Blog Directory CineVerse: 2011

Three days until "Three days of the Condor"

Monday, December 26, 2011

On December 28, CineVerse will explore a riveting conspiracy thriller: “Three Days of the Condor” (1975; 117 minutes), directed by Sydney Pollack, chosen by Norm Omiecinski.


New CineVerse schedule posted

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Want to learn what we'll be screening and discussing over the next 2 months? The CineVerse January/February 2012 schedule is posted and ready for viewing. Click here to check it out.


A "Miracle" of a movie

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa Claus is comin' to town...but not before he pays a visit to CineVerse on December 21.

Join us that date for "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947; 96 minutes), directed by George Seaton, chosen by Peggy Quinn.

Plus: We'll conclude the evening with a preview of the January/Febraury 2012 CineVerse schedule.


Go bananas for "12 Monkeys"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

by Erik J. Martin

If you’re a fan of sci-fi that makes you think, here’s one that may have slipped under your radar: “12 Monkeys.”

Ex-Monty Python player Terry Gilliam, director of “Brazil” and “Time Bandits,” again proves he can crystallize his twisted futuristic vision on celluloid with clever ease. “12 Monkeys,” starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt (in perhaps his best acting stint yet), is one of those great word-of-mouth sci-fi films that you’ll probably still be talking about when you’re a grandparent.

Setting: In the year 2035, a terrible plague has forced humans to live underground. Societal outcast Willis is offered the chance clear his criminal record if he travels back in time to collect an early sample of the virus in the hopes that scientists may find a cure. Only living in the past can prove to be a real drag, especially when time travel paradoxes threaten your very existence.

A smartly written, visually captivating thriller executed to perfection by Gilliam.


French tart

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Prepare to be seduced by the wily charms and hypnotizing beauty of Catherine Deneuve, who plays the title role in “Belle de Jour" (1967; 101 minutes), directed by Luis Bunuel, chosen by Bob Hoggatt to be our CineVerse pick for Dec. 14.

Plus, we'll screen a trailer tribute to the finest works of director Buneul prior to the movie.


Crunch into "The Wild Bunch"

Friday, December 9, 2011

Three years ago, CineVerse headed west--as in The Old West, shoot-em-up-Peckinpah style, with violence aplenty, when our group explored the insights and influence of the western that changed all westerns henceforth: "The Wild Bunch".

To tune into a podcast recording of that conversation, click here.


In need of a good movie? The Help is here

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following movie free of charge: The Help (2011, PG-13, 146 min) -- Monday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. An aspiring author during the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement decides to write a book detailing the African American maid’s point of view on the white families they work for, and the hardships they endure on a daily basis. Based on Kathryn Stockett’s award-winning novel. Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Learn more by clicking here.


Christmas comes early

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following movie free of charge: Christmas in Connecticut (1945, Unrated, 102 min) -- Wednesday, Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. A food writer who has lied about being the perfect housewife must try to cover her deception when her boss and a returning war hero invite themselves to her home for a traditional family Christmas. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. Learn more by clicking here.


Go "Home for the Holidays," but come to CineVerse on Nov. 30

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving may have come and gone, but it's not too late to laugh at the foibles and frustrations one family encounters on turkey day, as amply evidenced in “Home for the Holidays” (1995; 103 minutes), directed by Jodie Foster, chosen by Patrick McMahon, scheduled for Nov. 30 at CineVerse.

Make plans to arrive on time, as we'll play a movie trivia game for DVD prizes from 7 - 7:40 p.m..


Salute "The General"

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Four years ago this month, CineVerse shone the spotlight on the comedic genius and directing prowess of Buster Keaton a la his timeless classic "The General."

To hear a podcast recording of that evening's absorbing group discussion, click here.


CineVerse cancelled Nov. 23

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, for which the Oak View Center building will be closed early on Wednesday, there will be no CineVerse group meeting on Nov. 23. We will resume next Wednesday as usual. Happy turkey day, everyone!


A skeleton army worthy of Harryhausen

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

by Erik J. Martin

Looking for a fun flick to rent or queue up in your Netflix library? Check out Army of Darkness.

Though it was certainly the campiest outing in his three-part “Evil Dead” series, Sam Raimi’s “Army of Darkness” was also the most fun.

Bruce Campbell reprises his cult-hero role as Ash, the lone survivor of the first two flicks who can take a lickin’ from the undead and keep on tickin’ (case in point: he replaced his severed forearm with a chainsaw). For no apparent reason, Ash is transported to the 14th century, where he must lead a band of medieval warriors against—you guessed it—the army of darkness.

