The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, June 8-14

the-fury-de palma-cassavetes

The Fury (1978)
Directed by Brian De Palma
This iconic and exhilarating hybrid of everything that’s good and fun—horror, sci-fi, action, etc.—feels like X-Men: First Class written by Robert Ludlum. It’s about a superspy (Kirk Douglas) evading the international cabals that turned against him—led by a Magneto-like John Cassavetes, sinister and cool—while searching for his abducted, extrasensorily gifted son with the help of a telepathic girl. De Palma’s follow-up to Carrie uses that movie’s parapsychology as a jumping off point; yes, here too there are mean girls getting comeuppance via telekinesis, but The Fury is more ambitious than Stephen King’s adolescence allegory. (Prolific genre writer John Farris adapted his own novel.)

It’s also crassly commercial, borrowing from other popular entertainments: the opening scene, on a Mid-East beach, feels like Jaws with the shark replaced by terrorists. (Cassavetes is a rich man’s Roy Scheider.) But The Fury has given back more than it borrowed: it’s had a conspicuous influence on so much subsequent cinema, especially David Cronenberg’s, and you can guess why. Its vivid settings and compelling action, anchored by sturdy actors, are epically envisioned and executed, from a telekinetic freakout at a carnival—which makes Carrie’s prom-night climax look like what it is: kids’ stuff—to its classic kaboom ending. This is gripping, goofy, gonzo cinema, among the best of its kind. Henry Stewart (Jun 12, 9:30pm at Metrograph’s De Palma retrospective)

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