BAMcinématek presents Terence Davies, 3/15-27


From Thursday, March 15 to Tuesday, March 27, BAMcinématek presents Terence Davies, a retrospective of the British auteur, from his three black-and-white shorts released as The Terence Davies Trilogy (1983), to a sneak preview of his newest film, The Deep Blue Sea (2011) starring Rachel Weisz.

Davies’ distinctive, noncommercial style has restricted his funding and kept him from prolificacy, with only six features in more than 20 years. Often shunning conventional plot structures in favor of delicately constructed, wittily composed collages of images and music that cut right to the heart of his story’s emotional core, Davies’ work is a personal exploration of memory, time, internal and external repression, childhood, religion, and alienation. 

The series, with films projected in 35mm (and one in 16mm), opens on Thursday, March 15 with a sneak preview of Davies’ adaption of Terence Rattigan’s play The Deep Blue Sea, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and closed the BFI London Film Festival in celebration of Rattigan’s centenary last year. Rachel Weisz plays a woman who leaves her husband (Simon Russell Beale) and their haut bourgeois life for a passionate, tragic relationship with a former RAF pilot (Tom Hiddleston). Davies adapts the playwright’s masterpiece—which takes place in an austere, bombed-out postwar London; it is shot by DP Florian Hoffmeister and set to a score by Samuel Barber.

The retrospective continues on Wednesday, March 21 with the nonfiction exploration of Davies’ hometown of Liverpool, Of Time and the City (2008). On Thursday, March 22 is The Terence Davies Trilogy screens, a work comprised of three shorts—Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980), and Death and Transfiguration (1983)—which Davies made while moonlighting as a British television actor and then attending the National Film School. The triptych showed an already-singular vision: a fascination with and exploration of memory, Catholic dogma, and his beloved Liverpool. His subsequent feature, Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988—screening Mar 23), is also set in the British port town; a compilation of two shorter films set in the 1940s and 50s about a domineering father (played terrifyingly by Pete Postlethwaite) and his working-class family, it was largely adapted from Davies’ own boyhood memories. For its 2007 re-release, The Guardian called it “Britain’s cinematic masterpiece,” and it came in third in Time Out London’s 100 best British films (after Don’t Look Now and The Third Man).

The retrospective also screens Davies’ version of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth (2000—screening Mar 24) starring Gillian Anderson in the performance of her career. And on Tuesday, March 27, the series closes with The Neon Bible (1995), his adaptation of the John Kennedy Toole novel starring Gena Rowlands.

The arrival of a new Davies film is always heralded by critics and cinephiles alike, and on the occasion of his latest work, BAMcinématek is honoring this Proustian master.

The Deep Blue Sea opens on March 23 in New York and Los Angeles through Music Box Films.

A new 35mm print of The Long Day Closes will screen at Film Forum from March 28 through April 3, completing his filmography.

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