Raimi the horror historian throws a bone to classic Ray Harryhausen animation via his sword-wielding skeleton minions, who manage to steal the show. Gore and guffaws collide in this wicked widescreen romp.


Run, don't walk, to "Ran"

Monday, November 14, 2011

On November 16, our tribute to Akira Kurosawa, one of the world's finest directors, will conclude. We've seen many greats from this giant of Japanese cinema over the past six months, but we've saved one of his best for last: "Ran" (1985; 162 minutes).

Note: Due to the long runtime of this film, CineVerse will start promptly at 7 p.m. and extend until 10:30 p.m. to allow enough time for group discussion.


Get Stung

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following movie free of charge: The Sting (1973, PG, 129 min) -- Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. In 1930s Chicago, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker. The result is a story with several twists and last-minute alterations. Starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Robert Shaw.


Can that guy act or what?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

For November-December, CineVerse is running a new poll, and we want your vote. This time around, we ask: Who is the greatest movie actor of all time? Vote now by visiting the left sidebar on our home page and selecting from 20 favorite names.

By the way, here are the results of our most recent CineVerse poll, which asked, “What is the greatest movie western of all time?” The overwhelming winner was The Searchers, with 31% of the vote. Runners up included Unforgiven (21%), and, with 10% of the vote each, Rio Bravo, The Good The Bad and the Ugly, and The Magnificent Seven.


Cast a vote for "Election"

Election day may have come and gone, but you can still get your fill of petty politics and crazy campaigning by joining Cineverse on November 9 fo "Election" (1999; 103 minutes), directed by Alexander Payne, chosen by Joe Valente.


Kane and able

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Seventy years ago this fall, the world of cinema changed forever with the release of Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane.

Now, CineVerse is prepared to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this seminal film. Make plans to join us on Nov. 2 for a viewing and discussion of this movie.


The best vampires come from Germany

Friday, October 28, 2011

It's Halloween season, a fitting time to delve into a delicious horror film. One of the best of them all is Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors, by F.W. Murnau. CineVerse performed an autopsy on this classic vampire picture four years ago, the recording of which has been captured as a podcast. To listen to it, click here.


CineVerse Nov/Dec 2011 schedule has been updated

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Forrest Gump", originally slated on the CineVerse calendar for Dec. 28, has been rescheduled for Jan. 4, 2012, at the request of its chooser, Tom.

On Dec. 28, instead we will view “Three Days of the Condor” (1975; 117 minutes), directed by Sydney Pollack, chosen by Norm Omiecinski.

Hence, the November/December 2011 schedule has been updated. To view the revised lineup, click here.


The only thing we have to fear is...The Thing itself

If you want to give your goosebumps a good workout, plan on joining CineVerse on October 26 for our Shocktober Theater conclusion: "The Thing" (1982; 109 minutes), directed by John Carpenter and chosen by Brian Hansen. And happy Halloween!

There are deals and savings available for "The Thing".


A "Win Win" means you can't lose

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following feature free of charge: Win Win (2011, R, 106 min) -- Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. A struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach’s chicanery comes back to haunt him when the teenage grandson of the client he’s double-crossed comes into his life. Starring Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Jaffrey Tambor. Click here for the 411.


New November/December 2011 CineVerse schedule

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Eager to learn what we'll be viewing and spewing about in CineVerse over the next 2 months? The November/December CineVerse schedule is now ready for prime time. Click here to view it.


Paranormal activity, Deborah Kerr-style

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Halloween is fast approaching, and to celebrate, CineVerse brings back Schocktober Theater. Make plans to join us on October 19--if your nerves can stand it--for one of the great ghost story movies of all time: "The Innocents" (1961; 100 minutes), directed by Jack Clayton.

Plus, following our discussion, we'll preview the November/December 2011 CineVerse schedule.


X does not mark the spot

Thursday, October 13, 2011

by Erik J. Martin

Remember “The X-Files” TV show and what an exciting breath of fresh air it was to small screen viewers when it first aired on Fox in 1993?

Well, that air quickly grew stale by 1998, when series creator Chris Carter and company finally brought their cult hit TV series to the big screen with “The X-Files: Fight the Future” movie. Sigh. I remember how pumped up I was to buy a ticket to this flick in the late nineties.

