It’s the end of the semester, a time of recognition and reflection especially for those who are graduating. To honor all the hard work of students (and faculty!) during these tumultuous times, we thought it would be nice to kick back with this fun coming-of-age 90s classic from Richard Linklater.
Dazed and Confused is about the disparate misadventures of several young adults as they graduate high school and middle school and transition into (or resist) the next phase of their lives. It features an ensemble cast and launched the careers of such household names as Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Parker Posey.
The film was Linklater’s second feature and has come to be seen as the founding text of his style. Set in 1976, it strikes a unique tone of comedic yet grounded nostalgia. The film bombed at the box office but has since achieved cult status over the years, regularly topping critical best-of lists.
We will watch Dazed and Confused as a group on May 19th at 7:00pm EDT and chat on Twitter during the viewing. So how does this work exactly? At 7:00 everyone hits play on the movie and Tweets along using hashtag #SPSWatchParty. Dazed and Confused is available for streaming on Amazon Prime or it can be rented on Apple TV and Google Play. As always, don’t forget to check out the resources page for extra essays and videos!
Our next film will be Bright Star (2009), directed by Jane Campion
April is National Poetry Month, which makes it the perfect time to visit this biographical drama from director Jane Campion.
Bright Star tells the story of the English poet John Keats and his relationship with Fanny Brawne. Keats died of tuberculosis a few years after meeting Brawne, and much of what we know about the poet has been drawn from their correspondence.
The film is lush and deeply romantic. Cinematographer Greig Fraser (Dune, Lion) creates a subtly gorgeous, luminous atmosphere, while the rich production design brings the 19th century to life. Lead actors Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw bring sensitivity and grace to their roles with intimate and sincere performances.
At the center of Bright Star is a message about art, longing, and resilience. Keats real poems are sprinkled throughout the story, including the titular poem, an ode to Fanny – his love and muse.
We will meet and discuss Bright Star on May 3rd at 7:00pm EDT on Slack. The movie will be made available to club members. You can also check out our resources page for additional reviews, essays and videos!
Our next film will be Meek’s Cutoff(2010), directed by Kelly Reichardt
Let’s celebrate woman indie filmmaking!
For our next movie we will focus on the 2010 western drama Meek’s Cutoff, directed by Kelly Reichardt. Loosely based on a true historical incident, the movie follows three families of settlers moving west in 1845 along the Oregon Trail.
Reichardt has become known for her detailed and minimalist realism, often showcasing naturalistic settings of the northwest. She finds drama in the struggles of ordinary people seeking security and happiness on the fringes. Meek’s Cutoff brings us into the grueling and mundane struggles of western settlement, subverting the traditional glory and machismo of the genre.
The film boasts a strong cast including Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano, and Zoe Kazan. It features gorgeous cinematography by Christopher Blauvelt and was nominated for multiple awards.
We will watch and discuss the movie LIVE on March 22nd at 7:00pm EDT. Film Club members will receive a link via email. And don’t forget to check out our resources page for additional reviews, essays and videos!
With the tragic events currently taking place in Ukraine, we wanted to take a look at this important piece of Ukrainian/soviet era cinema, and highlight one of the region’s most well-regarded directors.
Sergei Parajanov was a fascinating figure who was censored and eventually imprisoned by the authorities for his art. Shadows, his most famous film, is an homage to Ukrainian traditions and an experimental departure from soviet realism.
The movie was lauded by the international film community for its boundary-pushing aesthetics and lively cinematography. It is also one of the few films of the period that uses the Ukrainian language, as well as traditional dress and folk music. The story is a fairly basic romance, but the tone is surreal and the imagery is lavish and compelling.
We will discuss the movie on March 8th at 7:00pm EDT on Slack. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is available for free on YouTube and on easterneuropeanmovies.com. And don’t forget to check out our resources page for interesting reviews, essays and videos!
Our next film will be Mudbound (2017), directed by Dee Rees.
In recognition of Black history month our next movie will be Mudbound, a grounded and unflinching examination of racism in Jim Crow Mississippi during World War II.
Mudbound is the second feature from Dee Rees, who became the first black woman nominated for an Oscar in the Adapted Screenplay category (the movie is based on a novel by Hillary Jordan). The story follows two families, one white and one black, as they navigate the racist norms of society alongside the shared struggles of the rural working class.
The movie is beautifully shot and performed, with a cast that includes Jason Mitchell, Carey Mulligan, and Mary J. Blige. Although fictional, it accurately documents a time and place that remains deeply relevant to America’s ongoing challenges. Mudbound was nominated for four Oscars and received awards from the New York Film Critics Circle, Palm Springs International, the Women Film Critics Circle, and more.
