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Palace Cinemas Verona and Film Club (Darlinghurst’s lovingly-curated video rental store) present a series of 25th anniversary screenings of beloved classics and slept-on gems from this pivotal year for cinema – skewing toward the kind of indie and arthouse fare that would’ve been playing at Palace Verona back in the day.
Muriel’s Wedding | July 9
Muriel (Toni Collette) finds life in Porpoise Spit dull and spends her days alone in her room listening to Abba music and dreaming of her wedding day. Slight problem: Muriel has never had a date. She then steals some money to go on a tropical vacation, meets a wacky friend, changes her name to Mariel, and turns her world upside down. Also starring Rachel Griffiths and Bill Hunter.
“Wickedly mocking but empathetic, able to laugh at its characters while paying attention to their sorrows, this subversive comedy about self-esteem resists the notion that films have to timidly remain within tidy genre rules.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Little Odessa | July 23
The prodigious debut feature from then-24-year-old writer-director James Gray (Two Lovers, The Immigrant) is a brooding, atmospheric crime drama set in the dead of winter in Brighton Beach, NYC, as two brothers (played by Tim Roth and Edward Furlong) from a Soviet-Jewish mafia family find their brotherly love and loyalty tested amidst a mob war. Winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival (from a jury headed by David Lynch) but ultimately overshadowed by Tarantino-mania upon its release, Little Odessa is classical, irony-free, with the weight of Greek tragedy. Also starring Vanessa Redgrave, Moira Kelly and Maximillian Schell.
“When the film was made, it was made very much in the moment of Reservoir Dogs. I love Reservoir Dogs, but it was my ambition to do the opposite of that.” – James Gray
Little Women| August 6
This Gilliam Armstrong-directed adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic 1968 novel of four young women coming of age in the aftermath of the civil war was a critical and commercial hit upon release (earning three Oscar nominations, including Winona Ryder for Best Actress), and remains the most popular screen version of the story. Also starring Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Gabriel Byrne, Claire Danes and Christian Bale.
“Ms. Armstrong instantly demonstrates that she has caught the essence of this book’s sweetness and cast her film uncannily well, finding sparkling young actresses who are exactly right for their famous roles.” – Janet Maslin, New York Times
Fresh | August 20
The titular character (played by Sean Nelson) of this powerful crime drama is a 12-year-old drug pusher who devises a plan to fatally pit his two employers against each other, thus saving himself and his drug-addicted sister from a life of violence and poverty. Both a coming-of-age story and a morality play set against the crack epidemic in NYC’s projects, Fresh pulls off a tricky blend of intricate revenge plot (with echoes of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo) with hard-edged realism, and won both the Filmmakers trophy and a Special Acting Prize for Nelson’s extroardinary feature debut performance at 1994’s Sundance Film Festival. Written & directed by Boaz Yakin and starring co-starring Giancarlo Esposito, Samuel L. Jackson and N’Bushe Wright.
“In a harmonic convergence of narrative, cinematic expertise and performance, Nelson’s chilled expression—and this movie—will stay with you like a closely held, personal memory.” – Desson Thomson, Washington Post
Amateur | September 3
Legendary French actor Isabelle Huppert landed the leading role in Amateur by writing a letter begging cult American writer-director Hal Hartley (Trust, Henry Fool) to cast her in his next film. Hartley responded by writing the character of “Isabelle” for Huppert to play; an ex-nun who now writes pornography, and who meets amnesiac Thomas (Martin Donovan) at a cafe: together they attempt to uncover Thomas’s elusive past. Full of witty dialogue (“How can you be a nymphomaniac and never’ve had sex?” “I’m choosy”) delivered in Hartley’s trademark deadpan style, featuring a cream-of-the-nineties soundtrack (My Bloody Valentine, PJ Harvey, Pavement, Liz Phair and more) and more than a few nods to Jean-Luc Godard, Amateur is a great introduction to the Hartley-verse.
“Just as quirky and idiosyncratic as the Gotham-based writer-director’s earlier efforts, this one pushes the spiky humor a bit more to the fore while unfolding a tale loaded with offbeat oppositions and odd character detailing.” – Todd McCarthy, Variety
Wild Reeds | September 17
In 1994, ten filmmakers contributed hour-long autobiographical films about their adolescence to the French television anthology Tous les garçons et les filles de leur âge (All the Boys and Girls of Their Age), including now-renowned names like Claire Denis, Olivier Assayas, Chantal Akerman and André Téchiné. The latter’s Wild Reeds was subsequently expanded to feature length and remains a queer coming-of-age classic, centring on the difficult passage into adulthood experienced by four friends in the southwest of France over the summer in 1962 (as the Algerian war looms offscreen, affecting each of them.) Starring Élodie Bouchez, Gaël Morel, Stéphane Rideau, Frédéric Gorny and Jacques Nolot.
“The film perfectly understands the tentative experimentation and frequent self-loathing of adolescence, the difficulty of knowing whom to trust and how much to trust them, as well as how incendiary an age this can be, with uncertain psyches ready to explode at minimal provocation.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times