Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 341: Sun Dec 11

Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1959): Cinema Museum, 6pm

Cinema Museum introduction to 35mm screening:
The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Club
 returns with its brand new season – Imitations of Life: Deconstructing Camp in Classic Hollywood. We will explore how camp has been used not only to bring joy and laughter to audience, but also as a tool to get subversive queer, feminist and socially-charged content to the screen – all the while eluding critics in the process! Each movie is preceded by an introduction and followed by a panel discussion discussing the movie through a queer lens, and a conversation with the audience.

Why you can’t miss it: Let’s start by this film’s hefty pedigree: it is directed by Douglas Sirk, whose lush melodramas (such as Magnificent Obsession (1954) and Written on the Wind (1956)) have been a huge influence on queer directors such as Todd Haynes and Pedro Almodóvar. It is also produced by gay Hollywood producer extraordinaire Ross Hunter, who sold audiences on artifice, not reality.
Writer Rick Gould summarises the film best: “the 1959 remake is a soap opera as grand opera: every emotion is emblazoned, every scene is elegant pageantry. Lana Turner’s glamorous face and figure mightily sold Imitation of Life, but ultimately, Juanita Moore was the movie’s heart.” With this grandest of all melodramas, we explore how camp could be used not only to create a glossy and sensuous world, but also to expose socially conscious topics while still eliciting a strong emotional response from audiences.

Chicago Reader review:
Douglas Sirk's 1959 film was the biggest grosser in Universal's history until the release of Airport, yet it's also one of the most intellectually demanding films ever made in Hollywood. The secret of Sirk's double appeal is a broadly melodramatic plotline, played with perfect conviction yet constantly criticized and challenged by the film's mise-en-scene, which adds levels of irony and analysis through a purely visual inflection. Lana Turner stars as a young widow and mother who will do anything to realize her dreams of Broadway stardom; her story is intertwined with that of Susan Kohner, the light-skinned daughter of Turner's black maid, who is tempted to pass for white. By emphasizing brilliant surfaces, bold colors, and the spatial complexities of 50s moderne architecture, Sirk creates a world of illusion, entrapment, and emotional desperation. With John Gavin, Sandra Dee, Dan O'Herlihy, Robert Alda, and Juanita Moore.
Dave Kehr

Here (and above) is the trailer.

No comments: