Saturday, October 21, 2017

Brief word on OUT OF NOTHING (2017)

Stunning in almost every way imaginable OUT OF NOTHING is a film that came from nowhere to absolutely delight me. A beautiful and moving film it deserves to find its audience now that the film has hit VOD thanks to October Films.

The film is the tale of several men who seek to break the land speed records on motorcycles at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Its a film that puts us into the shoes of the men and makes us willing co-conspirators in their quest for fame.

Beautifully shot the film has images that will haunt you for long after the film has ended. I'm not talking about the racing, though that is spectacular but rather the landscapes and what should be everyday images, all of which have been photographed to turn them into high art.

Director Chad DeRosa has made an amazing film and it demands to be seen.

Highly recommended.

Abar The First Black Superman (1977)

This legendary film was nigh impossible to see for years. I had heard it was so incendiary that no one would run it. I heard it was lost because the distributor was so small it went bankrupt and disappeared. I heard all sorts of weird stories from people who had never seen it but had heard about it...

I eventually picked it up on low budget DVD and put it aside, but it wasn't until Turner Classic ran it that I actually saw it now I'm left wondering what the hell was that?

A black doctor studying heart disease moves into a white neighborhood and is abused by his neighbors. He refuses to move because he needs the large house for his experiments. When a near riot happens outside of his house he is rescued by Abar and his motorcycle driving men. Abar tries to talk the doctor to move back to the ghetto but he refuses.Eventually Abar becomes the doctor's bodyguard.  However once tragedy strikes the doctor gives Abar the serum he had been working on and Abar becomes a god-like being correcting the wrongs of the world.

While the film is very much a political manifesto, the film is also very much an exploitation film with a wicked guitar riff that plays during the occasional action sequences. The film is also completely and utterly out there with several unexpected and "WTF was that" twists and turns. By the time Abar becomes god-like you will be staring at the screen wondering what everyone connected with the film was thinking---and drinking or smoking. Its just out there. One line at the very end almost caused my father and myself to choke to death in complete and utter disbelief. Its one of those lines where you look at each other and go-"did she really just say that?" Oh yes she did.

I have no idea what to say.

Too long by 20 minutes and so goofball at times this film is not going to be for all audiences. At the same time if you want off the beaten path do see this ASAP.

Friday, October 20, 2017

2017 PORTLAND FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LINE-UP

The 2017 PORTLAND FILM FESTIVAL, PRESENTED BY COMCAST, will screen 152 narrative and documentary films October 30th through November 5th, 2017, at Portland’s iconic Laurelhurst Theater. 
The festival will include special opening and closing night screenings and parties, a Pittock Mansion Gala, educational panels, workshops, special presentations and daily networking events and opportunities throughout the festival.
This year’s fifth edition will present two opening and closing night films (a documentary and a narrative film on each night) and feature and short films in the following sections: Narrative and Documentary Competition Feature, Narrative and Documentary Spotlight, Shorts, Indigenous Voices, Portland Lens, and Special Screenings. This year, 89 of the films programmed (59%) were directed by women.
Said Josh Leake, Portland Film Festival Founder and Executive Director, “Hearing from independent voices has never been more important as it is today. This year’s movies, panels and programs are from engaging new filmmakers, the best of new indie film, and icons of classic cinema. We’re proud to present this year’s program - especially our Portland and Indigenous Voices sections, which will screen films each day to local audiences. In one week, we will present more independent cinema than most theaters screen in a year.”
Comcast is the Presenting Sponsor of the 2017 Portland Film Festival.  Supporting Sponsors include: Koerner Camera, SAG-AFTRA, ABI Insurance, Whole Foods, Portland Monthly, Crank PDX, The Oregonian, Plum Tree Mortgage, KINK FM, Pro Photo Supply and others.
Established in 2013, the Portland Film Festival is one of Oregon’s largest film festivals, and was named “one of the coolest film festivals in the world,” by MovieMaker Magazine.
All screenings will take place at the historic Laurelhurst Theatre at 2735 E. Burnside Street. Tickets, general info and merchandise will be at the Laurelhurst throughout the festival.. Presenting Sponsor Comcast will host The Comcast VIP Lounge at the Cardinal Club, 18 NE 28th Ave.
 
Complete festival lineup, passes, and individual tickets available:
  
Festival Trailer:

This year’s festival highlights include:
·      Oregon Governor Kate Brown has declared Oregon the State
of “Independent Film” and Mayor Ted Wheeler has proclaimed Portland the “City of Film” during the Festival. The festival will screen over 152 films from around the world, 89 of which were directed by women.  
·      You can catch a Portland made film every day. 
·      November is National American Indian Heritage Month. Each day, a film will be shown in a new section, Indigenous Voices.
·      A percentage of this year’s ticket sales will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Portland and the Wild Salmon Center. 
·      Lead by award-winning professionals in their fields, this year’s festival will offer over a diverse selection of educational workshops, classes, panels and networking events for actors, screenwriters, and filmmakers.  
·      Special event highlights include the annual film industry speed networking event, a cinematic history walking tour of Portland, and an opening champagne toast.
·      Special festival guests include: veteran filmmaker Joe Dante, Aisha Tyler, Shia LaBeouf, and screenwriters Sam Hamm, David Arata, Leslie Dixon, Miguel Tejada-Flores, Jeremy Lipp, and Randall Jahnson.
·      Over ten short film programs and events, including screenings of work by local Portland filmmakers, and a special program of films created by youth in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Portland.

