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Course Catalog

Director and Star Courses

  • Akira Kurosawa: East Meets West


    Rashomon (1950)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Akira Kurosawa is the director perhaps most singularly responsible for introducing non-Western film to American audiences, and is arguably the foreign filmmaker who had the greatest influence on Hollywood's first blockbuster auteurs, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

    Yet despite his now iconic status as one of the luminaries of world cinema, over the course of his long career, Kurosawa regularly met with criticism in his native Japan—it was said that he was not “Japanese” enough and was too much a hostage to Western styles and genres.

    In this course, we will try to understand Kurosawa's films as a skillful and increasingly brave response to this caricature of his work. In Stray Dog and High & Low, Kurosawa shrewdly blends film noir and the harsh realities of post-war Japanese society. In Throne of Blood, Kurosawa adapts Shakespeare's Macbeth to the samurai ethos, and in Yojimbo (template for Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars), Kurosawa is at his most inventive, merging the conventions of the American western and the samurai film to astonishing effect.

  • Akira Kurosawa: East Meets West II


    High and Low (1963)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Akira Kurosawa is the director perhaps most singularly responsible for introducing non-Western film to American audiences, and is arguably the foreign filmmaker who had the greatest influence on Hollywood's first blockbuster auteurs, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Yet despite his now-iconic status as one of the luminaries of world cinema, over the course of his long career, Kurosawa regularly met with criticism in his native Japan'it was said that he was not 'Japanese' enough, and was too much a hostage to Western styles and genres.

    In this course, we will try to understand Kurosawa's films as skillful and increasingly brave responses to this caricature of his work. Ikiru (1952), one of Kurosawa's first masterpieces, cross-pollinates Eastern and Western (as well as pre-modern and modern) conceptions of mortality. In two adaptations of Russian classics dear to Kurosawa's heart, Dostoyevsky's The Idiot and Gorky's The Lower Depths, Kurosawa (in 1951 and 1957, respectively) again threads the needle between Western and Japanese sensibilities. Finally, in 1963's High and Low (shown on the big screen), Kurosawa shrewdly blends film noir and the harsh realities of post-war Japanese society.

    Please note: Though a course on Kurosawa's earlier works has been offered under this title before, three of the four films to be covered in this class are different than in prior iterations. As such, it may be of interest to those who have taken the previous version.

  • Akira Kurosawa: Tragedy and Brilliance


    Ran (1985)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    By 1970, Japanese master Akira Kurosawa had experienced two devastating setbacks. His participation in Tora! Tora! Tora! ended with his ignominious dismissal as co-director of the Japanese-American epic about Pearl Harbor. In the wake of that disappointment, Kurosawa collaborated with three other luminaries of Japanese cinema to form a new production team, but his Dodes'ka-den, which was to be the first in a wave of new works from this “Committee of the Four Knights,” was a critical and financial failure. A year later, Kurosawa attempted suicide, his career and life seemingly in tatters.

    What is often overlooked, though, is how Kurosawa rebounded from this mid-career nadir. In this course, we examine the brilliance of late-period Kurosawa, starting with Dersu Uzala (1975), Kurosawa’s triumphant return to filmmaking after a five-year hiatus that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1980, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola helped Kurosawa secure funding for the acclaimed Kagemusha; in 1985, Kurosawa once more blended Shakespeare and samurai in Ran, his masterful take on King Lear. We close, as Kurosawa did, with his final films, including the deeply personal Dreams (1990).

  • Alfred Hitchcock: The Best of the Rest (Summer 2011)


    Notorious (1946)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Hitchcock’s films are like Shakespeare’s sonnets and Sinatra’s songs: even the lesser known of the lot are well worth experiencing. While past courses have covered Hitch’s early years, his political films produced during World War II, and the celebrated movies made at the height of his popularity, this one explores some of the hidden gems in the Master of Suspense’s filmography—and North by Northwest (1959).

    While far from obscure, these pictures are rarely given the pride of place enjoyed by the filmmaker’s best-known productions. Though these films are black-and-white, and some feature minor stars like Farley Granger and Joseph Cotten, make no mistake: Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), and Strangers on a Train (1951)—as well as the aforementioned Technicolor classic—are thoroughly Hitchcockian. While no single film has every one of the auteur’s cinematic trademarks, this group collectively touches all the bases: mistaken identity, danger in everyday places, (blonde) women in trouble, Machiavellian matrons, and, of course, the director’s iconic cameos.

    So join us to learn more about these often overlooked treasures. In doing so, renew your appreciation for the talent Hitchcock and his noted collaborators like Thornton Wilder, Ben Hecht, Raymond Chandler, and Dimitri Tiomkin brought to these films—and see each of them on the big screen.

  • Alfred Hitchcock: The Best of the Rest (Summer 2015)


    North by Northwest (1959)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Hitchcock's films are like Shakespeare's sonnets and Sinatra's songs: even the lesser known of the lot are well worth experiencing. While past courses have covered Hitch's early years, his political films produced during World War II, and the celebrated movies made at the height of his popularity, this one explores some of the hidden gems in the Master of Suspense's filmography'and North by Northwest (1959).

    While far from obscure, these pictures are rarely given the pride of place enjoyed by the filmmaker's best-known productions. Though these films are black-and-white, and some feature minor stars like Farley Granger and Joseph Cotten, make no mistake: Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), and Strangers on a Train (1951)'as well as the aforementioned Technicolor classic'are thoroughly Hitchcockian. While no single film has every one of the auteur's cinematic trademarks, this group collectively touches all the bases: mistaken identity, danger in everyday places, (blonde) women in trouble, Machiavellian matrons, and, of course, the director's iconic cameos.

    So join us to learn more about these oft-overlooked treasures. In doing so, renew your appreciation for the talent Hitchcock and his noted collaborators like Thornton Wilder, Ben Hecht, Raymond Chandler, and Dimitri Tiomkin brought to these films'and see each of them on the big screen.

  • Alfred Hitchcock: The Early Years at PMA


    Rebecca (1940)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Alfred Hitchcock did not simply emerge from the primordial cinematic ooze a fully-formed filmmaker, in the mid-1950s, to create classics like Rear Window, Vertigo, and North by Northwest. Indeed, by that time Hitch had been directing pictures in Europe and the U.S. for nearly thirty years, over the course of which he developed his signature style and formulated his thematic approach to filmmaking.

    While this class does not venture all the way back to Hitchcock's German co-productions of the 1920s, it does cover some of the director's better known British work, such as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), as well as his initial forays into Hollywood. These include his very first American film, Rebecca (1940), and the underappreciated Spellbound (1945), a tale of psychoanalysis and murder, with sequences designed by Salvador Dali. Both productions were supervised by David O. Selznick, the man who brought Hitchcock over from England and then nearly sent him back.

    These early pictures contain some of the elements for which Hitch would later become famous: (blonde) women in trouble, danger in everyday places, Machiavellian matrons, and of course, his iconic cameos despite being made by the Master of Suspense when he was but a craftsman.

  • Alfred Hitchcock: The Political Films


    Saboteur (1942)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    As you might expect, the director who famously declared, "A lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake," is not going to be too interested in engaging serious ideological or political questions in his films. However, as the filmmaker who also declared of audiences, "Give them pleasure—the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare," Alfred Hitchcock was not going to shy away from stories about terrorism and international intrigue, either.

    But is it a mistake to conclude that the Master of Suspense's raison d'être was the only motivation behind his decision to set a number of films in the realm of espionage and a time of world war? Is it possible that even Hitchcock's skill as an auteur was unable to overpower the political undercurrents in source material by such writers as Dorothy Parker and John Steinbeck? Might the Neutrality Acts of the 1930s have provoked the director's uncharacteristic political engagement?

    We consider these questions and more while examining some of Hitchcock's more overtly political films, including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Foreign Correspondent (1940), and Saboteur (1942)—all of which will be shown on the big screen.

  • Alone in the Dark: The Films of Lars von Trier


    Melancholia (2011)

    Taught by Chris Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Ever since a young Lars Trier added the ostentatious “von” to his name, the Danish provocateur’s career has been marked by a series of controversies and contrasts. After the ornate formalism of his early work, he took a “vow of chastity” as a founding member of the Dogme 95 film movement—a movement he abandoned after one movie—and eventually stripped his aesthetic to the bone with the chalk-outline theater sets of Dogville (2003) and Manderlay (2005), only to switch tracks again to craft the stylized, high-definition flourishes of Antichrist (2009) and Melancholia (2011).

    He offers still more contrasts. Von Trier’s stories of persecuted women (including his 1996 international breakthrough hit, Breaking the Waves) have earned him the label “misogynist” from detractors, though his films have produced three Best Actress winners at Cannes, including Bjork (Dancer in the Dark), with whom he had a bitter feud. Von Trier’s very public battles with depression and a host of phobias have produced several bleak visions, yet also some unlikely comedies, including the pitch-black humor of the hospital series-turned-film The Kingdom (1994), spawned by his fears of the medical community. To some, Von Trier is wallowing in human suffering; to others, he is working out his neuroses in perverse, yet invigorating, ways.

    Von Trier’s films can certainly be challenging emotional experiences that sometimes feature graphic sexual or violent content, and his mordant sense of humor may offend some sensibilities. Yet he is also a unique visionary whose slippery body of work is both unforgettable and undefinable, making him a perfect subject for closer study.

    Join us for discussions of films such as Europa (1991), The Kingdom, Dancer in the Dark (2000), and Antichrist. If you do, we can’t guarantee you won’t be offended, but we can promise you’ll see films unlike any others.

  • Arthur Penn: Chronicling the Outsiders


    Little Big Man (1970)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    From Billy the Kid to Helen Keller, from Jack Crabb to Bonnie and Clyde, the films of Arthur Penn explore the lives of memorable characters who struggle to find a way to connect and communicate with the world from which they are so mercilessly alienated. His portraits of outsiders are all the more indelible for they mirror the years of turbulence that afflicted American society—the 1960s and 1970s—in which the tensions between youth and age, poor and rich, peace and war, were ever present. And amidst this period, Penn was one of its more thoughtful, perceptive chroniclers, for as he once observed, "A society would be wise to pay attention to the people who do not belong if it wants to find out . . . where it is failing."

    In the 1960s, Penn was at the forefront of a new generation of directors trained in theater and television who revitalized American filmmaking at a time of crisis in the industry, and who bridged the gap between the old studio era of Hollywood and the new Hollywood "auteur" cinema influenced by the French New Wave.

    Penn's abiding concern with the outsider, and its attendant themes—the fragile, precarious social order that erupts all too frequently into violence, the disparity between image and reality, the conflict between impulse and rationality—resonate to this day, and are expressed through a brilliant cinematic style that combines American and European influences. Such a legacy makes Arthur Penn, who died last year, one of the most complex, interesting, and vital directors in American cinema.

