Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By , , , , and on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Daughters of Darkness movie Harry Kumel 1971
Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Directed by Harry Kumel
Upon its release into the world, this movie got lost; neither all-art nor all-porn (but something else, something inhuman), it was a complicated sell. Nevertheless, the flick hasn’t aged too badly, like its Countess Elizabeth Bathory (a lovely Delphine Seyrig). The Countess shows up at a grand, empty hotel in the off-season with her boyish secretary/lover/pet at the same time as a couple of tasty-looking newlyweds. Death and sex ensue, but not in excess—the key to longevity, it seems, isn’t just chugging the blood of virgins, but also having a sense of elegance and an active interest in sexual politics. Bottoms up! Elina Mishuris (Oct 25 at Nitehawk)

Little Shop of Horrors movie musical Frank Oz Audrey II puppet
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Directed by Frank Oz
Based on the Broadway musical and not so much Roger Corman’s rough-edged original, this highly stylized romcom takes its cue from Alan Menken’s zesty R&B score and Howard Ashman’s witty book and lyrics. As kindhearted as its gentle lovers, Seymour (Rick Moranis in classic ubernerd mode with huge 80s glasses) and Audrey (Ellen Greene, a sex doll brought to life with her plush body, lacquered hair, and china-doll lisp), this Little Shop simultaneously celebrates and gently spoofs everything and everyone in it: heartfelt musicals, the 50s version of the American Dream, and Skid Row back when it really was Skid Row. Elise Nkahnikian (Oct 25 at BAM, part of its Puppets on Film)

Nosferatu the Vampyre Werner Herzog remake
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
Directed by Werner Herzog
What is it that makes a cruel face so sexy? The gauntness that flaunts self-mastery? Some genealogical fear of high cheekbones? The great master of that science had a thought that describes this Klaus Kinski-Herzog collaboration to a tee: “The noble man cherishes and respects his enemies.” One of the great megalomaniacs, Herzog toys with the audience’s sexual fears: physical deterioration, the mysterious foreigner and, most insidiously, the point at which possession becomes sadistic. If none of that grips you, then do yourself a favor and just bask in Isabelle Adjani; as a creature so perfect, she’s painful to behold. Nicholas Thomson (Starts October 25 at Film Forum)

Repulsion Roman Polanski Catherine Deneuve
Repulsion (1965)
Directed by Roman Polanski
We tend to think of the sexual revolution as a universal liberation: the world newly steeped in unknown pleasures, even the most high-strung and buttoned-down duly inducted into the realm of the senses. But if you’re Carol (Catherine Deneuve), Repulsion’s soon-murderous manicurist, the free-love sensibility of London in the mid-60s seems more threatening than free. Men here come equipped of an intensified entitlement: they paw and leer, skulking the city streets possessed of desire, seizing Carol’s delicate frame with the all the force of their ghastly privilege. Is it any wonder she cracks? Violence becomes a kind of moral retribution, a power reclaimed and wielded while deranged. London’s slobbering dopes and lecherous slumlords beware: an undue proposition will finally get you sliced up or bludgeoned. Calum Marsh (Oct 26 at Moving Image)

Return to Oz movie Walter Murch
Return to Oz (1985)

Directed by Walter Murch
The first mistake you could make would be to consider this a sequel to the classic film that launched Judy Garland’s career. It does, narratively speaking, pick up where that film left off, but Return is more an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s other books in the Oz series than a film sequel. Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) goes back to Oz only to find it a strange, broken dystopia with menacing foes and formidable challenges. With ingenious use of technology and puppetry, first-time (and only-time) director Walter Much, a legendary sound and film editor, creates a world no less immersive and enchanting than Victor Fleming did some half a century earlier. John Oursler (October 26 at BAM, part of its Puppets on Film)

Inventory Zelimir Zilinik movie
Inventory (1975)
Directed by Zelimir Zilnik
A group of immigrants living in a German flat walk one by one down the flat’s staircase, stopping briefly to tell the camera their stories. Zilnik’s nine-minute film (which will screen on 35mm with the Yugoslavian artist in person to discuss it as well as three of his other works) presents a wide variety of experiences in a new land. The man with the wife who cannot find a job even after five years in Germany and the unemployed woman with five children to feed live in the same building with people who feel satisfied and happy to go to work each day. Then, at film’s end, a pensioner who has lived in the flat for 40 years peacefully concludes that he is satisfied with them all. Aaron Cutler (Oct 29 at Anthology, part of The Permanent Dissident: Zelimir Zilinik)

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