Fall Films: The Devil And Mr. Godard

Film fans, prepare for a busy, gratifying fall.

In addition to the spate of remakes, sequels and prequels at the cineplex, the art-house calendar might as well be wrapped in a celluloid ribbon.

Dates have yet to be finalized in most cases, but there are numerous highlights worthy of keen anticipation.

Hartford's Wadsworth Atheneum brings to town the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski's "The Decalogue." Cinestudio, the premiere movie palace for reissues of classic films, presents the newly restored print of F.W. Murnau's "Faust." Meanwhile at Real Art Ways in the Parkville section of Hartford, edgier offerings find a home with titles ranging from Jean-Luc Godard's new movie "In Praise of Love" ("Éloge de l"Amour") to a new print of 1972's "Siddhartha."

The festival calendar is not as busy as it is in spring, but there are several highlights.

The ever-expanding New Haven Festival runs Sept. 20 through 22 (a full schedule will appear in next week's edition of Cal). A mini-fest of films put together by the Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival and EROS, the Trinity College gay student organization, is scheduled for sometime in November at Hartford's Cinestudio.

Exact screening dates for most events are not yet available but the film listings will appear on these pages as the bookings are confirmed.

Here are some of the details:


The story, based on Goethe's classic, goes like this: God and Satan struggle for control of the Earth and their battleground is the soul of one man, Faust, who bargains his soul away to the devil (Emil Jannings' Mephistopheles).

This 1926 silent German film is not ranked among Murnau's best; that honor belonging more readily to "Nosferatu," "Sunrise" and "The Last Laugh," but it is a must-see for film fans. One of early cinema's most lyrical and visually atuned storytellers, Murnau tells the oft-told Faustian legend with expressionistic photography, special effects of the period, and all the advantages of a lavish studio budget - from the mob scenes accompanying an outbreak of the plague to shots of Faust and Mephistopheles flying over the city.

Breathlessly Awaiting Godard

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, critic Manohla Dargis says "In Praise of Love" is, "A film about history, memory and the distance between the two, `In Praise of Love' is an almost-love story about a French artist and a Jewish woman that also takes measure of the distances between identity and nationalism, Hollywood and the Holocaust; an almost-love story that - because nothing is ever simple with Godard - is framed against the struggle to make art in a world that largely ignores it."

Got all that?

Godard, onetime leader of the French New Wave, is still thrilling and confusing his audiences after all these years.

The Decalogue

This incomparable 1987 series of 10 hourlong films was created by Kieslowski (best known in America for his feature-film trilogy, "Blue," "White" and "Red") and his frequent collaborator, co-writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz.

Each episode was inspired by one of the Ten Commandments, but the late Kieslowski avoids obvious interpretations and tidy moral messages. Instead, his stories, all set in and around a stark Warsaw apartment complex, gradually sketch confounding moral conundrums. Could a father's faith in mathematics and science unwittingly destroy his child? Shall a woman gamble that her ailing husband will die so she can give birth to a baby that is not his? Can an impotent man cope with his wife's affairs? Compressed, intense and involving, the "Decalogue" films dramatize the complexities of human existence and the profound puzzles that rend or mend the fabric of the most ordinary lives.

To filch a line from The New Yorker's Anthony Lane, "Thou shalt not miss."

The Meaning of Art

A young Indian embarks on a quest to discover the meaning of life in "Siddhartha," Conrad Rooks' 1972 adaptation of Hermann Hesse's novel.

Criticized for being overly arty, the film is required viewing if only for the cinematography by Ingmar Bergman's longtime shooter Sven Nykvist.

Information about films at Real Art Ways can be had by calling 860-232-1006 or check out

The New Haven Film Festival

Almost 50 films are on the slate including features, documentaries, shorts and children's films. Among the festival highlights this year are "Made-Up," a feature-length comedy directed by Tony Shalhoub and starring his wife, Brooke Adams; "Zero Day," a potentially controversial drama about students who declare war on their high school; and "Arkadius - Wild Orchid Dreams," a documentary about the Polish fashion designer. New this year is a Saturday program for children featuring four hours of films selected from the Weston Woods Studio, a division of Scholastic that creates award-winning adaptations of best-loved children's books. For a full festival schedule, wait till next week's Cal or call 203-776-6789 and check out

Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Mini-Fest

The Connecticut Gay & Lesbian Film Festival collaborates with EROS, the Trinity College gay student organization, on a mini-fest tentatively scheduled for November at Cinestudio, pending booking dates. A selection of films dealing with issues related to homosexuality will be presented. For more information, call 860-586-1136.