To best appreciate motion pictures as art, a worldly film buff likely would advise a viewer to watch them on the big screen with fellow cineastes. Afterward, perhaps a lively discussion could ensue. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts' new Friday Films series will offer just such opportunities, beginning this Friday.
In charge of programming the series is Trent Nicholas, assisted by Jeffrey Allison. Both men have taught film courses at universities and are employed at the museum in its education division. Nicholas cut his teeth on selecting movies for groups to watch when he was a member of a Virginia Commonwealth University film society in 1970. He's been tracking down and booking films, wearing various hats, for a long time — he began teaching film history at VCU in 1977 and served as Martin Scorsese's film librarian and archivist for three years. “Many more international works are available now than the art-house days in the '70s,” Nicholas says, adding that now there are far fewer film distributors.
Occasionally, the screenings offered in the museum's Friday Films series will be timed to coincide with other exhibitions. Each presentation will open with a brief introduction and a month's movies will be presented under the banner of a unifying theme — for example, August's schedule will highlight “Great Women of the Screen.” Titles will include “Some Like it Hot!” (1959), “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008), “Notes on a Scandal” (2007) and “Orlando” (1992).
So if you haven't already found sufficient reason to check out the dazzling new museum, perhaps a gourmet movie and some serious discussions about the art of the film on a Friday evening is just what's needed.
“We are working toward achieving status as a top-10 comprehensive art museum,” Nicholas says, “and motion pictures are part of that drive.”
Friday Films will be presented in the Leslie Cheek Theater at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Admission is $5 per film for museum members and $7 for nonmembers. For information go to vmfa.museum.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"Coming Soon
July 2 (special start time 6 p.m.): “Fried Green Tomatoes” (1991); director John Avnet. Note: Veteran character actor Raynor Scheine (from Emporia; VCU 1970), who played Sheriff Curtis Smoote in the movie, will launch the series by introducing the film.
July 9 (6:30 p.m.): “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000); director Joel Coen.
July 16 (6:30 p.m.): “Sullivan's Travels” (1941); director Preston Sturges.
July 23: (6:30 p.m.) “Frank's Place” (a television series set in New Orleans, 1987-'88). Note: Creator and star Tim Reid of Norfolk and his wife and co-star Daphne Maxwell Reid will introduce episodes and answer questions.
July 30 (6:30 p.m.): “Seven Signs: Music, Myth, and the American South” (2008); director Col. J.D. Wilkes. Also screening: “It's Grits” (1980 and 2010); director Stan Woodward. This is the updated version with new footage.