|On Set With French Cinema: Two
Nights With Costa-Gavras
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This is an Egyptian Theatre
Co-Presented with Uni-France, The Ministry Of
Foreign Affairs and The French Film And Television Department of The Consulate General in
Constantino Gavras better known simply as Costa-Gavras was born in
Greece in 1933, the son of a Greek government employee who proved a heroic component of
the resistance movement against the Nazis during WWII. Reportedly outspoken, his father
was tarred as a communist in post-war times. Consequently, the young Costa-Gavras,
originally hoping to learn about American filmmaking at the source, was refused entry to
the United States. As a result, he moved to Paris to study literature at the Sorbonne. He
also studied the techniques of various French directors, soon acting as an assistant for
such top filmmakers as Rene Clement (on JOY HOUSE and THE DAY AND THE HOUR) and Jacques
Demy (on BAY OF THE ANGELS). His debut film as a director came in 1966 with THE SLEEPNG
CAR MURDERS, a crackerjack suspense mystery devoid of the
crusade-against-political-oppression themes to be found in his later works. In 1969, with
only his third film Z, a taut, uncompromising thriller chronicling the repression
by the then-current Greek military junta, he garnered an Oscar for Best Foreign Language
Film. More politically-commited works such as THE CONFESSION (1970), STATE OF SEIGE (1973)
and SPECIAL SECTION (1975) followed, all starring the lead actor from Z, famed French
movie icon, Yves Montand. 1982 saw the release of MISSING, perhaps
Costa-Gavras most well known picture and one of his most-honored (he shared an Oscar
with writer Donald Stewart for Best Adapted Screenplay). Controversial works continued to
issue forth in its wake, including HANNA K (1983) and MUSIC BOX (1989),
co-winner of The Golden Bear Award at The Berlin Film Festival. His latest are MAD CITY
(1997), AMEN (2002) and LE COUPERET (aka THE AX, 2005). Were very pleased to welcome
this esteemed filmmaker for this In-Person Tribute at The Egyptian.
Friday, January 26 7:30 PM
Costa-Gavras In-Person Tribute Double Feature:
MISSING, 1982, Universal, 122 min. Director Costa-Gavras
follows Jack Lemmon as a conservative father, traveling to a South American country
after a recent coup in search of his missing journalist son. Although fundamentally
opposed to his daughter-in-laws (Sissy Spacek) left-leaning views, he joins
with her in navigating the treacherous, often nightmarish landscape of the new
governments wholesale murder in the streets. After seeking help from the U.S.
Consulate, Lemmon and Spacek come to realize that not only are their own countrys
representatives lying to them, they are also actively supporting the brutally fascist
repression by the military junta. Based on a real American familys harrowing true
story in the wake of Chilean President Allendes assassination. "
Costa-Gavras' most beautifully achieved political melodrama to date, a suspense-thriller
of real cinematic style, acted with immense authority by Jack Lemmon
Spacek." - Vincent Canby, New York Times
Z, 1969, Cinema V, 127 min. In an unnamed state (obviously Greece),
a left leaning candidate (Yves Montand) with a significant following is
assassinated by fascist thugs employed by the ultra-right military government. A
prosecutor (Jean-Louis Trintignant) whom the politicians expect to whitewash the
crime is assigned to investigate. However, they have made a mistake right-leaning
Trintignant is an honest man who soon uncovers a conspiracy that goes straight to the top.
But once he calls his witnesses, they start disappearing or dying in mysterious ways.
Enormously controversial worldwide when first released, director Costa-Gavras
first internationaly-recognized masterpiece won the Academy Award for Best Foreign
Language Film, and fearlessly exposed the machinations of the then still ruling powers in
Greece, a repressive regime propped-up by the USA. With Irene Papas. Discussion in between films with director Costa-Gavras.
Saturday, January 27 7:30 PM
Costa-Gavras Tribute Double Feature:
MUSIC BOX, 1989, Sony Repertory, 124 min. Dir. Costa-Gavras.
Criminal lawyer Jessica Lange receives the shock of her life when her Hungarian
immigrant father (Armin Mueler-Stahl) is accused of complicity in Nazi war crimes.
Lange takes on the difficult task of defending someone who she may not know as well as she
thinks. Is dad, Mueller-Stahl, being victimized and framed by the Hungarians for his
aggressive anti-Communism, as he claims? Or is it possible that there is some shred of
truth in the cumulative evidence organized by Budapest authorities? Lange (who received an
Oscar nomination for Best Actress) is put through an emotional wringer as she tries to
uncover the truth. Co-starring Frederic Forrest, Michael Rooker, Lukas Haas.
HANNA K, 1983, Universal, 111 min. In this underrated
drama, Jill Clayburgh is Hanna Kaufman, an emigrant to Israel and a court-appointed
lawyer chosen to defend suspected Palestinian terrorist, Selem Bakri (Mohammed Bakri).
Bakri asserts he has legal evidence going back decades to reclaim family property
confiscated by the Israeli government. Complicating matters are not only her estranged
husband (Jean Yanne) and her current lover, the Israeli prosecutor (Gabriel
Byrne), but her growing personal attachment to her enigmatic client. Shunning facile
conclusions, director Costa-Gavras gives a remarkably even-handed look at both
sides of the thorny question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a gauntlet of mutual
injustices that ping-pong back-and-forth in seemingly perpetual motion. NOT ON DVD.
Sunday, January 28 7:30 PM
Elio Petri Double Feature:
INVESTIGATION OF A CITIZEN ABOVE
SUSPICION, 1970, Sony Repertory, 115 min. Despite its brief, limited
re-release a few years ago, director Elio Petris masterwork has received
scant exposure in America since its original run when it picked up an Oscar for Best
Foreign Language Film. Shamefully, it has never received a video release. Gian Maria
Volonte is a right wing Italian police inspector who decides to murder his
acid-tongued mistress (Florinda Bolkan). Spurred on by his unraveling, egocentric
personality, he purposely leaves incriminating clues all over her apartment, believing
that no one in his corrupt and largely incompetent homicide squad will ever dare to
connect the dots. What follows makes up one of the great Italian movies of the early
1970s - part giallo mystery, part political satire, part psychological study
- but all masterpiece. With a great Morricone score. NOT ON DVD.
QUIET PLACE IN THE COUNTRY, 1969, MGM
Repertory, 106 min. Avant-garde painter Franco Nero suffers from paranoid dreams
brought on by the noise and pollution of urban life - so he coaxes his mercenary agent
(and lover) Vanessa Redgrave to rent him a dilapidated, rural villa where he can
finally get some work done. But Neros personal demons pursue him as he finds the
house haunted by the vengeful ghost of a girl killed at the close of WWII. Director Elio
Petri (THE 10TH VICTIM) creates a terrifying and funny, surrealistic
tour-de-force that is a visual feast of bizarre images and juxtapositions. Petri is able
to not only integrate subtle sociological and psychological insights into his pictures,
but also to retain compassion for his tormented characters. QUIET PLACE manages this
easily, as well as some of the most frightening sequences in 1960s Italian cinema.
Ennio Morricone furnishes the soundtrack, a strange collection of dissonant squawks and
haunting melodies. NOT ON DVD.