’77, a 33-film series surveying the sweeping cinematic landscape of a prolific year in cinema, in the United States and around the world, is coming to the Film Society of Lincoln Center from August 4-24, 2017.
Forty years ago this summer, the Son of Sam killer wreaked havoc, New York experienced a citywide blackout, Elvis was found dead—and American movie-going was having a stratospheric moment. Buoyed by the astonishing success of George Lucas’s behemoth Star Wars, 1977 boasted “the best summer in years at the movie box office,” according to Variety.
Of course, there was much more to cinema ’77 than that industry-changing space opera, which, along with Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, officially cemented the idea of the summer blockbuster following the runaway success of Jaws two years earlier. From disco (Saturday Night Fever) to punk (Jubilee); from cult horrors in the making (Eraserhead, Hausu, Demon Seed) to ambitious auteur projects (New York, New York; Sorcerer); from works of idiosyncratic artistry (Opening Night, Wizards) to runaway Hollywood crowd-pleasers (Smokey and the Bandit, Airport ’77), this international survey of films that year from around the world celebrates a diverse—and wildly enjoyable—cinematic landscape.
Highlights of the series include a rare 35mm print of George Butler & Robert Fiore’s documentary Pumping Iron, which introduced the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger, with Butler in person; a restoration of David Cronenberg’s sophomore feature Rabid; an archival print of Ceddo, Ousmane Sembène’s rarely screened masterpiece about colonialism and the slave trade in Senegal; a gorgeous archival print of Dario Argento’s Suspiria; the first features by David Lynch and Ridley Scott (Eraserhead and The Duellists, respectively), and the last by the great Luis Buñuel (That Obscure Object of Desire), all on 35mm; and a special week-long run of the restored 3 Women, Robert Altman’s dreamlike masterwork starring Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall.
Organized by Florence Almozini and Madeline Whittle
Tickets for ’77 go on sale July 20, with Film Society members receiving an early access period beginning July 18. Become a member today! Tickets are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for Film Society members. See more and save with a 3+ film discount package or $175 All Access Pass.
Bard College; British Film Institute; TIFF Film Reference Library; George Butler; J.D. Connor
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th St) unless otherwise noted.
Robert Altman, USA, 1977, 124m
Only in the seventies could a filmmaker pitch a dream—with the intention to shoot the movie without a finished script—and get it greenlit by a major studio. Such is the genesis of 3 Women, Altman’s most psychologically haunting, offbeat, and visually captivating film. Stepping away from the narrative vastness of his previous Nashville and Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson, Altman presents his 1977 feature with a languid sense of dread and claustrophobia, in which three social outsiders (Shelley Duvall, Sissy Spacek, and Janice Rule) form an unusual bond around a Palm Springs health spa for the elderly. The film opened in New York in April that year and screened one month later at Cannes, where Duvall won the best actress award. An NYFF15 selection.
Friday, August 18, 4:15pm & 8:45pm
Saturday, August 19, 4:15pm & 9:30pm
Sunday, August 20, 4:00pm & 8:30pm
Monday, August 21, 4:00pm & 9:15pm
Tuesday, August 22, 4:00pm & 8:30pm
Wednesday, August 23, 4:30pm & 9:00pm
Thursday, August 24, 4:30pm & 9:15pm
Jerry Jameson, USA, 1977, 35mm, 117m
Universal’s mega-budget disaster series rolled on with this wet and wild third installment. This time around, a state-of-the-art luxury airliner (it’s got Pong!) carrying priceless art and a who’s who of Hollywood veterans is hijacked and inadvertently plunged into the ocean, leaving the hysterical passengers to crawl the walls as they run out of oxygen. The all-star cast—including Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotten, and Christopher Lee—sells the soap opera theatrics like the pros they are, making for a satisfyingly slick piece of pop escapism.
