FAU Lifelong Learning Society, Jupiter
Benito Rakower, Ed.D.

Film Appreciation

Benito Rakower, Ed.D., was educated at Queens College and Harvard University, where he received a doctorate in English. Before getting his degree at Harvard, Dr. Rakower was trained professionally at the piano in German Baroque and French repertoire.

A Grand Sweep in Film
Eight Films of Enduring and Unusual Excellence

Film, even more than literature, has the power to rivet our attention on real or imaginary worlds. These eight films carry us to locales as varied as a seedy border town and a futuristic world in which robots resemble human beings — some quite beautiful.

Eight Films
  1. "Rebecca" (1940) — Joan Fontaine marries an impulsive Laurence Olivier and finds herself contending with the memory of his former wife. A classic film that explores the way in which the past can dominate the present.
  2. "The Apartment" (1960) — Billy Wilder’s classic comedy about a man who rises in the corporate world by lending his apartment to others for trysts. Sublime performances from Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray, and Shirley MacLaine.
  3. "Dial M for Murder" (1954) — One of Grace Kelly’s most subdued and appealing roles as a woman married to a self-centered former tennis player. The suavely, villainous husband plans her murder after he discovers she has fallen in love with another man.
  4. "The Shop Around the Corner" (1940) — Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. This film is considered to be the best romantic comedy ever made. Jimmy Stewart and the inimitable Margaret Sullivan are contentious rivals working in a Budapest leather goods shop. Their often bitter exchanges mask an unwitting attraction. A film of incandescent charm and irresistible emotional appeal.
  5. "Blade Runner" (1982) — This brilliantly made science-fiction film stars Harrison Ford as a police officer tracking down rebellious robots who aspire to be human beings.
  6. "The Heiress" (1949) — One of the great film adaptations from literature. Handsome Montgomery Clift courts a plain, shy, awkward but wealthy Olivia de Havilland. When she understands the truth of the situation, De Havilland loses her shyness and becomes an unswervingly vindictive woman.
  7. "The Killing" (1954) — Kubrick’s tautly constructed presentation of a carefully planned “heist” seen from different perspectives. All of them occur at the same time. An unusual film innovation. Sterling Hayden at his best.
  8. "The King’s Speech" (2010) — The emotionally uplifting story of a man who overcomes an impediment when civilization and history demand it. A beautiful film that gives meaning to the phrase, “rising to the occasion.”
Course # F8F6 — Full 8 weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Fridays — October 24, 31; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19 — No Class November 28
  Time:1:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  Fee:$73 / member; $103 / non-member
Course # F4F7 — Last 4 weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Fridays — November 21; December 5, 12, 19 — No Class November 28
  Time:1:30 – 4:00 p.m.
  Fee:$39 / member; $59 / non-member
The American Century
A Study in Three Aspects of the American character — Daring, Exuberance and Invention

These films range from the glory of Ancient Rome to the faded grandeur of the Deep South. Their unrivaled scope is an important element of America’s cultural vitality and renewal.

After each film, students are invited to join Dr. Rakower for a group discussion. These sessions are always informative, lively and provocative.

Eight Films
  1. “Gaslight” (1944) — Ingrid Bergman won her first Academy Award for her performance in this riveting thriller. A penetrating depiction of the way male dominance over women operates through fear, intimidation and deception.
  2. “Sister Carrie ” (1952) — A film derived from Theodore Dreiser’s great novel about the American Dream — from a woman’s perspective. A young woman, Jennifer Jones, arrives in Chicago penniless. Through misfortune and chance she meets a man, Laurence Olivier, who facilitates her rise to the top as he sinks to the bottom.
  3. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ” (1958) — One of the most referred to and influential American movies. Set in the Deep South, it portrays a defeated Paul Newman struggling with his past as a vivacious Elizabeth Taylor tries to lure him back into a sensuous present.
  4. “Gladiator ” (2000) — American financing and production made this lavish film. It recreates the stunning luxury and epic scale of ancient Rome. The emphasis is on intrigue and valor — two defining Roman traits.
  5. “The French Connection ” (1971) — Perhaps the most energetic and complex New York City noir film, with some added French sophistication. The cynicism of the film is over-shadowed by dynamism, acting virtuosity and authentic depiction of a multifaceted NYC.
  6. “The Sting” (1973) — Ostensibly a film about con artists wreaking revenge on a despicable gambling boss. The joyance and camaraderie that invests this film makes it both thrilling and amusing at the same time. Paul Newman and Robert Redford rivaling an earlier film triumph.
  7. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1952) — An adaptation of a famous Hemingway story. A writer on safari in Africa, has allowed a minor wound to go untreated. In his fever and delirium he recalls his entire life with its squandered opportunities and lost loves. A film whose beauty and fidelity to the Hemingway creed make it unique. Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward.
  8. “The Aviator ” (2004) — A gripping, carefully-crafted film about an American who made his mark in many areas and achieved a legendary status. His pioneering instincts and wealth did not save him in the end. A revealing portrait of something hollow at the core of the American myth.
Course # W8F4 — Eight Weeks
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Fridays — January 16, 23, 30; February 6, 13, 20, 27; March 6
  Time:1:30—4 p.m.
  Fee:$73/member; $103/non-member