Friday, June 20, 2014

On Wednesday Doc Films begins another eclectic summer program

Posted By on 06.20.14 at 04:12 PM

Anthony Quinn (far left) and Barbara Stanwyck (far right) in Union Pacific, screening Wednesday at 7 PM
  • Anthony Quinn (far left) and Barbara Stanwyck (far right) in Union Pacific, screening Wednesday at 7 PM
Summer is always an interesting time at Doc Films, as the venerable student film society forgoes weekly, themed programming for more of a grab bag approach. There's no rhyme or reason to the summer calendar, though it always delivers in terms of variety. Case in point, the first two weeks of programming this summer bring Cecil B. DeMille's 1939 western Union Pacific (which kicks off the calendar this Wednesday at 7 PM), Fatih Akin's drama of Turkish-German relations Head On (2004), the rarely shown Douglas Sirk film noir Sleep, My Love (1948), and John Landis's personal horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London (1981). With the exception of the two recent releases on the program—The Missing Picture and Jodorowsky's Dune—everything is slated to screen from 35-millimeter celluloid.

As if to top last summer's revival of Expose Me, Lovely, this summer Doc will present three features from the golden age of American hard-core filmmaking: the old-fashioned melodrama Roommates (1981) screens Wednesday 7/2; Take Off (1973), Lovely director Armand Weston's episodic spoof of classic Hollywood cinema, plays Wednesday 7/30; and the dreamy psychodrama Through the Looking Glass (1976) is on Wednesday 8/6. If you catch only one of these, make it Roommates. The director of that movie, Chuck Vincent, was a singular figure, an openly gay filmmaker who worked in straight hard-core for the creative freedom it allowed him. His films, which often function as subversive critiques of heterosexual relations, can be surprisingly nuanced in their acting and mise-en-scene—making Vincent the closest exploitation cinema ever got to producing a George Cukor.

There are several untouchable classics on the calendar—among them Samuel Fuller's Park Row (on Wednesday 7/9), Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water (on Friday 7/18), and Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night (on Wednesday 8/27)—in addition to some fine, albeit underrated films of the past decade. Of the latter category, I most look forward to revisiting Mysterious Skin (on Friday 7/25), which I consider Gregg Araki's best film to date, and Poison Friends (on Thursday 8/7), a nervy French drama by Arnaud Desplechin's frequent writing partner Emmanuel Bourdieu.

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