FLM 200: The MSU Film Collective

We are the professors, students, filmmakers, screenwriters, and cinéphiles at MSU who gather weekly in the course FLM 200 to watch and discuss good films. In the spirit of the Cinémathèque française and the generation of film critics and French New Wave directors it inspired, our collective abides by the principle that good film writing and good filmmaking (and just plain good living) begin with serious film watching.

Supported by the Mechanic Family Film Studies Endowment Fund

Fall 2021: Tilda Swinton

Name a sexagenarian actor featured in five films at Cannes this year. In an industry that is notorious for discarding women over forty, notorious for setting unrealistic expectations for feminine beauty norms (youth, whiteness, curvaceousness, thinness…), notorious for objectifying women rather than representing them as fully dimensional, complex human beings, you would not expect that the sixty-year-old actor would be … Tilda Swinton.  Or would you?

Tilda Swinton has had a remarkable career performing in films across an astonishingly wide range of genres, styles, and genders. From arthouse and experimental cinema to Hollywood mainstream and its offbeat auteurs, to blockbuster sci fi and comics adaptations; through performances in English, French, and Italian; working with directors from the UK, US, Italy, Hungary, Korea, and Thailand; in headline parts and memorable show-stealing minor roles; ensconced in prosthetic makeup, sumptuous costumes, or starkly naked (no body double, no airbrushing), Swinton has carved a unique trajectory for a twenty-first century film star. Her career offers a geological sampling of what film means in the turn to the twenty-first century, even moving beyond the cinema screen into art gallery installations and magazine spreads (e.g., in W magazine as Dame Edith Sitwell), and her work raises compelling questions about the forces of gender, the politics of privilege, and the nature of our relations to each other.

All screenings will take place in B122 Wells Hall at 7pm. The series is free and open to all.

a woman in a long dress seated in a chair bathed in light

9/9 – Caravaggio (dir. Derek Jarman, 1986)

Presented by Dan Smith

This fictional portrait of Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Nigel Terry) follows the painter as he wanders the streets, often using prostitutes and homeless people as models for his work, which was lauded in his own time. Involved with two very different lovers, Ranuccio (Sean Bean) and Lena (Tilda Swinton), Caravaggio leads a troubled life in spite of his relative success, with his reckless behavior steering him towards an early grave.

a woman with messy blonde hair eating a dark red popsicle

9/16 – Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch, 2013)

Presented by Joshua Yumibe.

Artistic, sophisticated and centuries old, two vampire lovers (Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston) ponder their ultimate place in modern society.

three women in long yellow dresses dancing in a green room

9/23 – Teknolust (dir. Lynn Hershman-Leeson, 2002)

Presented by Stephanie Jordan

Anxious to use artificially intelligent robots to improve the world, Rosetta Stone (Tilda Swinton), a bio-geneticist, devises a recipe through which she can download her own DNA into a “live” brew she is growing in her computer. She succeeds in breeding three Self Replicating Automatons – S.R.A.s – that look human, but were bred as intelligent machines. All of the characters struggle to find meaning in a world where love is the only thing that makes things real.

a woman with a hot pink feathered dress and hat holds a blue folded piece of paper

9/30 – Wittgenstein (dir. Derek Jarman, 1993)

Presented by Lyn Goeringer

A dramatization, in modern theatrical style, of the life and thought of the Viennese-born, Cambridge-educated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), whose principal interest was the nature and limits of language. A series of sketches depict the unfolding of his life from boyhood, through the era of the first World War, to his eventual Cambridge professorship and association with Bertrand Russell and John Maynard Keynes. The emphasis in these sketches is on the exposition of the ideas of Wittgenstein, a homosexual, and an intuitive, moody, proud, and perfectionistic thinker generally regarded as a genius.

a woman in a grey trench coat and sunglasses

10/7– I am Love (dir. Luca Guadagnino, 2009)

