Andrzej Zulawski – Na srebrnym globie AKA On the Silver Globe (1987)

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Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski is best known for his anguished monster flick Possession, which featured Sam Neill and Isabelle Adjani as a married couple spiraling toward domestic meltdown. His films are aggressive shrieks of madness, doomed love, trance-state convulsions, and shrieking emotional upheavals. The octopus creature that materializes halfway through Possession, completing the film’s bizarre love triangle, transports a fairly naturalistic, if explosive, kitchen-sink drama into the realm of magical realism; Zulawski swore that his 1981 masterwork was partially autobiographical, coming as it did so soon after a vicious and harrowing divorce. Continue reading

Dennis Cooper & Zac Farley – Like Cattle Towards Glow (2015)

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The film’s violence is the genuinely spiritual kind. A loud expression of the alienation that hums constantly in the elevator music to modern life. (John Farley, Full Stop)

The novels, writings and performance works created by prolific, transgressive and author Dennis Cooper describe a world in which desire, aggression, loneliness and power swirl, in which characters teeter on the brink of immolation and where love and violence fuse. In its first partnership with San Francisco’s new Alamo Draft House, Cinematheque is thrilled to welcome Cooper and co-director Zac Farley for the local premiere (and pre-DVD release screening) of Like Cattle Towards Glow (2015), a similarly visionary examination of these overwhelming obsessions. Continue reading

Richard Pottier – Le Monde tremblera aka The World Will Shake AKA The Revolt of the Living (1939)

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Synopsis:
In this sci-fi film, a scientist invents a prescient machine that can tell people when they will die. Oddly enough, the people do not want to know and therefore begin to riot…

Review:
With capital supplied by the unscrupulous banker Emil Lasser, Dr Jean Durand succeeds in creating a machine that can predict, to the nearest minute, when an individual will die. A ruthless man facing financial ruin, Lasser intends using Durand’s invention for a crooked life insurance business, but the scientist refuses to go along with the scheme, even though he is in love with Lasser’s daughter, Marie‐France. Subjecting himself to Durand’s machine, Lasser learns he has only a few days left to live. He ends up committing suicide, after leaving a note to his daughter warning her to stay away from Durand. As Marie‐France embarks on a new romance with Durand’s best friend Dr Gérard Gallois, Durand begins capitalising on his invention and soon has a steady stream of clients eager to know the exact date of their demise. The implications of Durand’s discovery soon hits home when people, knowing they have only a short time to live, begin behaving in an irresponsible manner. Durand realises too late that he has created a monster… Continue reading

Aleksey German – Pod elektricheskimi oblakami AKA Under Electric Clouds (2015)

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Aleksey German Jr., son of famed Russian auteur Aleksey German, comes into his own prominence with his third feature Under Electric Clouds, which took home a cinematography award following its premiere at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival. Much like his father’s cinema, German announces similar interests in existentialist societal woes impervious to logical narrative format, and exchanges deliberations of the past (his previous title, Paper Soldier takes place in 1961) for the looming future of 2017 (a date that may dawn before the title premieres in certain international markets). With production delayed so German could put the finishing touches on his father’s posthumous masterpiece, Hard to Be a God, this indictment on the decaying cultural state of Russia tuned exactly one hundred years after the Russian Revolution is a critique as obscurely damning as it elusively oblique in tone. Some spectacular imagery providing a backdrop for overly pointed dialogue manages to settle under your skin despite its sometimes mystifying qualities. Continue reading

Boris Sagal – The Omega Man (1971)

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Sure, this sci-fi action drama has its cheesy moments but it remains one of the most beloved genre flicks of the 1970s. Your humble editor (at the tender age of 9) saw this on the big screen when it was first released. It’s been a personal fave — a cherished guilty pleasure, if you will — ever since.

This is the second film based on Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, the first being the 1964 Italian production The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price. That film, actually adhering more closely to the novel, had Price’s sole survivor besieged by blood-drinking vampires spawned by a deadly plague; they’re repelled by garlic and Price drives stakes through their hearts to kill them. The Charlton Heston vehicle eschews such horror elements in favor of action, more befitting the actor’s swaggering, tough guy screen image. There aren’t any vampires in The Omega Man. Instead our hero is pitted against a fanatical cult of bio-mutants — light-sensitive albinos — with a religious zeal to destroy the last “normal” human left alive. Continue reading

Alain Resnais – Je t’aime je t’aime AKA I Love You, I Love You (1968)

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“Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime,” which opened yesterday at the New Yorker Theater, was shown at the eighth New York Film Festival. The following is from Roger Greenspun’s review, which appeared Sept. 15, 1970, in The New York Times.

Like most of the previous films of Alain Resnais, “Je T’Aime, Je T’Aime” is science fiction of a sort. And like virtually all of Resnais’s previous films, its concern is for the past recaptured. To support this concern it proposes a story, the most fragmented of all Resnais’ stories, dealing with, perhaps intense but nevertheless transitory love affair. Continue reading

John Mackenzie – “Play for Today” Red Shift [+Extras] (1978)

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Three men at three different times in history come to Mow Top hill in search of sanctuary from their troubles. A Roman soldier, a medieval rebel and a 1970’s young man. Somehow they seem linked through a energy within the hill and an axe. Is history doomed to repeat itself or can loving another person free them?

A disturbing exploration of the inevitability of life. Under Orion’s stars, bluesilver visions torment Tom, Macey and Thomas as they struggle with age-old forces. Distanced from each other in time, and isolated from those they live among, they are yet inextricably bound together by the sacred power of the moon’s axe and each seek their own refuge at Mow Cop. Can those they love so intensely keep them clinging to reality? Or is the future evermore destined to reflect the past? Continue reading