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Nashville classic cinema this week: Coens top a great week of classic film

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This week offers a lot of classic cinema screenings this week, along with special events at repertory theatres. The main event is at the Belcourt, where the Coen Brothers' 30th anniversary retrospective continues.

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The Franklin Theatre will be showing a couple of Christmas films in honor of the season, but the main event there will be Thursday, at the 1920s Soiree & Screening inspired by Downton Abbey on Masterpiece. The event, sponsored by NPT, will also screen the premiere for the upcoming season of "Downton Abbey." Full details are below.

For news on repertory films playing in middle Tennessee, subscribe to the Nashville Classic Cinema Examiner today!

Fans of cult classics can enjoy “Ms. 45" and "Blue Velvet" at Cult Fiction Underground at Logue's Black Raven Emporium, and those looking for unique family fare can go the Frist Center, which will be screening "Ruby Bridges" on December 13.

A complete list of this week's repertory screenings is below, and you can click on the link above to view photos of films being screened this week. The descriptions are taken from the screeners' respective websites, which you can click on below:

The Belcourt Theatre

The Franklin Theatre

Cult Fiction Underground at Logue's Black Raven Emporium

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Are you screening classic films in the middle Tennessee area? If so, drop me a line, and I'll add you to this weekly feature. To keep track on repertory screenings in the Nashville area, subscribe to the Nashville Classic Cinema Examiner today.


“Miracle on 34th Street” - 7:30pm at the Franklin Theatre - When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.

“Model Shop” - 7:30pm at the Belcourt Theatre - This is an encore screening from the recent Jacques Demy retrospective.

As beautiful and moving as any of Demy's films, MODEL SHOP may finally secure the reputation it so richly deserves in this superlative restoration. Demy updates the fate of Lola (Anouk Aimée), the French prostitute who gave his first feature its name in 1961, who has moved to Los Angeles and works in a "model shop," where lonely men go to snap photos of beautiful women. Replacing Demy's original star Harrison Ford, Gary Lockwood (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) plays a would-be architect who pursues Lola like some holy grail through the City of Angels. Misunderstood or dismissed upon its release, MODEL SHOP was Demy's only American film, and it shows a fine outsider's sense of atmosphere: L.A.'s fractured topography of beach, canyon, and low-rise metropolis, the pastel model shop with its labyrinth of back rooms, the lambent languor of the Strip at twilight. Aimée is supernal as the lost and longing Lola, and Lockwood surprisingly fine as the architect who admires urban geometry but cannot find a design for his inchoate emotion. (Synopis from James Quandt, TIFF Cinematheque.)


“Barton Fink” - 7:00pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Fresh from a theatrical triumph where he’s acclaimed as the voice of the common man, even earthy intellectual Barton Fink (John Turturro) isn't immune to the clarion call of Hollywood. But what should be a simple writing assignment leads down a rabbit hole of secrets, intrigue, betrayal, adultery and murder. Everyone has secrets: the legendary writer, now flailing about in an alcoholic stupor; the devoted secretary, whose mind had found its outlet but whose flesh was stifled; and the nice man next door, who will show you the life of the mind. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival, and the then-unprecedented awards for director and actor as well.

“Miller’s Crossing” - 9:25pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Intricately plotted and peppered throughout with shocking violence and the Coen brothers’ signature jet-black humor, MILLER'S CROSSING draws its inspiration directly from the fiction of Dashiell Hammett and the rich heritage of Hollywood's gangster films of the 30s and 40s. In this Prohibition era film, Tom Regan (Gabriel Byrne) attempts to keep the peace between Irish American political boss Leo O'Bannon (Albert Finney) and his Italian opposition Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito). When Leo, against Tom's advice, extends his protection to the deceitful bookie Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro), his lover’s brother, Caspar pulls out all the stops to eliminate the rival gang. As the sullen anti-hero negotiates the rough terrain of a richly conceived universe ruled by violence and power, he must reassess his loyalties and play both sides simply to survive. The film bolsters its outstanding script with a phenomenal cast which features Turturro in one of his finest roles.


"Fargo" - 7:30pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Desperate Minneapolis car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hatches an elaborate scheme to extort a ransom from his wealthy father-in-law by hiring two vicious but inept criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife. When the pair panic and kill a state trooper, the very pregnant Minnesota police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) is sent in to investigate. As she uncovers the many pieces of Lundegaard’s ultimately doomed plot, the plan begins to unravel in horrific but typical hilariously dark fashion.

