High Museum of Art: Films

Dali: A Passion For Film by Linda Dubler

Gabe Wardell, former director of the Altanta Film Festival, has begun writing a new blog on film and television for Creative Loafing.  Check out his thoughtful post on our Dali-related film programs that begin this week on Saturday, Aug. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Richwhen exhibition curator Elliott King will present Dali The Filmmaker.  We’ll be showing An Andalusian Dog, the dream sequence, from Spellbound,  and the the Disney collaboration, Destino.  Follow this link to Gabe’s blog, Screen Grab.

The dream sequence in Spellbound

Looking Ahead to the Latin American Film Festival by Linda Dubler

Those Who Remain, screening on October 27 at 8 p.m. in the Rich Theatre as part of the upcoming 25th Latin American Film Festival.

by Julie Chautin

 The High’s Latin American Film Festival is twenty-five years old and many of us who love Latin American films have been coming for most, if not all of those years.  Every fall we look forward to greeting old friends with lots of abrazos (hugs) and catching up with news, just like at a family reunion.

 And family reunions, or the lack of them, gives poignancy to Those Who Remain, the beautifully filmed documentary about family members who stay in Mexico when their loved ones go north to work in the United States.

 Directors Carlos Hagerman and Juan Carlos Rulfo visited homes and villages all over Mexico and let wives, children, parents, and friends of the workers tell their own stories.

 One of the wives, Rosa, is overseeing work on the house she and her husband are building with the money he earns up north in the U.S.  But since he is away, she tells us, she makes the decisions for everything.  The camera quietly pans the house.  It’s new and modern, and very empty.  More empty houses appear on the screen.  They are ready to be lived in, but instead, stand alone and empty, waiting.

 Then village streets appear with no one on them.  Everyone has left to go north, says one remaining neighbor.

 Yet, in another town a man has come back for good, and he is happy to be home.  He uses the money he made to buy land and build an arena so his village can hold a rodeo, just like in the old days.

 And there are more reassuring sights.  A group of girls play a lively game of soccer. One talks about continuing her studies because that’s what her father wants her to do.  That’s why he’s working up north.

 When the Los Angeles Film Festival gave their Documentary Award to Hagerman and Rulfo in 2009, the jurors applauded the film’s “generosity of spirit and lyrical grace that illuminates a human landscape with fresh eyes, … documentaries can be both journalism and poetry.”

Those Who Remain

 There is poetry as the camera films a young girl twirling in her communion dress.  And an old man looks contentedly over his land.  This is a story that cries to be told, and laughs too.

 Director Carlos Hagerman received his BA in Mexico City and then won a Fulbright scholarship to the NYU film school that has graduated other directors whose films we’ve shown in Atlanta.  He worked several years as a director in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu´s film production company.

 Director Juan Carlos Rulfo is also the cinematographer.  He is the son of writer Juan Rulfo (1918-1986) often cited as one of the finest writers in 20th century Latin America.  He wrote the novel Pedro Páramo, a forerunner of magic realism, in which a man goes back to his father’s hometown and finds only ghosts.  One of the films Juan Carlos Rulfo has made is in homage to his father.  He visited his father’s hometown and interviewed its inhabitants.  They were not ghosts, they just had trouble remembering.  Thus, the title Del Olvido Al No Me Acuerdo (I Forgot, I Don’t Remember).

 In his later years the elder Rulfo became a photographer.   Both his visual eye and storytelling abilities may have easily nurtured the filmmaker and cinematographer his son became.

 But family ties don’t stop there.  Juan Carlos Rulfo is married to Valentina Leduc Navarro, the film editor for Those Who Remain.  She also worked on sound editing.  She is the daughter of the Mexican film producer Berta Navarro and film director Paul Leduc.

 In 1991 Berta Navarro visited Atlanta as a guest of the High along with her film, Cabeza de Vaca.  During her stay I took her out for lunch and she told me about her family.  Now her daughter, the next generation, has made one of the films we are showing.  Like I said, every festival seems like a family reunion.

The High will show the film with English subtitles. View the Spanish language trailer here:

Cartopia 2 by Linda Dubler
March 18, 2010, 10:33 am
Filed under: High Museum | Tags: , , , , , , ,

We’re starting our engines in preparation for the opening of “The Allure of the Automobile” on March 21.

And the Top Gear £1500 Porsche Challenge video, for good measure:

Sends us links to your favorite car videos on YouTube or share a car memory at High.org/ShareYourStory.

Linda Dubler

Cartopia I by Linda Dubler

We’re warming up for The Allure of the Auto, which opens March 21.

Altered Environments by Linda Dubler

While the Museum gears up for The Allure of the Automobile, you might want to visit just to take in some of the great stuff in the High’s permanent collection. Currently on view is an exhibition  curated by Danielle Avram called Altered Environments. She’s pulled together a mixture of paintings, prints, drawings and photographs that, in her words,  depict “altered landscapes.” Avram explains that “In artistic practice, the process of applying change to an object or location is called an ‘intervention.’ The works on display in this exhibition show interventions that are intended as metaphorical statements about the relationship between people and their environment.”


