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Faith Group

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Levi Clark
Levi Clark

5 Flights Up Aka Ruth Alex

Ruth (Dianne Keaton) & Alex (Morgan Freeman) moved to Brooklyn back before it was cool. The two live on the fifth floor of an apartment with their dog, content to live their retirement with one another and painting. But with them both so old, the five flights of steps are becoming a problem for them to manage. As they go through the motions of trying to sell their apartment, they come face to face with new couples and younger people looking to move to the area, learning more about love and life in the process.

5 Flights Up aka Ruth Alex

In 1950, Kerouac began studying Buddhism[62] and shared what he learned from Dwight Goddard's Buddhist Bible with Ginsberg.[62] Ginsberg first heard about the Four Noble Truths and such sutras as the Diamond Sutra at this time.[62]

Director/choreographer Bob Fosse takes a Felliniesque look at the life of a driven entertainer. Joe Gideon (Roy Scheider, channeling Fosse) is the ultimate work (and pleasure)-aholic, as he knocks back a daily dose of amphetamines to juggle a new Broadway production while editing his new movie, an ex-wife Audrey, girlfriend Kate, young daughter, and various conquests. Reminiscent of Fellini's "8 1/2 ," Fosse moves from realistic dance numbers to extravagant flights of cinematic fancy, as Joe meditates on his life, his women, and his death. Fosse shows the stiff price that entertaining exacts on entertainers (among other things, he intercuts graphic footage of open-heart surgery with a song and dance), mercilessly reversing the feel-good mood of classical movie musicals.

Leo McCarey's largely improvised film is one of the funniest of the screwball comedies, and also one of the most serious at heart. Cary Grant and Irene Dunne are a pair of world-weary socialites who each believe the other has been unfaithful, and consequently enter into a trial divorce. The story began life as a 1922 stage hit and was filmed twice previously. McCarey maintained the basic premise of the play but improved it greatly, adding sophisticated dialogue and encouraging his actors to improvise around anything they thought funny. "The Awful Truth" was in the can in six weeks, and was such a success that Grant and Dunne were teamed again in another comedy, "My Favorite Wife" and in a touching tearjerker, "Penny Serenade." The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.Movie poster Movie poster

In director Shirley Clarke's stark semi-documentary look at life in the Harlem ghetto, a 15-year-old gang member comes of age amidst drugs, violence and daunting racial prejudice. Eager to buy a gun (a "piece"), the teen struggles to establish his manhood in the only way he believes he can. Based on the novel by Warren Miller and the play by Robert Rossen, Clarke infuses her exposé with jazz music by such greats as Dizzy Gillespie, while minimizing any narrative form. "New York Times" reviewer Bosley Crowther noted, "The players, most with little or no previous experience in films, move with the random impulsiveness of characters caught on the run... the pounding vitality blisters the eyes and claws the senses with its vicious and hideous visual truths."

A combination of musical mayhem and political satire finds the Marx Brothers, under the direction of Leo McCarey, at the center of war between tiny Freedonia and its neighbor Sylvania. The reliably clueless Margaret Dumont is there to bear the brunt of Groucho's wisecracks. Famous for the scene in which Chico and Harpo impersonate an unwitting Groucho in front of a mirror, the film is generally acknowledged as the brothers' masterpiece. Unlike many directors, McCarey, whose credits also include the Registry comedies "Ruggles of Red Gap" and "The Awful Truth," successfully tempered the patented Marx mania without inhibiting it.Expanded essay by William Wolf (PDF, 688KB)

Written and directed by Kasi Lemmons and co-produced by co-star Samuel L. Jackson, "Eve's Bayou" proved one of the indie surprises of the 1990s. The film tells a Southern gothic tale about a 10-year-old African-American girl who, during one long, hot Louisiana summer in 1962, discovers some harsh truths beneath her genteel family's fragile façade. The film's standout cast includes Jackson, Lynn Whitfield, Debbi Morgan, Diahann Carroll, Lisa Nicole Carson, Branford Marsalis and the remarkable Jurnee Smolett, who plays the lead. The tag line of this film was very apropos: "The secrets that hold us together can also tear us apart."

