MATEWAN
1987, Park Circus/MGM, 132 min, USA, Dir: John Sayles

Based on a true incident in the impoverished but coal-rich hills of West Virginia in the 1920s, writer-director John Sayles’ masterpiece is an unforgettable portrait of a community struggling to assert itself under the crushing dominance of capitalist greed. Chris Cooper (ADAPTATION) turns in his finest performance as labor organizer Joe Kenehan, with tremendous support from a cast that includes James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, David Strathairn and Sayles himself. The cinematography by Haskell Wexler (WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, and winner of the 1992 ASC Lifetime Achievement Award) perfectly captures the haunted, bone-weary desperation of the miners and their families.


LIMBO
1999, Sony Repertory, 126 min, USA, Dir: John Sayles

One of John Sayles’ most haunting films, LIMBO is a sublime meditation on the feeling of being stuck in a liminal state, a theme as relevant to the characters as it is to the viewer’s experience. Set in Juneau, Alaska, a town on the edge of civilization surrounded by water and wilderness, the film follows former fisherman-turned-handyman Joe (David Strathairn) and tired lounge singer Donna (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), who strike up a casual relationship to distract themselves from their otherwise dreary lives. Their sudden relationship comes much to the chagrin of Donna’s teenage daughter Noelle (Vanessa Martinez) but all three lives gradually begin to improve - until a forgotten part of Joe’s past reemerges and sets off a dramatic chain of events that leaves them stranded on a deserted island.


ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
1975, Saul Zaentz Company, 133 min, USA, Dir: Milos Forman

This acclaimed adaptation of Ken Kesey´s 1962 best-selling novel stars Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy, a free-spirited rogue who tries to use his chutzpah and ingenuity to take over the ward of a mental hospital, only to come up against the inflexible Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). With its madhouse setting symbolizing the battle of one individual against the system, this powerful film features an unforgettable ensemble of characters (including Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Brad Dourif in early performances) and became the first film since IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT to sweep the top five Academy Award categories.


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