UW Cinematheque provides the cure to the summer movie blahs

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No offense to a summer full of superheroes, angry birds and The Rock holding down a helicopter with his bare hands, but for some movie fans, fall can’t come soon enough.

The start of fall means movies with a little more substance to them, usually. That’s especially true in Madison, because when the University of Wisconsin-Madison is back in session, the UW Cinematheque fall season begins.

The free on-campus film series brings independent, classic and foreign films to the big screen, and is now the only place in Madison to still see movies on 35mm film rather than digital. Movies screen mostly in the Cinematheque screening room, 4070 Vilas Hall, although there’s also a long-running series at 2 p.m. Sundays across the street at the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave.

The series kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday with the Madison premiere of “Give Me Liberty,” a Milwaukee-made comedy-drama that’s been getting national acclaim.

Here are a few other screenings this fall that are worth making time for. For the full calendar, visit cinema.wisc.edu.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” (Sunday, Sept. 1, 2 p.m.) — This fall’s “Sunday Afternoon at the Chazen” series features 15 movies curated by the Chicago Film Society, all on 35mm prints from the society’s collection. It kicks off with Andrew Dominik’s Western masterpiece starring Brad Pitt as the legendary outlaw, and Casey Affleck as the wannabe who shot him in the back.

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The Films of Paulin Soumanou Vieyra” (Saturday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.) — This special screening will feature four films by Vieyra, an influential but often overlooked force in African cinema. His daughter, Stephane Vieyra, will be present for a Q&A at the event, co-sponsored by Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

The Films of Larry Gottheim” (Friday, Sept. 13, 7 p.m.) — Experimental filmmaker Gottheim will be present at this retrospective, featuring short films from the past five decades.

Homework” (Friday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.) — The UW-Cinematheque will present restorations of four films by the late Iranian master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, starting with his 1989 documentary in which he interviews children about the dreaded titular subject.

Seadrift” (Saturday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m.) and “Ms. Purple” (Saturday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.) — In conjunction with the Asian-American Media Spotlight, the Cinematheque is bringing two filmmakers to Madison to present their newest films. Tim Tsai will present “Seadrift,” his documentary about a violent 1978 incident between white Louisiana fishermen and Vietnamese refugees. Then co-writer Chris Dinh will present “Ms. Purple,” a family drama about a karaoke bar hostess caring for her ailing father.

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Nancy Kauffman on Convention City” (Saturday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.) — Cinematheque won’t be showing the 1933 comedy “Convention City” — the film was reportedly so risque for its time that studio head Jack Warner ordered the negatives destroyed. But George Eastman Kodak Archivist Nancy Kauffman will use photos and archival materials to tell the story behind one of Hollywood’s great lost films.

Revenge of the Creature 3D” and “Parasite 3D” (Friday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.) — Cinematheque installed 3D projection a couple of years ago and they are putting it to good use for Halloween with this double feature of classic chiller films.

Shoes” (Thursday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.) — New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis will present her curated collection of silent-era films made by female directors, including the 1916 feature by Lynn Weber about a poor shopgirl who yearns for a new pair of shoes. Dargis will talk about the film, which has been restored with a new score.

Fox: An Appreciation” (Friday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m.) — Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox has raised a lot of questions about the future of the venerable Hollywood studio, which makes it timely and poignant for a retrospective of the studio’s many classic films, presented by 20th Century Fox archivist (and UW-Madison grad) Schwan Belston.

Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists” (Saturday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m.) — Cinematheque will present several documentaries by the legendary filmmaker Julia Reichert, including this 1983 film (which she co-directed) about Americans who endured the Red Scare. Best of all, Reichert will be at this screening to talk about the film and her career at large, including the new “American Factory” on Netflix.

Seven Samurai” (Saturday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.) — If you’re a film fan, you’ve probably seen Akira Kurosawa’s epic saga (later remade as a Western in “The Magnificent Seven”). But have you seen it in 35mm on the big screen? Now’s your chance.

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