Shoot Me Like You Love Me
A new ongoing series at the Roxy Cinema, SHOOT ME LIKE YOU LOVE ME, presents films spanning genres and eras with one common through-line: the director and the star are romantically involved with each other. This isn’t simply artists working with their ‘muses,’ this is deeper than that. This is a chance to see what the work looks like when you know there is a collaborative language that no one else has access to.
The premise of the series is simple, but the results are motion pictures that have a little extra vulnerability— a little more blood on the celluloid. Some of these movies can be seen as real-life snapshots of a specific time in a marriage or romance. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes it’s messy: like Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk. The films presented here are some of our favorites.
The idea for this series came the morning after a midnight screening of Resident Evil at Nitehawk in July. I had never seen it on 35mm before and was blown away by all the purples and greens not present in the digital copies. As I was trying to think of an excuse for the Roxy to play it, I started thinking about how sweet it is that Paul WS Anderson sees his wife, Milla Jovovich, who plays the leading character, the way he shows her in the film: in knee-high boots and a sexy red slip, running up a wall on her way to slow-motion kick a zombie dog.
Many of the filmmakers in the series similarly display their spouses against adversity. Most of these picks surprisingly turned out to be unsentimental stories about flawed relationships, but the affection still comes through in alternative ways. Like in Minnie and Moskowitz, the 1971 feature by John Cassavetes, which was funded by Universal in an attempt to capture the low budget “home movie” magic of Easy Rider. Casavettes wife Gena Rowlands stars as Minnie, a Los Angeles museum curator who, during a break up with her married boyfriend Jim (played by Casavettes himself), she meets Moskowitz, an aggressive parking attendant played by Seymour Cassel, who pursues Minnie romantically. One could read Moskowitz as a projected self image of Cassavetes being undeserving of Rowlands, or the film itself could be viewed as an insecure threat not to leave him (Jim), because the next guy might be worse. A more romantic example might be 1980’s Gloria, in which the Cassavetes stand-in is a 6 year old boy under the care of Rowlands, who looks up to her in awe.
The brand of obsession can also be found in the 1980 Brian De Palma classic Dressed to Kill, starring his wife at the time, Nancy Allen, which is the third of their four collaborations together. Allen stars as Liz Blake, a high class call girl who is the sole witness to a murder, which leads to her becoming not only the prime suspect, but also the murderer’s next target. De Palma’s stand-in can be found in the victim’s teenage son, Peter, played by Keith Gordon, who voyeuristically assists Blake in solving the murder through surveillance and the lens of his camera, incessantly and affectionately capturing Blake.
Another film in the series, Roman Polanski’s Frantic, would be the first of many collaborations with his wife Emmanuelle Seigner, who at the time of their meeting claimed to have not known who Polanski was. This seemingly plays into the character of Michelle in the movie, whose bored bubble blowing knows how cooly she leads Harrison Ford’s Dr. Walker around Paris in search of his missing wife. Each of these films might feel pathological and shrouded in insecurity on their own, but I hope that presenting these films in this context invites viewers to reach for the tenderness within, in-between and behind the frames.
The Roxy Cinema will also be exploring this theme in Barbarella, The Champagne Murders, A Wonderful Cloud, and The Terminator.