Sunday, August 13, 4:00pm
The American Friend / Der amerikanische freund
Wim Wenders, West Germany/France, 125m
English, German, and French with English subtitles
Wim Wenders’s spellbinding adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley’s Game stars Dennis Hopper as the author’s recurring antihero, the sociopathic charmer Tom Ripley. Here he is an urban cowboy peddler of forged paintings who ensnares Bruno Ganz’s gravely ill German art framer in a plot to assassinate a Mafioso. But it doesn’t end with just one murder… Shot in low-lit, cool blue and gold tones by Wenders’s DP extraordinaire Robby Müller, this dreamlike neo-noir conjures a world ruled by chaos and senseless destruction. Wenders casts Hollywood auteurs Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller in memorable supporting roles, but it’s Hitchcock he channels in the film’s two tour-de-force, train-set suspense set pieces. An NYFF15 selection.
Sunday, August 6, 3:00pm
Wednesday, August 9, 4:00pm
Elliot Silverstein, USA, 1977, 35mm, 96m
One of the best—and most brazenly bizarre—of the killer car movies from the ’70s and ’80s, this Jaws-on-wheels joyride tracks the terror that seizes a small desert town when a mysterious, driverless coupe begins running down residents. The rampaging-vehicle set pieces—including one involving a marching band full of schoolchildren—are handled with cool, unnerving precision (complete with through-the-windshield POV shots). What’s most audacious is the film’s refusal to offer any rational explanation for the strange goings-on, making its steel-and-chrome monster into a force of senseless, existential dread.
Saturday, August 12, 9:00pm
Ousmane Sembène, Senegal, 1977, 35mm, 120m
Wolof and Arabic with English subtitles
The godfather of Senegalese cinema, Ousmane Sembène, explores the effects of colonialism on his country in this sui generis blend of ritual, folklore, and fantasy. Set across multiple indeterminate time periods, it traces the conflict that emerges as the Ceddo—the common people—struggle to preserve their way of life against the invading influences of Christianity and Islam, even after the conversion of their own king. Like many of the director’s films, Ceddo was banned in its own country. The public reason was based on a linguistic disagreement between Sembène and then president Léopold Sédar Senghor over the title: by insisting Ceddo retain double consonants, Sembène refused to follow the newly mandated Wolof standard of spelling. Fittingly, the film stands as a powerful ode to resistance and to the richness of traditional Senegalese culture.
Sunday, August 13, 6:30pm
Peter Yates, USA, 1977, 35mm, 123m
Based on a bestseller by Jaws author Peter Benchley, this aquatic nerve-shredder offers more trouble-in-the-water thrills. Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte are a couple on a scuba-diving vacation in Bermuda who happen upon a most curious treasure: hundreds of vials of morphine from a shipwrecked World War II craft. It’s a discovery that plunges them into a historical mystery and makes them the targets of a local drug kingpin (Louis Gossett Jr.) with a penchant for voodoo. Bonuses: Robert Shaw and Eli Wallach costar; there’s a drag-out fight involving a dangerously spinning outboard motor blade; and the underwater cinematography is simply stunning, at once eerily beautiful and charged with menace.
Saturday, August 5, 4:00pm
Monday, August 7, 4:00pm
Donald Cammell, USA, 1977, 35mm, 94m
Having a supercomputer control every aspect of your existence is all fine and dandy—until it turns on you. So learns Julie Christie’s home-alone therapist when Proteus, the rapidly evolving techno-brain that runs her first-generation smart-house, holds her hostage with one aim: to impregnate her with its half-human, half-AI spawn. Something like Rosemary’s Baby with a future-shock twist, this what-in-the-hell horror-thriller remains unsettlingly prescient: Demon Seed peers into our cyber-driven future and sees gathering menace. The trippy abstract sequences are courtesy of avant-garde “visual music” pioneer Jordan Belson.
Sunday, August 6, 9:30pm
The Devil, Probably
Robert Bresson, France, 1977, 35mm, 95m
French with English subtitles
Having largely focused on literary adaptations from 1951’s Diary of a Country Priest through 1974’s Lancelot du Lac, Robert Bresson turned his attention to the politics of the present with this seminal, searing send-up of post-’68 France. Our protagonist is Charles, a young man adrift who tries out a variety of activities to lend meaning to his life: drugs, psychoanalysis, ecology, radical politics… With surgical precision (and, contrary to his reputation, a sense of humor), Bresson vividly chronicles how Charles and his similarly listless fellow travelers come to know firsthand the emptiness of modern existence, and the question becomes not so much how to cope but rather how to escape. Perhaps Bresson’s most explicitly political film, and among the most chilling cinematic portraits of a historical moment.
