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  • March 2, 2017

    Staff Pick: Stèphanie Di Giusto’s The Dancer at Film Society of Lincoln Center

    Soko as Loïe Fuller in Stèphanie Di Giusto’s biopic The Dancer (Photo © Shanna Besson-Wild Bunch Distribution)

    Soko as Loïe Fuller in Stèphanie Di Giusto’s biopic The Dancer (Photo © Shanna Besson-Wild Bunch Distribution)

    By Meredith Coleman

    If you go on YouTube and type in “serpentine dance” in the search bar, films from the late 1800s appear, featuring dancers dancing against darkened backdrops. They move their arms as they hold onto sticks attached to the undulating fabric of their costumes. The fabric begins to rise and fall, swirl in circular motions. It becomes infused with a variety of colors. It comes to life. A few weeks ago, I watched the film Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1895) and was first introduced to this distinct dance. I couldn’t help but be captivated by the rippling quality of the costume worn by the dancer Annabelle Moore in the film. I also couldn’t help but be captivated by the hand-tinted frames that came together to allow this outfit to be full of such transformations in color, with yellows becoming pinks, purples, and reds.

    I wondered, who created the serpentine dance, something so full of energy?

    Her name is Loie Fuller, an innovative dancer of the late 1800s who helped develop modern dance—and who is the focus of the film The Dancer (2016), playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center during their Rendez-Vous with French Cinema series. Loie Fuller demonstrated not only dance’s ability to be a form of entertainment, but also an art form. She established the power of light, color, and projection. Little did I know that the hand-tinted color transformations in serpentine dance films of the late 1800s attempted to replicate the multi-colored electric lights that appeared on stage when Fuller performed, which allowed a variety of colors to materialize and change on her costume.

    Songwriter/Actor Soko performing Loïe Fuller's legendary Serpentine Dance in Stèphanie Di Giusto’s biopic The Dancer (Photo © Shanna Besson-Wild Bunch Distribution)

    Songwriter/Actor Soko performing Loïe Fuller’s legendary Serpentine Dance in Stèphanie Di Giusto’s biopic The Dancer (Photo © Shanna Besson-Wild Bunch Distribution)

    The Dancer, directed by Stéphanie Di Giusto and starring Soko as Loie Fuller, explores Fuller’s fascinating life. From her early years in the United States to becoming a star performer at the Folies Bergère in Paris, from a dance that started from sketches and became a performance, an art, the film gives you the opportunity to see who this woman was, maybe encounter her for the first time, and understand why many films tried to capture her unique, inventive movements.

    The film allows you to view her serpentine dance as if you were in the audience of the Folies Bergère, watching her perform on the stage. In a particularly memorable moment, Soko (as Fuller) stands in the middle of a sea of darkness bathed in light as the electric, multi-colored hues travel upon the blank canvas of the silk fabric she wears. The colors go through a kind of metamorphosis, transforming into reds, blues, and greens. Through long shots and close-ups, you get to see the motion of her arms as she holds the bamboo sticks attached to the fabric, as she spins and twirls, allowing the material to live and breathe. The effect is magical.

    The Dancer is playing at Film Society of Lincoln Center on March 2nd and March 6th, with the director and choreographer, Jody Sperling, giving a Q&A during the screening on the 6th. Soko gives a wonderful, emotional performance as Loie Fuller and the film gives you the opportunity to learn about Loie Fuller and recognize why she should continue to be thought of and admired in the 21st century.

  • February 23, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Wuthering Heights adaptations, Rebecca, early travelogues by women, and more…

    By Meredith Coleman

    Luis Buñuel’s Wuthering Heights / Abismos de Pasión

    Luis Buñuel’s Wuthering Heights / Abismos de Pasión

    Staff Favorite: Heathcliff, It’s Me: Adapting Wuthering Heights
    Film Society of Lincoln Center
    February 24th—27th (various films and times)

    It’s always interesting to see how a book is adapted to the screen, how the characters, settings, and themes are taken out of the pages and visually depicted through the medium of film. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is a powerful literary work that explores passion, identity, social class, nature, and the supernatural. It is a work that is worth reading not only once, but multiple times. And from February 24th—27th the Film Society of Lincoln Center is presenting a series of film adaptations of this memorable story. How did Luis Buñuel interpret it? William Wyler? Jacques Rivette? This series cannot be missed.

    Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca

    Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca

    February 26th at 4:30PM

    Speaking of film adaptations, on February 26th Metrograph is showing Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation of the widely known novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I mean, who can forget that first line… “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” With a story like Daphne du Maurier’s and actors like Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier starring in the film, it is definitely worth seeing.

    Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure

    Agnieszka Smoczynska’s The Lure

    The Lure
    IFC Center
    February 23rd at 9:30PM

    A pair of mermaid sisters turn up in Poland in the 1980s and enter into the world of human-beings…what can be more interesting than that? The Lure, directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska, is a film that delves into the lives of these mermaids on land. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it’s also a musical? Be sure to check out this film at the IFC Center to experience something unforgettable.


    Terra Femme: Early Travelogues by Women
    UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art
    February 23rd at 7:30PM

    On February 23rd, starting at 7:30PM the UnionDocs Center for Documentary Art is presenting a selection of “home travelogues” from the 1920s—40s on 16mm, concentrating on amateur films shot by women. These films were captured by American travelers abroad, women who traveled to a variety of places and filmed them through their point of view. What did these women choose to focus on? And what does this reveal to us about these filmmakers of the early 1900s?


    The Oscars
    February 26th at 8:30PM

    Sure, the ceremony is a few hours long, but with so many incredible films being nominated this year, like La La Land, Moonlight, Fences, Arrival, and Hidden Figures, and so many incredible actors like Emma Stone, Denzel Washington, Isabelle Huppert, and Viola Davis, how can you not watch it? The ceremony starts at 8:30PM Eastern Standard Time.

  • February 10, 2017

    Bulletin Board: Valentine’s Day Massacre 2017, Mr. Gaga, Kedi, and more


    Staff favorite: Valentine’s Day Massacre 2017  
    Anthology Film Archives
    February 10th-14th (various times)

    Sure, one could spend Valentine’s Day, and the weekend leading up to it, snuggled up on the couch, watching old romantic classics like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally. But that’s not the only option for these days full of endless red roses and chocolate kisses. Why not go see something a little more anti Valentine’s Day? From February 10-14th, Anthology Film Archives continues its entertaining series “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” where they show works of film that are so wonderfully anti-romance.

    This year, see films such as Maurice Pialat’s We Won’t Grow Old Together and Albert Brooks’s Modern Romance, in addition to films by Andrzej Zulawski and Elaine May. And all the films are on 35mm! Sure, the couch at home is tempting, but it will always be there tomorrow!

    Mr. Gaga  
    Film Forum, Film Society of Lincoln Center
    Through February 16th (various times)
    Q&A with Mr. Gaga Producer Barak Heymann at Film Forum- Feb. 10th at 7:10 show, Feb. 11th at 12:30 show

    Just by watching the trailer of this film, one gets a sense of the energy and power housed within the movements choreographed by Ohad Naharin, the Israeli chorographer and artistic director of Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Dance Company. As the subject of the documentary, Mr. Gaga explores this influential, innovative figure who has made a strong impact in the dance world. Catch the film both at the Film Forum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

    February 10th at 4:00PM

    Graffiti is an art. An expression of one’s beliefs, attitudes, criticisms, it has substance, and a unique, memorable style. It’s a movement that has spread all over the world in recent years, and become part of the mainstream. Playing at the MoMA on February 10th, Manfred Kirchheimer’s Spraymasters includes four ex-graffiti artists, Zephyr, Lee Quiñones, Lady Pink, and Futura 2000, who spent the early years of their lives enlivening New York City with their designs.

    Martin Scorsese Exhibition  
    Museum of the Moving Image
    Through April 23rd

    Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, The Last Waltz… the list goes on and on. Martin Scorsese is one of those director’s whose love of film (just watch Hugo) and immense talent know no bounds. Through April 23rd, the Museum of the Moving Image is honoring this incredible director in an exhibition that delves into both his life and work. Coinciding with the exhibition, the Museum will also be having screenings of some of his classic films.

    (And while there, make sure to check out the installation “HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US,” which will be livestreamed for the duration of Trump’s presidency.)

    Opens February 10th
    A Q&A with director/producer Ceyda Torun will accompany the following shows:
    Friday, February 10th at (7pm: SOLD OUT) and (9pm: SOLD OUT)
    Saturday, February 11th at 7pm and 9pm
    Sunday, February 12th at 3pm and 5pm

    Calling all cat lovers: Ceyda Torun’s new documentary, Kedi, is for you. Sure to warm winter blues, Kedi follows the dynamic relationships between the free-roaming cats of Istanbul and the humans that they choose. Focusing foremost on the friendlier aspects of Istanbul’s unique cat-human equilibrium, the film also touches on the shifting urban landscape of Istanbul and the resulting uncertainty that felines may face in the future.

