Film Club is committed to bringing "screenings with meanings" to the greater St. Monica community. Thank you for being a vibrant part of our ministry —and attending our Zoom and in-person events.
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Thank you again for your support and we will be seeing you at Film Club!
Amadeus, Mozart’s reported middle name, means “loved by God.” Yet in the eyes of some, Mozart was not exactly a reflection of his creator (other than his musical genius, of course). He was hedonistic, unpleasant, arrogant, rowdy—kind of an 18th century punk rock star. His God-given talent, however, was no less than divine.
Enter Antonio Salieri, another musician in the court of Viennese Emperor Joseph II. Salieri is pious, a devoted disciple of God. He is, however, consumed with jealousy: Why did God grant the “unworthy” Mozart such talent? Salieri’s moral conflict becomes central to the movie. His resentment evolves into seething rage focused on Mozart’s downfall. The consequences are dire for both men.
The 1984 film, Amadeus, follows Salieri and Mozart against the magnificent backdrop of 18th century Vienna. Central to the film is another character—one you can’t see but hear—the music created by the men. It’s part of the narrative.
The film is based on a Tony-winning play of the same name. The characters are certainly real, but the story is largely fictionalized. How much fiction? How much fact? Here’s an article that may help you sort that out. And believe it or not…Amadeus may not be Mozart’s middle name but a nickname. Read this for the scoop.
Amadeus swept the Oscars winning eight at the 57th Academy Awards. These were: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and, not surprisingly, awards for art direction/set decoration, costumes, makeup and hairstyling, and sound. Both lead actors were nominated: F. Murray Abraham who played Salieri (the winner) and Tom Hulce who portrayed Mozart.
Fr. David Guffey and the Film Club look forward to discussing Amadeus with you at our season-closing event.! If you haven’t seen the film—or want to relive the experience, you can stream it on multiple platforms, including Amazon Prime, You Tube, Google Play, Apple TV, iTunes and Vudu.
It’s likely that the director of Life of Pi, Ang Lee, would have been thrilled hearing the insightful comments about his film at the March 7 Film Club event. The film was appreciated on many levels—far beyond its stunning cinematography and amazing special effects. On a deeper level, our guests saw Life of Pi as a film rife with symbolism that explores the meaning and endurance of faith in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Safe to say, the consensus was that Life of Pi is a motion picture experience one won’t easily forget.
Next month, the Film Club will be discussing a film in which a man suffers a conflict of faith stemming from his unbridled jealousy over another man’s talent. Join us!
IMPORTANT! You must re-register for 2021-2022 Film Club Zoom events, even if you were registered last season. You will need A NEW PERSONAL LINK FOR THE COMING SEASON! Once you register, your link will be sent to you in a confirmation email. Click the tab below to register!
MORE ABOUT FILM CLUB ZOOM EVENTS
Please watch our movie before we meet to discuss. During our Zoom events, Fr. David Guffey, CSC, Director, Family Theater Productions, will discuss the films and the part film editing played in each. You will have plenty of time to share your opinions in the main room and in breakout groups. Fr. David will release a study guide prior to each event that will be sent to those on the Film Club email list. If you are not on the list, you can add your name through the next tab.
*Sample e-mail to the left!
Fr. David and the Film Club would be thrilled to receive your recommendations for guest speakers who are involved in some aspect of film making. If you know someone who you think would be an interesting guest, contact with your suggestions.
The Film Club brings together movie lovers for a monthly discussion on a selected film. The 2019-2020 theme is Art of Cinema and with each film is chosen not only for its meaning, but also in the context of a specific aspect of filmmaking (e.g., screenwriting, set decoration). It’s amazing how much more you can see once you begin to appreciate the techniques that make one film stand out from the rest.
The Film Club also hosts two seasonal events: A Holiday Party, featuring a classic Christmas movie, and Oscar Night, where we review the nominated films and vote for our “best picture of the year.” (Our track record for predicting the Oscar has been uncanny.)