FEATURE FILM PROGRAM BELOW:
 

1922: More Stephen King on Netflix


It seems like 98% of Stephen King’s fiction is set in Maine, but hardcore fans will recognize the semi-fictional town of Hemingford Home, Nebraska. The dustbowl burg played a tangential role in The Stand and It, but it was the primary setting of one short story and one novella. The latter joins Big Driver and A Good Marriage as the third of the four novellas published together in Full Dark, No Stars to be adapted for the screen. The Nebraska plains are indeed bad lands in Zak Hilditch’s 1922, which premieres today on Netflix.

Wilfred James was born to work the land, but his dissatisfied wife Arlette, not so much. Ironically, she is the one who inherits one hundred prime acres from her father, but she intends to sell out to a pork agribusiness and open a dress shop in the sinful metropolis of Omaha. Of course, she intends to take their fourteen-year-old son Henry (or Hank, depending on which parent is calling him) with her. It also stands to figure the pig processing plant would render Wilf’s eighty acres unfarmable. Hence, he rather resents her for these plans, but most of all, he just hates her for being her.

James has murder in his heart, but he lures Hank into his plan, using some nefarious bait. The shrewdly observant farmer recognizes his son is head over heels for Shannon Cotterie, who probably is the girl next door, but that still a decent hike’s distance. Mean old Arlettte speaks of her in course, dismissive terms and her scheme would obviously separate the smitten teens, so she is going to die. Unfortunately, the actually killing is much messier than anyone expected. Then the rats start feasting on her corpse stashed in their abandoned well. No matter how hard he tries, James cannot eradicate the infestation. In fact, the rats become progressively more aggressive.

1922 is not the scariest King adaptation ever, but it ranks highly in terms of atmosphere and sense of place. This American Gothic tale wouldn’t be as convincing if it were set on a hardscrabble Down East maple syrup farm. It boasts a potent sense of loneliness and disconnection from human society. There are some chilling moments, but generally, 1922 is more akin to really strong Twilight Zone and E.C. Comics stories. Yet, there are plenty of genre elements, including ghosts, swarming rats, in media res confessions, Freudian misogyny, and cows living in the farm house.

Thomas Jane is really terrific growling and sighing as the haunted (literally) Wilf James. He is chillingly manipulative in the early scenes, yet it is shocking to see him laid so low by karma in the third act. Jane also makes a convincing case for the lead role if anyone is looking to produce the Tom Waits story. The counterbalancing Molly Parker is wonderfully tart and nasty as Arlette. Plus, the ever-reliable Neal McDonough puts the exclamation point on the film as Cotterie’s well-to-do father.

Netflix really seems to get how Stephen King should be done. Instead of bloated tent-poles, they are acquiring lean and mean adaptations from interesting filmmakers, like Hilditch, whose These Final Hours is one of the most distinctive end-of-the-world films in the last five years. Like Gerald’s Game, it features a first-class cast that well suits the material, but probably lacks the sort of Q-scores Hollywood would put its faith in. Highly recommended, 1922 starts streaming today on Netflix.

Margaret Mead ’17: Almost Heaven

The only thing that frightens seventeen-year-old Ying Ling more than ghosts is China’s sky-high teen unemployment rates. For the sake of her family, she will do her best to soldier through the mortician training program at an enormous factory-like mortuary over one hundred miles from her home. However, she will also make friends and start asserting her independence in Carol Salter’s observational documentary Almost Heaven, which screens during the 2017 Margaret Mead Film Festival.

We never learn how Ying Ling manages to hire on with the Mingyang Mountain Funeral Home, but she is clearly uncomfortable with the nature of the work. However, she often gets timely assistance from a fellow trainee with slightly more experience. For now, they are platonic friends, but the potential for a more romantic relationship is as plain as the nose on the corpse they are grooming.

Ying Ling is a good kid, who struggles with loneliness, but also starts to develop a clear sense of herself. Not to be spoilery, but the ending implies she will get some happiness out of life which is a genuine relief. She is indeed the sort of guileless documentary subject we might otherwise worry about.

In fact, watching Almost Heaven makes us suspect Salter maybe had a more Wisemanesque film originally in mind, but let the charismatic Ying Ling assert control of the film. Yet, she is arguably quite representative of a wide swath of the Chinese population. She and her family face some serious but not dire challenges. She might just be more resilient than most.

Salter could do far worse than periodically revisit Ying Ling in the Michael Apted tradition. Almost Heaven even ends at a perfect transition point to start the next doc, rather than waiting seven years. Regardless, it certainly puts an acutely human face on Chinese unemployment and the increasingly migratory way of life for the Mainland’s working class and even lower middle class. Highly recommended, Almost Heaven screens this Sunday (10/22), as part of this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History.

Dealt (2017)

Dealt is a documentary about 62 year old Richard Turner. Richard Turner is a blind card magician. Although he doesn't consider himself a magician, he calls himself a card mechanic. He's able to control the outcome of a card game. He wants to be known for being a great trickster card player. He doesn't consider himself to be disabled. He got a black belt in karate, and when the newspaper posted an article about it and the headline read that a blind man received a black belt, he was sad. He wants to be recognized for his achievements alone, and not for the fact that he's blind.

He wasn't born blind, but became blind as a young boy. He says his hands and fingers can feel things that other people can't.

The movie was fascinating. It was interesting to see Turner spending hours playing with cards, shuffling them as he falls asleep with them in his hand, waking up with them in his hand he continues to shuffle them. He says he's made love while shuffling. haha

He says it's hard for people to believe he's blind because how are the card tricks he does possible?

What was even greater, was at the screening I went to, Richard Turner was there and he performed for us. It was amazing to see him in action, and it really just blows your mind! I really don't know how the things he does with the cards are possible. Maybe he has a sixth sense of sorts.

Prior to seeing this film, I had never heard of him before. I'm so glad that I saw it and now am made aware of him.

I highly recommend everyone see this documentary and if Turner is scheduled for a screening in your city, definitely go.