We will discuss the movie on February 22nd at 7:00pm EDT on Slack. Mudbound is available for streaming on Netflix. And don’t forget to check out our resources page for interesting reviews, essays and videos!
Welcome to the Spring semester! As we head towards Valentine’s Day we’ve decided to kick off Film Club with something “romantic” (heavy quotes), a movie all about love – its promises and perceptions and sometimes tough realities.
500 Days of Summer is typically classified as a romantic comedy, although in many ways it is a subversion of the genre, focusing on the nuances of a new relationship. The narrative is non-linear, gradually unpacking layers of the story and its shifting emotional tones. While not a traditional rom-com the movie has plenty of romance, comedy, honesty, and even a bit of wisdom.
500 Days was made on a low indie budget of $7.5 mil and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. It garnered a fair amount of critical praise as well as several screenwriting awards, including an Independent Spirit Award.
We will discuss the movie on February 8th at 7:00pm EDT on Slack. 500 Days of Summer is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi, and Hulu, or it can be rented on Apple TV and Google Play for $3.99. And don’t forget to check out our resources page for interesting reviews, essays and videos!
Our next film is Die Hard (1988), directed by John McTiernan.
Happy Holidays film club friends! As our final movie for the semester, we’ve decided to do a live Twitter watch party for the 1988 “holiday classic” (argue amongst yourselves) Die Hard, starring Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman.
For the uninitiated, Die Hard is a classic action film, originally based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. The story follows NYC police detective John McClane (Willis) as he becomes caught up in a terrorist takeover of a skyscraper in Los Angeles.
Die Hard has become the quintessential American action movie while also subverting traditional tropes, tempering action and suspense with fun, humor, and compelling characters. In 2017 Die Hard was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
We will watch Die Hard collectively on December 8th at 8:00pm EDT and chat on Twitter during the viewing. So how does this work exactly? At 8:00 everyone hits play on the movie and Tweets along using hashtag #SPSWatchParty. Die Hard is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and Peacock, or it can be rented on Apple TV and Google Play. And don’t forget to check out the resources page for extra essays and videos!
Happy Noirvember! This month we will explore noir and neo-noir, starting with a film widely considered to be quintessential to the genre.
Out of the Past features strong examples of noir motifs: shadows, smoke, deadpan dialogue, double-crosses, and of course, the femme fatale. The film was adapted for the silver screen by Daniel Mainwaring, who also authored the source novel, then rewritten by B-movie writer Frank Fenton. It was produced at RKO by the legendary Val Lewton unit on a relatively large budget.
Director Tourneur (Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie) crafts a moody, suspenseful atmosphere while lead Robert Mitchum performs the perfect hard-boiled anti-hero. Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas also give breakout performances. Out of the Past is a multi-layered, affecting noir known for its snappy dialogue and brooding sense of fate.
Out of the Past will be screened LIVE via Zoom on November 10th at 8:00pm EDT. All club members will receive a zoom link on the day of the screening. Also be sure to check out our resources page for additional essays and videos.
Our next film is The Host (2006), directed by Bong Joon-ho.
Halloween is coming up fast, and there’s nothing like a monster movie to get into the spooky spirit! To finish up the month we will watch Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, one of the most interesting creature-features of this century from one of its greatest directors.
This South Korean blockbuster became the country’s highest-grossing film of all time when it was first released. It has been critically praised ever since for its blend of genres and tones, high energy pace, compelling character dynamics, and unique creature design (we’ll see how those VFX hold up 15 years later).
The Host was Bong’s third feature and includes the themes that would become the director’s calling card – class consciousness, political satire, and the strong bonds of family. This is an adrenaline-pumping monster flick in the grandest tradition, while also revealing some fascinating depths.
The Host is streaming FOR FREE on YouTube, Tubi, Crackle, and Pluto TV. It is also available on Amazon Prime and Hulu. We will be discussing the film on October 27th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. Also check out our resources page for additional essays and videos.
Our next film is The Shining (1980), directed by Stanley Kubrick.
October is spooky season, and what better way to start than some shiver-inducing, mind-bending psychological horror!
Kubrick’s The Shining is widely considered a masterpiece of the horror and thriller genres, visually stunning with iconic (and somewhat controversial) performances from Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Loosely based on Stephen King’s novel, the film follow the Torrance family as they take care of the historic and imposing Overlook Hotel, a luxury inn with a terrifying past.
This movie is a masterclass in atmosphere, with a chilling soundtrack and a story that creeps forward with psychological twists and increasingly bizarre imagery. Over the years, dozens of fan and critical theories have emerged about hidden symbolism, underlying themes, and untold backstories, giving The Shining a prominent place in American cinematic culture.
The Shining is streaming on HBO Max and AMC, and is available for rent on iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play for $3.99. We will be discussing the film on October 13th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. Also check out our resources page for additional essays and videos.