Our next film is Soylent Green (1973), directed by Richard Fleischer.
Welcome film fans to the Fall 2021 Semester! We will be kicking off film club with the sci-fi dystopian classic Soylent Green, from 1973.
Starring the legendary Charlton Heston with Leigh Taylor-Young and Edward G. Robinson, the film imagines a near future New York City where overpopulation, food shortages, and global warming have resulted in extreme class stratification and some dark and drastic measures by the powers that be.
The film was met with mixed reviews on release but has only grown more relevant over time, as concerns about climate change, sustainability, class disparities, and human rights have deepened. Part procedural thriller and part socioeconomic commentary, the proximate and unfortunately believable horrors of Soylent Green should make for some lively discussion!
Soylent Green is available for rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, and Google Play for $2.99. We will be discussing the film on September 29th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. Also check out our resources page for additional essays and videos.
To honor Mother’s Day we have selected the noir classic Mildred Pierce for our May movie. It’s a dramatic thriller with underlying social commentary and plenty of twists. The film is directed by Michael Curtiz of Casablanca fame, and features the legendary Joan Crawford in a comeback role that would earn her the Oscar for best lead actress.
Crawford plays the titular character, a single mother doing everything she can to protect and provide for her children; whether it means breaking into a male-dominated business or breaking the law. Mildred navigates complex relationships with her spoiled eldest daughter, her ex-husband, and a pair of suitors who also assist her business ventures. The film is a testament to a mother’s dedication, as well as an examination of class and gender issues that were becoming more visible as women joined the work force during and after WWII. Tucked within the central murder mystery is a social drama that was in many ways ahead of its time.
Mildred Pierce will be our only film for May as we all wrap up the semester. To celebrate we hope you will join us for a live Twitter watch party, in lieu of our usual Slack discussion. How does it work? Simple! At 8:00 on May 13th we all click “play” and use the hashtag #SPSWatchParty to tweet along with other participating students, staff, and alums. It’s sure to be a lot of fun!
Mildred Pierce is available for free on the Internet Archive website, and is also available for rent on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, and Google Play. Also be sure to check out our resources page for additional essays and videos!
Our next film is Gattaca (1997), directed by Andrew Niccol.
“We now have discrimination down to a science.”
Our next film will be Gattaca, a sci-fi thriller that poses intriguing questions about the concept of biological “superiority.” The movie is set in a near-future where one’s genetics directly determine one’s options, and some go to great lengths to penetrate these barriers and realize their dreams.
Gattaca is a futuristic fable about the hubris of mankind’s striving for perfection and it serves as an interesting philosophical piece for Disability Awareness Month, tackling ideas of ableism and the limits created by social perceptions.
The stellar cast includes Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman, and Jude Law. Gattaca was the first film of writer/director Andrew Niccol, who won the London Critics Circle award for screenwriting. The film was also nominated for a Best Art Direction Oscar.
Gattaca is available for streaming on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Starz, and Sling TV, and is available for rent on iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play. We will be discussing the film on April 28th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. If you’d like to see a trailer for the film, click here.
Our next film is Sound of Metal (2020), directed by Darius Marder.
April is Disability Awareness Month at CUNY, and we have two selections (voted on by our members) that explore the personal and social challenges of living as a differently-abled person. Our first viewing will be Sound of Metal, the first narrative feature from director Darius Marder and a stunning showcase for actor Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, The Night Of).
The film follows a heavy metal drummer as he contends with sudden and total hearing loss. It’s a story about grief for the things that can’t be changed, and of finding unexpected strengths and connections when we need them the most.
Since its release, Sound of Metal has become a regular presence on the awards circuit, and is currently up for six Academy Awards, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor. Riz Ahmed is in fact the first Muslim to be nominated for a Best Actor award, a nomination that’s well-earned. The sound production of this film is also noteworthy and powerfully immersive, thanks to the efforts of veteran sound designer Nicolas Becker (Gravity).
Sound of Metal is available for streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime. We will be discussing the film on April 14th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. Please check out our resources page for supplemental videos and articles. If you’d like to see a trailer for the film, click here.
Our next film is Daisies (1966), directed by Vera Chytilová.
March is Women’s History month, and our members have voted for two excellent (and very different) films to watch and discuss, each celebrating women in cinema. Our next selection will be Daisies (1966), directed by Vera Chytilová.
Daisies is a wild, provocative, experimental cinematic collage, utilizing unique editing techniques and nonlinear action to create an unbridled and singular proto-feminist expression of the Czech New Wave. We follow two young women (Marie 1 and Marie 2) through a variety of chaotic scenarios and pranks, often involving unsuspecting men and ‘polite’ society. Chytilová resisted admitting to any sociopolitical agenda, but was still heavily censored for her work by Czech authorities. The film remains a fascinating capsule of one woman’s artistic vision during a time of political upheaval and burgeoning creative spirit.
Daisies is available on iTunes ($3.99), HBO Max, and the Criterion Channel. You may also find extensive footage on Vimeo and Youtube. We will be discussing the film on March 24th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. You can watch a trailer here.
Our next film is The Trouble With Angels,a 1966 comedy directed by Ida Lupino.
March is Women’s History month, and our members have voted for two excellent (and very different) films to watch and discuss, each celebrating women in cinema. The first selection will be The Trouble with Angels (1966), directed by Ida Lupino and written by Blanche Hanalis. Lupino was notably the first woman to direct a film noir (The Hitch-Hiker), as well as the first woman to star and direct in a film (The Bigamist). The Trouble With Angels is a charming and fun coming-of-age story of two girls, Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills) and Rachel Devery (June Harding), who are students at a Catholic boarding school. There are pranks aplenty, but also unexpected revelations and plenty of heart.
We look forward to a rich discussion around Lupino’s pioneering prominence in the Hollywood studio system, the representation of women in her film, how the roles of women in the industry have changed in front of and behind the camera, and much more.
The Trouble with Angels is available on Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), and Google Play & Apple TV ($3.99). We will be discussing the film on March 10th at 8:00pm EDT on Slack. You can watch a trailer here.
Our next film is the 1995 French film La Haine, written and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz.
La Haine (Hate) is a film about three young men from the banlieue or housing projects on the outskirts of Paris. Said, Vinz, and Hubert are three young men navigating a world that is socially, economically and geographically isolated from French society. They spend a Homeric day encountering police brutality, violence, crime and drugs while burdened by the frustration bred by poverty and stagnation of the projects. Photographed in black and white and taking place over a single 19-hour period, the film is a gritty look at civil disenfranchisement in modern France.
La Haine is available on Amazon prime video and iTunes to rent ($3.99), and free with a Criterion channel subscription. Click here to see the trailer!
We will discuss the film’s themes, techniques and lasting impact on February 24th at 8:00 PM. Please join us! We would love to share your thoughts on this hard-boiled look at French society.