Talk about disappointing. The “X-Files” first movie is a patchwork of bigger budget pyrotechnics and FX (which actually work quite well) and a convoluted screenplay that, while laced with enough action, doesn't deliver the goods in quite the way that X-Files fans would expect. Here’s a quick capsule review to save you the rental fee:

This time around, Mulder and Scully--upset that the X-Files are now closed--are closer than ever before to the truth behind the government conspiracy they've been investigating for five seasons, and the danger has never been greater: it seems that aliens, who first landed on earth back in neanderthal days, are planning to take over the planet with the help of the covert Syndicate (the one that the shadowy Cigarette Smoking Man belongs to, remember?). In exchange for their own freedom, The Syndicate and its forces are raising millions of bees that, when released, will sting people all over the world and infect them with alien goo that grows and turns bodies into human hosts for aliens that hatch out of people's stomachs (sound familiar, H.R. Geiger Alien fans?) Only our two favorite FBI agents, of course, can stop this madness. The problem is that Scully is stung and abducted by the Syndicate. Thanks to a tip from Deep Throat du jour Dr. Alvin Kurtzweil (Martin Landau), Mulder finds Scully in the Arctic aboard a colossal buried alien mothership, and rescues her. They get back to civilization and convince the FBI to reopen the X-Files. And now, the Syndicate is really shakin' in its shoes...

Problems? Plenty. How about showing us some skin, as in more extraterrestrials! Instead, we get quick glimpses of pissed-off, sharp-clawed grey skins who like to shed a lot of blood. What the heck did they cast stellar actor Armin Mueller Stahl (as the Syndicate leader) for if he appears in about 90 seconds worth of the movie? The same question goes for the loveably goofy Lone Gunmen--why show them at all if it's only for a minute or two? Why not more character development here? How are we supposed to believe the hokey bee conspiracy, anyway? The aliens seem to be tough enough to handle us wimpy humans themselves. How did Scully escape from the autopsy cooler when the military police were scouring every inch for her? And for that matter, how did a naked Scully, covered by Mulder's coat when he rescues her, suddenly grow pants in the climactic conclusion?

In short, this picture’s swiss cheese plot, though tangy in its complexity, leaves us with far too many enigmatic questions. And its cliffhanging ending leaves viewers with a lack of closure and resolution. Weak.


Kurosawa goes contemporary

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Next up in our once-a-month tribute to Akira Kurosawa is a departure of sorts: the director switched settings from the samurai age to modern times to create a riveting thriller.

Slot October 12 on your calendar to catch "High and Low" (1963; 143 minutes). Note: Because of the long runtime of this film, we'll need to start promptly at 7 p.m. and we may go over a few minutes beyond 10 p.m.


Dial L for "Library"

Friday, October 7, 2011

At no cost to you, the Oak Lawn public library will present the following movie: Dial M for Murder (1954, Unrated, 105 min) -- Monday, Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. An ex-tennis pro carries out a plot to murder his wife in this Alfred Hitchcock thriller. When things go wrong, he improvises a brilliant plan B. Starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings. Learn more by clicking here.


That's one helluva rifle

Sunday, October 2, 2011

When he wasn't making populist everyman films for Frank Capra, tightening the knot of suspense for Hitchcock or playing the love interest opposite greats like Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart starred in his share of A-level westerns.

Join CineVerse on October 5 for one of them: "Winchester 73" (1950; 92 minutes), directed by Anthony Mann, chosen by Kevin McAlinden. Plus, prior to the film we'll screen a trailer reel saluting the works of Anthony Mann.


Agatha Christie hits the big screen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If detective mysteries are your cup of tea, you'll want to join CineVerse on September 28 for "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974; 128 minutes), directed by Sidney Lumet, chosen by Luke Lukaszewski.


Eyre supply

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following film completely gratis: Jane Eyre (2011, PG-13, 120 min) -- Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. In this romantic drama based on Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, a mousy governess softens the heart of her employer but soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret.Starring Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender and Dame Judi Dench.. Click here for all the full scoop.


A teenie bit of Fellini

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A masterpiece from Italy celebrates its 50th birthday this year: Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita, a film that Wikipedia describes as "a story of a passive journalist's week in Rome, and his search for both happiness and love that will never come. Generally cited as the film that marks the transition between Fellini's earlier neo-realist films and his later art films, it is widely considered one of the great achievements in world cinema."

CineVerse screened and discussed this flick back in 2007, and an insightful Reflections handout was created that further delves into the mysteries and interpretations of this movie. To give it a read, click here.


A Fistful of Kurosawa

Sunday, September 18, 2011

On September 21, CineVerse will continue its once-a-month tribute to the art of Akira Kurosawa with "Yojimbo" (1961; 110 minutes), directed by Kurosawa, a western set in the era of feudal Japan that was later remade as "A Fistful of Dollars" starring Clint Eastwood.


