Saturday, May 30, at 8:00 p.m.
The Grocer's Son
The rolling countryside of Provence may be a dream vacation spot, but it is the last place in the world that Antoine (Nicolas Cazale), the sullen 30-year-old protagonist of "The Grocer's Son," would like to be. In this French variation of the fable of the prodigal son, Antoine reluctantly returns to his rural hometown after 10 years in the big city when his father (Daniel Duval) has a heart attack. Someone has to run the family's grocery store while his father recovers, and Antoine's unhappily married older brother, Francois (Stephan Guerin-Tillie), who stayed by their parents when Antoine fled, insists the time has come for Antoine to shoulder some responsibility. While their mother (Jeanne Goupil) has minded the store, their father has operated a van selling produce and staples to the area's mostly elderly inhabitants. This small gem of a film, a surprise hit in France, is the second feature directed by ric Guirado, who prepared for it by filming portraits of traveling tradesmen in southern and central France.
Though its quiet pastoral charms may not change your life the way they do Antoine's, you'll find the scenery comforting, the humanity reassuring, and the story appealing.
2008 * France * Feature * 96 mins. * Rated R (mature themes and language) * French with English Subtitles
Saturday, June 6, at 8:00 pm
Wendy and Lucy
On the heels of her critically lauded OLD JOY, Kelly Reichardt delivers another deeply resonant portrait of a dying America with WENDY AND LUCY. In OLD JOY, two men provided the heart and soul of the story. This time, the film is centered on a young woman, played with utter conviction and selflessness by Michelle Williams (BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN). Williams is Wendy, a down-on-her-luck woman who has driven across-country with her dog, Lucy, in search of a better life in Alaska. Wendy can barely support this journey, and when her car breaks down in Oregon and she becomes separated from Lucy, her predicament becomes even more dire. In a world that doesn't seem to know she even exists, Wendy befriends a local security guard (Wally Dalton), who gives her a tiny fraction of hope. Considering this film together with OLD JOY, it's obvious that Reichardt has shot up in the ranks of American auteurs. She is becoming a master of minor features that feel like the best short stories, a sort of cinematic Raymond Carver. Credit is obviously bestowed upon the marvelous Williams, who is in almost every shot of the film, and who delivers an astonishingly honest performance. But everything about this film reeks of truth, most noticeably Sam Levy's restrained but beautiful cinematography, and Reichardt's patient editing. WENDY AND LUCY is a tribute to marginalized characters that the movies, and the real world, would usually rather ignore.
2009 * USA * Feature * 80 min. * Rated R (brief language)
Saturday, June 13, at 8:00 pm
Roman De Gare
True to its title, ROMAN DE GARE (CROSSED TRACKS) finds famed French director Claude Lelouch (UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME) jumping between time and loyalties in this suspenseful mystery about fate and fatal secrets. As the film opens, popular crime novelist Judith Ralitzer (Fanny Ardant) finds herself at the receiving end of a police interrogation for two murders. We then learn about the escape of an actual serial killer known as "The Magician," who may already be lurking on the roads leading out of Paris. The road is where we find Huguette (Audrey Dana), a high-strung hairdresser who is soon abandoned by her enraged fiancé at a highway service station. Huguette is rescued by the unassuming Pierre (Dominique Pinon), who may or may not actually be the ghost writer responsible for Judith Ralitzer's success. Pierre pretends to be Huguette's fiancé so that her provincial parents and alienated daughter will think that Huguette has put her life in order. But even as Pierre wins the affection of Huguette and her family, his reliance on magic tricks may hint at a much darker secret. And when Pierre is reunited with the celebrity-absorbed Ralitzer, his intention to come out from her shadow and be his own author may force the star to construct a novel demise for her servant. Taking advantage of a superb cast and gorgeous French locations, Lelouch's veteran touch deftly manages ROMAN DE GARE's multiple layers of mystery and romance. The result is a pleasingly chic thriller grounded in a very human belief in the surprising possibilities that come from love.
2008 * France * Feature * 103 mins. * R Rated (brief nudity and language) * French with English subtitles
Friday, June 19, at 8:00 pm
Big Man Japan
A middle-aged slacker living in a rundown, graffiti-ridden slum, Daisato's job involves being shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high who is entrusted with defending Japan from a host of bizarre monsters. But while his predecessors were national heroes, he is a pariah among the citizens he protects, who bitterly complain about the noise and destruction of property he causes. And Daisato has his own problems -an agent insistent on branding him with sponsor advertisements, an Alzheimer-afflicted grandfather who transforms into a giant in dirty underwear, and a family who is embarrassed by his often cowardly exploits. A wickedly deadpan spin on the giant Japanese super hero, Big Man Japan is an outrageous portrait of a pathetic but truly unique hero.
2009 * Japan * Feature * 113 min. * Rated PG-13 * Japanese with English subtitles
Screenings at the historic Katharine Cornell Theatre, 54 Spring Street, Vineyard Haven. Doors open 30 minutes prior to screening time for admissions. Admissions is $8 and $5 for film society members. A short introduction precedes each screening. For more information visit http://www.mvfilmsociety.com
or call 774-392-2972