Schedule for Thursday, March 4
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The Last Station
"Every second Helen Mirren is on-screen in The Last Station is a study in peerless talent." (USA Today)
Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer, both nominated for Academy Awards for their performances, dazzle in this captivating look at the turbulent final year in the life of Leo Tolstoy. As Tolstoy (Plummer) becomes increasingly radical with age, he decides to reject his vast wealth—much to the dismay of his wife, the Countess Sofya (Mirren). The desperate countess is soon employing every trick she can muster to seduce her husband’s loyal disciple (James McAvoy), the man she blames for Tolstoy’s new will. Much more than a simple period biopic, The Last Station is high drama, filled with intrigue, sensuality, and a classical marital showdown featuring two legends in prime form.
Michael Hoffman. 2009. 112 m. R. UK. Sony Pictures Classics.5:00 PM
"Rarely has the tinderbox nature of the Middle East been so accurately lensed, on such an intimate scale." (Variety)
Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, Ajami tells the interwoven stories of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian neighbors living in an impoverished neighborhood of Jaffa, whose lives collide dramatically around a revenge killing and a drug deal gone bad. Codirected by Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers, this gritty urban crime drama is a taut, razor-sharp exploration of the complexities and tensions simmering beneath the surface. One of the most exciting films to come out of Israel this year.
Scandar Copti/Yaron Shani. 2009. 120 m. Germany/Israel, Arabic/Hebrew with subtitles. Kino International.5:10 PM 7:40 PM
Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine
Banned for 20 years, Farmanara returned in 2000 with his best known film: a drama about a director who was banned from working but decides to make a movie about his own funeral. A touching and funny fusion of memory, fantasy, and social satire.
Q&A director Bahman Farmanara and host Jonathan Demme, followed by a reception in the Jane Peck Gallery
Bahman Farmanara. 2000. 93 m. NR. Iran, Persian with subtitles.7:15 PM
"Few American actors over the past 35 years have flickered and smoldered with such craft and resilience." (New York Times)
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a hard-living, fading country star reduced to playing bowling alleys and hoping for complimentary drinks to get him through the night. Overshadowed by a former protégé (Colin Farrell), Blake eventually seeks redemption from a sympathetic and lovely young journalist (Maggie Gyllenhall).Crazy Heart features nuanced, understated performances by Farrell, Gyllenhall, and Robert Duvall—but the real story here is Jeff Bridges. In a career filled with “career performances,” Bridges manages to top himself. Oozing authenticity and gutter charm, Bridges sings and strums his way through a set of original songs and embodies this beat-up country sage with incredible ease. A remarkable turn, it’s no surprise Bridges has been nominated for the Academy Award (Best Actor), alongside fellow Academy Award nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Best Supporting Actress).
Scott Cooper. 2009. 111 m. R. US. Fox Searchlight.7:20 PM