Film at Lincoln Center announces “Denis Villeneuve,” a celebration of critically lauded films by the Canadian filmmaker alongside a selection of works he has cited as inspiring and influential in his own filmmaking. Running from February 16 through 28, the series’ titles range from Villeneuve’s early films Polytechnique (2009) and Incendies (2010) to Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Dune (NYFF59). Villeneuve himself has curated a selection of 14 films that have fueled his creativity, among them Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear (1953), Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou (NYFF4), and Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together (NYFF35).
Denis Villeneuve has distinguished himself as one of the 21st century’s great directors. From his harrowingly absorbing thriller Prisoners (2013) to his more recent forays into an especially refined, magisterially atmospheric and unapologetically philosophical take on science fiction, namely Arrival (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and Dune, Villeneuve’s work is marked by the feeling of a great artist operating with intelligence and confidence amid the highest possible stakes in moviemaking. On the occasion of the release of Dune: Part Two, FLC presents a mid-career retrospective dedicated to this visionary artist and his continued project of crafting an intellectually and aesthetically rich variant of commercial cinema.
“For different reasons, each of these films, among others, significantly influenced me as a young aspiring filmmaker,” said Villeneuve. “Today, I’m still trying to free myself of their initial impact. It is an illusory attempt to regain my creative freedom, to hush other voices in order to achieve total and complete authenticity, which is of course impossible. I’m the sum of many influences. These films will forever haunt me, as I walk toward the camera.”
Exceptional selections curated by Villeneuve for the series include and are not limited to: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), the now-iconic tale of an interstellar mining crew en route back to Earth; Claire Denis’s Beau Travail (NYFF37), a retelling of Melville’s Billy Budd, set among a troop of Foreign Legionnaires; Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together, his raw, lushly stylized portrait of the life cycle of a love affair starring Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung; and Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954), among the most referenced and influential works in all of world cinema.
Organized by Florence Almozini, Dan Sullivan, and Denis Villeneuve.
Tickets to FLC screenings will go on sale on Friday, February 2 at 2pm, with an early access period for FLC Members starting at 11am. Tickets are $17; $14 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $12 for FLC Members. See more and save at FLC with a 3+ Film Package (price per ticket: $15 for general public; $12 for students, seniors (62+), and persons with disabilities; and $10 for FLC Members).
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screen at the Walter Reade Theater (WRT), 165 W. 65th St., or Francesca Beale Theater (FBT), 144 W. 65th St.
Denis Villeneuve, U.S., 2016, 116m
An affecting meditation on time and human connection disguised as a sci-fi blockbuster, Arrival ranks among Villeneuve’s most moving and profound works to date. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner star as a linguist and a physicist, respectively, who are recruited by the U.S. Army to help with an unprecedented task: deciphering communications from extraterrestrial beings who have arrived on Earth in enormous, monolith-like spacecrafts.
Friday, February 23 at 6:00pm (WRT)
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve, U.S., 2017, 163m
That rarest of things—a sequel that lives up to, if not surpasses, its predecessor—Villeneuve’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s timeless classic is one of the 21st century’s most atmospherically rich and visually transporting science fiction films. Ryan Gosling stars as K, a bioengineered being known as a replicant who earns a living hunting other replicants who have gone rogue; he stumbles across shocking evidence of replicants’ seeming ability to sexually reproduce like their human counterparts, setting into motion a chain of events that will link K’s destiny to the legacy of none other than Deckard (Harrison Ford), the protagonist of the original Blade Runner. A Warner Bros. release.
Sunday, February 25 at 2:00pm (WRT)
Denis Villeneuve, U.S., 2021, 155m
A mythic and emotionally charged hero’s journey, Dune tells the story of Paul Atreides, a brilliant and gifted young man born into a great destiny beyond his understanding, who must travel to the most dangerous planet in the universe to ensure the future of his family and his people. As malevolent forces explode into conflict over the planet’s exclusive supply of the most precious resource in existence—a commodity capable of unlocking humanity’s greatest potential—only those who can conquer their fear will survive. Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, David Dastmalchian, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, with Charlotte Rampling, with Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem lead the all-star ensemble in Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal novel. A Warner Bros. Pictures release. An NYFF59 Spotlight selection.
