Bette Gordon and Lizzie Borden

Klute (introduced by Lizzie Borden)

6/10/2017 - 9PM

“I love Klute for Jane Fonda’s Bree, full of contradictions – in one scene, she hums a hymn while smoking a joint and consulting Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. No victim, she feels empowered by hooking and objectified by modeling auditions. She is the most modern of sex workers.” –Lizzie Borden

Moody neo-noir and the first film in Alan J. Pakula’s paranoid trilogy (followed by The Parallax View and All the President’s Men), murder mystery Klute is a stylish and shadowy hot bolt of anxiety. Bree Daniels (a steely Jane Fonda at the height of her fame) is a brash, bohemian call girl, thrust into the orbit of small town detective Klute (Donald Sutherland in one of his first major performances) yet determined to maintain the power she so effortlessly wields. The film’s magnetic dread washes over the two – and 1970s New York – as they marginally upend each others’ psyches, bit by bit. Ambiguous editing and masterful cinematography by Gordon Willis (The Godfather, Manhattan) ratchet up terror around the mysterious, murderous presence, but also the film’s other horror: the violent politics of relationships between men and women.

Dir. Alan J. Pakula, 1971, 35mm, 114 min.

Bette Gordon & Lizzie Borden in conversation, featuring The Drowning

6/10/2017 - 5PM

Independent filmmakers, friends – and bearers of sonically similar names – Lizzie Borden (Working Girls, Born in Flames) and Bette Gordon (Variety, Handsome Harry) join us for a conversation! Following their discussion, we’ll screen Gordon’s new film, The Drowning.

Based on a Pat Barker novel, The Drowning is a taut thriller – a genre Gordon mastered with the 1983 Variety. The film follows an exceedingly normal couple (played by Josh Charles and Julia Stiles) as the glassy ordinariness of their lives is easily punctured by the appearance of a young, unpredictable man. Charles’s character is a child psychologist and the film is a psychological thriller, for certain – but it is ultimately Gordon’s interest in narrative tension that takes center stage.

Dir. Bette Gordon, 2016, DCP, 95 min.

Watch the trailer!

Peeping Tom (introduced by Bette Gordon)

6/9/2017 - 10:15PM

“I like to watch. I have always been fascinated by the cinema and the secretive voyeuristic pleasure I get from looking at people on the screen. Peeping Tom, a film about voyeurism, hit me like a bolt of lightening when I saw it in 1980 (20 years after its release). The film accentuates the very mechanisms of looking and the gender divide that separates the secret observer – male – from the object of his gaze – female. Peeping Tom was in my mind when I set out to make Variety, a film about a woman who looks back.”
- Bette Gordon

Effectively destroying Michael Powell’s career upon its release – and later heralded as a masterpiece – Peeping Tom is a proto-giallo, horror-thriller about a serial killer who loves to look. Taking voyeurism as its subject, the film is a psychological minefield, with a Freudian take on relationships between subject and objects, voyeur and victims. Introduced by Bette Gordon!

Dir. Michael Powell, 1960, DCP, 101 min.

Variety (w/ Bette Gordon in person)

Variety_still booth
6/9/2017 - 7:30PM

Drenched in the sumptuous cherry red neon of a pre-Guiliani Times Square, Variety is a Hitchcockian thriller flipped on its axis: our voyeur is a Hitchcock blonde and her objet a man. Christine (Sandy McLeod) takes a job at a porn theater, where she sits in a vestibule selling tickets to men – a trifling job which begets deep fascinations. Gordon sketches Christine’s psychic transformation with mesmerizing, cinematic sequences that tease out the authoritative power of particularly gendered transactions and spaces – like a dreamy montage of men shaking hands, the seedy Variety theater itself, black town cars on financial district streets, and the Fulton Fish Market. It’s also a who’s who of downtown NY – penned by Kathy Acker, scored by Jim Jarmusch collaborator John Lurie, and with appearances by Nan Goldin, Luis Guzman, and Cookie Mueller. Upon its release, the film ran at the real Variety theater, no doubt to some audience members that could just as easily be denizens of the film’s world.

Dir. Bette Gordon, 1983, 35mm, 100 min.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!