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UW-Eau Claire Announces Spring 2009 Film Series

RELEASED: Jan. 16, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — "Six-String Samurai" (1998), a post-apocalyptic kung-fu rock 'n' roll road movie with cult status, will open the spring semester of the campus film series Jan. 23-25 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. "Wildly original and highly entertaining" (Variety), the film will screen Friday through Sunday at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre.

Directed by Lance Mungia, "Six-String Samurai" is set in a Soviet-ruled America where guitar-slinging swordsmen wage battle to succeed a recently deceased Elvis as the king of rock 'n' roll. Jeffrey Falcon stars a mysterious and powerful hero who puts up with a bothersome orphan as he fights his way to the gates of Lost Vegas — encountering bounty-hunting bowlers, a cannibalistic Cleaver family and the Russian army along the way.

The 91-minute film is rated PG-13. Admission is free at the door.

Unless noted, admission to other spring films is $2 for International Film Society members and UW-Eau Claire faculty/staff, or $1 for UW-Eau Claire students. IFS members can buy tickets to films throughout the year. They also receive a newsletter with advance information about films. An individual membership costs $4; a family membership costs $10. Memberships and tickets are available at the Service Center, 715-836-3727, in Davies Center's east lobby.

Other spring semester films include the following:

  • "In Bruges" (U.K.-U.S. 2008), Jan. 29-Feb. 1. Two Dublin hit men (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson) hole up in the small, storybook Belgian town of Bruges after a botched job gets them into trouble with their London crime boss (Ralph Fiennes). Out of place amidst the gothic architecture, canals and cobbled streets, the hit men fill their days living the lives of tourists. One hates the place, while the other finds his mind and soul expanded by the beauty and serenity of the city. The film is the debut feature of award-winning playwright Martin McDonagh ("The Pillowman").
  • "The Fall" (India-U.K.-U.S. 2006), Feb. 5-8. In a half-deserted hospital in Los Angeles, circa 1915, an injured movie stuntman tells a story to a 4-year-old girl with a broken arm, and we see it through her eyes. "'The Fall' is a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy, a free fall from reality into uncharted realms," wrote Roger Ebert in naming it one of the best films of 2008. "Filmed over four years in 28 countries, 'The Fall' is one of the most extraordinary films I have ever seen."
  • "The Fountain" (U.S. 2006), Feb. 12-15. Darren Aronofsky ("Pi") frames his tale of immortality and the enduring power of love around the story of an oncology researcher (Hugh Jackman) determined to prevent the death of his novelist wife (Rachel Weisz) from cancer. His search for the fabled Tree of Life reaches back to 16th-century Spain — the world where his wife's novel begins — and forward to a chapter not yet written, requiring a 500-year odyssey toward a distant nebula.
  • "Inside" (France 2007), Feb. 19-22. Recently widowed, a young woman (Alysson Paradis) awaiting the imminent birth of her baby plans to spend Christmas Eve at home alone — but an intruder (Béatrice Dalle) has other ideas. "I leave you to discover, through covered eyes, the gut-splattering delirium to come," wrote The Village Voice. "Genuinely disturbing, poetic and precise, every cut, frame, shock, and thought fine-tuned to freak you out, 'Inside' is a neo-horror near-masterpiece."
  • "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (U.K. 1975), Feb. 20. When a soon-to-be married couple (Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick) has a breakdown in an isolated area, they pay a call to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). "A fast-paced pastiche of camp, science fiction, rock music, horror, and more camp" (The A.V. Club), the audience-participation cult classic is a Winter Carnival tradition that screens at midnight. Tickets are $7 ($5 with UW-Eau Claire student ID).
  • "The Visitor" (U.S. 2007), Feb. 26-March 1. A humorless economics professor (Richard Jenkins) travels from Connecticut to New York to attend a conference, and finds a Syrian man and his Senegalese girlfriend living in the Greenwich Village apartment he rarely uses. The couple has nowhere to go; surprisingly, he is touched by them and allows them to stay. "From then on, 'The Visitor' becomes a succession of stirring and heartbreaking epiphanies," wrote the Baltimore Sun. "It ends up encompassing America's treatment of illegal immigrants and turns into an unlikely yet utterly persuasive love story."
  • "Let the Right One In" (Sweden 2008), March 5-8. Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kare Hedebrant) is a fragile, anxious boy living in suburban Stockholm, circa 1982. Tormented by classmates and ignored at home, he finds a long wished-for friend and champion in a new neighbor "more or less" his age, the dark-eyed Eli (Lina Leandersson). Pale and serious, Eli is never seen in daylight and walks through snow without shoes, never feeling the cold. "By the time Oskar figures out Eli's true nature, it's too late to turn off his feelings," wrote Newsweek. "Grave, melancholy, romantic, with bursts of off-beat comedy, 'Let the Right One In' unfolds with quiet, masterly assurance ... a vampire movie reinvented in startling and tender ways."
