Tired of the elections already? Perhaps all you need is a little fictional refresher. The Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe is bringing its Big Screen Classics series back this September for a look at “Election Year Films.” The new series launches on Saturday, Sept. 13, with the 1939 fave Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, the movie stars Jimmy Stewart as a naive small-town politician who evolves into a cynical Washington insider. Director Frank Capra kept his usual feel-good sense of Americana while exposing hypocrisy and corruption in our government. The screening starts at 7 p.m. and tickets will set you back five lousy bucks. Future “Election Year Films” include the 1962 political thriller The Manchurian Candidate (Friday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m.) and the 1972 Robert Redford satire The Candidate (Friday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.). Tickets for each film are available at the Lensic box office (211 W. San Francisco St.) and online at TicketsSantaFe.org. As always, you can check out more Lensic info at lensic.org.
The year 2008 has been an odd one for film. Sure, the box office overflowed thanks to films like The Dark Knight and Iron Man. But with the demise of several independent (or semi-independent) distributors, the indie film offerings have felt like slim pickings. Art house theaters have been limited almost exclusively to documentaries this year. A look through our local Guild Cinema’s lineup from the year finds a wealth of nonfiction films like Planet B-Boy, Passion & Power, Body of War, Gashole, Girls Rock!, Let’s Get Lost, Rumi Returning, Constantine’s Sword, Dalai Lama Renaissance, Encounters at the End of the World and Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired. Even mainstream theaters filled out their summertime schedule with documentaries like Young@Heart, American Teen and The Little Red Truck. It’s hard to complain about the variety, though, when the quality remains so damn high. All in all, 2008 has been a hell of a year for documentaries.
In a year starved for indie film, it’s practically a treat to rest your eyes on a simple, unassuming drama like Frozen River. No exploding Gotham streets, no death-defying Jeep chases through South American jungles. Just low-budget, minor-key character drama in a decidedly unexotic locale.
BBC America has been doing a cracking job lately of picking up the slack left by Sci-Fi Channel. A slate of original hits like “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood,” “Hex,” “Life on Mars” and “Primeval” make Sci-Fi’s lineup of “Battlestar Galactica” (yes!), “Stargate Atlantis” (meh) and ... um, lemme think ... oh, that chintzy “Flash Gordon” series (yeesh) look almost anemic.