Second Chance Cinema, the Princeton Adult School’s annual winter-spring movie course, will open its 18th season on Monday, February 4th at 7:30pm with the first of its twelve Princeton Premiere screenings: Oslo, August 31st by the Norwegian director Joachim Trier, one of 2012’s most acclaimed foreign films. All twelve selections of the 2012 season will be screened at the Friend Center Auditorium in the Computer Science Building on the Princeton campus, where new video projection equipment has been installed in the auditorium by the University.
The complete schedule of twelve “films you should have seen but didn’t” will continue on successive Monday evenings at 7:30pm through April 29th, and will be introduced by the series curator, William Lockwood Jr, Special Programming Director of McCarter Theatre. The series will include releases from Russia, Turkey, China, Japan, Norway, and Canada, as well as the USA. Second Chance Cinema is designed to showcase titles which never reached Princeton area movie theaters at all, or whose commercial engagements were so brief that audiences missed them altogether.
In Oslo, August 31st, which opens the series on February 4th, the Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie plays a deeply disturbed 34-year old battling drug addiction who drifts around Oslo trying to hold himself together by revisiting people and places from his old life. His day grows increasingly difficult as he struggles to overcome the demons and ghosts of his past for a new chance at love and life.
Various forms of depression and emotional turmoil also lie at the center of three other selections or the 2012 season. Michael Shannon (of Boardwalk Empire fame) is the protagonist of Take Shelter, by writer-director Jeff Nichols, in which he plays a husband and father in rural Ohio who fears his terrifying dreams and apocalyptic visions may signal great impending tragedy. Tension builds as he secretly prepares a storm shelter in his backyard – is he going mad or is the end really nigh? In Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, Anna Paquin is a Manhattan teenager who is witness to a grisly traffic accident in which a woman is killed, and her life goes off the rails in her effort to find closure. A cult and critical favorite for years, this film by the director of You Can Count on Me actually dates from 2005 but was only released last year, with a cast including Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick and Alison Janney.
A third “emotional wreck” is Jack, the character played by Mark Duplass in Lynn Shelton’s romantic trio comedy Your Sister’s Sister. Mourning the death of his brother, he is send by a his friend Iris (Emily Blunt) to a Pacific Northwest cabin for self-reflection where he surprisingly encounters the friend’s sister (Rosemary DeWitt) – and then Iris herself arrives, also unexpectedly, and complications ensue. Women also lie at the center of Meek’s Cutoff , the latest release from Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy) in which three families led by Michelle Williams head west on the Oregon Trail in 1845, led by a guide (Bruce Greenwood) who may or may not be taking them to a fertile valley and the water they desperately need.
Money plays a central role in two more of the series selections. From Russia comes Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Elena, which puts a modern twist on the classic noir thriller. The title character is the widow (and former nurse) of a wealthy businessman who faces an ethical quandary in seeking to secure her potential inheritance. And J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call remains the best fiction movie to deal with the 2008 financial crisis. The disaster at a major investment bank during one 24-hour period involves its key players and could spell its downfall. The all-star cast includes Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Paul Brittany and Zachary Quinto.
Children are the focus of two films from Canada and Japan. Hirokazu Koreda again demonstrates his gift for working with children, as he did in 2004’s Nobody Knows. His whimsical I Wish is the story of two young brothers who have been separated by divorce, and their scheme to re-unite their family by making a wish at the exact point two bullet trains pass each other. And from Canada comes Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar, a poignant story of a Montreal middle-school class shaken by the traumatic death of their teacher. In to the breach steps Bachir Lazar, an Algerian immigrant who offers his services as a substitute, with far-reaching results both for himself and his pupils.
Second Chance Cinema’s season schedule also includes with three documentaries. First, would any film series be without at least one release dealing with food? In this case, it’s Jiro Dreams of Sushi, David Gelb’s story of Jiro Ono, a real-life octogenarian whose ten-seat Tokyo restaurant is a gastronomic shrine, and his efforts to pass his legacy on to his eldest son. But the film’s star attraction is the fish that Jiro prepares, so Second Chance warns that this is not a movie to see before dinner – especially if you like Japanese cuisine.
The final series program will comprise two documentaries making up a “Human Rights Watch” double- feature. This is Not a Film was shot in Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s apartment while he w as under house arrest and then smuggled from Tehran to Paris in a cake. Panahi set up a video camera to make a film that is not one – an in-the-moment diary of one day in the life of an an artist looking for a way to preserve his freedom by representing the world as he sees it. The co-feature Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry covers three years in the life of the celebrated Chinese artist who has become the Solzhenitsyn of the Twitter age, representing the power of art in the face of tyranny and obdurance. Alison Klayman’s documentary strikes the right balance between the public causes and the personal life of the dissident whose Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is currently on view outside Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.
Course registration for the complete Second Chance Cinema series including the schedule of screenings and program notes is available from the Princeton Adult School at 609-683-1101 and you may register online at www.princetonadultschool.org or by mail at Reginfo.firstname.lastname@example.org . Depending on final course enrollment, a limited number of single admissions to individual screenings may be available at the door, but admission cannot be guaranteed.