Reviews of the Cinematheque's weekend films

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The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque is showing several great movies this weekend. Here are our reviews.

Duck Soup (US, 1933) The Marx Brothers’ comic masterwork wasn’t a success in its era. In fact, there was some doubt the team would do another movie after the film laid an egg at the box office (it was indeed the last time Zeppo Marx appeared onscreen with the troupe). Only in the 1960s, with the Marx Brothers re-appraised and appreciated by rebellious college students for their anti-authoritarian antics, was Duck Soup elevated to the realm of classic, warped and surreal humor. The film is set in mythical Freedonia, a place so poor that financial existence depends on the charity of rich widow Margaret Dumont. She’s smitten with the disreputable Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho), and he’s put in charge of the government. Never mind that Firefly still insults her and everybody else with rapid-fire verbiage. Neighboring country Sylvania wants to take over Fredonia, and inept spies Chicolini (Chico) and Pinky (Harpo) follow Firefly, who arbitrarily leads Freedonia into war against Sylvania. By the time Groucho has Chico on trial for treason, simultaneously trying to convict and defend him, whether a serious point is being made in all the foolishness is purely moot. Just laugh and enjoy. At 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, and 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. **** (Charles Cassady Jr.)

Hana (Japan, 2006) Set in 18th-century Japan, Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s parody is something like an Asian Year One. But without comedic talents like Jack Black and Michael Cera, the humor doesn’t really resonate. That, and the fact that you should probably know a thing or two about samurai traditions to really get something out of the flick. The plot revolves around Soza (Junichi Okada), a young warrior who must avenge his father’s death. Problem is, he’s notoriously shy and is more interested in reading and writing than fighting. In fact, he’d rather help the city slaves do menial tasks than pick up his sword and kill the man who offed his dad. And yet, he still tries to keep some semblance of the samurai lifestyle, even if he can’t pay his rent. While some of the double entendres and jokes are really clever, the movie’s better as a period piece than a comedy. At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. ** 1/2 (Jeff Niesel)

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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