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Home / DAYDREAMS AND NIGHTMARES AT THE LOS FELIZ 3
In this first American Cinematheque series at the Los Feliz 3 Theatre, we pay tribute to some of our favorite filmmakers’ most wildly imaginative cinematic dreams, as we celebrate the long-awaited fulfillment of one of our own: bringing our programming to the east side!
Since the earliest days of cinema, filmmakers have turned to the language of dreams to find ways of expressing the inexpressible, whether it’s an unconscious desire, memory, or fear. One of the simplest forms of dreamlike cinema, however, is that of fantasy, which relies on the logic of daydreams and unfettered imagination. Buster Keaton’s 1924 “Sherlock Jr.” is a shining example of cinema’s fantastical relationship with dreams, as the story largely takes place within the mind of the Keaton’s protagonist, a movie projectionist who dreams that he can “enter” the film he screens. Similarly, THE WIZARD OF OZ brings to life a spectacular dreamworld imagined by Judy Garland’s Dorothy.
Many of such fantasy films focus on children, who reveal their inner desires and anxieties through dreams. In Dr. Seuss’ THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR T, a young boy dreams of a world in which children are enslaved and forced to practice the piano for eternity. Wolfgang Peterson’s 1984 classic THE NEVERENDING STORY follows a shy young boy, whose inner life expands into a vivid fantastical environment when he begins reading a magical book. Albert Lamorisse’s short film “The Red Balloon,” narrows on the imaginative mind of a child, as he discovers a sentient balloon. And Bernard Rose’s more adult-themed psychological drama PAPERHOUSE, imagines a surreal world strangely more comforting to the young protagonists than the harsh real worlds around them.
Rose’s PAPERHOUSE is also an example of dream cinema’s relation to horror films, as it often relies more heavily on nightmares than on fantasies. While cinematic nightmares may typically evoke examples of traditional horror films, some films manage to frighten us by subverting traditional genre devices. PAPERHOUSE, for example, projects the child’s existential fear of an absent father into the dream world in lieu of a horrific monster. Similarly, Bill Gunn’s vampire film GANJA AND HESS evokes terror not so much through blood and gore, but through the character’s hallucinatory dream state, which mixes discordant modes of expression to unsettling effect.
Other films resemble nightmares through a more purely visceral sense by the filmmaker’s commitment to the unexplainable and the uncanny. David Lynch’s legendary midnight movie ERASERHEAD, Nobuhiko Obayashi’s supernatural fever dream HAUSU and David Cronenberg’s poetic bug-infested NAKED LUNCH, each employ unsettling cinematic techniques that disturb our sense of reality.
Some filmmakers use the language of dreams not for nightmares nor fantasies, but to elucidate the fragile nature of memory. Such films are often autobiographical and draw upon specific memories and dreams from the filmmakers’ lives. Andrei Tarkovsky’s MIRROR, Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST, and Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS all work in this vein, by assembling nonlinear collages of personal memories, which appeal more to our tactile sense of dreams than to our logical understanding of them. Films like Ingmar Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES, Frank & Eleanor Perry’s THE SWIMMER and Kasi Lemmons’ EVE’S BAYOU achieve similar results through more familiar means, as the protagonists in each film use memories as a way of looking backwards and examining the past.
Lastly, other dream films belong wholly to the unconscious and convey an indescribable sense of desire. Luis Buñuel, who is perhaps the filmmaker most associated with dreams, pioneered dreamlike cinema with his 1929 short “Un Chien Andalou” and went on to make many films focused on desire, including BELLE DE JOUR, the story of a housewife turned prostitute starring Catherine Deneuve. Parallels can be seen here in Stanley Kubrick’s erotic mystery EYES WIDE SHUT, which examines a seemingly average marriage through the dreamlike prism of desire and fantasy. While in Bunuel and Kubrick’s films, the sense of desire is overt, other films, like David Lynch’s MULHOLLAND DR. and Claire Denis’ BEAU TRAVAIL, present desire as a mysterious quality bubbling under the surface of the narrative, gradually revealing itself to both the audience and the characters.
Join us for this month-long series at the Los Feliz 3 as we celebrate the cinema of dreams—from fantasies to nightmares and personal reflections to unconscious desires—directed by visionary filmmakers from around the world!
$8.00 (member) ; $13 (general admission)
Los Feliz 3 | In 35mm
Los Feliz 3 | New Restoration
$8.00 (member) ; $13.00 (general admission)
Los Feliz 3 | 4K Restoration
Los Feliz 3 | Part of the “Daydreams and Nightmares at the Los Feliz 3” series
Los Feliz 3 | 2K Restoration
Aero Theatre | New Restoration
Los Feliz 3 | Q&A following with director Bernard Rose and writer Matthew Jacobs
Aero Theatre | In 35mm
In Bulk Membership Mode