MAN BITES DOG (35mm) + BENNY’S VIDEO (35mm) Double
August 30 only
A double feature of two of the more notorious Roxie Releasing films that enjoin the spectator to reflect upon the rapport between violence & cinema, while subtly turning the tables, implicating all involved, and sending the audience out the exits with perhaps something more sinister to ponder.
MAN BITES DOG (C’est Arrivé Près de Chez Vous)
The ingenious & harrowing comedy by three Francophones fresh out of film school, this black & white, low-budget Belgian mockumentary, stalks a resource-strapped documentary film crew recording the everyday life of their more-than-willing subject, a serial killer. Initially dispassionate onlookers, the filmmakers, find themselves caught up in a progressively frenzied and nihilistic brutality, making for a spectacle that LA Times film critic Kenneth Turan says “defines audacity and is close to the last word about the nature of violence on film”.
Written, produced and directed by Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel and Benoît Poelvoorde, who are also the film’s co-editor, cinematographer and lead actor respectively, MAN BITES DOG unspooled in Parisian cinemas continuously for three entire years. Poelvoorde, for whom the bon vivant anti-hero was his first acting credit, never stopped working and is today a Gallic staple, and occasional leading man in French cinema. Since the film’s initial U.S. theatrical release, not a year goes by when the Roxie is not forwarding another Hollywood request for remake rights; queries responded to with derisive, contemptuously soul-preserving silence. 1992. B&W. In French with English subtitles. NC-17. 35mm. 95 mins.
Way before he ever dreamed of directing a film in French or English, Michael Haneke was just another dark Austrian artist trying to work out his issues and ours. And before Isabelle Huppert was his stock actor of choice, the icy Arno Frisch of FUNNY GAMES fame was his alter ego to go. But when Bill Banning brought Haneke’s BENNY’S VIDEO back from the ’92 Cannes Festival as an acquisition for his then thriving Roxie Releasing, a gloom spread over the art-film world that has yet to burn back. The 2nd of Haneke’s “Glaciation Trilogy” of films that explore alienation and emotional detachment, of which the 1st & 3rd installments include his debut, THE SEVENTH CONTINENT and 71 FRAGEMENTS OF A CHRONOLOGY OF CHANCE.
BENNY’S VIDEO follows an upper middle-class Austrian teenager who is awash in an array of video equipment and spends his free-time obsessively watching violent movies & footage. One day he brings home a girl, turns on his camera, then kills her with a livestock boltgun. Via video, he confesses the crime to his parents whose muted reaction mirrors that of their son’s, as they set about covering up the crime. It’s a chilly, disturbing message of dysfunction, desensitization and death from a master cinematic surveyor of moral hazard. Written & directed by Michael Haneke. With Arno Frisch, Angela Winkler & Ulrich Mühe. 1992. In German with English subtitles. Not rated. 35mm.105 mins.