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VOL. 126 | NO. 1 | Monday, January 3, 2011

Brooks Unreels Film Series

JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

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The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art this month continues a long-running tradition of adding moving pictures to its collection of visual arts with a series of independent films meant to warm up cold January nights.

The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art cranks up its annual film series in January. The museum’s 2011 offerings include the Woody Allen movie “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” pictured above. (Production still: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

In January, film buffs will be treated to noir ensemble comedy, American folk dance, a look at British advertising and the behind-the-scenes work of a legendary artist.

“We’ve had a pretty energetic film program for about the last decade,” said Andria Lisle, the Brooks’ public programs and public relations manager. “We’re able to screen a wide variety of independent and art films.”

The museum’s film series was started by Lisle’s predecessor, Elisabeth Callahan, who hoped to bring new audiences to the museum. What she did was to start a community of film aficionados starved for something besides big-budget Hollywood blockbusters.

Most of the Brooks’ films – more than 100 were screened in 2010 – come from Emerging Pictures, a distributor in New York. Lisle said she expected to screen about the same number in 2011, most for only one night.

“Occasionally we’ll show something for multiple nights, like at the end of January we’re showing the British Television Advertising Awards, which actually sells out three nights,” Lisle said. “It’s hugely popular.”

The film will be shown Jan. 20, 21 and 23 and features the best of Britain’s advertising creativity in which trumpet-playing hamsters and children with deranged eyebrows are par for the course. The first two screenings will be at 7 p.m. and the final screening will be at 2 p.m.

Earlier in the month, on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m., Woody Allen’s latest film “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” will be screened. An ensemble cast including Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin and Antonio Banderas tells the tale of a middle-aged, London couple re-evaluating their relationship after a number of discrepancies on both sides.

“It just came out within the last two months or so,” Lisle said. “We got it based on feedback I get from fans of the Brooks, and a lot of the staff here are movie buffs and so they’re always asking me about films.”

On Jan. 13 at 7 p.m., filmgoers will get a rare glimpse of Pop Art icon Andy Warhol at work in his “Factory” with “13 Most Beautiful … Songs For Andy Warhol Screen Tests.”

“I’m always looking for art films to show and we’ve shown quite a few artist biographies,” Lisle said. “I’d heard about this Warhol film, which is actually 13 of his screen tests that were recently unearthed by the Andy Warhol Museum.”

In these silent screen tests, shots between 1964 and 1966, artists like Nico, Lou Reed, Edie Sedgwick, Dennis Hopper and others perform to a new soundtrack commissioned especially for the film by songwriters Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips.

“It’s like watching art unfolding on screen,” Lisle said. “People who are drawn to some of our more avant garde or contemporary exhibitions will be drawn to this.”

The Brooks’ month in film rounds out with “Routes” Jan. 16 at 2 p.m. – British documentary filmmaker Alex Reuben’s exploration of Southern folk dance, after which Reuben will answer questions via Skype.

Finally, on Jan. 30 at 2 p.m., the Brooks will present “Howl” about the life of beat poet Allen Ginsberg, as played by James Franco, and the 1957 obscenity trial of Lawrence Gerlinghetti for publishing Ginsberg’s poetry. The film features Jon Hamm, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels.

In February, selected films will offer “Art and a Movie” – a chance to create an art project in the museum’s rotunda just before the film starts. The first project will be the Feb. 3 presentation of “Typeface,” a documentary about modern graphic design and the printing press industry in Wisconsin.

All films will be screened in the 260-seat Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium, which includes surround sound. Tickets are $6 for Brooks members and $8 for nonmembers. Tickets are available at www.brooksmuseum.org.

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