Around the Island

Spring forward with Movies at the Library


The lavishly atmospheric great sea adventure “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” will kick off the spring season of Movies at the Library at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29.

Based on the wonderful Patrick O’Brian novels and directed by Peter Weir, who also co-authored the screenplay with John Collee, the film stars Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Dr. Stephen Maturin. This story pits the HMS Surprise against a dangerous enemy during the Napoleonic era.

A feast for the senses, the film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won for best cinematography and sound editing.

Next, on April 12, is “The Heartbreak Kid,” Neil Simon’s supreme 1972 comedy of embarrassment directed by Elaine May. Charles Grodin stars in his best role as Lenny, the unhappy bridegroom to Jeannie Berlin’s bride. This is a dark comedy depicting an ill-fated honeymoon but May’s directorial touch is so deft and the performances so brilliant that the comedy shines through.

On his honeymoon, Grodin is unexpectedly smitten by a blonde bombshell, played by Cybill Shepherd, and he takes steps to rearrange the situation. Eddie Albert, nominated for an Oscar as was Berlin, is the interfering father of the blonde.

Third in the series is the 2010 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, “The Secret in Their Eyes,” from Argentina.  It is about a murder revisited when a retired criminal court investigator uses it as background for a novel. It opens up unresolved questions about the case, including who the killer really was. Roger Ebert wrote that writer-director Juan Jose Campanella created a “complete, engrossing, lovingly crafted film, a real movie, the kind they literally don’t make any more.” It will be shown on April 26.

The unforgettable French-Canadian “Les Invasions Barbares” — The Barbarian Invasions – the 2003 Best Foreign Film Oscar winner will be shown May 10. The writer-director is Denys Arcand and he succeeds in creating a rare film that is both cerebral and emotional; satiric, sophisticated, witty and profoundly moving. Although it is the story of last days of a dying history professor, it is not bleak or depressing but rather a film with a sense of joy and wonder.

Wes Anderson has made a reputation for some of the most wacky but delightful films of recent years. One of his earlier efforts, his third film, is “The Royal Tenenbaums,” a whimsical 2001 ensemble piece that features a stellar cast in untypical roles. Gene Hackman is the nominal star as the father of the clan that includes Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Angelica Huston and Anderson’s co-writer, Owen Wilson. It will be shown on May 24.

Closing out the spring group on June 7 is John Huston’s last film “Mr. North,” which was directed by his son Danny. It is an agreeable fable based on Thornton Wilder’s Theophilus North in which a bright but penniless young man makes a major impact on 1920s Newport high society.

Anthony Edwards is the young man with a supporting cast of great film stars, including Robert Mitchum, Lauren Bacall, David Warner, Tammy Grimes, Harry Dean Stanton and Anjelica Huston. Shelter Island’s own Janet Roach wrote the screenplay with John Huston and she will again be our special guest to close out the season.

Three of the films in the spring series are included in the anthology “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” They are “The Heartbreak Kid,” “Les Invasions Barbares,” and “The Royal Tennenbaums.”

Mark your calendars and plan to join other Island film buffs in the Gill Patterson Community Room of the library. As usual, treats will be available and the films will feature a brief introduction by a member of the library’s Movies Committee.