Deeper into Nocturama, a selection of titles hand-picked by Bertrand Bonello as reference points for his latest film, is being presented at Film Society of Lincoln Center on August 18-24, 2017.
One of the year’s most acclaimed and provocative films, Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama doesn’t just confirm its director’s astonishing command of his medium and his willingness to take audacious risks to explore and understand our endlessly complicated present—it is also unmistakably the work of a consummate, learned cinephile. To lend cinematic context to Nocturama on the occasion of its theatrical run at the Film Society beginning August 11, Bonello has selected an assortment of works that were on his mind while crafting his masterful new film.
Including such titles as Howard Hawks’s Rio Bravo, Robert Bresson’s The Devil, Probably, John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, and David Cronenberg’s The Brood, this series illuminates the rich lineages to which Nocturama belongs: metaphysical masterpieces, hangout films, politically charged genre pictures, works that induce chills and profound reflection in equal measure. Bonello’s own words on each selection are included below.
Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan.
Tickets for Deeper into Nocturama go on sale August 3 and are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for Film Society members. Become a member today! See more and save with the 3+ film discount package.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted. Quotes in italic below by Bertrand Bonello.
Assault on Precinct 13
John Carpenter, USA, 1976, 91m
John Carpenter’s taut L.A.-set thriller chronicles a small group of cops, administrators, and crooks holed up in a decommissioned police station and their efforts to survive the night when a merciless street gang marks one of them—wily convicted murderer Napoleon Wilson (Darwin Joston)—for death. With the lines of communication to the rest of the city cut off and a finite amount of guns and ammunition to fend off the hordes of killers outside, it’ll take an unlikely alliance for this motley crew to make it out alive. The soundtrack of Assault on Precinct 13 alternates between gunfire and silence, tense conversations and Carpenter’s own blaring synths, yielding an evocative aural backdrop for a stark, elemental tale of survival in the face of impossible odds.
“A barely disguised remake of Rio Bravo, Assault on Precinct 13 is as dry as Rio Bravo is meandering. In both cases, the director entraps characters in postures of anticipation in order to watch them live. One of the finest examples of directing in cinema.” —BB
Sunday, August 20, 6:30pm
Monday, August 21, 2:00pm
David Cronenberg, Canada, 1979, 35mm, 92m
A bitter divorce literally spawns monsters in this terrifying entry in David Cronenberg’s “body horror” cycle. While an unorthodox psychiatrist (Oliver Reed) treats a psychotic patient (Samantha Eggar), her ex-husband tries to protect his daughter as a series of vicious murders befall those connected to him. Written while Cronenberg was going through his own divorce and custody battle, The Brood is perhaps the filmmaker at his most emotionally naked—an early masterwork that filters troubling social anxieties through mutation, mutilation, and the uncanny.
“I saw this movie as a 12-year-old, and I will always remember the image of those children in the colorful jackets, hammers in hand. I realized later that these children were terrifying because they were terrified. I also realized that, in the guise of a B movie, The Brood demonstrated that Cronenberg’s visionary and organic genius was already at play.” —BB
Friday, August 18, 6:45pm
Tuesday, August 22, 2:00pm
Abbas Kiarostami, Iran, 1990, 35mm, 98m
Persian and Azerbaijani with English subtitles
In Abbas Kiarostami’s masterful exploration of the nature of truth and cinematic illusion, a young man introduces himself as celebrated director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and enters intimately into the life of a family under the pretext that he’s scouting locations for a new film project. Deeply suspicious, the father investigates the stranger, leading to the con man’s exposure and arrest. At this stage, Kiarostami and his real-life film crew enter the story to film the imposter’s trial. Events preceding the young man’s arrest are dramatized and reconstructed, but with the real people “playing” themselves. Close-up has been widely hailed as one of Kiarostami’s crowning achievements and one of the greatest films of the 1990s.
“This is perhaps the film in which Kiarostami’s distortion of the principles of fiction and reality reaches its apogee, resulting in his most upsetting film. At the same time, it is a work of rare humanity and invention.” —BB
Saturday, August 19, 2:00pm
Wednesday, August 23, 7:00pm
The Devil, Probably / Le Diable, probablement
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.
