For audiences at the Flint Institute of Arts, films about fine art are a special draw – no surprise there! Coming to the museum May 16-18 is one that promises to be of great interest: The Best Offer, an artistic and romantic mystery from Italian master Giuseppe Tornatore. Writer-director Tornatore sets his darkly elegant film in the world of high-end art dealing, where eccentric auctioneer Virgil Oldman – played by Geoffrey Rush – values paintings over people. But after Virgil receives a phone call from a woman asking him to handle the disposal of some family-owned works, what was at first a task about art grows into an obsession with his shadowy, reclusive client. Jim Sturgess and old pro Donald Sutherland co-star in the film that nabbed a bunch of awards in Europe and a couple of Golden Globe nominations, including one for the score by the great Ennio Morricone. Tornatore is not the most prolific of moviemakers, so even if you’re unfamiliar with his Academy Award-winning Cinema Paradiso – a sweet fable which isn’t at all like his intense new film – The Best Offer is not to be missed (131 min., R).
Speaking of Academy Awards, the FIA will present the most recent winner for Best Foreign Language Feature on May 9-11: Italy’s The Great Beauty. In this hypnotic picture, an aging journalist in Rome is forced to reappraise his life in the beautiful but decadent city he loves. Writer-director Paolo Sorrentino took home the Oscar statuette for his work as fellow countryman Tornatore did a quarter-century ago (142 min., not rated).
The schedule for the rest of May includes one classic and two new releases. The vintage film being shown May 15 as part of the “Best of FOMA” series is the 1998 German thriller, Run Lola Run. You know you’re getting old when a 1998 film is considered “vintage,” but this race-against-time story is worth the booking (80 min., R).
The other selections are in the main FOMA series. Showing May 23-25 will be a comedy from India titled The Lunchbox. Irrfan Khan (from The Life of Pi and Slumdog Millionaire) co-stars in a tale about the unlikely friendship between a frustrated Mumbai housewife and a lonely office worker (104 minutes, PG). Capping the month on May 30 – June 1 is Omar. In this Oscar nominee for best foreign film, a Palestinian freedom fighter agrees to work as an informant after he is implicated in the wake of an Israeli soldier’s death (96 min., not rated).
All FIA screenings begin at 7:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays – and select Thursdays – and 2pm on Sundays. Tickets, available at the door, are $6 general admission, $5 for FIA members, and $4 for FOMA members. For more details, call the museum at 810.234.1695 or visit flintarts.org.
Associate curator of Film at the Flint institute of arts, Ed Bradley was entertainment editor and film critic at the Flint Journal from 1989-2007. He teaches Journalism at the University of michigan-Flint and Film appreciation in the Fia art School, and has authored two books on early Hollywood cinema.