Benito Rakower, Ed.D.


Film Appreciation

Benito Rakower, Ed.D., was educated at Queens College and Harvard University, where he received a doctorate in the teaching of English. Before getting his degree at Harvard, Professor Rakower was trained professionally at the piano in German Baroque and French repertoire.

Student Testimonials

  • "The class was enjoyable and educational."
  • "Dr. Rakower does extensive research on his topics for class."

After 2008: Old Film Genres in a New Age

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 almost brought the world to financial and economic collapse. Yet, the vibrant energy of American film production continued. These films show that film does not reflect human experience, but re-invents it.

Film selection and order are subject to change. Post-film discussion will be held in the Annex, 4 - 4:30 p.m.
Six Lectures
  1. "La La Land” (2016) - The American musical is a genre that substitutes joy for setback and fantasy for reality. When the actors are beautiful and talented, it is simply magic.
  2. “Hell or High Water” (2016) - Bank robbery films and westerns are both separate and overlapping genres. Their theme is invariably raw courage. This film intersects that theme with a now familiar reality — losing your home to a bank.
  3. "Whiplash” (2014) - This film, tight and intense, literally captivates. It catches a theme that pervades our society everywhere. To excel at anything, you must sacrifice everything else.
  4. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) - This action film destroys the action genre through excess and perfection. Essentially, it extols what has always been the unstated theme of Hollywood film: the strong, silent American male! Always grounded in an earthy reality. It is what has made American pop culture dominant in the world.
  5. “The Imitation Game” (2014) - A superbly casted and staged film that proceeds through the intricacies of the English class system. An urbane “social thriller” about the man who broke the German code in WWII and gave us the internet.
  6. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018) - Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland at the pinnacle of what film can do. The story recounts the effect of a child’s death on two happily married people deeply in love with each other. From a story by Daphne du Maurier, the element of precognition, uncanny spiritual knowingness, introduces a riveting “sense of the beyond.”

Course # S6F5 — Full 6 Weeks
Place:Auditorium, Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Fridays, March 20, 27; April 3, 10, 17, 24 2020
Time:1:30 - 4 PM
Fee:$75 / member; $98 / non-member
Class Cancelled

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After 2008: Old Film Genres in a New Age (First Four Weeks Only)

The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 almost brought the world to financial and economic collapse. Yet, the vibrant energy of American film production continued. These films show that film does not reflect human experience, but re-invents it.

Film selection and order are subject to change. Post-film discussion will be held in the Annex, 4 - 4:30 p.m.
Four Lectures
  1. "La La Land” (2016) - The American musical is a genre that substitutes joy for setback and fantasy for reality. When the actors are beautiful and talented, it is simply magic.
  2. “Hell or High Water” (2016) - Bank robbery films and westerns are both separate and overlapping genres. Their theme is invariably raw courage. This film intersects that theme with a now familiar reality — losing your home to a bank.
  3. "Whiplash” (2014) - This film, tight and intense, literally captivates. It catches a theme that pervades our society everywhere. To excel at anything, you must sacrifice everything else.
  4. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) - This action film destroys the action genre through excess and perfection. Essentially, it extols what has always been the unstated theme of Hollywood film: the strong, silent American male! Always grounded in an earthy reality. It is what has made American pop culture dominant in the world.

Course # S4F6 — First 4 Weeks
Place:Auditorium, Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Fridays, March 20, 27; April 3, 10 2020
Time:1:30 - 4 PM
Fee:$50 / member; $65 / non-member
Class Cancelled

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Men and Women: Do They Really Converse?

How Five Films Answer This Question

Conversations between men and women in films are often portrayed as either psychological or moral battles. In some instances, the effects of these conversations show a catastrophic shift in the balance of power between the characters. Why does this happen? What does it reveal about Western Society at that moment in time?

In this lecture, Professor Rakower will present and examine some of the most extreme instances of these situations in five films: “Network,” “All About Eve,” “Casablanca,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Red Shoes.”
Register Early! There is a $5 charge for registering on the day of a one-time lecture or event.

Course # S1T7 — One Time Event
Place:Auditorium, Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Tuesday, April 14 2020
Time:2:30 - 4 PM
Fee:$30 / member; $35 / non-member
Class Cancelled

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Love and the Social Contract (Video on Demand)

Falling in Love is Never Private

Note: The course format has been modified to use clips from the films accompanied by Professor Rakower's insight into the theme and message of each clip.

