The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, July 20-26


Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Directed by Ruggero Deodato
An exploitation film that criticizes exploitation by being exploitative. That’s the best way to define Cannibal Holocaust without inspiring vomiting or heavy drinking. Deodato biographer Julian Grainger even called it “the bastard son of the mondo genre,” and it’s a bitter one, too. Behind every grueling and unwavering sequence of brutal rape, live animal mutilation, and, yes, cannibalism is a middle finger for both the media hubs commissioning such profitable footage and the privileged audiences hungry for it. Mondo films sensationalized real and faked documentary footage, with sex and death as the major draws. In current news cycles, much hasn’t changed, firming Deodato’s legacy despite his volatile methods. A major offense remains his manipulation of the Amazonian cannibal tribes to fit the Westernized image of savage primitivism, even if it serves the faked documentary within “directed” by three American filmmakers who can’t shake their home country’s colonialist instincts. Otherwise, Deodato’s on point; the camera fabricates intimacy by using zooms from afar (especially when capturing the Amazonians as audiences for their own carnage), Rizo Ortolani’s easy-listening score increases in distractive irony, and the closing image of skyscrapers rivals the jungle trees in meance. Max Kyburz (July 25, 9pm; July 30, 4:30pm at Anthology Film Archives’ “Mondo Mondo”)


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