Medieval art has always been one of my semi-blind spots within art history. Russian art draws an even greater blank in my mind, with little knowledge of art before the twentieth century. With the HFA screening some Tarkovsky this month, it seemed like a fine time to get a bit of art history in with my classic film viewing. Andrei Rublev depicts several (mostly imagined) scenes in the life of the titular artist, a medieval master about whom little is actually known. Played by Anatoliy Solonitsyn, he is a thoughtful, creative monk who struggles with both his artistic subject and his faith. He hopes to spread joy and divine inspiration through his work, but the church enforces terrifying representations of the Last Judgment.
Loosely based on the real-life singing group (and written by the lead singer’s son), The Sapphires follows four musical Koori women- three sisters and their cousin- who tour Vietnam in 1968 to perform for American troops. They are accompanied by their drunken manager, Dave Lovelace (Chris O’Dowd), who is generally useless but seriously believes in their talent. While traveling the young women experience various ups and downs: the oldest, Gail (Deborah Mailman), fights to protect everyone else in an unfriendly environment; her sister Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) embarks on an affair with a handsome soldier; Julie (Jessica Mauboy), the youngest, suddenly finds herself in the spotlight…
Miles found this at his work and we were all ready for another Alex Cox movie to fall in love with since Repo Man is basically constantly on a loop at our house. Walker sounded rigoddamndiculous and I was intrigued by the premise alone. Based on a real-life figure, the film stars Ed Harris as William Walker, a doctor/lawyer/adventurer who acted as a “filibuster” in the mid-19th century, going into South American regions and attempting to set up American colonies. He is hired by opportunistic Cornelius Vanderbildt (Peter Boyle) to bring order to Nicaragua so that the wealthy tycoon can control their major trade route. Conquering local soldiers with a small army of mercenaries, Walker eventually installs himself as dictator and rules for almost two years.
My first awareness of Mel Brooks came from my dad impersonating the Ten Commandments bit in History of the World: Part I, a joke I thought was the most hilarious thing I’d ever heard before I’d even seen the movie. And so revisiting it for the first time in at least seven years reduced me to the stupid middle schooler I actually secretly am, giggling uncontrollably at a bunch of puns and inappropriate musical numbers.
Inspired by true events, Goodfellas traces the rise and fall of gangster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) as he becomes part of a major New York criminal enterprise. He’d always dreamed of being a gangster, and believes the respect and wealth that he gains are worth the murders and threat of imprisonment and all that. As the years pass he starts a family, does some time, gets deep into drug trafficking, and eventually becomes an informant when several of his friends are killed.