    Among the films we will watch and discuss are The Left-Handed Gun, The Miracle Worker, The Chase, Bonnie and Clyde, Little Big Man, Night Moves, and Four Friends.

  • Ascending from Darkness: The Films of Stanley Kubrick


    Full Metal Jacket (1987)

    Taught by Marc Lapadula, M.F.A., Screenwriting Program, Yale University

    Stanley Kubrick has earned his reputation based on only a dozen films over nearly five decades. What is it about the nightmare worlds he depicts that cause audiences to find his work so compelling?

    His ambitious masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, revolutionized the medium by exploding past technical limitations and inspiring a new generation of artists to facilitate even bolder innovation. But Kubrick's overall contributions are much more than those of a supremely sophisticated visual stylist. His films, no matter what their genre, force viewers to confront startling facets of our world. Additional films examined include: Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, and The Shining.

  • The Asian Masters


    Rashomon (1950)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of English, Cabrini College and Hailin Zhou, Ph.D., Classical and Modern Languages and Literature, Villanova University

    The directors to whom the title of this course refers are largely responsible for introducing non-Western film to American audiences. They are among the defining artists of Asian Cinema, a term denoting a body of filmic texts as expansive and diverse as the continent from which it springs. Such pictures run the gamut from the Hollywood-influencing epics of Japan's Akira Kurosawa, to the lushly desirous films of Chinese director Wong Kar Wai, to John Woo's slick and Hollywood-influenced Hong Kong productions and beyond.

    But among their contributions to and re-appropriations of western filmmaking, these directors and their cinematic progeny have carved out new paths in film language, characterization, and narrative approach. As a result, viewers are treated to sometimes mythic, sometimes mundane—and often familiar—stories that are formally, thematically, and narratively infused with a fresh sensibility.

  • Bearing Witness: Elia Kazan and the 1950s


    On the Waterfront (1954)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI


    Hollywood in the 1950s was pushing bounds and running scared, and no single filmmaker was more central to both impulses than Elia Kazan. The industry tested the limits of film content in large part due to a combination of European influences and domestic competition, most notably from television. Kazan, along with Tennessee Williams, led the charge with a pair of steamy, Southern-set films: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Baby Doll (1956).

    Yet, at the same time some filmmakers felt sufficiently emboldened to challenge censors in the industry and beyond, large swaths of Hollywood were cowed by the zealous investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Among creative talent, ideological lines were drawn and seldom crossed, though Elia Kazan was a rare, notable, and especially controversial exception. In all likelihood neither as altruistic as he declared, nor as sinister as others proclaimed, Kazan's testimony made him a pariah to many for decades to come.

    Yet, regardless of what one thinks of this episode, it was the reputed inspiration for two of the era's most politically potent films, made by Kazan in collaboration with writer and fellow friendly witness Budd Schulberg: On the Waterfront (1954) and A Face in the Crowd (1957). While the allegorical nature of Waterfront, with its commission hearings, divided loyalties, and corrupt union, is clear, that of the latter film, with its withering critique of populism and canny depiction of a menacing demagogue is less so, and all the more interesting for it.

    Join us to learn about and through four provocative films that are a substantial part of, in Martin Scorsese's words, 'the lifelong lovers' quarrel conducted with his adopted country by a ferociously gifted immigrant named Elia Kazan.'


    Please note: Class screenings will take place in the theater.

  • Bold and Bawdy: The Films of Almodovar


    Volver (2006)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage, Temple University

    Since his career began in 1980, Pedro Almodovar has become Spain's preeminent director and one of the most distinctive and popular filmmakers in the world. His trademark blend of highly passionate melodrama, licentious comedy, vivid color schemes, and strong female characters was developed in a series of films Almodovar made over the course of the 1980s. This cycle reached its zenith in 1988 with Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (shown on 35mm), a film that brought the writer/director international acclaim, including awards at the Toronto and Venice film festivals and an Oscar nomination.

    Throughout his work, Almodovar has created career-defining roles for a number of talented actors with whom he has made multiple pictures, including Carmen Maura, Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, and Victoria Abril. This course will examine the career of this prolific director, who is both playful and profound, and include discussions of such films as Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, High Heels, All About My Mother, Talk to Her, Volver, and Broken Embraces.

  • Chance Encounters, Permanent Consequences: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski


    Blind Chance (1981)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    A filmmaker preoccupied with similarities and paradoxes, Krzysztof Kieslowski's own career evolved over the years from one centered on political realities to one of metaphysical contemplation. Upon closer examination, however, both ends of his cinematic journey share a focus on individuals struggling to reconcile daily life with its cultural myths—be they communist propaganda, Biblical proverbs, or French revolutionary slogans.

    If the people and characters of his films are rarely explicitly aware of their ideological concerns, viewers often are, through Kieslowski's filmmaking savvy and marketing conceits. A powerful storyteller, Kieslowski undermines the ordered world of his documentary-like descriptions with the complex, often disillusioning lives of his central protagonists—portraits that alternate between pessimistic deconstruction and an affection for human resilience.

    In addition to considering some of his early feature films, such as Camera Buff (1979), Blind Chance (1981), A Short Film About Killing (1988), and the Decalogue (1989)—his series made for Polish television based on the Ten Commandments—we will turn to Kieslowski's more famous, and equally celebrated, films: The Double Life of Veronique (1992) and the Three Colors Trilogy representing the French flag: Blue (1993) for liberty, White (1994) for equality, and Red (1994) for fraternity, the last three of which are resolutely interpreted within the framework of the interior life.

    In many ways, this cycle can be seen as an artful summation of his career since it offers: an emphasis on the individual's life and his or her relationship to an ideal; a nuanced and even playful approach to narrative; the paradoxes of chance and fate; the interconnectedness of lives; and the central importance of art and performance, both public and private.

  • Chaplin: Post Modern Times


    Limelight (1952)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    By the late 1920s, as actor, writer, director, composer, and independent producer, Charlie Chaplin exerted total control over his films but, alas, not over the cinema itself. Having once stated, "moving pictures need sound as much as Beethoven symphonies need lyrics," the most famous filmmaker in the world most famously held out against the advent of sound throughout the 1930s with the silent features City Lights (1931) and Modern Times (1936), but the Little Tramp finally conceded in 1940 with The Great Dictator, his brilliant political satire about a man whose every nonsensical word revealed his own absurdity.

    While Chaplin's signature character did not survive the transition to sound, the director's artistic and political sensibilities did, making him virtually the only silent-film comedian to thrive in this brave, verbose new world. This course will focus on the changes sound brought to Chaplin's cinema, and the transformation of his public persona during this phase of his career. In addition to The Great Dictator, the class will shine a spotlight on films like the shocking Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Limelight (1952), and A King in New York (1957). Chaplin talks! Join us, and have a listen.

  • Cinema of Dreams: The Films of Steven Spielberg, Pt. 2


    Saving Private Ryan (1998)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    When exploring the success of Steven Spielberg, his career can almost be separated into two disparate halves. Prior to Schindler's List (1993), Spielberg established himself as a great blockbuster king, creating indelible stories that not only broke box office records, but endure in American culture. Since then, Spielberg's vision has often turned dark, addressing some of the 20th century's most impactful events while forcing audiences to reflect on their own humanity and capacity for both good and evil.

    Indeed, Spielberg came to understand why his mentor, Universal Studios President Sid Sheinberg, insisted that he direct Jurassic Park before Schindler's List: because after, he would never be able to direct a summer blockbuster in the same way. But what changed for Spielberg during this production, and how did it come to alter his style so drastically?

    Expanding on the motifs and style of Part 1 of this course, we continue to explore the dreams and nightmares that so saturate Spielberg's works. He once theorized that movie-going at its heart is like shared dreaming; whether it is to experience the joy of heartwarming tales about aliens and adventure, or to grapple with the horrors of humanity.

    In our continued exploration of his genius, we will visit four of Spielberg's most enduring works, all on the big screen—Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan�(1998), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), and Munich (2005)—and complete our portrait of the fractured yet glorious career of one of American cinema's greatest auteurs.


  • Cinema of Provocation: The Films of Michael Haneke


    Caché (2005)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Known to American audiences mainly through the successes of such films as Caché (2005) and Amour (2012), Michael Haneke's distinguished career began in the mid-1970s. Much of his early work—based on his own writing or adapted from modernist and postmodernist literature by Franz Kafka and others—centers on the historical amnesia of old Europe and its wartime past, as well as the loss of individuality. More recent films are elliptical narratives that shock viewers out of their indifference to the suffering of others, and challenge their acceptance of mediated reality.

    Having worked predominantly in France since the turn of the century, Haneke reveals a cinematic style at once musical and mathematical. His films address themes of alienation and social collapse (Time of the Wolf, 2003); the exploitation and consumption of violence (Funny Games, 2007); the family as the incubator for fascistic impulse (The White Ribbon, 2009); race and issues of citizenship and migration (Code Unknown, 2000). We will watch and debate several films that also feature some of the most celebrated actors in international cinema, including Juliette Binoche, Daniel Auteuil, Isabelle Huppert, and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Join us as we explore one of contemporary cinema's most provocative and incisive filmmakers.

  • Dogged Defiance: Sidney Lumet


    Network (1976)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    In a career that has spanned more than fifty years, Philadelphia-born Sidney Lumet has defied genre boundaries, resisted Hollywood’s edict of moral simplicity, and silenced the chorus of critics that claimed his best work was behind him by making 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. He has directed it all: courtroom dramas (The Verdict); Motown musicals (The Wiz); tales of big-city corruption (Prince of the City); literary adaptations (of work by Eugene O’Neill, Anton Chekov, Agatha Christie, and others); and heist movies (Dog Day Afternoon).

    Over the course of these and the other forty diverse films on his résumé, Lumet has worked with a variety of settings, genres, and source material, but what remains decidedly constant over time is his depiction of, in the words of one film historian, “the quintessential hero acting in defiance of peer group authority and asserting his own code of moral values.”

    Join us to explore a small sampling of Lumet’s work, including his debut film, 12 Angry Men (1957), as well as The Pawnbroker (1964) and Network (1976), and learn why he has been called “a master of the morally complex American drama.”

  • Dogged Defiance: Sidney Lumet


    Network (1976)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    In a career that spanned more than fifty years, Philadelphia-born Sidney Lumet defied genre boundaries, resisted Hollywood's edict of moral simplicity, and silenced the chorus of critics that claimed his best work was behind him when he made 2007's Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. He directed it all: courtroom dramas (The Verdict); Motown musicals (The Wiz); tales of big-city corruption (Prince of the City); literary adaptations (of work by Eugene O'Neill, Anton Chekov, Agatha Christie, and others); and heist movies (Dog Day Afternoon).

    Over the course of these and the other forty diverse films on his résumé, Lumet worked with a variety of settings, genres, and source material. Yet, what remained decidedly constant over time was his depiction of, in the words of one film historian, "the quintessential hero acting in defiance of peer group authority and asserting his own code of moral values."

    Join us to explore a small but potent sampling of Lumet's work, including his debut film, 12 Angry Men (1957), as well as Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976), and learn why he has been called "a master of the morally complex American drama."

  • Early Kubrick


    Killer's Kiss (1955)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    'If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed,' Stanley Kubrick said famously. As one of the most universally acclaimed and influential directors of the postwar era, Kubrick enjoyed a reputation unique among the filmmakers of his day. A perennial outsider, he worked far beyond the confines of Hollywood, maintaining complete artistic control and making films according to the concerns and time constraints of no one but himself, but with the rare advantage of studio financial support for much of his career. Kubrick utilized a vast range of styles and genres spanning from black comedy to crime drama to horror. This class will explore his early films, which began to establish the director as an important cinematic presence.

    Killer's Kiss (1955), made in the finest film noir style and set in New York City, is about an over-the-hill boxer who falls in love with a dance club hostess, evoking the violent, jealous wrath of the young woman's employer. The polish in Killer's Kiss is countered by a measure of spontaneity, a trait that Kubrick would abandon entirely in later works. His on-location depiction of New York stands as the most potent example of this dynamic'he makes effective use of the dramatic skyline and looming architecture to add drama and grit, in the process capturing an authentic, lived-in cityscape. In 1956, Kubrick directed his first studio picture, The Killing, the tale of a bold racetrack robbery told via an ambitious overlapping time structure (which has influenced many subsequent heist films), with dialogue from legendary hardboiled crime novelist Jim Thompson, and a wonderful cast of character actors, including Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, and Elisha Cook, Jr.

    In 1957, Kubrick, along with Thompson and novelist Calder Willingham, adapted the Humphrey Cobb war novel Paths of Glory. Filmed in Germany, this haunting, exquisitely photographed dissection of the military machine in all its absurdity and capacity for dehumanization'a theme Kubrick would continue to explore throughout his career'is assembled with the exactitude for which the director would become known, from its tense trench warfare sequences, to its gripping courtroom climax, to its ravaging final scene. In 1962, Kubrick brought Nabokov's controversial novel, Lolita, to the screen. Due to a number of financial and legal difficulties, the film was shot in England, where Kubrick would continue to live and work for the remainder of his career. Upon its release, the film was at once deemed too provocative and dismissed for not remaining faithful to its source, though, over the years, Lolita's reputation has undergone reassessment, particularly in light of Kubrick's later work.

    Across these films, one can see the burgeoning skills and amplifying voice of a director often lauded for his exacting precision, and consistently engaged with issues surrounding morality, discipline, power, and ambition. Join us as we discuss some of the first cinematic works of Stanley Kubrick, who, according to Martin Scorsese, 'expanded our idea of what is possible in movies.'


    Please note: Class screenings will take place in the theater whenever possible.

  • Ecstatic Truth: The Films of Werner Herzog


    Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Poet. Visionary. Daredevil. Madman. These are a few of the (kinder) words that have been used to describe Werner Herzog, along with another: unique. Herzog has invented and re-invented himself many times, emerging first as a leader of the New German Cinema of the 1970s, then as a controversial documentary guru, and even transforming into an American pop-culture figure who has logged guest appearances on The Simpsons and Parks and Recreation, and even played the villain in a Tom Cruise movie (Jack Reacher).

    Herzog has devoted his career to the pursuit and creation of the 'new images' we desperately need to survive as a culture, and he has journeyed to all ends of the earth (South America, Africa, Antarctica) to find them. Along the way, his films have blurred the distinction between fiction and non-fiction in perplexing and fascinating ways. This course will cover both his feature and documentary work, including Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974), The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974), and Lessons of Darkness (1992), among others.

  • Eric Rohmer: Tales for All Seasons


    Claire's Knee (1970)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage, Temple University

    In contrast to the intensely personal tone found in the films of Francois Truffaut, or to the politically provocative works of Jean-Luc Godard, the cinema of Eric Rohmer—a founding member of the French New Wave, along with Truffaut and Godard—is informed by a rationalist sensibility similar to the principles of the 18th century thinkers whose words he often cites in his movies. At the same time, an undercurrent of romanticism, erotic yearning, and spirit of generosity pervades these films, in which he dramatizes the loneliness and vulnerability of his characters, the conflict between personal identity and sexual temptation, the scrutiny of moral issues of the everyday, and the refusal to pass judgment, or to provide neat, conclusive endings.

    Toward this end, we will look at Rohmer's three extraordinary cycles of films—"Six Moral Tales," made during the 1960s and '70s; "Comedies and Proverbs" in the 1980s; and "Tales of the Four Seasons" in the 1990s. What distinguishes all of them, apart from the engaging visual style, is the supple, ironic language that reveals characters in all their complexity and humanity and the worlds they inhabit.

    Eric Rohmer's attention to the crises his characters often experience, the philosophical discussions they share, and the settings in which they live once prompted Francois Truffaut to remark that "We [the members of the French New Wave] always knew he was the greatest of us all."

  • Expletive Deleted: David Mamet Films


    Wag the Dog (1997)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    Poet. Vulgarian. Pulitzer-Prize Winner. These labels and more have been applied to playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker David Mamet. Best known for his stage work—particularly 1984's Glengarry Glen Ross—few people realize Mamet has brought his distinctive style to screenplays beginning with The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), and including The Untouchables (1987), and Wag the Dog (1997). Mamet also has penned screen versions of his plays and he has written and directed several original films, starting with House of Games (1987).

    All of these pictures examine issues of trust, honor, and responsibility, and they contain two elements for which Mamet's films are notorious: confidence games (in one form or another) and eloquent, mannered, and cadenced dialogue. Skeptics who think these elements preclude Mamet's films from consideration as cinematic art should heed the auteur's own words: "Drama is not an attempt to depict something which is real in the external world but rather an attempt to depict something which is real in an internal world . . . It's the difference between being a painter and an illustrator."

  • Fatal Vision: The Cinema of Roman Polanski, Pt. 1


    Rosemary's Baby (1968)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    The life of Roman Polanski has been marked by horrific events that have shaped a powerful, unsettling cinematic world view in which this filmmaker attempts to depict the various ways in which violence erupts from human nature, and in so doing, confront the specter of evil in the world: the death of his mother in a Nazi concentration camp in 1943; the murder of his actress-wife Sharon Tate and friends by the Manson Family in 1969; and Polanski's own arrest for the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl in 1977. In a career that has taken him to France, England, Italy, and the United States in search of opportunities to write, direct, and act, Polanski has consistently focused on revealing the individual impulses, unconscious urges, and personal psychoses of humanity that inform his films.

    His eclectic body of work ranges from celebrated achievements in European art cinema (Knife in the Water, Repulsion) to parodies (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Pirates); from blockbuster Hollywood thrillers (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown) to literary period pieces (Tess, Oliver Twist); from historical prestige pictures (The Pianist, the upcoming D, based on the Dreyfus Affair) to film adaptations of plays (Carnage, Venus in Fur). Throughout his work, Polanski adopts an ironic, even absurdist attitude'in the manner of Samuel Beckett, to whom Polanski's early films have been compared'toward the ultimate, inevitable problem: an abiding violence and evil that grows even as characters individually struggle against those forces. Over the years, his films have grown richer, more complicated, and even more discomfiting in their examination of this theme, for Polanski's work can be viewed as an attempt to chart the precise relationship between the contemporary world's instability and tendency toward violence and the individual's increasing inability to overcome his isolation and to locate some realm of meaning beyond himself.

    From his own isolated perspective'that of, essentially, a man without a country'Polanski seeks to confront the problems of violence and evil through his work, and show how his characters try continually, though awkwardly, to connect with other human beings to break out of their isolation and to free themselves of their alienation. As a result, according to one critic, Polanski's films 'exhibit an originality of vision, both stylistically and thematically, whether they are dark and morbid and psychotically disposed, or merely frivolous and disposable; his films are plainly the work of a singular intelligence, a unique psychology, a rare aesthetic.'

    Join us for a two-part class on the career of this brilliant, controversial director. Part one will focus on Polanski's early films made in Europe'Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Cul-de-Sac'that established him as a compelling, new auteurist voice in international cinema, and concludes with his first venture in Hollywood: his successful adaptation of Ira Levin's novel, Rosemary's Baby. Part Two, to be offered in early 2016, will trace Polanski's career from the 1970s to the present, covering such films as Chinatown, The Tenant, Tess, Bitter Moon, Death and the Maiden, Carnage, and Venus in Fur.


  • Fatal Vision: The Cinema of Roman Polanski, Pt. 2


    Bitter Moon (1992)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,Temple University

    The life of Roman Polanski has been marked by horrific events that have shaped a powerful, unsettling cinematic world view in which this filmmaker attempts to depict the various ways in which violence erupts from human nature, and in so doing, confront the specter of evil in the world: the death of his mother in a Nazi concentration camp in 1943; the murder of his actress-wife Sharon Tate and friends by the Manson Family in 1969; and Polanski's own arrest for the rape of a thirteen-year-old girl in 1977. In a career that has taken him to France, England, Italy, and the United States in search of opportunities to write, direct, and act, Polanski has consistently focused on revealing the individual impulses, unconscious urges, and personal psychoses of humanity that inform his films.

    His eclectic body of work ranges from celebrated achievements in European art cinema (Knife in the Water, Repulsion) to parodies (The Fearless Vampire Killers, Pirates); from blockbuster Hollywood thrillers (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown) to literary period pieces (Tess, Oliver Twist); from historical prestige pictures (The Pianist, the upcoming D, based on the Dreyfus Affair) to film adaptations of plays (Carnage, Venus in Fur). Throughout his work, Polanski adopts an ironic, even absurdist attitude'in the manner of Samuel Beckett, to whom Polanski's early films have been compared'toward the ultimate, inevitable problem: an abiding violence and evil that grows even as characters individually struggle against those forces. Over the years, his films have grown richer, more complicated, and even more discomfiting in their examination of this theme, for Polanski's work can be viewed as an attempt to chart the precise relationship between the contemporary world's instability and tendency toward violence and the individual's increasing inability to overcome his isolation and to locate some realm of meaning beyond himself.

    From his own isolated perspective'that of, essentially, a man without a country'Polanski seeks to confront the problems of violence and evil through his work, and show how his characters try continually, though awkwardly, to connect with other human beings to break out of their isolation and to free themselves of their alienation. As a result, according to one critic, Polanski's films 'exhibit an originality of vision, both stylistically and thematically, whether they are dark and morbid and psychotically disposed, or merely frivolous and disposable; his films are plainly the work of a singular intelligence, a unique psychology, a rare aesthetic.'

    Join us for the second part of our course on the work of this brilliant, controversial director. It will trace Polanski's career from the 1970s to the present, covering such films as Chinatown, The Tenant, Tess, Bitter Moon, Death and the Maiden, Carnage, and Venus in Fur.

  • Four Voices: Independent Women Filmmakers


    Hester Street (1975)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    From Mabel Normand, one of the first female American directors (as well as an actress, writer, and producer) who worked on Charlie Chaplin's early short films, to Kathryn Bigelow, the first woman to win an Academy Award for directing The Hurt Locker, women filmmakers have contributed a distinctive artistic voice to the development of American cinema. Yet, their accomplishments have been achieved within a Hollywood environment that has often been unfriendly to their participation and to their explorations of important and, at times, provocative subjects. But despite the obstacles they have encountered in the past—and, in certain respects, endure even now—women directors continue to work within the Hollywood system, and outside it, to create films in a wide array of genres and styles, about topics that both challenge and engage. Four such gifted directors and their films will be examined in this course: Joan Micklin Silver, Nancy Savoca, Kimberly Peirce, and Nicole Holofcener.

    In Hester Street (1975), Joan Micklin Silver dramatizes the story of a Jewish couple who come to the Lower East Side of Manhattan from Europe in 1896. The film is notable for its detailed reconstruction of Jewish immigrant life in New York at the turn of the century, including a considerable amount of Yiddish dialogue. Hester Street was part of a wave of films released in the 1960s and 1970s that began to address the complexities of American Jewish identity. This film, with its anecdotes, incongruities, and mixture of comedy and pathos, follows in the tradition of such immigrant stories as Elia Kazan's America America and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, Pt. II.

    In True Love (1989), Nancy Savoca examines an Italian-American couple and their respective families as they participate in all of the usual pre-wedding anxieties and party-planning that constitute such an event. While the film features all the conventions of one of the most overworked genres in movie history, the ethnic wedding comedy, Savoca avoids the clichés and sentimentalities normally found in such a film. For example, both the would-be groom and bride-to-be are by turn likable and annoying, revealing their flaws in real, human ways. True Love is never condescending, for it demonstrates genuine affection for and understanding of the characters, as well as for the specifically ethnic, neighborhood touches that are the sources of its exuberant and occasionally raucous humor.

    Boys Don't Cry (1999), by Kimberly Peirce, is a dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena, an American trans man who attempts to find himself and love in Nebraska, but falls victim to a brutal crime perpetrated by two acquaintances. The film captures the mystique, eerie loneliness, and desolation of Midwestern America, which have the potential to propel some people to despair and violence. The film's dark, understated aesthetic complements this vision, reflecting the influence of neorealism and the films of John Cassavetes and Martin Scorsese. Boys Don't Cry explores the nature of romantic and platonic relationships, violence against LGBT people, and the intersection of social class and gender.

    Enough Said (2013), by Nicole Holofcener, is a romantic comedy that focuses on Eva, a masseuse and the divorced mother of a teenage girl, who begins a relationship with Albert, only to discover that he is the ex-husband of her client and friend. Referred to at times as the female Woody Allen, Holofcener writes all the films she directs, which are often partly inspired by events in her own life, do not always follow a typical plot structure, and usually deal with middle-class characters and issues. Yet, while some of Allen's films have female protagonists, Holofcener always focuses on female characters—crafted by a woman—thereby creating a rather different cinematic experience that is all too rare. Join us as we watch, discuss, and celebrate the richness and diversity of films written and directed by four highly talented women.

  • Gleanings: The Films of Agnès Varda


    Vagabond (1985)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Author and Film Critic

    By the early 1960s, filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and François Truffaut were showered with praise as pioneers of the French New Wave. But before them all came Agnès Varda, the visionary who seemed to materialize out of nowhere with her groundbreaking 1954 debut, La Pointe Courte, a stylistically audacious film that bears a striking resemblance to the New Wave films it predates by several years.

    Varda is best understood as a unique voice who resists easy categorization. She brings the careful eye of a trained photographer and an ethnographic sensibility to films that often straddle the border between documentary and fiction, weds a vivid sense of place to a gift for creating vibrant characters, and possesses a formal boldness and distinctive sense of humor that ranges from playful to lacerating (often within the same film).

    Join us for a tour through the work of one of the true titans of cinema with screenings and discussions of films such as La Pointe Courte, Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Vagabond (1985), and The Gleaners and I (2000). Sixty years after her debut, Agnès Varda remains one of the greatest filmmakers in the world: exuberant, eloquent, and eminently enjoyable. Come find out why.

  • Guts, Girls, and Glasses: The Daredevil Genius of Harold Lloyd


    Safety Last! (1923)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp may be the best-remembered character of American silent cinema, but Harold Lloyd's indomitable 'Glasses' character was a worthy rival. Where the Tramp was the ultimate tragicomic outsider, too strange and singular ever to assimilate, Lloyd's 'Glasses' character was the ultimate embodiment of the middle-class American striving to climb the social ladder. He gave cinematic life to this notion by scaling'and dangling from'a high-rise building in his 1923 masterpiece, Safety Last!, terrifying and delighting audiences in one of the most nerve-wracking action sequences ever put on film.

    Perhaps Lloyd's focus on kinetic 'thrill sequences' and the relentless optimism of his signature character explain why he wasn't always fully embraced by intellectuals more receptive to the darker shadings of Chaplin or the deadpan stoicism of Buster Keaton. Regardless, Lloyd was one of the great box-office draws and great film artists of his day, not to mention one of the great athletes; he didn't let a little thing like blowing off his thumb in a promotional shoot keep him from performing most of his own stunts!

    This course will trace Lloyd's indelible career from his early days making short films as the Tramp-like Lonesome Luke, to the development of his defining 'Glasses' character in features such as Safety Last!, the blockbuster smash The Freshman (1925), and Speedy (1928, featuring a cameo by Babe Ruth), through his challenging transition to the sound era. Join us to hear the colorful tale of a true American original who never stopped moving and never stopped looking up.

  • Hitchcock at the Height


    Hitchcock on the set of The Birds (1963)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    "At the height of what?" you may ask, and the answer is: "Everything." By the mid-1950s, Alfred Hitchcock had been in Hollywood for fifteen years, had long since moved beyond the rockiness of his early American productions, and was about to embark on the portion of his career that would see him soar like The Birds to new, Vertigo-inducing heights of filmmaking prowess, popular appeal, and critical acclaim.

    In fact, by the time the ride ended a decade later, the director had long since lost sight of his peers out the Rear Window, and audiences and critics alike were going Psycho to find out what the Master of Suspense would take a stab at next.

    These films for which Hitch is best known contain his most notable cinematic trademarks: blonde women in trouble, danger in everyday places, Machiavellian matrons, and, of course, his iconic cameos. Join us to learn why these pictures left an indelible mark on film history, and what role they played in cementing the legacy of one of cinema’s true auteurs. Oh, and did we mention these classics will all be screened in the theater in high-definition digital transfers?

  • Icon in the Director’s Chair: Clint Eastwood


    Mystic River (2003)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    As an acting icon whose work redefined both the western and action genres, Clint Eastwood has nonetheless always thought of himself as a director-in-training, even from his earliest days in television. He learned from all the filmmakers with whom he worked, but none more than Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars, 1964; The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 1966) and Don Siegel (The Beguiled, 1971; Dirty Harry, 1971), to whom he dedicated Unforgiven (1992).

    With a filmmaking career that spans over thirty films and more than four decades, some of his work has been overlooked for its modest scope and ambition. In recent years, the breadth and diversity of his films have allowed Eastwood to take his place among the great directors of Hollywood cinema. He has been called 'the modern inheritor of traditional Hollywood directorial values,' and a creator whose true talent is to 'draw upon Hollywood's genre traditions and make of them unique and perceptive studies of human beings under stress.'

    This course explores Eastwood as a director through an overview of his impressive accomplishments, including a closer look at his films High Plains Drifter (1973), Unforgiven, and Mystic River (2003).

  • Ida Lupino: Femme Fatale, Femme Auteur


    High Sierra (1941)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    Called the 'English Jean Harlow' when she arrived in Hollywood in 1932'though she was part of a distinguished British theatrical dynasty'Ida Lupino became one of the most accomplished actresses, and femmes fatales, of the 1940s and 1950s through her performances in such films as They Drive by Night, High Sierra, Ladies in Retirement, and The Big Knife.

    Throughout this period, as her artistic needs began to exceed what her career in front of the camera could provide, Lupino emerged as the first actress of the studio era to direct in Hollywood. Despite industry conventions and cultural stereotypes that relegated women to the margins of cinematic practice, she became an important auteur, crafting a series of emotionally powerful films that examined such issues as rape (Outrage), social climbing (Hard, Fast and Beautiful), bigamy (The Bigamist), the ravages of polio (Never Fear), and the mechanics of male violence (The Hitch-Hiker). Lupino's career behind the camera continued to flourish into the 1960s with films like The Trouble with Angels, and in television, where she directed many episodes of the era's most popular programs, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, The Fugitive, and Bewitched. Join us as we explore the rich, prolific career of this celebrated actress and director.

  • Il Maestro: The Carnivalesque Cinema of Federico Fellini


    La Dolce Vita (1959)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Federico Fellini created an inimitable cinematic style that combined surreal carnival with incisive social criticism, opening doors for later filmmakers such as Robert Altman, Pedro Almodovar, and Terry Gilliam. To use one of his favorite images, he was a captivating ringmaster whose circus was the human comedy, in which he explored such themes as the essential isolation of man and his penchant for destroying the paths to his salvation; the nature of a corrupt, pleasure-oriented society; the interplay between life and art; the role of women; and, most notably, the mystery of identity.

    In depicting these themes, Fellini fashioned a new level of screen language by integrating realistic plots with evocative symbols, in the manner of Joyce and Proust. By doing so, Fellini, the poet-philosopher, tapped into a large portion of the cinema's vast but generally unrealized potential to objectify subjective states, and vice versa. His rich frescoes and intoxicating images render a stylized world in which memories, dreams, and fantasies are all interwoven and made significant by the imagination of the artist.

    Fellini also had an important influence on acting technique, for within a realistic context he evokes highly stylized performances from his actors, most notably Giulietta Masina and Marcello Mastroianni. As critic Foster Hirsch has observed, "In his own way (Fellini) combines the two strains that have always dominated Italian movies: the epic tradition, with its fondness for spectacle and operatic gesture, and the (neorealist) humanist tradition, with its deep feeling for the outcast and the oppressed."

    In his early career, Fellini was both a screenwriter for neorealist pioneer Roberto Rossellini and a newspaper caricaturist in postwar Rome–competing influences he would bring together with startling results. With this in mind, the course begins with Fellini's neorealist apprenticeship, in which he co-wrote the screenplays to Rome, Open City (1945) and Paisa (1946) before co-directing, with Alberto Lattuada, his first feature film, Variety Lights (1950). Throughout the 1950s, Fellini would create a series of brilliant works, beginning with his first solo feature, The White Sheik (1951), followed by I Vitelloni (1953), La Strada (1954), and Nights of Cabiria (1956)–the latter two signaling a gradual movement away from neorealism and toward a more symbolic aesthetic–before concluding with his seminal achievement, La Dolce Vita (1959).

  • Il Maestro: The Carnivalesque Cinema of Federico Fellini, Pt. 2


    Amarcord (1973)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Federico Fellini created an inimitable cinematic style that combined surreal carnival with incisive social criticism, opening doors for later filmmakers such as Robert Altman, Pedro Almodvar, and Terry Gilliam. To use one of his favorite images, he was a captivating ringmaster whose circus was the human comedy, in which he explored such themes as the essential isolation of man and his penchant for destroying the paths to his salvation; the nature of a corrupt, pleasure-oriented society; the interplay between life and art; the role of women; and, most notably, the mystery of identity.

    In depicting these themes, Fellini fashioned a new level of screen language by integrating realistic plots with evocative symbols, in the manner of Joyce and Proust. By doing so, Fellini, the poet-philosopher, tapped into a large portion of the cinema's vast but generally unrealized potential to objectify subjective states, and vice versa. His rich frescoes and intoxicating images render a stylized world in which memories, dreams, and fantasies are all interwoven and made significant by the imagination of the artist.

    Fellini also had an important influence on acting technique, for within a realistic context he evokes highly stylized performances from his actors, most notably Giulietta Masina and Marcello Mastroianni. As critic Foster Hirsch has observed, "In his own way (Fellini) combines the two strains that have always dominated Italian movies: the epic tradition, with its fondness for spectacle and operatic gesture, and the (neorealist) humanist tradition, with its deep feeling for the outcast and the oppressed."

    This course begins with 8 1/2—so named because it was Fellini's eighth-and-a-half film—a surrealistic parable of the agony of creation that has been called a 20th century version of Dante's Inferno. Following this masterpiece, Fellini would create a series of brilliant films throughout the 1960s, and continue this work through the next two decades. Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Fellini's first film in color, is a non-narrative work concerned with memory and obsession about a woman (Giulietta Masina) who collapses into a world of fantasy under the pressure of a painful external reality. Fellini Satyricon (1969), in which the director created a unique audio-visual language to present a personalized version of Petronius's poem suggests the continuity of depravity throughout human history. Roma (1972) is an impressionistic study of Rome that combined stylized documentary with the director's own memories of the city of his youth. Amarcord (1973) is a funny, moving remembrance of things past in Rimini, the director's birthplace. City of Women (1980) offers an intelligent, fanciful vision of contemporary sexual warfare within the framework of its male protagonist's dreams. Ginger and Fred (1986) is a hilarious satire of contemporary television and the cult of instant celebrity, while Intervista (1987) is a wistful, engaging personal journey through the director's career at Cinecitta. Finally, the class will bid arrivederci to Il Maestro with his last film, The Voice of the Moon (1990), which returns to the realm of his provincial youth, and in so doing makes a comedic, if pessimistic, plea for a quieter and less technocratic world.

  • Kieslowski’s Dekalog

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    A filmmaker preoccupied with similarities and paradoxes, Krzysztof Kieslowski's own career evolved over the years from one centered on political realities to one of metaphysical contemplation. Upon closer examination, however, both ends of his cinematic journey share a focus on individuals struggling to reconcile daily life with its cultural myths'be they communist propaganda, Biblical proverbs, or slogans of the French Revolution. A powerful storyteller, Kieslowski undermines the ordered world of his documentary-like descriptions with the complex, often disillusioning lives of his central protagonists'portraits that alternate between pessimistic deconstruction and an affection for human resilience.

    Toward this end, the transitional work between these two portraits is his Dekalog, an experimental work originally designed for Polish television, which offers an imaginative consideration of the Ten Commandments presented through a series of ten one-hour films. It is a remarkable achievement. The entire series takes place in one Polish housing complex, and, as a result, various characters from certain episodes make brief appearances in others. There is even one nameless man who has a cameo in nearly every segment.

    The ten films are not philosophical abstractions, nor are they simple demonstrations of black-and-white morality, but instead are compelling personal stories that engage the viewer immediately, for Kieslowski is dealing with those aspects of life that are universal. Kieslowski himself has pointed out: 'The relationship between the film and the individual Commandment [is] a tentative one. The films should be influenced by the individual Commandments to the same degree that the Commandments influence our daily lives.' With this in mind, many of the segments deal only peripherally with their associated Commandment, while others dramatize more than one. Ultimately, Kieslowski wants to focus on what occurs with 'people who come home, lock the door on the inside, and remain alone with themselves.'

    He does this over the series by examining the dilemmas presented by the fundamental sins in the lives of ordinary Warsaw citizens. In Dekalog I, a scientist puts his faith in science and logic to govern daily life. In Dekalog II, a violinist, unable to decide between her husband and her lover, leaves the impossible decision to her husband's attending physician. In Dekalog III, a lonely woman imposes on an ex-lover on Christmas Eve to search for her missing lover. In Dekalog IV, an acting student discovers an ominous letter from her father. In Dekalog V, a cruel young man wanders through the streets in search of a random victim. In Dekalog VI, a young postal clerk falls in love with a neighboring artist whom he admires from a distance. In Dekalog VII, a struggling student kidnaps her biological daughter. In Dekalog VIII, an ethics professor is confronted with the culpability of her actions when asked to harbor a Jewish girl during World War II. In Dekalog IX, a married couple learns to deal with the husband's impotence. In Dekalog X, two brothers inherit their father's priceless stamp collection.

    Taken as a whole, Dekalog is a profound observation on the trials and travails of everyday life, reflected in complex ways, but all fundamentally, and unfailingly, human. Join us as we experience one of the great achievements in modern cinema.

  • Later Kubrick


    Barry Lyndon (1975)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University

    'If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed,' Stanley Kubrick said famously. As one of the most universally acclaimed and influential directors of the postwar era, Kubrick enjoyed a reputation unique among his peers. A perennial outsider, he worked far beyond the confines of Hollywood, maintaining complete artistic control and making films according to the concerns and time constraints of no one but himself, but with the rare advantage of studio financial support for much of his career.

    This class will explore the films of Kubrick's middle and late periods, which only solidified the director as an important cinematic presence. It begins with A Clockwork Orange (1971), a consideration of teenage violence and experimental rehabilitation by law enforcement authorities based around the character of Alex (Malcolm McDowell). Kubrick's take on the Anthony Burgess novel was one of the most controversial films of the 1970s, and was part of an ongoing debate about violence and its glorification in cinema.

    Barry Lyndon (1975) is an adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's The Luck of Barry Lyndon, a picaresque novel about the adventures of an 18th-century Irish rogue and social climber. Often considered to be Kubrick's most authentic-looking film, the cinematography and lighting techniques that the director and cinematographer John Alcott used were truly innovative. Though unsuccessful at the time of its release'despite being nominated for seven Academy Awards and winning four'the film's reputation has grown over the years and it is now considered to be one of the director's best, particularly among filmmakers and critics. Roger Ebert described Barry Lyndon as 'one of the most beautiful films ever made. [It is] certainly in every frame a Kubrick film: technically awesome, emotionally distant, and remorseless in its doubt of human goodness.'

    Full Metal Jacket (1987) is an adaptation of Gustav Hasford's Vietnam War novel The Short-Timers, which Kubrick found 'brutally honest.' Though much of the film is set in Vietnam, Kubrick never left his adopted homeland, England, during production, using a derelict gasworks in Beckton, in the London Docklands, as the ruined city of Hue. This choice makes the film visually different from others about that conflict, as does its incorporation of many of Kubrick's trademark characteristics, such as his selection of ironic music, depictions of men being dehumanized, and attention to extreme detail, which all combine to achieve a rare realism.

    Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Kubrick's final film, stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman as a Manhattan couple on a sexual odyssey. The story is based on Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 Freudian novella, Traumnovelle (Dream Story), which Kubrick relocated from turn-of-the-century Vienna to New York City in the 1990s. Kubrick said of the novel: 'It explores the sexual ambivalence of a happy marriage and tries to equate the importance of sexual dreams and might-have-beens with reality.' Given the provocative nature of the subject matter, and Kubrick's treatment of it, Eyes Wide Shut, like Lolita and A Clockwork Orange before it, faced censorship prior to release. Although Kubrick never saw the final version released to the public'having died suddenly on March 7, 1999, a few days after he finished editing'he attended a screening of his cut with Warner Bros. executives, Cruise, and Kidman, and reportedly exclaimed that it was 'my best film ever.'

    Across these works, one can see the extraordinary skills and amplifying voice of a director often lauded for his exacting precision, while consistently engaging his audiences with issues surrounding morality, discipline, power, and ambition. Join us as we discuss these films, and, in so doing, are reminded of what Martin Scorsese once noted: '[Kubrick] expanded our idea of what is possible in movies.'

  • Lust for Life: The Cinema of Vincente Minnelli


    Lust for Life (1956)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    One of MGM's premier filmmakers during Hollywood's classical period (having worked at the studio for 26 years), Vincente Minnelli brought an eye for elaborate mise-en-scene and an intensity of feeling to some of the most spectacular films ever produced in Hollywood. Trained as a window dresser at Marshall Field's and as a costume and set designer in hometown Chicago before advancing to stage directing in New York in the 1930s, Minnelli was a masterful, wide-ranging helmer of musicals (An American in Paris), melodramas (Some Came Running), and comedies (Designing Woman).

    His musicals (Meet Me in St. Louis, The Band Wagon) are unprecedented in their fluidly expressive integration of story, music, and decor, the most important of which, Gigi, won Minnelli the 1958 Oscar for Best Direction. At the same time, he displayed a gift for agonized psychological melodramas (Lust for Life, Tea and Sympathy), centered on individuals in conflict with society, and for comedies (Father of the Bride, The Long, Long Trailer) built upon domestic situations thrown into states of chaos, all of which has further enhanced his reputation.

    Few filmmakers were able to harness the explosive visual and emotional capacities of the widescreen, Technicolor frame as Minnelli, and over the course of his career his ability to direct actors led to seven different actors in Oscar-nominated performances, among them Spencer Tracy, Gloria Grahame, Kirk Douglas, Shirley Maclaine, and Anthony Quinn (both Grahame and Quinn won). Filmmakers as diverse as Alain Resnais, Spike Lee, Terence Davies, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino have expressed admiration for his work. Join us as we experience the classic musicals that earned Vincente Minnelli his reputation, as well as the subversive, deeply personal melodramas that reveal the sensitive soul of one of cinema's greatest artists.