Sunday, February 25 at 5:45pm (WRT)
Denis Villeneuve, Canada/France/Spain, 2013, 90m
Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his best performances to date as both Adam, a reserved and humorless history professor, and Anthony, a more animated and cocksure bit-part actor who catches the academic’s eye on screen due to his alarming resemblance to him. So begins Adam’s obsessive journey to confront his doppelgänger face to face. With this provocative existential thriller, and second collaboration, Villeneuve and Gyllenhaal scored again, this time with a moodily absurdist adaptation of José Saramago’s The Double that actually deepens the possibilities explored in the novel.
Wednesday, February 21 at 6:00pm (WRT)
Denis Villeneuve, Canada, 2010, 35mm, 130m
Arabic and French with English subtitles
A white-knuckle investigation into generational trauma, Villeneuve’s audacious drama—adapted from Wajdi Mouawad’s play of the same title—follows two Quebecois siblings as they journey to the fictitious Middle Eastern city of Daresh in search of their recently deceased mother’s enigmatic brother and to fulfill her dying wishes. But the truth they uncover there will radically reframe their sense of who their mother was and of the violence that has shaped their family for generations. A New Directors/New Films 2011 selection.
Friday, February 16 at 3:15pm (FBT)
Saturday, February 17 at 5:30pm (FBT)
Denis Villeneuve, Canada, 2009, 77m
Based on the École Polytechnique mass shooting in Montreal in 1989, Villeneuve’s bold depiction of unfathomable, senseless violence follows an anonymous young man (Maxim Gaudette) as he embarks on a horrific misogynist killing spree at the titular engineering school. An aesthetically uncompromising horror film made all the more horrifying by its being painstakingly drawn from real events, Polytechnique is a virtuosic and terribly absorbing portrait of violence in its most extreme form.
Friday, February 16 at 6:00pm (FBT)
Wednesday, February 21 at 4:00pm (WRT)
Denis Villeneuve, U.S., 2013, 153m
Villeneuve made his Hollywood debut with this harrowing and utterly engrossing thriller that deals with one of the most difficult subjects in life—missing children. Two young girls are abducted in the fictitious Pennsylvania city of Conyers; when a detective (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests and then releases the lone suspect (Paul Dano), the father of one of the girls (Hugh Jackman) seeks to find out the truth regarding his daughter’s disappearance by any means necessary. A mesmerizing, pitch-black tale of grief and desperation, Prisoners announced Villeneuve as an artist who could engage an audience while making them thoroughly uncomfortable, without compromising the atmosphere and thematic darkness of his work. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Thursday, February 22 at 6:00pm (WRT)
Denis Villeneuve, U.S., 2015, 121m
An FBI agent’s idealism is put to the test in Villeneuve’s raw-nerve chronicle of a government task force’s efforts to take down a powerful Mexican drug cartel. Emily Blunt stars as Kate Macer, who finds herself recruited to join a CIA-linked team (including gruff spook Josh Brolin and enigmatic assassin Benicio Del Toro), but their endeavors will bring her to an obscure new realm of violence and corruption.
Saturday, February 24 at 6:00pm (WRT)
Selections curated by Villeneuve
Ridley Scott, U.S./U.K., 1979, 116m
Doing for outer space what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the ocean, Ridley Scott’s second feature used minimal gore and maximum claustrophobic tension to tell the now-iconic tale of an interstellar mining crew en route back to Earth with a very unfriendly stowaway on board. In her first leading role, Sigourney Weaver redefined the notion of the modern action-movie heroine, fronting a terrific ensemble of no-nonsense roughnecks straight out of a Howard Hawks western or a Sam Fuller war picture. With a crackerjack script by the late Dan O’Bannon and magnificently terrifying creature designs by H. R. Giger, Alien has withstood three decades of sequels and spinoffs without losing an iota of its face-hugging, chest-exploding, genre-altering impact.
Wednesday, February 28 at 6:00pm (WRT)
Apocalypse Now (Final Cut)
Francis Ford Coppola, U.S., 1979/2019, 183m
“The horror…” Francis Ford Coppola’s epic portrait of war as hell (working from a script co-written by John Milius, adapting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) follows Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) as he undertakes a journey from South Vietnam to Cambodia at the height of the Vietnam War with orders to assassinate the rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival, Apocalypse Now—the subject of several revisions by Coppola in the years since its premiere—endures as one of cinema’s most viscerally affecting, visionarily harrowing depictions of war, and a work that fearlessly gazes into an abyss of violence in search of the human soul.
