The current Best Video/Temple Beth Sholom film series collaboration began this past Monday, Feb. 17. The theme this time is “Complex and Compelling: Fun Movies That Make You Think.” Best Video owner Hank Paper and Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic will take turns presenting and leading discussions of six unique and stirring films that not only make you think but change the way you think. There was a strong crowd for the first movie in the series, Howard Hawks’ classic postwar film noir “The Big Sleep.”
Each movie starts at 7 PM. Admission cost is $5 or $25 for all six films.
The second film in the series is the 1999 Oscar winner “American Beauty.” Directed by Sam Mendes, this drama stars Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening. Writing in The New York Times that year film critic Janet Maslin opined, “Lester Burnham, played with heavenly finesse by Kevin Spacey in his wittiest and most agile screen performance yet, is a buttoned-down 42-year-old who desperately needs to stop and smell the roses. But he won’t get much joy from the ones in his suburban yard.”
“American Beauty” hammers heavily on the notion that nonconformity is needed here. That thought is repeated frequently and never carries a whit of surprise. But scene by scene, the film is full of its own brand of corrosive novelty, from the way Lester transforms himself in hopes of attracting the cheerleader to the revitalizing effects of Carolyn’s acrobatic affair with a fellow real estate agent (a very smooth Peter Gallagher). As these characters struggle viciously — and hilariously — to escape the middle-class doldrums, the film also evinces a real and ever more stirring compassion.
This is the remaining schedule for “Complex and Compelling”:
• Monday, Feb. 24: AMERICAN BEAUTY
• Monday, Mar. 3: BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
• Monday, Mar. 10: BABEL
• Monday, Mar. 17: MEMENTO
• Monday, Mar. 24: MULHOLLAND DRIVE