Experience ‘Powaqqatsi,’ ‘Naqoyqatsi’ at HFA, then go low with B-film fest of crime, ‘Plan 9’
Two impressive programs play the Harvard Film Archive this weekend and extend into the fall: “Godfrey Reggio, Cinematic Seer” and “The B-Film: Low-Budget Hollywood Cinema 1935-1959.” On Friday and Saturday, pioneering filmmaker Reggio will be in attendance for screenings of “Powaqqatsi” (1988) and “Naqoyqatsi” (2002), his emotionally stirring non-narratives about the world around us. The films are part of Reggio’s Qatsi trilogy and in Hopi mean “life in transformation” and “life as war,” respectively. They’re emotionally roiling collages that one can only assume inspired Victor Kossakovsky’s recent awe-striking contemplation about water, “Aquarela.” Renowned composer Philip Glass scores Reggio’s evocations aptly and affectingly. The film that started it all, “Koyaanisqatsi” (1982), or “life out of balance,” screens Friday at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre with Glass and the Philip Glass Ensemble performing live. On Oct. 14, Reggio’s last completed feature, “Visitors” (2013), rounds out the program.
Also this weekend, the “B-Film” series ramps up (it runs through the end of November) with “Crime Wave” (1954) and “Plunder Road” (1957). For “Crime Wave,” about a hardboiled dick on the street trying to catch five escapees, director André De Toth famously rebuked Humphrey Bogart and Ava Gardner as leads and instead cast Sterling Hayden as his tough guy. Also making waves, raised in Paris and friends with a young Jean-Luc Godard was Hubert Cornfield, whose gritty train heist noir “Plunder Road” would influence the cool retro-hip crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville. Bolstered by the rain-streaked black and white cinematography of Ernest Haller, the film is an alluring visual wonderment. Other diverse offerings on the program’s slate include “The Leopard Man” (1943, Monday), “Gun Crazy” (1950, Oct 11), Ed Wood’s notorious classic “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1959, Oct. 26) and “The Narrow Margin (1952, Nov. 8).
For tickets and information, see the HFA’s cool redesigned website.