The Film Club meets in the Grand Pavilion on the second Thursday of the month from September through May. Our discussions are led by Father David Guffey, CSC, Director, Family Theater Productions.
The Film Club Core Team will soon be finalizing all the movies for the 2021-2022 Art of Cinema series that will begin in September. Like many other St. Monica groups, we will continue to host Zoom events and offer in-person events. The preliminary schedule is below. Please note that our two most popular Film Club events—Christmas and our Oscar nominated film review—will be in-person as will be a season kickoff featuring the Family Theater Productions documentary: The House that Rob Built. As you might imagine, in-person events might differ in format from our pre-Covid gatherings.
Our Zoom gatherings will be focusing on film editing and directing over the course of the season. If you were a fan of the And the Winner Should Have Been… Oscar® format, we’ll be offering that experience in February via Zoom. (Can you imagine? Two Oscar nights in one season!) We will end the season once again with a classic film.
Get ready to vote! We’ll be asking Film Club members to choose our Christmas and classic movies. Details in the months ahead.
Zoom Event Date
|Topic & Film|| |
Live Event Date
|Topic & Film|
|Sep. 9||Film Editing: An American in Paris||Late Sep. - TBD||The House the Rob Built|
|Oct. 14||Film Editing: Moulin Rouge!|
|Nov. 11||Film Directing: TBD|
|Dec. 9||Christmas - TBD|
|Jan. 13||Film Directing - TBD|
|Feb. 10||Oscar® Night - And the Winner Should Have Been|
|Mar. 3||Oscar® Night: Review of the Nominated Films|
|Film Directing: TBD|
|May 12||Classic: TBD|
Oscar® times two
The Film Club can’t help itself…why have only one Oscar event when you can have two? Here’s a recap of these great nights.
THE DIRECTOR—Spike Lee grew up in Brooklyn, New York, an area that would work its way into many of his films. His mother, an enthusiastic supporter of black art and literature and his father, an African American jazz musician, helped establish their son’s African American identity at an early age. Throughout his career, Lee has been unafraid to take a critical look at race relations, political issues, urban crime and violence. From his earliest days as a filmmaker, he’s wanted his films to capture the black experience.
His early successes showed Hollywood that Lee’s films were bankable and helped create an industry-wide awareness of an untapped market niche. Thanks to his films, Hollywood began to open its doors to other African American filmmakers. Find out more about Spike Lee, his life and career, CLICK HERE.
THE FILM—It’s been said that the enduring power and relevance of Do the Right Thing would have secured Spike Lee a place in film history, even if he’d never made another film. When released in 1989, reviewer Roger Ebert said, “Anyone who walks into this film expecting answers is a dreamer or a fool. But anyone who leaves the movie with more intolerance than they walked in with wasn't paying attention.”
Director Lee, who was 32 when he made the film, is credited for his ability to artfully manage both drama and humor. The story takes place on what started as an ordinary—although extremely hot—day in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The day ends in tragedy as racial tensions between the African American neighbors and an Italian American business owner bubble over after a young black man is killed by white police. The film’s social commentary on the effect that race has on police brutality is just as relevant today as in 1989.
The cast is pitch perfect and stars Lee in a key role as well as Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Dunn, John Turturro and then-newcomers, Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez. The film is rich with characters who are very much part of their community, their neighborhood. They’ve been said to be “iconic and individual” at the same time. We get to know their faces, hear their voices and walk in their shoes through Lee’s witty, streetwise script.
Film Club! We’ve calculated the results of the 2020-2021 season-end survey. Thanks to the 74 respondents for your support, insightful comments, and some excellent suggestions. Here’s an overview of the results:
Film Club is back from a whirlwind trip to Tudor England—and what a trip it was! We dropped in on Sir Thomas More in 1520 and became immersed in his controversy with King Henry VIII. More sacrificed his life rather than sanction the King’s schism with the Roman Catholic Church and his divorce from Catherine of Aragon.