Sunday, August 20, 2:00pm
Tuesday, August 22, 6:30pm
*This film also screens as part of our concurrent series Deeper into Nocturama
Ridley Scott, UK, 1977, 35mm, 100m
After a successful decade in commercial advertising, Ridley Scott made his feature directing debut with this rapturously beautiful, profoundly ironic adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella The Duel. At the turn of the 19th century, during a momentary lull in the Napoleonic Wars, a Hussar lieutenant (Harvey Keitel) challenges a fellow officer (Keith Carradine) to a duel over a perceived insult to his character. The two men then spend the next 15 years jousting with each other whenever and wherever they meet, until the very reason for their dispute has receded into absurdity. Shot on magnificent locations in France’s Dordogne region, with Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon as a key visual influence, The Duellists remains one of Scott’s most impressive pictures, and a timeless portrait of the fine line between obsession and folly. Winner of a special prize for best first film at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival.
Monday, August 14, 7:00pm
David Lynch, USA, 1977, 35mm, 89m
Sporadically filmed over five years in Los Angeles’s depopulated downtown and on painstakingly fabricated sets, Lynch’s 1977 debut feature nonetheless bears the imprint of his time as a young artist in Philadelphia. The film follows hapless protagonist Henry (Jack Nance), with his furrowed brow and electroshock pompadour, as he navigates an inhospitable nocturnal landscape and struggles with the anxiety of fatherhood. With its meticulous black-and-white cinematography by Frederick Elmes and Herbert Cardwell and groundbreaking sound design by Alan Splet, Eraserhead is a triumph of interiority, a literal head movie that might be taking place within someone’s traumatized skull, and one of the definitive midnight movies of all time.
Thursday, August 10, 4:30pm
Saturday, August 12, 7:00pm
Mel Brooks, USA, 1977, 94m
Try to spot all the references in master parodist Mel Brooks’s gag-a-minute homage to/send up of the Master of Suspense. Brooks plays the very Leading Man–monikered Dr. Richard H. Thorndyke, a renowned but heights-averse psychiatrist who takes over as head of the Psycho-Neurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous, where he discovers some very, very strange goings-on. Along the way there’s murder, Madeline Kahn’s hilarious take on the Hitchcock blonde, and spot-on spoofs of classic set pieces from Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest, and Vertigo. Best of all is the way Brooks satirizes key elements of Hitch’s style, from the elaborate dolly shots to the Bernard Herrmann-on-steroids score.
Sunday, August 13, 2:00pm
Monday, August 14, 5:00pm
The Hills Have Eyes
Wes Craven, USA, 1977, 89m
A family’s road trip through the Nevada desert quickly goes south when their camper breaks down in the middle of nowhere, turning them into sitting ducks for a band of mutant cannibals with a taste for baby. Caked in low-budget grime and dialing up the decade’s fascination with hicksploitation movies (Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Smokey and the Bandit), Wes Craven’s ultra-perverse, grindhouse scuzz-shocker achieved cult immortality thanks to its memorable casting, bluntly un-stylized violence, and absolute annihilation of all-American family values: Craven pits suburban “normalcy” against heathen godlessness in a berserk, bloody civil war that doesn’t end until both sides have devolved into savagery.
Monday, August 7, 9:15pm
House / Hausu
Nobuhiko Ôbayashi, Japan, 1977, 35mm, 88m
Japanese with English subtitles
In a year that produced multiple memorably out-there haunted house films—including Suspiria and Demon Seed—this avant-pop whatzit may be the most inexplicably bonkers of them all. Part supernatural spine-tingler, part Saturday morning cartoon, it follows angst-ridden teenager Gorgeous and her sunshine-y, evocatively named schoolgirl friends—Kung Fu, Prof, Fantasy, Mac, Melody, and Sweet—as they head to her aunt’s country home for summer break. What awaits is a psychotropic bloodbath involving a floating disembodied head, a crazed kitty, and a hungry, hungry piano. Experimentalist-turned-commercial director Ôbayashi unleashes a barrage of surreal optical effects, animation sequences, and musical numbers for a truly one-of-a-kind head-spinner.
