Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Deconstructing the Beatles" Contest Winner!

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry to our Deconstructing the Beatles Contest! We asked our readers to submit an idea for a screenplay inspired by one of the songs that presenter Scott Freiman will discuss tonight at tonight's event (“Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, or “A Day in the Life”).

The winner is Katie Pfieffer. Here's her idea:

Strawberry Fields Forever
Set in a farmer's market, Anna helps her family sell their farm produce. She meets Tom, a lonely mushroom farmer, and they set out on a life-changing trip across the U.S. circa 1974.

Congratulations, Katie, you've won two free tickets to tonight's event.

Check out the other entries in the comments here. There are some fun ones!

Thanks to everyone who contributed. Next time you come to BMFI, you'll enjoy a free small popcorn and drink on us! We'll leave the popcorn and drink passes for you at the Box Office.

For more information about A Trip Through Strawberry Fields: Deconstructing the Beatles and to buy tickets, click here.

Alan Webber: Why I Love Moira Shearer

On the anniversary of Moira Shearer's death, BMFI patron and film fan Alan Webber shares with us his movie memories of the luminous dancer and actress and her best-known performance in The Red Shoes.

Autumn Bonfire
By Alan Webber, BMFI Patron

Like many American males I first fell in love in the darkened balcony of a movie theatre. The reader has no need for caution here: I was no stumbling Clearasil-addicted teenager groping at elbows, but a young boy of six years. It was somewhere around 1950 in Larchmont, New York and my mother dragged me, a runny-nosed youth I’m sure, to a matinee one October Saturday. It was a nearly perfect autumn day and I remember that my new white sneakers brushed against the embers of burning leaves at the curb of Chatsworth Avenue on the way. Little did I know of  what was in store for me that crisp day or the gifts I was about to receive…the first of a lifetime of movie loves and my first movie memory.

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes

A little over two hours later when “FINIS” lit across the blackness, I knew that I was totally infatuated with movies and this alluring beauty on the screen. I didn’t know what “FINIS” meant but the film appeared to end very tragically for her in Monte Carlo…wherever that was. I knew it was very far from Larchmont.

Her name in the film was Victoria Page and she was a fiery redhead who raged across my innocence in a spinning fantasy of Technicolor and dance. “Vicki” was her screen name, but I gradually learned she really was Moira Shearer of the Sadler Wells Ballet and I have never fallen out of love with her in The Red Shoes, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s eccentric, melodramatic and voluptuous masterpiece. Even director Powell was taken by her "cloud of  red hair," which "flamed and glittered like an autumn bonfire.” In retrospect, I see that she was my very first Object of Desire even before my younger self flirted with an idea of sex. She was also the probable origin of a lifelong smoldering fondness for fair-skinned redheads.

After the release of The Red Shoes in 1948 she became the best-known ballet dancer in the United States and perhaps the world and with this fame she was able to popularize ballet more than any other contemporary. Many today, myself included, believe that it is still the greatest ballet movie ever made and Moira Shearer was crucial to this success. However, the reception of the film by the public wasn’t without problems. “The film was a huge success when it opened in London in the spring of 1948,” she said to one interviewer, “but, just as I had suspected, the British public didn’t much approve of my appearing in it…..I just wish I had been a more rounded performer at the time.” It was never a movie she wanted to make for she believed she was a novice at acting and felt hampered by her lack of experience. If she felt that way, it didn’t show on the screen.

Following The Red Shoes, Moira Shearer made four other films in which she danced and acted including The Tales of Hoffman for Powell and Pressburger and Black Tights for choreographer Roland Petitt. Her dancing career essentially ended in 1952, after which she acted, wrote, and lectured.

She died on January 31, 2006 at the age of 80.

In the film, Vicki, who has fallen in love with the ballet company’s composer, is warned, “A dancer who relies upon the 'doubtful comforts' of human love will never be a great dancer…never.”

On those scarlet autumn days when I am in a reflective mood and the air is crisp again and I watch The Red Shoes, I can rely on these “doubtful comforts” and remember the Moira Shearer of my boyhood, the autumn bonfire, who has warmed my heart for a movie-going lifetime.

Thanks, Alan!

Film fans, if you would like to submit a post of your own about a movie or film star that you love, please contact Devin Wachs with your idea.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Music Fans: Win Free Tickets to "Deconstructing the Beatles"

Win free tickets to Scott Freiman's fascinating lecture, A Trip Through Strawberry Fields: Deconstructing the Beatles! This in-depth exploration of the making and meaning of three of The Beatles' most beloved songs comes to Bryn Mawr Film Institute on Tuesday, January 31 at 7:30 pm. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.

