John Cassavetes’ HUSBANDS

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The following post is by Trylon volunteer and programer John Moret who is a regular contributor to All-Star Video.

The title of this film is so illuminating.  It is completely innocuous and completely definitive.  Men of a certain age, feeling a certain weight of responsibility.

Harry (Ben Gazzara), Archie (Peter Falk) and Gus (John Cassavetes) have just lost a good friend.  In response, the three leave their families and embark on a trip of supposed self-discovery.  What comes of this grief is just an escape into debauchery.  The final result is grown men trying so hard and never truly being vulnerable with each other.  Never honestly connecting with their wives or children, they find solace in each other.  And yet, their guard never truly comes down there either.

There is a scene about a half hour into the film that beautifully captures both what this film is about and what Cassavetes is saying about men in general.  Nearing the end of a night of binge drinking, all three congregate in the men’s room.  Archie is lying in a stall next to a toilet and turns to Gus, “I’m gonna tell you what I feel.  It’s not the sickness.  It’s about anxiety… I mean, what are we supposed to be feeling?”

That deep confusion is what Cassavetes sees so well in males.  Sensitive, searching and never truly allowing connection.  Though Harry later tells them both that he loves them, in the next moment Gus calls Harry a fairy and they laugh it off.

Cassavetes’ characters are incredibly complicated.  One minute they are lovable, gentle, and laughing.  You understand and feel for them in their vulnerability.  The next, they show a deep and violent rage that is repulsive.

And, so they are just like you and I; Husbands, wives, faces and shadows.

Husbands (1970) written and directed by John Cassavetes, starring Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara and Cassavetes screens September 20-22, Friday and Saturday 7:00 & 9:30 pm, Sunday 5:00 & 7:30 pm. Advanced tickets available at trylon.org.

Matías Piñeiro’s VIOLA

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Let me introduce you to Viola, Argentine filmmaker Matías Piñeiro’s most recent film. Viola is also one of the six female characters that Piñeiro’s fictional film eavesdrops on as they discuss intricacies of acting and love. And Viola is also a lead role in the Shakespeare comedy Twelfth Night, a play that gets cyclical readings within the film’s plot. These themes get gently stirred against the backdrop of contemporary Buenos Aires into a thoughtful and lighthearted commentary about the affairs of the heart. Viola is one of those films that feels simple and slight, but that you will immediately want to watch again for all its clever contextual elements.

Piñeiro has received a fair share of attention this year, and much of it has to do with Viola. The film was chosen earlier this year for the Lincoln Center’s annual showcase New Directors/New Films and then was included in a retrospective of Piñeiro’s films, again at the Lincoln Center, as part of Latinbeat 2013. More recently, Piñeiro was tagged by the New York Times as one of 20 Directors to Watch. Perhaps more important to this groundswell is the praise specifically for Viola. Tomas Hachard for NPR calls it “a film that takes on the vicissitudes of life and love with honest concern, but also with a shrug of the shoulders,” and Calum March for the Village Voice adds that “The world the film describes is so vividly realized that it seems to spill over the edges of the frame.” Come see for yourself!

Viola screens September 16 and 17, Monday and Tuesday at 7 and 8:30pm. Advanced tickets are available from trylon.org.

Video rules! Josh Johnson’s REWIND THIS!

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Forget about nostalgia for 35mm – let’s talk about nostalgia for VHS! Josh Johnson’s new documentary, Rewind This!, revels in it. But nostalgia is just the tip of the iceberg: the advent of the VHS tape represents not only the great democratization of home viewing but also an era where the market was flooded with some of the weirdest movies ever made. And where do those weird movies exist today? Only on VHS.

We all remember the Jane Fonda workout videos, but Rewind This! does us a favor in pointing to others in the more-bizarre-than-you-might-think genre of instructional videos. How about a Windows 95 video guide hosted by Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry? Or a Bubba Smith workout video titled Bubba Until It Hurts? Or, one that I personally remember and wish I had on my shelf, Leslie Neilsen’s hilarious golfing video? Only on VHS. And, well, yeah: YouTube. But that’s kind of the point. VHS created a culture that demanded accessibility, only heightened by the possibilities of the internet.

Populated by collectors, programmers, critics, filmmakers, video store owners, industry insiders, and cover artists, Rewind This! is more than just romanticizing bad films, it examines how VHS changed the way we watch and appreciate movies. Check out reviews of Rewind This! on The Dissolve and Tiny Mix Tapes.

 

 

Rewind This!, directed by Josh Johnson, screens Monday and Tuesday, September 9 and 10, at 7:00 and 9:00 pm. Advance tickets available from www.trylon.org.

