Ever the filth elder, John Waters (who designed the NYFF58 poster) has also selected a shock-epic double feature as part of NYFF58’s Revivals section. Entitled John Waters Presents: Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In, the double bill includes Gaspar Noé’s frenetic dance into madness, Climax, and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s infamously grotesque—and masterful—Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.
Gaspar Noé | France, Belgium | 96
Surely the most harrowing dance party in the history of cinema, Gaspar Noé’s intoxicating fifth feature is a relentless work of energy, ecstasy, and agony. A dance troupe is rehearsing in an otherwise empty boarding school, and their impromptu post-session celebration brings into play the complicated personal and romantic dynamics between the dancers over a communal bowl of sangria. But something feels awry, and soon, strange individual behaviors balloon into a collective madness that defies description. Suffused with captivating dance sequences and Noe’s usual penchant for chronicling social devolution in extreme situations, Climax is an exhilarating and unforgettable nightmare.
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Pier Paolo Pasolini | Italy | 116
Among world cinema’s most infamous works, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final film transposes the Marquis de Sade’s seminal 1785 novel about the depravity and perversity of the French ruling class to Italy in 1944, one year before Mussolini’s death and the end of World War II. Divided into four sections (drawing inspiration from The Divine Comedy), Salò chronicles four wealthy brutes—referred to only as the Duke, the Magistrate, the Bishop, and the President—as they abduct a group of prostitutes, teenage boys, and their own daughters for a bacchanal that rapidly becomes a shocking and grotesque experiment with the limits of human cruelty (and pleasure). An indelible, mind-razing work on fascism, violence, and desire, Salò endures as one of film history’s most masterful shots across the bow.
Warning: These films feature disturbing scenes including graphic violence and sexual content.