President’s Day and Valentine’s Day converge for the upcoming long weekend, and we have thirty-five new films in the library this week. You do the math! Whether you’re spoken for or flying solo (or somewhere in between…we know it gets complicated), there’s a lot of opportunity over the next few days for some quality “Fandor and chill”. Why not give one of these fresh film offerings a whirl?
For example, what if Frank Sinatra were your valentine this year? In classic thriller Suddenly, he proves he can hold more than a just a note, smoldering as a psychotic assassin bent on murdering the president as he comes through town. His turn in this taut and melodramatic gem was widely praised, and if you liked Frankie in The Manchurian Candidate, you won’t want to miss him here.
You also can’t really go wrong with L’Inhumaine, a sweeping scifi-romance about a scientist and a singing diva who fall in love through feigned death, real death and resurrection. Its striking visuals represent a classic, collaborative triumph of experimental techniques, and its production gathered the talents of artists, artisans and architects from all over France to realize an epic vision of the era’s most cutting-edge aesthetics. It was released to intense controversy as divisive audiences clashed — sometimes coming almost to blows — over their differing perceptions of its merits. Now that’s what we call a successful piece of art!
Speaking of which, there’s something eternal about the appeal of ballet that dates back to the days of Degas, whose paintings were recently recreated by current prima ballerina Misty Copeland. There’s a certain air of allure around the drama of ballet’s rivals, affairs and backstage machinations (Center Stage or Black Swan, anyone?), and often the real life beyond the curtain call is as good as any fiction. We thought the story of Tanaquil LeClercq, chronicled in Fandor documentary Afternoon of a Faun, was incredible, but Fonteyn and Nureyev is truly captivating and utterly sensational. Come for the story of unlikely alliances and political intrigue among an art form’s shining stars, and stay for the exquisite dance sequences. Or vice-versa…
Just as Margot Fonteyn blasted through conventions to become a diva grande dame with an electrifying presence, the star of Mrs. Judo Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful, Keiko Fukuda, smashed-chopped her way to achieving judo’s ultimate honor: the coveted 10th degree black belt. She is, to date, the only woman in history to reach this level, but her bravery and determination has paved the way for the next generations. This is an inspiring story of a fearless fighter who pursued her dreams across oceans and over the course of decades.
Finally, if you prefer discussing hard-hitting issues over whispering sweet nothings, we can’t recommend the short film Time enough. Through an artful immersion into incarcerated life, director Theodore Collatos paints an empathetic portrait of a complicated institution and a small fraction of its millions of inhabitants. And he does it all in just eight minutes! The vacillation between the intimate and the cacophonous creates a powerful collage of lived experiences, indeed.
If none of these picks feel like the perfect match for your weekend watching, fear not. There are plenty of fish — er, we mean films — in the sea! The sea, in this case, just happens to be our New Releases page. Stay tuned, too, for more great releases on the other side of the holidays. Until next week, happy watching! And remember: A love of cinema is never, ever unrequited. Just saying.