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Dressed to Kill

(1980, 105 mins, DCP)
CAST Michael Caine, Nancy Allen, Angie Dickinson, Keith Gordon, Dennis Franz
Classification: 19+


Jul 02 08:30 pm
Jul 07 02:00 pm

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Fashionable Manhattan therapist Dr Robert Elliott (Michael Caine) faces true horror when a psychotic killer begins attacking the women in his life (Angie Dickinson; Nancy Allen) with a straight razor stolen from his office. Desperate to find the murderer before anyone else is hurt, Elliott is drawn into a dark and disturbing world. And as the doctor edges closer to the terrible truth he is in danger of losing himself in a labyrinth of obsession, deviance and desire.

De Palma invented the sex thriller here, drawing liberally from Hitchcock and from the slasher horror movies so popular in the wake of Halloween.

"A sustained work of terror - elegant, sensual, erotic, bloody! De Palma never lets up! A directorial tour de force!" Los Angeles Times

De Palma

(2016, 107 mins, DCP)
FEATURING Brian De Palma
Classification: 19+


Jul 01 08:35 pm
Jul 02 06:20 pm
Jul 03 05:00 pm
Jul 04 02:10 pm
Jul 05 08:35 pm
Jul 07 08:35 pm
Jul 12 08:30 pm
Jul 14 04:20 pm

Save by purchasing a 3 ticket pack for only $30.


He doesn’t have any Academy Awards to his name, and his relationship with the critics has been tempestuous at best, but there is a school of thought that argues Brian De Palma may be the most gifted American filmmaker of his generation (a generation that includes Martin Scorsese,Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas et al.) Certainly he is a supreme visual storyteller, a cinematic orchestrator of menace and mayhem who elevates sordid and perverse suspense stories into transcendent works of operatic impact. Movies like Blow Out, Carlito’s Way, Scarface, Carrie, Obsession and The Untouchables (all screening in our accompanying retrospective) demand to be savoured on the big screen, where they belong.

In this candid, compelling, often very funny interview conducted by fellow filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow, De Palma talks us through his long rollercoaster career, and talks illuminatingly about the nexus of cinephilia, voyeurism, politics, Hitchcock and Hollywood that have produced such a flamboyantly personal yet commercial body of work.

3-ticket pack available for De Palma series

"A cinephile’s nirvana." The Guardian

"Acolytes of Brian De Palma’s flavorful, flamboyant filmography hardly need reminding of his acrobatic ability as a visual storyteller; what they’ll learn from De Palma is that in front of the camera, he’s a pretty marvelous raconteur, too." Guy Lodge, Variety

"De Palma is a joy: a hit of garrulous cinephile cocaine so pure you want to do a Tony Montana, fall face-first into it and inhale it all in one go." Jessica Klang, Playlist

Body Double

(1984, 114 mins, DCP)
CAST Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Deborah Shelton, Dennis Franz
Classification: 19+


Jul 03 08:50 pm

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Patrick Bateman’s favourite movie (in Brett Easton Ellis’s novel American Psycho, Bateman claims to have watched it 37 times), Body Double is another conflation of Rear Window and Psycho, but much more than that, this is De Palma taking perverse pleasure is outraging the feminist critics who had attacked Dressed to Kill so vehemently.

In the new documentary De Palma talks about how he tried to cast a genuine porn star in the lead role, Holly Body (the studio nixed that idea, and he cast Tippi Hedron’s daughter Melanie Griffith instead). Still, it’s hard to think of another mainstream movie the other side of Boogie Nights that’s so frank about LA’s other film industry, a shadow movie capital that was enormously profitable in the VHS era of the mid-80s. No hypocrite, De Palma doesn’t moralize against the porn industry, but revels in the absurdity of it all: this is a movie about the pleasures of seeing, but also the fickle, illusory nature of spectacle. In the immortal words of Frankie Goes to Hollywood (who have a cameo here): "Relax".

"It’s a mystery, a romance, a horror flick, and a straight-faced parody all rolled into one unique little movie." Scott Weinberg, DVD Clinic

"De Palma’s signature film." Eric Henderson, Slant

"While Blow Out is the undisputed masterpiece from De Palma’s so-called "red period," Body Double might be the most flat-out fun." The Playlist

Carlito's Way

(1993, 144 mins, DCP)
CAST Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo, Luis Guzman
Classification: 19+


Jul 14 08:30 pm
Jul 15 01:00 pm

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Along with Blow Out this is arguably peak De Palma (he implies as much himself in the new documentary that accompanies this series). A classic gangster film, updated to the disco era of the late 70s (and reuniting the director with his Scarface star, Al Pacino), Carlito’s Way is the tale of a drug kingpin who vows to go straight - and means it. Trouble is, nobody believes him: not his old friends and cronies, not his enemies, not even his best friend and lawyer (Sean Penn).