Sunday, August 13, 9:00pm
Derek Jarman, UK, 1977, 106m
Oh Britain, up yours! Queen Elizabeth I is zapped 400 years into the future to England after the Fall: a flaming, fascistic hellscape where a nihilistic punk girl gang runs wild committing mayhem, murder, and sacrilege (while still finding time for the occasional game of Monopoly). By turns savagely funny and furiously angry, Derek Jarman’s punk fantasia is a transgressive mash-up of styles: New Wave meets New Romantic meets camp outrageousness meets queer paganism for a decadent, defiantly bad-taste apocalyptic vision. Adding to the film’s cool cred, the cast features icons like Toyah Willcox and Adam Ant; there are cameos from post-punkers The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees; and the score is by Brian Eno.
Wednesday, August 16, 6:30pm
Killer of Sheep
Charles Burnett, USA, 1977, 35mm, 83m
Completed in ’77 but difficult to see for nearly thirty years due to soundtrack licensing issues, Charles Burnett’s landmark UCLA thesis film is a haunting, almost documentary-like chronicle of 1970s black life in Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood. A series of nonlinear episodes form a portrait of slaughterhouse worker Stan, struggling to provide for his family and resist the corrupting influences that surround him. Amidst urban blight, Burnett finds indelible, magic images—a young girl wearing a hound-dog mask, boys leaping from rooftop to rooftop, a couple slow dancing to Dinah Washington’s “This Bitter Earth”—captured in evocatively grainy black-and-white and set to music that moves from Paul Robeson to Rachmaninoff.
Sunday, August 6, 7:45pm
Tuesday, August 15, 4:30pm
The Last Wave
Peter Weir, Australia, 1977, 35mm, 106m
Opening with the uncanny sight of a sunny, cloudless sky erupting into a torrential ice storm, Australian New Waver Peter Weir’s hallucinatory follow up to Picnic at Hanging Rock is part murder mystery, part apocalyptic chiller. When he agrees to defend a group of Aboriginal men charged with homicide, a Sydney lawyer (Richard Chamberlain) is plunged into a shadow world of secret societies, shamanic rituals, and an ancient doomsday prophecy. And then the black rain starts to fall… Surely one of the wettest films ever made—nearly every frame is drenched in ominous, aqueous imagery—The Last Wave sustains an air of dream-state dread as it builds towards its brain-bending climax.
Tuesday, August 8, 4:30pm
Friday, August 11, 9:30pm
Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Richard Brooks, USA, 1977, 35mm, 136m
Richard Brooks’s adaptation of Judith Rossner’s notorious best-seller, inspired by the 1973 murder of Roseann Quinn, initially caused quite a stir. A world away from the same year’s Annie Hall, Diane Keaton plays a bar-hopping schoolteacher in this dark story of intimacy and isolation, which became a pop-cultural touchstone amidst a changing climate in sexual mores. A long-overdue Academy Award nomination came to Tuesday Weld for her supporting role as the daddy’s-favorite sister, in a cast that also features breakthrough performances by Richard Gere and Tom Berenger.
Thursday, August 10, 6:30pm
The Man Who Loved Women / L’homme qui aimait les femmes
François Truffaut, France, 1977, 35mm, 120m
French with English subtitles
Written during his free time on the set of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Truffaut’s tender, bittersweet memory piece stars Charles Denner as an inveterate womanizer who will go to elaborate lengths—including purposefully wrecking his own car—for a romantic rendezvous. When he decides to chronicle his myriad affairs in a memoir, the flashbacks begin, taking us on a tour through one man’s life as shaped by the women in it. What looks at first to be a sex farce trifle becomes, in Truffaut’s hands, something altogether deeper and more personal: a poignant, compassionate reflection on our need for human connection and a celebration of love in its many forms. An NYFF15 selection.
