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Celebrate the art of cinema with the Cincinnati Art Museum

 

Moving Images, At Home.

At its heart Moving Images is about bringing communities together in the museum. We look forward to returning to events in the CAM’s Fath Auditorium and to sharing the experience of discovering new films and reexamining old favorites in person.

Until then check here for a monthly selection of recommendations from CAM curators and friends in the local film community. We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the moving image at home, whether you’re streaming via a subscription service, taking advantage of free library resources, or supporting your favorite local theater with a view-at-home ticket.

 

All Things Being Equal film and discussion series

Presented in celebration of the Cincinnati Art Museum opening of Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal..., the ATBE film and discussion series featured films that honor the themes of Thomas’s work, discussions with scholars, filmmakers, and artists, and a special presentation of short films created in collaboration with Cincinnati nonprofit film-focused organizations.

This series took place September 3–September 5, but information about the films and recordings for conversations remain accessible at cincinnatiartmuseum.org/hwtfilmseries.

 

Past At Home recommendation lists. Please note, while the films remain great picks, information about available watch-at-home sources may have changed.

August is for indies! This month’s recommendations celebrate the creative vision of independent filmmakers.

 

Caroline, written and directed by Celine Held and Logan George, 2018. Available to view here

In the middle of a Texas summer, plans for a babysitter fall through and six-year-old Caroline is left in charge of her two younger siblings. This film by Celine Held and Logan George exemplifies short filmmaking by accomplishing large character arcs and high-risk situations in a small space and amount of time.

— Allyson West, Executive Director/Founder, Cindependent Film Festival

 

Desperately Seeking Susan, directed by Susan Seidelman, 1985. Rent or buy on major VOD services

1985 American comedy-drama Desperately Seeking Susan centers on the unlikely entanglement of bored housewife, Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) and punk drifter, Susan (Madonna). Set in New York, the plot is spurred by messages in the personal column of a newspaper. The film is both a comedy and an adventure story oriented toward women who are looking for new direction in their lives, not unlike the thrust of Thelma and Louise, though more comedic and gritty.

— Rachel Lyon, documentary filmmaker and board member, Women in Film Cincinnati

 

The Farewell, written and directed by Lulu Wang, 2019. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

Lulu Wang’s The Farewell stars Awkwafina and Shuzhen Zhao and was released by indie studio A24. “Based on a real life lie,” the touching story explores one family’s decision to withhold telling their beloved matriarch of her fatal cancer diagnosis. For insight into the film’s making, check out Wang’s podcast version of the story on This American Life, as well as her insightful interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.

— C. Jacqueline Wood, Founder and Director, The Mini Microcinema and Film Curator at Large, FotoFocus

 

Medicine for Melancholy, written and directed by Barry Jenkins, 2008. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

The first feature film by acclaimed writer and director Barry Jenkins, Medicine for Melancholy sees twenty-four hours with freshly acquainted protagonists Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Heggins). The city of San Francisco feels like a third main character, serving as both gorgeous backdrop and impetus for conversations spanning gentrification and identity politics. Cinematographer James Laxton portrays the city in entrancing desaturated hues, with occasional color seeping into not quite black-and-white scenes.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

Our July lineup highlights films that portray the richness and strength of communities and families.

A Place of Our Own, directed by Stanley Nelson, 2004. Rent or buy on Amazon

Released in 2004, A Place of Our Own spotlights award-winning filmmaker and MacArthur Fellow Stanley Nelson (The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities) and his family's experiences vacationing at Oak Bluffs, an upper-middle class black enclave on Martha's Vineyard. Nelson delves into the history and significance of the community as well as how the resort area evolved over the years. As with all of Nelson's work, A Place of Our Own lays bare the commonality of our human experiences.

— tt stern-enzi, Film Critic & Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival Programmer

 

The Kids Are All Right, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, 2010. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

The Kids Are Alright is a keenly observed portrait of a marriage put to the test, and of human behavior in the face of change. Lesbian couple Nic and Jules have raised two children thanks to an anonymous sperm donor. Joni and younger brother Laser decide to contact donor Paul, setting off a chain reaction. Cholodenko’s smart comedy is a witty, warm exploration of family life that’s conventional and unconventional in equal measure.

— Amy Faust, Film and Television Camera Operator

 

Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Norman Jewison, 1971. Rent on all major VOD Services

This popular 1971 screen adaptation has continued to speak to generations, remains relevant to current events, and evokes important universal themes of tradition, identity, survival, struggle and change while exploring the experiences of a Jewish family in an old-world, small town. Though there is an undercurrent of oppression, the well-paced three hours of storytelling by Tevye the milkman about his life, family, and community are filled with music, humor, and love.

Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles (Max Lewkowcz, 2019) is a wonderful documentary about the origin and legacy of the musical that was featured in the 2020 Mayerson JCC Jewish & Israeli Film Festival, and is available on Kanopy and on-demand services.

