Summer at Cinematheque features Peter Lorre, cult gems, and cinema that hits close to home
Corresponding with the Madison Reunion, the calendar begins a bit earlier than usual this year on June 13 with D.A. Pennebaker's "Monterey Pop." (Image: Peter Lorre in "The Face Behind The Mask.")
UW Cinematheque's summer schedule will start up a little earlier than usual in 2018, in part to complement the boomer-centric Madison Reunion conference (June 14 through 16). The free campus film program's summer calendar will also branch out into a series celebrating actor Peter Lorre and a thematically wide-open but compelling assortment of films ranging from Repo Man (1984) to Rififi (1955).
Things kick off with four days of screenings linked to the Madison Reunion, beginning on the evening of June 13 with D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film on the Monterey Pop Festival. Filmed in California at the height of the Summer of Love, the doc colorfully encapsulates the '60s' most resonant influence and revolution of psychedelia. Newly enhanced by 5.1 stereo surround and a 4K DCP restoration, emblematic performances by Hendrix, Joplin, and Otis Redding are bound to sound better than ever in the theatrical setting. As a special bonus, the feature will be preceded by an extended look at Redding's set as its own separate short, Shake! Otis At Monterey (1987)—fitting for the city where Redding met his tragic end in a Lake Monona plane crash. The Reunion weekend at Cinematheque concludes on June 15 and 16 with two showings of Cinematheque's most urgently relevant selection, Barry Alexander Brown and Glenn Silber's War At Home (1979), which details the integral history of political activism in our fair city, including the Vietnam War resistance. Co-director and UW-Madison alumnus Silber will be in attendance to introduce the film and intimately reflect on the climate of its making.
This summer's extensive Wednesday series, subtitled "The Mad and the Bad," profiles and pays homage to one of the greatest character actors of all time, Peter Lorre (born László Löwenstein in Austria-Hungary). Running from June 20 through July 27, the eight films neatly overlap with Lorre's 114th birthday on June 26. The following day, Cinematheque will screen one of his most acclaimed films, the thrilling drama M (1931), directed by Fritz Lang. Other lesser-known features aim to be comprehensive in chronicling the eclectic magnetism of the actor's expressive countenance, like two of Robert Florey's strange, gothic horror-tinted noirs, The Face Behind The Mask (1941) and The Beast With Five Fingers (1946) as well as Frank Capra's dark screwball comedy Arsenic And Old Lace (1944).
The programming also puts the spotlight on an array of 35mm prints in Cinematheque's ongoing "35mm Forever!" series, as it overlaps with the bulk of Peter Lorre presentations and the middle Madison Reunion screening of Antonioni's first feature in English, Blow-up (1966). The minimalist counter-cultural mystery starring David Hemmings as a restless fashion photographer, features a memorable cameo from The Yardbirds in the latter half. Other standouts include Alex Cox's cult classic Repo Man (1984) on June 21, with Emilio Estevez in an rebellious, star-making role, in addition to a hilariously wily Harry Dean Stanton and some terrific lambasting of L. Ron Hubbard. King Hu's directorial debut, Come Drink With Me (1966), screens on July 6, offering a stylishly innovative take on the wuxia (martial arts) film and complement to Cinematheque's spring 2018 presentation of his epic-length Legend Of The Mountain (1979). Perhaps most exciting of all is the final Thursday screening on July 26, Lucrecia Martel's steamy debut, La Ciénaga (2001), which has reclaimed attention due to Martel's reemergence onto the scene after a nine-year absence with this year's art house hit, Zama.
Not to be forgotten are three gems in the varied "Summer Favorites" series, including the Madison premiere of 2018 Sundance Fest hit Eighth Grade, a modern coming-of-age narrative debut from exuberant comic/musician/producer/man of many hats, Bo Burnham. Also booked for June 29 is another coming-of-age feature, Cold Water (1994), an underappreciated early work from modern auteur Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours, Personal Shopper). The rebellious spirit of young love captures the crossover of musical and political moods of the early 1970s with a soundtrack featuring Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Nico, Roxy Music, and more. The summer finale on Friday, July 27, is also quite a treat at the height of America's pastime: A two-hour compilation of baseball-related footage from the UCLA Film and Television Archives. Dave Filipi, Director of Film/Video at the Wexner Center in Ohio, will introduce this curated collection of "Baseball Rarities," which contains clips of JFK throwing the first pitch of the 1962 season, Stan Musial joining the 3000-hit club at Wrigley Field in May 1958, and screen comedians Jack Benny, Buster Keaton, and Chico Marx participating in the Hollywood Charity Game in 1940.