Cincinnati Art Museum’s Reel Art film series — movies with a strong connection to the visual arts — starts a new season Friday at 7 p.m. with Zabriskie Point. It’s a great lineup … and I don’t just say that because I’ll be the guest speaker after that film’s repeat screening at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The series has narrative films so artfully designed and photographed (Zabriskie Point, A Single Man) that they look as much at home in a gallery as a theater. There will also be documentaries (Visual Acoustics) and narrative films about famous artists historic (Caravaggio) and contemporary (Love Is the Devil).
Here’s a look at the series:
• Zabriskie Point: After the success of his Blow-Up, an existentialist mystery set in mid-1960s swingin’ England, visionary Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni came to America to see our country through countercultural eyes. He made an enigmatic mystery about a campus radical who hijacks a plane to seek shelter in the California desert, joining a young woman alienated from her developer employer. The cinematography (Alfio Contini) and music (Pink Floyd, Jerry Garcia) are terrific, and as the film starts to hallucinate – a love session in the desert, a modernist home blowing up in slow motion – you’ll see why this is definitely a one-of-a-kind take on America as spiritual wasteland. (Friday at 7 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.; event and CAM details here.)
• (Untitled): The Cincinnati premiere of this 2009 comedy — directed by Jonathan Parker and starring the always-acerbic Adam Goldberg — about a relationship between a new-music composer and a Chelsea gallerist.
It’s reputed to be well-informed about today’s art world. (Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 7 at 1 p.m.)
• Manufactured Landscapes: Quietly, this artful documentary by Jennifer Baichwal — who follows photographer Edward Burtynsky as he documents global industrialization — has become one of the most influential docs in recent years, largely because of its astounding shots of things like a Chinese factory as big as a town and a river so red it glows like fire. (Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.)
• Five Easy Pieces: Rob Rafelson’s 1970 film, connected in its visions and attitude with the museum’s Starburst: Color Photography in America 1970-1980 opening Feb. 13, has Jack Nicholson’s first great starring role. (March 5 at 7 p.m.; March 7 at 1 p.m.)
• Caravaggio: The late British director Derek Jarman is one of the giants of independent art cinema. This innovative look at the great Italian painter’s life introduced actress Tilda Swinton to the world. (April 2 at 7 p.m.; April 4 at 1 p.m.)
• Visual Acoustics: The local premiere of Eric Bricker’s new documentary about the California architectural photographer Julius Shulman, who died last year at age 98. Dustin Hoffman narrates. (April 16 at 7 p.m.; April 18 at 1 p.m.)
• A Single Man: Fashion designer Tom Ford’s first film is an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s classic of contemporary gay fiction, starring Colin Firth (in what’s touted as an Oscar-worthy role) and Julianne Moore. (May 7 at 7 p.m.; May 9 at 1 p.m.)
• Love Is the Devil: John Maybury’s 1998 film is a forceful, powerful study of British painter Francis Bacon’s tumultuous relationship with his model and lover George Dyer. Derek Jacobi and Daniel Craig star. (May 21 at 7 p.m.; May 23 at 1 p.m.)
All the Sunday films have guest speakers or a related gallery talk. The entire series costs $70 ($30 for museum members). Individual screenings are $10 or $5 for members, students and seniors. Tickets include free parking. Get details from the CAM web site here.
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