We continue the mostly monthly series dedicated to provocative and outré films that have galvanized audiences and critics alike, incited passionate conversation, and inspired devoted cult followings among adventurous cinephiles.
1996, David Cronenberg, Canada/UK, 100 min.
With James Spader, Holly Hunter, Elias Koteas
- Sat, Jun 22nd 7:45pm
- Tue, Jun 25th 8:15pm
"A stunningly beautiful film, one of perversely satisfying passion. Equal parts astonishing and horrifying, CRASH is concise, keenly imaginative and darkly satisfying."—Ray Pride, Newcity
"***½ Challenging, courageous and original—a dissection of the mechanics of pornography."—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Body horror maestro David Cronenberg has never demurred from controversy, but, even by his standards, his erotic psychodrama CRASH proved incendiary, drawing raves and pans alike from critics and driving Ted Turner, owner of the film's distribution company, to attempt unsuccessfully to block its release. After being involved in a car accident that takes another driver's life, movie producer James Ballard (Spader, whose character is named for J.G. Ballard, author of the equally provocative source novel) hooks up with another participant in the same accident (Hunter). He finds himself embroiled in a dark underworld of car-accident fetishists, eager to stage disfiguring and potentially deadly wrecks with each other for the sake of their own sexual gratification. Featuring appropriately icy, foreboding contributions from regular collaborators composer Howard Shore and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky, CRASH would prove to be one of the essential entries in Cronenberg's filmography, a perfect distillation of his career-long obsessions with human sexuality, bodily distortions, and technology run amok. 35mm. (Cameron Worden)
1972, John Waters, USA, 93 min.
With Divine, Edith Massey, David Lochary
"In a world where 'underground' cult films long ago became a cozy genre, PINK FLAMINGOS still stands as the purest, most joyful jolt of outrage in movie history."-- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
After achieving tabloid notoriety, Babs Johnson (Divine) has settled on the outskirts of Baltimore with her playpen-bound mother Edie, chicken-loving son Crackers, and traveling companion Cotton. Their secluded debauchery is upset when the rich, jealous perverts Connie and Raymond Marble try to usurp Babs's title of "Filthiest Person Alive," setting off an escalating series of ever-more-vile antics. A self-proclaimed "exercise in poor taste," PINK FLAMINGOS was the film that catapulted director John Waters to underground infamy and introduced the broader world to the magnetic persona of legendary drag queen Divine. Even after being ensconced in MoMA's permanent collection and regularly cited as a pioneering work of queer cinema, PINK FLAMINGOS remains every bit the shocking, offensive, and hilarious film it was during its storied run on the midnight movie circuit, an essential work of transgressive art that has only ripened with age. 35mm. (Cameron Worden)
1973, René Laloux, France/Czechoslovakia, 72 min.
"Mesmerizing...one of the landmarks in European sci-fi animation."--Chris Justice, Senses of Cinema
On the distant planet Ygam, a revolution is burgeoning, pitting the "Oms" (a population of humans transported from Earth to be kept as pets) against the dominant and ambivalent Draags, a race of blue-skinned giants who spend their days participating in an advanced form of meditation. After the human Terr escapes from his Draag masters with a pair of headphones used to teach Draag children, he joins a colony of wild Oms and sets out to escape Ygam for its moon, the Fantastic Planet. A compendium of extraterrestrial imagery and mind-bending metaphysics, FANTASTIC PLANET marries its furthest flights of science-fiction fantasy to a timeless allegory broad enough to encompass international struggles for civil rights and the ongoing destruction of the environment. Featuring a surreal visual style designed by Roland Topor (a collaborator of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Werner Herzog) and an iconic score by jazz musician Alain Goraguer, FANTASTIC PLANET remains a touchstone of alternative animation and as concentrated a blast of psychedelia as the 1970s ever produced. In French with English subtitles. 35mm. (Cameron Worden)
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
1953, Roy Rowland, USA, 89 min.
With Hans Conried, Tommy Rettig, Mary Healy
"One of the most underrated children's musical fantasies...If you've never seen this, prepare to have your mind blown."
—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
Raised by a single mother and forced to endure piano lessons from the dictatorial Dr. Terwilliker (Conried), youngster Bart (Rettig) drifts off into dreams of a fantasy realm where Dr. Terwilliker is a mad overlord, keeping Bart’s mother (Healy) captive under hypnosis and enslaving children to play a building-sized piano with thousands of keys. The only produced screenplay by Dr. Seuss, THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T proved a disappointment for the famous children's author (not least of all for its propensity to terrify children), but it found a latter-day audience as a late-night television staple where its surreal brand of musical sadism could be appreciated. A technical marvel, complete with plenty of Seussian production numbers and some of the most outlandish sets of the classic Hollywood era, DR. T lives up to the original ad copy touting it as "The Wonder Musical of the Future!” 35mm. (Cameron Worden)