Scripts on Films (January to April 2017)

Introduction of Film Society Lincoln Center Series Illuminating MoonlightWith the ravishing, unforgettable Moonlight, Barry Jenkins has established himself as one of today’s major voices in independent American filmmaking. This series brings together Jenkins’s two features (including his ripe-for-rediscovery debut, Medicine for Melancholy) with a selection of films that informed the making of his latest, handpicked by the director himself. These major works of queer, black, and international art cinema are, like Moonlight, rich, stylistically sensual, and compassionate portraits of outsiders. Taken together, the films in this series serve to contextualize Jenkins’s work and offer insight into the making of a modern masterpiece.

Introduction of Film Society Lincoln Center film Raging Bull: Robert De Niro’s Method dedication was taken to new levels with the story of Jake La Motta, a self-destructive boxer whose violence and temper made and broke his career. Coming off 1978’s Vietnam War saga The Deer Hunter, De Niro altered his physique twice during the making of Raging Bull: first, to the lean muscle of a professional boxer 15 years his junior; and second, to the 50-pounds-heavier La Motta of the late 1950s, a nightclub owner and nearly unrecognizable transformation of his former self. Beyond the physical, De Niro infuses the raging bull with animalistic rage, a man of mantras aching with pain, weakness, jealousy, and ambition—perhaps the actor’s finest performance. Winner of the Best Actor Academy Award.

Program notes by Durga Chew-Bose (Metrograph Series: Too Much and Not the Mood): Nothing has influenced my writing more than how I watch movies—how I’ve always watched movies. Sometimes the same ones, over and over. I’ll forget the plot of a film, but remember, for instance, how an actor slumps in her chair or folds her arms to convey disinterest. For whatever reason I’ll watch a film, new-to-me yet heralded as a masterwork, and mostly be charmed by how the lead tosses fries in his mouth or how the booths in a pivotal diner scene are an unlikely shade of green.

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