No, "Bicycle Thief" is not a documentary about the perils of owning a nice two-wheeler in a gentrifying part of Washington.
Vittorio De Sica's 1948 classic defined Italian neorealism cinema. It also defines Movie Nights in Adams Morgan apart from its cousin outdoor movie series around the District.
NoMa Summer Screen's "Dance, Dance, Dance" is under way, projecting the many ways people twirl and tango to their hearts' content. The Golden Cinema series in Farragut Square is going with a people-at-work theme with "All Worked Up."
In Adams Morgan this year, there is no official theme. But the schedule, which runs Tuesdays and is entering its third week on June 2, is an interesting mix of the subversive and the crowd-pleasing.
The first in the mix, "The Lego Movie," which ran on May 19, is a blockbuster, both kid- and parent-friendly. But it's also been harshed on for being anti-business. Just ask Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who according to WisPolitics.com said the movie is an example of a propaganda campaign to portray businesses unfavorably, citing the animated flick's villain, "Lord Business."
"That's done for a reason," Johnson said. "They're starting that propaganda, and it's insidious."
No word on whether the Adams Morgan viewers on May 19 all went to join government worker unions.
And then May 26 brought another subversive plot, this one targeted at humorless high school principals, clueless adults and put-upon sisters, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
But the subversion is just getting started. "Bicycle Thief," or, depending on whom you ask, "Bicycle Thieves" or "The Bicycle Thief," is a stark, literally black-and-white portrayal of the plight of the have-nots and striving in post-war Rome.
The tale of a man whose livelihood is dependent on his bike, which is stolen and sets in motion his quest to find it, was released amid hard times in Italy. The suffering at the heart of the story isn't likely to sway any sympathy toward big business. Just check Italy's political history in the intervening nearly 70 years since its release.
And the rest of the schedule! Oy vey.
On June 9, "Rich Hill" will be screened. The 2014 film by Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos is about poverty again! This time in the Midwest. Wisconsin? You'll have to see the movie yourself. Don't let those cute kids fool you into overlooking any subversion.
Movie Nights in Adams Morgan wraps up June 16 with "Whiplash," which might be more to the liking of those in favor of strict, no-nonsense teaching/coaching/bootstrapping whatchamacallit. Then again, it's about jazz, kind of a subversive musical form in itself ...
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