  • The Magic of Disney


    Fantasia (1940)

    Taught by Andrew M. Karasik, Film Producer, 30th Street Entertainment

    Walt Disney said his films 'appeal to the Mickey in us'that precious, ageless something in every human being which makes us laugh at silly things and sing in the bathtub and dream.' Indeed, in many ways his films are the embodiment of nostalgia, encompassing the collective magical journeys we take as an audience. But sentimentality alone does not account for the enduring popularity of Disney's classics. These films also owe their indelibility to his use of traditional archetypes and doctrinaire storytelling techniques.

    This course will explore Disney's early career, beginning with a survey of his short films before moving on to his first three feature animations. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), the first full-color, cel-animated feature film, would change the cinematic landscape forever, if only because its success proved that animation could engage a wide audience for over an hour. Disney's second full-length picture, Pinocchio (1940), adapts a simple (and at times, gruesome) story into an inspirational masterpiece that muses on the power of wishes and dreams. And after mastering the art of narrative filmmaking, Disney went on to explore the link between music and image with Fantasia (1940), inspiring many subsequent efforts to visually interpret sound, such as those found in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

    Join us to gain a better appreciation of the movie magic created by the greatest showman of the 20th century, and to understand what Roger Ebert meant when he said of Disney and Snow White: 'The word genius is easily used and has been cheapened, but when it is used to describe Walt Disney, reflect that he conceived of this film, in all of its length, revolutionary style and invention, when there was no other like it'and that to one degree or another, every animated feature made since owes it something.'

  • Master Humanist: The Cinematic World of Satyajit Ray


    Pather Panchali (1955)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program, Temple University


    Over the course of his distinguished career, Satyajit Ray came to be regarded as one of the great humanist filmmakers, along with Yasujiro Ozu, Jean Renoir, and Vittorio De Sica. Ray's films reveal the complexities of life in post-colonial India, a country bound by traditions yet striving to become modern. Although social context is always evident in his films, the struggles of the individual depicted in them carry even greater emotional power.

    This sensibility is immediately apparent in Ray's debut film, Pather Panchali (1955), part of his Apu trilogy, which we will see in its entirety. Adapted from the first part of a long, popular novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Pather Panchali established a new artistic cinema for India through its story of a poor Bengali scholar, his wife, and his two children, one of whom is named Apu. The film makes wonderful use of exteriors and of professional and amateur actors to take viewers deep into the family'especially the world of the children, who venture out to discover the wonders and difficulties of life, the pettiness of humanity, and the violence of nature. Aparajito (1956), the second film in the trilogy, follows Apu to the city, where his father finds him a job to support his family. In this feature, Ray explores the impact of death as well as the clash between spiritual duty and secular enticement as he examines the experience of ordinary people struggling to survive. In Apur Sansar (1959), Apu has weathered the deaths of his closest family members as he journeys to Calcutta in search of a new life of independence. He finds work as a writer and enjoys a pseudo-bohemian existence until he is called upon by a friend to fill in at an arranged marriage. Apu is confronted by the joys of love and the hardship of loss; the result is a film imbued with keen observations that serve as a fitting conclusion to this remarkable trilogy. Ray's style in these films was neorealist in its simplicity and directness, and he made brilliant use of classical Indian music with a soundtrack composed and performed by Ravi Shankar (though Ray composed his own scores thereafter).

    The course will end with Devi (1960), a carefully nuanced study in religious obsession, as it focuses on Biswas, a man convinced that his young daughter-in-law Tagore is in fact the goddess Kali reincarnated. Baroque and melodramatic, the film mounts a lucid and moving argument against the destructive nature of fanaticism and superstition, as Tagore gradually loses all sense of her own individuality.

    While the neorealist, rural-set Apu trilogy launched Ray's career, the director was equally at home in a wide variety of genres and settings: period tales of urban elites, chamber pieces filled with music and song, documentaries on poets and artists, and even children's fables and detective stories. When Satyajit Ray died in 1992, he left behind a legacy of thirty-six films, as well as countless short stories, sketches, illustrations, and musical compositions. Please join us for what is sure to be an illuminating cinematic journey, for as another great director, Akira Kurosawa, once said of this filmmaker: 'Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in a world without seeing the sun or the moon.'

  • Mel Brooks: Talk about Bad Taste!


    The Producers (1968)

    Taught by Ian Abrams, College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University

    Mel Brooks has been a fixture in American comedy for more than half a century. He began as a writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows (1950-54), the innovative variety program from the early days of television, and a crucible that shaped the talent who would dominate television comedy well into the 1960s. Brooks would go on to try his hand at film, and start by winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for his big-screen debut, The Producers (1968). He would then write, direct, produce, and/or act in a string of hits before triumphing on Broadway with the musical version of The Producers. In the world of entertainment, Mel Brooks has come, seen, and conquered all.

    In this class, we will view and discuss clips of Brooks’ early TV work and four of his films: The Producers; Blazing Saddles (1974); History of the World: Part 1 (1981); and the lesser-known The Twelve Chairs (1970). In addition, we will listen to excerpts from his legendary “2000 Year Old Man” routine, and analyze Brooks’ evolution from someone who mocks bad taste to one of the cinema’s most gleeful champions of outrageous vulgarity. Brooks’ films display a nine-year-old’s delight in profanity and jokes about bodily functions—but this comes from a man who can also toss off a casual reference to Dostoyevsky’s Prince Myshkin. How do these two seemingly incongruous sides reflect a single comic genius?

  • Michelangelo Antonioni: Landscapes of the Soul


    Blow-Up (1966)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    More than any other Italian director, Michelangelo Antonioni consciously aimed to produce a modernist cinema that abandoned traditional plotting in favor of narratives in which seemingly random events depicted characters estranged from their environments in order to reveal their tragic inability to communicate with others and with themselves. In doing so, Antonioni sought to create a cinema that, in his words, would be tied “to the truth rather than to logic” and that responded to the rhythm of life in its daily routine, “not so much concerned with externals as it is with those forces that move us to act in a certain way and not in another.”

    He realized this poetic vision of modern isolation and the difficulties of communication through a stunning use of composition, camerawork, color, and naturalistic sound—what one film historian termed “objective correlatives, visual embodiments of pervasive mood and specific psychological states.” The result was an original approach to cinematic expression that profoundly influenced the development of European cinema.

    Antonioni's technique, from the early works to the later masterpieces, would become increasingly abstract, cerebral, and provocative, embodying many of the philosophical concerns associated with European Existentialism, including the struggles between freedom and anguish, meaning and absurdity, genuineness and inauthenticity, and atheism and religion, as well issues of social criticism, the importance of personal relations, and the right to individual choice.

    Join us as we explore the powerful early films Cronaca di un Amore and Il Grido, examine the celebrated trilogy L'Avventura, La Notte, and L'Eclisse, and experience the brilliant achievements in color: Red Desert (a new, high-definition, digital transfer), Blow-Up, The Passenger, and Beyond the Clouds.

  • Mr. Strangelove: Peter Sellers On Screen and Off


    Dr. Strangelove (1964)

    Taught by Ed Sikov, Ph.D.

    This course takes a look at the life and work of a screamingly funny, desperately unhappy soul—an international film star who thought he was empty. Through close analyses of four of Sellers' greatest films, the course—taught by Sellers biographer Ed Sikov (Mr. Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers)—examines the complex framework of Sellers' intuitive, untrained talent; his fruitful but often troubled collaboration with his directors; and the unique nature and style of his comedy.

    Sellers could mimic anyone and don any mask at will, but he was privately convinced that his personality had no core. His blistering improvisations could ruin takes by sending the casts and crews of his films into peals of uncontrollable laughter while the camera was running, but off screen he was a confused and lonely man, volatile one minute and sullen the next. Join us as we trace both his life and his art.

  • Nicholas Ray: Cinema with a Cause


    Bigger Than Life (1956)

    Taught by Marc Lapadula, M.F.A., Film Studies Program, Yale University

    The decade following the 1947 House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings into communist influence in the movies was a trying time for filmmakers, many of whom found their creativity stifled by the ominous pall cast over Hollywood by HUAC and the industry-imposed blacklist it elicited. This was not a climate in which artists were encouraged to take risks—or engage in social criticism—with their work, yet director Nicholas Ray, a true rebel in this (or any) era, was different.

    As Lillian Hellman might have put it, Ray would never cut his films “to fit the year’s fashions.” Instead, he developed a more sophisticated cinematic style through which he could eloquently articulate his startling and incisive critiques of America without evoking the wrath of government or industry watchdogs. Among his peers, Ray had the inimitable skill to disguise his bold, subversive themes in a richly layered subtext.

    The fruits of this labor, such as In a Lonely Place (1950; shown on 35mm), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and Bigger Than Life (1956), are some of the most enduring movies of that era. Join us to find out why, in the decades since, these films have spoken anew to audiences of each generation.

  • One Single Mystery: The Films of Robert Bresson


    L'argent (1983)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Even among the hallowed group of directors whose names have become adjectives, Robert Bresson stands alone. The term “Bressonian” conjures up a host of descriptors such as minimalist, rigorous, precise, transcendental, and spiritual, but the French master's body of work is defined as much by what it omits as by what it includes. Like a sculptor, Bresson, whose career began during WWII and ended in 1983, chiseled away conventional elements of cinema, such as character psychology, traditional dramatic performance, and elaborate camera movement, until he was left with only the most essential components of each scene—a unique, unified product that can only be described as Bressonian.

    Bresson's ruthlessly economical approach to filmmaking may seem dry, or even daunting, to the uninitiated, but his quiet observation of concrete details unlocks depths of emotion that classical pathos cannot reach. As a result, his allegedly austere films are in reality quite sensual. For many devotees, Bresson is not only one of the great directors, but an oracular guru without parallel. Jean-Luc Godard was even moved enough to have described Au hasard Balthazar (1966) as “the world in an hour and a half.”

    This course will cut through the mystical clichés surrounding this revered figure while exploring Bresson's idiosyncratic pursuit of a pure cinema divorced from theater and literature. We will discuss his distinct approach to acting (he called his non-professional performers “models”), his themes of grace and redemption, his use of elliptical editing and evocative sound design, and his singular place in world cinema history. Among the films to be discussed are A Man Escaped (1956), Pickpocket (1959), Au hasard Balthazar, and his final work, L'argent (1983).

  • Passion and Wrath: The Films of Carl Theodor Dreyer


    The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE An illegitimate child raised by a Danish foster family he rejected, Carl Theodor Dreyer blazed his own trail through life. Leaving home as a teenager to work first as a journalist and then as a filmmaker, he quickly realized he was uncomfortable in any hierarchical structure'a theme apparent in much of his work'and forged an independent career that remains difficult to categorize, even a half century after his final feature film.

    Dreyer's movies are often described as austere, yet express volcanic passions and a marked sensitivity to the interior lives of their characters, most notably the oppressed women who became one of his trademarks. His films often tackle issues of faith, but his own religious beliefs, if any, remain unclear. What is certain is that Dreyer created some of the defining masterpieces of both the silent and sound eras.