Cassavetes Kickoff: A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE

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Our month long series featuring the films of John Cassavetes kicks off Friday with one of his best films, Woman Under the Influence – the first of five, all presented on 35mm. The following review is by Trylon volunteer David Berglund, who writes about the movies with his wife, Chelsea Berglund, at their Movie Matrimony blog.

Hollywood generally treats the topic of mental illness with a saccharine filter, applauding goodly protagonists of simple morality tales who are filled with so much gosh-darned altruism that they can’t help but step up to the plate and joyfully address a burden neglected by so many. John Cassavetes, a man whose life work was seemingly to rebuff the wiles of the film industry, didn’t buy into any of that trash. What he recognized, and what his masterpiece A Woman Under the Influence so affectingly communicates, is that those who suffer from mental instability are many times no more screwed up than the rest of us – they just show their neuroses in a more unruly and socially unacceptable fashion.

The film finds its narrative center in the relationship of Nick and Mabel (all-in performances from Peter Falk and Gena Rowlands) as the goodhearted Nick grows weary with his wife’s increasingly erratic behavior. Unlike the spotless saviors of many Hollywood offerings, he is short-tempered and unsure. When he does take action to address his wife’s behavior, it is desperate and reactionary. Yet, while Nick is not a saint, he is also not a villain. Because the film so effectively displays the frustrations of family life with mental illness and viewers share with him the film’s harrowing events, his choices are understandable and there is no room to look down on him from a moral high ground. Unlike Hollywood, Cassavetes understood that life rarely presents perfect solutions, and many times leaves only a choice to minimize pain.

The film, however, is not entirely this glum. Cassavetes takes care to show in intimate moments why Nick and Mabel fell in love. Aided by a jaw-dropping performance from Rowlands, we see in Mabel a deep affection for her family, and a good-hearted, though socially inept, sense of hospitality. She truly does care for her family, and we join her in lamenting her inability to acceptably fulfill her motherly duties. Ever the progressive, there is a sense that Cassavetes is arguing her actions are perhaps not so dangerous, but rather simply misalign with cultural standards. Maybe what is insane is not Mabel, but the fact that culture frowns on her eccentricity. In the end, Cassavetes leaves us with an idea of unmistakable beauty –that marriage, though unavoidably flawed, need not justify itself by the world’s lofty standards, but spouses should simply look inward to find joy and strength wherever possible in the comfort and commitment of the equally broken person sleeping next to them.

Woman Under the Influence (1974) written and directed by John Cassavetes, starring Gena Rowlands and Peter Falk screens from 35mm September 6-8, Friday and Saturday at 7:00 pm, and Sunday at 5:00 pm & 8:00 pm. Advance tickets available at trylon.org.

A Labor Day Leviathan

leviathan |ləˈvīəTHən|
noun
(in biblical use) a sea monster, identified in different passages with the whale and the crocodile (e.g., Job 41, Ps. 74:14), and with the Devil (after Isa. 27:1).
• a very large aquatic creature, esp. a whale: the great leviathans of the deep.
• a thing that is very large or powerful, esp. a ship.

Proue

Calling Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s Leviathan an observational documentary doesn’t really do it justice. Although it is just that—shot like a fly on the wall, or in this case, like fish on the deck—Leviathan attains an otherworldly feel with its dark, roiling and very physical ambiance. Armed with a number of the durable GoPro action cameras, Castaing-Taylor and Paravel set out on commercial fishing boat from the eastern seaboard and rigged the cameras in a variety of manners: hanging from the bow as the hulking boat heaves up and down in the waves, attached to the fishermen themselves as they haul in the nets, or tossed onto the deck of the ship and sloshed around with all kinds of organic ocean refuse. The result is disorienting, visceral, and completely unique.

Castaing-Taylor, who made Sweetgrass, and Paravel, co-director of Foreign Parts, are both faculty members at the Harvard Sensory Ethnographic Lab, a collaboration between the departments of Anthropology and Visual and Environmental Studies that favors recording small corners of the world without critical judgment. Unorthodox in its production and product, Leviathan is a fascinating result of the Lab’s combination of “aesthetics and ethnography,” as is Libbie D. Cohn and J.P. Sniadecki’s single shot People’s Park and Toronto International Film Fest bound Manakamana by Stephanie Spray and Pancho Velez.

Leviathan is an experience that deserves a theatrical viewing with both sound and image working to envelop the audience in an environment defined both by the work being done and the mighty forces of Mother Nature.

http://youtu.be/GEQoB_aRB3c

Leviathan screens Monday and Tuesday, September 2 and 3, at 7:00 pm & 9:00 pm. Advanced tickets available at the Trylon website.