  • January 19, 2017

    STAFF PICK: PIRANDELLO 150 at Film Forum



    Through questions of identity, illusion, and sanity, the works of  novelist and dramatist Luigi Pirandello create fertile dreamscapes in which the imagination can flourish—a quality that embeds itself in many of the adaptations that have followed. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Pirandello’s birth, Film Forum will join a city-wide celebration of the artist with a film festival of its own, running through January 19th.

    The centerpiece of the series is Kaos (1984), a cinematic adaptation of select Pirandello short stories by noted Italian filmmaking brothers, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. Operatic in its duration and emotional reach, the film spans just over three hours and is divided into six distinct sections: A prelude, in which we are introduced to a raven turned herald; four short story adaptations (“L’altro figlio” (“The Other Son”), “Mal di luna” (“Moonsickness”), “La giara” (“The Jar”), and “Requiem”); and an epilogue, “Colloquio con la madre” (“Conversing with Mother”), in which Pirandello visits his childhood home, where he conjures his deceased mother.

    Filmed in Pirandello’s native land of Sicily, the landscape becomes a unifying theme in the film: White dust sticks to the feet and clothing of every character in the tales, connecting their narratives throughout the film’s disparate moments. The musical raven from the beginning of the film soars between storylines, a symbol of time’s circular quality and cinema’s ability to stitch it into a sequence. And, of course, the people of the land—the focus of both the Taviani brothers and Pirandello’s work—balance the more surreal elements of the stories with an earthiness that is somehow more realistic than the actual ground they stand on. In this way, the film captures the most thrilling aspect of Pirandello’s work—namely, his talent for blurring the fantastical with the routine.

    Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934 for “his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art,” Pirandello’s influence can be seen in literature, theater, and beyond. Those familiar with Pirandello through the theater will know very well of his revolutionary tearing down of the stage’s “fourth wall” in his experimental play, Six Characters in Search of an Author, and those who are unfamiliar have probably seen the technique at some point or another. A testament to the evocative quality of Pirandello’s material, the adaptations screening as part of Film Forum’s series are as inventive as the source, a true treat for both fans of Pirandello’s work and those who are coming to it fresh.

    Brittany Stigler

  • August 19, 2016

    Bulletin Board: Don’t Think Twice, Misery, Jaws, and more…

    Scene from Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice

    Scene from Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice

    Don’t Think Twice
    Nitehawk Cinema
    Aug 18­—4:45 PM, 7:15 PM, 9:45 PM (playing through August 25th)

    Mike Birbiglia writes, directs, and stars in a coming-of-age story about a group of improvisers dealing with the selectiveness of success. Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) gets a role at “Weekend Live” (the SNL of this world), and his improv group, The Commune, are stuck considering their own ambition and personal failures.

    Scene from Rob Reiner’s Misery

    Scene from Rob Reiner’s Misery

    Landmark Sunshine Cinema
    Aug 19th—12:00 AM

    Adapted from Stephen King’s novel by the same name, Misery follows Paul Sheldon, who suffers a car crash and is rescued by his biggest fan, Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates). As Wilkes reveals herself to be increasingly sinister, Sheldon tries to escape the house that has now become his prison.

    Scene from Steve James’s Hoop Dreams

    Scene from Steve James’s Hoop Dreams

    Hoop Dreams—Screening & Live Event
    Museum of the Moving Image
    Aug 21—2:00 PM

    Documenting the lives of Arthur Agee and William Gates, Hoop Dreams focuses on the malleability of the American Dream and the harsh realities of racism and poverty. Both Gates and Agee come from homes struggling with poverty, and they are willing to do anything to achieve their dreams of playing for the NBA and providing for their families. Hoop Dreams will screen as part of the Museum of the Moving Image’s series of Kartemquin at 50, with director Steve James present at the screening.

    Scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

    Scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws

    Astoria Park Lawn (in Astoria Park), Queens
    Aug 22—8:30 PM

    The first modern day summer blockbuster, Jaws is the thrilling story of a killer shark terrorizing the quaint beach town of Amity Island. Tasked with the mission of killing the shark, the town’s sheriff, fishermen, and oceanographer go out to battle their version of Moby Dick. The film is being shown as part of the series, Central Astoria Movies on the Waterfront.

    Scene from Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot

    Scene from Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot

    Some Like It Hot
    Greenbelt Recreation Center (in Blood Root Valley), Staten Island
    Aug 25—8:30 PM

    In the 1959 classic, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are running from their mobster boss and decide to go incognito as women. Crossing paths with the beautiful Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe) further complicates the tale, as the men deal with both womanhood and newfound love. The film is being shown as part of the Movies Under the Stars series.

    By Rachel Olshin

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