New York, NY (January 12, 2018) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces Life Is a Dream: The Films of Raúl Ruiz (Part 2), February 9-18. Following a memorable first part in December 2016, FSLC is pleased to present the next edition of an ongoing retrospective devoted to Ruiz, among the great visionaries in film history and perhaps its most intrepid explorer of the unconscious.
Arguably Chile’s most internationally renowned and prolific filmmaker, Raúl Ruiz completed over 100 movies in numerous national cinemas. His mind-bending works are obsessed with questions of theology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, and visual expression; wildly experimental and slyly humorous; surrealist, magical-realist, gothic, and neo-Baroque. To see one of Ruiz’s films is to go on an adventure full of humor, intellectual curiosity, and artistic daring; to see several is to land on a new continent, where his many obsessions find their delirious expression in the most surprising ways and where reason and madness are delightfully, terrifyingly indistinguishable.
Part two features a weeklong revival run of one of Ruiz’s most beloved films, Time Regained (1999), a “sumptuous adaptation of the greatest modern French literary work, Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker). Back by popular demand after a sold-out afternoon show in part one, the film will screen in a new digital restoration. Other highlights include the North American premiere of The Wandering Soap Opera (1990/2017), a recently rediscovered relic edited and completed by Ruiz’s wife; collaborations with international stars like Isabelle Huppert (Comedy of Innocence) and John Malkovich (Klimt); and a host of rarities such as rights-locked Dostoevsky adaptation Fado, Major and Minor (1994), Mammame (1986), an experimental reproduction of a Jean-Claude Gallotta ballet, and many more.
Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan.
Tickets go on sale January 26 and are $15; $12 for students and seniors (62+); and $10 for Film Society members. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or $110 All-Access Pass. Learn more at filmlinc.org.
Association des Amis de Raoul Ruiz; National Council of Culture and Arts of Chile; Embassy of Chile; Cultural Services of the French Embassy; Institut Français; La Cinémathèque française; La Cinémathèque de Toulouse; Valeria Sarmiento; Chamila Rodriguez.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All films screen at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted.
The Blind Owl / La chouette aveugle
Raúl Ruiz, Switzerland/France, 1987, 16mm, 97m
French, Spanish, and Arabic with projected English subtitles
One of many loose screen adaptation by Ruiz—here of the Iranian author Sadegh Hadayat’s semi-autobiographical novel—The Blind Owl is a signature work of the director’s 1980s output. A Parisian film projectionist receives a surprise visit from his Apollinaire-reciting uncle and falls in love with a dancer who appears in a movie he projects, triggering a delirious succession of stories within stories that lures us ever deeper into a quintessentially Ruizian labyrinth of fantasy and desire. In praising The Blind Owl as “French cinema’s most beautiful jewel” of its decade, the French filmmaker-critic Luc Moullet wrote that “it is at once an enormous joke and a cosmic, existential work on the human condition.”
Saturday, February 10, 4:00pm
Monday, February 12, 6:30pm
Raúl Ruiz, France/Switzerland, 2003, 35mm, 105m
French with English subtitles
Ruiz mastered the absurdist black comedy with Ce jour-là, a whiplash-inducing parody of the ensemble whodunit. The story follows a madwoman, Livia (Elsa Zylberstein), living in near-future Switzerland who’s the sole heir to her departed mother’s fortune. In deep hock after a bad business deal, her remarried father (Michel Piccoli) hires Pointpoirot (Bernard Giraudeau), a psychopath from the nearby sanitarium, to bump her off. A pileup of cadavers ensues, and Ruiz’s screenplay reveals itself to have big things on its mind: life and death, heaven and earth, capitalism and totalitarianism—all tied together by Zylberstein’s singular performance, toggling between dumbfounded naif and mischievous conspirator.
Friday, February 16, 6:30pm
Sunday, February 18, 2:00pm
Comedy of Innocence / Comédie de l’innocence
Raúl Ruiz, France, 2000, 35mm, 100m
French with English subtitles
Loosely adapted from Massimo Bontempelli’s late-1920s novella The Boy with Two Mothers, this haunting film again finds Ruiz exploring the concept of family with both humor and a swelling sense of unease. On his ninth birthday, Camille (Nils Hugon) announces to his mom (Isabelle Huppert) that his real name is Paul and that she’s not his real mother, and he soon brings her to meet a mentally unstable violin teacher (Jeanne Balibar) whose own son drowned two years ago and would be Camille’s age… At Camille’s behest, she moves in with the family, further deranging the chilly bourgeois household and catalyzing this consummately Ruizian tale of madness and identity confusion. An NYFF38 selection. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Sunday, February 11, 6:00pm
Friday, February 16, 4:30pm
Fado, Major and Minor / Fado majeur et mineur
Raúl Ruiz, France/Portugal, 1994, 35mm, 110m
French with English subtitles
Ruiz returned to Portugal, the locale of many of his films, to adapt Dostoevsky’s The Eternal Husband, and the end product, Fado, Major and Minor, is among the most elliptical and intriguing works in his filmography. Jean-Luc Bideau stars as a tour guide who after blacking out returns to his apartment to find a mysterious intruder (Melvil Poupaud) who holds him accountable for the death of his lover. After premiering at Cannes, the film all but vanished due to rights issues, but it endures for Ruiz’s toggles between tragedy and farce, black and white and color, pop music and the traditional fatalistic sea shanties of its title.