This was our 2020-2021 season finale. We welcomed over 50 guests and, as you can imagine, the discussion focused on More’s unwavering integrity and faith as well as the superb filmmaking. A Man for All Seasons won six key Oscars and, looking at it 55 years after its release, you can see why it was such an awarded effort.
Over 60 Film Club fans turned up for our “reimagined” Oscar® Night on Apr. 8. Instead of focusing on this year’s nominated films that few people have seen, we went back to yesteryear to look at films that some think “should have won” Best Picture honors. Four panelists and film experts, Clare Denk, Fr. Mike Russo, Brian Frates and Fr. David Guffey, made their cases to overturn previous Best Picture awards. A quick poll in breakout groups gave a nod to each of these panelists and their suggestions. Therefore, the Film Club is proud to announce that Best Picture awards should have gone to Wizard of Oz (1939), Citizen Kane (1941), Giant (1956) and Raging Bull (1980). The evening left plenty of time for participants to chat about disappointments that they’d experienced with past Oscars®, resulting in much animated—and definitely delightful—conversation. A special moment capped the evening: The Film Club awarded its first Lifetime Achievement Award. The recipient was our own Fr. David Guffey to honor his 30th Anniversary as a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
We took off on a galactic journey on Mar. 8 when we discussed 1977’s Star Wars and its ground-breaking special effects. The event brought lots of insightful conversation and shared memories…even Princess Leia and an Imperial officer showed up! Although the special effects in this first Star Wars are remarkable, especially for the time in which they were created, the essence of the story is what keeps the film a favorite for generations of movie goers. Fr. David Guffey, CSC, Director, Family Theater Productions, said, “It takes more than visual effects to make a movie impactful.” Star Wars’ enduring themes of honor, friendship and combating evil, as presented in its mythical universe, appeal to the best in us. The film challenges us and transports us. In writing about the film in 1977, critic Robert Ebert said, “…the magic of Star Wars is only dramatized by its special effects; the movie’s heart is in its endearingly human (and non-human) people.” (1977’s first Star Wars has been retitled Star Wars Episode IV—A New Hope since it now has three prequels.)
The Film Club shared a delightful evening on Feb. 11 talking about Amelie, the shy, clever and generous heroine of the movie that bears her name. As a child starved for love, she grew into a young woman living within herself…not sure how to find love. By happenstance, she realized she could find joy by cleverly and covertly helping others become happier. And, in the end, through the wisdom and concern of a neighbor with whom she shared time, she was able to take the big step and seek the love and affection that she so wanted. As discussion leader, Father David Guffey, said, “Amelie’s desire to make other people have more joyful lives eventually opens her up to love.” This charming, modern-day fairytale, set in a perfect Paris, has a happy ending for those who knew Amelie and for Amelie herself.
The shimmering sands and endless vistas of the desert were the topic of discussion as the Film Club focused on the cinematography in the epic Lawrence of Arabia. The majestic landscape was itself a character in David Lean’s revered film and, with the help of discussion leader, Father David Guffey, we were able to envision the difficulties and intricacies of filming a movie of this magnitude in such a challenging environment.
The movie portrays the exploits (real and exaggerated) of British military man, T. E. Lawrence. Despite the grandeur of the film, it offers an intimate look at a time and place full of daring-do and political intrigue and a world in the midst of difficult cultural and economic transition. The portrait of Lawrence, played by then-newcomer Peter O’Toole, shows a man looking for his next success but not learning from his failures. His charisma won him followers. His exhibitionism earned him fame. His ego allowed him to be manipulated. And in the end, did anyone really know who he was…including himself?