Here is Richard Turner doing card trick at the New York Comic Con

NYFF 2017 Pictures Ismael's Ghosts First Screening


NYFF 2017 Pictures : Richard Linklater


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Origin Stories: Greta Gerwig's Footnotes to Lady Bird November 1-9 at the Quad

Greta Gerwig selects the influences and inspirations behind her directorial debut, Lady Bird, from Amarcord to Grey Gardens. With Greta Gerwig in person at select screenings.

Last April, Greta Gerwig helped launch our signature "First Encounters" series, watching Blue Velvet for the first time and sharing her experience with the audience. For November, she returns, bringing a dozen movies to share with audiences over several days. These are films close to her heart, ones that influenced and informed her as the writer and director of the rapturous new comedy/drama Lady Bird (opening November 23 via A24). Her playlist touches on many of her film’s themes: mothers and daughters, childhood memory, friendship, Northern California, first love, and musical theater. It’s a collection of righteous, joyous, bittersweet movies for an angry time.

With Greta Gerwig in person at select screenings
American Graffiti George Lucas, 1973, 35mm

Amarcord American Federico Fellini, 1974, 35mm

Fat City John Huston, 1972, DCP

Flirting John Duigan, 1990, 35mm

The 400 Blows François Truffaut, 1959, 35mm

Grey Gardens David and Albert Maysles, 1975, DCP

Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

Chantal Akerman, 1975, 35mm

Original Cast Album: Company D.A. Pennebaker, 1970, 35mm

Pretty in Pink Howard Deutch, 1986, 35mm

Say Anything…Cameron Crowe, 1989, DCP

Secrets & Lies Mike Leigh, 1996, 35mm

NYFF 2017 Pictures : The BPM (Beats Per Minute) screening


NYFF 2017 Pictures- The Second Zama Screening


NYFF 2017 Pictures : The MUDBOUND Press Conference


The Fortress: The Winter of Joseon’s Discontent

It was a lot like a Korean Valley Forge when King Injo retreated to the Namhansanseong mountain fortress during the winter of 1636, but it did not end so well for the Joseon Kingdom. They were indeed times that tried men souls, but they were made exponentially worse by the corruption and arrogant sense of entitlement held by senior members of the royal court. At least that is the revisionist perspective offered by Hwang Dong-hyuk’s The Fortress, which opens tomorrow in New York.

History has not been kind to King Injo, for good reason. Even during the early days of the encampment, Kim Sang-hun finds himself cleaning up resentments caused by the court’s stingy, high-handed behavior. Morale will only continue to plummet as hunger and record low temperatures take its toll on the beleaguered troops.

Strategically, Kim is diametrically opposed to the peace overtures reluctantly advocated by Choi Myung-kil, a senior official who has few friends at court, yet still enjoys the King’s confidence. Nevertheless, the two foes often find themselves allied together, arguing for better conditions for the King’s soldiers, over their colleagues’ petty objections.  Having seen the enemy camp, Choi knows they are badly outnumbered. News of the impending arrival of Nurhaci, the Qing Khan himself further raises the stakes. However, Kim’s desperate plan to save the kingdom has a puncher’s chance of working, but he will only trust Seo Nal-soi, a common-born blacksmith pressed into army service, as his messenger.

It is hard to believe this gritty, downbeat adaptation of Kim Hoon’s historical novel came from Hwang, the man who brought the world the Miss Granny franchise.  This is a cynically class-conscious film that explicitly argues the dithering king and his nonproductive court of leeches only have themselves to blame for their spectacular humiliation. Yet, apparently, there is a robust domestic market for such sentiments, because The Fortress set new attendance records for the Chuseok (“Korean Thanksgiving”) holiday.

It is also a bit surprising to find international action superstar Lee Byung-hun playing the peacenik Choi. However, he is certainly an intriguing character, who is resigned to his anticipated infamy, if it secures the King’s survival. Lee projects the necessary graveness and gravity, but he still can’t compete with the steely gravitas of Kim Yoon-seok’s Kim Sang-hun, looking at least ten years older than the thesp really is—and they are a hard ten years.

Hwang stages some impressive battle scenes that viewers have to admire, even though he telegraphs the bitter end from the earliest stages. As result, Fortress has the vibe of high classical tragedy, with every short-sighted decision bringing King Injo closer to his downfall. The atmosphere of stately woe is further enhanced by the score penned by the legendary Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Revenant, The Last Emperor, etc.). It is an impressive film in nearly every respect, but the maddening inevitability of it all will have viewer pulling out their hair, which is probably exactly what Hwang was going for. Recommended for fans of historical epics, The Fortress opens tomorrow (10/20) in New York, at the AMC Empire.

Mudbound (2017) NYFF 2017

Director Dee Rees and the cast of MUDBOUND at the New York Film Festival
Word out of Sundance this year was that MUDBOUND was the early front runner for the Oscar. It was a deeply moving film that explored the racial divide in the most moving ways. Heading into the screening at the New York FIlm festival I was braced for the worst. Expectations were so high it couldn't live up to them.... and while I'm not sure it's an Oscar contender, it is a solid melodrama that does some surprising things.

Based on Hillary jordan's novel, MUDBOUND follows the fortunes of two families living on a bare surviving cotton farm in Mississippi. When family members return changed from the Second World War the old ways of the world collide with new ideas brought on by the experience of battle.

While an old fashioned melodrama at it's heart, MUDBOUND has a great deal more on it's mind. A tightly plotted the film it is not content with easy answers. The film wants us to think about what we are seeing  so it has set up characters and subplots in such a way  that we are forced to think about what we are seeing. For example a good marriage is twined with a bad one (The McAllan's is failing) while the Jackson's is solid) and we get different shades of racism to ponder (The Grandfather is an outright racist, his married son is casually so, his other son was but has changed while wife seems to be free of hatred). Pretty much everyone is given an interior monologue or two which deepens our understanding of our characters and the themes.

