The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, November 23-29

repertory-body-double

Body Double (1984)
Directed by Brian De Palma
Perhaps it’s best to view the much-maligned Body Double not as a serious thriller, but as a deadpan comedy with thriller elements. So overtly derivative are the Hitchcock homages here that one can’t help but laugh at how ridiculously blatant De Palma’s being this time around. But the joke’s not just on us, but also on Jake Scully (Craig Wasson), with much of the first half playing as a lampoon of the struggling-actor hero’s professional, personal and sexual inadequacies. De Palma reserves his most amusing meta-movie conceits, though, for the second half, with Jake playacting a porn producer in order to get close to adult star Holly Body (Melanie Griffith), his descent into the hardcore-porn underground depicted as a hedonistic music video set to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” In the end, it’s Jake’s own re-imagining of the film’s opening scene—his claustrophobia-induced failure while playing a vampire in a low-budget exploitation flick—that helps him finally achieve the potency he so desperately seeks throughout. With the film’s central mystery pretty easy to guess if you know Vertigo well, one is free to simply enjoy Body Double as an endlessly playful lark from a filmmaker interested in gratifying himself and daring us to watch. Kenji Fujishima (November 25, 9:15pm; November 27, 6pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Identity in the Cinema”)

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