A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Origin Stories: Bertrand Bonello’s Footnotes to Zombi Child Starts Fri January 17 at the Quad
French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello selects films that inspired and informed his upcoming Zombi Child, opening January 24
Titles include 35mm prints of Carrie, I Walked with a Zombie, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Serpent and the Rainbow, Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti on 16mm and more!
For over two decades, French filmmaker Bertrand Bonello has immersed audiences in worlds and time periods spanning a fin-de-siècle bordello (House of Tolerance) to ‘70s haute couture (Saint Laurent). With his eighth feature, he explores the mysterious practices that bridge generations and geography, the living and the… formerly living. As a warm-up to Zombi Child, opening at the Quad on January 24, Bonello has selected a series of titles that have inspired and informed his latest work. From ghastly demonic terrors in Georgetown to coolly occult activities in the Caribbean, swooning turn-of-the-century school girls to treasure-hunting ‘80s teenaged boys, we invite you to navigate currents both light and dark en route to Bonello’s bewitching latest creation.
Brian de Palma, 1976, U.S., 98m, 35mm
From its traumatic opening sequence through its post-traumatic closing imagery, De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is shocking, empathetic, and unsparing. Both deservedly Oscar-nominated, Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie incarnate an unforgettable blood knot as a telekinetic teen trying to preserve her humanity while being raised by a religious fanatic mother.
Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
Maya Deren/Cherel Ito/Teiji Ito, 1985, U.S., 52m, 16mm
Revered avant-garde director Deren (Meshes of the Afternoon) had — with personal and professional partner Teiji Ito — amassed rare footage of Haitian voodoo (also spelled as vodou, or voudoun) over a four-year span and then published a 1953 book on the subject. Decades later, Ito and his wife Cherel shaped the archival trove into a same-titled hourlong documentary feature which goes beyond common (mis)perceptions to illuminate thriving cultural traditions.
The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut
William Friedkin, 1973, U.S., 133m, DCP
Friedkin set a new high bar for hide-your-eyes imagery and explicit screen shocks with William Peter Blatty scripting from his own best-selling novel. Big box office and 10 Oscar nominations followed, with wins for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay. Movie star Ellen Burstyn, mid-shoot in D.C., finds preteen daughter Linda Blair in the monstrous grip of demonic possession and pleads for hands-on intervention from conflicted priests Max von Sydow and Jason Miller.
Richard Donner, 1985, U.S., 114m, 35mm
Adventure beckons, in this enduring family favorite, for Pacific Northwest kids once they get wind of pirate’s booty buried under their neck of the woods — sending them tumbling through junior-Indiana-Jones-style close calls and face-offs. The teen septet includes Josh Brolin (in his screen debut), Kerri Green (Lucas), and Martha Plimpton. Chris Columbus scripted from a story by executive producer Steven Spielberg; the theme song is belted out by Cyndi Lauper.
I Walked with a Zombie
Jacques Tourneur, 1943, U.S., 69m, 35mm
After Cat People, Tourneur and producer Val Lewton reteamed with film editor Mark Robson and composer Roy Webb for another shiver-inducing tale of the supernatural, forging the screen template for zombie depictions a quarter-century before it was refitted with the walking/living dead. The sunny Caribbean provides little respite for nurse Frances Dee as she proposes radical therapy for spellbound Christine Gordon while pining for the latter’s husband Tom Conway.
Picnic at Hanging Rock [Director's Cut]
Peter Weir, 1975, Australia, 108m, 35mm
The great Weir’s career breakthrough came with this lulling yet roiling fugue into the female psyche as it exists in the material world. Based on Joan Lindsay’s novel — itself purportedly inspired by an actual unsolved case — and breathtakingly shot on Australian locations by BAFTA Award-winning cinematographer Russell Boyd. In 1900, a boarding school for women run by Rachel Roberts sets a field trip from which three students and a teacher do not return…
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Wes Craven, 1988, U.S., 98m, 35mm
Anthropologist Wade Davis’ hotly debated book became the basis for one of Craven’s most divisive chillers. New England professor Bill Pullman visits Haiti to investigate reports of a powerful pharmaceutical tied to rogue magic and/or suspended animation, encountering presumed warlock Zakes Mokae and civil unrest. With Cathy Tyson (Mona Lisa), Paul Winfield (Sounder), Theresa Merritt (The Wiz), and beloved UK genre films staple Michael Gough.
Opens Fri January 24
Bertrand Bonello, France, 103m, DCP
For his eighth feature, Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent, Nocturama) masterfully injects new life into the well trod-upon zombie genre with a tale that criss-crosses between generations and hemispheres, the dead and the undead. Drawing from the true story of Clairvius Narcisse, who was reportedly zombified in 1962 Haiti and put to work in the sugarcane fields, Bonello tracks between the past and present-day Paris, where Narcisse’s (fictional) granddaughter struggles to fit in with the other (predominantly white) girls at her prestigious boarding school. With bewitching cinematography by Yves Cape (Holy Motors) and a hypnotic electro score (written by Bonello), Zombi Child offers a phantasmagorical mix of traditional Haitian mythology and haunted contemporary youth. A Film Movement release
In French, Haitian, and English with English subtitles
Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival, New York Film Festival
“Bonello leaves us hypnotised and hungrily begging for more.”
—Little White Lies
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