‘Movies that make you think’ makes big impression

Created date

July 14th, 2009
It s a safe bet that the people gathered at Fox Run s Performing Arts Center (PAC) for a Movies That Make You Think screening this April never expected to watch Nanook of the North, a documentary filmed in the Arctic in 1922. Then again, the audience never knows what movie they ll see. That s part of the plan, says Gae McCord, the Fox Run resident behind the popular monthly program. We re coming to this to learn, and it s more fun and exciting to come with no preconceived notions. If folks know the title in advance and have already seen the film, some might opt out, she adds. But they ll see an entirely different movie if they see it a second time with a guide. Movies and more Since starting the program last fall, McCord has recruited several knowledgeable guides with expertise in films and filmmaking; the guide for Nanook was a retired college professor who d taught film. The guides choose the movies, facilitate 30-minute pre-screening presentations, and stay for post-screening questions and lively discussions. Average attendance is 80 people, and movies have ranged from Westerns to foreign films. The facilitators think we re a great audience, McCord says. And they love the screen, the projection room, everything (about the PAC). If things run late, everyone adjourns to an on-campus restaurant where, with the aid of two microphones, the discussion continues over lunch. The idea is to get people cranked up and excited about the film, says McCord. This program is just what I d dreamed about. I m trying to get people involved. I want them talking about things. While Fox Run shows recent movie releases twice a week, I don t want to just show another movie. These are significant in one way or another. The audience peppered their Nanook guide with questions about Eskimo life and documentary film techniques. We got a lot of feedback from Nanook, says McCord. People were fascinated with what they learned. Adventure-filled life McCord s affinity for movies started when her son Patrick, who has a Ph.D. in American literature and film, became interested in the subject. I wanted to be able to talk with him about what he was interested in, she says, so I started watching a little more discerningly. Having recently subscribed to the DVD movie rental program, Netflix, she s also watching more often. Now I m really hooked! McCord and her husband moved from Michigan to the South Carolina coast when he retired. After he died, she says, I thought if I ever were to have my own adventures, I d better get moving. So, almost on a whim she moved to inland Greenville, designed and built her house, and quickly became immersed in community life. Today, her adventures continue at Fox Run. Its warm, family feeling and carefree lifestyle lets me be who I want to be, she says. There couldn t be a place I d like any better than Fox Run. When McCord arrived in March 2005, she realized Fox Run lacked on-site, in-depth educational courses like those she d attended in the lifelong learning program at Greenville s Furman University. So in early 2006, in true Erickson fashion, she created Fox Run YOU Your Own University. Movies That Make You Think is just one example of YOU s course offerings. The Erickson Tribune will provide a more detailed look at that resident-run program in the August issue. Movie Marquee While Fox Run YOU s Movies That Make You Think didn t screen program founder Gae McCord s favorite film, The Best Years of Our Lives, here are some of the significant films it did present: The Grandfather, a Spanish film released in 1999. The movie probes the meaning of love, wealth, and the riches of life. McCord wasn t sure the audience would warm to this foreign film with English subtitles but it was a hit with the Fox Run audience. Sweet Smell of Success, a film noir from 1957. It indicts the mercilous gossip-mongering columnists of the day and features two studio actors who went on to carve huge careers: Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. Lancaster plays the columnist. Unforgiven, a 1992 film about a retired gunfighter who takes up his weapons for a final job. Directed by Clint Eastwood, who also stars in the film, it won four Academy awards including best picture and best director. But its violence turned off some of the Fox Run audience. Nanook of the North, Robert Flaherty s 1922 documentary of the harsh life of an Inuit hunter. Filmed in the Arctic in black and white, its sequences such as a seal hunt are real, but questions remain as to Flaherty s manipulation of them.