The season begins Jan. 26 with a 3D screening of “Dial M For Murder.”
Along with its usual collection of premieres, restorations, and left-field genre flicks, UW Cinematheque’s spring 2017 season kicks off with four straight days of films that will continue the campus film program’s push for more 3D screenings.
Ranging from newer features including outer space blockbusters Gravity and Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens and Werner Herzog’s subterranean indie documentary Cave Of Forgotten Dreams, the 3D series, running Jan. 26 through 29, also presents mid-century classics like Inferno, September Storm, House Of Wax (the Vincent Price one, not the Paris Hilton one), Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder and Kiss Me Kate’s musical spin on Shakespeare. The 3D projection equipment is only temporary—Cinematheque launched a fundraising effort in 2014 in hopes of installing permanent 3D in its Vilas Hall screening room—but the programmers are clearly making the most of it with this lineup so don’t miss maybe your only chance to see some of these films how they were intended to be seen. Glasses will be provided.
As with previous years, Cinematheque returns to the Chazen Museum of Art on Sunday afternoons, this time with a series focusing on films scored by the legendary John Williams. Yes, Jaws, ET and Jurassic Park are all in the mix, but also up are Frank Tashlin’s 1962 romantic comedy romp Bachelor Flat, Arthur Penn’s far out 1976 western The Missouri Breaks (which notably brought together Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, and a pre-crazy Randy Quaid), as well as William Wyler’s 1966 Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole vehicle How To Steal A Million, among others. It’s a pleasantly weird lineup (Dracula! The Poseidon Adventure!), but the two most notable entries for me are Catch Me If You Can (which has one of the best ever title sequences and in general feels like it was lost in the Spielberg shuffle), and Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (of all the Indy flicks, this is the one they went with?).
With just three entries, the Marquee Mondays lineup, organized in tandem with the Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee, feels a little flat compared to the embarrassment of riches we’ve been showered with in previous years. With 1981’s batshit no-budget horror flick The Pit, early-’60s by way of late-’70s nostalgia trip The Wanderers, and whatever the hell Neil Young wants to call his Human Highway, we get a pretty disjointed trio of flicks that, at the very least, you would not see anywhere else than right here, so there’s that.
As always, Cinematheque’s “Special Presentations” grab bag of films is fun to poke around in. With no real overarching theme to tie them together, I tend to think of this section of the calendar as a sort of “curators gone wild” where the brains behind the Cinematheque get to let their hair down and share movies that they’re passionate about and fill seats with a stew of comfort food classics. This year we get a nice mix of Hollywood auteur era classics including two from Francis Ford Coppola (The Conversation and The Godfather Part II) and William Friedkin’s S&M serial killer cult classic Cruising, a return to the Cannon films canon with a duo of mid eighties Elmore Leonard adaptations The Ambassador and 52 Pick-Up, a once-lost and then bastardized animated feature The Thief And The Cobbler—which you will be able to see here in a reworked version that comes as close as we can get to the original vision of its director Richard Williams. For anyone who loved the Ingmar Bergman in Black and White series that screened last spring but wanted just a bit more color, this year you’ll get a chance to check out his comparatively colorful opera The Magic Flute, which will be presented in advance of Madison Opera’s take on the source material at Overture Hall in April.
Fans of the really old school history of Hollywood are in luck this year with a selection of films from the recent restorations that arrive via the Department of Film at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In the mix of films released between 1928 and 1932 are double shots from John Ford (Riley The Cop and The Brat) and Raoul Walsh (Wild Girl and The Yellow Ticket) as well as three other formerly hard to find classics that haven’t looked this good since they were first screened almost a century ago. The first film in the collection, Riley The Cop, will get an in-person introduction from Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator in MoMA’s Department of Film, so definitely get there early for that if you’re into that sort of thing (and you should be!).
The most off-the-beaten-path collection this season will be Not Reconciled: The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, the set of films from husband and wife avant-garde filmmakers which will be presented in original 35mm prints and new digital restorations. The five films presented here, starting with 1965’s Not Reconciled and concluding with 1999’s Sicilia!, will present a slice of the couple’s remarkable career and offer a look into their cinematic worldview.
All in all, there are over 50 films lined up to unspool from now until May, and we’re only touched on a handful of the highlights here, so check out the full lineup over at the UW Cinematheque site and start marking your calendar.