Brilliantly directed, Carlito’s Way is a genre movie delivered with such conviction and panache it has the heft and pull of grand opera and high tragedy. At the opposite end of the emotional spectrum to Scarface, this is surely De Palma’s warmest and most romantic movie, it has simplicity and purity rare in his work, but orchestrated with his customary skill.

"Everything about Carlito’s Way (1993) is improbable, starting with the fact that it’s a masterpiece." Matt Zoller Seitz, Reverse Shot

Blow Out

(1981, 107 mins, DCP)
CAST John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz
Classification: 19+


Jul 14 06:30 pm
Jul 15 03:40 pm

Save by purchasing a 3 ticket pack for only $30.


"The consensus choice for Brian De Palma’s greatest movie, this deeply neurotic 1981 conspiracy thriller churns the director’s most profound obsessions through the analog mechanics of cinema. Set in Philadelphia (but more accurately located somewhere between Blow-Up and The Conversation), the story concerns sound technician Jack Terry (John Travolta), whose equipment inadvertently records proof that a fatal car accident was the result of an assassination attempt. Sending Jack on a dangerous path that puts him in the crosshairs of a merciless killer (John Lithgow, natch), Blow Out builds to a haunting final scene that illustrates just how literally filmmakers transmute their anguish into the films their audiences come to love." David Ehrlich, Rolling Stone

"Nancy Allen gives the film its soul; Travolta gives it gravity and weight and passion. Seeing this film is like experiencing the body of De Palma’s work and seeing it in a new way… It’s a great movie." Pauline Kael, New Yorker

Vancouver Iranian Film Society presents: Atomic Heart

(Madare ghalb atomi)
(2015, 93 mins, DCP)
In Farsi, Arabic, English with English subtitles
CAST Taraneh Alidoosti, Pegah Ahangarani, Mehrdad Sedighiyan, Mohammad Reza Golzar.
Classification: 19+


Jul 13 08:30 pm

On the way home from a wild party, Arineh and Nobahar cause a car accident. A mysterious stranger offers to cover their costs and refuses to be reimbursed. Instead he asks the two girls to follow him into the unknown. Very quickly, whilst traveling through a nighttime Tehran full of mysteries and surprises, Arineh and Nobahar discover a parallel world of the unexpected, the existence of which they had never imagined.

Pitched somewhere between dream and reality, this surreal tale follows two party girls and their close encounter with… the devil? “An exciting example of Iranian independent filmmaking, one that gives hope for the future.” Alissa Simon, Variety

“A genuine surprise… Ali Ahmadzadeh’s peculiar Atomic Heart, a film which begins with a duo of ambling, well-to-do young women as they return from a party. Inevitably, Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy and Certified Copy spring to mind, only for Ahmadzadeh to take a sharp turn into philosophical sci-fi around the midway point, complete with multiple realities and Saddam Hussein.” James Berclaz-Lewis, Indiewire

Special screening: On the Farm (aka "Unclaimed")

(2016, 90 mins)
CAST Elle-Maije Tailfeathers, Sara Canning, Sarah Strange, Patrick Gallagher
Classification: 19+


Jul 17 07:15 pm

The Robert Pickton case is a personal tragedy for hundreds of the victims’ friends and family members; it is also a terrible blight on the reputation of Vancouver and British Columbia. Nine years after Pickton’s conviction and 15 years after he was apprehended for the murders of (he claimed) up to 50 women from the Downtown Eastside, how can a film best approach this important but troubling material?

In adapting journalist Stevie Cameron’s book On The Farm, producer Rupert Harvey, screenwriter Dennis Foon and director Rachel Talalay have elected to keep the focus predominantly on the women: the addicts and sex workers of East Hastings; the social activists who offer refuge to that community; and a female cop who - along with too few of her colleagues in the VPD and RCMP - believes the missing women deserve serious investigation.

Eschewing sensationalism and relegating Pickton himself to a bit-part, the film is inevitably, and rightly, a demanding watch, but its sympathies are clear to see, alongside an uncompromising indictment of the callous sexism, exploitation and social neglect that allowed Pickton’s crimes to go undetected for so long.

This special preview screening in advance of the film’s CBC broadcast next weekend will be followed by a panel discussion.


