Baltimore Hostel's Free Fall Film Series
Select Thursdays @ 7:30 p.m.
17 W. Mulberry Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Since arriving in Baltimore early this spring, cineaste extraordinaire Eliot Gage has presented a number of interesting free film screenings at the HI-Baltimore Hostel, located across from the Enoch Pratt Central Library on the corner of Mulberry and Cathedral streets.
With everybody getting in on the free-outdoor-screenings-of-popular-Hollywood-movies-summer-time-fun-act ("Films on the Pier" in Fells Point, "Films on the Hill" in Federal Hill, Little Italy's outdoor series on High Street, etc.) - a trend supported by the major Hollywood studios as they try to offset the increasing threat of NetFlix and on-demand video streaming by selling affordable umbrella licenses and one-time screening rates for their films through vendors like Movie Licensing USA - I find myself growing weary of the glut of mass pop movie entertainment and yearn for good old obscure arthouse, cult and experimental cinema programming (aka "the few, the proud!"). (Speaking of which, let us thank our lucky stars that John Standiford has returned from Roma to schedule another season of Classic Repertory Cinema at the Charles Theatre!)
Like Miguel Sabagol's bygone "Free Wednesday Night 16mm Film Series" screenings at Station North's Hexagon - which relied almost exclusively on the Enoch Pratt Central Library's 16mm film archives (see my reviews at "In Search of Buried 16mm Treasures," "The Great Ecstacy of the 16mm Film Series," and "The Shepherds of Berneray") - Gage's programming ideas are teeming with endlessly fun and creative permutations. And they're indoors, for the true, diehard, hard-top arthouse cineastas (as opposed to the trendy, picnic-under-the-stars populists). Though his audiences so far have been small, I always say it's the quality not the quantity that matters in life. As the rock and roll myth goes, only 30-40 people may have seen the Sex Pistols play Manchester's Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976 (though now everybody claims "I Swear I Was There"!), but almost everyone in the audience went on to form a band (The Smiths, Joy Division, Simply Red, etc.) or become influential players in the nascent punk rock scene. Less can be more. (Case in point: Artie Bootle, one of the regulars at the screenings, has his own outstanding movie review blog "Moom Pitchers Not To Miss" that examines some of the lesser known films from world cinema.)
Gage recently sent me his tentative autumn 2011 schedule for what he calls "the Free Film Excerpt Series," which is moving from Wednesday nights to select Thursday evenings this fall.
To give you an idea of the type of programming involved, check out my review of Gage's first screening, "Laughter in the Dark" (May 25, 2011).
"Laughter in the Dark" flyer
Following are Gage's program notes for this screening (click on the image to enlarge):
"Laughter in the Dark" program notes, page 1
"Laughter in the Dark" notes, pages 2-3
"Laughter in the Dark" notes, page 4
And here's Gage's own description of his most recent Hostel screening, "Signifying Fade-Ins" (from June 22, 2011).
The beginnings (each roughly 15 minutes) of the four stunning films below advance the graphic art of cinema through mise-en-scène, camera movement, signs, montage, sound and music.
*Love Me Tonight* 1932 Rouben Mamoulian USA
*L’Atalante* 1934 Jean Vigo France
*Le Plaisir* 1952 Max Ophüls France
*Andrei Rublev* 1966 (released 1971) Andrei Tarkovsky USSR
Many great works of cinema art begin with a striking dialogue, monologue or narration to which graphic arts are clearly subservient. For this reason works such as *Apocalypse Now, Contempt, The Cruise, Double Indemnity, Divorce Italian Style, One Two Three, Lolita, My Life to Live, La Ronde, Scarlet Street, The Seventh Seal, *or *Twentieth Century* are not included in this program. The renown beginning of *Citizen Kane* is not included here; nor is *M,* nor *8 1/2*, because each is so well known.
Below are Gage's "Signifying Fade-ins" program notes (click on the image to enlarge):
Signifying Fade-ins flyer, front
Signifying Fade-ins flyer, back
2011 Free Fall Excerpt Series
"Mysteriosos: Eight Film Excerpts with Mysterious Characters
Thursday, September 1 @ 7:30 p.m.
Mysterious characters to include:
Here are Gage's program notes for this program (click on an image to enlarge):
Mysteriosos notes, cover
Mysteriosos notes, page 1
Mysteriosos notes, page 2
Mysteriosos notes, page 3
Mysteriosos notes, back page
Thursday, October 6th @ 7:30 p.m.
Possible films include:
George Melies - The Man with the Rubber HeadErnie Gehr - Serene Velocity
Ken Jacobs - Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
Oscar Fischinger - Composition in Blue
Norman McLaren - Hen Hop
Stan Brakage - Mothlight
Ray Harryhausen - Mother Goose: Little Miss Muffet
Jan Švankmajer - Alice
Lotte Reininger - The Adventures of Prince Achmed
Harry Smith - Heaven and Earth Magic Feature
Max Fleischer - Betty Boop's Rise To Fame
Chuck Jones - Duck Amuck
Oct 15 through Nov 15 - one month for new sprinkler installation at hostel
Thursday, December 1st @ 7:30 p.m.
Painters painting in feature (not documentary) films, including:
Van Gogh, directed by Pialat
Rembrandt, directed by Korda with Charles Laughton and Gertrude Lawrence
Thursday, December 29 @ 7:30 p.m.
Possible films include:
*One Two Three*, directed by Wilder with James Cagney
*Meet John Doe*, directed by Capra with Barbara Stanwick
*Double Indemnity*, directed by Wilder with Edward G. Robinson
*Twentieth Century*, directed by Hawks, writers included Charles McArthur, Ben Hecht and Preston Sturges with John Barrymore and Carole Lombard
*Rain Man* or *Magnolia* with Tom Cruise