The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, August 17-23

nyc repertory cinema-blow-up

Blow-Up (1966)
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Even now, 50 years after its release, the enigmatic depths of Blow-Up continue to boggle the mind. Considering the arc of its main photographer character, Thomas (David Hemmings)—temporarily energized from his emotional disaffection when he discovers he has inadvertently captured a murder—one could read the film as just a cautionary tale of the dangers of being detached from the wider world. This surface theme, however, is enriched immensely by its qualities as a character study. Thomas is a man who prizes visual beauty above seemingly everything else, seeing people, objects and events as little more than potential camera subjects; it’s telling that when he discovers the corpse he has accidentally photographed still lying in a park at night, he seems more concerned with photographing it for his upcoming book than reporting it to the police. Perhaps, for a filmmaker who has often been celebrated more for his eye for images than for his engagement with human beings, there is a level of auto-critique to Blow-Up as well, with Antonioni using Thomas as a vessel for questioning his own motives as an artist. By reflecting on his own perspective, though, he manages to implicate us all in the film’s lustrous color imagery, oblique dialogue exchanges and contemplative rhythms. Kenji Fujishima (August 19, 7pm; August 21, 4:15pm; August 22, 9pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Identity in the Cinema”)

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