The Reel Queens: Two film series show classic pictures from NYC, France

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Moviegoers looking to escape the cacophony of this summer’s studio films can turn to southeast Queens nonprofit A Better Jamaica and Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image for some classic cinematic relief.

A Better Jamaica, a community service organization founded in 2007 to provide activities for the southeast Queens community, will host Classic New York Film Fridays at Rufus King Park at Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street. All screenings for the series, which runs through Aug. 21, are free.

The Museum of the Moving Image is hosting a French New Wave film series at the Museum of Arts and Design, at 2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, through Aug. 30 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary cinematic movement. Tickets are $11 for adults and $7 for museum members.

The Jamaica festival features films that are set in the city’s five boroughs and includes selections that range from heartwarming to gritty and violent.

“I thought it made sense to go with a theme for this summer,” said Greg Mays, founder of A Better Jamaica. “That way, it enhances the artistic value of the series.”

The series, which has already screened the original “Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” “Working Girl” and “Serpico” this month, will next show “Moonstruck” on Aug. 7. The acclaimed romantic comedy stars Cher, in an Academy Award-winning performance, as a Brooklyn bookkeeper who is torn between her fiancé and his brother (Nicolas Cage).

On Aug. 14, A Better Jamaica will screen Spike Lee’s influential “Do the Right Thing,” which takes a look at racism through the interactions of a group of Bedford-Stuyvesant residents during the course of the year’s hottest day. The film would later go on to be considered one of the best of the 1980s.

The popular “Saturday Night Fever,” starring John Travolta in his breakout performance, will screen on Aug. 21. The film follows a Brooklyn paint-store worker who escapes his daily routine by becoming the king of the floor at a Manhattan disco club.

Each screening will begin between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The event will provide an estimated 60 chairs for attendees, who are encouraged to purchase food at local restaurants to bring to the screenings, Mays said. Future movies may also be accompanied by musical performances.

The group is also currently hosting its third annual Family Movies in the Park series.

On Thursday, the classic drama “Claudine,” which stars Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones, will show at St. Albans Park. “The Karate Kid” will screen on Aug. 5 at Baisley Pond Park and Aug. 6 at St. Albans Park.

The Museum of the Moving Image’s series is screening recently restored 35mm prints of French New Wave films and has already shown landmark classics such as Jean-Luc Godard’s “Breathless” and Francois Truffaut’s “The 400 Blows.”

On Aug. 1 and 2, Godard’s 1962 film “Vivre Sa Vie (My Life to Live)” will show at 2 p.m., while Truffaut’s masterpiece “Jules and Jim” will screen at 4 p.m. on those same days. Agnes Varda’s “Cleo from 5 to 7” will screen at 2 p.m. and Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” will show at 4 p.m. on Aug. 8 and 9.

Jean Luc-Godard’s science-fiction detective picture “Alphaville” will screen at 2 p.m. and Claude Chabrol’s “Les Bonnes Femmes” will show at 4 p.m. on Aug. 15 and 16. On Aug. 22 and 23, Alain Resnais’ mysterious “Last Year at Marienbad” will play at 2 p.m., while Godard’s offbeat musical “A Woman is a Woman” will show at 4 p.m.

The series will culminate on Aug. 29 and 30 with screenings of Agnes Varda’s “Le Bonheur” at 2 p.m. and Godard’s Pop Art-inspired “Pierrot Le Fou” at 4 p.m.

The screenings will take place in the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, which was built in 1964 during the height of the New Wave and restored last fall. The Museum of the Moving Image is currently screening its programs at locales across the city as it undergoes a massive renovation project it Astoria.

“While our theater is closed, we are making a special effort to collaborate with other institutions in bringing outstanding films to New Yorkers,” said Rochelle Slovin, director of the Moving Image.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at

Posted 6:31 pm, October 10, 2011
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