Filmmaker Fred Wiseman employed the techniques of a burgeoning documentary style known as direct cinema to capture reality truthfully and without narration. Wiseman roamed freely through Philadelphia's Northeast High School to document students continually clashing with administrators who confuse learning with discipline. Richard Schickel, writing in "Life" magazine, called this a "wicked, brilliant documentary about life in a lower-middle-class secondary school." At 75 minutes, this is one of Wiseman's shortest documentaries, yet the impact is as memorable as his longer films. Wiseman's film "Hospital," made two years later, is also on the Registry.Expanded essay by Barry Grant (PDF, 406KB)

While traveling in the Deep South, Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier), a black Philadelphia homicide detective, becomes unwittingly embroiled in the murder investigation of a prominent businessman when he is first accused of the crime and then asked to solve it. Finding the killer proves to be difficult, however, especially when his efforts are constantly thwarted by the bigoted town sheriff (Rod Steiger). But neither man can solve the case alone. Putting aside their differences and prejudices, they join forces in a desperate race against time to discover the shocking truth. Director Norman Jewison stages their confrontations for effectively flashy, immediate effect. The film also stars Lee Grant and Warren Oates.Expanded essay by Michael Schlesinger (PDF, 325KB)

M-G-M was the studio generally associated with "prestige" pictures -- those with lavish sets and costumes, often boasting literary source material. Here the high-brow opulence is courtesy of Warner Bros., typically known for modern "ripped-from-the-headlines" stories, and the experiment in grandeur earned the studio an Oscar for Best Picture and another for best screenplay. William Dieterle directed Paul Muni as French novelist Zola who defends the falsely accused Captain Dreyfus (Joseph Schildkraut in an Oscar-winning performance). The Dreyfus case, which was a cause célèbre of antisemitism during the latter years of the Nineteenth Century, formed an exciting climax to Zola's career as a champion of truth and liberty, and is, consequently, the dramatic highlight of this film biography.

Considered the "quintessential" Howard Hawks male melodrama by many, "Only Angels Have Wings" stars Cary Grant as the tough-talking head of a cut-rate air freight company in the Andes. Grant has a dangerous business to run and spurns romantic entanglements, fearing women blanch at the inherent danger. Displaced showgirl Jean Arthur arrives and tries to prove him wrong. Along with sparkling dialogue from Grant, Arthur and renowned character actor Thomas Mitchell, "Only Angels Have Wings" captivates with dazzling air sequences featuring landings on canyon rims, vertiginous ups and downs and perilous flights through foggy mountain passes.

Based on stories by 19th century Italian author Carlo Collodi, this animated Disney classic tells the tale of gentle woodcarver Geppetto (Christian Rub) who builds a marionette to be his substitute son. The puppet Pinocchio (Dick Jones) must earn the right to be made human by proving that he is brave, truthful, and unselfish. On his journey to becoming a real boy, Pinocchio encounters Jiminy (Cliff Edwards), a cricket assigned to be Pinocchio's conscience, eventually mastering his lying and truancy, and selflessly risking his life to save Geppetto, proving himself worthy of becoming human. One of the film's most lasting contributions is Edwards' singing of Leigh Harline and Ned Washington's "When You Wish Upon a Star," a tune that would become the Disney anthem.Expanded essay by J.B. Kaufman (PDF, 439KB)Additional image here and here

Through the years, Hollywood's take on war, honor and heroism has taken many conflicting forms. "Saving Private Ryan" drops ordinary soldiers into a near-impossible rescue mission set amid the carnage of World War II's Omaha Beach landing. The film's beginning scenes vividly show us "war is hell," as William T. Sherman said. Spielberg conveyed ultra-realism with harrowing intensity. "Omaha Beach was actually an 'X' setting," says Spielberg, "even worse than 'NC-17,' and I just kind of feel that (I had) to tell the truth about this war at the end of the century, 54 years later. I wasn't going to add my film to a long list of pictures that make World War II 'the glamorous war,' 'the romantic war.'"

The making of John Cassavetes' "Shadows" was the culmination of an almost three-year filmmaking process as unorthodox and full of surprises as the film itself. Begun in early 1957, Cassavetes' feature directorial debut was a 16mm (later blown up to 35mm) experiment executed by a crew of mainly novice technicians and unknown actors. The plot focuses on Ben (Ben Carruthers) and Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), light-skinned African-American siblings passing for white in 1950s New York. Cassavetes' style, distinguished by personal expression and character study and devoid of rigid structure, was already apparent in this early work that poetically treats race and identity not as sociological discourse but as a sort of free jazz.Expanded essay by Ray Carney (PDF, 308KB)

This insightful 30-minute documentary profiles a young black woman, Suzanne Browning, as she confronts a legacy of physical abuse and its role in her descent into substance abuse. The film was conceived by Browning's aunt, Camille Billops, as a sort of cinematic drug intervention. Family remembrances revealed the truth behind the addiction: Suzanne and her mother were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the family patriarch. Armed with the key to her own self-destructive behavior, Suzanne struggles to understand her father's brutality and her mother's passive complicity. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth. Directed by Billops and James Hatch, this film essay captures the essence of a black middle-class family in crisis. 041b061a72


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