The Film Club kicked off the holiday season with a look at a very American film genre, the Christmas movie. With all the Christmas movies from which to choose, there were several winners (all classics), when guests were asked to choose favorites in several categories:
The film version of a classic Christmas story was also discussed that night—O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. It was part of the 1953 film anthology, O. Henry’s Full House. You’ll remember, the story is about a young couple who each, unbeknownst to the other, sacrificed their most precious possessions to buy the other the perfect Christmas gift. Ironically, she sold her beautiful hair to buy him a chain for his heirloom watch and he sold his watch to buy her ornamental combs for her hair. The power of O. Henry’s writing—on- and off-the-screen—had the Film Club talking about the twist ending—and the power of love—103 years after the short story was first published.
After a night of Christmas films past, Father David Guffey, who led the night’s discussion, shared some meaningful thoughts. He said, “Wonderful things can happen if we leave room for them to occur, even in what may seem to be far off from the ideal Christmas. We’ve all seen how Christ can come in very unexpected ways. How can we make room for grace to break in? As we approach this Christmas, let us consider how we can be the angels, the Santa’s, the bearers of light? How can we bring grace into others’ lives?”
The November Film Club served up a delightful feast for over 50 Film Club members who discussed Norah Ephron’sfilm, Julie & Julia. The movie centers on a contemporary food blogger, Julie Powell, and her culinary idol, Julia Child. Their connection was Julie’s famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, now approaching 2-million copies in print. As part of the Film Club’s Art of the Cinema series, our focus was the film’s costuming by Hollywood veteran, Ann Roth, that subtly and successfully bridged the time gap between the women’s lives and highlighted the parallel challenges they faced generations apart. One participant said, “I’ll never look at a movie the same again. It was really remarkable how the costumes helped tell the story and hold the film together.”
On Oct. 8, Film Club discussed the powerful film, The Mission, made even more so by the soaring score composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone. The music creates the backdrop for this compelling drama that depicts a time when church, state and greed created an unholy alliance in 18th century South America. The score artfully combines liturgical chorales, native drumming and Iberian-influenced music, giving voice to the various constituencies involved in the conflict that arose over a Jesuit mission, the indigenous Guarani it served, and the Portuguese who wished to conquer and exploit both.
Audience takeaways included the role the score plays in following the arc of the story, beginning with the simplicity of the melodious Gabriel’s Oboe to the complex On Earth as It Is in Heaven. Attention was also paid to the outstanding cinematography (it won the Oscar) and how it is made even more memorable by its musical accompaniment. Most agreed that The Mission is a remarkably moving film—one they won’t soon forget.
September’s Film Club discussion of Martin Scorsese’s first (and only) family adventure—Hugo—kicked off our 2020-2021 Art of Cinema season on a truly positive and uplifting note. The winner of five Oscars, the movie centers on the exploits of an orphaned boy who secretly keeps the clocks running in a 1930’s Parisian train station. His solitary life changes when he is befriended by the adventurous Isabelle. Through his interaction with her and others (including an automaton!) and his need to fix things (including himself), Hugo eventually creates his own sense of belonging and positively influences the lives of others who frequent the station. One of the people he meets and impacts (and vice versa) is real-life French film pioneer, Georges Méliès, who is Isabelle’s grandfather. The film was a glimpse into Méliès’ genius that repurposed his considerable skills as a magician to those of an early and notable film producer. You can see Méliès’ ground-breaking 1902 adventure film, A Trip to the Moon, that’s featured in Hugo, here.
Hugo is adapted from Brian Selznick’s 2007 book The Invention of Hugo Cabret that spent 42 weeks on the New York Times best seller list for children. Selznick has some Hollywood in his blood: He is the grandson of legendary Hollywood producer, David O. Selznick. For more about the adapted screen play, check out Fr. Vince Kuna’s blog on the topic.
Hugo has many outstanding qualities, including its award-winning soundtrack. Two of its Oscars were for sound (best mixing and best editing)—while others were awarded for cinematography, production design and special effects. While acknowledging all of these technical accolades, many in the Film Club felt that Hugo and it's lasting appeal has more to do with the wonderfully told story about opening yourself up, reaching out and embracing the purpose of your life.
