Beginning today in Brooklyn, BAMcinématek will offer up the second weekend of its terrific “Booed at Cannes” series, which is comprised of a slate of films that were received rather divisively upon their world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, which is perhaps the most prestigious one on the planet. Today, many of the films featured in the programming have attained near-universal admiration, a fact that makes the films’ contentious histories even more enjoyable: when the inaugural “Booed at Cannes” screening took place last week (the film was 1964’s Gertrud, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s final directorial effort), more than a few audience members let out a tongue-in-cheek boo as the opening credits rolled, as if to momentarily acknowledge the film’s trobled past.
Other films screened in the series thus far include Under the Sun of Satan, Maurice Pialat’s piercing 1987 Palme d’Or winner starring French legend Gérard Depardieu as a priest descending into animalistic turmoil; Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Eclisse, a somber examination of materialism that feels all the more relevant today; two provocative David Lynch films, Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, the latter of which is one of the director’s very best; and Jean Eustache’s three-and-a-half hour The Mother and the Whore, which, humorously, was hand-picked to screen on Mother’s Day.
These are all interesting, complicated pictures, and this weekend’s lineup is no less distinguished. Tonight’s film, Federico Fellini’s The Voice of the Moon, was the director’s swansong, and yet it never even received a proper release here in the United States. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, meanwhile, are stocked with more exciting prospects: David Cronenberg’s Crash, about an underworld in which car-crashes and sharp objects are supremely erotic; Martin Scorsese’s classic Taxi Driver, which hardly needs an introduction; and Robert Bresson’s 1983 L’Argent.
These days, booing at Cannes is almost expected: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, for instance, which won the Palme d’Or (the festival’s top prize) in 2011 and went on to receive multiple Oscar nominations, was greeted with an equal amount of cheers and jeers when it premiered. But the value of BAMcinématek’s “Booed at Cannes” series is undeniable nonetheless: it puts credible films up there on the big screen, and, in an age in which all the multiplexes are projecting their films digitally, BAMcinématek is doing so in 35mm. And the pristine film prints, many of them shipped in from overseas, are worth every pretty penny.