Journalistic integrity in black and white

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will present the following film free of charge: Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005, PG, 93 min) -- Friday, Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy in George Clooney’s Oscar-nominated drama Starring David Strathairn, George Clooney and Patricia Clarkson. Click here for all the details.


Be "Happy-Go-Lucky"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Make plans September 14 to attend CineVerse for a World Cinema Wednesday special from the United Kingdom: "Happy-Go-Lucky” (2008; 118 minutes), directed by Mike Leigh, chosen by David Ries.


Tolkien 'toons

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

by Erik J. Martin

Hard to believe that the “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the first installment of director Peter Jackson’s FX epic trilogy “The Lord of the Rings, ” first rolled into theaters 10 years ago this December.

But Jackson’s live action effort isn’t the first time a work of J.R.R. Tolkien has been feted onscreen. The English author’s Middle Earth stories and characters enjoyed quite a resurgence in the ’70s and ’80s, a la animated adaptations—some more worthy than others of being revisited.

In 1978, “The Hobbit” became the first animated version of a Tolkien work, based on the book of the same name (Tolkien’s “prequel” to the Ring trilogy). This was produced as a made-for-TV children’s special by family-friendly animation mavens Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass. Featured are the voices of Orson Bean as Bilbo Baggins, the esteemed film director John Huston as the wizard Gandalf, and yet another director from Hollywood’s golden age, Otto Preminger, as the Elvenking. The animation’s a bit crude and dated (in the corner-cutting Pokemon style), the simplified story isn’t very faithful to the book, and the folksy guitar-accompanied soundtrack songs wear on the nerves, but the movie has an all-ages charm to it that makes it an ideal introduction for kids to Tolkien’s works.

In 1978, edgy artist Ralph Bashki—who made waves with his 1972 “adult” cartoon Fritz the Cat—realized his lofty ambitions for a bigscreen project when his animated “The Lord of the Rings” was released in theaters. Bashki pulled out all the stops to create a dark, brooding adaptation that stayed faithful to Tolkien'’ trilogy. Innovative for its use of Bashki’s live action animation via rotoscoping and silhouette effects, the film nonetheless lacks in personality and fails to flesh out its characters enough for us to care. While visually stunning, it ultimately disappoints in that it ends abruptly at the halfway point of the second book—The Two Towers—because its director ran out of money. Sadly, Bashki never came back to finish the story with a sequel.

In 1980, “The Return of the King” aired: another Rankin/Bass G-rated made-for-TV cartoon that depicts the final book in Tolkien’s Ring trilogy. Skimpy on the animation and heavy on the same style of preachy narrative songs that made 1978’s The Hobbit irritating, many fans called this and its animated predecessor a major hatchet job. Yes, that voice you hear actually is Casey Kasem as Cousin Merry the hobbit, trying hard not to sound like Scoobie Doo’s beatnik sidekick Shaggy.


Kubrick makes a "Killing"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Join CineVerse on September 7 for "The Killing" (1956; 85 minutes), directed by Stanley Kubrick, chosen by Dan Quenzel.

Plus, prior to the film, we'll screen excepts from the acclaimed documentary: "Stanley Kubrick"  A Life in Pictures."


Ride 'em cowboy

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Searchers of The Wild Bunch? Red River or Ride the High Country? Life is full of choices, and now CineVerse is asking you to make a tough one: What is the greatest movie western of all time? That is the question posed in our new poll. It was a tough call narrowing it down to 20, but hopefully one of your favorites is represented. Vote now by visiting our home page and participating in the survey on the left sidebar.

By the way, we have a split decision on our last poll, which asked "What is the greatest foreign film of all time?" Garnering 23 percent of the votes each were Seven Samurai and Cinema Paradiso. The runner up is M by Fritz Lang. Other vote getters included: Rashomon; The 400 Blows; Breathless; The Battle of Algiers; and Bicycle Thieves.


How would you spend your last remaining days?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What if your doctor told you you only had a short time left to live? How would you spend your final days? That's the quandary facing a Japanese bureaucrat in "Ikiru (To Live)" (1952; 143 minutes), another masterwork directed by Akira Kurosawa, which is next on the CineVerse schedule for August 31.

This film continues our exploration of the works of Kurosawa. We'll continue to watch a different film from this director once a month over the next few months.

Note: Due to the long runtime of this film, we will need to start it promptly at 7 p.m. and our discussion may go slightly past 10 p.m.