Wednesday, August 9, 6:30pm
Tuesday, August 15, 9:15pm
New York, New York
Martin Scorsese, USA, 1977, 35mm, 155m
Made a year after the wildly gritty Taxi Driver, and under an allegedly chaotic production, Scorsese’s homage to and deconstruction of the classic Hollywood musical casts Liza Minnelli as a 1940s singer whose rocky relationship with Robert De Niro’s temperamental jazz saxophonist sputters as her career ascends. The director channels that Dream Factory feeling through patently artificial soundstage sets and show-stopping, movie-within-a-movie musical numbers. But it’s the raw emotional realism—embodied by Minnelli and De Niro’s vivid, intense performances—that makes this so much more than a nostalgia trip. The high point, of course, is Minnelli belting Kander and Ebb’s iconic title song (written for the movie!): a moment that feels as iconic as the MGM warhorses Scorsese clearly loves.
Tuesday, August 15, 6:15pm
On the Silver Globe / Na srebrnym globie
Andrzej Żuławski, Poland, 1977/1988, 166m
Polish with English subtitles
Andrzej Żuławski returned to Polish cinema after a 16-year absence with On the Silver Globe, a film that proved to be the most ambitious and difficult project of his career. The largest Polish production of all time when shooting began in 1976, it was halted in the fall of ’77 by the Ministry of Culture due to its alleged subversiveness, before finally being reconstituted and released after the fall of communism over a decade later. The resulting sci-fi epic follows a group of astronauts who, after crash-landing on the moon, forge a new society. As the first generation dies off, their children devise new rituals and mythologies to structure the emergent civilization, until a politician from Earth arrives and is hailed as the Messiah… An inexhaustibly inventive and absorbing film maudit that quite literally creates a new cinematic world, On the Silver Globe is perhaps the grandest expression of Żuławski’s visionary artistry.
Saturday, August 12, 3:45pm
John Cassavetes, USA, 1977, 35mm, 144mm
Cassavetes’s gale-force, exposed-nerve psychodrama plunges headlong into the art and mysteries of acting. In one of her finest whirlwind, woman-under-the-influence performances, Gena Rowlands plays an aging stage star in the midst of preparing for a new role whose sense of self begins to crumble after she witnesses the car accident death of an obsessive fan. Scrambling the boundaries between art and life, rehearsals and reality, Cassavetes leads his fearless band of actors into ever more vulnerable and startling realms of emotional honesty. Opening Night attracted little attention upon its U.S. release (save for Cassavetes’s most devoted followers), opening in December ’77 to poor box-office and tepid reviews. Months later it had its international debut at 1978’s Berlinale, where the filmmaker received a nomination for the Golden Bear and Rowlands won best actress.
Friday, August 11, 6:30pm
Thursday, August 17, 4:00pm
George Butler & Robert Fiore, USA, 1977, 35mm, 85m
The film that introduced the world to Arnold Schwarzenegger, this colorful look at competitive bodybuilding follows the leading contenders as they prepare to flex at the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest. In one corner is Schwarzenegger’s defending champion, a supremely confident, California-bronzed god; in the other is Lou Ferrigno, the scrappy Brooklyn up-and-comer whose trainer-stage dad is straight out of central casting. Beneath the parade of rippling muscles and oiled-up physiques, this is a classic big dog vs. underdog sports story, with the alternately charming and Machiavellian future Governator perfectly cast as the man you love to hate. Don’t miss classic footage of him chilling out with a joint!
Thursday, August 17, 7:00pm (Introduction by George Butler)
David Cronenberg, Canada, 1977, 91m
Cronenberg’s follow-up to his 1975 debut feature, the high-rise horror Shivers, stars former adult film star Marilyn Chambers (in her first mainstream leading role) as Rose, a car accident victim left mangled and comatose before winding up on Dr. Dan Keloid’s operating table. After undergoing radical emergency plastic surgery, she survives but is left with a couple of side effects: a phallic stinger that forms under her armpit and a ravenous desire for blood… Although Rabid plays with the same themes of sexual anxiety, mutation, and disease as Shivers, in this film Cronenberg forgoes the claustrophobic atmosphere for a more expansive Canadian landscape. From Quebec to Montreal, Rose hunts victims and infects crowds of people with an unknown disease that drives them insane and bloodthirsty. Courtesy of TIFF Film Reference Library.
