August 24, 2019
RojoAugust 24, 2019
Drama / 2019 / 109 minutes
With the specter of dictatorship looming large over our current global climate, Benjamin Naishtat's political suspense piece Rojo couldn't be better timed. Set in his homeland of Argentina during the 1970s, Naishtat's film tracks the day-to-day moves of a respected lawyer (Claudio Grandinetti) as he passes through seemingly unrelated events – framed as a deepening mystery – that will ultimately come into focus as his country moves towards a totalitarian takeover. Shot in a cinematographic style that subtly evokes surveillance camera angles, Naishtat creates a tobacco-tinged canvas for exploring themes of corruption and moral apathy, employing the occasional beat of levity and absurdist humor to break up the mounting dread and oppressive atmosphere, and by eschewing the depiction of military forces and other commonly-used signifiers is able to focus on the banal, softly malevolent humanity that allows fascism to flourish. With Andrea Frigerio and Alfredo Castro.
Kwaidan (35mm)August 24, 2019
Horror/ 1965 / 183 minutes
Arguably the one of the most highly regarded works of Japanese horror cinema, Masaka Kobayashi's 1965 masterpiece Kwaidan is a film that set the J-horror template, one that continues to be felt in the ever-popular ghost story sub-genre. Adapting four Japanese folk tales by Lafcadio Hearn in anthology format, Kobayashi's film explores themes of marriage, love, status, spirituality, religion, and how the sins of our past can return to – in this case literally – haunt us. Rather than doling out cheap visceral thrills, Kobayashi is more concerned with contextualizing folklore through emotion and visuals, and as such some of his images – particularly that of a ghost woman with stringy black hair – have become embedded in the lexicon of supernatural scare films. A gorgeous, meticulous work that sits more comfortably in the arthouse than the grindhouse, Kwaidan is a must-see for those interested in the foundations of modern horror, or anyone who appreciate immersive, exquisitely crafted fantastical cinema.
Apocalypse Now 40th Anniversary: Final CutAugust 24, 2019
Drama / 1979 / 182 minutes
Though it was a famously troubled production that nearly broke its superstar director, Apocalypse Now was greeted with wild enthusiasm from audiences and critics when it was finally released in 1979 and stands as Francis Ford Coppola's crowning achievement. Transposing William Conrad's Heart of Darkness on to the Vietnam War, Coppola's epic charts the journey of a soldier (Martin Sheen in his defining role) who is tasked with finding an army colonel (an iconically bizarre Marlon Brando) who has gone spectacularly insane deep in the jungles of 'Nam. In terms of big screen wartime spectacle there simply is no topping Apocalypse Now, but the film’s enduring legacy are the forever-etched-in-pop-culture performances, including Dennis Hopper as a photographer who has gone way off the reservation, and Robert Duvall's Wagner-blasting surfing Lieutenant. With Laurence Fishburne, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms and a blink-and-you'll-miss-him Harrison Ford.
MidsommarAugust 24, 2019
Horror / 2019 / 140 minutes
Following up his skin-crawling successful debut Hereditary, Ari Aster returns to the elevated horror genre with Midsommar, proving himself no one-time wonder. Primarily set in the eternal sunshine of midsummer Sweden, Aster's sophomore effort follows a group of students who get far more than they bargained for when they are lured to an ancient and secret folk ritual on the promise of good times, psychedelic experiences and possible thesis material. On the surface it seems a straightforward horror premise, but as in his debut Aster is digging for something deeper and unsettling – an exploration of the fraying of a romantic relationship seen through the prism of Wicker-Man style occultism. The young leads are all entirely convincing – special mention must be given to Florence Pugh, who spectacularly handless the film’s rigorous emotional demands – but the main draw here is Aster's undeniable strength of vision, a command of filmmaking that is as masterful with visuals as it is with performance, setting, and scaring the crap out of you. With Jack Reynor and Will Poulter.