The series kicks off on Monday, March 27 at 7:00 PM with Jean-Luc Godard’s French New Wave classic BREATHLESS. The series continues every Monday through May 29 with a journey through the major eras of independent cinema, from the Mid-Century Art House of Godard and Fellini through the box office successes of the “Indiewood” era of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Several of the films highlighted have a strong University of Michigan connection—the archives of Orson Welles, John Sayles, Robert Altman, and Ira Deutchman have all been donated to U-M’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers archive at the Hatcher Library.
The Art House is the independent counterweight to the mainstream movie machine. Art Houses sprang to life in post-war America, giving space to new cinema voices from, for example, France (Jean-Luc Godard’s BREATHLESS), Italy (Federico Fellini’s SATYRICON) and American’s cinema underground (Robert Downey Sr.’s PUTNEY SWOPE).
Youthful Baby Boomers reveled in the campus cinema movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Campus film societies and clubs provided an entry point for conversations about injustice and revolution, while introducing a new audience to some of the most iconic filmmakers of all time: Hollywood mavericks from years past (Orson Welles’s CITIZEN KANE); the French New Wave filmmakers who worshipped them (Francois Truffaut’s DAY FOR NIGHT); American Independent film icons (John Cassavetes’s A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE); and a female filmmaker who won an Oscar for a politically charged documentary (Barbara Kopple’s HARLAN COUNTY, USA).
Our series concludes with shining examples of the golden era of Art House cinema. “Indiewood” was the moniker for this age—a period of award recognition and box office success that demonstrated the Art House had found a “groove” in the final decades of the 20th Century. The selections here represent the wide variety of films that have made their home in Art Houses: Fresh and funny takes on serious topics, like race and otherness (John Sayles’ film THE BROTHER FROM THE OTHER PLANET); iconic British period pieces which became monster hits (Merchant Ivory’s A ROOM WITH A VIEW, featuring an all-star cast including Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Julian Sands, Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter); and small, literary dramas featuring career-making turns by young actors (Gus Van Sant’s MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, which is loosely based on Shakespeare’s “Henry” plays and stars River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves). The series concludes with THE PLAYER, Robert Altman’s brilliant satirical comedy on the tottering Hollywood studio system.
Plays Monday, April 3 at 7:00 PM.
A 1969 Italian fantasy drama film written and directed by Federico Fellini and loosely based on Petronius’s work Satyricon, written during the reign of the emperor Nero and set in imperial Rome. The film is divided into nine episodes, following the scholar Encolpius and his friend Ascyltus as they try to win the heart of the young boy Gitón, whom they both love, within the film’s depiction of a surreal and dreamlike Roman landscape and culture.
Plays Monday, April 10 at 7:00 PM.
Robert Downey Sr. wrote and directed this satirical look at the advertising world, race in Hollywood, and the white power structure. When its chairman dies, an advertising firm’s executive board must elect someone to fill the position. Each member, unable to vote for himself, casts a secret ballot for Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson), the firm’s only black executive, assuming he wouldn’t receive any votes from the other members. But once in power, Swope makes radical changes to the fir
Plays Monday, April 17 at 4:00 PM.
Orson Welles’ first feature film following the death of a publishing tycoon and the scramble to understand the meaning of his mysterious final word. Citizen Kane is widely considered to be the greatest film of all time, topping the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies list.
Plays Monday, April 17 at 7:00 PM.
Francois Truffaut pulls back the curtain on filmmaking with this chronicle of the melodrama both on and off screen during the production of a film. Truffaut bends the fourth wall with his appearance as the film-within-the-film’s director. Considered by many to be one of Truffaut’s greatest films.
Plays Monday, April 24 at 7:00 PM.
Mabel Longhetti (Gena Rowlands), desperate and lonely, is married to a Los Angeles municipal construction worker, Nick (Peter Falk). Increasingly unstable, especially in the company of others, she craves happiness, but her extremely volatile behavior convinces Nick that she poses a danger to their family and decides to commit her to an institution for six months. Alone with a trio of kids to raise on his own, he awaits her return, which holds more than a few surprises.
Plays Monday, May 1 at 7:00 PM.
In this documentary about labor tension in the coal-mining industry, director Barbara Kopple films a strike in rural Kentucky. After the coal miners at the Brookside Mine join a union, the owners refuse the labor contract. Once the miners start to strike, the owners of the mine respond by hiring scabs to fill the jobs of the regular employees. The strike, which lasts more than a year, frequently becomes violent, with guns produced on both sides, and one miner is even killed in a conflict.
Plays Monday, May 8 at 7:00 PM.
U-M Maverick & Maker John Sayles wrote, directed, and edited this sci-fi exploration of the immigrant experience of assimilation, which follows a mute alien and escaped slave, “Brother,” when he crash-lands in the middle of Harlem.
Plays Monday, May 15 at 7:00 PM.
When Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) and chaperone Charlotte Bartlett (Maggie Smith) find themselves in Florence with rooms without views, fellow guests Mr Emerson (Denholm Elliot) and son George (Julian Sands) step in to remedy the situation. Director James Ivory, producer Ismail Merchant, and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala’s longtime collaboration as Merchant Ivory Productions came to represent a certain kind of British period piece that dominated Art House screens in the ‘80s and ‘9
Plays Monday, May 22 at 7:00 PM.
This American independent adventure drama follows two friends, Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott (Keanu Reeves), as they embark on a journey of personal discovery that takes them from Portland to Idaho and finally on to Italy. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Henry V.
Plays Monday, May 29 at 7:00 PM.
Certain that the anonymous threats he’s been receiving are the work of David Kahane (Vincent D’Onofrio), producer Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) tries to fix things over cocktails. Instead, Griffin ends up murdering the screenwriter and courting the dead man’s girlfriend (Greta Scacchi). As police investigate, Griffin concentrates on a prestigious film that might reinvigorate his career. But he soon learns that David’s demise hasn’t been forgotten by everyone in Hollywood.