One of the most famous English poems begins, “Come live with me and by my love.” These six films reveal that romantic love may begin as an escape of two people, but always moves toward a social context. The French novelist Balzac gave the name “human comedy” to this phenomenon as spectacle. The scope of these films includes works of surpassing artistic greatness that survey frailty and indomitable will.

Click here for a video preview.

Video link will be in class' lecture notes when made available. Click here to learn how to access lecture notes for registered classes.
Six Lectures
  1. “Blithe Spirit” (1945, English) - This “glorious trifle,” explores the effect of a former wife on the new marriage of the husband. The wit and repartee are unrivaled in this early film by David Lean with Rex Harrison.
  2. “Stairway to Heaven” (1946, English) - The word “audacity” hardly describes this marvelous film about a British pilot whose plane crashes in battle. It explores one of the deepest of all human themes — the possibility of a second chance.
  3. “Contempt” (1963, French) - This film has been called the “greatest work of art in the 20th Century.” A film about making an epic film, it devours the lives of its protagonists. These include some of the most famous film figures unable to manage their own lives. The photography, the color and the music are breath-taking.
  4. “A Kind of Loving” (1962, English) - Set in the period just before British pop culture burst, the film manages to attract intense emotional sympathy with resolute English understatement. One of the most keenly observed films, starring the inimitable Alan Bates.
  5. “Black Narcissus” (1947, English) - Michael Powell’s film brought Deborah Kerr to Hollywood. Set in a palace turned into a convent for English nuns (Protestant) near Mount Everest, the sense of light at a high altitude and its effect on people has never been explored with the beauty and rapture of this film.
  6. “The Go-Between” (1971, English) - Julie Christie and Alan Bates in a film straight out of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” Set in rural, aristocratic England, a young woman falls in love with one of her father’s tenant farmers. No film has caught the fastidious cruelty of the English class system better or more beautifully than this film.

Course # SCUF3V — Full 6 Weeks
Place:Auditorium, Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Tuesdays, July 14, 21, 28; August 4, 11, 18 2020
Time:1:30 - 4 PM
Fee:$75 / member; $98 / non-member

Register Now

Love and the Social Contract

Falling in Love is Never Private

Note: The course format has been modified to use clips from the films accompanied by Professor Rakower's insight into the theme and message of each clip.

One of the most famous English poems begins, “Come live with me and by my love.” These six films reveal that romantic love may begin as an escape of two people, but always moves toward a social context. The French novelist Balzac gave the name “human comedy” to this phenomenon as spectacle. The scope of these films includes works of surpassing artistic greatness that survey frailty and indomitable will.

Click here for a video preview.

Video link will be in class' lecture notes when made available. Click here to learn how to access lecture notes for registered classes.
Six Lectures
  1. “Blithe Spirit” (1945, English) - This “glorious trifle,” explores the effect of a former wife on the new marriage of the husband. The wit and repartee are unrivaled in this early film by David Lean with Rex Harrison.
  2. “Stairway to Heaven” (1946, English) - The word “audacity” hardly describes this marvelous film about a British pilot whose plane crashes in battle. It explores one of the deepest of all human themes — the possibility of a second chance.
  3. “Contempt” (1963, French) - This film has been called the “greatest work of art in the 20th Century.” A film about making an epic film, it devours the lives of its protagonists. These include some of the most famous film figures unable to manage their own lives. The photography, the color and the music are breath-taking.
  4. “A Kind of Loving” (1962, English) - Set in the period just before British pop culture burst, the film manages to attract intense emotional sympathy with resolute English understatement. One of the most keenly observed films, starring the inimitable Alan Bates.
  5. “Black Narcissus” (1947, English) - Michael Powell’s film brought Deborah Kerr to Hollywood. Set in a palace turned into a convent for English nuns (Protestant) near Mount Everest, the sense of light at a high altitude and its effect on people has never been explored with the beauty and rapture of this film.
  6. “The Go-Between” (1971, English) - Julie Christie and Alan Bates in a film straight out of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” Set in rural, aristocratic England, a young woman falls in love with one of her father’s tenant farmers. No film has caught the fastidious cruelty of the English class system better or more beautifully than this film.

Course # SCUF3 — Full 6 Weeks
Place:Auditorium, Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
Dates:Fridays, May 15, 22, 29; June 5, 12, 19 2020
Time:1:30 - 4 PM
Fee:$75 / member; $98 / non-member

Register Now
 Last Modified 2/12/15