Wilder, Bogdanovich, Jarmusch, and … Luhrmann? It must be Buffalo Film Seminars time


The onset of fall means back to school, and back to the Market Arcade for the Buffalo Film Seminars. The Bruce Jackson- and Diane Christian-hosted series is a Western New York tradition, a screening and discussion of perennial classics (“8 ½”) new greats (“Oldboy,” “Chunking Express”), well-regarded blockbusters (“The Dark Knight”), and some left-field picks (“A Fish Called Wanda”).

Last spring, for example, saw a screening of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate”; as I wrote in Buffalo Spree, “the filmmaker’s follow-up to ‘The Deer Hunter’ [is] the notoriously earth-shattering financial flop that helped sink United Artists. But in the years since, the story of the battle between European immigrants and greedy land barons in nineteenth century Wyoming has undergone something of a critical reevaluation. While some still scoff, for many seasoned viewers, it is now seen as a sumptuous, stunningly ambitious epic. Its status as undervalued masterpiece was confirmed in late 2012 with the Criterion Collection’s remastered release of the film on Blu-ray and DVD. Buffalo Film Seminars’ screening offers an opportunity to look past the years of controversy, and with hosts Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian, view it with fresh eyes.”

Well said, me. I love the idea of Jackson and Christian selecting a film with a mixed reputation.

This fall’s lineup, which kicks off tomorrow with Al Jolson in “The Jazz Singer,” is typically eclectic. There are the obvious cinematic masterpieces (“The Grand Illusion,” “Double Indemnity”), some ’70s favorites (“Network,” “The Last Picture Show”), an offbeat bit of ’90s indie-cool (Jarmusch’s Johnny Depp-starring “Dead Man”), and even Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby.”

It also includes Jackson and Christian’s acclaimed 1979 documentary “Death Row,” and it should lead to an insightful discussion.

Here is the fall schedule in its entirety:

  • August 27 — Alan Crosland’s “The Jazz Singer,” 1927
  • September 3 — Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night,” 1934
  • September 10 — Jean Renoir’s “The Grand Illusion,” 1937
  • September 17 — Billy Wilder’s “Double Indemnity,” 1944
  • September 24 — Delmer Daves’s “3:10 to Yuma,” 1957
  • October 1 — Kon Ichikawa’s “Fires on the Plain,” 1959
  • October 8 — Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show,” 1971
  • October 15 — Sidney Lumet’s “Network,” 1976
  • October 22 — Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian’s “Death Row,” 1979
  • October 29 — Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man,” 1995
  • November 5 — Pedro Almodóvar’s “Talk to Her,” 2002
  • November 12 — Charlie Kaufman’s “Synecdoche, New York,” 2008
  • November 19 — Wim Wenders’s “Pina,” 2011
  • November 26 — Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” 2013

Note that the BFS website features a history of the seminars, “goldenrod handouts,” and a list of all the films that have screened. Films are screened 7 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Market Arcade Film and ArtsCenter; 639 Main St.; see buffalofilmseminars.com for more info.

Photo from “Dead Man”

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