Reporting Eric Henderson
Spring is still beaucoup tardy to the party, so keep those board shorts on ice and head out to a local movie house to catch one of these off-the-beaten-path screening options this week:
Monday, March 25 & Tuesday, March 26: Possession (Trylon Microcinema)
Sometimes words fail. Director Andrzej Żuławski’s 1981 artsploitation shocker about the apparent possession of a woman who leaves her family is clearly one of those cases. Directed in reaction to the dissolution of his own marriage, Possession is clearly a metaphor for Żuławski’s own personal demons, but he’s working on such universal themes that everyone involved (most notably the fiercely committed Isabelle Adjani as the woman withdrawing from her domestic situation) rises to the occasion. And by that, I mean everyone loses their collective marbles. Few horror movies were ever this radical or intense, and the debate’s open as to whether this one even counts as horror, per se.
Monday, March 25 through Thursday, March 28: War Witch (St. Anthony Main Theater)
As Jonathon Sharp blogged last week in his review of the Academy Award-nominated film: “War Witch is structured so that it focuses on each of Komona’s early teen years. While twelve is a year of slaughter, discovery, love and adventure, thirteen is one of pain, struggle and rebirth. Converging somewhat messily — at time losing their dramatic energy — the years form a cinematic panel portrait of a childhood militated by war but sewn up by imagination and the desire to be human — to be a woman, a lover, a mother. … The initial tragedy of the deaths of our girl’s parent is followed by many others, including Komona’s becoming pregnant while held as a sex slave. But there’s also a love story, which adds an entirely different tone to the film, as well as our girl’s quest to make peace with her parents’ ghosts.”
Wednesday, March 27: Marjoe (Trylon Microcinema)
There’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance to rectify contemplating this month’s Trash Film Debauchery selection at the Trylon, given it won the 1972 Academy Award for best documentary feature. However, Marjoe is being used to set the tone for a spring series of skeezy classics starring Marjoe Gortner, the blonde-Afro’d former child evangelist who is, I suppose, probably best remembered for playing the nutjob military reservist who tries to rape Victoria Principal in 1974′s lovably tacky disaster epic Earthquake. In this candid documentary, Gortner opens up about how his entire career as a Bible Belt revivalist is a total sham. The juxtaposition of his confessions, his explanation of the tactics he used to dupe those in bondage to piety, and the scenes showing him bringing tents filled to capacity with believers to a righteous fervor all pay testament to the ease with which the first commandment (i.e. “thou shall have no other gods before me”) can be broken.
Wednesday, March 27: Greenberg (Walker Art Center)
The Noah Baumbach retrospective at the Walker Art Center continues this week with his 2010 film Greenberg, his first (and, if the rumor mill is any indication, far from last) collaboration with actress Greta Gerwig, up to that point one of the shining, er, make that mumbling beacons of the mumblecore movement. Greenberg stars Ben Stiller as Roger Greenberg, a premature curmudgeon who has given over his entire life to lobbing verbal cherry bombs in the direction of corporate America. While babysitting his brother’s house, he strikes up a flirtation with his brother’s personal assistant Florence (Gerwig). Baumbach sets up their rocky liftoff as possibly Greenberg’s own best hope for redemption, but as Baumbach has repeatedly depicted, it’s the people you’re closest to who can hurt you the most deeply. Features cinematography by the late Harris Savides.
Friday, March 29: The Room (Uptown Theater)
The phrase “so bad it’s good” has been robbed of its value in this post-Birdemic epoch. But The Room is so real deal that it alone could resuscitate the tag. What I wrote a few years ago still applies: “If Coleman Francis has an antecedent, it’s Tommy Wiseau. In just the last few years, The Room has achieved the sort of near-instant cult cachet Francis never really managed. It’s not difficult to see why. Wiseau’s movie is astonishingly out of touch with how human beings interact with each other. A blind alien working from a dog’s crib notes would come up with a more convincing description of how a dinner party evolves than Wiseau. Worse, he wrote his screenplay apparently after having read only the chapter on exposition. Each scene features characters either coming back from or about to head off to do something much more interesting than whatever happens in the movie. Maybe it’s all some sort of avant-garde experiment.” Catch a midnight screening of it this weekend at the Uptown.