Roxy Reelness: A Celebration Of Queer Cinema
The Roxy Cinema is pleased to present a special program for Pride Month in New York City that celebrates Queer Cinema in many forms. We begin in the 1960’s with Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures (16MM) and Shirley Clarke’s Portrait Of Jason (35MM). We journey all the way up to modern times with 2018’s Knife + Heart.
Other films explored in this series are Two Wrenching Departures, Blue Is The Warmest Color, Cruising (35MM), Happy Together, Paris Is Burning, Mala Noche (35MM), Rocky Horror Picture Show (35MM), Querelle, Whity, and A Dirty Shame (35MM).
PORTRAIT OF JASON is a film that plays with complexities. While it was shot in a cinema vérité style, the film’s subject is a man who readily admits to deceiving everyone — and may be lying to the camera. Was Clarke giving Holliday a stage on which to perform in what he calls his “moment,” or just using him? She worried about that herself. As Holliday notes about the ironies of life as a houseboy, “it gets to be joke sometime as to who’s using who.” Later, Clarke would say “The result, I’m convinced is a portrait of a guy who is both a genius and a bore. Although Jason says he really hasn’t had any fun as a ‘hustler’ conning people, he appears to have had the last laugh.” Any way you look at the film, it remains of the most fascinating documentaries in cinema.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR The sensation of the Cannes Film Festival and the most controversial film of the year, Blue is the Warmest Color made cinema history as the first film ever awarded the Palme d’Or to both its director and its actresses. In a star-making role, Adèle Exarchopoulos is Adèle, a passionate young woman who has a yearning she doesn’t quite understand until a chance encounter with the blue-haired Emma ignites a flame and brings her to life. Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) gives a fearless performance as Emma, the older woman who excites Adèle’s desire and becomes the love of her life. Abdellatif Kechiche’s (The Secret of the Grain) intimate epic of tenderness and passion charts their relationship over the course of several years, from the ecstasy of a first kiss to the agony of heartbreak. Pulsing with gestures, embraces, furtive exchanges, and arias of joy and devastation, Blue is the Warmest Color is a profoundly moving hymn to both love and life.
CRUISING A bleakly chilling emotional travelogue of desperation, loneliness and spiritual hunger, CRUISING stars Al Pacino as a naïve undercover cop who descends into the leather-bar underworld of New York’s gay S&M scene. Widely condemned and misinterpreted on its release, CRUISING emerges today as one of Friedkin’s major works – it succeeds as a police procedural, horror film (there are scenes every bit as terrifying as THE EXORCIST), and saga of one seemingly “decent” man’s inability to face the truth about himself. Featuring a terrific score by composer Jack Nitzsche, with songs by The Germs.
HAPPY TOGETHER One of the most searing romances of the 1990s, Wong Kar Wai’s emotionally raw, lushly stylized portrait of a relationship in breakdown casts Hong Kong superstars Tony Leung and Leslie Cheung as a couple traveling through Argentina and locked in a turbulent cycle of infatuation and destructive jealousy as they break up, make up, and fall apart again and again. Setting out to depict the dynamics of a queer relationship with empathy and complexity on the cusp of the 1997 handover of Hong Kong—when the country’s LGBT community suddenly faced an uncertain future—Wong crafts a feverish look at the life cycle of a love affair that’s by turns devastating and deliriously romantic. Shot by ace cinematographer Christopher Doyle in both luminous monochrome and luscious saturated color, Happy Together is an intoxicating exploration of displacement and desire that swoons with the ache and exhilaration of love at its heart-tearing extremes.
PARIS IS BURNING Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Featuring legendary voguers, drag queens, and trans women—including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza—Paris Is Burning brings it, celebrating the joy of movement, the force of eloquence, and the draw of community.
MALA NOCHE With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant’s debut feature Mala Noche heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, the film evokes a world of transient workers, dead-end day-shifters, and bars and seedy apartments bathed in a profound nighttime, as it follows a romantic deadbeat with a wayward crush on a handsome Mexican immigrant. Mala Noche was an important prelude to the New Queer Cinema of the nineties and is a fascinating capsule from a time and place that continues to haunt its director’s work.
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW A dowdy couple in need of some tension relief find their worlds pushed to swinging limits by madcap Dr. Frank N Furter in a manor where the gang’s all queer. Be careful what you itch for! Featuring a marquee bursting cast of unforgettable characters and songs sure to razzle and bedazzle. Watch the lace odyssey on the big screen and enjoy a Pride party dripping with lux lust and freaky cheeky surprises for queerdos, party monsters, punks and all beautiful creatures of the night.
QURELLE Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s final film is a deliriously stylized tale of hothouse lust and simmering violence. Set amid an expressionistic soundstage vision of a French sea port, this daring adaptation of a novel by Jean Genet recounts the tragedy of a handsome sailor (Brad Davis) as he is drawn into a vortex of sibling rivalry, murder, and explosive sexuality. Completed just before Fassbinder’s sudden death at age thirty-seven, QUERELLE finds the director pushing his embrace of artifice and taboo-shattering depiction of queer desire to new extremes.
WHITY About 40 years before Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” Rainer Werner Fassbinder approaches the topic of slavery and racial discrimination through the genre of the Western movie. Unlike Tarantino, though, Fassbinder tells his story of slavery through discourses of gender, sadism, power and twisted family relations. Shot in cinemascope by Michael Ballhaus, this film is a cinematic masterpiece.
A DIRTY SHAME After taking on the suburban melodrama, the message picture, and the rock ’n’ roll film, Waters tried his hand at making an old-fashioned sexploitation movie (the kind, he recalled, that “all the nuns told him he would go to hell” for watching). Tracey Ullman plays a frigid housewife who suffers a concussion that fills her with a sudden, extreme sexual appetite. Most of the movie’s characters—including a voracious sex-addicted mechanic (Johnny Knoxville) and a go-go dancer with breasts the size of life rafts (Selma Blair)—follow suit, each developing their own peculiar (and, according to Waters, entirely genuine) fetish. A Dirty Shame has the encyclopedic, freak-show flair of Waters’s earlier movies, coupled with the nostalgic tinge of his recent work—a fitting balance for the director’s last completed film to date.
KNIFE + HEART Paris, Summer 1979. Anne (French pop star Vanessa Paradis) produces third-rate gay porn. After her editor and lover Lois leaves her, she tries to win her back by shooting her most ambitious film yet with her trusted, flaming sidekick Archibald. But one of her actors is brutally murdered and Anne gets caught up in a strange investigation that turns her life upside-down. Shot on 35mm and featuring a killer retro score from M83, Yann Gonzalez’s KNIFE+HEART is an ultra-stylish and blood-soaked ode to ’70s-era De Palma, Argento, and Friedkin.
Stay tuned for our full calendar of events as we celebrate pride with Roxy Reelness!