Producer’s film picks for April 2017

The theme for this month – Empathy’s Ocean
The Grand Cinema film:
TFC24

The Red Turtle

Directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit. Written by de Wit and Pascale Ferran.
This film was nominated at the 2017 Oscars for Best Animated Film.

Synopsis/reviews:

“Directed by a Dutch-born London filmmaker, it’s a co-production of Japan’s esteemed Studio Ghibli, and that’s quite an endorsement. The director, Michaël Dudok de Wit, won an Oscar in 2001 for his animated short ‘Father and Daughter.’ For his new film, the filmmaker has come up with a Robinson Crusoe tale with such resonance that you’d swear he was working from some venerable folk story. But ‘The Red Turtle’ is the product of Dudok de Wit’s imagination, with the aid of screenwriter Pascale Ferran.The plot (no spoilers follow) is as minimalistic as the movie’s animation style.” Walter Addiego, SF Gate

“The delicacy of the animated movie ‘The Red Turtle,’ which is directed by the Oscar-winning Dutch-British illustrator and animator Michael Dudok de Wit, is so quietly breathtaking that to call it a tone poem doesn’t quite do the film justice. This is the first international co-production of Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli, and in its hushed evocation of nature’s mystic mysteries, it summons at its best the work of the studio’s founders, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. But Dudok de Wit’s sense of form and color is even more minimalist than the work of those masters. Ten years in the making, ‘The Red Turtle’ is both homage and sui generis.

“The film begins with a shipwreck in which a passenger – a sailor, perhaps – is violently swept ashore a deserted tropical island in the watery middle of nowhere. His frantic attempts to build a raft from bamboo logs continually come to naught because every time he casts off, a large sea creature – as we soon learn, a gigantic turtle with a bright red shell – splinters the conveyance to smithereens.

“The red turtle does not seem malevolent, just persistent. There is a reason it wants the man to remain on the island, and, after exacting his revenge on the turtle, the film moves ever more decisively into transcendent realms of fantasy. The transformation of the turtle into the beautiful young woman who will become the man’s mate is as satisfying as anything in a Hans Christian Andersen fable.

“This transformation is doubly welcoming because, up until this point, Dudok de Wit has achingly evoked the man’s deep, spooky aloneness.” Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“Which is maybe the point: Dudok de Wit and Takahata demand nothing less than a complete paradigm shift. So The Red Turtle takes us back to a prelapsarian past, and builds its world from that ground up. It can be tedious, but even in tedium Dudok de Wit always offers something wonderful to behold. With every drawing, Dudok de Wit wants us to re-think our place in this world: to understand that we are insignificant, but that even in insignificance we should try to reach greatness. Which may or may not make any sense at all—Dudok de Wit will keep reaching regardless.” Dom Sinacola, Paste

Archival films

 TFC22

Lifeboat (1944)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Jo Swerling, based on a story by John Steinbeck.
Starring Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, John Hodiak, Hume Cronyn, Canada Lee, Mary Anderson, Henry Hull and Heather Angel

“Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 realization of a script started by John Steinbeck, and completed by Hitchcock, is an often overlooked cinematic treasure. Set in the claustrophobic confines of a lifeboat in the Pacific ocean, a group of eight survivors from a torpedoed freighter share their tiny vessel with the German commander responsible for their predicament.” Cole Smithey

TFC23

Swept Away (1974)
Written and directed by Lina Wertmuller.
Starring Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato.

“Similar to how the character construction in Amiri Baraka’s play The Dutchman portrayed racism in America, this symbolic Italian fable examines the power relationships of class struggle as represented by a man and a woman trapped in a certain space. After a thorough examination of the humiliating tasks performed by the working class, the characters end up in a desperate situation that causes the power to shift from the capitalist to the proletariat.” Andrea LeVasseur, AllMovie

Screenings:

The Red Turtle is currently showing at the Grand Cinema — 5:45 Tuesday, 1:40 and 5:45 Wednesday and 1:40, 5:45 Thursday.
Lifeboat will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 7 in the Center for Spiritual Living (206 N. J St).
Swept Away will screen at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 14 in the CSL.

The TFC Discussion Night for these three films is Wednesday, April 19 in the CSL.

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