Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cycling fans - check out the Opera House in S-Town

From the good folks at the Shepherdstown Opera House...

Dear Opera House Friends,

We have two films for you this weekend, “Black Book”, a thrilling new World War II movie, and “The Flying Scotsman”, an inspiring new drama much in the vein of “The World’s Fastest Indian.”

With “Black Book”, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven returns to his native Holland for the first time since 1983 to film a World War II story of love, intrigue and betrayal that critics are calling one of the most exciting movies of the year. Gorgeous newcomer Carice van Houten stars as Rachel Stein, a young Jewish woman living in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands whose parents have been killed by Dutch collaborators. For a while she eludes capture by living with a sympathetic Christian family, but when their house is bombed, she escapes and joins the Dutch Resistance. There she is asked to seduce a Nazi officer and infiltrate his headquarters.

Rachel dyes her hair blonde and passes herself off as a pre-war stage singer named Ellis de Vries. Soon enough, she is sleeping with Gestapo officer Ludwig Muntze (Sebastian Koch of “The Lives of Others”) and “bugging” his office as the Resistance attempts to stay one step ahead of the Nazis and identify traitors in their midst.

In Holland, government subsidies make up as much as fifty percent of a movie’s production budget. Despite having directed a series of acclaimed films (“Spetters”, “Turkish Delight”, “The Fourth Man”, “Soldier of Orange”), Verhoeven had to beg for funding from a government that did not feel his movies provided a positive image of Dutch society. Verhoeven, who was born in Amsterdam and lived there during the Occupation, left Holland for Hollywood years ago, where he directed such hits as “RoboCop”, “Total Recall”, and “Basic Instinct.” Success must have helped him free up some more guilders, because “Black Book” was filmed with reportedly the largest budget ever for a Dutch production, and it shows on the screen with absolutely great sets and costume design, cinematography and music. Running time 145 minutes, rated R. In Dutch, English, German and Hebrew, with English subtitles.

“No movie about the Dutch Resistance has any right to be this wildly entertaining, provocative, and potently erotic – 145 minutes and not a dull second!” - Rolling Stone

“Filled with suspense, betrayal, melodrama, violence, music – hugely enjoyable from start to finish!” - The Wall Street Journal

“Verhoeven proves a sure-handed storyteller!” - The Baltimore Sun

Showtimes for “Black Book” are Friday at 8:15, Saturday at 8:15, Sunday at 2:00 and 7:30, and Monday at 8:15.

“The Flying Scotsman” is the true story of Graeme Obree, a one-time Scottish bicycle messenger who became the fastest cyclist in the world in July of 1993 when he covered 32.06 miles in one hour over a closed course and began a career where he would win world championships despite the world cycling authority’s attempts to ban his unorthodox riding styles.

As a child, Obree had been given a bike by his father, and he used it to escape the bullies who taunted him. Over the years, his obsession with racing grew (he trained on a strict diet of marmalade sandwiches), and he became fixated on the one-hour speed record, a grueling feat of self-discipline where the rider competes alone against the clock – in a sport which often glorifies pain, the one-hour record-holder is viewed with awed respect. His bike, which he later nicknamed “Old Faithful”, was handmade to fit his peculiar riding position, and included bearings cannibalized from a washing machine. (Pictures of his bikes can be seen at Graeme Obree's Bikes. A rank amateur without corporate sponsors, his first attempt failed. Normally it takes weeks or even months for a cyclist to recover from the event. Obree set the world record the very next day.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) banned his bicycle. Obree then developed a new riding style called “Superman”, so named for the arms-extended aerodynamic position that he assumed, and used it to win the 1995 World Pursuit Championship. The UCI promptly banned his new bicycle. Obree, whose brother had died suddenly in 1994, had been suffering from depression for years. Believing that his sport was conspiring against him, he retired from competition and now lives with his wife and two children in Scotland, where he still rides in local events.

Jonny Lee Miller of “Trainspotting” stars as Obree, and his performance captures the troubled cyclist’s mixture of sweet-faced earnestness and intense obsession. Director Douglas Mackinnon elevates the drama with some heart-pounding scenes of the record attempts, filmed with Obree himself riding a camera-equipped bike. Running time 96 minutes, rated PG-13.

“A tale fast and moving, it’s not only inspiring, it’s infuriating.” - The Chicago Tribune

“An underdog story with teeth!” - The New York Post

Showtimes for “The Flying Scotsman” are Friday at 6:00, Saturday at 6:00, Sunday at 5:00, and Monday at 6:00.

New additions to our giant movie poster sale include pristine copies of “Fay Grim”, with a great shot of indie-film queen Parker Posey, “Little Children” with Kate Winslet, and “Lost in Translation”, with Scarlett Johansson. Like I have explained before, the sooner I move all these posters out of our guest bedroom, the sooner my mother-in-law can come up for a visit. Each poster is $3.00 – yes, a huge sum of money and an expensive investment that should not be undertaken without lengthy and time-consuming deliberation on your part. – so take all the time you need.

In cooperation with the Shepherdstown Film Society, the Opera House is pleased to present the “Shepherdstown Film Festival” on the weekend of June 15 – featuring the area’s premieres of “Amazing Grace”, “The Namesake”, and “Avenue Montaigne”. Showtimes and advance ticketing information are available at www.operahousemovies.com and at the Sweet Shop Bakery!

Coming attractions - “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”, “The Valet”, “Waitress”, and “An Unreasonable Man” – the highly acclaimed film about activist and gadfly Ralph Nader.

For more information about other upcoming films and events, please check our website at www.OperaHouseMovies.com.

Pam & Rusty Berry

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