“Shooting this film in 1977 was a crazy act of clairvoyance. The film is punk, ecological, romantic, radical, desperate, and yet endowed with the energy and vitality of rebellion.” —BB
Sunday, August 20, 2:00pm
Tuesday, August 22, 6:30pm
*Also screens in FSLC series ‘77
Full Moon in Paris / Les nuits de la pleine lune
Éric Rohmer, France, 1984, 102m
French with English subtitles
“He who has two women loses his soul; he who has two houses loses his mind.” In Rohmer’s fourth film in his Comedies and Proverbs series, Louise, a young interior decorator (Pascale Ogier, Venice Film Festival Best Actress winner), keeps two homes—one with her boyfriend, Remi, and one without. She chases the freedom of the single life in her Paris pied-à-terre, while Remi stays in the other residence, seemingly a homebody. Rohmer’s finely drawn characterization brings out the confusions and small devotions that complicate a familiar paradox, rarely rendered with such subtlety and maturity. With Fabrice Lucchini as Louise’s friend.
“It was a 64-year-old man who best captured the youthful energy of the 1980s, the decade’s transformations, its carefree spirit, its music, and ultimately its melancholy. And to top it off, the film features the dazzling Pascale Ogier.” —BB
Friday, August 18, 2:00pm
Thursday, August 24, 7:00pm
Howard Hawks, USA, 1959, 35mm, 141m
Perhaps the greatest of all hangout films, Hawks’s western stars John Wayne as John T. Chance, a sheriff who enlists the help of the town drunk, Dude (Dean Martin), in arresting an ill-intentioned gunslinger. But when the outlaw’s brother and his gang make clear their plans to spring him, Chance and Dude look to over-the-hill Stumpy (Walter Brennan) and brash young cowboy Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) to assist them in fending off the bad guys until proper reinforcements can arrive. Much of the most colorful and charming passages in Rio Bravo come while killing time before the final showdown, scenes rich with an altogether different kind of action: the forging of bonds between men.
“Released a year apart, Vertigo and Rio Bravo were the last two great Hollywood classics. Each one is imbued, within the framework of a genre film, with all the modernity of the cinema that was yet to come. This swan song features one of the most beautiful guitar-playing scenes in all of cinema.” —BB
Monday, August 21, 6:30pm
Thursday, August 24, 1:45pm
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
David Lynch, USA, 1992, 134m
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was Lynch’s harrowing attempt to close the book on both his signature series and arguably his most memorable and tragic character. A prequel to the television phenomenon surrounding the mysterious death of a 17-year-old homecoming queen, Fire Walk with Me plunges into the show’s dark heart and defining trauma, chronicling the final week in the brief life of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee)—a film predestined to end with the death of its protagonist. For Lynch, the entire Twin Peaks project was a laboratory where he worked out some ideas that would define his later films. In Fire Walk with Me, the filmmaker experimented with narrative strictures and structures, and moved toward more direct expressions of emotion, as if the time he spent in the Twin Peaks cosmos allowed him to reduce the film counterpart to its essentials: pain and sorrow, hypnotically and heartbreakingly rendered. New digital restoration!
“The most upsetting, the most terrifying, the most inventive and the most crazy of all of David Lynch’s films. It’s here that he discovered the theme that he would develop in years to come: emotional terror.” —BB
Saturday, August 19, 6:45pm
Wednesday, August 23, 1:45pm
Bertrand Bonello, France/Germany/Belgium, 2016, 130m
French with English subtitles
The audacious new film from Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent) unfolds in two mesmerizing segments. The first is a precision-crafted thriller, following a multi-ethnic group of millennial radicals as they carry out a mass-scale terrorist attack on Paris. The second—in which the perpetrators hide out in the consumerist mecca of a luxury department store—is the director’s coup, raising provocative questions about everything that came before. Bonello stages his apocalyptic vision with stylishly roving camerawork, blasts of hip-hop, and a lip-synced performance to Shirley Bassey’s “My Way.” This is edgy, risk-taking filmmaking that is sure to ignite debate. A 2017 Rendez-Vous with French Cinema selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
Opens August 11 at FSLC