— Frances Kahan, Cultural Arts Manager, Mayerson JCC

 

The House by the Sea (La Villa), directed by Robert Guédiguian, 2017, France. Rent on Amazon (free with Prime subscription)

The French director’s 20th feature film is part of a body of work that constantly interrogates family and community. Like most of his other films, it is set in the same terrain in southern France and tells a story about the evolution of a working class community. The continuity across his work is in part due to his practice of always working with the same troupe or family of actors, including his partner Ariane Ascaride. The House by the Sea adds an interesting twist to the family theme and addresses the plight of refugees coming into Europe from Syria starting in 2015. Although familiarity with the director’s work will change your viewing experience, the film stands alone and is a good entry point to Guédiguian’s work.

— Michael Gott, Director of Programming at the Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at UC

 

Roller Dreams, directed by Kate Hickey, 2018. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Oscillating from electrifying to sentimental to shattering, Kate Hickey’s directorial debut documentary blends joyful 1980s footage with 2000s interviews and reunions to create a portrait of the Venice Beach roller dancing community. The film demonstrates that L.A.’s Venice Beach owes its vibrant reputation to the roller dancers’ participatory performances. Hickey then traces the process of gentrification that ultimately shut down “Disco Alley.” Personal, authentic and affecting, Roller Dreams is both a defiant celebration and a frank look at systemic racism.  

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

For our June line-up, we polled the CAM curatorial team for films teeming with art, fashion, and design. From biopics to art-filled escapades, here are their screen-worthy picks.

 

Miss Hokusai, directed by Keiichi Hara, 2015. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Fiercely talented O-Ei assists her father in his studio, often without credit, in this coming-of-age tale about an underrecognized woman artist. Adapted from the manga and anime of the same name, Miss Hokusai presents a lyrical series of vignettes about O-Ei, who is the daughter of acclaimed Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai. Fans of Japanese animation will find a lot to appreciate here, especially if they examine Hokusai’s works to see where the film drew inspiration. I personally was delighted by a cameo appearance by Hokusai's famed The Great Daruma, a colossal painting of the revered Buddhist monk of the same name.

— Lynne Pearson, Curatorial Assistant for East Asian Art

 

Editor’s note – if you enjoy Miss Hokusai, head to Cincinnati’s Esquire Theatre virtual screening room for Keiichi Hara’s newest release, The Wonderland.

 

Rear Window, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1954. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Imagine for a moment you are stuck in your house, forced by circumstance to watch the outside world from your window…  How has this been going for you? For photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, confinement lays bare the irresistible drives that lurk at the heart of photography, setting off a perilous chain of events. If you’ve (hopefully) avoided such extremes over the past several weeks, you can still take advantage of evenings at home to reacquaint yourself with this classic, drum-tight and incredibly satisfying piece of filmmaking. Don’t forget: as the viewer of the film, you’re looking through a lens avidly, too.

— Nathaniel M. Stein, Associate Curator of Photography

 

Through a Lens Darkly, directed by Thomas Allen Harris, 2014. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Taking inspiration from photographer and curator Deborah Willis’s groundbreaking book Reflections in Black (2000), Harris’s gripping documentary traces a history of photography by black Americans. The film weaves together images from family albums and compelling works by contemporary artists including Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, and Hank Willis Thomas. In stark contrast, Harris’s survey also shines an unforgiving light on images of racist stereotypes and black trauma that permeate our cultural consciousness. The result is a complex look at American history and the way photographs shape how we understand who we are.

— Emily Bauman, Curatorial Assistant for Photography & Film Programmer for Moving Images

 

McQueen, directed by Ian Bonhôte, 2018. Rent on major VOD Services

Explore the world of Alexander McQueen in this riveting documentary about one of the most visionary fashion designers of our time. Watch McQueen’s evolution from his first collections to his last before his untimely death in 2010. Film footage of the designer himself, his studio and runway shows along with interviews with family, close friends, and associates tell the story of this celebrated fashion designer.  

— Cynthia Amnéus, Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles

 

Caravaggio, directed by Derek Jarman, 1986. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

As a student of art history, I admire the Italian Baroque artist Caravaggio, and this film presents a diverting treasure hunt of his paintings. Jarman captures Caravaggio’s mesmerizing aesthetic 400 years later by using minimalistic sets, dramatic lighting, theatrical costumes, and emotional characters. But don’t expect a biopic – this is Jarman’s interpretation of Caravaggio’s (admittedly tumultuous) life, including a delirious narrator speaking in a poetic stream of consciousness and many purposeful anachronisms (tuxedos! typewriters!). Known for its groundbreaking queer representation, this film raises questions of artifice and realism that were as relevant in 1600 as they are today.