One has to applaud director Dee Rees for making a film that improves the more you think of it. On the face of it and on the first time through the film plays like an old school melodrama, however after the film sits with you (and perhaps after some long discussions)  you realize that there is more to the film than just a simple drama.

That reason the film overcomes it's melodramatic plotting is the amazing cast. They are wonderful from top to bottom with everyone, including Mary J Blige disappearing completely into their roles. If I must single anyone out it would be Rob Morgan as Hap Jackson. This is a heartfelt performance that not only should  make him a superstar but may even get him Oscar gold.

I have to say that if MUDBOUND plays near you go see it on a big screen before you watch it on Netflix. The cinematography is truly amazing and seeing it on the small screen it will be lost. trust me, I had to step out of the film for a moment and when I returned I found I was stopped dead in my tracks as a the images overwhelmed me.

I like the film a great deal, and I like it more because it doesn't do what we expect. I like that while there are tragic turns the film ends on a hopeful note.  I love that director Rees trusted her audience to handle all of the weighty things she was throwing at us. I also loved that she messed with me as a viewer and gave me several "ah ha" moments.

MUDBOUND has finished it's run at the New York Film Festival. It will hit Netflix and theater November 17 and is recommended.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Margaret Mead ’17: So Long Asleep

It has been a long time coming, but the suffering of Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army—the wianbu comfort women—are finally starting to be acknowledged by NGOs and documentary filmmakers. However, the plight of hundreds of thousands of Korean farm-boys pressed into hard (often even fatal) involuntary labor is still a story that remains largely untold (Battleship Island addresses the slave labor, but its principal characters are far from representative). Chung Byung-ho, a U.S.-trained Korean anthropologist and Yoshihiko Tonohiro, chief priest of the Ichijoji Buddhist temple joined forces to honor the memories and repatriate the remains of 155 Korean young men who perished while constructing the Uryu Dam in Hokkaido. David Plath documents their long-deferred homecoming in So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of War, which screens during the 2017 Margaret Mead Film Festival.

The area surrounding Lake Shumarinai has recorded some of Japan’s lowest temperatures ever, so you can imagine what the working conditions were like for the young Koreans, who were essentially slave laborers. The discovery of their remains was initially a matter of chance. Tonohiro and some colleagues had come to admire the dam, where they were approached by the caretaker of the local temple, which had storeroom full of memorial tablets. These tablets were a bit different, in that they were inscribed with the deceased’s native Korean name and their assigned Japanese name.

Tonohiro soon discovered the remnants of bodies still collectively buried at the former municipal graveyard. The priest began an effort to excavate and repatriate the remains, but the project really took shape when Chung started directing their efforts. Many Korean, Japanese, and Zainichi Korean-Japanese provided the labor, embracing the project’s spirit of healing. Yet, not quite everyone fully came on board. Japanese war crimes-deniers successfully manipulated the local bureaucracy to thwart a memorial, while North Koreans who participated in the excavations, were not allowed to continue to South Korea for the internment ceremony.

Since the mass graves were located on their ancestral lands, the indigenous Ainu people prepared special rituals for the reclamation process, which makes So Long Asleep an especially fitting selection for the Mead fest. The film is also relevant to students of comparative religion, because it captures Buddhist, Catholic, and Shamanistic ceremonies performed for the 155 repatriated remains.

In terms of production values, So Long Asleep is pretty no-frills, but it captures some deeply moving moments. Frankly, it is surprising how much emotional kick this film has, since most of wartime laborers’ friends and family are now deceased. Yet, many young Korean and Japanese people recognized the enormity of their fate and became genuine surrogate mourners.

So Long Asleep gives us a thimble-full of hope Japan and South Korea can finally heal their wounds and resentments stemming from the war and occupation (to unite against a common threat to regional stability, the Communist PRC regime). It is also an inspiring example of faith (Buddhism, Shamanism, Catholicism) in action, making a constructive difference in society. Highly recommended, So Long Asleep screens this Saturday afternoon (10/21), as part of this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History.

Three Music Films by Mathieu Amalric at the New York Film Festival 2017

Barbara Hannigan subject of two of Mathieu Amalric's films
The New York Film Festival screened three short documentaries by Mathieu Amalric who is best known as being an actor. Amalric started behind the camera and made the switch when director Arnaud Desplechin began to cast him in roles.

Amalric has directed more films than the 17 listed at IMDB. I say that with certainty since the films that played the New York Film Festival are not listed in his credits. While he is a very good director of fiction films, it is in his documentaries that he truly shines to the point it could, and should be argued that he is one of the finest documentary filmmakers working today

C’est presque au bout du monde (France, 2015, 16m)
Short film made at the request of the Paris Opera is a portrait of Barbara Hannigan warming up her voice and rehearsing for a performance. Stunningly shot the film is an almost too intimate portrait of an artist getting ready to give her best. It is a sensual experience as the marriage of word and music come together to create something tactile.

Zorn (2010-2017) (France, 2017, 54m)
Let me cut to the chase- this is one of the best films of the New York Film Festival and of 2017. It also may very well be one of the best music documentaries ever made - I'm talking top three or five.

Started as a project for TV this film spun out of control and has been, and still is, a work in progress. This is a portrait of musician John Zorn as shot by a close friend. There are no voice overs, no explanations, there is simply Zorn over the years performing, joking, laughing and watching with his friends and other musicians. Clearly shot on the fly by someone with whom Zorn trusts completely this is a documentary that is unlike any other. There is a level of ease and openness no other music documentary has ever had because no other music doc was shot like this, piece meal here and there when friends were just hanging out.