Saturday, February 10, 9:00pm
Thursday, February 15, 9:00pm
The Insomniac on the Bridge / L’éveillé du pont de l’Alma
Raúl Ruiz, France, 1985, 35mm, 85m
French with projected English subtitles
A peeping-tom academic (Michael Lonsdale) and a hunchbacked prizefighter (Jean-Bernard Guillard) find nocturnal rapprochement in their shared inability to sleep. Bottomless philosophical discussions take the men further afield of reality, and they eventually decide to rape a pregnant woman named Violette (Olimpia Carlisi), who then throws herself into the Seine—only to return time and again in new, horrifying forms, including the spectral visage of her son (Ruiz’s child alter ego Melvil Poupaud). One of the director’s most confrontational visions, The Insomniac on the Bridge is a barbed avant-garde meditation on trauma, rationalization, and delirium—an underside that Ruiz, as always, reminds us is clinging to the crust of day-to-day reality.
Dog’s Dialogue / Colloque de chiens
Raúl Ruiz, France, 1977, 35mm, 22m
French with projected English subtitles
This comedic short, mostly composed of still images, liberally riffs on soap operas and melodrama and explores some of Ruiz’s key preoccupations: identity and gender confusion, the family structure, and murder as an absurdist expression of desire. Print courtesy of the Institut Français.
Monday, February 12, 8:45pm
Thursday, February 15, 6:30pm
Raúl Ruiz, Austria/Germany/UK/France, 2006, 35mm, 131m
English, French, and German with English subtitles
Described by Ruiz as “a fresco of real and imaginary characters revolving around a single point of focus,” Klimt is less the anticipated biopic of its namesake—the notorious 19th-century painter Gustav Klimt—than a deep dive into the lavisciousness of fin de siècle Vienna. The Méliès-influenced film refuses to hold its audience’s hand or draw easy parallels between the artist and his work: both John Malkovich’s Klimt and the movie itself are gripped by syphilitic hallucination, allowing the narrative to warp and detour as needed by Ruiz and his sprawling cast of collaborators (including Nikolai Kinski as an all-too-punk Egon Schiele and the great film critic Gilbert Adair, who adapted the screenplay into English). Through the swirl of bohemianism, Ruiz ekes out a sad acknowledgement of time’s unyielding passage—and a hearty check against decadence, the aesthetic most hated by Klimt and his contemporaries.
Saturday, February 10, 6:30pm
Saturday, February 17, 2:00pm
Life Is a Dream / Mémoire des apparences
Raúl Ruiz, France, 1986, 16mm, 104m
French with projected English subtitles
In adapting the 17th-century Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca, it’s only natural that Ruiz would go off-book, and for Life Is a Dream, de la Barca’s La vida es sueño is only a jumping-off point for the director to tackle the 1971 coup in his homeland of Chile. Sylvain Thirolle stars as a literature professor who uses lines from the play as a mnemonic device to memorize the names of 15,000 disappeared Chilean dissidents. Alongside glimpses of lurid period drama and a hilarious Star Wars send-up, Ruiz features footage from his own Avignon staging of the play to interrogate the dubious feedback loop between experience and thought, and the brokerage of dreams (to say nothing of cinema) in reconstructing memory. Print from the collection of the Cinémathèque française.
Saturday, February 17, 6:30pm
Raúl Ruiz, France, 1986, 16mm, 65m
Ruiz’s film of Jean-Claude Gallotta’s nine-person dance performance is a singular work within the Ruizian corpus insofar as it not only draws from dance rather than the usual literature, painting, or philosophy influences but it more or less faithfully reproduces Gallotta’s wordless experimental ballet, here performed by Gallotta and eight members of the Emile Dubois company. As Ruiz himself put it, the project concerns “a group of people who know each other, perhaps work together, [who] are cinematically transported to a spot halfway between a large tent on a science fiction desert and the ballroom of a submarine, in a film about doubt, full-fledged doubt.“ Cryptic, transfixing, and suffused with Ruiz’s signature play with space and time, Mammame is at once one of the director’s most abstract and accessible works. Print from the collection of the Cinémathèque française.
Wednesday, February 14, 7:00pm
Night Across the Street / La noche de enfrente
Raúl Ruiz, Chile/France, 2012, 110m
Spanish and French with English subtitles
On the verge of forced retirement, an elderly office worker (Sergio Hernández) begins reliving memories from his past, both real and imagined: a trip to the movies as a young boy with Beethoven, listening to tall tales from Long John Silver, a brief stay in a haunted hotel, conversations with a writer’s fictional doppelgänger. Stories are hidden within stories and the thin line between imagination and reality steadily erodes, opening up a marvelous new world of personal remembrance and melodrama. In his final masterwork, loosely adapted from the fantastical short stories of Chilean writer Hernán del Solar, Ruiz has crafted a playfully elegiac film that addresses his favorite subjects: fiction, history, and life itself. An NYFF50 selection.
