Tonight’s Rep Film: Cemetery Man and Escape from Alcatraz

07/22/2010 8:52 AM |

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Cemetery Man (1994): Dario Argento protégé Michele Soavi added a Kafka-Beckett deadpan to the absurdity of Italo-horror illogic. Mysterious, glumly funny, gorgeously bedecked in hand-made overgrowth and decay, Cemetery looms high above the Sargasso Sea of 1990s fantasy-horror. Long-legged gravestone-chinned Rupert Everett plays the caretaker of a provincial Italian cemetery where the soil breeds restless dead, flesh-eaters that demand re-killing—so he goes his nightly rounds with his revolver and mute, turnip-shaped companion, Gnaghi. The finer Italian title, Dellamorte, Dellamore—“Of love, of death”—suggests the film’s division of life between sighs of ecstasy (Anna Falchi reincarnates as his loves) and resignation (“I’d give my life to be dead”).

Cemetery Man plays at 7pm at the Museum of Arts and Design’s “Zombo Italiano” series.

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Escape from Alcatraz (1979): A callused, stoic reproach to another summer of action pictures saddlebagged with talk, talk, talk. Director Don Siegel had the best run through the 70s outside of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and capped it with this last collaboration with Clint Eastwood, a piece of how-to moviemaking that, with the nightly scratch of a nail-clipper against stone and construction of a papier-mâché head, builds toward an unbearably absorbing concentration in illustrating just what the title says. The controlled full-body athleticism of Eastwood and co-conspirators Jack Thibeau and Fred Ward synchronize to Siegel’s sense of necessity in the break-out section, while the earlier introduction to prisonyard society, full of fine character parts, singlehandedly established a new standard.

Escape from Alcatraz plays at 4pm and 9:35pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Clint Eastwood retro.