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Directed by Manfred Kirchheimer (2019, USA, 61 minutes, English)

 

Manny Kirchheimer is one of the great masters of the American city symphony, as is clear from films like Stations of the Elevated (1981) and Dream of a City. In his latest work, the 88-year-old Kirchheimer has meticulously restored and constructed 16mm black- and-white footage that he and Walter Hess shot in New York between 1958 and 1960. 

 

This lustrous evocation of a different rhythm of life captures the in-between moments—kids playing stickball, window washers, folks reading newspapers on their stoops—and the architectural beauty of urban spaces, set to the stirring sounds of Ravel, Bach, Eisler, and Count Basie. 

The breathtaking footage was shot in several distinct New York neighborhoods, including Washington Heights, the Upper West Side, and Hell’s Kitchen, and features impressionistic stops throughout the city, making time for an auto junkyard in Inwood, a cemetery in Queens, and the elegant buildings of the financial district.

 

SMOOTH TALK

Directed by Joyce Chopra (United States 1985; 92 mins. in English)

 

Connie (Laura Dern in her first lead role) is the fifteen-year-old black sheep of her family whose summertime idyll of beach trips, mall hangouts, and innocent flirtations in the suburbs of Northern California is shattered by an encounter with a mysterious stranger (a memorably menacing Treat Williams). Suspended between carefree youth and the harsh realities of the adult world, she experiences an unsettling awakening in this haunting vision of innocence lost.

 

This narrative debut from director Joyce Chopra, based on Joyce Carol Oates’ celebrated short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, as well as on Chopra’s own life, and produced for PBS’ American Playhouse features a revelatory performance from Dern. 

 

Chopra knew Dern was right for the role of Connie when she heard James Taylor’s “Handy Man” playing on Dern’s answering machine. Unknown to Dern, Taylor was the film’s musical director, and Cole had already incorporated the song into two major scenes. 

 

“The film's power is enormous throughout; spare means (long-held closeups, a four-minute take of sisterly confessions) evoke a drama that seems to have been filmed holding its breath,” said Richard Brody of The New Yorker. 

 

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Smooth Talk captures the thrill and terror of adolescent sexual exploration as it transforms the ingredients of a standard coming of age portrait into something altogether more troubling and profound.

Smooth Talk Trailer
 

WEDNESDAYS WITH WISEMAN:

HOSPITAL

Directed by Frederick Wiseman, USA (1970) 84 mins in English

Wednesdays With Wiseman will feature a classic Frederick Wiseman film each week, introduced by a conversation between Mr. Wiseman and fellow documentary filmmakers. The series will begin on October 21 with Academy Award winner Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo) doing a pas-de-deux with Mr. Wiseman about Ballet (1995). Academy Award winner Errol Morris (the Fog of War) goes through the maneuvers with Mr. Wiseman on October 28 with Sinai Field Mission (1978), and Academy Award nominees Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) pay tribute to health care workers on November 4 with Hospital (1970).


Hospital shows the day-to-day activities in a large urban hospital with particular emphasis on the emergency ward and out-patient clinics.

SINAI FIELD MISSION

Directed by Frederick Wiseman; USA (1978)  127 minutes,  in English

 

Wednesdays With Wiseman will feature a classic Frederick Wiseman film each week, introduced by a conversation between Mr. Wiseman and fellow documentary filmmakers. The series will begin on October 21 with Academy Award winner Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (Free Solo) doing a pas-de-deux with Mr. Wiseman about Ballet (1995). Academy Award winner Errol Morris (the Fog of War) goes through the maneuvers with Mr. Wiseman on October 28 with Sinai Field Mission (1978), and Academy Award nominees Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) pay tribute to health care workers on November 4 with Hospital (1970).

 

Sinai Field Mission documents the routine activities of the diplomats and electronic technicians who operate the United States Sinai Field Mission, the early warning system established in 1976 to help carry out the disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel following the 1973 war.

BALLET

Directed by Frederick Wiseman; USA (1995)  170 minutes,  in English

Ballet is a film about the American Ballet Theater and shows choreographers, ballet masters and mistresses working with principal dancers, soloists and the corps de ballet as well as the
administration and fundraising aspects of the Company.

 

CITY HALL

Directed by Frederick Wiseman, (2020) 275 minutes in English

City government touches upon almost every aspect of our lives. Most of us take for granted necessary services like sanitation, veterans affairs, elder support, parks, licensing bureaus, recordkeeping, as well a myriad of other activities that support the citizenry. In City Hall, through a series of his trademark masterfully edited vignettes, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman explores the inner-workings of the government of his native Boston. Headed by earnest, progressive Mayor Martin Walsh, a diverse, passionate network of public servants works to keep Boston running while grappling with pressing issues like racial justice, affordable housing, climate action, and homelessness. The film will be followed by a conversation between Mr. Wiseman and Mayor Walsh

 

In the director’s own words: “I made City Hall to illustrate why government is necessary for people to successfully live together. City Hall shows a city government offering a wide variety of important and necessary services to a major American city whose population exemplifies the history of diversity of America. The Boston city government is designed and strives to offer these services in a manner consistent with the Constitution and democratic norms. Boston’s city government is the opposite of what Trump stands for”. 


“Serenely and thrillingly observant… [Wiseman] turns bureaucratic procedure into a kind of poetry, and finds both comedy and profundity in the banal idioms of governance. CITY HALL also provides a powerful and precise account of what democracy looks like beyond the rhetoric of campaigns.”, according to A.O. Scott on The New York Times

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