Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of the fall 2013 season at UW Cinematheque. As autumn transitions into winter, the university film society will screen four Madison premieres, as well as works by such masters as France's Jean-Pierre Melville, Germany's Werner Herzog, and Americans Emile de Antonio and Howard Hawks. Also screening are 35mm prints of several enduring favorites among local cinema buffs: David Lynch's Eraserhead, Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt and Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura. Topping off the season are international horror films, grindhouse gems and visits by Mark Goldblatt and Jill Soloway, film-industry pros who got their start at the UW.
Here are 11 highlights from the Cinematheque's fall calendar.
Friday, Aug. 30, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
The season begins with the Madison premiere of the latest work by writer-director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), which won him the Best Director award at the Berlin Film Fest earlier this year. In this character-driven tale, a pair of prospective in-laws (Paul Rudd, Emile Hirsch) spend a summer painting traffic lines on a fire-scorched country highway. As they work hard and take in the beautiful scenery, their insults and arguments give way to a genuine friendship.
Friday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Hong Kong director Johnnie To traveled to the Chinese mainland for his new action flick in which a drug kingpin throws his partners under the proverbial bus. Bullets fly as the police target his meth operation, and the crowd's bound to sweat bullets as the suspense builds.
Thursday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m., Union South Marquee Theater
Writer-director Joe Swanberg (All the Light in the Sky) teamed up with cinematographer Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild) for this romantic comedy set in a Chicago microbrewery. Two employees start to see each other in a different light after their relationships with their significant others fizzle. Office Space's Ron Livingston and Saturday Night Live alum Jason Sudeikis boost the laugh factor in this fun and frothy story.
A Touch of Sin
Friday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Those who saw King Hu's A Touch of Zen at this year's Wisconsin Film Festival can probably sense that this is a wuxia film. Director Jia Zhangke (Still Life) makes violence look disturbingly beautiful in this critique of modern China, which won many accolades at Cannes.
Saturday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Werner Herzog examines American society's shortcomings through this tale of an ex-convict (Bruno S.) who trades life as a street performer in Berlin for the small-town Wisconsin culture -- or lack thereof. When the film debuted in 1977, Herzog dubbed it a "ballad" and The New York Times called it "terrifically, spontaneously funny and, just as spontaneously, full of unexpected pathos."
Thursday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m., Union South Marquee Theater
Though known for her work on TV shows like Six Feet Under and The United States of Tara, writer, producer and UW alum Jill Soloway is quickly becoming a force in the world of feature filmmaking thanks to this comedy, which earned her the Best Director prize at Sundance. This movie centers on a moneyed mom (Kathryn Hahn) who invites a young stripper (Juno Temple) to move into her home in L.A. Class conflict and humorous observations about women's societal roles are just two highlights. Plus, Soloway will discuss the film with the audience after the screening.
Friday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
UW grad Mark Goldblatt blazed a trail for modern wonders like The Terminator and Spider-Man and by bringing an action-packed Marvel comic to the big screen in 1989. The hero is Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren), a policeman who becomes the embodiment of vengeance after his family is murdered. Goldblatt will discuss the movie and his Hollywood adventures after the screening.
Gems from the past
Saturday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
All of the Melville films on display this season are noteworthy, but the coolest may be this 1972 tale about a detective trailing a band of bank robbers and their nightclub-owner honcho. The ravishing Catherine Deneuve plays a showgirl who catches the fancy of men on both sides of the law, and the heist scenes are fantastic.
Friday, Nov. 15, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Emile de Antonio asks several fugitives from the Weather Underground explain why they became radicals in this transgressive documentary from 1976. Subjects like Bill Ayers even share how the group's actions turned violent, leading to bombings of banks and government buildings.
The Tarnished Angels
Sunday, Nov. 17, 2 p.m., Chazen Museum of Art
Based on William Faulkner's novel Pylon, this 1958 film by Douglas Sirk is unabashedly elegant despite its Depression-era setting. Rock Hudson plays a reporter who becomes fascinated with a World War I veteran (Robert Stack) who's fallen upon hard times.
Saturday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., 4070 Vilas Hall
Howard Hawks set this silent comedy in both 1926 and the prehistoric era, which allowed him to explore the battle of the sexes throughout the ages with Biblical superstars Adam and Eve (George O'Brien, Olive Borden). David Drazin will provide live piano accompaniment, making 4070 Vilas Hall feel like an old-fashioned cinema.
More details about each film is provided in UW Cinematheque's full fall 2013 schedule.