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'Babette’s Feast,' 'The Dead' headline film series

By SUE WUETCHER

Published January 16, 2014

“Babette’s Feast” and “The Dead,” acclaimed director John Huston’s last film, are among the offerings in the spring 2014 edition of the Buffalo Film Seminars, the popular, semester-long series of film screenings and discussions hosted by UB faculty members Diane Christian and Bruce Jackson.

Each session of the Buffalo Film Seminars (BFS) will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 28 and running through May 6, in the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center, 639 Main St. in downtown Buffalo.

There is no screening on March 18 due to spring break.

Christian, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of English, and Jackson, SUNY Distinguished Professor and James Agee Professor of American Culture in the Department of English, will introduce each film. Following a short break at the end of each film, they will lead a discussion of the film.

The screenings are part of “Film Directors” (Eng 438), an undergraduate course being taught by the pair. Students enrolled in the course are admitted free; others may attend at the Market Arcade’s regular admission prices of $9 for adults, $7 for students and $6.50 for seniors. Season tickets are available any time at a 15 percent reduction for the cost of the remaining films.

Free parking is available in the M&T fenced lot opposite the theater’s Washington Street entrance. The ticket clerk in the theater will reimburse patrons the $3 parking fee.

“Goldenrod handouts” — four-to-eight-page notes on each film — will be posted on the seminar’s website the day before each screening, and will be available in the Market Arcade lobby 45 minutes before each session.

The series will open on Jan. 28 with Josef von Sternberg’s classic gangster film “Underworld.” Philip Carli will accompany the movie on the electronic piano. The 1927 film, which won an Academy Award for screenwriter Ben Hecht, presents the romantic triangle between a boisterous gangster, his girlfriend and the alcoholic lawyer the gangster helps rehabilitate.

The remainder of the BFS schedule, with descriptions culled from the IMDb online movie database:

  • Feb. 4: “Orpheus,” 1950, directed by Jean Cocteau. Orphee is a poet who becomes obsessed with Death (the Princess). They fall in love. Orphee’s wife, Eurydice, is killed by the Princess’ henchmen and Orphee goes after her into the Underworld. Although they have become dangerously entangled, the Princess sends Orphee back out of the Underworld, to carry on his life with Eurydice.
  • Feb. 11: “The Life of Oharu,” 1952, directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. The story of the daughter of a 17 century samurai.
  • Feb. 18: “Charulata,” 1964, directed by Satyajit Ray. The lonely wife of a newspaper editor in 1870s India falls in love with her visiting brother-in-law, who shares her love for literature.
  • Feb. 25: “Dry Summer,” 1964, directed by Metin Erksan. A Turkish tobacco farmer dams a river to irrigate his own property and run his competitors.
  • March 4: “Two-Lane Blacktop,” 1971, directed by Monte Hellman. The story of two men drag racing across the country in a ‘55 Chevy. Dennis Wilson is the mechanic; James Taylor is the driver.
  • March 11: “Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” 1976, directed by John Cassavetes. A proud strip club owner must come to terms with himself as a man when his gambling addiction gets him into hot water with the mob.
  • March 25: “Vagabond,” 1985, directed by Agnes Varda. The film traces the final weeks of a young woman found frozen in a ditch in the south of France.
  • April 1: “Babette’s Feast,” 1987, directed by Gabriel Axel. French refugee Babette is taken in by two sisters living with their pastor father in an isolated 19 century Danish village. After the father dies, Babette prepares the feast of a lifetime to celebrate what would have been the father’s 100 birthday. Winner of the 1988 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • April 8: “Vanya on 42nd Street,” 1994, directed by Louis Malle. New York actors rehearse Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” in a rundown theater.
  • April 15: “The Royal Tenenbaums,” 2001, directed by Wes Anderson. An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when one of their members announces he has a terminal illness. Stars Gene Hackman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Anjelica Huston.
  • April 22: “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” 2005, directed by Tommy Lee Jones. A ranch hand looks to fulfill a promise to his recently deceased best friend by burying him in his hometown in Mexico.
  • April 29: “Elite Squad,” 2007, directed by José Padilha. A police captain has to find someone to replace him on the force while trying to take down drug dealers and criminals before the pope comes to Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 6: “The Dead,” 1987, directed by John Huston. A husband and wife attend a Christmas dinner with friends at the home of the husband’s spinster aunts, an evening that results in an epiphany for both of them.
  • For further information, visit the Buffalo Film Seminars’ website.