The film, Just Mercy, was the focus of July’s virtual Film Club. Based on an actual case in the early career of Byron Stevenson, now an acclaimed public interest lawyer, the film shows not only Stevenson’s unbending desire to seek justice and mercy but also gives the viewer an unsettling glimpse of what it’s like to be helplessly and unjustly accused or imprisoned. The film, set in 1980s Alabama, portrays a justice system that often delivered just the opposite to the poor and people of color.
Joining in the conversation led by Fr. David Guffey, CSC, Director, Family Theater Productions, was Monsignor Torgerson and 77 Film Club followers eager to share their reactions to the movie. Fr. Guffey said, “Great storytelling in film offers us a way to live inside the life of other people to share in their experiences and so widen our perspective on life. Though the real events on which the film was based occurred over 30 years ago, the issues of race-based prejudice are remarkably contemporary. This makes the film especially important now. It is important to have the conversation we had at Film Club. It will be important to continue the conversations about race as we listen to the stories of people most affected, and together envision ways of reform based on the universal dignity of every person as a beloved child of God.”
Many also commented about Bryon Stevenson and his inspirational life’s work. One person said, “When you look at what he decided to do, you have to believe that he was guided by the Holy Spirit.” The Monsignor commented, “As a young man, he could have written his ticket and gone to any important law firm. Instead, he chose a more difficult and rewarding path.”
Indeed, Bryon Stevenson is the hero of the film and his work continues today. You may be interested in reading about two of his recent projects—a memorial and a museum in Montgomery, AL—designed to recognize the suffering of many while serving as a catalyst for informed, societal change. Click on the links to find interesting stories about The Legacy Museum and the Memorial to Peace and Justice.
The Film Club will not be discussing a movie with you in August so we can take the time to prepare for next season when our Art of Cinema series returns. We’ll be giving you news as it evolves at stmonica.net/filmclub—and we can hardly wait (as the old song goes…) to see you in September.
It had been a long hot day leading up to the virtual Film Club on June 11, but you’d never know it listening to the animated discussion about Greta Gerwig’s Little Women. Fr. David Guffey led the discussion and Fr. Vince Kuna offered his perspectives, as he compared the book with the screen adaptation. Guests were given the chance to have an “around-the-dinner-table” discussion in break-out groups, before a general discussion that touched on Gerwig’s unique and contemporary approach to the classic story, the outstanding acting, character development, cinematography, set design, choreography and even the story’s backdrop: The Civil War.
Over 100 people joined the Film Club’s virtual get together on May 14, featuring Phil Alden Robinson, Director and Screenwriter of our film of the month, Field of Dreams. The conversation afforded an insider’s view of how the film evolved from a novel to a major motion picture and let us in on the challenges and rewards along the way. A big thank you to Phil Robinson, our guest, Fr. David, our moderator, and all of you who helped create such a wonderful evening.
2020-2021 Film Club Schedule
|October 8||Original Musical Score||The Mission|
|November 12||Costume Design||Julie & Julia|
|December 10||Holiday||O, Henry's Full House|
|January 14||Cinematography 1||Lawrence of Arabia|
|February 11||Cinematography 2||Amelie|
|March 11||Visual Effects||TBD|
|May 13||Multiple Categories||A Man for All Seasons|
The Art of Cinema Series: 2019-2020 Season
History of Film
Christmas in Connecticut
Julie & Julia*
A Man For All Seasons
*Replaced by virtual Film Club discussions of Groundhog Day (March), Rear Window (April) and Field of Dreams (May).
|January||Stan & Ollie|
|March||A Man of His Word|
|April||Of Gods and Men|
|May||The African Queen|
|October||A Beautiful Mind|
|November||A Man Called Ove|
|December||The Bishops Wife|
|March||Nine to Five|