Though the theme of the human impact on the environment may sound quite modern, it’s one that’s been treated on screen for a long time. Early “realities” brought distant and pristine landscapes to film viewers (with Nanook of the North being a stand-out).

The Western took as its subtext the difference between indigenous peoples’ relationship to the land and that of the pioneers. The Range Wars that pitted cattlemen who wanted the land to remain open (no, they weren’t early environmentalists) against homesteaders who wanted to protect their farms with fences form the basis for many Westerns, including  Shane and Michael Cimino’s much maligned Heaven’s Gate.

And of course there are the sci-fi movies of the Fifties populated by outsized insects and other aberrations (Them!, 1954), the result of man’s monkeying with nature — specifically via the atomic bomb. The entire post-apocalyptic genre plays off our fears of how humankind’s hubris and disregard for the natural world will result in a unlivable planet — a theme that’s infiltrated popular entertainments like Wall-E and Avatar. Continue reading

Staff Picks: Italian Movies by hmablogmaster

It’s already the final weekend of our Leonardo da Vinci: Hand of the Genius exhibition. To honor it, Museum staff have selected their favorite Italian movies. What’s yours?

Curatorial Assistant, Decorative Arts and Design

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Sergio Leone

Not only does it have one of the best musical scores ever written, this is the best of the Dollars trilogy of spaghetti westerns and upped the ante on what a “Western Movie” could be.  Not to mention it stars one of the greatest villains ever with Lee Van Cleef  (Angel Eyes – The Bad) – can anyone top that guy’s face?  The graveyard scene is one of the most memorable and palpitating in cinema… the swirling, circular camera shots perfectly express the frenzy and drama of the moment as Eli Wallach (Tuco – The Ugly) reaches the breaking point in the race for gold, as Ennio Morricone’s epic The Ecstasy of Gold builds and swells with passion.

And of course, this new era of Western Cowboy is represented by one of Clint Eastwood’s most iconic characters (Blondie – The Good… yet, WAS he all that good?).  The extreme close ups, the innovative camera angles and sweeping cinematography, and the rugged blatant “UGLY” (physical and internal) depicted throughout the movie are all traits synonymous with Sergio Leone’s distinctive vision.  Ironically filmed in Spain with an Italian crew instead of the Wild American West, the iconic filmmaking and music have gone on to inspire other well-known creative forces from Quentin Tarantino to Metallica.  Now counted as one of the best movies ever made by countless critics, this film is worth the 3 hours.

Speakers Bureau Coordinator

The Godfather Collection

The Godfather & The Godfather:  Part II – Francis Ford Coppola

I really don’t know how I can pick an “Italian-themed” film other than The Godfather series.  I know it sounds obvious, but it really is one of the greatest films of all-time.  I love these films because I feel like I really get to be a part of the Corleone family.  Two distinct scenes that always stand out in my mind is when Michael Corleone does his first “hit job” in a restaurant.  He tried so hard to not follow in his father’s footsteps, but in that moment in the restaurant, you know that his life’s trajectory is about to seriously change.  The other scene is when Diane Keaton’s character tells Michael that she terminated her pregnancy.  The tension in Michael’s face is so palpable that you are literally holding onto your seat to see just how he is about to react.  I also love going back in time in The Godfather Part II to see the genisis of the Corleone family.

As a film lover and a film major at my university, The Godfather was one of the first films that really got me to think about how you can enter the world of fictional characters and be captivated by their dysfunctional lives.  If often makes you feel a lot better about your own.

Security Officer


Suspiria – Dario Argento

Longtime Italian horror movie director Dario Argento is helping remake one of his classic Italian horror movies Suspiria. The remake is supposed to be out later this year. The 1977 Suspiria has been re-released on Blu-Ray, and it has been called the most beautiful of the Italian “Giallo” horror films. I am tempted to buy the Blu-Ray version even though I already have a copy on regular DVD.

It may be hard to understand how a horror movie could be described as beautiful. If you can stand the extreme tension and shocking violence you can see the lush production values, the strong use of color, and the very unusual soundtrack. It’s garish, loud, intentionally grating at points, and deeply disturbing. The movie belongs with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead as one of the best of the horror genre.

Speakers Bureau Intern

La Famiglia

La Famiglia – Ettore Scola

My favorite Italian film is La Famiglia, a 1987 film by Ettore Scola featured at Cannes. The entire film takes place in the patriarch’s apartment, following the stories of one Italian family, from the Belle Époque to the 1980s. The greatest value of the film is that Scola places the compelling personal narratives of love, friendship, and betrayal within the historical and political framework of the two world wars and the other great events of the twentieth century.


Web Content Coordinator

Hudson Hawk

Hudson Hawk – Michael Lehmann

Okay, so this might be sad, but how much do I love Hudson Hawk? It’s probably one of the most panned movies of all time, and won “Worst Picture,” “Worst Screenplay” and “Worst Director” Razzies in 1992.   But I’ve never been one for critical acclaim. (Director Michael Lehmann has since moved onto directing “it”-TV shows like True Blood and Big Love. Maybe he was just ahead of his time.)