It will amaze and delight you even if you don't know Zorn's music simply because this is so inside  as to make you feel like  you were there.

I need to mention Amalric's use of editing. Watching the film you will quickly realize that his use of sound and image is unlike most things being done today. Working with editor Caroline Detournay he has made a film that stays in your eyes and ears long after the film has finished.

A masterpiece and one of the truly best music docs you will ever see.

(Now if he would only finish it)

Music Is Music (France, 2017, 21m)
Again working with Barbra Hannigan and editor Caroline Detournay, Amalric gives us a portrait of Hannigan as she is putting together her latest album, and the Girl Cray suite in particular.We watch as Hannigan conducts the orchestra and is prodded into singing along with her.

A more fully formed portrait of Hannigan, this is delightful piece that really takes us into the soul of the performer. It is a wonderful little film that makes you wish that this was longer and covered the making of the whole album.

And this is also a fantastic showing of Amalric as a manipulator of sound and image as he sucks us into becoming intimate with the woman at it's center.

Worth tracking down.

(This film is available on Hannigan's latest CD which comes with a DVD full of extras)

Below is the Q&A that followed the NYFF screening where Amararic, Hannigan and Detournay discuss the making of the films

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Metrograph explores the history of Gothic

Goth(ic)

30+ Films Tracing the Evolution of Gothic to Goth Culture on Screen
from Nosferatu and Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages to The Craft and Lost Highway
A long, twisting road touched by fingers of cold fog connects 18th and 19th century Gothic fiction to the goth subcultures of the 80s and 90s. This rich literary genre is matched by an equally fascinating cinematic legacy, borrowing from the morbid imaginations of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Brontë, Bram Stoker and, yes, Stephenie Meyer, and beset with images of crumbling castle keeps, blood-thirsty vampires, and black-clad mistresses of the dark. It is a legacy that spans from German Expressionism to Golden Age Hollywood to Hammer Films to the morose creations of young American filmmakers inspired by the burgeoning goth/ industrial/ death rock music scene in the 1980s. First used as a derogatory term to describe the excesses of a 12th-century architectural style, the term "Gothic" was reclaimed by Romantic revivalists who gloried in excess, as Gothic cinema and the goth subculture would later be defined in small part by their over-the-top, baroque qualities and a touch of willful kitsch, seen here in films by figures as diverse as James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein, 1935), Paul Morrissey (Blood for Dracula, 1974), and Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation, 1995).  “Goth(ic)," beginning December 1, brings together a mob of melancholy monsters, hexed aristocrats, Udo Kier as Dracula, the unparalleled '90s ensembles of The Craft (1996), and more! Velvet choker optional, but recommended.
Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (Benjamin Christensen/1922/1968/91 mins/DCP)
Mad Dane Christensen stirred up this heady brew of a film, an “expose” on the hidden history of the occult that combines re-enactments, animations, and a bevy of Boschian imagery to make what might be the proto-cult movie. Shown here in the condensed 1968 version narrated by Beat icon William S. Burroughs in his unmistakable Midwestern drawl and featuring a hectic, hallucinatory jazz soundtrack by a combo featuring Jean-Luc Ponty.

Nosferatu (F.W. Murnau/1922/81 mins/DCP)
The O.G. bloodsucker, in many ways Murnau’s unlicensed adaptation of Bram Stroker’s Dracula is still unrivalled in the sense of disgust and creeping dread it sustains. Max Schreck’s spindle-fingered vampire Count Orlok is a verminous nightmare, the uncanny horror of his presence augmented through the use of fast-motion and reverse negative photography and ingenious shadowplay with a life of its own.

Dracula (Tod Browning/1931/85 mins/35mm)
“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” All of modern vampiredom issued out from under the cloak of Bela Lugosi’s suave, seductive Transylvanian Count, his every carefully-enunciated line reading the stuff of legend. Working with Freaks director Browning and German Expressionist veteran cinematographer Karl Freund, Lugosi helped kick off the Universal horror cycle of the 1930s, creating the definitive screen interpretation of Dracula along the way.

Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale/1935/75 mins/35mm)
Long before Susan Sontag codified “camp,” Whale mastered it in this sequel to his Universal hit, which brought back Boris Karloff’s monster and Colin Clive’s Dr. Frankenstein, then added Ernest Thesiger as the imperiously, impossibly fey Doctor Pretorius and Elsa Lanchester in a double role as both the bouffanted bride and, in an opening which imagines the first imagining of the monster, as Mary Shelley.

Wuthering Heights (William Wyler/1939/104 mins/35mm)
Emily Brontë’s 1847 tale of the doomed romance between surly Yorkshire gypsy-cum-gentryman Heathcliff and Catherine, the love of his childhood years, has been filmed many times, though never so beautifully as in this richly atmospheric Wyler production that goes only as far as Chapter 17 in Brontë’s book, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in the lead roles, with a pre-Citizen Kane Gregg Toland successfully evoking the fog-wreathed English moors in southern California.

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock/1940/130 mins/35mm)
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again…” Hitchcock never won Best Director outright, and he was still a newly-arrived UK import when this gothic thriller, starring Joan Fontaine as a nameless young woman who becomes enamored with a saturnine, aristocratic widower (Oliver, fresh from Wuthering Heights), took Outstanding Production (later “Best Picture”) honors. A marvel of directorial assurance, which turns the screws with assurance and panache.

House of Usher (Roger Corman/1960/79 mins/35mm)
The first of Corman’s eight-film cycle of deliriously stylish, extravagantly colorful Edgar Allan Poe adaptations has the director’s go-to star Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, accursed owner a mansion hemmed in by a blasted black swamp and his conviction of being under a hereditary curse. Shown with Jean Epstein’s own Usher, a mélange of themes from several Poe tales, and an influential lodestone of the surrealist cinema.

