Friday Notebook: Cinematheque Event, Documentary at UA, Remembering Epstein, Waving Goodbye to Willows
From the folks at the Cinematheque: Don Hertzfeldt, an Oscar-nominated indie animator with a huge nationwide following, will make a special in-person appearance on Friday, February 24, at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle. “An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt” will include the Cleveland premiere of Hertzfeldt’s latest work, the 23-min. It’s such a beautiful day, the third and final part of his “Bill” trilogy. (A character named Bill stars in all three movies.) The other two parts of the trilogy, Everything will be OK (2006) and I am so proud of you (2008), another Cleveland premiere, also will be shown, along with other Hertzfeldt short films.
Hertzfeldt’s distinctive, hand-drawn, stick-figure-filled cartoons include some of the funniest and most popular short films ever shown at the Cinematheque – among them Billy’s Balloon, Rejected, and Ah, L’Amour. His movies can be surreal and absurdist, sick and twisted, poignant and tragicomic, or all of the above. Though only 35, Hertzfeldt has already won the Jury Prize at Sundance (for Everything Will Be OK), been nominated for the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes (for Billy’s Balloon), and been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film (for Rejected). His films have been shown on MTV, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, Showtime, and the Cartoon Network, among others. In 2003 he and Mike Judge founded and curated The Animation Show, a biennial tour of outstanding animated short films. (The first three Animation Shows played in Cleveland exclusively at the Cinematheque.)
Admission to “An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt” is $12; Cinematheque members and Cleveland Institute of Art I.D. holders $9; ages 25 & under $7 (with proof of age). Advance $12 and $9 tickets can be purchased online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/216679. $7 tickets will be sold only at the door -- after 6:45 pm on February 24. (end announcement)
The Cinematheque has also set showings of Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" on Feb. 12 and 13. The description of the film: Named Best Film of 2011 by both the National Society of Film Critics and the European Film Awards, Lars von Trier’s latest movie is a visually stunning drama with an all-star cast (Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, Stellan Skarsgård, John Hurt, et al.). Set at a lavish estate, the film follows two sisters at a disaster-laden, dusk-to-dawn wedding reception—and later at the mansion as a rogue planet heads toward earth on a possible collision course. Essential viewing! 35mm color & scope print! In English. 136 min. www.melancholiathemovie.com
UNIVERSITY OF AKRON NEWS
The official word: A new documentary about the 35-year search by Argentinian grandmothers to find their missing grandchildren will be shown at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 2, at The University of Akron’s Student Union Theater, 303 E. Carroll St.
The UA School of Communication is sponsoring the free screening of "Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and The Search for Identity" as part of campus activities during UA’s fifth annual “Rethinking Race: Black, White and Beyond” Jan. 27-Feb. 10.
The members of Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo en Argentina are committed to finding their lost grandchildren, stolen, they believe, by the government of their country some 30 years ago.
At least 10,000, and, some estimate, as many as 30,000 dissidents of the military dictatorship were kidnapped, tortured and killed during Argentina's Dirty War (1976-1983). They became known as Los Desaparecidos — the disappeared.
Some of the women were pregnant or were new mothers when they were captured, and their infants ended up in homes of government officials and others sympathetic to the regime. So far Las Abuelas has located more than 100 of the missing children, many who had no knowledge of their past or true identities. Some 400 remain missing.
Visit http://searchforidentitydocumentary.com for more information about the documentary. Visit http://www.uakron.edu/race/ for more information about “Rethinking Race: Black, White and Beyond” at UA.
(Consumer advisory: I have a graduate degree from UA and have taught there.)
You may have seen the news of the death of Robert Hegyes, who played Epstein on "Welcome Back, Kotter." One obit is here and Hegyes' website is here. I interviewed him many years ago when I was working in Schenectady and he was touring in the Groucho Marx play. I remember him as being very formal and businesslike, almost coldly so; even though he was staying a short hop from my office, he did the interview by telephone because he was working on some other projects at the same time. But his work on "Kotter" was certainly funny. and I think of Epstein as getting more past the catchphrases and single-topic jokes than others on the show. And he went on to other respectable work, including on "Cagney & Lacey" in its later seasons. There's an interesting take on what he meant to many viewers here.
ANOTHER "CSI" DEPARTURE
The two-part farewell to Willows (Marg Helgenberger) on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" just reminded of what the show used to be. Often displaying a coolness about science, it has gotten melodramatic more often in recent years and went full-bore for these episodes. Shootouts! Burnt bodies! Conspiracies! Betrayal! And through it all, I kept thinking that Grissom never would have approved; indeed, when it proved that bugs were a key clue in the case, I kept hoping that someone would give Gil a call. Instead, we got a seemingly elaborate plot which wasn't all that clever. (You should have been suspicious the moment we saw burned bodies. I know I was. And the CSI's should have been more so.) And Willows' farewell speech felt flat, forced. And no one can top the "I treasure you people" moments on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
That being said, "CSI" survived Grissom's departure, at least for me. (It is also the only "CSI" I watch consistently.) I liked where Laurence Fishburne took his character, and am finding Ted Danson really intriguing. But the show has a tougher task in replacing Willows, not only because Helgenberger is good, but because she was a crucial link between modern Las Vegas and the old Vegas whose history keeps playing a role in the "CSI" cases. Now the link will have to be forged in some other, likely more awkward way -- that, or Willows' new job will still allow for occasional reconnections with the "CSI" gang.
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