— Liz Simmons, Curatorial Research Assistant

 

Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, directed by Jacques Demy, 1967. Rent or buy on major VOD Services

Centering around twins Delphine and Solange, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort is a romantic comedy of errors where love is always one step out of reach. Maxence, a young sailor passing through town, has painted a vision of his ideal woman and hopes to find her one day. The portrait astonishingly resembles Delphine, who notices the painting in a local gallery and hopes to find her admirer. Separately, Solange hopes to become a famous composer and is eventually introduced to American composer Andy Miller, played by the enigmatic Gene Kelly. Will the twins find what they are looking for? This film is quintessentially 1960s, with love, art, music, and dancing. Oh, and a murder plot…  

— Adam MacPhàrlain, Curatorial Assistant and Collections Manager for Fashion Arts & Textiles

 

The Young Victoria, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, 2009. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Growing tired of your own four walls and décor? Escape and enjoy the sumptuous interiors and art collections of Blenheim Palace, Ham House, Lancaster House and Ditchley Park without moving from your couch or dressing for dinner. These magnificent homes provide the backdrop for the story of the strong-willed Victoria and her budding love affair with Prince Albert. Once married, this royal power couple became great supporters of the arts and sciences as collectors and patrons and as organizers of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (sometimes referred to as the Crystal Palace Exhibition). This world’s fair, and those that followed it, as well as the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum) inspired the formation of the Cincinnati Art Museum and its collections. After watching, discover works from our 18th- and 19th-century European and British decorative arts via our online collection, or enjoy the Royal Collection Trust’s online exhibition, Victoria & Albert: Art & Love.

— Amy Dehan, Curator of Decorative Arts & Design

 

Funny Face, directed by Stanley Donen, 1957. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Lose yourself in an oldie but goodie! Set in New York City and fabulous Paree, Funny Face charts the transformation of a dowdy bookseller into a glamourous fashion model as she falls in love. Enjoy costumes by Edith Head, Paris fashions by Hubert de Givenchy alongside the incomparable dancing of Fred Astaire, not to mention Audrey Hepburn, and music by Gershwin.  

— Cynthia Amnéus, Chief Curator and Curator of Fashion Arts and Textiles

In May we’re focusing on films that offer extraordinary vistas. Here are a few armchair journeys from our at-home queues.

 

The Juniper Tree, directed by Nietzchka Keene, 1990. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Atmospheric Icelandic hillsides filmed in crisp black and white make for an uncanny destination in Nietzchka Keene’s Juniper Tree. Her adaptation of the Grimm fairytale by the same name sees two sisters seeking shelter after their mother has been executed for witchcraft. Restored from the original 35 mm camera negative in 2019, this feature film was the first for both American writer and director Keene and lead actor Björk. Ripe with meanings, the story unfolds in haunting stanzas.  

—Emily Bauman, Film Programmer, Moving Images

 

Local Hero, directed by Bill Forsyth, 1983. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

A Houston oil company sends an up-and-coming executive to Scotland with the mission of buying an entire seaside village and erecting an oil refinery. This charmingly small comedy offers quirky characters, beautiful scenery, and thoughtful reflections on important issues. Bill Forsyth’s direction, Chris Menges’ cinematography, and Mark Knopfler’s score keep the film moving at a gentle pace. How many films are generous enough to sympathize with a crackpot oil tycoon and an environmentally conscious marine biologist?

— Todd Herzog, Director, Niehoff Center for Film & Media Studies at the University of Cincinnati

 

Tracks, directed by John Curran, 2013. Rent or buy on all major VOD Services

Tracks is a film that captures the harshness and wild beauty of the Australian outback. In this true story of fortitude and fragility, Robyn Davidson treks 1700 miles across the desert. Evoking the palette of a watercolor painting, cinematographer Mandy Walker captures the texture of the majestic, yet unforgiving terrain. Be ready to wipe the dust off because by the time the film ends, you'll feel you've traveled the distance yourself.

— Jaime Meyers Schlenck, Film and Television Editor

In April, we’re focusing on great films that make us smile. We all have movies that feel like old friends or that are simply a pleasure to spend time with. Here are a few from our at-home queues.

 

Charade, directed by Stanley Donen, 1963. Stream free on Kanopy via your public library membership

Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant cavort through the effortlessly modern backdrop of early 1960s Paris. I could probably stop there, but If you need further convincing, the film expertly straddles the line between rom-com and thriller, swinging from laugh-out-loud goofy to nail-bitingly tense without seeming forced, and the plot twists will keep you guessing to the very end. A passel of recognizable supporting actors round out the fun.

— Emily Bauman, Film Programmer, Moving Images

 

Hairspray, directed by John Waters, 1988. Rent on any Video-on-Demand service

There's so much to love about the original Hairspray: the dancing, the ‘60s pop soundtrack, the costumes. But for me, it's all about Divine. She commits so fully to the role of Edna Turnblad and can make me laugh by just raising an eyebrow. 

— Russell Ihrig, CAM Associate Director of Interpretive Programming

 

The Whistlers (La Gomera), directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, 2019. Available to stream through the Esquire or Cincinnati World Cinema

Porumboiu was part of a Romanian “new wave” that burst onto the international scene in the mid-2000s to great slowly paced, darkly humorous, and bleak portrayals of a society in shambles. The Whistlers, by contrast, is an exuberant crime caper that trades a dreary postcommunist setting for the beautiful Canary Islands and allows viewers the opportunity to simultaneously indulge their cinephilia and their wanderlust. The Whistlers may inspire you to plan a dive into recent Romanian cinema now or an island vacation later.

— Michael Gott, Director of Programming at the UC Center for Film & Media Studies