MFAH Screens ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and More Math-Savvy Movies This Month

'A Beautiful Mind'

HERE’S AN ARTFUL way to stay cool this month. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston rolls out a six-film mini-series The Mathematician Moviegoer on Saturday, July 9, beginning with Giant (1953), George Stevens’ epic if somewhat shambolic celebration of the transformative power of black gold, starring three of 1950s Hollywood’s sexiest actors: Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. (At one point Dean, a dedicated “method” actor, manages to pull off an Oscar-worthy scene with his body completely covered in crude oil.)


All of the films were selected by artist Salle Werner Vaughn, widow of the late Texas philanthropist and oil heir James M. Vaughn, Jr., who was a longtime supporter of the MFAH film department. The series screens in the MFAH’s Brown Auditorium Theater July 9-24, and each film will be introduced by a member of the Houston Film Critics Society.

Taken together, the six films speak to James and Salle’s Texas upbringing, courtship and marriage (Salle and James met and fell in love in the third grade), as well as James’ fascination with puzzles and math.

In 1972, he created the Vaughn Foundation Fund to support research into a mysterious theorem conceived by the 17th-century math enthusiast Pierre de Fermat, a math problem so complex it was deemed unsolvable until the English mathematician Andrew Wiles, inspired by James and his dedication to the field, managed to solve it in 1994 and publish his proof the next year.

Salle and James were also acquainted with the American mathematician John Nash, who lived with schizophrenia and is the subject of Ron Howard’s film A Beautiful Mind (2001) which screens July 17.

The remaining films include A New Leaf, a dark comedy directed by Elaine May, who stars in the film alongside Walter Matthau; Cat Ballou (1965), an over-the-top slapstick western starring Jane Fonda as Catherine “Cat” Ballou, who teams up with a motley crew of barely competent gunslingers to avenge the death of her father; and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic murder-on-a-train mystery The Lady Vanishes (1938), starring Margaret Lockwood and Sir Michael Redgrave.

Jane Fonda as Cat Ballou

Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in 'Giant'

Art + Entertainment
Alto Rideshare Names Its Top Spots for Houston Restaurant Weeks!

HOUSTON FOODIES ARE out this month, and those in the know are getting from restaurant to restaurant in the rideshare service that has taken the industry by a storm.

Keep ReadingShow less

On Ally and Marion: Custom one-piece swimsuits by Cesar Galindo.

HOUSTON HAS A few favorite playgrounds — the Texas Hill Country, Aspen, Cabo. But none are more beloved than the sultry, always just a bit scandalous Big Easy, whose towering new Four Seasons has been described as a must-hit by H-Town’s travel-savviest. It’s the perfect place to stage CityBook’s annual Sexy Issue fashion shoot highlighting swimwear, lingerie and other racy little numbers right off the runway from Gucci, Versace and much more, oui?

Keep ReadingShow less
Style

A sea turtle captured in 'Deep in the Heart'

FOR THREE YEARS, a production crew trekked across Texas, capturing stunning footage of species like the mountain lion and the blind catfish and vistas from the Chisos Mountains to the Gulf. In July, Deep in the Heart, narrated by none other than Matthew McConaughey, was released on steaming platforms. And this month, a companion coffee-table book by the same name is available, featuring photos depicting the state’s diverse landscapes and awe-inspiring wildlife, along with important information about conservation.

“Whether we deserve the responsibility or not, we as humans decide which animals have a future, which go extinct, and how much habitat will be allotted,” says filmmaker Ben Masters, a Texas A&M grad who previously directed the feature-length documentary The River and the Wall, which garnered high praise at SXSW in 2019. He and his team, which includes Jay Kleberg and Katy Baldock, selected the best images captured during production and wrote the accompanying text for the 250-page book, published by Greenleaf Book Group out of Austin. Chapters include ones on black bears, bison, white-tailed deer, coastal birds, ocelots and aquifers.

Keep ReadingShow less
Art + Entertainment