(2015, 97 mins, DCP)
In French with English subtitles
CAST Andy Gillet, Victoria Guerra, Johan Libereau, Jonathan Genet, Sabine Azema
Classification: 19+


Jul 29 08:15 pm
Jul 30 07:30 pm
Jul 31 05:00 pm
Aug 02 04:00 pm
Aug 03 08:15 pm

The late Andrzej Zulawski’s final film, a literary adaptation suffused with his trademark freneticism, transforms Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz’s novel of the same name into an ominous and manic exploration of desire. Witold who has just failed the bar, and his companion Fuchs, who has recently quit his fashion job, are staying at a guesthouse run by the intermittently paralytic Madame Woytis. Upon discovering a sparrow hanged in the woods near the house, Witold’s reality mutates into a whirlwind of tension, histrionics, foreboding omens, and surrealistic logic as he becomes obsessed with Madame Woytis’s daughter Lena, newly married to Lucien. Winner: Best Director, Locarno Film Festival 2015

"Often hilarious, confounding and downright strange… a demented philosophical puzzle that’s fun to scrutinize in all of its baffling uncertainties." Eric Kohn, Indiewire

"A wild adaptation of the Wiltold Gombrowicz novel of the same name, Cosmos is an appropriately chaotic, bright, eerie, and crazed work… The film’s animation of the text can be sensorially overwhelming as scenes are rendered into relentless tableaux of action and noise. But this too-muchness feels at home in Zulawski’s hands, and he channels it into a captivating, annoying, masterpiece." Rachel Rakes, Artforum

"Zuławski’s film is all rhyme and poetry and the pleasure of nonsense. Not nonsense as in “meaninglessness” but nonsense as an alternative to the sensical, to the rational… The world that Żuławski’s final film creates is one that is fundamentally cinematic, artistic, poetic." Yaron Dahan, Senses of Cinema

The General

(1998, 124 mins, 35mm)
CAST Brendan Gleeson, Jon Voight, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Adrian Dunbar
Classification: 19+


Jul 11 08:30 pm

John Boorman (Point Blank, Deliverance, Hope and Glory) surprised everyone with this boisterous, energetic thriller based on a real life Dublin criminal, Martin Cahill. It’s an oblique take on "The Troubles", but one that pays off in spades (and hearts and diamonds too). The movie also made an unexpected star out of hitherto unknown Brendan Gleeson and really set the template for movies like In Bruges and Intermission.

"Dublin, the 1980s and ’90s. Martin Cahill (Gleeson) is forever a few steps ahead of the police, cocking a snook at all the authority figures he’s detested since a childhood in the slums, defined by poverty, petty crime and priestly abuse. Determined to get his man, Inspector Ned Kenny (Voight) nevertheless views him with grudging respect, but it’s only when he arranges full time surveillance that Cahill’s loyal gang begin to buckle under pressure; even then, the self-styled Godfather can probably count on the support of his wife (Kennedy), her sister (Ball), his right-hand man Noel (Dunbar), and an amused, hero-hungry public, so that his pranks and perversions of justice go unpunished. But how long can he get away with refusing to hand over a portion of his spoils to the IRA? Boorman’s energetic account of Cahill’s real-life escapades (from the book by Paul Williams) is notable for its deft characterisations and authenticity: while Cahill’s sentiments and actions are appreciated as the exploits of a canny born rebel, we’re never allowed to forget that he’s also volatile, violent and, whatever his feelings for his family, ultimately self-obsessed. All the performances are impressive, but Gleeson and Voight are especially memorable, lending an almost tragic air of inexorability to Cahill and Kenny’s cat-and-mouse games." Geoff Andrew, Time Out

"Boorman’s film is shot in wide-screen black and white, and as it often does, black and white emphasizes the characters and the story, instead of setting them awash in atmosphere." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times


(1998, 70 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell


Jul 25 08:20 pm

Blocked writer Bill (Theobald) takes to following strangers through the streets of Soho, ostensibly to kickstart his fiction. One day, one of his ’targets’ bites back: Cobb (Haw) introduces himself as a burglar skilled at ’reading’ people’s identities from rifling through their possessions, and he insists that Bill should tag along to experience the thrill for himself. A complicated time structure (the film flashes backwards and forwards) signals that more is going on here than meets the eye. Sure enough, the denouement involves two double crosses, a femme fatale, a murder and a crowning triple cross.

It’s a fascinating harbinger of themes and structural motifs to come from the writer-director of Memento, The Dark Knight, and Interstellar.