Deeper Into Movies

Writers have always shaped our relationship to movies, their words responsible for both inspiring what ends up on screen, and for sealing such films’ fate. Deeper Into Movies, like the legendary critic Pauline Kael for whom it is named, aims to delve deeply into films, chosen and presented by the writers who love and hate them, who inspired and are inspired by them.

Emma Straub presents "The Squid and the Whale"

6/5/2016 - 6:30PM

New York Times best-selling author Emma Straub joins us to present Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale. In ‘80s Brooklyn, when a couple of infrequently publishing writers could live in a spacious Park Slope brownstone with their two kids, the self-absorbed duo announce plans to separate, upending the lives of their children. The acerbic bunch, parents included, fail to handle the adjustment well, but the characters are so monstrous—save perhaps for the younger son, a self-proclaimed philistine—that it seems implausible that they were even marginally more loving prior to the separation. Drawing out painfully harsh moments between family members with dark humor and wry wit, Baumbach—the child of two writers—hones in on the inescapable drama of the nuclear family, a subject also near and dear to Straub’s work. Watch closely, and you might catch a glimpse of Emma in the film…

The film will be followed by a conversation with Emma and copies of her new book, Modern Lovers, will be available for purchase.

Dir Noah Baumbach, 2005, 35mm, 81 min.

Jonathan Lethem presents "Bigger Than Life"

5/25/2016 - 7:30PM

New York Times best-selling author and MacArthur fellow Jonathan Lethem joins us to present Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life. A family drama with a Hitchcockian streak, Bigger Than Life is an Eisenhower-era paranoia-laden CinemaScope masterpiece, based on a piece in the New Yorker authored by medical writer Berton Roueché. Careening between melodrama, sci-fi, and horror — Lethem calls the film “Douglas Sirk meets Oliver Sacks” — this poignant and precise vision of ‘50s American life and the fantasy/nightmare of the nuclear family plays like speculative fiction, with medical experiments acting as a harbinger for wild fears of fascism, state power, and class shame. Ray expertly teases out the precariousness inherent in the explicit conventionality of James Mason, Barbara Rush, and Walter Matthau’s characters — a school teacher, his wife, and his best friend, respectively. The group who, as Lethem notes, “rest uneasily on their bed of normality,” feel their quotidian lives violently upended in a Shining-esque trip down a post-WWII Americana rabbit hole.

The film will be followed by a conversation with Lethem.

Dir. Nicholas Ray, 1956, DCP, 95 min.