ROAD RAGE AT IFC NEW YORK
IFC Center in New York is currently charging their way through their fuel injected Spring lineup of “Waverly Midnights” cult movie programming. Under the banner of “Road Rage,” IFC invites you to buckle up and indulge in some cinematic car culture. The series kicked off earlier in April and is winding it's way through modern and past classics, including great car chases like THE FRENCH CONNECTION; Jean-Luc Godard’s WEEKEND, with a traffic jam from hell and more. Sessions start at midnight. Here's what's coming up;
VANISHING POINT (DCP)
Friday, May 5th & Saturday, May 6th
“Crashing through American culture, the cinematic super-charged, white-lightning VANISHING POINT presses ever onward — solidifying its legacy as one of the greatest car chase movies to ever be capture on celluloid. While hell-on-wheels anti-hero barrels through police blockades, the film takes a more subtle approach when spinning its social commentary on early-’70s America. Fast cars, cliché cops, and naked chicks veil VANISHING POINT’s attack on American censorship, conformity, and racism — cruising toward the moment when American liberties disappear into the horizon.
“Kowalski (Barry Newman) is a pill-popping speed-freak who runs cars from Colorado to California for a delivery service. A former derby car racer, Vietnam vet, and police officer, Kowalski rejects the oppression of the coppers who try to stop him as he speeds toward his destination for no other reason than he’s a lone man on the open road of freedom and he has to make good time. From scene one, the white Dodge Charger moves at breakneck pace while of the film’s character information is told in flashbacks. The car chase action is furious, unrelenting, and is often peppered by a blind, black radio DJ named Super Soul, who updates us on Kowalski’s actions and frames [him] as the last American hero.” – filmcritic.com
WHITE LIGHTNING (1973 / 35mm print)
Friday, May 12th & Saturday, May 13th
“In form, WHITE LIGHTNING is straightforward revenge melodrama. Gator McKlusky (Burt Reynolds), a convicted Arkansas moonshiner, is let out of prison so he can help establish evidence for a Federal case against a particularly evil and law-breaking small-town sheriff (Ned Beatty). But Gator has his own reasons, the sheriff’s killing of his college-student kid brother mainly because the boy wore his hair long and espoused good government, and he means to get more than evidence.
“Burt Reynolds may by now have a bare-chest clause in his contract, because you see a lot of his bare chest—for example, in flirtation scenes with Miss Billingsley where you don’t see any of hers. What you do see of her is a rather complex and subtle characterization of a girl more vulnerable than she seems. In fact, all the local types, like Matt Clark, Bo Hopkins, or R. G. Armstrong (all in the moonshine business) are more complete and more resilient than the situation strictly demands.
“Ned Beatty makes of Sheriff Connors one of those… phlegmatic manifestations of evil that have from time to time been such a specialty of the South as shown in American movies. And there are sequences involving him—some of the best take place inside the sheriff’s office — that seem unexpectedly intricate and cleverly paced, and on the way to rather exciting film making.” –New York Times
THE DRIVER (1978 / DCP)
Friday, May 19th & Saturday, May 20th
Scriptwriter-turned-director Walter Hill’s Hard Times (retitled The Streetfighter in Britain) received deservedly excellent reviews when it opened a few years back. His second feature [THE DRIVER] is even better, a combination of brilliantly edited car chases and existential thriller which recalls the sombreness of Melville and the spareness of Leone in a context which is the ‘classical’ economy of directors like Hawks and Walsh. A brilliant plot of cross and double-cross, with cop Dern out to nail ace getaway driver O’Neal, unravels with a tautness to put it on a par with the same year’s action hit, Assault on Precinct 13.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971 / DCP)
Friday, May 26th through Sunday, May 28th
“The French Connection is routinely included…on the short list of movies with the greatest chase scenes of all time. What is not always remembered is what a good movie it is apart from the chase scene. It featured a great early Gene Hackman performance that won an Academy Award, and it also won Oscars for best picture, direction, screenplay and editing.
The story…involves a $32 million shipment of high-grade heroin smuggled from Marseilles to New York hidden in a Lincoln Continental. A complicated deal is set up between the French people, an American money man and the Mafia. Doyle, a tough cop with a shaky reputation who busts a lot of street junkies, needs a big win to keep his career together. He stumbles on the heroin deal and pursues it with a single-minded ferocity that is frankly amoral. He isn’t after the smugglers because they’re breaking the law; he’s after them because his job consumes him.