Friday, August 4, 9:30pm
Saturday Night Fever
John Badham, USA, 1977, 35mm, 118m
Iconic from the get-go—with John Travolta’s dance-machine Tony Manero peacock-strutting through the streets of Bay Ridge to “Stayin’ Alive”—this remains, of course, the quintessential emblem of the disco fever era. But those expecting a cheesetastic, glitz-glazed time capsule will be surprised to find a surprisingly raw, almost kitchen-sink-style look at racial and class tension in blue-collar Brooklyn, with Manero and his hoodlum buddies adrift in a dead-end world of street fights and testosterone-fueled bad choices. The highs—Travolta’s hip-thrusting star power, the electric dance-floor sequences, the parade of Bee Gees hits—are all there, but so is the bleary-eyed comedown.
Saturday, August 5, 6:30pm
George Roy Hill, USA, 1977, 35mm, 123m
This raucous, unrepentantly rude satire stars Paul Newman in a hilariously foul-mouthed performance. He’s the veteran player-coach of the Chiefs, a losing amateur hockey team in a dying Rust Belt town. The franchise gets a much needed shot in the arm when they recruit the deceptively dweeby Hanson brothers, a trio of high-sticking, body-checking goons whose aggressive style of play quickly wins over the fans—but not everyone on the team. As scripted by Nancy Dowd, Slap Shot skewers the brawling, trash-talking, homophobic culture of sports by one-upping the ridiculousness of its puffed-up macho posturing.
Thursday, August 17, 9:00pm
Smokey and the Bandit
Hal Needham, USA, 1977, 35mm, 96m
Cool cars, Coors beer, and CB radio: this rollicking road comedy cemented Burt Reynolds’s status as a Clark Gable for the 1970s. He’s the rascally Bandit, burning rubber across state lines when he’s hired to help transport 400 cases of bootleg booze from Texas to Georgia, with Sally Field’s runaway bride in tow, and Jackie Gleason’s irascible sheriff in hot pursuit. Wonderfully loose-limbed in that inimitable seventies way, it’s essentially one long, pedal-to-the-metal chase sequence, punctuated by the sparky interplay between Reynolds and a most delightful Field.
Saturday, August 5, 2:00pm
William Friedkin, USA, 1977, 121m
William Friedkin takes Georges Arnaud’s 1950 novel Le salaire de la peur—which received its first filmic interpretation in Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic palm-sweater The Wages of Fear—and transforms it into a blood-and-guts opera of existential delirium. The set-up is familiar: four desperate men with nothing to lose—led by Roy Scheider’s on-the-lam Jersey mobster—take on a seemingly doomed mission when they agree to transport two trucks full of highly explosive nitroglycerin through the perilous South American jungle. What Friedkin brings to the table is a raw, visceral immediacy—you can practically feel the muck, sweat, and grime. As the film tilts into full-blown expressionism in its final act, a meaning for the much-puzzled-over title (a reference to the name of one of the trucks) emerges: there is an almost supernatural force of cosmic nihilism at work here. Tangerine Dream’s mesmerizing electronic score only adds to the intensity.
Friday, August 4, 7:00pm
Thursday, August 10, 9:00pm
Werner Herzog, West Germany, 1977, 115m
English and German with English subtitles
Of all the immortal eccentrics populating the Herzog canon, perhaps the most touching and tragic is Bruno Stroszek. As played by the heartbreaking Bruno S., Stroszek is a gentle but hard-drinking Berlin street musician who, after running afoul of a pair of local toughs, leaves Germany for the promise of a better life in Wisconsin. Once there, however, his American Dream quickly sours. Herzog’s quietly devastating portrait of stranger-in-a-strange-land alienation is laced with his indelible moments of crackpot poetry: a writhing premature baby, a dog garlanded in a plastic lei, and that unforgettable dancing chicken. Wisconsin became Herzog’s shooting location because of the director’s fascination with Ed Gein, the infamous killer convicted twenty years earlier for murder, cannibalism, and body snatching.