Sunday, February 18 at 7:00pm (FBT)
Friday, February 23 at 2:15pm (WRT)
Claire Denis, France, 1999, 90m
French, Italian, and Russian with English subtitles
Claire Denis’s loose retelling of Billy Budd, set among a troop of Foreign Legionnaires stationed in the Gulf of Djibouti, is one of her finest films, an elemental story of misplaced longing and frustrated desire. Beneath a scorching sun, shirtless young men exercise to the strains of Benjamin Britten, under the watchful eye of Denis Lavant’s stone-faced officer Galoup, their obsessively ritualized movements simmering with barely suppressed violence. When a handsome recruit wins the favor of the regiment’s commander, cracks start to appear in Galoup’s fragile composure. In the tense, tightly disciplined atmosphere of military life—sensuously photographed by frequent collaborator Agnès Godard—Denis found an ideal outlet for two career-long concerns: the quiet agony of repressing one’s emotions and the terror of finally letting loose. An NYFF37 selection.
Monday, February 19 at 6:00pm (FBT)
Thursday, February 22 at 9:00pm (WRT)
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
Ridley Scott, U.S., 1982/2007, 117m
Ridley Scott’s seminal science fiction opus dazzled audiences with its vision of a 21st-century Los Angeles choked by neon and drowning in rain, where real human beings are scarcely distinguishable from androids. Adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story of the “blade runner” Deckard (Harrison Ford in perhaps his finest performance)—a futuristic Philip Marlowe—and his hunt for four renegade “replicants” led by the psychotic Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) ranks, in terms of narrative and design, among the most influential in modern movies, its lipstick traces evident in a wide array of subsequent sci-fi/fantasy successes including The Crow, Dark City, and the Matrix trilogy.
Saturday, February 24 at 8:30pm (WRT)
Wednesday, February 28 at 8:30pm (WRT)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Steven Spielberg, U.S., 1977, 138m
One of the all-time great works of science fiction, Steven Spielberg’s fourth feature contemplates the possibility of life beyond Earth with a singular blend of awe, wonder, and fear. When UFOs appear in Muncie, Indiana, electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) starts to have strange visions that are somehow connected with these interstellar visitors; meanwhile, the United Nations convenes a group of experts (including French scientist Claude Lacombe, unforgettably portrayed by François Truffaut) to investigate the UFOs and attempt to decipher what, if anything, the extraterrestrials are trying to tell us. Among the signature triumphs of Spielbeg’s oeuvre, Close Encounters features some of cinema’s most indelible images and visionarily imagines that which exists beyond human understanding.
Friday, February 23 at 8:30pm (WRT)
Wong Kar-wai, Hong Kong, 1997, 96m
Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish with English subtitles
One of the most searing romances of the 1990s, Wong’s raw, lushly stylized portrayal of a relationship in breakdown casts Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as a couple traveling through Argentina and locked in a turbulent pattern of infatuation and destructive jealousy. Capturing the dynamics of a queer relationship with empathy and complexity on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong—when the country’s LGBTQ community suddenly faced an uncertain future—Wong crafts a feverish portrait of the life cycle of a love affair that’s by turns devastating and delirious. Shot by Christopher Doyle in both luminous monochrome and saturated color, Happy Together is an intoxicating exploration of displacement and desire. An NYFF35 selection.
Saturday, February 17 at 8:15pm (FBT)
Monday, February 19 at 8:00pm (FBT)
Hiroshima mon amour
Alain Resnais, France/Japan, 1959, 90m
French with English subtitles
This modernist masterwork began as a documentary commission from Japan’s Daiei Studios, secured for Alain Resnais by producer Anatole Dauman, but Resnais decided that the bombing of Hiroshima and its impact needed a fictional narrative. He brought writer Marguerite Duras onto the project and worked with her to create a story—of a French actress (Emmanuelle Riva) who goes to Hiroshima to make a film and has an affair with a Japanese architect (Eiji Okada)—that would unfold “in two tenses… the present and the past coexist.” Few films have had such a lasting, wide-ranging impact. Hiroshima mon amour is a devastating experience on every level: visually, sonically, emotionally, intellectually.
