Some use ice fishing. Some use football. Some use bourbon.
For me, not surprisingly, what gets me through a Wisconsin winter is the movies. Luckily, just as the thermometer plunges and the snowblower comes out around this time of year, the big Oscar contenders start hitting theaters. And when the holiday rush is past, there’s always a new UW-Cinematheque winter-spring schedule, and the tantalizing signs of the Wisconsin Film Festival up ahead in April, to keep us going until springtime.
It’s too early to know what’s coming to the film festival, but the UW-Ci nematheque released its 2014 calendar last weekend to audience members who checked out the final weekend of 2013. And for fans of films old and new, weird and wonderful, there’s lots to look forward to. So, here are the things that jumped out at me from the 2014 calendar. For the full schedule (which includes much more than this) visit cinema.wisc.edu.
Oh, and every screening is FREE.
1. Guy Maddin in person. Winnipeg’s Fritz Lang, David Lynch and any other auteur you care to mention, Maddin’s films (“Brand Upon the Brain!,” “My Winnipeg”) are unmistakable, strangely personal pastiches of silent and early sound filmmaking. He’ll be in Madison the weekend of February 20 to screen “My Winnipeg,” give a talk on loss in cinema, and present of his favorite films, James Whale’s “Remember Last Night?”
2. Hitchcock at the Chazen. The Cinematheque at the Chazen series has been widely popular, such as last fall’s Cinemascope salute. This time the theater will be turned over to the Master of Suspense for Sunday afternoon screenings, from “The 39 Steps” on Jan. 26 to “Notorious” on Feb. 23 to “Psycho” on April 13. Cinematheque director Jim Healy revealed that the Hitchcock series will spill over into the Wisconsin Film Festival, including an original Technicolor print of “Vertigo,” which I’ll bet you will be one of those screenings to play in the big Capitol Theater.
3. “Cutie and the Boxer”. I’ve seen this documentary turn up on a lot of Top 10 lists lately, showcasing the strange collaborative and competitive marriage between two elderly artists. It kicks off the Cinematheque series at 4070 Vilas Hall on Friday, Jan. 17.
4. Film noir double features. On Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, the Cinematheque presents double-barrelled double features of some rarely seen classic noirs, including a 1949 version of “The Great Gatsby.”
5. Restored avant-garde masterpieces. This is something really special for fans of challenging films on Jan. 31, a series of avant-garde films by James Benning, Stan Brakhage and others, all restored by the Academy Film Archive. The Academy’s Mark Toscano will appear in person to introduce and talk about the films and the process of restoring them.
6. New Chilean cinema. Every spring, the Cinematheque partners with the Department of Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies for a special Latin America film series, and this series in February looks especially good, including a triple feature on Feb. 22 of Pablo Larrain’s three films, “Post Mortem,” “Tony Manero” and one of my Top 10 of 2013, “No.”
7. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.” Exactly 50 years (okay, and one day) after the Beatles made their legendary appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Cinematheque’s Marquee Mondays series at Union South will present Robert Zemeckis’ overlooked gem about Beatles fanatics.
8. Valentine’s Day with “Barry Lyndon.” What better way to show your sweetie you care than to take him or her to one of Stanley Kubrick’s most polarizing films?
9. Fredric Wiseman’s “At Berkeley.” Cinematheque will present the Madison premiere of the legendary documentary filmmaker’s latest film, a four-hour look inside life in a modern university.
10. Three by Claire Denis. If you were properly disturbed by Denis’ new film “Bastards” at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art earlier this month, you’ll want to come back to catch three of the French filmmaker’s uncompromising films in March, including “Trouble Every Day” and “Chocolat.”
11. Grindhouse trailers. One of the fun bonuses of the Marquee Mondays series is the vintage trailers that play before each film. So on March 10, the series is going all-trailer with a compilation of the best grindhouse coming attractions. The real stuff, not the “Hobo with a Shotgun” imitations.
12. Bugs Bunny! Get ready to laugh at a collection of newly struck prints of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons from the 1940s, including some of Chuck Jones’ and Friz Freleng’s best outings with the wascally wabbit.
13. Jacques Demy. The Cinematheque will celebrate the work of the French New Wave director, and this series will also spill over into the film festival, from the more obscure “Model Shop” to the classic “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”
14. Richard Fleischer. The crime films of the Hollywood director are ripe for rediscovery, including 1968’s “The Boston Strangler” (April 26) and the fictionalized Leopold & Loeb film “Compulsion” (April 19).
15. “It Felt Like Love” with writer-director Eliza Hittman. On May 9, the final weekend of the series, Hittman will come to Madison to present her indie drama about a precocious 14-year-old girl in New Jersey hungry for sexual experience.
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