Pierre Étaix continues with LAND OF MILK AND HONEY

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Our look at the films of Pierre Étaix continues this weekend with Étaix’s final controversial film, The Land of Milk and Honey from 1971. Made up of 16mm footage that he shot on vacation with his wife, singer Annie Fratellini, in 1969, this radical film of protest was Étaix’s own response to the social upheaval in France following May 1968. But Étaix, the humorist and the optimist, does not leave us without hope. As Dave Kehr points out in the New York Times:  “Land of Milk and Honey comes close to expressing the unbridled contempt for humanity of a contemporary freak show like Ulrich Seidl’s Dog Days. But Mr. Étaix maintains his humanist bearings by conveying a sense of what once was there and might be again.”

Land of Milk and Honey screens Friday and Saturday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm, and on Sunday at 5:30pm and 7:00pm. Advanced tickets (with no service fee!) are available at trylon.org.

In other good news, our Fall Programs are now available! Come by and pick one up and find out why we are trying to add the word “Lancastic” to the human vernacular!

Second Anniversary of the Defenders!

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Come celebrate the second anniversary of the Trylon’s Defenders series with the brainchild of it all, Jim Brunzell III. Jim is the Director of Sound Unseen and has a weekly film column that you should definitely check out on the Twin Cities Daily Planet. You’ll have to show up to see what kind of abomination Jim has picked for your viewing (dis)pleasure, but remember: asking ‘why’ is your job! As with all the Defenders screenings, proceeds go towards a worthy cause, and in this case they will go towards the 2013 edition of Sound Unseen coming to the Trylon in November. The fun starts at 7:00 pm tonight, Wednesday, August 21. Advanced tickets are available at the Trylon website.

Things That Go Bump in the Night – Hellboy 2 at the Trylon

By John Moret
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There is a moment about an hour into Hellboy 2: The Golden Army that beautifully showcases the tender love that Guillermo Del Toro has for giant monsters.

The villain, Prince Nuada, releases what seems to be a little green “jumping bean.”  What at first appears to be a harmless little seed grows into a giant tentacled moss creature.  (We learn it is an elemental, a giver of life and destroyer, a forest god).  In typical Del Toro fashion, Hellboy carries a baby up a marquee with his tail and then throws it into the air while loading his gun, which is named Big Baby.

But, in the midst of this light-hearted silliness, he also instills moral ambiguity. Hellboy shoots at the beautiful creature and it slowly shys away, seemingly in pain. Hellboy hesitates, and Prince Nuada questions him, “This is what you wanted, isn’t it?  The last of its’ kind, like you and I.  If you destroy it, the world will never see it’s like again.”

Torn, Hellboy shoots the elemental, causing it to flower and spread a beautiful moss across the ground.  It flowers open, graciously snowing cotton-like leaves down on the surrounding populace.  It’s a poignant moment that is meant to put Hellboy in a place where he must choose between the monster world and human world, a line he must constantly walk.

But, more importantly, it pits the audience against itself.  From that moment on, there is confusion as to who the audience feels compelled to root for.

That same moral confusion sits with all of Del Toro’s films.  Whether it’s the ghost in The Devil’s Backbone, the vampire in Cronos or the Fawn in Pan’s Labyrinth, Del Toro continually causes the audience to question whether the things that go bump in the night are really the thing that we should be afraid of, or is it us?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWvpuwatbJM
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army screens Monday, July 22 and Tuesday, July 23 at 7:00 and 9:15pm. Advanced tickets available at the Trylon’s website.

Happy Anniversary to Us! Safety Last! at the Trylon

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A short four years ago, a group of dedicated cinephiles opened their new 50-seat palace to the world with the films of Buster Keaton. That was us and that was the Trylon. Each year we have marked our anniversary with the silent American classics from Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd – films that have lost their place in 21st century multiplexes and symbolize what we want to bring to the Twin Cities. Our modest success and the support from our loyal audience is more than we could have asked for.

This weekend we celebrate those four years in the best way we know how: A new 35mm print of Harold Lloyd’s iconic Safety Last!

Safety Last! screens Friday, July 12 and Saturday, July 13 at 7:00 and 8:30pm, and Sunday, July 14 at 5:00, 6:30 and 8:00pm. Advance tickets available at the Trylon’s website.

Sound Unseen presents DOWNLOADED at the Trylon

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The heyday of Napster seems like a foggy fever dream, and although the online peer-to-peer file sharing service only lasted two years, Napster changed the music industry and our relationship to music forever. Tonight at the Trylon, Sound Unseen presents the new documentary Downloaded directed by Alex Winter (better known as Bill in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) that takes a look at the innovative company, the subsequent legal battles and the far reaching effects of its brief existence.

Downloaded screens Wednesday, July 10 at 7:00pm. Advance tickets are available on the Trylon website.