Sunday, August 6, 5:30pm
Wednesday, August 16, 8:45pm
Dario Argento, Italy, 1977, 35mm, 98m
Italian, Russian, English, and German with English subtitles
One of cinema’s most potent hallucinogens, Dario Argento’s witchy freak-out is a sustained spectacle of outrageously stylized violence and eye-popping art direction. When Jessica Harper’s doe-eyed American ballerina arrives in Germany to study at directress Joan Bennett’s renowned dance academy, she stumbles through the looking glass into a maze of mayhem, murder, and maggots. It all takes place in one of film history’s most outlandish haunted houses: a riot of demonic neon lighting, surrealist-baroque décor, and, oh yeah, that barbed wire room. Add the iconic, eardrum-shattering score by prog-occultists Goblin and you’ve got the most extravagant slasher movie of all time.
Saturday, August 5, 8:45pm
That Obscure Object of Desire / Cet obscur objet du désir
Luis Buñuel, France/Spain, 1977, 35mm, 102m
French and Spanish with English subtitles
Buñuel was 77 when he made this masterful swan song: an anarchic send-off to his career-long obsessions that stars go-to Fernando Rey as Mathieu, a French bon vivant who spends a train ride flashing back to his doomed love with a mercurial flamenco dancer named Conchita (played by Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina). Setting their story against the backdrop of politically terrorized streets, in which bombings and shootings occur without warning, Buñuel links political and sexual frustration with the filmmaker’s trademark surrealism, mystery and wit. The NYFF15 closing night selection.
Wednesday, August 9, 9:00pm
Friday, August 11, 4:15pm
Twilight’s Last Gleaming
Robert Aldrich, USA, 1977, 146m
Gonzo auteur Robert Aldrich channels post-Vietnam disillusionment into a subversive, anti-establishment political thriller. Burt Lancaster is the rogue ex-Air Force general who, aided by three escaped convicts, infiltrates a Montana army base and gains control of nine nuclear ICBMs. His demand: that the U.S. President go public with a classified document revealing government knowledge that the war in Vietnam was an unwinnable sham. It’s an explosive set-up delivered with stomach-knotting tension—amplified by the effective use of split screens (up to four at a time)—and a righteous, dissident fury. Golden-age leading men Richard Widmark, Joseph Cotten, and Melvyn Douglas lend support.
Monday, August 7, 6:30pm
Which Way Is Up?
Michael Schultz, USA, 1977, 35mm, 94m
The inimitable Richard Pryor is a triple threat in this irreverent, socially conscious satire (and remake of a Lina Wertmüller film!). In one of three roles, Pryor stars as Leroy Jones, a hapless California orange picker and accidental labor organizer who falls in and out of the arms of three women: his newly liberated wife, a new-agey activist, and a tiger-in-the-sheets preacher’s wife. The sex farce set-up makes room for subtle critiques of corporate exploitation and religious hypocrisy, while Pryor plays opposite himself in two hilarious supporting turns: as his own randy, mightily whiskered father and an electric-guitar-playing, fire-and-brimstone reverend whose sermon on sin is worth the price of admission alone.
Monday, August 14, 9:00pm
Ralph Bakshi, USA, 1977, 35mm, 80m
Boundary-pushing adult animator Ralph Bakshi’s first foray into fantasy is, in true Bakshi style, a dark, strange, psychedelic wonder. Set in a postapocalyptic world of elves, fairies, and mutant monsters, it charts the struggle between two warring wizard brothers—one good, one evil (naturally)—for control of the Earth. The director’s cracked, counterculture worldview courses through every frame, while the thorny, disturbing themes—the horrors of war, nuclear annihilation, Nazism—stand in marked contrast to the film’s PG rating. The result is an uncompromisingly personal, defiantly anti-commercial vision. In between filming scenes for Star Wars, Mark Hamill provided the voice of leader of the fairies Sean at the suggestion of George Lucas, a Bakshi fanatic.
Saturday, August 12, 2:00pm
Wednesday, August 16, 4:30pm