The sweet smell of dandelions...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library is screening yet another free film in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- Like Dandelion Dust (2009, PG-13, 100 min.) -- Wednesday, August 31 at 2 p.m.  -- A compelling drama that explores the different meanings of being a parent through the gritty, realistic lives of the struggling, blue-collar Porters, and the privileged Campbell family. Their lives intersect, intertwine and collide, all for the love of a little boy. Starring Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser and Kate Levering. Based on a novel by Karen Kingsbury. Click here for all the info.


CineVerse September-October calendar ready for viewing

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Curious to learn what we'll be screening over the next 2 moths? Click here to access the September/October 2011 CineVerse schedule.


From dusk to Twilight

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Oak Lawn Park District continues its Movies on the Green 2011 Friday night summer series with Twilight (the first film in the series) on August 26 at dusk (weather permitting). Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs and come see a great popcorn film for free on the lush lawn of the Village Green, located directly east of the Municipal Center and north of the Library. Click here for full details.


You'll swoon over Paper Moon

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will show yet another gratis feature in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- Paper Moon (1973, PG, 102 min.) -- Thursday, August 25 at 2 p.m. – During the Great Depression, a con man finds himself saddled with a young girl who may or may not be his daughter, and the two forge an unlikely partnership. Starring Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal. Based on a novel by Joe David Brown. Click here for the 411.


Zombies have more fun

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Zombies may want to eat your funnybone, but we'd rather tickle it. Join CineVerse on August 24 for a madap romp through an Armageddon populated by Woody Harrelson, Bill Murray and the living dead in "Zombieland" (2009; 88 minutes), directed by Ruben Fleischer, chosen by Danealle Kueltzo.

Plus, stick around and we'll preview a trailer reel of the September/October 2011 CineVerse schedule close to 10 p.m.

Target coupons are always available for movies.


Today I consider myself the luckiest film fan on the face of the Earth...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We're heading into the late innings of the MLB season, so it's only fitting that we spotlight one of the great baseball movies of all time, "The Pride of the Yankees" (1942; 128 minutes), which is on the CineVerse calendar for August 17.

Starring Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig, "Pride" was directed by Sam Wood, chosen by Len Gornik


A library with a view

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will be showing another free flick in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- A Room with a View (1985, R, 117 min.) -- Tuesday, August 16 at 10 a.m. -- The coming-of-age story of a young woman who longs to burst free from the repression of British upper class manners and mores as she wrestles to choose between two very opposite suitors. Starring Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Julian Sands and Daniel Day-Lewis. Based on a novel by E.M. Forster. Click here for more details.


How green was my CineVerse

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This year marks the 70th anniversary for a number of classic films, including Citizen Kane, Sergeant York, The Maltese Falcon, Sullivan's Travels and How Green Was My Valley.

CineVerse dissected the latter back in 2008, the result of which yielded a thought-provoking group discussion. To hear a podcast recording of that chat, click here.


To Sir Alec Guiness, with love...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Before Alec Guinness became a familiar face to Americans as Col. Nicholson or Obi-Wan Kenobi, he starred in a series of wonderful comedies produced by Ealing Studios in Britain. On August 10, CineVerse invites you to experience one of the best of that Ealing cycle, "The Lavender Hill Mob" (1951; 81 minutes), directed by Charles Crichton, chosen by Rose Krc.

Come early, as we'll also be viewing a trailer reel of the best Ealing comedies preceding the main feature


Those kicks were fast as lightning...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Oak Lawn Park District continues its Movies on the Green 2011 Friday night summer series with The Karate Kid (2010) on August 5 at dusk (weather permitting). Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs and come see a great popcorn film for free on the lush lawn of the Village Green, located directly east of the Municipal Center and north of the Library. Click here for full details.


Getting dizzy over Hitchcock

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will be screening another free movie in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- Vertigo (1958, Unrated, 128 min.) -- Friday, August 5 at 10 a.m. -- In this Alfred Hitchcock thriller, a San Francisco detective suffering from acrophobia investigates the strange activities of an old friend's wife, all the while becoming dangerously obsessed with her. Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak. Based on a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. Click here for more details.


Do you feel lucky?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Punks need not apply, but if you've got a thick skin and a yen for gritty urban action, make a date to attend CineVerse on August 3 for "Dirty Harry" (1971; 102 minutes), directed by Don Siegel, chosen by Norm Omiecinski.

Plus, we'll screen a short documentary, entitled "The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry", following the film.


Star Wars rates high among American film classics

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is the last in a 4-part article)

In 1997, the American Film Institute published its inaugural list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time, as selected by a blue-ribbon panel of leaders from across the film community. Star Wars: A New Hope ranked no. 15 on the list. When the AFI polled experts anew 10 years later in 2007, the film had moved up two notches to no. 13 on the list of 100.

