Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bigger Than Life @ the Charles Theatre this week

The Charles Theatre's Revival Series is proud to announce three screenings of a brand-new color cinemascope print of Nicholas Ray's legendary BIGGER THAN LIFE.

Saturday, August 1 at Noon
Monday, August 3 at 7 PM
Thursday, August 6 at 9 PM

(1956 Nicholas Ray) James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau. 95. Color. CinemaScope.

Mason's furrowed brow and brooding presence have rarely (never?) been used to better effect: 30 years on, his performance as the mild schoolteacher who is prescribed the wonder drug cortisone and becomes a raving megalomaniac addict remains profoundly disturbing. Suburbia is haunted by psychosis; family life torn apart by Oedipal bloodlust. Ray's direction (in 'Scope and Eastman Colour) is as moving as ever - delicate compositions and fluid camerawork contradicted by the image of weak men locked into obsessive self-destruction. At every level the banal props of '50s prosperity are turned into symbols of suffocation and trauma, from the X-ray machine used to diagnose Mason's 'disease' to the bathroom cabinet mirror shattering under a desperate blow. Trashed on first release, resurrected by Truffaut and Godard, lovingly imitated by Wim Wenders (in American Friend): this is Rebel Without a Cause for the grown-up world. (Time Out)

“One of the best, most radical, least known films in the 1950s. A canny retelling of the Jekyll and Hyde story, Father Knows Best as Greek tragedy. Still terrifying!” (Village Voice)

"Ray’s most powerful film, and in some respects his most important. A profoundly upsetting exposure..” (Jonathan Rosenbaum)

“Under Ray’s masterful direction, James Mason is given three or four of the most beautiful close-ups I have had the chance to see since the advent of CinemaScope… The slightest detail has an overwhelming beauty. A film of implacable logic and sanity, Bigger than Life uses both those very qualities as targets, and scores a bull’s-eye in every frame.” (François Truffaut)