One of the most enjoyable parts of visiting the Detroit Film Theatre is seeing a new schedule. My first glimpse of the wide variety of films that the DFT presents each season always fills me with a heady mixture of curiosity and anticipation.
For many years, this pleasure came from unfolding a glossy brochure, which opened up to display several months of filmgoing pleasure in one view. I’d quickly scan through all the films, and then focus on the ones that looked most promising to me.
Now, thanks to the Internet, my first exposure to a new DFT schedule is on-line, as it was this past week when my periodic visits to the DFT web site (www.dia.org/dft/) paid off with the discovery of the Winter/Spring 2007 season.
Appropriately, the teaser images of the films grab you first. The haunted eyes of a young boy—and the ominous clouds behind him—draw you towards Iraq in Fragments (Feb. 23-25). A mysterious photo of the mist-covered Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco makes me curious about The Bridge (March 8-10). The amusing picture of a yellow, smiling cat draws my attention to The Case of the Grinning Cat (April 5-7).
The season begins on the weekend of Feb. 15-18, with movies by two famous French directors. On Feb. 15-17, Jean-Luc Godard directs the 1966 film Two or Three Things I Know About Her. The famous 1939 film The Rules of the Game, by Jean Renoir, arrives on Feb. 16-18.
Another old French film is my personal highlight of the schedule—the lushly romantic 1953 drama The Earrings of Madame De…, from director Max Ophuls. In the 1999 book VideoHound’s World Cinema, DFT director Elliot Wilhelm writes that Earrings is one of the films “that I constantly believe to be the best movie I’ve ever seen, every time I see it.” I completely agree.
A Peaceful End
The season ends on a poignant note with the 2006 documentary Into Great Silence (May 4-6), which sounds like a profound, meditative essay on life in a monastery. I’m looking forward to emerging from this film wiser and renewed, surrounded by the hopeful signs of early spring.
Many of these DFT films will probably never be shown in another Detroit area theater, so catch them while you can. Interestingly, the influence of the DFT and other art film theaters has been so widespread that mainstream movie houses are currently showing films that in previous years might have shown up first at the DFT.
Those films include Volver, from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (Talk to Her, DFT, Jan. 2003). The appeal of an English drama like The Queen is similar to that of Howards End, which played for two weekends at the DFT in May 1992.
Before Zhang Yimou directed Gong Li in the current Curse of the Golden Flower, this pair appeared at the DFT in Raise the Red Lantern (April 1992), To Live (Jan. 1995), and several other films.
But the DFT is always up to challenge of premiering interesting films, which this year will be seen in a newly restored auditorium. The DFT web site includes an update on this renovation, as well as some exciting news about a new summer schedule.
Copyright 2007 by Robert Hollberg Smith, Jr.