Sunday, February 11, 8:00pm
Sunday, February 18, 6:15pm
On Top of the Whale / Het dak van de Walvis
Raúl Ruiz, Netherlands, 1982, 90m
Dutch, French, English, German, and Spanish with projected English subtitles
Shot in Holland in roughly a week without a script, On Top of the Whale is as much a delirious, visually stunning satire of imperialism and the social sciences as it is a reflection on Ruiz’s personal exile from his native Chile. Set at the end of the 20th century, the film follows an anthropologist who ventures into the Patagonian wilds with his family to visit a communist millionaire, and to study a strange, dying language. Comparing the film to a dream or nightmare, Ruiz said it deals with “a kind of fear. Maybe not a collective fear, but my personal fear, as someone born in a Latin-American country.” Digitized by the Cinémathèque française, color grading supervised by François Ede.
Friday, February 9, 9:00pm
Sunday, February 11, 4:00pm
Sunday, February 18, 4:15pm
Raúl Ruiz, USA/Canada/UK, 1998, 35mm, 102m
Ruiz’s final foray into the pulp genre (and his American debut) is a shadow play in doubles: Jessie (Anne Parillaud) is a gorgeous assassin hired to kill Brian (William Baldwin)… or is she a dream of Jessie, the rape victim vacationing in the Caribbean with her husband (also Brian)? Ruiz and playwright Duane Poole turn a flimsy, paperback-worthy premise into a Rorschach-blot interrogation of selfdom and the unconscious that reflects the filmmaker’s prior work: one Jessie calls the other a “dream,” while the other replies that she’s “a fucking nightmare.” A complicated co-production, Shattered Image was described by its maker as “an American accident”—unfortunate given the mounting vertigo achieved by its unforgettable location photography (courtesy of legendary cinematographer Robby Müller, shooting in Jamaica and British Columbia). Print from the collection of La Cinémathèque de Toulouse.
Friday, February 16, 8:45pm
Sunday, February 18, 8:30pm
Opens February 9 [Exclusive run]
Time Regained / Le temps retrouvé, d’après l’oeuvre de Marcel Proust
Raúl Ruiz, France/Italy/Portugal, 1999, 170m
French with English subtitles
Ruiz’s most ambitious literary adaptation—an attempt to condense all of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time into a single feature, using the seven-part novel’s last installment as a kind of frame—is also one of his lushest, most transporting reflections on the movies’ power to seize and preserve moments of time. Proust’s narrator, Marcel (Marcello Mazzarella), is a consistent presence in the movie, but Time Regained is dominated by entrancing, sometimes tragic figures that seem to drift in and out of the film’s field of view: Catherine Deneuve as the stately former courtesan Odette de Crecy; Emmanuelle Béart as Marcel’s young love Gilberte; John Malkovich as the closeted, mysterious Baron de Charlus. Ruiz gives special attention to Proust’s fascination with photography and early forms of radio and cinema—technologies that promised a more perfect form of “time regained” than words or memories could provide. New restoration courtesy of Le Petit Bureau with support from the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image anime (CNC, France). An NYFF37 selection. A KimStim release. New digital restoration!
February 9–15, 3:00pm and 6:45pm daily!
Vanishing Point / Point de fuite
Raúl Ruiz, France/Portugal, 1984, 16mm, 78m
English, French, and Portuguese with projected English subtitles
Shot on the Portuguese island of Madeira as he was simultaneously making City of Pirates, Vanishing Point is Ruiz’s homage to the downtimes and liminal zones of his beloved noir genre. His face draped in bandages, the film’s unnamed hero (Steve Baës) arrives at the resort town to play cards, doodle, and make eyes at a doctor’s secretary. But before long, he has witnessed a murder… or was it just a dream? Vanishing Point is a rib-tickling breadcrumb trail of repetitions and allusions, which fudges the line between seaside mystery and exiled boredom. As always, Ruiz is keeping up multiple games at once: according to Jonathan Rosenbaum (who called the film “maddeningly gratuitous”), Ruiz allegedly shot the movie in a bid to outdo Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s world record of 70-plus camera setups in a row, with no second takes.
Wednesday, February 14, 8:30pm
Saturday, February 17, 8:30pm
The Wandering Soap Opera / La Telenovela Errante
Raúl Ruiz & Valeria Sarmiento, Chile, 1990/2017, 80m
Spanish with English subtitles
In 1990, Ruiz conducted six days of acting workshops and filming in his native Chile, yielding a small wealth of 16mm footage that was never edited together until Valeria Sarmiento, Ruiz’s wife and chief collaborator, returned to it nearly six years after Ruiz’s death in 2011. The result is a wildly inventive, episodic work of political satire born of Ruiz and Sarmiento’s vision of “Chilean reality” as a grand pastiche of soap-opera tropes—in other words, that the best way to understand the political and economic realities Chileans face is to view their situation through the sublime and ridiculous prism of the telenovela. North American premiere
Friday, February 9, 7:00pm
Sunday, February 11, 2:00pm
Saturday, February 17, 4:45pm
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