The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 1-7

04/01/2015 9:00 AM |

imitation of life

Imitation of Life (1959)
Directed by Douglas Sirk
Sirk’s magisterial final feature is a melodrama of visual opulence and spiritual agony, lacerating social critique and a plot sudsy enough for the Sunday wash. As it follows a struggling actress (Lana Turner) on her the ascent to stardom, the film charts the costs of that rise, as well as her reliance on the African-American housekeeper (Juanita Moore) whose dedication is the secret mortar holding her life together. Coolly surveying the material comforts and glittering amusements of American life in kaleidoscopic widescreen, the director finds they all amount to so much bric-a-brac; the wrenching catharsis he achieves resembles a monastic abnegation. Eli Goldfarb (Apr 3-9 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)