July 10 – 2002 – Fourteen feature films that are far better than average in the opinion of people in a position to make such judgments will be shown over the next seven weeks in the theater at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort in what is being billed as a summer cinema festival.
And there will be two more the week after that if organizer Patrice Passarelli can lay her hands on copies of the additional movies she has in mind.
Passarelli, assistant to Sugar Bay general manager Rik Blyth, came up with idea of an international film series as something different to do on "those slow, sultry evenings" of summer. Two films will be shown each week — at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays and at 8 on Fridays.
The series opens Thursday with the French film "Diva." Friday's offering is the English "Quadrophenia." After that, on successive Thursday and Fridays, will be "The Bicycle Thief," "La Femme Nikita," "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," "L.I.E.," "Swept Away," "Black Orpheus," "Rashomon," "A Man and a Woman," "Prick Up Your Ears," "Breaking Glass," "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" and "La Dolce Vita." (Brief descriptions of each are given below.)
The release dates range from 1948 ("The Bicycle Thief") to 2001 ("L.I.E."), and the genres encompass comedy, tragedy, musical, docudrama and fantasy.
Preceding each evening's showing, there will be a cocktail hour in the gallery outside the theater with wine, beer or soft drinks and hors d'oeuvres for filmgoers that is part of the price of admission.
Passarelli, known as "Catfish" to fans of her Wednesday evening radio show on WIUJ-FM 102.9, says she wanted to take advantage of Sugar Bay's "wonderful little theater" that seats 120. "We have a brand-new digital projector and a surround-sound system," she said. And she has personally previewed all of the VHS- and DVD-formatted films to be sure they are top quality.
In choosing the films, she worked from "the same mindset with which I compile my radio show … a good, eclectic variety of material that has either been forgotten due to 'top-40-middle-to-right' programming, or has never been experienced due to age or geographic factors."
She added, "When most of these films premiered, there was no VHS or DVD reissue; you either saw them or you didn't. I was also surprised to learn how many people had heard of some of the titles but had never actually seen them … And it is amazing what you may have missed the first time around."
The resort has purchased, not rented, the films, and it will donate them after the series ends to the Friends of the St. Thomas Public Libraries, which will place them in the permanent collection for local library patrons.
Tickets to each film are $20 per person including two drinks and finger food at the cocktail hour preceding the screening. Discounts are available for seniors and students with I.D., but discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; for specifics, call Passarelli at 777-7100, ext. 2213.
The resort's recorded-information cinema hotline number is 777-7100, ext. 2567. It's not for placing ticket orders, however. To do that using a charge card, send an e-mail message to Wyndham Sugar Bay, or fax a printed message to 779-1740 to the attention of the General Manager's Office, or call Pasarelli. Because of limited seating, she said, advance purchases are recommended.
E-mailed and faxed ticket requests should include the cardholder's name as it appears on the card, the card number and expiration date, film showing date, number of tickets wanted and a contact telephone number or e-mail address. Anyone buying tickets to a film on the night of the showing must pay cash.
After the film, Passarelli said, patrons are welcome to enjoy dinner or drinks at the Ocean Club or the poolside Turtle Rock Bar. And for St. John residents who don't feel like rushing back to the ferry, Sugar Bay has an overnight package for $200 per couple that includes the film, hotel room, dinner that night and breakfast the following morning, subject to availability.
What's showing when
Many of the movies are not rated, but most are for mature audiences. Those not filmed in English are dubbed or carry English subtitles. Following are Passarelli's synopses:
July 11 – "Diva" (French, 1981, R, 118 minutes). A young postal courier obsessed with an opera star who refuses to be recorded tapes a performance, shares it with a friend, and ends up engulfed in a drug, sex and pirating scandal which forces him into dizzying, heart-pounding chases through Paris as he strives to stay one step ahead of the police and the high-tech hitmen chasing him. Great fun.
July 12 – "Quadrophenia" (English, 1979, R, 115 minutes). The music of The Who and other R&B classics are prominently featured in this well-done, edgy time capsule centering on Mods vs. Rockers in 1963 Britain and the idea of alienated youth — need one belong to a gang to have a sense of identity? In the film, Sting makes his acting debut. We dedicate this one to the late Keith Moon and the recently deceased John Entwhistle.
July 18 – "The Bicycle Thief" (Italian,1948, unrated, 89 minutes). Shot on location in Rome using non-actors to heighten realism, this film details an Everyman story of loss of innocence in the face of a destitute society through the heart-wrenching tale of one man's struggle to feed his family. Considered by many a masterpiece of 20th century cinema verite, it won Oscar/Best Foreign Language Film (1948), British BAFTA Best Film (1949) and Golden Globe/Best Foreign Language Film (1950) awards.