The Innocents (Jack Clayton/1961/100 mins/DCP)
The deep focus black-and-white CinemaScope photography of Freddie Francis establishes the feeling of a terrible, lucid dream in Clayton’s adaptation of Henry James’s celebrated psychological horror tale “The Turn of the Screw,” starring Deborah Kerr as a governess who finds herself harassed by supernatural visions while minding two young children in a remote manse. One of the most frightening haunted house stories ever made, and an influence on John Carpenter’s Halloween, among countless other films.

The Haunting (Robert Wise/1963/112 mins/35mm)
The “Old Dark House” setting, a staple of Gothic fiction, was given a new lease on life in this harrowing cinematic dark ride by former Val Lewton director Wise, an ingenious work of devilish, leering camera trickery in which an ensemble cast including Julie Harris and Russ Tamblyn are assembled for a stay at a mansion which appears to house a very unquiet poltergeist. 
The Devil Rides Out (Terence Fisher/1968/95 mins/DCP)
Through the sunny counterculture Utopianism of the 1960s, England’s Hammer Film Productions remained lurking in the shadows. The Devil Rides Out shows Hammer at the height of its powers, reuniting a steely, imperious Christopher Lee and maestro Fisher, working from Richard Matheson’s superb adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s novel. Investigating a satanic plot leads Lee’s Duc de Richleau, on the side of good for once, into a black magick circle led by Charles Gray, and face-to-face with occult horrors.  

The Tomb of Ligeia (Roger Corman/1964/82 mins/35mm)
Price is back front-and-center for the finale of Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe cycle, here playing another isolated 19
th century nobleman brooding amidst lavish period décor—this time he’s condemned by vision problems to wear tinted glasses, and haunted by the spirit of his deceased first wife, which lives on in the persecutorial presence of a malignant black cat. With a script by future Chinatown screenwriter Robert Towne, channeling the poetry of Poe. 
 
Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told (Jack Hill/1967/81 mins/35mm)
There’s more than a touch of southern-fried Gothic in this unclassifiable drive-in number by Hill, who finds an unsettling balance of farce and tragedy while reworking the classic “hereditary curse” tropes. Chauffeur Lon Chaney, Jr. attempts to cover up the cannibalistic indiscretions of his charges, the Merrye family, as distant relations try to sell their house out from under them.
 
Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski/1968/137 mins/35mm)
Satanists are on the loose in Central Park West in Polanski’s slow-burn thriller, which gives new meaning to the phrase “pregnancy scare.” Young couple Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes make friendly with elder neighbor couple Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, but when isolated and expecting her first child, Farrow’s harried Rosemary starts to wonder why everyone is so eager for her to get a daily dosage of tannis root.
 
Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey/1974/106 mins/35mm)
Cult actor Udo Kier straps on the fangs for Warhol Factory house director Paul Morrissey, playing a sickly, dying Dracula in search of virgin blood in the 1920s Italian countryside who thinks he’s found salvation when he arrives at the family seat of the Marchese de Fiore (Vittorio De Sica), home to the nobleman, his three beautiful, blooming daughters, and—to his great misfortune—the meddling, Marxist caretaker (Joe Dallesandro).
 
Fascination (Jean Rollin/1979/80 mins/DCP)
A genre unto himself, the Frenchman Rollin was a one-man industry turning out supernaturally-tinged, erotically-charged films connected to the legacy of 1920s surrealism, movies that had the feeling of sad fairy tales. Fascination is one of his best and best-loved, a hypnotic, dream logic-driven period piece set in motion when a thief takes refuge in a château presided over by beautiful Brigitte Lahaie and Franca Maï, a film that begins with abattoir home remedies and leads to swinging aristocrats and swinging scythes.  

Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog/1979/107 mins/35mm)
Herzog brashly took up the mantle of German Expressionism in revisiting the unhallowed soil of Murnau’s masterpiece, with old foe and collaborator Klaus Kinski as the pestilent Count and Isabelle Adjani as the owner of the pale, slender neck that he so dearly desires to drink of. Working for the first time with international financing, Herzog was able to unleash horror on a truly epic scale, with both Mexican mummies and an ocean of rats playing in his symphony of terror. 

Possession (Andrzej Żuławski/1981/124 mins/35mm)
Easily the most harrowing divorce drama ever made, Żuławski’s one-of-a-kind genre pastiche has spy Sam Neill returning to his Berlin home from a mission abroad to discover that wife Isabelle Adjani wants suddenly to split up. Launching an investigation into the reasons for her ever-more-alarming behavior, he discovers a truth more sinister—and nauseating—than his wildest suspicions, as Zulawski’s highly-choreographed cinematic delirium and Andrzej Korzyński’s pulsating score push things light years past over the top. 
The Hunger (Tony Scott/1983/97 mins/35mm)
A lush vampire romance with sex and style to spare, much of it provided by stars Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie, a couple of posh, centuries-old nightclubbing New York bloodsuckers who, when one begins to show the first signs of aging, recruit assistance from Susan Sarandon’s geriatrics researcher, then find themselves in a very, very attractive throuple. Yes, that’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” artists Bauhaus in a brief cameo.

Vampire Hunter D (Toyoo Ashida/1985/80 mins/DCP)
Call it goth futurism: In the year 12,090 AD, the decimated remains of humanity live on as chattel for the ruling vampire class. Some, though, have chosen to fight back—like Doris Lang, who, rather than become the bride of Count Magnus Lee, employs the services of the eponymous D. Chic and ultraviolent, with an iconic look supplied by Final Fantasy artist Yoshitaka Amano.

