05/20/15 10:39am
05/20/2015 10:39 AM |

    the last metro

The Last Metro (1980)
Directed by François Truffaut
Truffaut’s timeless political, emotional, and technical virtuosity is on full display in The Last Metro, which dominated the 1981 César Awards, as he dissects German-occupied France’s submerged agony with tight pans and quick cuts that reveal a world dense with duplicitous and furtive activity. Theater owner and actress Marion Steiner—a superbly fluid Catherine Deneuve, segueing between native poise and incongruous distraction—is whipsawed by prudence and patriotism. She must hide her fugitive Jewish husband Lucas while not only staying open—Parisians took refuge in theaters, trundling home on the last subway before curfew—but also resisting abject capitulation to craven collaborationist censorship. This she accomplishes by staging a cryptically anti-Nazi play, Disappearance, that Lucas clandestinely directs to keep from going stir-crazy. Complicating Marion’s balancing act is saturnine leading man Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu, very intense), whom she finds recklessly militant—and disconcertingly attractive. French nationalism, pride, culture, and stamina triumph, as indeed they did, and duress, endearingly, excuses straying. A beautifully crafted film. Jonathan Stevenson (May 22-25, 11am at IFC Center’s Deneuve matinee series)

12/17/14 12:00pm
12/17/2014 12:00 PM |


Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Stanley Kubrick’s swan song is one of those films that, when watched under the right circumstances, gives one the distinct impression of still being in its world after it has ended. Accordingly, this tale of troubled marriage and creepy sex cults is being shown as part of a lineup of holiday films. To watch it is to revel in its uncanny, blue-tinged, intentionally faux New York atmosphere. Combine that with the excellent performances from Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman—whose celebrity statuses only heighten the onscreen stakes as they embody a chilly, patrician couple—and when you step out of the theater, the holiday lights in the streets are sure to look a little more mysterious.
Abbey Bender (Dec 17, 18, 9:40pm at IFC Center’s “Rated XMas”, on 35mm)

12/10/14 1:00pm
12/10/2014 1:00 PM |


Brewster McCloud (1970)
Directed by Robert Altman
Altman’s absurdist comedy is a deliberately awkward, abrasively reflexive product of its time. Bud Cort (one of Hollywood’s unlikeliest-ever leading men) stars as Brewster, a reclusive nebbish and possible murderer who’s building a pair of human-sized wings to fulfill his dreams of flight. Altman’s modus operandi is to throw everything he can think of at the wall, without caring what sticks. He’s out to offend and/or alienate everyone, with the script’s litany of un-PC slurs and a scattershot, Laugh-In style approach to montage. Whether the full effect is annoying or charming will be up to your specific sensibilities, but Brewster McCould remains an entirely singular work and a strange yet vivid time capsule, and features the ethereal big-screen debut of the one and only Shelley Duvall. Zach Clark (Dec 11, 4pm at MoMA‘s Altman retrospective)