Winter Nights film series features visual feasts 

click to enlarge A publicity shot from 'Dangerous Liaisons.'
  • A publicity shot from 'Dangerous Liaisons.'

The Winter Nights film series at the IMA's Tobias Theatre continues to brighten chilly nights with a roster of notable movies spanning many decades. At 7 p.m. Friday the series presents Stephen Frears's 1988 feature, Dangerous Liaisons, with an appearance by the film's costume designer, James Acheson.

Dangerous Liaisons stars Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Uma Thurman in a tart costume drama based on the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons Dangeureuses. Seduction is the game in a cruel wager between two jaded members of the privileged set. Their wicked schemes are mesmerizing.

James Acheson is the winner of three Academy Awards for Best Costume Design. His Oscar-winning efforts can be seen in the films The Last Emperor (1987), Dangerous Liaisons and Restoration (1995). The British native, who lives in New Zealand, got his start working for the BBC in the '70s, where he was costume designer for Doctor Who. Decades later, he showed his skills with iconic heroes again by creating Tobey Maguire's distinctive superhero suits for Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.

The remaining films in this year's Winter Nights series are:

January 25: Days of Heaven (1978). Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) directs the story of a Chicago steelworker (Richard Gere) who flees to Texas with his sister (Linda Manz) and girlfriend (Brooke Adams) after killing his boss. While working as itinerant laborers in Texas, the boss takes a shine to the fugitive's girlfriend. Complications ensue.

February 1: Apocalypse Now (1979). Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War masterpiece about a military operative on an illegal excursion into Cambodia to deal with an officer who has set himself up as a god with a local tribe. Is the film a journey into insanity? A visualization of an acid trip? Yes, yes and yes to your interpretation too. Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duval, Frederic Forrest, Dennis Hopper, Sam Bottoms and a very young Larry (Laurence) Fishburne.

February 8 and 10: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Stanley Kubrick's landmark trip beyond our world and our reality. "Open the pod bay door, Hal." "Sorry, I can't do that, Dave." Will the astronaut prevail over the computer suffering a system breakdown or will the exchange end with the words, "Dave's not here, man!" Just one chilling question in this cryptic epic.

February 15: Top Hat (1935). Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers at their best. See the 35mm print of the film and listen to guest speaker Cathy Whitock, author of Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction and the blog Cinema Style.

February 22: The Night of the Hunter (1955). Charles Laughton directs what The Toby calls "the only film of its kind - a black-and-white suspense thriller with qualities of a Grimm fairy tale." Preceded by the experimental short Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog) by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.

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