(John Huston, US 1972, 100 min.)
Payne’s Picks. Huston, a former boxer himself, tells the story of Tully (Stacy Keach), an over-the-hill type, and Ernie (Jeff Bridges), a down-on-his-luck type, who both find themselves drawn back to the squared circle. Tully is the man whose fight career and marriage went down the tubes in interdependent spirals. Ernie, just 18 years old, can’t seem to get his life together. What they have in common is Ruben, a manager who may have betrayed Tully and who hopes Ernie will be his last shot at the big time. An often-overlooked masterpiece, Huston takes two of his losers and gives them the depth and humanity he saw in all his characters.
(Ermanno Olmi, Italy 1961, 93 min., Italian w/subtitles)
Payne’s Picks. Sacrificing his education, Domenico Cantoni leaves his home and searches for work in the city of Milan. When he finally finds it, he is confronted with the unfortunate realities of the corporate world where his individuality is overlooked and aspects of his personal life, including his attraction to the young Antonietta, are forfeited. Olmi’s groundbreaking look at working-class Italy, known for its sensitivity and charm, finds poetry in the mundane and humanity in the most unlikely of places.
(Cy Endfield, US 1951, 92 min.)
Payne’s Picks. Family man Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy) moves to California looking for work, but pushed to the edge of destitution, and unable to provide for his pregnant wife and son, he turns to crime, in the person of Jerry Slocum (Lloyd Bridges). Slocum and Tyler escalate their crimes from robbery to kidnapping, spurred on by the sensationalist news stories written about them. While now able to care for his family, Tyler resents the work and be¬gins to question Slocum when everything goes violently, terribly wrong. Prescient in its view of tabloid media and its effect on the culture, this film is anchored by a fiery performance from Bridges.
(Babettes Gaestebud, Gabriel Axel, Denmark 1987, 102 min., Danish, Swedish, and French w/subtitles)
Payne’s Picks. Foodies and film buffs alike will have plenty to sink their teeth into with this sumptuous offering from Gabriel Axel. Set in the 19th century on the windswept plains of the Dan¬ish coast, the film follows the lives of two pious sisters struggling to keep their faith, along with their dwindling congregation, after their father’s death. Enter Babette, a refugee housekeeper harboring a mysterious past, who brings both challenges and new life to the highly religious community. Director Axel, nearly 80 at the time, won world renown with this film taking both the Oscar® and the BAFTA for Best Foreign Language Film.