CFS courts romance in 25th year

Elana Starr

“Isn’t It Romantic?” is the theme of this semester’s Cultural Film and Lecture Series roster. The series celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with several movies taking an ironic view of love and others ending happily-ever-after.

Each film will be shown four times in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturdays at 7 p.m., Sundays at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m. Every Monday screening will feature a speaker who will introduce the picture and lead a discussion afterward.

The Series starts with “Besieged” (Sept. 10-12), a 1998 romance from Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci. Using astounding visuals and music as a major means of communication, the film portrays the relationship between a British musician living in Rome and his housekeeper, a political refugee from an unnamed African country. The Monday showing will feature CFS founder Joan D. Lynch as the guest speaker.

“Harold and Maude” (Sept. 17-19) is the next film in the series, dealing with the bond between a 20-something rich kid and a free-spirited, 79-year-old woman. Heidi Rose from the communication department will be the Monday speaker.

The third film, “Charulata” (Sept. 24-26), is from Indian director Satyajit Ray. Set in India during the Victorian era, it paints a portrait of a woman who’s neglected by her husband and turns to his cousin for companionship. Sameena Usmani, who has worked on most of M. Night Shyamalan’s pictures, will do the Monday evening honors.

October’s offerings include “City Lights” (Oct. 1, 2, 3), Charlie Chaplin’s poignant love story featuring the iconic little tramp in love with a beautiful, blind flower seller. Rick Worland from Southern Methodist University will be the Monday speaker.

After the fall break, the Series will show “Kukushka” (Oct. 22, 23, 24). This 2002 Russian import, set during World War II, focuses on the connections between a young widow and two soldiers from opposite sides. Boris Briker from the modern language department is the guest speaker.

Next up is Sofia Coppola’s critically-acclaimed “Lost in Translation” (Oct. 29, 30, 31), in which a world-weary actor (Bill Murray in an Oscar-nominated performance) strikes up a friendship with a young bride (Scarlett Johansson) while both are culturally at sea in Tokyo. CFS director John O’Leary is the Monday lecturer.

November kicks off with “Late Marriage” (Nov. 5, 6, 7), an award-winning serio-comedy from Israel. There’s no Middle East political strife here; rather, the conflict is between a good-looking, unmarried man who’s in love with a divorcee, and his parents, who are cajoling him into an arranged marriage. Temple University’s Eran Preis will be on hand at the Monday evening screening.

It’s followed by “Tender Mercies” (Nov. 12, 13, 14). Robert Duvall won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of a washed-up country singer who is able to get back on his feet, thanks to the ministrations of a young widow. Jim Kirschke from the English department will lead the discussion on Monday night.

The final November feature is “Faat-Kine” (Nov. 19, 20, 21), from Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, the so-called “father of African cinema.” The title character in this film is a successful businesswoman whose two kids think she needs a husband. Maghan Keita from the history department will be the Monday speaker.

The final movie is acclaimed indie feature “American Splendor” (Dec. 3-5). Paul Giamatti (star of “Sideways”) appears in this innovative biopic about real-life underground comic strip writer Harvey Pekar.

The real Pekar and his wife also appear on screen to comment on the action, and the narrative is also punctuated by CGI-generated representations of the couple. CFS publicist Elana Starr will be the Monday speaker.

Admission to any film is $3.50 for students with I.D. and $5 for all others. For more information, call X9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or consult the CFS web site.