Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week

Posted By , and on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 8:30 AM

I Confess movie hitchcock montgomery clift
I Confess (1953)
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock sets his prototypical “wrong man” plot, a contraption designed to induce panic and shame, within his childhood faith, Roman Catholicism, and laces it with the guilt of sinful thoughts. Montgomery Clift, trim-waisted in his cassock, is a priest whose penitent confesses to murder, and then himself becomes suspected of a crime he had reason to desire. Hitch frames Quebec City’s suitably medieval religious architecture with the same supplicatory low-angle shots he uses for close-ups, building an atmosphere of fear and trembling. Clift, his face haunted with shadows, is very believable as a self steeled to living with a secret. Mark Asch (Mar 5 at Film Forum, part of its The Complete Hitchcock series)

lost highway david lynch movie robert blake
Lost Highway (1997)
Directed by David Lynch
This disjointed and mesmerizing noir is about questionable identity and psychogenic fugue. It was famously panned, awarded “Two Thumbs Down” by Siskel and Ebert, but Lynch took the bad review and used it to promote the film instead. A saxophone-playing protagonist forgetfully murders his wife, then transforms into a mechanic while awaiting his fate on death row. An ominous Patricia Arquette, stoic Bill Pullman and menacing Robert Blake play among perversity and betrayal to the tunes of Angelo Badalamenti’s surreal score (produced by none other than industrial rock paragon Trent Reznor). The structurally twofold film leaves you thinking, is this all arbitrary? Or is it an allegorical masterpiece? Chances are, with Lynch, it's a pensive and trumped-up combination of both. Samantha Vacca (Mar 7 at Nitehawk, part of its The Works of Angelo Badalamenti series)

no fear no die claire denis movie
No Fear, No Die (1990)
Directed by Claire Denis
This is the first France-set feature from former colonial-administration brat Denis—but only barely. In the basement of a roadside restaurant, the seat of a small-time black-marketeer’s shady empire, émigrés Dah and Joceyln (Isaach De Bankolé and Alex Descas) run an underground cockfight, and also live. (Both actors are axioms in their separate appearances in Denis’s films, embodying variations on their yin-yang pairing here.) Face man Dah is hard-boiled in his voiceover narration but ultimately tender in his anxiety for animal trainer Jocelyn, the artist of the partnership, whose identification with his caged fighters bodes ill for his survival amid postcolonial bloodsport. When the two nod, bounce or sway along to exile anthem “Buffalo Soldier,” it crystallizes a core of longing within a transactional, transient world. Mark Asch (Mar 11 at BAM, part of the ongoing Overdue series)

see no evil mia farrow richard fleischer movie 1971
See No Evil (1971)
Directed by Richard Fleischer
In the verdant damp of Berkshire, nothing evil lurks—except insidious American entertainment! Such may be the thesis of this film, with its mysterious maniac shod in cowboy boots, but the thriller’s so damn charming it doesn’t really matter. Mia Farrow, as Sarah the newly blind equestrienne, stumbles around her relatives’ beautiful British country house for hours before she feels something amiss, like a body in the bathtub. It’s not quite Rosemary’s Baby redux, but that arcadian air is crisp with menace—when’s the last time you felt such suspense seeing so little gore? Elina Mishuris (Mar 9 at Anthology, part of its Overdue: Richard Fleischer series)

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