The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, April 6-12

Straw-Dogs

Straw Dogs (1971)
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Peckinpah’s relationship to the female body was as blistered and fractious as his love affair with celluloid. Typically in his films, women were just totems of lives lived in ecstatic torment, what desperadoes would retire to after killing everyone for miles. In Straw Dogs he opened the bandage covering the wounds he associated with women and out came the daughters of Nyx. Peckinpah’s doomed female, Susan George, of the sleepy eyes and sleepless demeanor, is surrounded by men turned criminally insane by testosterone and pride. She has an itch all over her body but one look at the hungry eyes of the sexually frustrated or the projecting and sexless, and we know scratching it would mean a bloodbath. Peckinpah punishes her for trying, and himself (and surrogate/coward Dustin Hoffman) for believing women are defined by masculine binary. Just as his frames thrust into each other like crashing cars, the truth, lies, beliefs and violence between men and women bend until they shatter, and no one escapes unscathed. Scout Tafoya (April 7, 2pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Peckinpah retrospective)

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