The film won the Coens their first Oscar for Best Original Screenplay along with a Best Actress statue for McDormand in one of her most recognizable and charming roles. (Production is currently underway on an FX TV series based on the film with the brothers attached as producers, eh?)


“NPT’s 1920s Soiree & Screening Inspired by Downton Abbey on Masterpiece” - 6:00pm at the Franklin Theatre -

Nashville Public Television is once again proud to host an advance public screening of the first episode of the new season of Downton Abbey, this time in a new location with a fun option to support NPT and make the most of the evening. Our 1920's Soiree inspired by Downton Abbey on MASTERPIECE and Screening will be on December 12 at the Franklin Theatre. Tickets are $75 per person and include wine by Vicki Turner/VPT Ventures, beer by Jackalope Brewing Company and food by Kristen Winston Catering and a guaranteed seat to the public screening, which due to their limited quantity, will go fast. The Soiree starts at 6:00 pm with the screening at 7:00 pm. All Soiree attendees are guaranteed tickets to the public screening, which due to their limited quantity, will go fast.

The advanced public screening will immediately follow The 1920s Soiree at 7:00 pm.

Season 4 of the international hit finds aristocrats coping with last season’s shocking finale. Change is in the air as three generations of the Crawley family have conflicting interests in the estate. Paul Giamatti makes an appearance alongside the beloved returning ensemble, including Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Joanne Froggatt, guest star Shirley MacLaine and a host of others.

“Raising Arizona” - 7:00pm at the Belcourt Theatre - When ex-cop Ed McDonnough (Holly Hunter) discovers that her womb "is a rocky place” where the seed of her ex-con husband H.I. (Nicolas Cage) “can find no purchase,” she sets into motion a plan to kidnap one of a local furniture magnate's new quintuplets. Set to the yodeling chorus of an old Bob Wills tune, the Coens’ lovable and ever-quotable 1987 comedy co-stars John Goodman, William Forsythe and former Nashville fixture Randall "Tex" Cobb.

“Blood Simple” - 9:05pm at the Belcourt Theatre - At once a loving homage to the noir films of the 40s and 50s and a reworking of the genre, the Coen brothers' darkly comic debut charts the anatomy of jealousy, revenge and greed. Marty (Dan Hedaya) suspects his wife (Frances McDormand) of infidelities and hires a private eye (M. Emmet Walsh) to obtain photographic proof. When his worst fears are confirmed, Marty sets a plan in motion to have the lovers murdered. The tangled web of deceit coupled with a series of misunderstandings that follows illustrate that vengeance doesn’t not pay—and often destroys the lives of all involved. BLOOD SIMPLE set the tone for the filmmakers' future works and gave us the first taste of the strangely humorous and macabre Karma that runs throughout their films.


“Double Feature: O Brother Where Art Thou? and Down From The Mountain” - 7:00pm at the Belcourt Theatre

Two Films, One Price!


With their collective eye focused on retrieving a cache of hidden money, three convicts (George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson) break out of jail in Depression-era Mississippi and embark on an epic journey that bears more than a few similarities to Homer's Odyssey. Along the way, they fast-talk their way out of jams, sidestep alluring riverside sirens and record a hit country song as the Soggy Bottom Boys.


On May 24, 2000, a group of mostly Nashville-based musicians converged on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium to celebrate the music of O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? (the soundtrack, produced by long-time Coens collaborator T-Bone Burnett, has since gone on to sell nearly 8 million copies). Filmed by a well known team of filmmakers, this engaging concert documentary features Ralph Stanley, the Fairfield Four, Gillian Welch, Allison Krauss and Emmylou Harris among others, as well as a whole host of Station Inn regulars and the final filmed performance of the legendary John Hartford.

“Ruby Bridges” - 7:00 pm at the Frist Center Auditorium; Frist Center Auditorium ~ Gallery admission required; members free ~ Seating is first come, first seated - This film, set in 1960, tells the courageous story of Ruby Bridges, the six-year-old African American girl who helped to integrate the all-white schools of New Orleans. Ruby faces crowds of angry white citizens every day on her walk into school. Finding encouragement from her mother and teacher, we watch as Ruby’s spirit breaks down a centuries-old barrier and forever changes history. Stars Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Pollak, and Michael Beach. Directed by Euzhan Palcy, 1998. 96 minutes. DVD. This film is not rated.