Saturday, February 17 at 1:00pm (FBT)
John Huston, U.S., 1961, 124m
Jonas Mekas referred to Marilyn Monroe’s character in this end-of-the-line western as “The saint of the Nevada Desert.” “It is she who tells the truth in the movie, who accuses, judges, reveals.” Huston’s lone collaboration with writer Arthur Miller—a tough, ambiguous morality play about a principled divorcée torn between her love for an aging cowboy (Clark Gable) and her attachment to the natural world he wants to control—is storied for its troubled production (Monroe’s marriage to Miller practically came apart on set) and turned out to be the final film for both of its stars. But no context is necessary to see The Misfits for the elegy it is: a work of deep, ennobled desperation, and one of Huston’s mid-career high points.
Sunday, February 18 at 1:00pm (FBT)
Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1966, 83m
Swedish with English subtitles
One of Ingmar Bergman’s most enigmatic works, Persona is the story of an actress who has suddenly fallen mute (Liv Ullman) and retreats to the countryside with her nurse (Bibi Andersson) to convalesce. But this bucolic interlude exacts a psychological toll on the two women, especially the garrulous caretaker, who grows increasingly intimate with, and ultimately resentful of, her silent charge. Aided by Sven Nykvist’s elegant camerawork and artful punctuations in the sound design, an air of violent eroticism prevails throughout. Persona, one of the great movies about the precarious nature of identity, shudders with neurotic life.
Wednesday, February 21 at 8:00pm (WRT)
Thursday, February 22 at 4:00pm (WRT)
Pierrot le fou
Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1965, 110m
French with English subtitles
Anna Karina and Jean-Paul Belmondo leave middle-class life behind for a life on the run, out in the trees under the sun and the stars, by the wide blue sea. “The cinema is, as always, a director’s art,” wrote Andrew Sarris, “and feelings are expressed through actors rather than by them, but the point is still to see what is felt rather than to figure out what is meant, and in this respect the bleary-eyed Belmondo undoubtedly looks the way Godard felt when Godard was making Pierrot le fou, and the resultant unity of features and feelings is beautiful to behold.”
Saturday, February 17 at 3:00pm (FBT)
Pour la suite du monde
Pierre Perrault and Michel Brault, Canada, 1964, 105m
French with English subtitles
Perrault and Brault’s seminal work of ethnofiction follows the inhabitants of Île-aux-Coudres (a small island in the St. Lawrence River) as they renew their centuries-old tradition of trapping beluga whales, a direct consequence of the filmmakers’ encounter with this venerable fishing community. A panoramic documentary capturing the islanders’ lives, rituals, and legends, Pour la suite du monde endures as one of cinema verité’s earliest high-water marks, one that self-consciously problematizes the distinction between the observer and the observed. Courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada.
Friday, February 16 at 7:45pm (FBT)
The Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954, 35mm, 207m
Japanese with English subtitles
Among the most oft-referenced and influential works in all of world cinema, Akira Kurosawa’s epochal tale of Sengoku-era villagers hiring a band of ronin to protect their harvest from bandits remains a timeless masterpiece of action cinema. Meticulously chronicling the relationship between the peasant farmers and the hired blades in whose hands they’ve placed their fate as they build trust and devise a defense plan, The Seven Samurai is at once a rich historical epic and a visionary variation on the western (a genre it would in turn influence for decades to come).
Saturday, February 24 at 2:00pm (WRT)
The Wages of Fear
Henri-Georges Clouzot, France/Italy, 1953, 35mm, 147m
French with English subtitles
In Henri-Georges Clouzot’s adaptation of the Georges Arnaud novel, four desperate men take on a seemingly doomed mission when they agree to transport trucks full of highly explosive nitroglycerin through a South American mountain route. Featuring an international quartet of acting legends including Yves Montand, The Wages of Fear is one of the greatest thrillers ever made—a raw, keyed-up cinematic excursion that puts Clouzot’s effortless command of mood and suspense on full display.
Monday, February 19 at 3pm (FBT)
A Woman Under the Influence
John Cassavetes, U.S., 1974, 147m
One of cinema’s all-time great performances anchors Cassavetes’s classic portrait of a woman on the verge. Gena Rowlands stars as Mabel, a hard-drinking L.A. housewife whose behavior has grown increasingly erratic, much to the concern of her construction foreman husband, Nick (Peter Falk). As Mabel’s decline accelerates, Nick does what he can to try to stabilize her, but a breakdown grows to seem all but inevitable. Rowlands turns in an utter tour-de-force performance, conjuring an indelible and eminently moving portrait of a tumultuous inner life at odds with the banal quotidian of working-class American life.
Sunday, February 18 at 3:45pm (FBT)