Cinema Under the Influence invites you to a double screening of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and John Carpenter’s Halloween October 11th in Long Island City. Get ready for Halloween fun with a cinematic NYC night that will deliver plenty of thrills!
A repertory cinema program that presents curated double features along with full beverage service, CUI invites film lovers to enjoy great cinematic works along with a couple of nice cool drinks. We select our films to illuminate different aspects of film history, technique, and aesthetic. Overlapping in artist, theme, or genre, the films will be further highlighted by written essays from our curators. Join the CUI Facebook group to learn more about the program and upcoming presentations.
In the meantime, explore the makings of Blue Velvet and Halloween with these fantastic documentaries!
Mysteries of Love is a documentary on David Lynch’s modern classic Blue Velvet. Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, we find clips from the film immersed with intriguing footage and photographs from the production and exciting interviews with David Lynch, Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper, Laura Dern, and others. Certainly, Mysteries of Love leaves one wanting more documentaries of its kind.
It is often surprising to learn that many of our most loved films today were almost not made. David Lynch had been coming out of a failed experience with his work Dune, when Dino De Laurentiis approached him about Blue Velvet, a script that Lynch had been working on for years. Thankfully and surprisingly, De Laurentiis gave Lynch full artistic control, and despite not being in the contract, he promised the filmmaker final cut. All of this provided as long as the director agreed to cut his salary and the film’s budget in half. The sacrifices that are made in the name of art!
Halloween: The Inside Story is an inside look at the making of John Carpenter’s 1978 low-budget horror masterpiece. First conceived as a “babysitter murder movie” the young-gun director, along with a group of recent film school grads and a gang of eager but inexperienced actors, tackled Halloween’s 21-day shooting schedule, $325,000 budget and an ambitious four-minute long take to become the stuff of indie-film legend. This is an inspirational story of young artists coming together and a “behind-the-mask” look at one of the creepiest horror flicks of all time. Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, Rob Zombie and more provide insightful commentary dealing with everything from having five different Michael Myers’ to the movie’s legacy as a slasher film that would spawn scores of imitations but not one equal.
Twelve years was already twice my lifetime at the point when we started. It’s hard enough to contemplate the next 12 years now for me, or probably at any age, but then it wasn’t possible. It wasn’t for several years that it really began to sink in just what the film was or why it was so different.
Ellar Coltrane was six years old when director Richard Linklater began shooting Boyhood and eighteen when the film concluded. An ambitious vision, the work is a testament to the power of cinema’s unique artistic ability of capturing time as it presents the journey of a boy through childhood and towards the doors to young adulthood. A cinematic time capsule, the film is a naturalistic and poetic ode to our early lives and experiences while shedding light on family life and how we evolve as individuals. Linklater’s Boyhood is innovative in its concept and yet at its core it brings one to reflect on the early use of the camera—the first films, those of the Lumière Brothers, captured moments of French life at the turn of the 20th century—while echoing Andrei Tarkovsky’s belief of film as the sculpting of time.
The film also echoes French writer Gustave Flaubert’s idea of “un livre sur rien,” or a book about nothing. Flaubert describes his intention behind writing the now classic Madame Bovary:
What I would like to write is a book about nothing, a book without exterior attachments, which would be held together by the inner force of its style, as the earth without support is held in the air—a book that would have almost no subject or at least in which the subject would be almost invisible…The finest works of art are those in which there is the least matter. The closer expression comes to thought, the more the word clings to the idea and disappears, the more beautiful the work of art…There are neither good nor bad subjects. From the point of view of pure Art, you could almost establish it as an axiom that the subject is irrelevant, style itself being an absolute manner of seeing things.
In many ways, Richard Linklater brings Flaubert’s words to the art of cinema. Boyhood is made up of pieces of life to tell a story through the lapse of time, one that is closer to physical truth than fictional. Its stylistic approach brings to mind Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s idea on form and content in filmmaking: Form itself creates a kind of content. Form is not something, however, that controls the content. Form is in the center and in some ways, for some artists, content emerges from the form…Content is not content without form. As actor Ethan Hawke says so well in the featurette for the film, With the passage of time, life is beautiful and interesting enough as it is, and you don’t need to manufacture a lot of falsehood.
Linklater pushes the boundaries of what we deem is filmmaking by offering the spectator a chance to actually see and observe individuals and the relationships they partake in pass from one year to another while following the drama that is the passage of time. For the filmmaker, The manipulation of time is the unique property of cinema. If cinema is painting, time is the paint. It’s that fundamental. It is also because of this perspective on cinema that we may imagine Linklater adapting Flaubert’s “livre sur rien” for film. Instead of a book, it would be a film “held together by the inner force of its style, as the earth without support is held in the air.” Boyhood is earthly and hits home because it presents itself as moving images of the instant, portraying our human experience of life through one vessel.
Explore and learn more about the making of Boyhood with Richard Linklater and his collaborators. The Making Of featurette and Linklater’s interview with Vice magazine offers us intimate looks at the film director as he speaks about turns in his life and filmmaking career and how he holds cinema in mind. Creating a film by shooting pieces of it every year for twelve years, using the same cast, making the most of natural settings and the culture of the times, allowing for the personal stories of the collaborators in the film to inspire its story, there is truly much to take from this project as filmmakers but even much more so as individuals who love film and the endless possibilities it provides for visual storytelling.