Contest: Pretend you’re writing a screenplay inspired by a favorite Beatles tune. Choose a song that Scott will discuss (“Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, or “A Day in the Life”) and tell us your movie idea based on it in 30 words or less. Jazz it up and have fun!

Post your entries (including your name) in the comments below. The first fifteen people to submit a pitch will win a pass for free popcorn and soda at the event. The entry that we find most compelling will win two free tickets! Submissions must be made by Monday, January 30 at 6:00 pm.

*Please Note: When posting your comment, you will be asked to select a log-in from a list. If you do not have a Google account, etc., please select either 1) "Name/URL", which requires that you have a valid website address of your own, or 2) "Anonymous". If you select the latter, please be sure to sign your name in the post.

Take "A Trip Through Strawberry Fields" with Scott Freiman

By Daniel Santelli, Jr., BMFI Programming Intern

Think you know everything about the Fab Four? Think again!

On Tuesday, January 31 at 7:30pm, BMFI will host Scott Freiman’s interactive lecture A Trip Through Strawberry Fields: Deconstructing The Beatles. Mr. Freiman, a composer and Beatles expert, will examine three iconic songs (“Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, and “A Day in the Life”), revealing hidden messages and layered subtext as he uses archival footage and anecdotes to illuminate the Beatles’ creative process. He has performed the lectures across the country in packed theaters, sharing his valuable insights on the tide-turning band.

Click here to win free tickets and more!

Mr. Freiman was kind enough to answer a few questions in a brief email interview:
What about The Beatles do you see as most important? Why deconstruct their work?
The Beatles are incredibly important in popular music--and in music overall. They helped evolve rock and roll and influenced countless artists. They were instrumental in having rock music be taken seriously by music critics. They influences clothing, video, and popular culture. Their music still resonates with people more than fifty years since they first formed.
How does deconstructing the music and lyrics further our understanding of these classics?
My presentations attract audiences from age 8 to 88.  There's no other musicians or musical group where people with such a wide range of age and experience can enjoy the same music.
What do you hope audiences who attend the lectures take away from them?
I have always found that understanding more about how a piece of art is constructed (what were the circumstances behind its creation, what creative decisions were made as it was created) helps lead to a greater appreciation of the art. The one comment I consistently get after my presentations is that "I will never listen to music the same way again."
What is your favorite Beatles’ tune?
I'm not great with picking favorites, but "Strawberry Fields Forever" is certainly up there for me.  It is fascinating to listen to the song evolve from a simple demo to the sonic masterpiece that landed on vinyl. I plan to share that journey with the audience at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. "A Day In The Life" is another amazing piece of music.  The orchestral climax still gives me chills.  I'll also be talking about that song on Tuesday night.
We hope to see you on Tuesday! You can get tickets online here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Win Tickets to BMFI's Oscar Party!

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager
The Oscar nominations have been announced! One of these films will become a "Best Picture" winner. They could make you a winner, too! Make a case for which Best Picture nominee you think should win in 140 characters or less. You could win two tickets to BMFI's fourth annual Oscar Party!

Cheer as your favorite front-runners win their statuettes (and you win your bragging rights) as the Academy Awards play on our big screen. Enjoy a delicious dinner as you chat with your fellow film fans. And treat yourself to something fun from our silent auction when you're proven right about a dark horse. Because on Hollywood's biggest night, you deserve to feel like a star, too.

Submit your entry as a comment on this post. Our staff will pick a winner based on the entries' persuasiveness and panache. (Who knows? Maybe the Academy will agree with you, too.)

I look forward to reading your entries and seeing you at the Oscar Party!

Please note: When posting your comment, you will be asked to select a log-in from a list. If you do not have a Google account, etc., please select either 1) "Name/URL", which requires that you have a valid website address of your own, or 2) "Anonymous". If you select the latter, please be sure to sign your name in the post. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights: An Introduction

Last week we showed Boogie Nights in conjunction with our new film education course, Paul Thomas Anderson: Cinematic Cypher. Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., the class starts tonight. In case you couldn't come to one or both, you can check out an abridged version of BMFI Manager Alexis Mayer's introduction to Boogie Nights below.

Boogie Nights: An Introduction
By Alexis Mayer, BMFI Theater Manager

Boogie Nights is Anderson's second film and he was 26 when he made it. The inspiration came from his own fascination and love of pornography, a fascination which he has made clear in countless interviews, he is neither embarrassed nor apologetic about. The film takes place over the transitional period of pornography--on film and in movie theaters, to video and at home.  It is an homage to a time when Anderson felt there was more emphasis on story and characters, and pornography was its own genre, rather than a sleazy parallel culture.

