Film

Cinemadope: Don We Now

The business of family business

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014
photo courtesy of Brett Novak
Shepard Fairey in Obey This Film

Theaters running the occasional old classic is nothing new. Indeed, many make a habit of it—an annual screening of Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz is an almost sure-fire way to pad the bottom line. But most often these chestnuts are used to fill the less-than-prime-time hours with fare that will appeal to a slightly older crowd, one that is perhaps less than enthusiastic about spending a Saturday night at the mall. And too often—let’s be honest—the programming for these slots feels like an afterthought, as though anything will do as long as it was once a hit, somewhere.

This week, though, Cinemark Theaters ups the ante a bit by bringing not one but two classics to its theaters in Hadley, Springfield and surrounding towns. On Sunday and Wednesday alike film buffs can catch The Godfather at 2 p.m., followed by The Godfather Part II in a 7 p.m. show (use the break to eat dinner; both films run around three hours). Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark films, with casts that include everyone who was anyone—or would become anyone—paved the way for decades of crime dramas the like of which are still being made today. And despite all the shell casings, these were no mere shoot-em-ups: Coppola’s storytelling (based on Mario Puzo’s books) was so good, it made people root for the mob.

For Cinemark, it’s an inspired bit of programming; the sequel (which turns 40 this year) is really the crowd pleaser of the two, and while its punch is deepened by watching the first film, it’s fairly rare to see them share a screen—and again, you’ll need to clear the calendar to take advantage of this one. But as the sun begins to beat down on us once more, what better way to kick off a summer movie season than by taking in a couple of pictures that proved a popular hit can also be a lasting legend?

In Shelburne Falls this week, Pothole Pictures presents Jean de Florette, director Claude Berri’s 1986 drama that takes a mundane-sounding situation—a farmer’s ornery neighbor blocks the spring that feeds the farm—and turns it into an emotionally wrenching story of the dangers and surprises of human optimism.

Gerard Depardieu stars as the tax collector who dreams of working his inherited land, while Yves Montand is the neighbor who plots his terrible downfall. For a bit of closure, also track down a copy of Manon des Sources, the sequel to Jean de Florette that finds Jean’s daughter—a girl in the first film, grown here—exacting her revenge on the men who destroyed her family.

 

Also this week: If six-hour dramas about family warfare aren’t your thing, the 12-minute documentary Shepard Fairey: Obey This Film might be of interest. Available to stream through the online service Vimeo (vimeo.com/97174655, Brett Novak’s short film packs a lot of thoughtful punch. A look at the power of visual art told through the history of the man who created the famous HOPE poster adopted by the Obama campaign, Novak’s documentary charts Fairey’s growth from a young skater and art student at Rhode Island School of Design to a well-known art world name whose work has nevertheless remained true to its roots in stickering and graffiti art (it draws its title from Fairey’s long-running Andre the Giant motif, which features a stencil of the wrestler accompanied by the word Obey).

For Fairey, what started out as a “subcultural secret handshake” has become a way for him to engage with a larger America that he once dismissed—and an opportunity to use the bold power of his prints to work his way into the hearts and heads of those that had once dismissed him in turn.•

Jack Brown can be reached at cinemadope@gmail.com.

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