SUNDAY IS NUNDAY AT CINEFAMILY L.A
Cinefamily in Los Angeles has quite the inspired series coming up over Sunday's in July with the title NUNDAY FUNDAY. Good nuns, bad nuns, real nuns, fake nuns, singing nuns, swinging nuns, flying nuns, ex-nuns, nuns-on-the-run, nunsploitation: Hollywood has long revered sisters and mothers of the religious order. More often than not, however, the emphasis tends to be on the darker side of the habit. Cinefamily feel it's high holy time to support nun-centric films that are lighter, sweeter, and more earnest in depicting the cloistered lives of these ladies as they shine their guiding light on the outside world. Join every Lord's Day in July for a series of comedies, musicals, and documentaries celebrating Cinefamily's favorite women of the cloth!
Sunday, July 9th 2:00pm, Double Feature
THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS (1966 / 35mm) + WHERE ANGELS GO TROUBLE FOLLOWS! (1968 / 35mm)
Based on the book My Life with Mother Superior by June Trahey, The Trouble with Angels was actress Ida Lupino's last feature film in the director's chair. The American counterpart to Britain's The Belles of St. Trinian's, Columbia's massively successful 1966 comedy follows PG-rated bad girls Mary (a 20 year old Hayley Mills, fresh off her career as Disney's number one child star) and her sidekick Rachel (June Harding in her first and sadly last film role) in a New England Catholic boarding school as they sneak cigarettes in the girl's room, play hooky on Silent Sunday, and execute, as Mary would say, "scathingly brilliant" schemes to get under the skin of the sisters. These two handfuls are under the charge of an exasperated, eye-rolling Reverend Mother (played expertly by queen of the reaction shot Rosalind Russell, of Gypsy and Auntie Mame fame) who leads a superfluity of subordinate nuns, including several played by character actresses who made careers out of donning the wimple and veil - Mary Wickes (Sister Act 1 & 2), Marge Redmond (The Flying Nun), and Portia Nelson (The Sound of Music).
Featuring a titular theme song written and performed by psych-pop duo Boyce & Hart, the 1968 follow-up Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! has Rosalind Russell returning with a school bus full of new delinquent schoolgirls for a cross-country road trip as the sixties swing into full force. From peace rallies ("break bread not the peace!") to psychedelic dance parties to biker pow-wows, young free-wheelin' Sister George (Stella Stevens of The Nutty Professor fame) and Russell's old-line Reverend Mother illustrate the generation gap between the old ways of the order and post-Vatican II in tumultuous modern America. Sometimes silly, often touching, and 100% sincere, to say we love these movies would be a (n)understatement!
Sunday, July 16th 2:00pm
THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965 / 35mm)
"No one is comfortable with an excess of hearts and flowers, but there is no valid reason for hiding honest emotion...It's my conviction that anyone who can't, on occasion, be sentimental about children, home or nature is sadly maladjusted." - Richard Rodgers
It's 1965. The tide-shifting political and countercultural revolution approacheth, as activists, mop-tops, and barefooted flower children play pied pipers to an ever-expanding consciousness. Warhol has directed 28 films...this year alone. And yet the highest grossing movie, of both the year and all time, is about a wide-eyed, plucky nun who warms the heart of a calloused widower, turning the lives and frowns of his family upside down as she brings them together through the power of song. 60s cinema's fascination with Sisters of the Cloth's exotic purity climbed to its most glorious heights with The Sound of Music. Audiences around the world fell in love with the fresh faced, glowing Julie Andrews and commanding Christopher Plummer, the sumptuous direction by Robert Wise, and the unforgettable-no-matter-how-you-try songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein. Though critics sneered and the hip dubbed it the epitome of squaredom, Music's charm laid not in its obliviousness to a world in flux but its juxtaposition against it. As the shadow of WWII falls all around and the family sweetly sings that final "Edelweiss", it's easy to see them (through tear-filled eyes) as a symbol of kinship, love, and hope amidst chaos. Now in these sadly maladjusted times beset by darkness and snarkness, the honest emotion of The Sound of Music is more precious than ever. Warmth, kindness and, as its original tagline proclaimed, "The Happiest Sound in All the World!" These are a few of our favorite things, may they bloom and grow forever.
Sunday, July 23rd 2:00pm
SISTER ACT 2: BACK IN THE HABIT (1993 / 35mm)
Most sequels go the way of Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo or Speed 2: Cruise Control. Some, when you get that delicious alignment of talent, inspiration, and a dose of gonzo, take the Gremlins 2: The New Batch path. Sister Act 2 - a strange, beautiful, hilarious movie - belongs in the latter category.
It was a different world when the Sister Act franchise arrived in cinemas in the early 90's. We had no idea that Whoopi Goldberg would one day helm The View, while Harry Potter's Minerva McGonagal was just a twinkle in Maggie Smith's eye. Deloris (Whoopi)'s singing career is soaring in Vegas, is recruited by Smith for a classic "one last ride" rejoin the nuns in rescuing a declining San Francisco public school from closure. Fish-out-of-water hijinks ensue, while a lurid batch of musical numbers - including arrangements of Marvin Gaye and Supremes tunes - are exemplary of the ambitious, entrepreneurial cinema of the era. Oh, and it also launched the careers of Lauryn Hill and Jennifer Love Hewitt! Director Bill Duke (who'd helmed episodes of Miami Vice and a number of hard-boiled crime flicks, in between acting turns in Car Wash and Predator) notched a historical touchstone by being the first African American to helm a blockbuster sequel - and doing so with bravura style.
Sunday, July 30th 7:00pm
From Convent to Counterculture: Sister Corita and Inquiring Nuns:
WE HAVE NO ART (1968 / 16mm) + MAY'S DAY (1954 / Digital) + INQUIRING NUN'S (1968 / 16mm Restoration)
Co-presented by Corita Art Center. Join Cinefamily for a closing reception on the Cinefamily patio featuring a gallery show of works by Sister Corita Kent!
"I think maybe one of the most important rules about looking at films that I can think of is that you should never blink, that you should really keep your eyes straight on the film and never miss anything." - Sister Corita Kent
Baylis Glascock's 1967 documentary We Have No Art opens with these instructions from radical artist-teacher-nun Sister Corita, whose politically and spiritually-charged silkscreens were often compared to Andy Warhol's, and continues to explore her progressive teaching methods and ideas at the former Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles. Paired with Glascock's Mary's Day 1964, which documents Corita's experiment in contemporizing the traditional springtime ceremony with Pop Art, the two films stand in clear admiration of the unorthodox nun, whose experimental practices attracted such luminaries as Charles & Ray Eames, Alfred Hitchcock, John Cage, and Buckminster Fuller to teach alongside her.
Echoing Jean Roach and Edgar Morin's seminal documentary Chronicle of a Summer, Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner's Inquiring Nuns wants to know "Are you happy?" Set to a Philip Glass score (his first for film!), this simple but disarming question is repeated over and over again by two wide-eyed young Sisters as they roam the streets of Vietnam War-era Chicago, approaching everyone from Sunday morning churchgoers to legendary comedian Stepin Fetchit to members of psych-rock duo "The Bubblegum Orgy." The responses they receive range from rational to philosophical to frankly sexual, but what's most striking about this 1968 time capsule is the recurring humanistic desire for a more peaceful planet.
Program notes by Cinefamily, Los Angeles.