Film Society season kicks off with thriller

The year's featured director is the French auteur Claire Denis who directed Beau Travail in 1999. Photo / Supplied
The year's featured director is the French auteur Claire Denis who directed Beau Travail in 1999. Photo / Supplied

Starter for 10: how many movies has the great songsmith James Taylor starred in? If we're talking cinematic features, that would be one. He was the virtually wordless Driver (that was his character's name) opposite Beach Boy Dennis Wilson (as The Mechanic) in the underrated 1972 high-speed thriller Two Lane Blacktop.

If you missed it, don't panic. It's the first film on the 2013 programme of the Auckland Film Society, which kicks off the year on Monday.

The society is part of a national federation that will host nearly 400 screenings in 16 centres from Auckland to Riverton with a total expected audience of 20,000.

The Taylor film is complemented by Badlands (1973), starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek, and directed by Terrence Malick) and the programme includes two surrealist masterpieces, David Lynch's debut feature Eraserhead (1977) and David Cronenberg's enigmatic Videodrome (1983).

The year's featured director is the French auteur Claire Denis, whose output, from Beau Travail in 1999 to White Material 10 years later, has marked her out as a film-maker of great mastery, with a particular interest in France's colonial legacy in Africa.

The programme will also include the Dreileben Trilogy, in which three German directors made a feature-length film on the same subject - the escape of a convicted criminal in a small town - from different viewpoints and in radically contrasting styles.

The programme spans 14 countries, and includes titles by legendary French film essayist Chris Marker (The Last Bolshevik), who died last year aged 91, and radical Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence), who died in January, aged 80.

The society's Monday night showings are - with the exception of two 35mm screenings - at the Academy Cinemas.

* Details - and links to your local society - are at nzfilmsociety.org.nz.

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