CORVALLIS - The spring term schedule of Oregon State University's International Film Series looks like the upper division of a critic's Top 10 list for 1998.
And topping the list is "Shakespeare in Love," which captured the Best Picture Oscar at the recent Academy Awards, as well as honors for screenplay and acting. But the John Madden-directed "Shakespeare" is not alone in its critical acclaim.
Leading off the series (April 2-3) is "Lolita," the tale of forbidden attraction between a middle-aged man (Jeremy Irons) and a young girl (Dominique Swain). Most critics hailed Adrian Lyne's version of the landmark Vladimir Nabokov novel as a moving, sensitive treatment of a difficult subject matter, yet it was rejected by nearly every major American film distributor for more than a year.
The third week, April 16-17, will feature "Smoke Signals," an acclaimed story about two residents of the Cour d'Alene Reservation coming to grips with their ancestry and their individualism. Directed by Chris Eyre, it was one of the first major films to be created and distributed entirely by Native Americans. Also a favorite of critics, it received the Audience Award and the Filmmaker's Trophy at the Sundance Film Festival.
And then there's "Shakespeare in Love" (April 30-May 1). One of the rare films that seems to satisfy everyone, this funny, sexy, romantic comedy tells how William Shakespeare found the inspiration to write "Romeo and Juliet." The film features a standout performance by Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress), rich scenes and costumes, and a dynamite script co-written by Tom Stoppard.
Ian McKellan's riveting performance as British film director James Whale is the highlight of "Gods and Monsters" (May 7-8). McKellan's portrayal of the gay director highlights his professional struggles, personal turmoil and friendship with a homophobic lawn boy (Brendan Fraser).
The film series is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities and the Department of English at OSU. All films are shown for $3 at Gilfillan Auditorium in OSU's Wilkinson Hall.
The complete schedule follows:
- April 2-3
"Lolita," by Adrian Lyne (U.S., 1998) - Rejected by nearly every major American film distributor for more than a year, this film version of Vladimir Nabokov's landmark novel received critical acclaim for its treatment of forbidden, destructive love. It stars Jeremy Irons as Humbert Humbert, and Dominique Swain in the title role. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
- April 9-10
"Fireworks," by Takeshi Kitano (Japan, 1997) - The tale of a good cop whose world suddenly collapses was directed by one of Japan's most revered entertainers and filmmakers. "Fireworks" balances violence with delicacy to explore themes of collapse, regeneration, love and fate. It won the best film prize at the Venice Film Festival. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.
- April 16-17
"Smoke Signals," by Chris Eyre (U.S., 1998) - Winner of two awards at the Sundance Film Festival, the film was one of the most popular independent films of the year. One of the first major movies to be created and distributed entirely by Native Americans, "Smoke Signals" is a tale of two young residents of the Cour d'Alene Reservation coming to grips with their pasts. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.
- April 23-24
"Henry Fool," by Hal Hartley (U.S., 1998) - A modern parable of fate, faith, friendship and the American dream, the film looks at the nature of genius and fame in today's world. A despondent man from Queens encounters enigmatic Henry Fool, and then becomes a world famous poet, leaving a miserable Henry behind. But Henry gets his due in the end. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
- April 30-May 1
"Shakespeare in Love," by John Madden (United Kingdom, 1998) - Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, as well as a slew of other awards, this funny, sexy, romantic comedy tells the story of how William Shakespeare finds the inspiration to write "Romeo and Juliet." Starring Gwyneth Paltrow (Best Actress Oscar) and Joseph Fiennes, it also features clever, witty dialogue, exquisitely detailed costumes and, in short, something for everyone. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
- May 7-8
"Gods and Monsters," by Bill Condon (U.S., 1998) - Ian McKellan's riveting performance as James Whale, the British director of "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" received critical acclaim. McKellan's portrayal of the gay director and his relationship with a homophobic lawn boy (Brendan Fraser) is the basis of this story about friendship, tragedy, and growth. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.
- May 14-15
"Celebrity," by Woody Allen (U.S., 1998) - An all-star cast takes part in this Woody Allen vehicle that delivers a piercing, humorous look at the media and their infatuation with the "celebrity phenomenon." Among the cast: Leonardo DiCaprio in a self-parody. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.
- May 21-22
"Happiness," by Todd Solondz (U.S., 1998) - One of the most controversial, dark comic filmmakers in the business, Solondz film mines the depths of his search for happiness in America, finding its most shocking moments in seemingly common place events. The film won the International Critic's Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Friday and Saturday, 7 and 9:30 p.m.