“This list was not only reflective of the tastes of critics, industry insiders and actors and actresses who were allowed to vote, but it’s reflective of the general public as well,” said Seth Oster, communications director for the American Film Institute, whom I spoke with back in 1999. “Clearly, what they were saying with this list is that these 100 films, including Star Wars, have stood the test of time and quality as the great achievements of the first 100 years of filmmaking.”

The AFI’s 1997 list immediately caught the public’s eye, sparking healthy controversy and debate over the rankings, inclusions and omissions of favorite films.

“People will not always agree on movies,” said Oster, who adds that the list is meant to be subjective. “Our goal was to get people talking about the classics.”

Wherever Star Wars ranks among your personal favorites, Film historian Vivian Sobchack suggests that viewers should think for themselves and not be swayed by critical or public opinion.

“The glut of highly publicized ‘greatest ever’ and ‘top 100' movie lists “should be interpreted with a grain of salt,” she said. “The big, event movies like Star Wars, Gone With the Wind and Titanic will continue to place high on these polls and critics lists because of their overexposure and overwhelming popularity, but “unless you use a single criteria, such as ‘top 10 films of technical importance,’ or ‘best big box office masterpieces,’ it just becomes just another popularity contest.”


The film that introduced Japanese cinema to the world

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Films from the land of the rising sun were little seen on these shores, until 1950, when Akira Kurosawa became a household name among cinema lovers with the release of "Roshomon" (1950; 88 minutes), one of the great movie masterpieces from any country.

Join CineVerse on July 27 for our continued salute to Kurosawa.We'll screen and discuss a different film by this acclaimed director once a month over the next few months.


The sum of its parts, or the parts of its sum?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is part 3 of a 4-part series)

Some critics prefer The Empire Strikes Back to A New Hope for its more dramatic conflict and deeper probe into the main characters. Richard Schickel, Time Magazine film critic, argued, however, that Empire and Return of the Jedi “didn’t have as much of an impact. Sure, they were more sophisticated in their special effects, but to me, the first time is always the best time.”

Mark Caro, former film critic for the Chicago Tribune, agreed. “I still believe it’s the best of the three movies. Empire may have had more sophisticated effects and richer storytelling and acting, but the first one is the more complete movie.”

Other scholars and historians, including Vivian Sobchack, professor of film and television at the University of California at Los Angeles, believe that, like The Godfather trilogy, the first three Star Wars films should be judged collectively, as a whole.

"The first one made the biggest splash, but the second film deepens the whole series,” said Sobchack. “I didn’t like (Jedi), but it still brings about a resolution that’s important in the series.”

The Force will be with you, always
How will Star Wars be ranked by future generations? “It will keep the shimmer it has historically,” Sobchack said. “In terms of social and cultural importance, hype and eventfulness, it’s a very important film that will continue to be watched and remembered.”

The fact that Star Wars came out 22 years ago and is still such a huge hit is an indication of its staying power, said Caro. “I don’t believe it will have the same staying power as the Wizard of Oz, for instance, but it will be around.”

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert once described Star Wars as one of the only motion pictures he’d seen that felt like an out-of-body experience.

“If I were asked to say with certainty which movies will still be widely-known a century or two from now, I would list 2001, and The Wizard of Oz, and Keaton and Chaplin, and Astaire and Rogers, and probably Casablanca...and Star Wars, for sure,” Ebert was quoted as saying years ago.

“One hundred years from now, when we have reached the stars and there are no more wars, a peaceful planet will look back in awe and wonder at the films that thrilled its great, great, great grandchildren,” said Forrest J. Ackerman, film historian and former editor/creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, whom I interviewed in 1999. “Leading all the rest will be the Star Wars series.”

Next week: Star Wars ranks high among American film classics


Make plans for a movie heavyweight

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Oak Lawn Park District continues its Movies on the Green 2011 Friday night summer series with Rocky (1976) on July 22 at dusk (weather permitting). Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs and come see a great popcorn film for free on the lush lawn of the Village Green, located directly east of the Municipal Center and north of the Library. Click here for full details.


Now that's one dedicated mom...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Meet Susan Tom of Fairfield, California, and her 11 adopted children with special needs. They're the focus of the next CineVerse feature, a documentary called "My Flesh and Blood" (2003; 83 minutes), set for July 20. This film was directed by Jonathan Karsh and chosen by Janet Pierucci.

Also, make plans to arrive promptly at 7 to take part in a movie trivia game prior to the screening; you can win a DVD prize. 


