The 49th season of The Cinema, Inc. will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14th, with City Lights, the 1931 romantic comedy starring Charles Chaplin, who doubled as the film’s screenwriter and director. The advent of “Talkies” while Chaplin was completing this silent film forced him to add music (which he wrote himself) and selected sound effects.
The Raleigh, NC-based nonprofit film society will screen 12 full-length feature films — and assorted short subjects, as time permits — for just $1.67 per movie. That’s almost free, and only two cents more than the average movie ticket price in 1971. For “Sunday-Night-at-the-Movies'” bargain season ticket rate of $20, 2014-15 Cinema, Inc. subscribers will enjoy the Triangle’s biggest entertainment bargain: an international array of cinematic masterpieces, chosen for their intellectual substance, aesthetic appeal, and ability to stimulate lively discussions.
Founded in 1966, The Cinema, Inc. is the oldest continuously operating nonprofit film society in the Triangle — and probably the entire State of North Carolina. The group screens 12 movies annually — at 7 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month — at The Rialto Theatre, 1620 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh, NC 27608 (near Five Points). Admission is by season ticket only.
In addition to City Lights (Sept. 14th), the 2014-15 season of The Cinema, Inc. will include: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Oct. 12th); The Firemen’s Ball (Nov. 9th); The Phantom Carriage (Dec. 14th); This Is Spinal Tap (Jan. 11th); Beauty and the Beast (1946) (Feb. 8th); The Wrong Box (March 8th); In the Mood for Love (April 12th); Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (May 10th); The Americanization of Emily (June 14th); The Man in the White Suit (July 12th); and Notorious (1946) (Aug. 9th).
To join The Cinema, Inc., please fill in the order form at the bottom of page three of this year’s season-ticket brochure and mail the form and a check or money order (not cash) for $20 a ticket to:
The Cinema, Inc.
Post Office Box 20835
Raleigh, NC 27619
Details about this year’s film selections are listed below. Click here to view the 2014-15 season-ticket brochure. For more information, telephone (919) 787-7611, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.cinema-inc.org/.
The Cinema, Inc.’s 2014-15 Season
September 14, 2014 — City Lights (U.S., 1931)
Genre: Silent Comedy/Drama/Romance, Black & White, Unrated, 87 Minutes.
Directed by Charles Chaplin. Starring Charles Chaplin, Virginia Cherill, and Florence Lee.
When Charles Chaplin made this picture — three years into the era of sound — he must have known that City Lights might be his last silent film. Although the film has a full musical score (composed by Chaplin) and sound effects, it has no speech. This film would come the closest to representing all the different levels of his genius. It contains the pathos, the pantomime, the effortless physical coordination, the melodrama, the bawdiness, the grace, and, of course, the Little Tramp, a character that would become the most famous image on earth, as he struggles to help a blind flower girl with whom he has fallen in love.
October 12, 2014 — The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (U.K./Canada/France, 2009)
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Mystery, Color, Rated PG-13 (for violent images, some sensuality, language, and smoking), 123 Minutes.
Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, and Heath Leger.
Dr. Parnassus runs a sort of circus troupe with his daughter Valentina and two other compatriots. Their shtick is the hawking of the “Imaginarium,” which supposedly allows those who enter to live out their dream life. Their scheme is not going well, and they have money problems. Parnassus makes a bet with the devil, who predicts Parnassus would find a man who would be their savior. Their new teammate is adroit at attracting customers and changes Parnassus’ life. This is a wonderful fantasy drawn from pure imagination.
November 9, 2014 — The Firemen’s Ball (Horí, má panenko) (Czechoslovakia, 1967)
Genre: Comedy/Drama, Color, Subtitled, Unrated, 71 Minutes.
Directed by Milos Forman. Starring Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebánek, and Josef Valnoha.
This is the story of a single night at a small-town party organized by the local fire brigade to honor their retiring chairman on his 86th birthday (they missed honoring him on the more meaningful 85th, in the first of many fumbles by this incompetent assemblage). From the very beginning director Milos Forman sets the scene for the idiocy to come. The firemen accuse each other of stealing the prizes from the night’s lottery fund, and set fire to the banner that was to hang above the hall during the ball. The fact that they’re unable to put out even a small blaze shows their bungling and sets up the film’s surprising poignant climax in this deadpan, hilarious satire.
December 14, 2014 — The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen) (Sweden, 1921)
Genre: Silent Drama/Fantasy/Horror, Black & White, Unrated, 93 Minutes.
Directed by Victor Sjöström. Starring Victor Sjostrom, Hilda Borgstrom, and Tore Svennberg.
This is a horror film in the sense that it wallows in the misery of despair of not only the protagonist’s life (Holm) but also of those whose lives he scuttled on his way down. Holm is subjected to a dark, frigid excursion that gives forlorn faces to his sins. He spends his last moments on earth in a graveyard with his drinking buddies, where he relays a folk tale that insists that the last person to die each year is doomed to drive death’s carriage for the next twelve months and become a reaper of souls. He is one of the biggest, most unrepentant bastards you’ll ever meet. (Note: Director Victor Sjoström, the father of Swedish cinema, inspired Ingmar Bergman to become a film director.)
January 11, 2015 — This Is Spinal Tap (U.S., 1984)
Genre: Comedy/Music, Color, Rated R (for language), 82 Minutes.
Directed by Rob Reiner. Starring Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer.
In his directorial debut, Rob Reiner takes the “rockumentary” platform to a whole different level. The film follows the imaginary British rock band Spinal Tap on their brand-new American tour. Though the actors play it straight, the effect is pure, unadulterated hilarity, as they go through one absurd situation after another on the road to obscurity. You might think these actors are faking, but you’ll be surprised to see them singing and playing.
