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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

SGA Films brings Sleeper, Brazil, Blade Runner, Up, more

By Colin Carr

Entering into a new a film-going environment is always an experience. The insular realm of the liberal arts college allows a small community to create their own localized sense of pop culture, their own homespun ethos, and the film selection at the Harris cinema signifies this dynamic at work.
Here you’ll find no microcosm of what Hollywood has to offer. Though it would be generous to say the SGA films committee provides a truly radical or subversive alternative to mainstream filmmaking, their selection undoubtedly demonstrates the film committee’s taste for the irreverent. And at its best the selection constitutes a gutsy indication of the madcap Grinnellian sensibility.
The presentation of bleak sci-fi pieces like Ridley Scott’s masterfully constructed Blade Runner and George Lucas’ early experiment THX 1138 shows that even if the film committee does not stray far from big-name productions, it at least searches for films that take risks within the mainstream. A more recent sci-fi thriller to be played at Harris is Moon, a debut by Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son. This futuristic triad won’t play until early December but it is something to look forward to.
The committee plans to show a similarly idiosyncratic selection of comedies, from Woody Allen’s classic Sleeper to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, a gorgeously shot and discomfortingly funny depiction of an Orwellian dystopia. For some lighter and more childlike humor, students should catch Peter Docter’s inventive Pixar movie Up. Up and Brazil aren’t playing until early October, though Sleeper will screen this Saturday.
But there are some downsides to the selectin this semester. Some of the “classic” films the cinema provides, such as Field of Dreams and Ghandi, are streamlined yuppie entertainments, both bland and sterile films that illustrate the dangers inherent in trusting the provincial American Film Institute as a true canonical authority.
There are also a few too many trashy mainstream cold turkeys, such as Yes Man and 16 Blocks, the kind of films that even the directors knew were going to be the duds they would never show their children.
But these disappointments are in the minority. Some of the classics presented at Harris, such as David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, playing mid-November, are delightful must-sees for anyone even vaguely interested in the potential of the medium. And the majority of the contemporary films being played are personal and at times even daring. Despite its limitations, this semester’s selection will present, at its best, quirky directorial visions brought to life under commercial strictures, which isn’t common and deserves to be valued.

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