The story is about an ex-con who agrees to that one last gig, which happens to involve a whole lot of Leonardo da Vinci (and an extra vile Sandra Bernhard!). It’s made of complete falsehoods, and might be offensive if you care about history, but the characters you meet (Butterfinger? Almond Joy?), the scenery and the fun heist-movie feeling make it worth your while. Well, it makes it worth my while, anyway.

Plus, it’s practically a sing-along! To keep track of the time they have left before the cops storm the joint, Danny Aiello’s Tommy Five-Tone and Bruce Willis’s Eddie Hawkins (the Hudson Hawk), sing songs of a certain length. Would you like to swing on a star? Yep, I sure would.

Arrivederci to Leonardo’s Angels by Linda Dubler

As Leonardo‘s angels prepare to take flight (the exhibition ends on February 21), here are a couple of movies to fill the radiance gap.

Wings of Desire
(Linda Dubler)

There are some movies so precious to memory that they are best left there. That’s the way I feel about Wings of Desire, which I saw in a hormone-heightened state (I was pregnant at the time) upon its release in 1988. But just because I won’t go back again doesn’t mean you shouldn’t — and if you’ve never seen Wings Of Desire, what a gift awaits you!

The film opens with an extended, lyrical reverie, in which we are privy to the watchful existence of two angels who listen in on the thoughts and dreams of Berliners as though their combined consciousnesses were a really big party line. The mood of this sequence is tender and ruefull; the angels can tap in, but can’t change whatever sorrow or obstruction they might witness. In his review of the film , Rogert Ebert nails this sequence when he writes, “it moves slowly but you don’t grow impatient, because there is no plot to speak of, and so you don’t fret that it should move to its next predictable stage. It is about being, not doing.”

As I recall, the whole movie becomes more earthbound when one of the angels, played by Bruno Ganz, falls in love with an acrobat in a faded little circus, and trades his wings for human emotions. But even then director Wim Wenders suffuses his work with gentle humor and a sublime combination of appreciation and resignation over our species’ vulnerability and love’s transcendence.

Angels in America
(Linda Dubler)

If you haven’t seen Mike Nichols’s brilliant adaptation of Tony Kushner’s  epic, multi-award winning play, add it right now to the top of your Netflix queue or make it your next selection at the video store.  A sprawling, furious, inspired epic that opens in October, 1985,  the six hour, two-part drama, in the words of Variety’s Todd McCarthy, ” retains all the immediacy of Kushner’s passionate foot-stomping about AIDS, the Reagan years, political and personal hypocrisy, compassion, the Mormons, spirituality and so much more.”

If it now seems like a period piece, it still carries an enormous emotional charge, thanks to the prodigious acting by a cast that includes Al Pacino (and not a scene-hogging, grandstanding Al Pacino either), Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright, and Mary-Louise Parker among others.  Make sure you clear your calendar because once you start watching you won’t be able to turn away from the screen.

(Eleanor Ringel Cater)

Legion s an agreeably cheesy celestial smack-down currently in movie theaters (for now!) Paul Bettany (best known as Russell Crowe’s’s doctor pal in Master and Commander and soon to be seen as Charles Darwin in Creation stars as Michael, a now-fallen angel trying to keep a disgruntled God from having His latest command carried out. Namely, to destroy Mankind!

Michael ends up watching over what may be the new Messiah; that is,  defending a pregnant woman and various, um, characters at a remote diner. A lot of it is along the lines of, “This Time, It’s Personal!!!,” but as I said, sometimes that’s what you’re in the mood for: Wrestlemania with wings — and guns.  At its best it recalls the cult classic Tremors.

(Eleanor Ringel Cater)

You couldn’t really call Michael a winged victory, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. It’s only when Nora Ephron let’s her fantasy-romance get predictable (and a tad soggy) that the movie errs. But for the most part it holds up just fine.

John Travolta in Michael

Michael, the angel John Travolta plays in the movie, isn’t exactly the type who makes little bells tinkle (a la It’s a Wonderful Life.) Less heavenly host than slovenly guest, he’s a beer-swilling chain-smoker with a middle-age gut and two-day beard. Michael first appears to an addled Iowa motel owner (perfectly played by Jean Stapleton, who proved on All in the Family she does addled as well as anyone in the business). But the real miracle-working Michael intends involves a couple of tabloid journalists (Andie McDowell and William Hurt) dispatched by their egomaniacal boss (Bob Hoskins) to cook up a good story. Imagine their surprise when Michael turns out to be the real thing.
It’s an odd little picture, the sort that confounds expectations. Just when you’ve given up on it, it takes a turn for the better (and, alas, vice versa). Still, who could completely resist a movie that ends with Vinnie Barbarino and Edith Bunker dancing together in the streets of Chicago?
John Travolta in Michael