A director is a kind of idea and taste machine; a movie is a series of creative and technical decisions, and it’s the director’s job to make the right decisions as frequently as possible…The best education in film is to make one. I would advise any neophyte director to try to make a film by himself. A three-minute short will teach him a lot. I know that all the things I did at the beginning were, in microcosm, the things I’m doing now as a director and producer.
Explore and discover more about the celebrated filmmaker with Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures!
What matters to me is that the feeling excited by my films should be universal. An artistic image is capable of arousing identical feelings in viewers, while the thoughts that come later may be very different. If you start to search for a meaning during the film you will miss everything that happens. The ideal viewer is someone who watches a film like a traveler watching the country he is passing through: because the effect of an artistic image is an extra-mental type of communication. There are some artists who attach symbolic meaning to their images, but that is not possible for me. Zen poets have a good way of dealing with this: they work to eliminate any possibility of interpretation, and in the process a parallel arises between the real world and what the artist creates in his work…It seems to me that the purpose of art is to prepare the human soul for the perception of good. The soul opens up under the influence of an artistic image, and it is for this reason that we say it helps us to communicate—but it is communication in the highest sense of the word…My purpose as far as possible is to make films that will help people to live, even if they sometimes cause unhappiness…art can reach to the depths of the human soul and leave man defenseless against good.
The meaning of cinema and its colossal popularity is based on the fact that the viewer approaches it in search of his own un-accumulated experience, so to speak. I am not speaking of inexperience in life, but of the fact that our age offers one such a large amount of information and people are so busy that they do not have time sometimes even to find out what is surrounding them on a day-to-day basis. Cinema’s task is to substitute for this lacking experience. It stands before the very serious and profound task of speaking truthfully and sincerely, never deceiving the viewer.
Each one of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films is an intense exploration of the possibilities cinema offers to storytellers. They also ask much of the viewer. With each invitation into their cinematic landscapes, there is in addition a challenge to learn the language of these film worlds and the essence behind the visually and aurally presented life. As a filmmaker, Tarkovsky’s touch is very much present in how I personally understand and relate to film, and coming from a background in poetry, for me, this acclaimed “poet in cinema” channels the true poetry that cinema is capable of offering to audiences.
When I speak of poetry I am not thinking of it as a genre. Poetry is an awareness of the world, a particular way of relating to reality, said Tarkovsky. From the perspective of a filmmaker, Tarkovsky allures with his grasp for the art of cinema. Still, and more importantly so, from the stance of one who shares in this experience of human life, Tarkovsky allows us to connect with the heart of cinema through his portrayal of emotions and truth, in other words, what makes us human. In a Tarkovsky film, we face life.
Mirror is a true masterpiece and an unforgettable cinematic experience. It is a world that I enjoy visiting. Nostalghia and Stalker, masterpieces in their own right, share a close spot to it. It is difficult to rate the films of Andrei Tarkovsky; however, this order of these sculptures of time will have to suffice for now. To one of the great artists of cinema…cheers.
(original artwork by Mark Neil Balson)
On Defining the Director’s Job
For me it’s different on different movies. I mean, it’s your taste, the vibe you lay down the visual and the working rules, that you lay down for everyone that you’re working with. So I think you set a tone for everything. Even if I’ve written it, once I’m directing it, my job is to make the film work, and I don’t care who wrote it, whether it was me or someone else. I’m more collaborating with the actor than the writer at that point. I’m trying to make it come to life in some way. You’re trying to bring something to life along the way and tell the story you’ve set out to tell, so whatever it takes. And a lot of it’s who you’re collaborating with, what department heads, what creative people you’re working with. I love it, because it hits on everything. As a younger person, I think I wanted to be a writer. That seemed to me my only area I could express myself in. I didn’t know other mediums were even open to me. But once I realized I was a filmmaker and had films in my head, I realized that was so my calling because it answered the need in me to work with others, to collaborate. When I was young, I was kind of left on my own, and just reading. I’m pretty solitary. Film got me actively engaged with others in a collaborative, creative way. That’s what I find probably the most rewarding, the collaboration aspect. It’s perhaps one-sided, because I kind of have veto power and ultimate say, so there’s a certain amount of dictatorial power in the structure, but I think within that structure you can make it work in a lot of different ways.
You don’t want the bumpers. Life doesn’t give you bumpers.
Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater.
A Brief History of Boyhood: 2002 - 2013
12 years in the making, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood captures the journey of a boy through childhood and towards the doors to young adulthood. A cinematic time capsule, the film is a naturalistic and poetic ode to our early lives and experiences while shedding light on family life and how we evolve as individuals. The film also portrays how culture changes with the times. A Brief History of Boyhood takes you on “a 12 year trip through pop culture” as seen by Ellar Coltrane’s coming-of-age character, Mason Jr.
Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater, with Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, and Ethan Hawke.