We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.
Attraction is hard to quantify—you’ll know it when you see it, smell and hear, taste and touch it. And what attracts you, of course might not attract me. Let’s throw our cards on the screen this semester and explore cinematic attraction (and maybe also a dose of repulsion, depending on your penchant). The push and pull of our flickering screens have of course been felt since the beginning of cinema, from the rippling body of Eugene Sandow to the chromatic wisps of Annabelle’s serpentine dance. Tom Gunning has theorized this period of largely non-narrative cinema as being driven by attraction, the medium’s potent ability to harness visibility for our desiring eyes. We can also take a pointer from Eisenstein’s montage of attractions that what grabs our attention is not always pleasant—but will move us, physically and emotionally as well as politically. Something we’ve been so disastrously reminded of recently. Let’s think through the desires—and politics—of attraction this spring in all of its many guises.
Presented by Justus Nieland
Set in a moody, stylized 1960s Hong Kong, Wong Kar-Wai's ravishing In the Mood for Love explores the blossoming of an intimacy between two tenants of a crowded apartment building who gradually discover their spouses are involved in an affair. Widely regarded as Wong's greatest film, In the Mood for Love is an unabashedly romantic film about longing, missed opportunities, and the social environments that shape desire. A work of stunning visual beauty and masterful rhythm, the film stars two actors—Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung—at the peak of their powers, and offers a bravura display of expressive technique. A masterpiece of atmosphere.
Presented by Pat O'Donnell
A disastrous wedding day and Planet Earth is on the way to a collision with a gigantic asteroid. Physical and astronomical bodies attract and collide. The planetary timescale of the new normal is a matter of hours, not eras, and the anthropocene is on the verge of instantaneous collapse. The mood is grim, banal, and oddly nostalgic. A perfect inauguration eve film for your viewing pleasure.
Presented by Ken Harrow
Screenwriter Paul Javal's marriage to his wife Camille disintegrates during production of a movie, as she spends time with the producer.
Presented by Chris Long
A Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism, liberalism, and desire thrive, despite surrounding dangers. A wondrous feminist fable that imagines the possibility of communal life, and love, after patriarchy—a Romantic vision needed and pressingly relevant still today. It was the first female directed feature-length film to win an Academy Award (for Best Foreign Language Film).
Presented by Lyn Goeringer
On a strange island inhabited by demons and spirits, a man battles the forces of evil.
Presented by Yelena Kalinsky
Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 sci-fi masterpiece, based loosely on the Strugatsky brothers' novel Roadside Picnic, takes place in a dystopian world where a mysterious Zone is sealed off by the government and is said to grant one's deepest unconscious wish. Unable to resist the Zone's pull, the Stalker of the title leads a washed-up writer and a cynical scientist on a spiritual and philosophical quest to the heart of the Zone. The illusion of continuous action through the constantly shifting landscape and strange, nondiegetic sound cast a seductive spell while ultimately frustrating any single interpretation.
Presented by Amrutha Kunapull
This Tamil film is centered on two boys from the slums of Chennai as they try to satisfy a yearning so familiar in the West - the want to eat pizza. The narrative follows the young protagonists as they make their way through the network of desire and the resultant challenges.
Presented by Juliet Guzzetta
A woman of unknown origin combs the highway in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair.
Featuring documentary and fiction works from our own faculty.
Presented by Lily Woodruff
A mysterious cloud formation flows through the Swiss Alps--its name, the Maloja Snake, is the title of a play in which an older woman falls tragically in love with her younger assistant. Having long ago starred as the ingenue, celebrated actress Maria Enders has been invited to revisit the play this time as the older woman. Her own young assistant helps her prepare the role in an atmosphere as ambiguous, layered, and fleeting as the clouds that fill the mountain valleys.
Presented by Josh Wucher
When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
Presented by Ellen McCallum
In The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Rainer Fassbinder puts melodrama on steroids as Petra, a caustic and coddled fashion designer, attempts to seduce Karin, an aspiring model, under the persistent surveillance of Petra's mute assistant, Marlene. Come for the sets and cinematography; stay for the culminating theatrics and potent denouement. One of the most compelling films of New German Cinema.
Presented by Jyotsna Singh
Set in World War II era, a young woman, Wang Jiazhi, gets swept up in a dangerous game of emotional intrigue with a powerful political figure, Mr. Yee.
Presented by Jeff Wray
An 11-year-old tomboy (Royalty Hightower) tries to fit in with her peers after joining an all-girl dance team.
Presented by Josh Yumibe
In this acclaimed German silent film, Lulu is a young woman so beautiful and alluring that few can resist, but when her charms inevitably lead to tragedy, the downward spiral encompasses them all.
Featuring the work of our undergraduate student filmmakers.