By W. Russell Neuman
Do you like movies? (Who doesn’t?) Do you like to talk about movies? Sure you do. Well, here’s your chance. Since 2015, film aficionado Christopher Pejovich has organized a “Meet-Up” through meetup.com for cinephiles in the West Village. He calls it Cinema Circle. Every month or so, Christopher picks a genre, director, or actor of note and sends an invitation to the group mailing list. The films (usually two per conversation) are watched by members on their own time, before the Meet-Up. Christopher picks material that is easily available for streaming on Netflix, YouTube, or Amazon.
Although President Trump picked Finding Dory as his choice of motion picture artistry while kicking back in the White House screening room, that isn’t the kind of film that seems to attract Christopher’s attention. Most recently, he picked French film director and screenwriter Olivier Assayas of Irma Vep fame. The discussion focused on Assayas’ more recent work—his 2014 film Clouds of Sils Maria, which was in competition for the Palme d’Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the Golden Globe-nominated television miniseries Carlos the Jackal.
Cinema Circle members include film critics, graduate students, teachers, aspiring novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers, as well as working actors (in theatre, television, and film). The best part is that the group meets at a table at the White Horse Tavern next to the ghosts of Jack Kerouac and Dylan Thomas. (Did Thomas really drink 18 straight whiskeys at the White Horse that notorious night?) Cinema Circle members, however, are more relaxed and uninspired by competitive drinking. The gathering on any given evening is usually smallish—perhaps six or eight, each with an opinion of his/her own and a real interest in others’ thoughts. Christopher catches details about composition and narrative that attendees may miss. Other members might focus on themes and characters, as well as what worked and didn’t work about the performances. You learn a lot at these gatherings.
I’ve been to various movie clubs in different cities and found, to my frustration, that after one or two observations about a film, the conversation tends to turn to the latest political brouhaha, like a moth to a flame. Not at Cinema Circle; these folks respect the conversation. Other discussions have focused on Kubrick, experimental Japanese cinema, and Rebellion, a 2016 television miniseries which dramatized the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. If it is quiet for a moment, and you listen very carefully, you can also hear Dylan Thomas opine about art. Or was that Norman Mailer?
If you would like to join the Cinema Circle at the White Horse Tavern, you can sign up at www.meetup.com/Cinema-Circle/.