The Help (2011) | Mechanics' Institute

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The Help (2011)
CinemaLit June 2023: – Novel Ideas on Film

June 2 – The Help (2011), 148 minutes, directed by Tate Taylor, starring Viola Davis, Emma Stone, and Octavia Spencer.

Kathryn Stockett's 2009 huge bestseller, all about the lives of Black maids working in white households in early 1960s Mississippi, made for addictive page-turning historic fiction. The film is a faithful adaptation, with key characters and story lines intact. And what a cast! The Help is boosted by an almost ridiculous abundance of on-screen talent, including eight Oscar recipients: Viola Davis, Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer (a winner here for her turn as the indomitable Minnie), Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek, Cicely Tyson, and Mary Steenburgen. (Image used with permission from Disney Pictures)

June 2023 at CinemaLit – Novel Ideas on Film

June at CinemaLit features three 21st Century films adapted by women screenwriters from novels by women. All three are period pieces. All include aspirants as central characters – two writers and a photographer. And all are impeccably cast, with Oscar nominees as both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Join us as we explore the challenges and rewards of turning novels about women's lives into motion pictures.


Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies.

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


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Future CinemaLit Films

Jul 19 - 6:00 pm

July CinemaLit - Hairspray (1988)
American Musicals: Doo Wop and Divas!

Jul 26 - 6:00 pm

July CinemaLit - Dreamgirls (2006)
American Musicals: Doo Wop and Divas!