See Norman Rockwell’s painting, The Problem We All Live With (1964), inspired by the experiences of Ruby Bridges as part of American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, on view in the Upper-Level Galleries from November 1, 2013, through February 9, 2014.

“Ms. 45” - 8:00pm and 10:00pm at Cult Fiction Underground - “From two assaults on the same day to a nun-cloaked, red-lipsticked .45-packing kill spree -- it's all in a movie's work for a mute seamstress in the mean streets of New York circa 1981, on her way to becoming THE ANGEL OF VENGEANCE. Come see this, and then watch director Abel Ferrara's 1992 masterpiece THE BAD LIEUTENANT. And then just wonder what goes on in that head of his... Starring the director himself as the first baddie, just a few years after he shot and starred in DRILLER KILLER. Newly re-released by Drafthouse Films!


“O Brother Where Art Thou?” - 11:59pm at the Belcourt Theatre

“The Big Lebowski” - 11:59pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski doesn't want any drama in his life—heck, he can't even be bothered with a job. But he must embark on a quest with his bowling buddies after his rug is destroyed in a twisted case of mistaken identity. Starring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro.


“The Polar Express” - 10:00am at the Franklin Theatre - On Christmas Eve, a doubting boy boards a magical train that's headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus' home.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” - 10:00am at the Belcourt Theatre - With their warning about Lord Voldemort's return scoffed at, Harry and Dumbledore are targeted by the Wizard authorities as an authoritarian bureaucrat slowly seizes power at Hogwarts.

“Double Feature: O Brother Where Art Thou? and Down From The Mountain” - 2:20pm at the Belcourt Theatre

“The Big Lebowski” - 7:00pm and 11:59pm at the Belcourt Theatre

“Blue Velvet” - 8:00pm and 10:00pm at Cult Fiction Underground - "And I still can hear blue velvet..." IN MY NIGHTMARES after seeing this movie. Even though David Lynch had already made the critically-acclaimed ERASERHEAD and THE ELEPHANT MAN (and the less-acclaimed DUNE), 1986 is when he kicked in our suburban front door and took up residence under our bed with BLUE VELVET. It's scary and weird and horrifying and depraved, sure. But on the other hand, it introduced a new generation to Dennis Hopper, features some lovely music, and taught us all why PBR is infinitely preferable to Heinekin.


"Fargo" - 9:25pm at the Belcourt Theatre

“O Brother Where Art Thou?” - 11:59pm at the Belcourt Theatre


“Burn After Reading” - 2:40pm at the Belcourt Theatre - On the disc is the makings of a memoir for one Osborne Cox (John Malkovich), a former CIA man with a drinking problem and an axe to grind. But when insecure Linda (Frances McDormand) and the peppy but dunderheaded Chad (Brad Pitt) find the disc, they think a little espionage is the key to easy street. Enter the ex-Secret Service “inventor” (George Clooney) in an on-again/off-again affair with Cox's wife (Tilda Swinton), and the game is set for a lethal, laugh-filled pitch black farce. If ever a comedy can be made about our modern surveillance culture, this is the film that qualifies the Coens to tackle it head on.

“A Serious Man” - 4:45pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Professor Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a man in crisis. His wife wants a divorce so she can marry another. He’s on a collision course with his university’s tenure committee. His savant brother Arthur (Richard Kind) has taken up what seems like a permanent residence on the family couch. The next door neighbors are encroaching on his property. His stoner son seems dangerously unready for his bar mitzvah. And the Columbia record club won’t stop calling. Gopnik is a man put upon, and answers are unforthcoming from both human and divine. Perhaps taking advantage of the new freedoms might help in accepting the mystery? Or perhaps every man must define himself in the face of the almighty... We'll see how that goes.

“No Country For Old Men” - 7:00pm at the Belcourt Theatre - Featuring an Introduction from Scott Juengel, senior lecturer in the English department at Vanderbilt University.

Hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles upon the bloody aftermath of a botched drug deal and believes he can safely abscond with the case of $2 million he finds amongst the bodies. Unbeknownst to him, nihilistic assassin Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) has been sent to retrieve the money and eliminate anyone who stands in his way. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) watches helplessly as the murdering beast ravages his small town, trying to piece together what little he can of the seemingly indiscriminate and vicious killings. This neo-Western based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name earned the Coen brothers three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay and won Javier Bardem a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his career-defining performance as the sadistic, bowl-cut, coin-tossing killer.


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