Rediscover National Velvet

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will screen yet another free film in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- National Velvet (1944, G, 123 min.) -- Tuesday, July 19 at 10 a.m. – A jaded former jockey helps a young girl prepare a wild but gifted horse for England's Grand National Sweepstakes. Starring Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney. Based on a children's book by Enid Bagnold. Click here for details.


Fan favorite, critics' darling

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin
(Note: This is part 2 of a 4-part series)

Audiences certainly never cared much for what reviewers thought, and they made their votes of confidence count at the box office. What Star Wars may lack, according to the critics, in warmth, character depth and cerebral dialogue, it makes up for tenfold in visually spectacular, feel-good entertainment value, fans believed. Moviegoers lined up around the block to see the film the first time around, and came out in droves when the Special Edition was released in 1997. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find one nuclear family home that lacks a video copy of Episode 4 in the Star Wars saga.

According to a poll of 20,000 readers, Sci-Fi Entertainment Magazine reported in the late 1990s that fans think Star Wars: A New Hope is the number one science-fiction film of all time. Internet Movie Database ( users have voted the movie as the 16th best ever, giving it an average grade of 8.8 out of 10 on the quality scale.

Star Wars also scored a major critical coup in 1997 when it was ranked no. 15 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies, selected by AFI's blue-ribbon panel of more than1,500 leaders of the American movie community. It placed as both the highest ranked science-fiction film and action/adventure film (unless you count Bridge On the River Kwai, no. 13) on the widely exposed list.

“The best movies are, by and large, movies that are rooted in the populist tradition that, at the same time, aspire in unpretentious ways to transcend those roots,” said Richard Schickel, film critic for Time Magazine, whom I interviewed back in 1999. Schickel voted for Star Wars to be named one of the AFI’s top 100 films. “Star Wars is a great example of that -- one of those films that belongs up there with classics like Casablanca and Citizen Kane.”

Back in 1999 when I interviewed film historian Vivian Sobchack, professor of film and television at the University of California at Los Angeles and author of “The Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film” (Rutgers University Press), she begged to differ.

"Star Wars is not way up there in my top 100 movies, by any means,” said Sobchack, also a voter for the AFI Top 100 list. “I think it’s an extremely important film, however, and certainly one of the best science-fiction movies. It changed the genre forever, along with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Star Wars was a return to narrative and very full-bodied, archetypal characters – a movie that borrowed upon all sorts of genres like the western and the war film that, in the 1970s, had lost their kick.”

Star Wars “is one of those rare, vastly popular films that has a very serious subtext with real connections to powerfully mythic material,” said Schickel. “It works on all those basic movie levels. It’s a wonderful adventure story with terrific wit and spirit. It has a great villain and a strong feminist character in Leia. I’ll argue that the acting is actually splendid–it perfectly suits the mood of that movie.”

Aesthetically, Schickel continued, “Star Wars broke remarkable new ground, especially considering that previous sci-fi films never really did. But Star Wars had such epic scale, that I don’t even think of it as a science-fiction film. It’s more of a grand, mythic, heroic journey.”

Former Chicago Tribune film critic Mark Caro referred to Star Wars as one of the greatest “popcorn films” ever, he told me 12 years ago. “A lot of popcorn movies have special effects and explosions that don’t hold your interest as much. With Star Wars, though, you’re completely wrapped up in the story, like a mesmerizing video game experience.”

Next week: The sum of its parts, or the parts of its sum?


Enjoy a Breakfast with Hepburn

Sunday, July 10, 2011

It will be closer to dinnertime, but CineVerse cordially invites you to indulge in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1962; 115 minutes), for which you have a reservation set for July 13. This delightful romance was directed by Blake Edwards and chosen by Jeanne Johnson.


Great movie, even greater game

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Oak Lawn public library will be screening another free film in its REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005, PG, 120 min.) -- Tuesday, July 12 at 10 a.m. -- A coming-of-age, golf drama based on the true story of the 1913 US Open, where 20-year-old Francis Ouimet defeated his idol, 1900 US Open champion, Englishman, Harry Vardon. Starring Shia LaBeouf. Based on a biography by Mark Frost. Click here for details.


Citizen Vader

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Why Star Wars will endure as a movie classic

by Erik J. Martin

(Note: This is part 1 of a 4-part article that will publish over the next 4 weeks).

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
“There’s no place like home.”
“May the Force be with you.”

In 1977, few would dare utter the latter catch quote in the same breath as its predecessors. But 34 years after the release of Star Wars: A New Hope, who wouldn’t agree that “May the Force be with you” is the most identifiable signature phrase of any movie in history?

