I’m seeing The Last Days of Pompeii, based on the novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, this Friday (7:00 pm) at the Cleveland Museum of Art, for several reasons. First, I teach Latin and am interested in the subject. I have invited my students and hope to encounter some of them there. Second, Sebastian Birch, who teaches at Kent State, will provide reliably rousing live piano accompaniment to this 1926 Italian silent film. Finally, it looks like crazy fun. The Museum brochure describes it as “long, lavish, and racy.” The film relates to the Museum’s current exhibition, “The Last Days of Pompeii.” Here’s a peek. (Our version will have English intertitles.)
Across the street at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, there are too many movies to choose from. Sean Penn stars as a spacy, aging rock star searching out a Nazi war criminal in This Must Be the Place. He should have won an Oscar. When I saw this movie a few weeks ago (and then wrote about it), we stood in the restroom and then in the hallway discussing it for a long time. You can’t necessarily figure it out, but it’s sure fun to watch. See it Friday at 7:15 or Sunday at 8:20.
The apocalyptic Melancholia is similarly mystifying. It’s stunningly beautiful and features a great performance by Kirsten Dunst. (Thursday at 8:25 pm and Saturday at 9:10 pm.)
Barbara, Germany’s official entry for the 2012 Academy Awards, explores life in East Germany in 1980 and a doctor’s plan to escape. I haven’t seen this, but it looks good. (Friday at 9:30, Saturday at 7:05, and Sunday at 4:00) Finally, there’s the classic 1959 French film Eyes Without a Face, showingSaturday at 5:15 and Sunday at 6:30). I’ve always avoided this nightmarish film–about a plastic surgeon who removes women’s faces in order to repair his daughter’s disfigured one–but am sure it’s good. If you like being horrified.