  • "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" (Ireland-U.K. 2006), March 26-29. Two Irish brothers (Padraic Delaney, Cillian Murphy) find themselves on opposing sides of their country's battle for independence from Britain. "The film immediately has you in its thrall and doesn't let go," wrote the San Francisco Chronicle. "By refusing to romanticize the idealism of youth and instead illuminating how it leads to horrendous mistakes in judgment, the fine British director Ken Loach takes a guerrilla conflict from almost 90 years ago and makes it as disturbingly fresh as today's news out of Iraq or Afghanistan." It won the Golden Palm at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
  • "Grave of the Fireflies" (Japan 1988), April 2-5. "September ninth, 1945 ... That was the day I died." So begins an anim masterpiece regarded as one of the greatest anti-war films of all time. In the final days of World War II, Japan is firebombed by Allied planes. A 14-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister lose their home and their mother, and take refuge in an abandoned bomb shelter in the countryside. "'Grave of the Fireflies' is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation," wrote Roger Ebert, who lists this among his Great Movies. "Yes, it's a cartoon, and the kids have eyes like saucers, but it belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made."
  • "La Vie en Rose" (France-U.K.-Czech Republic 2007), April 16-19. A swirling, impressionistic portrait of the legendary singer Edith Piaf, starring Marion Cotillard in a performance that received an Academy Award. "This brilliant account of the life of Edith Piaf — the French songbird, born of the streets and the brothels, who became a cultural icon for a nation — visits the usual benchmarks, juggles them around, emphasizes sharp detail over seismic events, and delivers the portrait of a life that is vividly, explosively real."
  • "MirrorMask" (U.K.-U.S. 2005), April 23-26. Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) is a 15-year-old girl who works for her family circus and wishes she could run away and join real life. Instead, she finds herself on a journey into the Dark Lands, a landscape filled with giants, Monkeybirds and dangerous sphinxes. She searches for the MirrorMask, an object of great power that is her only hope of going home. "If 'The Wizard of Oz' were reborn in the 21st century, it might look a lot like 'MirrorMask,'" wrote The Hollywood Reporter. Neil Gaiman wrote the story and screenplay.
  • "Turtles Can Fly" (Iran-France-Iraq 2004), April 30-May 3. A lanky 13-year-old (Soran Ebrahim) is known as Satellite because of his skill at hooking up dishes in his Kurdish village in the northern enclaves of Iraq, where people are anxious for news on the eve of the U.S.-led invasion. He leads a group of refugee children who harvest land mines and sell them for food. "In this booby-trapped world, everything that we hold dear about raising offspring will be thrown out. These kids will raise themselves," wrote The New Yorker. "A lesser director would end up floundering in hyperbole, or in comedy as black as tar. What [director Bahman] Ghobadi does, to stabilize the mood, is follow the example of his characters — if children can treat their sufferings with a level gaze, he implies, then we owe it to them to do the same."
  • "The Green Butchers" (Denmark 2003), May 7-10. Bjarne and Svend are pals who open a butcher shop that becomes a success after a tragic but timely discovery in their walk-in freezer. "In these grim but funny tales (think of the brilliant musical 'Sweeney Todd' and cult film 'Eating Raoul'), the first body always pops up by chance, a regrettable but convenient fatality that sends a once-hapless protagonist down the slippery but lucrative slope toward murder and a fresh menu," wrote The Washington Post. "Admirably dry, the film offers its pleasures through small, writerly details."

Most films screen at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. in Davies Theatre, a 250-seat theater in Davies Center on UW-Eau Claire's lower campus. Schedule information is available from the Activities and Programs office, 715-836-4833, or online.

Campus films are selected and presented by the all-student University Activities Commission of the UW-Eau Claire Student Senate, and the International Film Society, an administrative committee composed of students, faculty/staff and community members. Since 1957 the International Film Series has represented various countries, cinematic styles, directorial methods, genres, and points of view, in films that help bring about a better understanding of other cultures as well as a lifelong love of film. The committees are advised by the University Centers Activities and Programs office.

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JS/JB

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