Note: Please find the Trent film Society Schedule for Winter/Spring term at the bottom of this article.
The Trent Film Society had an action-packed fall semester, screening 12 films at Artspace and two films at Symons campus.
Beginning with a selection of films on adolescent romance and sexuality, we moved from a rather humorous picture– Daniele Luchetti’s Ginger and Cinnamon (2003)–to the emotionally and physically intense Fat Girl (2001) by French auteur and oft-cited name in New French Extremism, Catherine Breillat.
From there we grabbed some food and drink and screened Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre (1981), sitting with Wally and Andre at their dinner table and through the latter’s personal tales of adventures travelled to India and beyond.
Next we did a pair of American suspense films, Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window (1954) coupled with Brian de Palma’s Blow Out (1981), de Palma learning his craft and paying respect to his teacher. We rounded out the season with a pair of (mostly) silent comedies from Jacques Tati and Charles Chaplin.
Our two appearances on campus brought some new faces and we hope to see more students make the trek downtown for the winter/spring term. Thanks to everyone who came out and shared their thoughts on the films screened and movies in general.
This winter and spring, our list contains more recent cinema than perhaps ever before.
With the end of the world looming over us, December was a scary month for superstitious people. Had Heaven and Earth opened and caused most to perish, the few that survived would undoubtedly be living in something like the setting of The Road (2009), adapted from the novel by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men). This bleak and depressing post-apocalyptic tale follows a man, played by Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings, A History of Violence), and his son as they scrounge for resources and defend themselves against other survivors.
Matt Harris, a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies, will be introducing us to the American Western with John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), starring the not-yet-famous John Wayne. From the West we will travel to the East with Akira Kurosawa’s appropriation of the genre. Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961) transforms the American gun-slinger into a ronin (a masterless samurai), but nevertheless retains much of the same tone and style.
Fellow Trent Film Society director Troy Bordun will also be working through some films in his own research. We screened a film by Breillat last fall, the infamous figure of New French Extremism; with a series of three films Troy hopes to take us beyond the confines of the two protagonist, French bourgeois stories associated with New Extremism, and show how the same themes can be explored by very different narratives. Bruno Dumont’s Flanders (2006) slides out of the urban setting and dramatically situates his characters in the midst of an unknown desert, following a platoon of soldiers fighting an unknown enemy.
Then we fly out of France altogether for Carlos Reygadas’ Mexican feature Battle in Heaven. In this film, a chauffeur and general’s daughter have an unlikely sexual encounter that, in typical New Extremism fashion, ends in a horrible streak of violence. The cinematic style then shifts with Taiwan’s Tsai Ming-liang film The Wayward Cloud. Taipei is in the middle of a severe drought when we are introduced to a bored porn actor and a girl who perhaps likes watermelons a little too much. This is a wonderfully humorous film along the lines of Tati, with a dark and cynical side that will put you on edge by its climax.
Following Ming-liang, we have a series of films on the themes of art and perspective. We will be screening Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning (1959), which will tie in directly with Wim Wender’s Tokyo Ga (1985), as Wender’s seeks to find in Tokyo the same beautiful images brought to us by Ozu. This is the perfect introduction to a theme on looking and the framing nature of perspective. Of course, Wenders does not bring to audiences the same Japan as offered by Ozu, but rather discusses the nature of images.
Shifting from looking at spaces, the following week we get to know a vagabond girl from the perspective of several acquaintances and failed friendships in Agnes Varda’s Vagabond (1985). Martin Provost’s Séraphine (2008) brings our attention to visual art and doubles as a take on the value seen in another’s work of art, as a German art collector is impressed by the unique paintings of the French artist Séraphine, as well as the materialization of images from the heart and mind of this visionary painter.
It seems only natural then to screen Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book (1997) as a compliment to the artistic focus of Séraphine and gazing at a body onscreen. This film approaches the concept of meaning and how it is portrayed through text and image, moving beyond cinematic narrative and playing with the potentials of cinematic form and sense.
Last but not least, we have a brand new film not yet released on blu-ray. Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (2012) has been receiving infinite praise, and Carax’s reflexivity and ambiguous comment on filmmaking and acting is a must-see for anyone appreciative of the effort involved in both making a film and starring in it. Denis Lavant gives the most diverse and incredible performance—he has already won three awards and been nominated for one other. Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue co-star.
The TFS is in the process of renting a theatre in the Galaxy Cinemas, bringing unbeatable quality and sound to students’ experience of this exceptional film.
The year officially closes with a special screening of the brand new documentary about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei by Alison Krayman, as well as put Trent professors Jonathan Bordo and Ger Zielinski in conversation. This film is also showing at ReFrame; catch it there first.
Our regular Thursday evening screenings have been switched to Tuesdays at 8 pm. All foreign language films will be subtitled. Please join us for one or all thirteen films at Artspace, 378 Aylmer St. N.
Like our Facebook page, “Trent Film Society” or send us an email for updates, [email protected] Also keep an eye out for handbills and posters.
Tuesday, January 15th: John Hillcoat’s The Road, U.S.A., 2009
Tuesday, January 22nd: John Ford’s Stagecoach, U.S.A., 1939
Tuesday, January 29th: Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, Japan, 1961
Tuesday, February 5th: Bruno Dumont’s Flanders (Flandres), France, 2006
Tuesday, February 12th: Carlos Reygadas’ Battle in Heaven (Batalla en el cielo), Mexico, 2005
Tuesday, February 19th: Tsai Ming-liang’s The Wayward Cloud (天邊一朵雲), Taiwan, 2005
Tuesday, February 26th: Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book, U.K., 1997
Tuesday, March 5th: Martin Provost’s Séraphine, France, 2008
Tuesday, March 12th: Agnès Varda’s Vagabond (Sans Toit Ni Loi), France, 1985
Tuesday, March 19th: Yasujirō Ozu’s Good Morning, Japan, 1959
Tuesday, March 26th: Wim Wender’s Tokyo-Ga, Germany, 1985
Wednesday, April 3rd (likely) @ Galaxy Cinemas: Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, France, 2012
Monday, April 8th, Trent professors Jonathan Bordo and Ger Zielinski in conversation: Alison Klayman’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, U.S.A., 2012