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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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.