What’s more, why shouldn’t Star Wars be considered one of the greatest films in history – a cinematic achievement worthy of standing among all-time silver screen classics like Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, The Godfather, or It’s a Wonderful Life?

A long time ago, the critics were far, far away...
When Star Wars: A New Hope was released in 1977, it was met with mostly positive reviews, though no major critic deemed it an instant classic, artistic masterpiece or cinematic tour de force. Its groundbreaking special effects were certainly widely hailed and its soundtrack and entertaining screenplay garnered favorable critiques.

The film literati, however, were quick to find fault with the sci-fi flick’s performances (New Yorker critic Pauline Kael condemned Star Wars for subscribing to the “Ricky Nelson school of acting”), dialogue, and clichéd motifs borrowed from other genre pictures, such as the OK-corral gunfights, the damsel-in-distress rescue, and the time-worn good-versus-evil conflict.

Time Magazine critic Richard Corliss admitted in a 1997 Time article that he arrived at this unflattering assessment after seeing Star Wars for the first time in 1977: “The sets were Formica, the characters cardboard; the tale had drive but no depth, a tour at warp speed through an antiseptic landscape. I admired George Lucas' attention to detail, his Tolkien-like industry in creating a host of alien life-forms, but I remained unmoved. Peering at Star Wars through the telescope of my disinterest, I made this fearless box-office prediction: ‘The movie's legs will prove as vulnerable as C-3PO's.’”

Academy Award voters agreed with these criticisms enough to only reward the film with lesser, technical Oscars (Best Art Direction, Costume Design, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Music, and Sound). Nominations for Best Picture, Director (Lucas), Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi) and Original Screenplay lost.  Star Wars’ boffo box-office success began to draw a backlash from some critics, who came to view the film as the prototype for all the mindless, action-packed Hollywood blockbusters that followed. Lucas’ epic was branded as the movie that signaled the end of the string of dark, brooding artistic masterpieces of the 1970s– the kind of critic’s darlings that films like The Godfather, Chinatown and A Clockwork Orange represented. Soon, the critical measuring stick became the bigger the movie hype, the lower the movie type. The unspoken but pervading thought: films raking in nine figures probably didn’t deserve four stars.

But, if a supermodel can say “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” why should Star Wars be given the film critic snob job treatment just because it’s the most watched movie and the second-biggest box office success in history?

Next week: Fan favorite, critics’ darling


Take a walk on the Blind Side

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Oak Lawn Park District continues its Movies on the Green 2011 Friday night summer series with The Blind Side on July 8 at dusk (weather permitting). Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chairs and come see a great popcorn film for free on the lush lawn of the Village Green, located directly east of the Municipal Center and north of the Library. Click here for full details.


Feel the Heat

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The sex is steamy, but the noir elements are even steamier in "Body Heat" (1981; 113 minutes), which is next up on the CineVerse schedule, slated for July 6. Don't miss this sultry thriller directed by Lawrence Kasdan and chosen by Michelle Cooney.


One persuasive movie

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Oak Lawn library will be screening another free film in its "REEL BOOKS" SERIES -- Persuasion (1995, PG, 107 min.) -- Wednesday, July 6 at 2 p.m. -- In 1800s England, Anne Elliot, the daughter of a financially troubled aristocratic family, was persuaded to break off her engagement to a young seaman with poor family connections. After each of their fortunes changed eight years later, will he and Anne rekindle their old flame? Starring Amand2a Root and Ciarán Hinds. Based on a novel by Jane Austen. Click here for details.


World cinema web poll

Friday, July 1, 2011

CineVerse has a new poll you can participate in. This time around, we ask the question: What is the greatest foreign (non English-speaking) film of all time? There are so many worthy candidates, but this list is boiled it down to the top 30 that frequently appear on "best of" lists among critics/scholars/historians. Cast your vote now (deadline July 31). Apologies if one of your favorite foreign flicks is not on this list.

By the way, here are the results of our last poll, which asked: What is the greatest film noir movie ever made? The winner was Double Indemnity, with 50% of the votes, followed by The Maltese Falcon (21%). Also garnering 7% of the vote each was Out of the Past, Mildred Pierce, White Heat, and The Big Sleep.


New CineVerse schedule posted

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The CineVerse July-August 2011 calendar is ready for viewing. To check out our schedule of movies over the next two months, click here. We hope you'll make plans to join us on Wednesdays this summer!


Seven Samurai continued....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

You won't want to miss CineVerse on June 29, when we'll screen part 2 of Seven Samurai, followed by an in-depth discussion on the film.


  © Blogger template Cumulus by 2008

Back to TOP