Reporting Eric Henderson
Slinky is in season this week thanks to two presentations from Take-Up Productions.
First up is tonight’s screening of Ne Change Rien, Pedro Costa’s monochromatic lovefest on behalf of French actress and chanteuse Jeanne Balibar.
It’s presented as part of Take-Up’s Trylon Premiere Tuesdays, which is fast proving one of the most reliable vehicles to see otherwise impossible to catch film snob favorites. (I say that with love.)
Ne Change Rien reminded me of nothing quite so much as the final scenes of Olivier Assayas’ Clean, in which actress-slash-glamour-icon Maggie Cheung is given a long, langorous musical interlude. It was the ultimate gift from Ossayas to Cheung (who he had recently divorced at the time). I’d almost go so far as to say every scene in which a female star is allowed to sing a song in its entirety is something like the ultimate cinematic gift.
And so it is that Ne Change Rien might be one of the most generous gifts ever bestowed upon an actress since Josef Von Sternberg stretched his love affair with Marlene Dietrich across seven pictures in the early ’30s.
Balibar, with her distinctive gap-toothed grin, sneering lips and husky, mewling voice, is nothing if not feline as she saunters through songs, stage performances and hard-bitten realness. And she sinks into Costa’s rich, high-contrast images like a cat stretching out under a beam of sunlight.
Go figure the only performance that springs to mind as being more kittenish is also getting a screening this week.
Horror producer Val Lewton’s 1942 shocker Cat People is one of his most popular examples of using suggest over graphic horror.
In telling the tale of Irena, a Serbian newlywed who is terrified that the curse condemning her to transform into a thrashing, gnashing cat creature will come true if her husband consummates their marriage, Lewton and director Jacques Tourneur emphasize the pervasive atmosphere of menace rather than the bloody consequence.
They also get a lot of mileage from Simone Simon’s shallow-depth visage, her tight facial features. Blink and you feel you just missed her pupils stretching out into feline slits.
Cat People plays at the Heights Theatre on Thursday evening. As Take-Up pointed out in their Facebook feed yesterday, it’s a 35mm print, and may be the last such print ever minted for this movie. Catch it while you can.