The Valley Film Society


Saginaw Valley State University

2013-14 Season


August 30
Elling (Norway, 2001; Næss, 89 min.)

Middle-aged mama’s boy is sent to mental institution after mother’s death, where he befriends sex-obsessed, virgin, middle-aged man. They are released to live together in a state-provided apartment. Though challenged by simple tasks, they eventually thrive on the outside, forming unusual friendships in unlikely places.

Xiu, Xiu (The Sent Down Girl) (China, 1999; Chen, 99 min.)

Cultural Revolution in China sends young, bright girl to remote province for hard labor, thence to a remoter province to learn horse trading. By treacherous men’s cunning she is reduced to a prostitute, becomes pregnant, returns to civilization for an abortion. Thereafter, more abuse.

September 6
The Cat’s Meow (Germany/UK, 2001; Bogdanovich, 114 min.)

In 1924 on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht there was a spectacular party involving Hollywood celebrities. A producer is murdered, Charlie Chaplin tries to romance Marion Davies (Hearst’s mistress), all resolve to cover it up. Movie captures the spirit of the time. Well-cast and well-acted.

September 20
Place Vendôme (France, 1998; Garcia, 117 min.)

Alcoholic widow of suicide diamond merchant is left with stolen diamonds to sell. She sobers up, but her efforts to sell lead to past betrayal and love. Quiet, deliberately paced story. Low-key thriller and character study. Excellent performance by Catherine Deneuve.

October 4
The Piano Teacher (France/Austria, 2001; Haneke, 131 min.)

Woman piano professor at Vienna conservatory is in her 40's still lives with her mother, is severe with her students, is sexually repressed. Seventeen year-old male student begins sexual relationship with her, satisfying her fantasies requiring violent sex. This leads to trouble.

October 18
The Portrait of a Lady (UK, 1996; Campion, 144 min.)

Wealthy, free-thinking American heiress travels to Europe in the late 1800's to lead an independent life, but poor choice of husband leads to disaster. A character study based on Henry James’ novel. All-star cast and handsome production.

November 1
The Conformist (Italy/France/Germany, 1970; Bertolucci, 111 min.)

In 1930's Fascist Italy an Italian man works for Mussolini’s secret service. When he goes to Paris on his honeymoon, he is assigned to assassinate his old teacher, who has become an anti-fascist. A disturbing blend of character study and 1930's historical context.

November 15
Russian Ark (Russia/Germany, 2002; Sokurov, 99 min.)

The first feature-length film shot in a single take, this work is a technical marvel. It presents three centuries of Russian history as the narrator and his guide move through 30 rooms of St. Peterburg’s Hermitage Museum. They encounter historical characters great and small in the cast of 2000 while on their journey. A surreal journey through the ages.

OSS Lost in Rio (France, 2009; Hazanavicius, 101 min.)

This James Bond spoof takes us across Brazil to the tune of bossa nova music as a French agent (“the best in the business”) accompanied by a beautiful Mossad agent seek out a fugitive Nazi in 1967. Love story + adventure.


January 17
War and Peace (Russia, 1968; Bondarchuk, 210 min.)

The definitive film version of Tolstoy’s classic novel about 1805-1812 Russia. 40 museums contributed costumes and artifacts, over 100,000 Russian troops were used as extras for battle scenes, one of the most expensive films ever made. Many scenes of high society, battle scenes at beginning and end of the two parts.

January 24
War and Peace (Continuation of foregoing film; 210 min.)

February 7
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (UK/UAE, 2012; Madden, 124 min.)

All-star cast depicts 7 elderly Britons who vacation in India and stay in a cheap hotel. This character study revels in the interactions of the diverse characters with each other and with the Indians who run the hotel.

February 21
Calendar Girls (UK, 2003; Cole, 108 min.)

Comedy based on the true story of eleven middle-aged women in small English Yorkshire town who pose nude for a calendar that their women’s club uses to raise money for their local hospital. Each woman poses in the one of the tasks that the club teaches its members, such as making bread, knitting, playing the piano, etc.

March 14
Tycoon (USA, 1947; Wallace, 128 min.)

Engineer works to build railroad tunnel through mountain to reach mine on other side. His task is complicated and his ethics compromised when he falls in love with his boss’ daughter. Well-acted drama includes John Wayne, Laraine Day, Judith Anderson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anthony Quinn, James Gleason.

March 28
Bienvenue Chez les Ch’tis (France, 2008; Boon, 106 min.)
Benvenuti al Sud (Italy, 2010; Miniero, 102 min.)

[Italian film is remake of French film, only main character moves from North to South.] French postal administrator is transferred from sunny southern town in Provence to dreary town in the north as punishment. He expects the worse, but finds that his staff are very friendly, the locals hospitable. Funny adventures.

April 4
Jules and Jim (France, 1961; Truffaut, 105 min.)

A love triangle forms in pre-WWI Paris involving a German man, a French man, and a French woman. All remain strong friends with each other despite the vicissitudes of time and history: the triangle is invariant with respect to change in time.

April 25
The Black Book (Dutch/UK/Germany/Belgium, 2006; Verhoeven, 145 min.)

Fast-paced film about WWII in Netherlands. Jewish woman working for the resistance infiltrates the German administration, where she learns of betrayers in resistance, SS corruption, and seduces German officer (after which they become lovers). A complicated, exciting plot.

May 9

Film selection meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to allow the membership to nominate films for the next season. Anyone who joins the VFS for next season may nominate films either at this meeting or by mail. To be held in Curtiss 100, where our screenings are held. Please note that this is not the last event of the season, but is an experiment whose goal is to increase attendance at the film selection meeting.

May 16
The Agony and the Ecstasy (USA/Italy, 1965; Reed, 138 min.)

Huge spectacle of Michelangelo’s (Charlton Heston) artistic conflict with Pope Julius II (Rex Harrison) about decorating the Sistine Chapel. (Painful work on the ceiling is the Agony.) While not quarreling with the artist, the pope is fighting battles Medici style.

All screenings will be held in room Curtiss 100 (which is across Groening Commons from the Performing Arts Center) at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays.