The Great Movies, Episode 15: Phoenix (2014)

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Phoenix (2014) Christian Petzold
Criterion Blu-ray (1:38)
The Great Movies series, Severna Park Library, Severna Park, Maryland

There are few things in life I love more than introducing a good – maybe even great – film to someone who’s never seen it before, someone whom I think will appreciate and tell others about it. In many ways, I have the best job in the world since I’m able to share two of my passions with people: reading and movies. I had the opportunity last night to screen Christian Petzold’s Phoenix (2014) to a group of 30 people. You never quite know until it’s over whether the audience will like a film, especially when you’re showing an international film with subtitles. Would they like Phoenix? Did they like it?

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Black History Month: Selma (2014)

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Selma (2014) Ava DuVernay
Severna Park Library (2:08)

The Severna Park Library was proud to celebrate Black History Month yesterday with a showing of Selma (2014). A few regulars from our monthly Great Movies series were in attendance, but many had never before attended a movie at our library. I explained that it is our practice to introduce each film, talking about why it is important and what it means to us today, then watch the film and afterward discuss it. I asked the group (12 people total) if they had ever seen Selma. No one had except me. I prepared them somewhat for what they were about to see, informing them that Selma is often hard to watch due to its scenes of racism, violence, and language. Some of it will be offensive, I told them. “It will make you uncomfortable, but we must watch it.”

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Film Noir Double Feature

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Today, at the Severna Park Library, where I work, we’re going to do something we’ve never done before: a double feature. Not only that, but a film noir double feature! Both movies are free AND so is the popcorn! I hope you’ll join us.

Our particular licensing agreement doesn’t allow me to give the titles to these films here, but if you click on the link above, you’ll find them as well as where we’re located. But if you’d like to venture a guess at the films before clicking on the link:

11:00am – This film features Ray Milland in a really tight spot as a murder suspect. Brilliantly stylized with wonderful characters and performances, this effective noir could also be thought of as “A Large Timepiece.”

1:30pm – “Marie Windsor on a train” is probably enough information for most noir fans to figure out the title of this movie. It’s quite a journey and it also features one of my favorite noir actors, Charles McGraw. Definitely a white-knuckle ride!

We’ve scheduled these films at these times in order to give folks a chance to grab some lunch at one of our local restaurants between movies. Or bring a bag lunch/to go order with you – that’s cool. I hope to see you there!

Photo: I Found It at the Movies

The Great Movies, Episode 8: Bicycle Thieves (1948)

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My co-worker Julia and I were a little concerned. Last night we were showing our first non-English language film in our Great Movies series, it was a mild summer night when most people would be outside enjoying the weather, and a lot of people are still on vacation. Yet we were delighted to have an audience of 28 in attendance for Bicycle Thieves (1948).

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Julia asked how many people had never seen the film before last night and almost every hand went up. She led a great discussion about how the film was perceived among Italian audiences compared to American audiences, De Sica’s neorealism, the use of untrained non-actors, and more. Audience members brought up the differences between characters and their dialects, the rebuilding of post WWII Italy, the relationship between Antonio and his son Bruno, any many other topics.

I think I can speak for Julia in saying that we’re both very pleased that so many people came out to take a chance, so to speak, on an international film with subtitles that on one level is easy to grasp, but on another is challenging in its realism and worldview. We’ll have another movie for you next month on Thursday, September 1 at 6:30pm. I can’t tell you the title, but it involves umbrellas and vocals.