February 8, 2015 — Beauty and the Beast (La belle et la bête) (France, 1946)
Genre: Fantasy/Romance, Black & White, Subtitled, Unrated, 93 Minutes.
Directed by Jean Cocteau, René Clément. Starring Jean Marais, Joette Day, and Mila Parély.
Disney it ain’t, but it is by far the best adaptation of the well-known fairy tale. The movie tells the tale of a girl who wishes for greater things while growing up in a quiet French town. When her father gets off course on his travels to find riches, he wanders into a castle under an enchanted spell and becomes the owner’s prisoner. Of course, the loyal daughter offers herself in exchange and ends up under scrutiny since if the Beast can get her to fall in love with him, he can break the spell. The magical castle is crammed full with mysterious living statues and hands holding candelabras and pouring wine. There is little that digital graphics could do to make this film more fanciful. It is far more memorable than anything created by the Disney folks.
March 8, 2015 — The Wrong Box (U.K., 1966)
Genre: Adventure/Comedy/Crime, Color, Unrated, 105 Minutes.
Directed by Bryan Forbes. Starring John Mills, Michael Caine, and Ralph Richardson.
A “tontine,” or investment pool, is drawn up on behalf of several young British boys for their benefit. The resultant fortune will go to the last surviving member of the tontine. A series of montages depicts the various demises of the heirs. Finally only two brothers are left and one, also standing to benefit, attempts to kill the other with each attempt failing spectacularly. Standing to benefit from the tontine are the son and nephews of the brothers who get involved in the crime. The farcical complications fly thick and fast in this wacky gigglefest.
April 12, 2015 — In the Mood for Love (Fa yeung nin wa) (Hong Kong/France, 2000)
Genre: Drama/Romance, Color, Subtitled, Rated PG (for thematic elements and brief language), 98 Minutes.
Directed by Kar Wai Wong. Starring Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Maggie Cheung, and Ping Lam Siu.
Hong Kong, 1962. Two people move into rented rooms in adjoining apartments on the same day. The lives of Mrs. Chan and a journalist Mr. Chow are about to cross paths as their respective, and possibly cheating, spouses fade into the background. We literally never see their faces. A rapport develops between this lonely pair, bypassing one another on the stairs and the tight hallways. A certain intimacy becomes almost inevitable. Each is trapped in a deeply unsatisfying marriage. They seem to act upon a naturally evolving attraction. But do they ever consummate their love?
May 10, 2015 — Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (Japan, 1990)
Genre: Drama/Fantasy, Color, Subtitled, Rated PG (Parental Guidance Suggested), 119 Minutes.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa. Starring Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baishô, and Toshie Negishi.
Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams is a most unusual film – it’s a collection of eight dream sequences by one of the greatest film visionaries that ever lived. The director claimed that these sequences were actually dreams that he previously experienced over the years. He then turned them into a poetic screenplay that doesn’t really run so much as a story as it does as a hauntingly beautiful interweaving of shapes and images. It requires some strong focus to find the macrobiotic structure within the film, but the more you watch, the more you understand … and the more the film speaks to you.
June 14, 2015 — The Americanization of Emily (U.S., 1964)
Genre: Comedy/Drama/War, Black & White, Rated G (General Audiences), 115 Minutes.
Directed by Arthur Hiller. Starring James Garner, Julie Andrews, and Melvyn Douglas.
This is essentially an anti-war comedy drama. Commander Charlie Madison, an American officer stationed in England during World War II, has purposely managed to keep himself out of the conflict and behind the scenes in the service of an admiral who believes a naval officer should be the first to land at the D-Day beaches. Charlie sees this as a suicide mission. The film is a mixture of genres, blending and lampooning 1940s romance films through comedy, as well as presenting a harsh critique on the glorification of war and US heroism.
July 12, 2015 — The Man in the White Suit (U.K., 1951)
Genre: Comedy/Sci-Fi/Drama, Color, Rated G (General Audiences), 85 Minutes.
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick. Starring Alec Guiness, Joan Greenwood, and Cecil Parker.
A fun, farcical comedy with surprising depth. The movie centers on an eccentric man working in a textile mill who has found a formula to create a fabric which never wears out or gets dirty. While that sounds wonderful, on a wider scale it makes you think about businesses trying to stifle progress to protect profits and workers fearing for their jobs. We not only see him running around in a luminous white suit but various people try to prevent him from getting away and revealing his invention. Wonderfully paced and acted, it will keep you smiling from start to finish.
August 9, 2015 — Notorious (U.S., 1946)
Genre: Drama/Film-Noir/Romance, Black & White, Rated G (General Audiences), 101 Minutes.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains.
Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia, the daughter of a German-American who betrayed the United States by providing financial aid to Germany during the war. She wants nothing to do with politics and is more interested in socializing and carousing. Cary Grant plays an agent for the U.S. government and has the assignment to recruit Alicia as a spy. Her job will be to win her way into the confidence of German agents who might be attempting to restart the war. This is an excellent film noir piece. The excitement and tension comes exclusively from the dialogue and interaction between the characters.
DISCLAIMER: Although The Cinema, Inc. has located a distributor for, and confirmed the availability of, all of its 2014-15 film selections, a film may become unavailable due to a poor-quality print, copyright negotiations, or withdrawal from the market by the distributor. In this case, The Cinema, Inc. will substitute a film of similar content and quality.
Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing email@example.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)