Presented by Lily Woodruff

At a dinner — during which her husband, Tancredi (Pippo Delbono), learns that he and his son Edoardo Recchi Jr. (Flavio Parenti) are about to assume control of the Edoardo Recchi Sr.’s (Gabriele Ferzetti) lucrative business — Emma (Tilda Swinton) meets a chef named Antonio (Edoardo Gabbriellini). Antonio and Emma soon find themselves in bed together. With the family already divided over the elder Recchi’s unusual plans, Emma’s affair is the wild card that might divide the family for good.

a woman with grey hair and sad eyes

10/14 – The Souvenir (dir. Joanna Hogg, 2019)

Presented by McKayla Sluga

A shy but ambitious film student falls into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship with a charismatic but untrustworthy older man.

a woman with red lipstick, gold dress and matching earrings

10/21 – Edward II (dir. Derek Jarman, 1991)

Presented by Bill Vincent

In this Derek Jarman version of Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan drama, in modern costumes and settings, Plantagenet king Edward II hands the power-craving nobility the perfect excuse by taking as lover besides his diplomatic wife, the French princess Isabel, not an acceptable lady at court but the ambitious Piers Gaveston, who uses his favor in bed even to wield political influence – the stage is set for a palace revolt which sends the gay pair from the throne to a terminal torture dungeon.

a person in Elizabethan garb in a room lit by dozens of candles

10/28 – Orlando (dir. Sally Potter, 1992)

Presented by Kristin Mahoney

In 1600, nobleman Orlando (Tilda Swinton) inherits his parents’ house, thanks to Queen Elizabeth I (Quentin Crisp), who commands the young man to never change. After a disastrous affair with Russian princess Sasha (Charlotte Valandrey), Orlando looks for solace in the arts before being appointed ambassador to Constantinople in 1700, where war is raging. One morning, Orlando is shocked to wake up as a woman and returns home, struggling as a female to retain her property as the centuries roll by.

a woman with long brown hair and red lipstick

11/4 – Female Perversion (dir. Susan Streitfeld, 1996)

Presented by Mikki Kressbach

Evelyn (Tilda Swinton) is a lawyer who is soon to become a judge, but her intense focus on her career has resulted in a cold demeanor and passion-filled but ultimately dissatisfying personal life. She has a boyfriend (Clancy Brown) and a lover (Karen Sillas) but connects with neither. When her sister, Maddie (Amy Madigan), gets caught shoplifting, however, and she goes to the middle of nowhere to save her, Eve gets the chance to learn more about her own demons and troubled childhood.

a black and white image of a woman with messy hair

11/11 – Letters From Baghdad (dir. Sabine Krayenbühl; Zeva Oelbaum, 2016)

Presented by Kaveh Askari

The story of Gertrude Bell, sometimes referred to as the female Lawrence of Arabia, who helped shape Iraq’s destiny following WWI.

a futuristic looking bald person in yellow with sparks emerging from their hands

11/18 – Dr. Strange (dir. Scott Derrickson, 2016)

Presented by Kuhu Tanvir

Dr. Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) life changes after a car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he looks for healing, and hope, in a mysterious enclave. He quickly learns that the enclave is at the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying reality. Before long, Strange is forced to choose between his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence.

a woman with a brown bob, old fashioned glasses, pursed lips and a military medal on their chest

12/2 – Snowpiercer (dir. Bong June-ho, 2013)

Presented by Swarnavel Pillai

Survivors of Earth’s second Ice Age live out their days on a luxury train that ploughs through snow and ice. The train’s poorest residents, who live in the squalid caboose, plan to improve their lot by taking over the engine room.

a severe looking woman wearing a gold crown with long hair

12/9 – Chronicles of Narnia (dir. Andrew Adamson, 2005)

Presented by Jordan Schonig

During the World War II bombings of London, four English siblings are sent to a country house where they will be safe. One day Lucy (Georgie Henley) finds a wardrobe that transports her to a magical world called Narnia. After coming back, she soon returns to Narnia with her brothers, Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and her sister, Susan (Anna Popplewell). There they join the magical lion, Aslan (Liam Neeson), in the fight against the evil White Witch, Jadis (Tilda Swinton).