Today at 2 p.m., the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s BAMcinématek kicks off “Vengeance Is Hers,” a showcase of 20 classic female revenge films. The series spans genres, decades, and continents, so there’s something for everyone – but if you’re having trouble picking the one (…or two, or five) flick(s) to catch, here’s a quick breakdown of this week’s offerings. Tickets and screening information are available at the website above.
Friday, Feb 7, 2 & 7 pm: Medea (1969), dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian with English subtitles. An adaptation of the Ancient Greek crazy-ex-girlfriend legend, it’s an epic that will make you want to take up Wicca and/or kill all your exes. To say it’s light on dialogue is an understatement, but for those who dig two-hour mythical Italian killing sprees, this is a home run.
Friday, Feb 7, 4:30 & 9:30 pm: Ms. 45 (1981), dir. Abel Ferrara. A mute garment worker is raped twice, and then ventures around 80s NYC at night, killing every man who hits on her. A violence-fest, but vindicating, especially for scenes of star Zoe Lund dressed as a sexy murderous nun.
Saturday, Feb 8, 7 pm: Blue Steel (1989), dir. Kathryn Bigelow. Jamie Lee Curtis – far from Activia-land – plays a rookie cop assigned to a homicide investigation that quickly becomes a game of psychological torture. A police thriller, but a very artsy and gripping one. 9:30 pm: Ms. 45.
Sunday, Feb 9, 2 & 6 pm: Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), dir. Chantal Akerman, French with English subtitles. For Criterion-collecting types. Regarded as a breakthrough in French cinema, it can be a chore at times, clocking in at over three hours, much of which is concerned with Jeanne’s daily routine. But there’s a dramatic payoff at the end, and Akerman is an icon of feminist filmmaking. 9:50 pm: Ms. 45.
Monday, Feb 10, 7:30 pm: Secret Defense (1998), dir. Jacques Rivette, French with English subtitles. Sylvie, a research scientist, investigates her father’s death, which she believes to be at the hand of his business partner. A Hitchcock-esque murder mystery, but in French, so it’s cooler.
Tuesday, Feb 11, 4:30 & 7 & 9:15 pm: Kuroneko (1968), dir. Kaneto Shindô, Japanese with English subtitles. This Japanese folktale of ghostly revenge is seriously beautiful, and features ample gory murders and creepily dreamy setups. This movie is fairly hard to track down, though it contains lots of elegant shots that benefit from the big-screen treatment.
Wednesday, Feb 12, 4:30 & 7 & 9:30 pm: Hyenas (1992), dir. Djibril Diop Mambéty, Wolof with English subtitles. A comedy about a rich woman who offers a fortune to her old town in exchange for the murder of her former lover.
Thursday, Feb 13, 5 & 9:30 pm: The Match Factory Girl (1990), dir. Aki Kaurismäki, Finnish with English subtitles. Awkward and shy factory worker Iiris gets knocked up by by a one-night stand, and takes her revenge when he abandons her. Depressing, but also funny. In a depressing way.
7 pm: The Heiress (1949), dir. William Wyler. A rare film from the golden age of cinema with a truly feminist undertone, starring the great Olivia de Havilland in an Oscar-winning role as a young heiress with an abusive father, courted by dreamy-but-suspicious Montgomery Clift.