    Join us to explore this director's most celebrated works, including the silent landmark The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and his extraordinary sound films: Vampyr (1932), Day of Wrath (1943), and Ordet (1955). In so doing, we will learn (or be reminded) why Dreyer is considered not just the greatest Danish filmmaker, but one of the most exceptional directors of all time.

  • Paul Thomas Anderson: Cinematic Cypher


    Magnolia (1999)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Esquire magazine has suggested of Paul Thomas Anderson that “by refusing to comment on his past . . . America's most distinctive director has become a cypher, a man you know through the movies he creates.” This can be said of many gifted directors, but it is true not only of Anderson himself, but of the distinctively American loners who circumnavigate their own lives in his ambitious works.

    In films as disparate as Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch Drunk Love (2002), and There Will Be Blood (2007), Anderson explores characters who continually reinvent themselves and reject their pasts, only to end up confronting a history of choices often made in a state of the most willful blindness. The Anderson protagonist is at heart a figure who can barely articulate what has been lost and how.

    From contemporary Las Vegas to oil-boom California, this course traces Anderson's evolving meditations on regret in a land of seemingly unbounded American promise.

  • Poland through the Prism of Andrzej Wajda


    Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    The father of modern Polish cinema and one of the great masters of narrative filmmaking, Andrzej Wajda received an Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 1999 for a career that has extended across half a century. As the Academy noted, "Wajda belongs to Poland, but his films are part of the cultural treasure of all mankind." During the course of his career he has directed more than forty feature films and thirty stage productions, and served as a mentor for several generations of Polish filmmakers, including Roman Polanski, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Agnieszka Holland.

    The young Wajda brought the nascent post-WWII Polish cinema into the international arena almost single-handedly in the mid-1950s, starting with A Generation (1955). Kanal (1957), the first movie ever made about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes and launched Wajda on the path to international renown, a status secured with the release of what many consider to be his masterpiece, Ashes and Diamonds (1958), which firmly established the "Polish School" movement in filmmaking. Other important works followed, including Innocent Sorcerers (1960), The Wedding (1972), and The Promised Land (1975), and three films that, either realistically or allegorically, dramatized the political crisis in Poland in the 1970s and '80s between the Solidarity Movement and the Communist regime: Man of Marble (1976), Man of Iron (1981), and Danton (1982).

    Never afraid of controversy, Wajda has continually questioned the national myths of his homeland and dared to touch upon old wounds and uncomfortable subjects in films like Katyn (2002), about the massacre of 22,000 Polish citizens, of whom 10,000 were military officers (including Wajda's father), by Stalin's secret police. His work, some of which was suppressed by censorship, has inspired stormy debate in the Polish press that extends far beyond the realm of art. Wajda, who continues to work, remains an artist too important to be ignored or silenced; his films endure as penetrating chronicles of Polish society and its history, and a voice of conscience and freedom against oppression.

  • Preston Sturges: The Prince of Paramount


    Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)

    Taught by Ian Abrams, College of Media Arts & Design, Drexel University

    In a dizzying four years, Preston Sturges reinvented American film comedy. With seven landmark films, his mix of wordplay and slapstick created a school of movie-making that was wildly funny and distinctively American—a sophisticated take on the screwball cycle: fast and smart and never too dignified for pratfalls. Sturges was the first prominent writer-director in Hollywood history, paving the way for his Paramount Pictures colleague, Billy Wilder, among others.

    In this course, we will discuss the process by which Sturges the writer became Sturges the director, and what his films, which include The Lady Eve and Sullivan's Travels, say about their times and the American character. We will also see how he achieved his comic effects, and how, in an era of strict censorship, Sturges managed to creatively and amusingly evade the period's reigning Production Code to deal with some very adult themes.

  • Quentin Tarantino: Surrealist of the Church of Home Video


    Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    MIA: Marsellus throwing Tony out of a four-story window for giving me a foot massage seemed reasonable?

    VINCENT: No, it seemed excessive. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    As this excerpt from Quentin Tarantino’s Palme d’Or winner, Pulp Fiction (1994), reminds us, the themes of violent excess and subjective reality have never been far from the writer/director’s restless and inventive mind—one seemingly hard-wired for cross-pollinating cinematic genres, themes, and techniques. While Tarantino himself might not consciously recognize his films as such, they nonetheless reflect a surrealist sensibility at play in the sandbox of postmodern cinema.

    At least one definition of surrealism suggests that the movement, above all, features “the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions, and non sequitur;” so, too, does the Tarantino film experience. Tarantino also embodies and champions, as the now legendary account of his cinematic education as a video-store clerk attests, the aesthetic of the first truly post-film-school wave of directors in the American tradition. In an interview with the BBC, he famously offered: “When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, ‘No, I went to films.’”

    This course imbibes the cinematic cocktail made from mixing his unorthodox formation as a filmmaker in the church of home video with his visceral, yet surreal, take on thieves, hit-men, vixens, warrior-assassins, and Nazi-hunters. Join us on a detailed journey through five of his own—Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction, both volumes of Kill Bill (2003/4), and Inglourious Basterds (2009)—(plus a bonus discussion of 2012’s Django Unchained) that celebrates two decades of Tarantino’s journey from enfant terrible to auteur fantastique.

  • Revolutionary Dreamer: Bernardo Bertolucci


    The Dreamers (2003)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Few international directors over the past four decades have managed to remain as vital as Bernardo Bertolucci, who has become the most significant figure to emerge from the Italian Cinema of the 1960s. Influenced by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Jean-Luc Godard, and the later Luchino Visconti (as well as by Freud and Verdi), Bertolucci has created provocative, resonant portraits of history (1900, The Last Emperor), family (Luna, Tragedy of a Ridiculous Man), and sexuality (Last Tango in Paris, The Dreamers).

    His elegant visual style—characterized by fluid camera movement, meticulous lighting, symbolic use of color, and inventive editing, all most notably featured in The Conformist, a dazzling work—has influenced several generations of filmmakers, from the American "movie brats" of the 1970s, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, to the music video auteurs of the 1980s and 1990s. Other films that will be viewed and discussed include Before the Revolution, The Sheltering Sky, and Besieged. This course, then, will examine the career of a master director whose dream has been "to arrive at a point at which one can live for films, (and) can think cinematographically."

  • Robert Altman: From Stage to Screen


    Fool for Love (1985)

    Taught by Gary M. Kramer, Author and Film Critic

    Robert Altman has long been considered an iconoclast in American cinema. In the 1970s, he achieved considerable critical (and sporadic commercial) success with films like M*A*S*H (1970), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), and Nashville (1975). However, less than a decade later, after the poorly received Quintet (1979), HealtH (1980), and Popeye (1980), Altman was practically unemployable in the film industry. As such, he started directing for the theater and then developed one such production, Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, into a film. This adaptation, the first of several stage-to-screen translations, was well suited to his idiosyncratic style of overlapping dialogue, reflective images, and a roving, zooming camera. These films ultimately revived Altman's flagging career, although they were not without their flaws.

    This class will examine these filmed plays in the context of Altman's wider career. We will explore the ways in which these theater pieces'most of which were originally staged by others'were adapted for the screen, as well as how they (re)present themes, such as masculinity and sexuality, he investigated throughout his work. Four of his 'filmed plays,' Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982), Streamers (1983), Fool for Love (1985), and Beyond Therapy (1987), will be discussed to show both the strengths and weaknesses of the process by which Altman's signature style often (though not always) turned mediocre plays into cult classics.


  • Scorsese's Cinema of Loneliness


    The Departed (2006)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    "See, your murderers come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life. And they always seem to come at a time that you're at your weakest and most in need of their help." –GoodFellas

    This course explores the dynamic cinema of one of America's foremost directors, with attention paid to the elements of autobiography at work in Scorsese's films, as well as to the broader cultural critique he has developed. We examine how his films have been informed by profound questions about violence, alienation, faith, and genuine self-understanding (or self-delusion).

    Among the issues Scorsese confronts us with: How do we, as Americans, ultimately define community? Do our communities serve the personal or spiritual needs of their members? Or are our individual frustrations and pathologies merely symptomatic of a broader failure to connect with one another?

    In this light, we will appraise Scorsese's films for having brought into American popular culture a shared vocabulary for talking about the nature of freedom in America and the nature of responsibility in a criminal, absurd, or even fallen world.

    Our exploration will touch upon many films from Scorsese's body of work, and will specifically cover the following: Mean Streets (1973); GoodFellas (1990); The Departed (2006); and Hugo (2011).

  • Stranger than Paradise: The Films of Jim Jarmusch


    Stranger than Paradise (1984)

    Taught by Chris Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    In 1984, poet, musician, and film student Jim Jarmusch experienced an unlikely breakthrough with his second feature film Stranger than Paradise, a low-budget project shot with friends and made partially on left-over, black-and-white stock donated by German director Wim Wenders. Photographed in a handful of long takes, this film made on a shoe-string budget established Jarmusch's “no-style” aesthetic, deadpan humor, and his interest in marginalized outsiders. It proclaimed his arrival on the American independent film scene, and made him, along with Spike Lee, arguably the most influential indie director in the period between John Cassavetes and Quentin Tarantino.

    Jarmusch emerged from the ‘70s New York underground scene and his films have been defined both by his interest in music (collaborating with Tom Waits, Clash front man Joe Strummer, and Lounge Lizards' singer John Lurie) and avant-garde cinema. Yet his movies, while certainly idiosyncratic and often split into separate strands rather than a single story, are definitely narrative rather than experimental works, and are readily accessible.

    By mutual agreement, Jarmusch and Hollywood have maintained their distance, and he has continued to make smaller-budget independent projects for the past three decades, though his art-house success and cultural cachet have attracted the services of stars like Johnny Depp and Bill Murray, among others. While Jarmusch made his mark as a laconic humorist, his films would combine darker, angrier elements with the trademarked moments of absurdist humor, most notably in his bitter and brilliant acid western, Dead Man (1995). For someone pigeonholed by detractors as a “hipster,” his body of work is actually quite varied.

    Stranger than Paradise, Mystery Train (1989), and Dead Man (screened on 35mm) will be among the films discussed in a course that examines the singular career of a genuine American original.

  • Stranger than Paradise: The Films of Jim Jarmusch


    Stranger Than Paradise (1984)

    Taught by Christopher Long, M.A., Film Critic and Author

    In 1984, poet, musician, and film student Jim Jarmusch experienced an unlikely breakthrough with his second feature film, Stranger than Paradise, a low-budget project shot with friends and made partially on left-over, black-and-white stock donated by German director Wim Wenders. Made on a shoe-string budget and photographed in a handful of long takes, this film established Jarmusch's 'no-style' aesthetic, his deadpan humor, and his interest in marginalized outsiders. It also proclaimed his arrival on the American independent film scene, and made him, along with Spike Lee, arguably the most influential indie director in the period between John Cassavetes and Quentin Tarantino.