Gothic (Ken Russell/1986/87 mins/35mm)
Russell goes back to ground zero of gothic horror, to the dark and stormy night at Lord Byron’s Lake Geneva villa in 1816—also depicted in Bride of Frankenstein—that led to Mary Shelley writingFrankenstein and Dr. John William Polidori writing The Vampyre. With Natasha Richardson (in her film debut) and Julian Sands as the Shelleys, Gabriel Byrne as Byron, Timothy Spall as repressed homosexual Polidori, and a parade of mind-bending hallucinatory visuals set to Thomas Dolby’s synth score. 

The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher/1987/97 mins/35mm)
A paragon of high 80s style and Schumacher’s finest hour, The Lost Boys transfers the vampire legend to sunny beachfront Santa Carla, California, where brothers Corey Haim and Jason Patric run afoul of a vampire gang run by Kiefer Sutherland. (As in Near Dark, the trouble starts with a teenage crush.) Imminently quotable (“Death by stereo!”) with hooks to match courtesy a doomy pop soundtrack anchored by Gerard McMahon’s “Cry Little Sister.”

Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow/1987/94 mins/35mm)
Southern farm boy Adrian Pasdar takes a fancy to pallid stranger Jenny Wright, but later has occasion to regret it when he meets her “family”—a gang of hungry, pistol-packing vampires terrorizing the southwestern countryside in a roving RV, their number including Lance Henriksen and the lamented Bill Paxton. An brilliant breakout by Bigelow, who combines ravishing romanticism, pitch-black comedy, and repurposed western iconography.

Beetlejuice (Tim Burton/1988/92 mins/35mm)
With her delivery of the line “My whole life is a dark room… One. Big. Dark. Room,” Winona Ryder cemented herself as a goth girl heroine for the ages, a brooding teen in widow’s weeds relocated by her parents to a creaky manse that happens to be haunted by the unquiet spirits of owners Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, egged on in mischief-making by Michael Keaton’s Ghost with the Most, whose own hidden motives are rather more malevolent.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola/1992/128 mins/35mm)
Coppola at his most deliriously baroque, Gary Oldman wearing cinema’s most iconic updo, a puppyish young Keanu Reeves trying to make his way back to Winona Ryder, and Anthony Hopkins as vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing—it’s all here in this opulent production which returns to the original Stoker text and draws out all of the piercing sexual ache and romantic longing.

Cemetery Man (Michele Soavi/1994/105 mina/35mm)
A late flowering of Italian genre cinema to rival anything from the Golden Age of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Soave’s adaptation of the popular comic series Dylan Dog starring lantern-jawed Rupert Everett as the minder of the Buffalora cemetery, where the newly dead require diligent re-killing. Brings an absurdist sense of humor, fatalist romanticism, and dynamic camera sense to the zombie movie, with a beguiling ending that’ll have you saying “Gnah?”

The Crow (Alex Proyas/1994/102 mins/35mm)
Both a star-making vehicle and a memorial to its late star, Brandon Lee, Proyas’s Detroit-set story of the titular undead superhero’s one-man war against the criminal underworld is acutely attuned to the grimy glamor of post-industrial rot, with Lee’s commanding leading man turned backed by a grunge/ industrial/ shoegaze soundtrack that’s a classic in its own right. Based on James O’Barr’s independent comic.

Interview with the Vampire (Neil Jordan/1994/123 mins/35mm)
Years in the making, this Grand Guignol adaptation of Anne Rice’s 1976 novel of the same name was deliciously overripe by the time that it finally hit screens courtesy of Crying Game director Jordan, who gives the necessary pomp and swirl to the story of the centuries-long tutelage between vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise) and his newly-turned charge, Louis (Brad Pitt), from 18th century Louisiana to the present day.

The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki/1995/83 mins/35mm)
In what he cheekily dubbed his “Heterosexual Film,” Araki follows a trio of gorgeous, disaffected youths with primary color-coded names (James Duval, Rose McGowan, Johnathon Schaech) across an all-American hellscape rendered in assaultive artificial colors, their flight a channel-surf through bizarre celebrity cameos, preceded by a run-in with a pack of homophobes portrayed by band Skinny Puppy.

The Craft (Andrew Fleming/1996/101 mins/35mm)
A stone-cold sleepover classic, The Craft has Robin Tunney’s new arrival at a Los Angeles high school discovering her telekinetic abilities and subsequently attracting the attention of a nascent coven of witches made up of Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Fairuza Balk. It’s all fun and games at first, but the violent emotions accompanying of teenaged friendships and grudges become dangerous when sorcery is involved.

Lost Highway (David Lynch/1997/134 mins/35mm)
Lynch has always been a filmmaker unusually attuned to pop music, and at the time of Lost Highway he was deep into goth-metal crunch. The film is a noir-inflected, shape-shifting southern California deathtrip, features several slabs of Rammstein, a Marilyn Manson cameo, and a soundtrack compiled by Trent Reznor, then very far from Academy Award-winning respectability.

Twilight (Catherine Hardwicke/2008/122 mins/DCP)
The Young Adult source material wasn’t promising, but thanks to director Hardwicke’s deep understanding of and love for teenage self-dramatizing, the lushly melancholy atmosphere of the Washington State setting, and the enormous charisma of very young leads Robert Pattison and Kristen Stewart, Twilight came out a modern pop classic, introducing the pleasures of pale posturing angst to a whole new generation.

Philippe Garrel: Part 2 at Metrograph


Largest U.S. Career Retrospective of Garrel Continues November 10 with
Un Ange passe (An Angel Passes), La Naissance de l’amour (The Birth of Love),
the Newly Restored Le vent de la nuit (Night Wind)and more! 


