The Garden Theater in Princeton is doubling down on its effort to provide area film lovers with opportunities beyond the usual fare of mainstream offerings.
Its International Cinema Series — set for a first Thursday 5:30 p.m. showing — gets moving fast with a January 7 screening of “The Second Mother.” Brazil’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, the film “about class and generation gaps” deals with a housekeeper whose life is thrown into turmoil by the arrival of her free-spirited and estranged daughter.
The series follows on February 4 with “The Assassin,” a period piece set in ninth century China with a young woman trained as a killer, and the March 3 “Labyrinth of Lies,” a German film following a young public prosecutor exposing a cover-up of Nazi war crimes in post-World War II Germany.
The Big Screen Classics series — also on Thursdays but at 7:30 p.m. — begins reeling on January 28 with “An American in Paris.” The 1952 film starring Gene Kelly and directed by Vincente Minnelli is influenced by French art and enlivened by George Gershwin’s score. It is one of the gems of Hollywood’s golden era and deserves to be seen on the big screen.
On February 18 is a new digital restoration of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir classic, “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” — the definitive cut by Scott in 2007. Then on March 10 the 1960 groundbreaking “Breathless” does double duty: being part of both the Classic and International series. Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, the story of small-time crook and a young American girl is also a prime example of French New Wave cinema.
The admission for the International and Big Screen films ranges from $6 for members to $11 for general public.
The Exhibition on Screen series is something new for any film house and brings internationally important art exhibitions to local screens. Its first 2016 “exhibition” is “Rembrandt” — Sunday, January 17, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, January 27, at 1 p.m. — hosted by the National Gallery in London and Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum. The documentary provides both a look at the artist’s life and a behind-the-scenes view of the preparation of the landmark exhibition.
Following are the Royal Academy of Arts in London’s Manet exhibition on February 7 and 17, and Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” returning to the Mauritshuis Museum in the Hague, March 20 and 30. Exhibition on Screen tickets are $12 for members to $14 general admission.
The Royal Ballet broadcast starts 2016 with the four-piece program that includes music from Bizet’s “Carmen” and Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun” and choreography by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine: Sunday, January 10, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, January 20, at 1 p.m.
Acclaimed choreographer Frederick Ashton’s “Rhapsody” — with music by Rachmaninoff — and his rarely performed “Two Pigeons” are on the bill for Sunday, February 21, at 12:30 p.m., and again on Wednesday, March 2, at 1 p.m.
The Royal Opera series includes the standard pairing of Pietro Mascagni’s 1889 “Cavalleria Rusticana” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 “Pagliacci.” Italian opera director Damiano Michieletto re-imagines both in a 1980s rural southern Italy area controlled by the Mafia. Antonio Pappano conducts a cast that includes Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek, Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio, and Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko.
A production of Verdi’s “La Traviata” follows on Sunday, March 6, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, March 16, at 1 p.m. Staged by Richard Eyre, the production stars Russian soprano Venera Gimadieva.
Ballet and opera broadcast tickets are $16 for members, $18 general public.
The National Live Theater — broadcast live or as soon as time zones allow of the Royal National Theater of London — continues with a production of “Jane Eyre,” based on Charlotte Bronte’s romantic masterpiece. Directed by Sally Cookson, the broadcasts will be Sunday, January 24, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, February 3, at 1 p.m.
Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” is the inaugural production of the Kenneth Branagh Theater Company. Co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, it stars Judy Dench. Showtimes are Wednesday, January 13, at 1 p.m. and Sunday, January 17, at 12:30 p.m.
“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” — Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of the 1782 French novel of sex, intrigue, and betrayal — runs Sunday, February 14, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, February 24, at 1 p.m. It stars Elaine Cassidy, Janet McTeer, and Dominic West.
And Shakespeare’s comedy “As You Like It” is on the screen on Sunday, March 12, at 12:30 p.m. and Wednesday, March 23, at 1 p.m.
National Theater Live tickets are also $16 for members and $18 general admission.
With the above joining its schedule of first run films, the monthly Talk Cinema series with sneak previews and discussions with film professionals, and family programming, the Garden Theater, operated since 2014 by the nonprofit Renew Theater, is clearly on a mission to create a community for quality film programming.
Garden Theater, 160 Nassau Street, Princeton. princetongardentheatre.org or 609-279-1999.