Now Playing at Academy Cinemas
The festival kicked off last Friday with David Cronenburg’s 1996 psychological thriller Crash playing opening night. Klute and Black Narcissus featured on Saturday and Sunday night, and the films just keep coming! The remaining list of festival films makes a retrospective exploration of the taboo and inspires a whole range of awkward, unsure feelings.
Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)
This film is a deeply controversial horror/romantic comedy from Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. The release of the film in the US was contentious, and brought about a whole new rating category. The MPAA originally wanted to assign an X rating to the film, but, after legal battles, it was labelled NC-17, which forbade anyone under 17 years old from entering the theatre. The tagline for this film: A Love Story… With Strings Attached!
At the start of the Hellraiser trailer, Stephen King calls director Clive Barker “the future of horror.” And he wasn’t wrong—Barker’s debut was followed up with NINE sequels. Unlike many other horror films from the 80s, the film denies a cheeky, comedic tone at every opportunity, with Barker happy to revel in the seriousness of the dreadful setting. It’s a freaky watch with the potential to inspire some excellent Halloween costumes, if you’re keen to get prepped early.
The Piano Teacher (2001)
The French film La Pianiste or The Piano Teacher is an erotic psychological drama. It won the Grand Prix at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, and the two leads, Isabelle Huppert and Benoît Magimel, won Best Actress and Best Actor, respectively. It is frequently cited as a major Oscar snub, as it received nominations in many other major film awards (including the BAFTAS). The Piano Teacher explores a large range of taboo subjects, adapting an award winning novel into what Academy calls “an essential arthouse masterwork.”
I’m No Angel (1933)
This early Hollywood picture stars Mae West, old Hollywood’s answer to Megan Fox. Throughout her career, productions of West’s were subjected to extremely heavy censorship. I’m No Angel was released in the years before the Hays Code came into being, so it was released to Depression-era audiences with little adjustment. West was appreciated by audiences for fooling with social conventions, as she often made risqué sexual references and potrayed various women of lower social class. I’m No Angel is as saucy as it got for a while in Hollywood, and Mae West’s brazen sexuality plays a massive part of that package.
Bitter Moon (1992)
In this film, Hugh Grant plays in one of his less known roles in a ‘romantic’ movie. Bitter Moon explores destructive erotic exchanges, to varied critical reception. Janet Maslin of the New York Times was extremely firm; “Whatever else Mr. Polanski may be—nasty, mocking, darkly subversive in his view of the world—he definitely isn’t dull. Bitter Moon is the kind of world-class, defiantly bad film that has a life of its own.”
Fatal Attraction (1987)
There’s some big shock factor in this movie, both in terms of its eroticism and its twisting plot. Fatal Attraction is one of the more mainstream films playing at the festival, but that doesn’t mean it dials back on any of the intensity. Glenn Close won an Oscar for Best Actress with this film, and there’s no doubt she dove deeply into this character. Her role in Fatal Attraction coined the phrase bunny boiler… watch, at your own discretion, to find out how.
Closing Night — 9th April
The Night Porter (1973)
This film heavily divided critics upon release, and has continued to incite argumentative discourse in the many years since. The CultFilms trailer for the 4K restoration has deemed The Night Porter “one of the most controversial films of all time”. A quick glance at the subject matter shows why… the cult film clearly has the content to close out the Dangerous Desires festival.