In a sense, the whole movie is a chase. It opens with a shot of a French detective keeping the Continental under surveillance, and from then on the smugglers and the law officers are endlessly circling and sniffing each other. It’s just that the chase speeds up sometimes, as in the celebrated car-train sequence.” –Roger Ebert
MAD MAX (1979 / DCP)
Friday, June 2nd & Saturday, June 3rd
“George Miller’s film is an outrageous exploiter drawing intelligently on everything from Death Race 2000 to Straw Dogs for its JG Ballard-ish story about a future where cops and Hell’s Angels stage protracted guerrilla warfare around what’s left of a hapless civilian population… this edge-of-seat revenge movie marks the most exciting debut from an Australian director since Peter Weir.” – Time Out (London)
WEEKEND (1967 / 35mm Print)
Friday, June 9th & Saturday, June 10, 2017
“Jean-Luc Godard’s WEEKEND, which was shown last night at the New York Film Festival, is a fantastic film, in which all of life becomes a weekend, and the weekend is a cataclysmic, seismic traffic jam—with cars running pedestrians and cyclists off the road, only to collide and leave blood and corpses everywhere.
“In one tremendously long take, the camera passes along a highway where traffic is stopped by a long line of dead, smashed, burned, and stalling vehicles—oil trucks, Renaults, sports cars, Mercedeses, a zoo truck with two llamas in it, recumbent tigers, people playing ball through the tops of their stalled Deux Chevaux, people playing cards, playing chess, honking horns, making gestures, quarreling, crying, and ignoring the fact that there is mayhem everywhere. The conception of the movie is very grand. It is as though the violent quality of life had driven Godard into and through insanity, and he had caught it and turned it into one of the most important and difficult films he has ever made.
“…The movie is interspersed with little essays, idylls, jokes, a Mozart sonata, a frantic love song sung by Jean-Pierre Léaud in a telephone booth, noise, rituals, battles with paint sprayers and tennis balls. It ends in slaughter and cannibalism. There are a lot of infantile pretentious touches, punning flashcards (Anal…lyse, Faux…tographie) and the subtitles seem to have caught a bit of this. “La Paresse” (laziness) is regularly translated as press.
“…But the film must be seen, for its power, ambition, humor, and scenes of really astonishing beauty. There are absurdist characters from Lewis Carroll, from Fellini, from La Chinoise, from Bu–uel. At many moments the movie, which is in color, captures the precise sense one has about the world, when one is in a city or in a rush, when one reads the headlines or obituary columns, when one drives, when one sets out, for that matter, on a weekend. It is as though the apocalypse had somehow registered on a sensibility calibrated very fine. It is an appalling comedy. There is nothing like it at all. It is hard to take.” – Renata Adler, New York Times
TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A (1985 / DCP)
Friday, June 16th & Saturday, June 17th
“Sure, the Reagan-era exoticization of painters and extras salivating over the cash they count are as dated as the Wang Chung synth score, but To Live and Die in L.A. is as urgent and exhilaratingly paced as anything William Friedkin’s done.
“This raw, elaborately cynical 1985 action flick puts two FBI agents (William Petersen, John Pankow) on the trail of a counterfeiting artist (Willem Dafoe at his most slithery) obsessed with spending money. Some of the best crook-on-crook, cop-on-crook banter there ever was and John Turturro’s best cursing in a motion picture . . . The six-lane rush-hour car chase would make Popeye Doyle crash and burn.” – Wesley Morris, San Francisco Examiner
THE ITALIAN JOB (1969 / DCP)
Friday, June 23rd & Saturday, June 24th
“As the Mini Coopers rock from side to side along a sewage tunnel, with £4 million in gold bullion in their boots and Quincy Jones’s infectious score swinging away in the background, ask yourself this: is there a film – certainly a British film – that delivers a greater infusion of pure joy than The Italian Job? The cast of this chirpily patriotic movie is led by Michael Caine, reprising his Alfie persona as Charlie Croker, a dollybird-friendly criminal who inherits a plan to rob the FIAT factory in Turin by causing the world’s largest traffic jam.
“But if Caine embodies Sixties cool, his presence is deliciously counterbalanced by the old-world charm of Noël Coward as Mr Bridger, the urbane, royalty-obsessed crimelord who treats his prison as his castle. Yet the true stars are the cars, in particular the red, white and blue Minis used to remove the loot from the scene, whizzing through the priceless palazzos and down the marble stairs with an abandon that makes the film’s shooting seem as much a joke on the Italians as its plot.
“…Its journey into Saturday-afternoon ubiquity has spawned endless repetition of its catchphrases (all together now: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”), while its effortless style, and the glamour and comedic tics it lends its gangsters, are to blame for much of Guy Ritchie’s career. Yet the pure enjoyment it offers more than counterbalances these flaws. More to the point, the tight, witty script by Z Cars writer Troy Kennedy-Martin, smooth direction from Peter Collinson (Coward’s godson), and above all that glorious extended escape sequence, made by Jones’s wonderful score, power this film to a literal cliff-hanger ending that has become as iconic as the Mini Cooper itself. Just don’t tell anyone that the drivers were actually French.” –The Telegraph
Program notes from IFC Center NY.