starlite under the big top

last night we held the last starlite cinema of what is officially summer. i hope the next one looks more like this.

ok, so maybe snow is out of the question, but give us a break. more than two straight months of triple digit temperatures is ridiculous. when the sun sets for movie time and it's still 95 degrees, and it feels like relief, things have gone too far. we forged bravely on, though, keeping it mercifully short this time around. in celebration of alfred hitchcock's birthday, we screened my favorite film of his, rope (1948). i have seen it countless times now and still find something new in it every time. i wish jimmy stewart was allowed to give vent to the darker aspects of his character more often. he never did better work than when hitchcock let him break out of that staid everyman bit and indulge in some minor key business. a good time was had by all and, as always, thanks to everyone who came and to stephen and lauren for the space to make it happen.

next month, we focus on life in the center ring with a program devoted to the circus. our feature presentation will be federico fellini's landmark, la strada (1954).

when i was a fresh-faced undergrad english major at oklahoma state, i took a film as literature class from a professor named leonard leff and it turned out to be a pivotal experience. the very first film i saw under his tutelage was la strada and, twenty-two years down the road, i remember it like it was yesterday. he showed me a vast new horizon, taught me how to read a film and provided me with the tools to dig as deep into the world of cinema as my meager abilities would allow. i owe him an inestimable debt for that. the very least i can do is pass it along and possibly provide that experience for someone else, so, in that spirit, we will be watching this jewel as the centerpiece of our late september program. it is the bridge from fellini's earlier, more neo-realist work to the later, more idiosyncratic and fanciful fables he would indulge in to varying degrees of success. it is the story of a brutish traveling strongman and the womanchild he purchases to act as his assistant as they take their paltry show on the road. it's a grim life, meandering through the barren italian countryside, putting on shows for practically no one, but giulietta masina is an undeniable light in that darkness. she takes the simple joy you find in the expression of the great cinematic clowns like chaplin and imbues it with such radiance that sometimes it is hard to believe. she is one of cinema's greatest faces. even her angelic simplicity is not enough, however, to stave off tragedy. come see the whole beautiful and sad thing unfold with us. there will be a couple of other circus-related visual treats and i have it on good authority that lauren will be working on a themed menu for the occasion as well. it is going to be a great night for children of all ages. here is the facebook event page if you would like to RSVP. hope to see you there.

p.s. while we're on the subject of leonard leff, and still in hitchcock's birthday month, i would be remiss if i didn't mention that, among other great books, my old professor has written the definitive study of hitchcock's complicated relationship with oft-times maniacal titan/producer, david o. selznick. no hitchcock enthusiast's bookshelf is complete without it.

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