Each week, Now in Rep Cinema compiles the best repertory and art house screenings, special presentations, lectures, and limited engagements.
|Cave of Forgotten Dreams
|Force of Nature
|A Matter of Taste
|Dark Side of the Sun
It’s not often you come across a film that has no rating on Rotten Tomatoes, especially one that stars Brad Pitt. But that’s the case for The Dark Side of the Sun, the 1988 Yugoslavian tragedy starring an impossibly young Brad Pitt and Cheryl Pollak (best known from Melrose Place or My Best Friend is a Vampire, if that constitutes “knowing”).
Rick (Brad Pitt) suffers from a rare skin disease that has taken his family to the ends of the Earth (more specifically, Yugoslavia) to find a cure. As Rick can’t expose his skin to the sun, he jets around on a crotch-rocket in the Yugoslavian countryside, dressed from face to foot in skin-tight black leather (begging the question: What came first? The motorcycle or the leather?). Despite walking around looking like a sadomasochist gunning for a spanking, Frances (Pollak) falls for him. Deciding life is too short to live encased in a leather shell (fair enough), Rick faces the light for love, knowing it will eventually kill him.
Clearly we’re not working in the realm of, say, the Dardenne brothers’ subtly, but despite a stilted and rather confused script, one can see why Dark Side would garner pseudo cult status. Opening with a shot of whom will we discover to be Rick wearing an opaque helmet, he whispers, then yells as the camera pans up to the sun: “I want to live!” Drama. Pure drama. Then there’s the fact that director Bozidar Nikolic doesn’t reveal Pitt’s face until nearly halfway through the film. Watching this film today the very idea seems impossible, as Pitt’s blue eyes and scruffy beard have taken on near-mythic status, holding the power to impregnate women with one devilish wink. When Rick finally removes his mask, Pitt’s face becomes an utter moment in and of itself: stopping the film’s narrative and time as you are sucked into its beauty. Cinematic magic.
Beyond the film itself, there’s also its dramatic production history. Though it was shot in 1988, when the Croatian War broke out the project had to be abandoned and footage was destroyed, so like Rick, the film didn’t see the light of day for years. Finally released in 1997, it was marketed less as a film on its own right but rather as a Pitt cash-grab, capitalizing on the zenith of his 1990s heartthrob status.
Anyways, between a smokeshow Brad Pitt and the mysterious idea of the film’s lost footage (which may explain the rather bizarre ending), The Dark Side of the Sun is a whole lot of schlock with heart to match. Plus, there’s gratuitous nudity during a drag race on the beach and the soundtrack features Djordje Nikolic’s “I Love You Forever.” Win-win.
In case you missed the epic epicness that is Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary when it was playing at the Lightbox, here’s your chance to bask in the majestic 30,000-year-old cave drawings. Though seemingly a silly idea (cave drawings are after all, two dimensional) the film utilizes 3D to deepen the frame, exaggerating the sense of space in the Chauvet caves. Visual pleasure aside, Herzog’s musings take the film beyond Planet Earth nature porn. Known for his philosophical witticisms, here Herzog takes these to the next level, indulging his curiosity and epistemological questions alike. It’s philosophy in 3D.
Get your CanCon on this Wednesday at the most CanCon of establishments on the most CanCon of subjects: David Suzuki. Force of Nature examines the life of the man behind the white chin-beard. Winner of the audience prize (documentary) at TIFF last year, the film weaves Suzuki’s legacy lecture together with footage from his life, both personal and professional, while a finely tuned soundtrack guides the audience through the decades. Also, the screening is free! Like the birds and the bees! Nature!
Seems to be that we can’t get our fill of food-related flicks these days. Between Food Inc., Eli Bulli: Cooking in Progress, heck even Julie and Julia, we’re stuffing our faces with the genre. So we hope you left room for A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt. Directed by Sally Rowe, the documentary follows renowned chef Paul Liebrandt over a 10-year period, from his start on the lowest rungs in the kitchen to opening his own restaurant and becoming the of youngest chef ever to be awarded three stars by the New York Times. Sounds appetizing.