Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession 1981 is a difficult film to classify – part high-octane martial drama, suspenseful political allegory and disturbing psychological horror. Adored by fans and critics alike, it is receiving renewed attention following its long overdue restoration and Żuławski’s untimely death earlier this year. Here are three reasons why Possession still packs a punch:
1 | Straight couples are crazy! Inspired by his own messy divorce from actress Małgorzata Braunek, Possession transforms the idea of a marriage on the rocks into a conjugal meat grinder. Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and Mark (Sam Neill) are a couple overcome by rage and jealously, adultery and murder. The collapse of their relationship is visceral and supernatural – the stuff of absolute shock.
2 | Isabelle Adjani gives one of cinema’s most fearless performances and won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for it. Her scene in the Berlin U-Bahn station is a near-wordless expression of anguish that you will never forget. Film critic Justine A Smith once noted that ‘a man who has never seen Żuławski’s Possession does not truly understand what it is to be a woman.’
3 | Italian special effects maestro Carlo Rambaldi was responsible for the incredible phallic monster at the heart of Żuławski’s descent into madness. His work in Possession followed his award-winning creations for Ridley Scott’s Alien 1979.
Possession 1981 R18+
Director/Script: Andrzej Żuławski
35MM (Uncut Restoration) | English Subtitles
8.45pm Friday 10 June | 2Hrs 4Min | Buy Tickets
‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition ‘Cindy Sherman’. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen. Check out this week’s selection of films at GOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque.
Serial Mom 1994 M
Director/Script: John Waters
6pm Wednesday 8 June | 1Hr 35Min | Buy Tickets
John Waters puts a twist on the everyday mediocrity of suburban life in this hilarious satire. Kathleen Turner is Beverly Sutphin, the seemingly perfect homemaker who will stop at nothing to rid the neighbourhood of anyone failing to live up to her moral code.
Pink Flamingos 1972 R18+
Director: John Waters
16MM transferred to 35MM
7.45pm Wednesday 8 June | 1Hr 47Min | Buy Tickets
Filmmaker John Waters exploded into infamy with this darkly comic classic, in which cross-dresser Divine stars as Babs Johnson, a criminal in hiding from the FBI in a trailer outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Accompanying Babs are her mother (Edith Massey), a woman who is obsessed with eggs; her son Crackers (Danny Mills); and Cotton (Mary Vivian Pierce), Babs’s “travelling companion” and Crackers’ co-conspirator in unwholesome play.
Crimes of Passion 1984 R18+
Director: Ken Russell
35MM transferred to DCP
6.30pm Friday 10 June | 1Hr 52Min | Buy Tickets
By day, Joanna crane (Kathleen Turner) is a prim workaholic fashion designer. At night she becomes China Blue, a kinky hooker on the streets of Los Angeles. But when she finds herself being followed by a private investigator (John Laughlin) and stalked by a fanatical preacher (a truly over-the-top performance by Anthony Perkins), Joanna’s double life threatens to explode. In the world ruled by mad passion and holy obsession, can one woman survive the most dangerous emotion of all?
Mommie Dearest 1981 M
Director: Frank Perry
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Saturday 11 June | 2Hrs 9Min | Buy Tickets
Outrageous and controversial, this is the story of legendary movie star Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) as she struggles for her career and battles the inner demons of her private life. This torment was manifested in her relationships with her adopted children, Christina and Christopher. The public Crawford was a strong-willed, glamorous object of admiration, but Mommie Dearest reveals the private Crawford, the woman desperate to be a mother trying to survive in a devastating industry that swallows careers thoughtlessly.
Carrie 1976 R18+
Director: Brian De Palma
3.30PM Saturday 11 June | 1Hr 38Mins | Buy Tickets
Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is a gawky, unloved teenager whose awakening sexuality is at odds with her puritanical mother’s fanatical teachings. Physically abused at home and shunned at school, an unexpected Prom invitation seems to be Carrie’s first chance at happiness. But when the Prom night ends in a vicious practical joke, Carrie’s despair manifests itself in a fiery telekinetic revenge. Brian De Palma’s breakthrough psycho-sexual horror yarn is adapted from a Stephen King novel.
Grey Gardens 1975 PG
Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Muffie Meyer
35MM transferred to DCP
1pm Sunday 5 June | 1 Hr 34 Min | Buy Tickets
Grey Gardens is the name of a neglected, sprawling estate gone to seed. The crumbling mansion was home to Edith Bouvier Beale, often referred to as “Big Edie,” and her daughter, “Little Edie.” The East Hampton, Long Island, home became the centre of quite a scandal when it was revealed in 1973 that the reclusive aunt and cousin to Jackie O were living in a state of poverty and filth. That’s the background to this 1976 film portrait by cinéma vérité pioneers Albert and David Maysles, but it’s only incidental to the fascinating story they discover inside the estate walls.
Abus de faiblesse (Abuse of Weakness) 2013 15+
Director/Script: Catherine Breillat
DCP | English Subtitles
1PM Sunday 12 June | 1Hr 24Min | Buy Tickets
Inspired by director Catherine Breillat’s true life experiences, Abuse of Weakness is an exploration of power and sex. Isabelle Huppert stars as Maud, a strong willed filmmaker who suffers a stroke. Bedridden, but determined to pursue her latest film project, she sees Vilko (Kool Shen), a con man who swindles celebrities, on a TV talk show. Interested in him for her new film, the two meet and Maud soon finds herself falling for Vilko’s manipulative charm as their parasitic relationship hurdles out of control.
GOMA Talks Cindy Sherman | Free
6.30pm Thursday 21 and 28 July
Join us for discussions on contemporary feminism.
‘In Character’ | Until 28 August 2016
Tickets on sale through qtix (booking fees apply)
or at the GOMA Box Office from one hour prior to film screenings.
‘In Character’ is a cinema project developed in response to the exhibition Cindy Sherman. It brings together a cast of actresses and characters who challenge our expectations for the behaviour, desire and physicality of women onscreen.