Il Boom (July 20), Alan Rudolph’s Choose Me (July 21), and Matt Tyrnauer’s Citizen Jane: Battle For The City (July 28), which will be making its Madison premiere.