July 19 – "La Femme Nikita" (French, 1990, unrated, 117 minutes). A strung-out junkie sociopath sentenced to death for shooting a cop is turned into an assassin by the French government in this exciting, thoughtful film. It was remade in Hong Kong as "Black Cat" and in the United States as "Point of No Return," and all three films served as inspiration for the cable TV series "La Femme Nikita" which aired in early 1997.
July 25 – "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (French, 1964, unrated, 91 minutes). Shot in Cherbourg, France, this film distinguishes itself by having not one word of spoken dialogue — it is all sung. The astonishing love story with glorious color and choreography and a heart-breaking plot recounts a tale of star-crossed lovers whose relationship is pitted against time and fate. It won the Palme D'Or (1964) and received Oscar nominations for Best Song, Best Screenplay and Best Musical Score (1965).
July 26 – "L.I.E." (U.S., 2001, unrated/strong sexual content, 97 minutes). A haunting, harrowing mixture of tenderness and perversion infuses this vision of domestic life in suburbia as it boldly charts one boy's convoluted path through adolescence. As events leave him floating in a world brimming with sex, violence and danger, the young hero finds that only an older male neighbor whom he had attempted to burglarize seems to care. Critically acclaimed.
Aug. 1 – "Swept Away" (Italian, 1975, R, 116 minutes). Full-titled "Swept Away (By an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August)," this film traces the role-reversal relationship that develops between a wealthy, demanding woman and a slovenly deck hand employed on her husband's yacht when they are stranded alone on a deserted island. It's thought provoking, disturbing and often hilarious.
Aug. 2 – "Black Orpheus" (French/Brazilian, 1958, unrated). The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice plays out against the backdrop of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Antonio Carlos "Tom" Jobim, who wrote "The Girl from Ipanema," composed the soundtrack. Actual footage of
Rio's Carnival adds to the film's distinct power and beauty. It won Oscar/Best Foreign Language Film (1959), Golden Globe/Best Foreign Language Film (1959) and Palme D'Or (1959) awards.
Aug. 8 – "Rashomon" (Japanese, 1950, unrated, 88 minutes). A classic recounting the murder of a man and the rape of his wife by a famous bandit, told from four separate points of view, this intense film inspired "The Outrage" (a 1964 release starring Paul Newman) and "The Usual Suspects." It received Board of Governors/Outstanding Foreign Language Film US Release (1951), Honorary Oscar, Venice Film Festival/Grand Prix/Best Director and National Board of Review/Five Best Foreign Films of the Year (1951) awards. In the 1992 International Film Directors Poll, it was named one of the Top 10 films of all time.
Aug. 9 – "A Man and a Woman" (French, 1966, unrated, 103 minutes). Told through flashbacks, this delicious, slowly developing romance between a widow and a widower may just help them and their children escape their painful pasts. But oh, those cars! And that music! This one collected Oscar/Best Foreign Language Film/Best Screenplay (1966) and Palme D'Or (1966) awards.
Aug. 15 – "Prick Up Your Ears" (Britain, 1987, R, 111 minutes). A witty, moving, tragic and true story of flamboyant British playwright Joe Orton from his days as a drama student through his meteoric rise to fame in the British theater in the 1960s, to his graphically grisly death at the hands of his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, in 1967. Told through flashbacks and memories from Orton's diaries, it features bravura performances by Gary Oldman, Vanessa Redgrave and Alfred Molina.
Aug. 16 – "Breaking Glass" (Britain, 1980s, R). Rags to riches to hell tale of a New Wave-ish band featuring interesting visuals, realistic themes, and a musical score written by the star, Hazel O'Connor. Interestingly different.
Aug. 22 – "Mr. Hulot's Holiday" (French, 1953, unrated). A slow, but expertly crafted symphony of gentle slapstick, it is worth the wait between gems of hilarity and surreal sight gags. The hero is perpetually the center and possibly the cause of a whirlwind of disasters, pratfalls and mishaps as he strolls through his seaside vacation. An absurd cinematic delight.
Aug. 23 – "La Dolce Vita" (Italian, 1960, unrated). A hedonistic portrait of a journalist in constant pursuit of the extravagant, the sensational and the absurd who becomes involved in the decadent high society his publication so often maligns. Director Federico Fellini's signature religious themes, symbolism, lavish sets, alluring script, overemphasized physical movements and roller-coaster jazz music are all here. It won New York Film Critics/Best Picture (1961) and Palme D'Or (1961) awards and Oscar nominations for Best Director/Best Costume Design/Best Screenplay/Best Art Direction (1961).
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