Saturday, December 3

Andrzej Zulawski's Possession at Film Forum

What’s Showing Today? Saturday, December 3
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Featured screenings: Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession at Film Forum

Andrzej Żuławski‘s Possession is the most unorthodox film in memory to pop up on Film Forum‘s repertory schedule. It’s as if Cool 92 Oldies Radio suddenly decided to air a tribute to This Heat, or accidentally ran side two of David Bowie’s Low. Anyway: cool.

Filmed in a divided Berlin in 1981, Polish director Żuławski’s film begins as Mark (Sam Neill) returns from a clandestine business trip to learn his his wife Anna (Isabelle Adjani) is leaving him, and with little explanation. The film almost immediately rolls into a hysterically pitched cycle of anguished blame, paranoia and anger, before settling into a more measured pace—in which psychological, physical and emotional brutality are taken to equal extremes. For starters, Mark discovers Anna’s affair with Heinrich—played as a hilarious parody of New Age-y self-discipline by Heinz Bennett—but when it becomes apparent she has another agenda kept secret from both men, he likewise enters a physically and psychically degenerate state. Meanwhile, Mark begins an innocent affair with Helen, Anna’s doppelgänger, though Helen frequently returns to her and Mark’s apartment for chillingly detached arguments that crescendo, among other things, with Helen taking an electric turkey carver to her jugular. Mark hires the world’s least discreet private investigator to trail Helen through Berlin’s grim, desolate streets to a decrepit flat where he discovers what she’s been doing: specifically, a tentacled creature coated in an afterbirth-like slime—which I dutifully report per the press notes was designed by E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi—that she nourishes through murder and sexual submission.

What does it all amount to? Most saliently, the pornography of self-torment, portraying the stinging and secretly pleasing realization one’s paranoia isn’t only justified, but undershot by a mile, granting headway for ensuing wretched bitterness and self destruction. Frankly, this can be kind of thrilling, and everyone from the actors to the dolly grips seem to be working in lockstep, surefooted and consummately professional extremes. Good marks all around. However, and I realize I’m largely guilty of this, there is an undeniable political agenda that most critics ignore, one which may or may not amount to a hill of beans but nevertheless dominates Possession‘s final third or so, in which Mark is hunted by his employers from some sort of covert intelligence agency. This is potentially the film’s richest, most fascinating aspect, but by this point the film has asked so much of its viewer, cycling through any manner of genre parodies before characters suddenly say with apparent earnestness things like, “To me, God is a disease,” that many viewings later I’m still at odds to make heads or tails of it. If not exactly a design for good living, Possession is a staggering, impressive and singular artistic feat. Few films so ambitiously deliver the cinematic realization of distilled emotional states, and for those willing to submit—all possible connotations intended—this is a can’t miss. Otherwise, I’m looking out my window, and, Damn, it is a beautiful day.

Also Recommended

Tonight is the Biblioball 2011: Biblio Noir, of which Screen Slate is a Proud Sponsor. Each year The Desk Set, an organization of NYC librarians, archivists and other bookish types organizes this gala fundraiser for Literacy for Incarcerated Teens. Along with DJs, bands, aerial/trapeze performances and other surprises, tonight is the premiere S is for Shhhhh…, a film produced, written by and starring members of The Desk Set that Screen Slate has directed, photographed and edited. This is a massively fun event, and the admission goes to a worthwhile cause. The Bell House, 8 PM!

Two massive recommendations: Mono No Aware, a FREE one-night festival curated by members of celluloid-based exhibition and workshop group, and the first part of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, a fantastic Chicago-based event that’s presenting a selection from its recent program at Spectacle Theater. This will sell out, so show up early and bang on the window to ensure your admission.


Robert Breer and Owen Land at Anthology Film Archives
Series Details 

  • George Landow aka Owen LandProgram 1Details. 1961-1973. 16mm. 80 min. 3 pm.
  • George Landow aka Owen Land Program 3Details. 1974-1984. 16mm. 95 min. 5 pm.

Sound and Fury: Recent Portuguese Cinema at BAMcinématek
Series Details

  • The Sword and the Rose (João Nicolau). Details. 2010. 145 min. 6 pm.
  • To Die Like a Man (João Pedro Rodrigues). Details. 2009. 133 min. 9 pm.

The 6th Annual Romanian Film Festival at The Film Society of Lincoln Center
Series Details

  • Conversation with Irina PetrescuDetails. 2 pm.
  • Hello! How Are You? (Alexandru Maftei). Details. 2010. 105 min. 5:30 pm.
  • Principles of Life (Constantin Popescu). Details. 2010. 95 min. 7:30 pm.

Iberoamérican Images at MoMA
Series Details

  • Of Love and Other Demons (Hilda Hidalgo). Details. 2010. 97 min. 1:30 pm.
  • La Yuma (Florence Jaugey). Details. 2010. 91 min. 4 pm.
  • The Fish Child (Lucía Puenzo). Details. 96 min. 7 pm.

See It Big! at Museum of the Moving Image
Series Details

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg). Details. 35mm. 1977. 137 min. 1 pm.
  • A.I. (Steven Spielberg). Details. 2001. 146 min. 4 pm.

Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival 2011 at Spectacle Theater
Series Details

  • Selections from the 2011 Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation. 7:30 pm.
  • The Idea (Berthold Bartosch) with The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Lotte Reiniger). 1932/1926. 9:30 pm.

The Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Festival at 92YTribecaDetails. 8 pm.
Annie Sing-Along (John Huston) at 92YTribecaDetails. 1982. 127 min. 10 pm.
Mono No Aware at Causey Gallery, 92 Wythe Ave, Bk. Details. 7 pm. FREE
Total Balalaika Show
 (Aki Kaurismäki) at IFC CenterDetails. Digital projection. 1994. 54 min. 11 am.
Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up? (Saul Landau) at The New School Kellen AuditoriumDetails. 5:30 and 7:30 pm.
Man Up Film Festival at Maysles CinemaDetails. 4 pm.
Jake Barningham at Millennium Film Workshop. Details. Digital video. 2011. 8 pm.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt) at MoMADetails. 2011. Whatever min. 8 pm.
Labyrinth (Jim Henson) at Museum of the Moving Image. Details. Brian Henson, Brian Froud, Wendy Froud and Toby Froud in attendance. 1986. 101 min. 7 pm.


Alien (Ridley Scott) at IFC CenterDetails. 1979. 117 min. 11:30 pm.
The French Connection (William Friedkin) at IFC CenterDetails. 1971. 104 min.
Black Christmas (Bob Clark) at Landmark SunshineDetails. 1974. 98 min.
Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E. Sellier Jr.) at Nitehawk CinemaDetails. 1984. 79 min.
Lady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita) at Spectacle TheaterDetails. 1973. 97 min.


Under Control (Volker Sattel) at Anthology Film ArchivesDetails. 35mm. 2011. 89 min. 5:15, 7:15 and 9:15 pm.
 (Cyril Tuschi) at Film ForumDetails. 2010. 111 min. 1, 3:15, 5:40, 7:50 and 10 pm.
Possession (Andrzej Żuławski) at Film ForumDetails. 35mm. 1981. 123 min. 2, 4:30, 7 and 9:30 pm.
Tomboy (Céline Sciamma) at Film ForumDetails. 2011. 82 min. 1, 2:45, 4:30, 6:15, 8 and 10 pm.



Below listed North-South