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

nyc repertory cinema-ghost world

Ghost World (2001)
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
There are some films that open up holes in the world and create safe spaces for viewers to hide inside. Ghost World is such a work. After making documentary films about artistry realized outside of—and even happily in opposition to—the commercial mainstream, the American director Zwigoff completed his first fiction feature with ample inspiration from two sources of deep personal love. He drew from comic book art in close collaboration with Daniel Clowes, the author of Ghost World’s source graphic novel, and played up the importance of blues music through the character of Seymour (played by Steve Buscemi), a lonesome collector of vintage LPs. Seymour lives in an unidentified blah-blah town, as do Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) and Enid (Thora Birch), two disaffected companions who gradually move into his orbit during the weeks that follow their graduation from high school. Enid in particular grows particularly attached to a kindred spirit whose path first connects vividly with hers when she listens over and over to the record she’s borrowed from him of “Devil Got My Woman”, by Skip James.

Mark Asch once wrote phenomenally about Hou Hsiao-hsien’s work that, “These are movies to live your whole life with.” The same could be said about Ghost World, which offers not so much narrative as it does a portrait of a shared moment of lostness, the kind of which many (perhaps all of us) pass through and to which memory often returns. The still-active Zwigoff’s very beautiful film will screen at the Metrograph on 35mm during the opening night of a retrospective of the director’s five released feature-length films. The director and Steve Buscemi will hold a Q&A following the early screening and introduce the late show. Aaron Cutler (May 19, 6:45pm, 9:15pm at the Metrograph’s Zwigoff series)

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