While the film is about pornography, it's not one that takes a political stance, and that was not Anderson's intention. He didn't want to tell a story about pornography's impact on society, but rather the lives of the pornographers themselves and their human qualities. As Roger Ebert puts it in his review, "They may live in a disreputable world, but they have the same ambitions and in a weird way similar values as mainstream Hollywood."

Many of the characters in Boogie Nights are influenced by real life porn figures and their real life experiences and two of the supporting actors are porn actors themselves. Mark Wahlberg's character Dirk Diggler is loosely based on porn star of the time John Holmes, and the final chapter reflects similar events in which Holmes was a murder suspect. Nina Hartley plays the wife of William H. Macy's character Little Bill. And the role of the family court judge in the custody hearing between Amber Waves, played by Julianne Moore, and her ex-husband is performed by actress Veronica Hart, who Anderson likes to call the Meryl Streep of pornography.

Anderson does gloss over some details. Most notably, it was illegal to film pornography in California in the '70s, where and when Boogie Nights takes place. But I forgive him that one. This is a great story, with great performances from a great supporting cast, including Don Cheadle, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, John C. Riley, Ricky Jay, and Alfred Molina, to name a few not already mentioned. Mark Wahlberg plays the central character of the film Dirk Diggler but the role was originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio turned it down to play Titanic. The role of Jack Horner, porno producer, director and father figure to his gang of actors, is played by Burt Reynolds who refused the role several times before finally accepting, believing it to be an exploitation flick. And supposedly, after seeing a rough cut of the film, he was so disappointed that he fired his agents. And then of course, the film got nominated for three Oscars, including best supporting actor for Mr. Reynolds.

There's a parallel between the character of Dirk Diggler and Paul Thomas Anderson himself that I really like. Anderson says in an interview for Creative Screenwriting Magazine that following big disappointments with his debut feature Hard Eight, he wrote Boogie Nights "fueled by a desire for revenge on all the people who told me I'd ever amount to anything." I think of the scene in the beginning of Boogie Nights where Eddie, before he becomes Dirk, has a fight with his mom and says, "You don't know what I can do, what I'm gonna do, or what I'm gonna be. You don't know I'm good, I have good things you don't know about, and I'm gonna be something! I am!" Dirk goes on to win an Adult Film Award for Best Penis, and Anderson gets his Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

For Further Reading:
Mottram, James, The Sundance Kids - How the Mavericks Took Back Hollywood, New York: Faber and Faber, Inc., 2006

Theater Manager Alexis Mayer is a film handler and projectionist with a B.F.A. in Visual and Media Arts from Emerson College and a professional certificate in the Preservation and Restoration of Motion Picture Films from the L. Jefferey Selznick School of Film Preservation.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Announcing "The Late Show" Spring Programming Contest

By Devin Wachs, Public Relations Manager, BMFI

BMFI's first The Late Show series kicks off with the fan favorite The Room on January 20. In case you haven't heard, this new series features unusual and cult films on the big screen on select Friday nights at 11:30 pm. But just as the series is beginning, it's time to finalize the films for its spring edition! (Yes, we book our special programming several months in advance.) Here's where you come in.

We're hosting our second programming contest! What film would you like to see added to the spring Late Show schedule? Tell us what you think we should show and why. If we choose your suggestion, you'll win cool prizes including four tickets to the screening for you and your friends! Interested? See below for details about how to enter and what you will get if you win.

In addition to The Room, the first Late Show series features Giorgio Moroder Presents Metropolis on February 3, the Japanese horror flick House on February 17, the bizarre family drama/satire Dogtooth on March 16, and the Monkees' Head on March 30. The latter was suggested by Ann Capozzolo, who won our winter programming contest! See her winning entry here.

How it Works:
In the comments section below, write the title of the film that you’d like us to show, and a few sentences about why you think we should feature it. (Hint: Try to make it something that isn’t shown in theaters very often.) Make sure to leave your name!* Entries are due by Wednesday, January 25 at 6:00 pm. We’ll announce the winner right here on our blog.

We’ll choose the film suggestion and write-up that we like best from your entries, and (pending film availability) we'll include it in the series!

If you've already emailed your programming ideas directly to vtemple@brynmawrfilm.org, as we listed in Projections, then we'll consider your suggestions as contest entries and you'll be eligible to win the prize, should we select your idea.

What You Win:
If you’re selected, you’ll win four tickets for you and your friends to go see the movie you chose on the big screen, plus four popcorn and drink passes. A version of your write-up will appear in Projections, our programming guide, and on our blog (with credit, of course). You can also introduce the film the night of the event as well—but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

I look forward to reading your entries!

*Please Note: When posting your comment, you will be asked to select a log-in from a list. If you do not have a Google account, etc., please select either 1) "Name/URL", which requires that you have a valid website address of your own, or 2) "Anonymous". If you select the latter, please be sure to sign your name in the post.