    A child of the '70s New York City underground scene, Jarmusch draws on multiple disciplines and his career has been associated as much with the musicians with whom he has collaborated (Tom Waits, Clash frontman Joe Strummer, Iggy Pop, and Lounge Lizards leader John Lurie, among many) as the eclectic group of filmmakers who have influenced him (Robert Bresson, Yasujiro Ozu, and others). Idiosyncratic, languorously paced, and often split into multiple threads, Jarmusch's films are still decidedly narrative rather than experimental works, and have been warmly received by audiences around the world for over thirty years.

    By mutual agreement, Jarmusch and Hollywood have kept their distance from one another. However, his art-house success and cultural cachet have attracted star collaborators like Johnny Depp, Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, and Bill Murray. While Jarmusch made his mark as a laconic humorist, some of his later films combine darker, angrier elements alongside his trademark moments of absurdist comedy, most notably in his bitter and brilliant revisionist western, Dead Man (1995). For someone pigeonholed by detractors (and sometimes by supporters) as a hipster, Jarmusch's body of work is actually quite varied.

    Stranger than Paradise, Mystery Train (1989), Dead Man, and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) will be among the films discussed in a course that examines the singular career of a genuine American original.

  • Swept Away: The Films of Lina Wertmuller


    Swept Away (1974)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    During the 1970s, Lina Wertmuller emblazoned her name into the pantheon of Italian cinema with a series of intensely polemical, deeply controversial, and wonderfully entertaining films. Among the most politically outspoken and iconoclastic members of the second generation of post-war directors—the direct heirs to the neo-realists—Wertmuller was also one of the first female directors to be internationally recognized and acclaimed.

    Armed with a keen, satiric perspective, Wertmuller reinvented the narrative forms and character types of Italian comedy to create one of the rare examples of a radical, politically galvanized cinema that managed to achieve widespread popularity. Indeed, the fierce invectives against social, cultural, and historical inequities at the heart of Wertmuller's mid-1970s masterworks, Love and Anarchy, Swept Away, and Seven Beauties, helped the films find an appreciative audience. This was especially true in the United States, where they broke box office records for foreign films and secured Wertmuller an Oscar nomination for Best Director, making her the first woman to receive such an honor.

    In addition to her most celebrated films, we will look at lesser known works, such as All Screwed Up, The Seduction of Mimi, and Ciao, Professore, that nevertheless reveal Wertmuller's energy, vision, Rabelaisian humor, and consequence as a filmmaker.

  • Through a Lens Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman


    The Seventh Seal (1957)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Haunting. Poetic. Indelible: The films of Ingmar Bergman in the 1950s and 1960s would become synonymous with European art cinema and elevate the Swedish director to a position of prominence where he would eventually be recognized as one of the most important filmmakers in the history of Western Cinema.

    His striking achievements from that era—the black-and-white elegies The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and The Virgin Spring—merely paved the way for a long and dazzling career that would take him from the daring "Silence of God" trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence) to what many consider to be his masterpiece, Persona, to the existential terrors of Cries and Whispers and to the family epic Fanny and Alexander. His vision of human nature revealed in these films derives in part from personal experience and in part from the influence of his great predecessors in Scandinavian Cinema—the Swedes Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjostrom, and especially the Dane Carl-Theodor Dreyer—as well as by the Scandinavian giants of late nineteenth-century drama: Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg.

    In his more than forty years in the cinema, Bergman, as writer-director, produced approximately fifty films which explored the fundamental subjects of human existence: The quest for love and faith, the meaning of suffering and pain, the inexplicability of death, the solitary nature of being, the hell and paradise of marriage, and the struggle to find meaning in a seemingly random and capricious universe. For many, Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics—religion, death, existentialism—to the screen; but equally important was his ability to explore the psychology of women, and to examine the relationship between men and women.

    His films, with few exceptions, are chamber pieces that enclose space and time, permitting him to focus on mise-en-scene and to pay careful attention to metaphoric detail and visual rhythm. Within this approach, Bergman's most expressive technique is his use of the facial close-up. For Bergman, the face (especially a woman's) along with the hand, allows the camera to reveal the inner aspects of human emotion.

    Join us as we explore the cinema of a director who was described as a "poet with the camera." We will move from the comic romp of lovers in Smiles of a Summer Night—Bergman's first international success—to the Crusader's search for God in the allegorical The Seventh Seal to the reveries and regrets of a retired professor in the brilliant Wild Strawberries (shown on 35 mm) to, finally, The Virgin Spring, a powerful film about the rape of a young girl and its mysterious aftermath that is based on a thirteenth-century ballad.

  • Through a Lens Darkly: The Films of Ingmar Bergman, Pt. 2


    Cries and Whispers (1972)

    Taught by Maurizio Giammarco, Ph.D., Intellectual Heritage Program,
    Temple University

    Haunting. Poetic. Indelible: The films of Ingmar Bergman in the 1950s and 1960s would become synonymous with European art cinema and elevate the Swedish director to a position of prominence where he would eventually be recognized as one of the most important filmmakers in the history of Western Cinema.

    His striking achievements from that era—the black-and-white elegies The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, and The Virgin Spring—merely paved the way for a long and dazzling career that would take him from the daring "Silence of God" trilogy (Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light, The Silence) to what many consider to be his masterpiece, Persona, to the existential terrors of Cries and Whispers and to the family epic Fanny and Alexander. His vision of human nature revealed in these films derives in part from personal experience and in part from the influence of his great predecessors in Scandinavian Cinema—the Swedes Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjostrom, and especially the Dane Carl-Theodor Dreyer—as well as by the Scandinavian giants of late nineteenth-century drama: Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg.

    In his more than forty years in the cinema, Bergman, as writer-director, produced approximately fifty films which explored the fundamental subjects of human existence: The quest for love and faith, the meaning of suffering and pain, the inexplicability of death, the solitary nature of being, the hell and paradise of marriage, and the struggle to find meaning in a seemingly random and capricious universe. For many, Bergman was the first to bring metaphysics—religion, death, existentialism—to the screen; but equally important was his ability to explore the psychology of women, and to examine the relationship between men and women.

    His films, with few exceptions, are chamber pieces that enclose space and time, permitting him to focus on mise-en-scene and to pay careful attention to metaphoric detail and visual rhythm. Within this approach, Bergman's most expressive technique is his use of the facial close-up. For Bergman, the face (especially a woman's) along with the hand, allows the camera to reveal the inner aspects of human emotion.

    Join us as we explore the cinema of a director who was described as a "poet with the camera." We will move from Persona, Bergman's masterpiece about the transference of identity between nurse and patient, to the rich autumnal hues of Cries and Whispers, about the interrelationships of four women brought together by death, to Autumn Sonata, an intense study of the relationship between a concert pianist and her middle-aged daughter, to, finally, the Academy Award-winning Fanny and Alexander, a cinematic memoir of Bergman's childhood in the early years of the twentieth century.

  • Touch of Genius: Orson Welles


    Citizen Kane (1941)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    His life is the stuff of legend, and so are his best films.

    He became a theater revolutionary at age twenty, and was the perpetrator of a stunning hoax at twenty-three. He was the creative force behind what would become the greatest American film ever made at twenty-five, and was run out of Hollywood (the first time) at twenty-seven. During this period, Welles co-wrote (with Herman J. Mankiewicz), starred in, and directed Citizen Kane (1941), and wrote, narrated, and directed The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). Later, at the age of forty, he ended his second exile from Hollywood to begin a stint that culminated in his writing, starring in, and directing Touch of Evil (1958)'widely hailed as the nigh-perfect finale to the film noir cycle.

    Though often dismissed during his career and largely unknown to a generation today, we should never forget that Welles was, in the words of Martin Scorsese, 'responsible for inspiring more people to be film directors than anyone else in history of the cinema.' Take this course to see why'and to join us in marking the 100th anniversary of the iconoclastic auteur's birth.

  • Trafficking in the Absurd: The Coen Brothers' Films


    The Big Lebowski (1998)

    Taught by Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D. Department of English, Cabrini College

    BUNNY: "Uli doesn't care about anything. He's a Nihilist."

    THE DUDE: "Ah, that must be exhausting."

    The Big Lebowski

    Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen form a unique partnership, collaborating on both the scripting and the direction of films that are among the most distinctive in contemporary American cinema. They display an uncanny ability to capture perfectly the language, look, and feel of a time and place—from the Depression-era South, to the frozen plains of Minnesota, and from post-1960s Los Angeles, to the desolation of rural Texas.

    Hand-in-hand with this extraordinary appreciation for how people thrive and sometimes wither in their element is the Coens' recognition of the comic absurdities inherent in how we make our way through a world we do not fully understand. This course will explore the Coens' impressive body of work, paying special attention to Miller’s Crossing, The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, and A Serious Man.

  • Trafficking in the Absurd: The Coen Brothers’ Universe


    Fargo (1996)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen form a unique partnership, collaborating on both the scripting and the direction of films that are among the most distinctive in contemporary American cinema. They display an uncanny ability to capture perfectly the language, look, and feel of a time and place—from the Depression-era South, to the frozen plains of Minnesota, and from post-1960s Los Angeles, to the desolation of rural Texas.

    Hand-in-hand with this appreciation for how people thrive and sometimes wither in their element is the Coens' recognition of the comic absurdities inherent in how we make our way through a world we do not fully understand. This course will explore the Coens' impressive body of work, paying special attention to Fargo (1996), No Country for Old Men (2007), and A Serious Man (2009). The course will conclude with a special discussion of Noah Hawley's television series based on Fargo. Hawley's award-winning effort was executive-produced by the Coens with a minimum of their involvement'yet the extraordinary result is neither a strict adaptation nor a continuation of the original, but instead a bold elaboration on the Coens' entire cinematic universe.

  • Woody Allen: A Magical Misery Tour


    Match Point (2005)

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    At once prolific and profound, at times unnerving and uneven, no matter how you feel about Woody Allen's films (or the man himself), there is one thing on which we all can agree: no other filmmaker has spun so much cinematic gold from his own neuroses. As a result, Allen's work is admired in the cafes of Paris and the bars of the Upper West Side, but not in too many multiplexes.

    It is surprising, given the limited draw of most of his pictures, the degree to which elements from them have entered the collective consciousness; and Allen has had this influence while remaining committed to making small, often personal films when a number of his peers have either moved on to larger and more glamorous canvases (Lucas, Scorsese), or appear to have nearly abandoned filmmaking altogether (Bogdanovich, Coppola).

    Join us as we travel through Allen's extensive career—with stops ranging from his paradigm-shifting Annie Hall (1977) to his "comeback" film, Match Point (2005)—in an effort to better understand the appeal of the only writer/director who can credibly cite both Ingmar Bergman and Groucho Marx as formative influences. On second thought, perhaps that says it all.