Garrel's Regular Lovers Receives Extended Engagement
Beginning November 5
Metrograph’s Philippe Garrel retrospective, the most complete ever undertaken in North America, continues in November, on the mission described by Nicholas Elliott when discussing the first part of the retro in 4Columns, to “finally establish [Garrel] here as the towering post-New Wave filmmaker that he is recognized as in France.” Part 2 includes a mid-70s masterwork of stark poetry (Un Ange passe), major works from the 1990’s starring major figures of French cinema, including Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Pierre Leaud, three recent works starring son Louis, and a special engagement of the modern-classicRegular Lovers
Un Ange passe (An Angel Passes) (1975/79 mins/35mm)
Many of the familiar faces in the Garrel universe—father Maurice, Laurent Terzieff, Bulle Ogier, and Nico in a stunning live performance sequence, framed by the dark of the night sky.  A bridge between the silentLes Hautes Solitudes and the narrative L'enfant secret, this is one of the most singular works of a singular career.
Les ministères de l’art (1989/52 mins/Digital) with Rue Fontaine (1984/17 min/35mm) andPhilippe Garrel, Artiste (Françoise Etchgaray/1999/50min/Digital)
A tender salute to the generation of French filmmakers, the Post-New Wave, the generation which happens to be Garrel’s own. Featured figures include Jacques Doillon, Chantal Akerman, Juliet Berto, and Léos Carax, though the central figure is the absent Jean Eustache, who had taken his own life in 1981. With Rue Fontaine, Garrel’s contribution to the omnibus film Paris vu par… 20 ans après, and Philippe Garrel, Artiste - an interview with the filmmaker.
La Naissance de l’amour (The Birth of Love) (1993/94 mins/35mm)
Jean-Pierre Léaud and Lou Castel (both of whom made their acting auspicious debuts in the equally auspicious directing debuts of François Truffaut and Marco Bellocchio, here are found trying to shake off the doldrums of middle-age and romantic confusion by getting out of Paris together. Gorgeously photographed by the legendary Raoul Coutard in black and white, this self-analytic study in arrested adolescence plays out against the backdrop of the ongoing Gulf War, which brings with it the additional sting of political disappointment. Original score by John Cale.

Le Coeur fantôme (The Phantom Heart (1996/87 mins/35mm)
A variation on the figure of the romantic triangle, one which endlessly fascinates Garrel, Le Coeur fantômestars Rego as a painter who begins a new relationship with a university student after leaving his unfaithful wife, only to find himself gutted with guilt over leaving his two children behind. Richly textured, and evidence of Garrel’s unusual, little-commented-on gift for directing children. “Unjustly overlooked” - Kent Jones.

Le vent de la nuit (Night Wind) (1999/95 mins/DCP)
A meeting between two elemental forces of the French cinema, Garrel and Catherine Deneuve, Le vent de la nuit looks back to Garrel’s stern, cold productions of the 1970s, depicting a world where suicide is the only escape from the incessant demands of the past. With Deneuve as an unhappy housewife, Xavier Beauvois her young lover, and a lovely score courtesy of John Cale. A marvel of sustained rhythm and tone. New Digital Restoration, overseen by cinematographer Caroline Champantier.


Un été brûlant (A Burning Hot Summer) (2011/95 mins/DCP)
With his usual psychological acuity, Garrel explores the manner in which couples measure themselves against one another. Louis Garrel’s painter is married to actress Monica Bellucci; when a film takes her from Paris to Rome, they travel there together and meet with another, younger couple, Jérôme Robart and Céline Sallette—but when the women start to bond, their conversations cause them to call into question the happiness of their relationships. “I’ve dedicated the film to Frédéric Pardo.  I wanted to immortalize a part of him in the film but without lapsing into fetishism." – Philippe Garrel

La jalousie (Jealousy) (2013/77 mins/DCP)
In the first film to be completed after the death of his father, Maurice, Garrel has his son Louis playing a character based on the old man, an actor specializing in the French classics, in the process of leaving one woman for another, only to find himself tormented by jealousy as he settles in with young Claudia (Anna Mouglalis). “It is almost uncanny how well you feel you know these people, even as their motives and behavior remain opaque to one another.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
                                               
L’ombre des femmes (The Shadow of Women) (2015/73 mins/DCP)
In his most recent film Garrel returns to the subject that fascinates him above all others: The dynamics of coupledom, and the deceptions and omissions that intimacy breeds. Stanislas Merhar and Clotilde Courau are a fortysomething pair working together as filmmakers, each unfaithful to the other. Co-written with wife Caroline Deruas and legendary Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière, this exquisite miniature offers an acute study in imprisoning intimacy and masculine pig-headedness.
Sundays Beginning November 5
Special Monthlong Engagement
Regular Lovers
Philippe Garrel's Career-Spanning Masterwork Screens with Actua 1, His May '68 Short
May ’68—and after–the moment of collective uprising, the comedown of returning to a world fundamentally unchanged—is an event absolutely central to Philippe Garrel’s worldview. After decades of distortion and misinformation on both the French right and left, to further agendas and re-write history, Garrel felt compelled to portray the period as it was by someone who was there, and correct the historical record for future generations. François is our guide (played by Garrel's son Louis), a young poet who goes from the exhilaration of the barricades to the exhaustion of drug addiction and aimlessness. Shot in 1:33Academy ratio (full-frame) black-and-white that makes the 1960s seem near to the 19th century, the film combines youthful romance with adult rue, and introduced Garrel anew to the United States. A vintage 35mm print of Regular Lovers screens with Actua 1, his thought-to-be-lost short film shot by a twenty year old Garrel, in May ‘ 68. A Film Desk release.