Close Up

14 - 31 May 2018: Take Two: Kiss Me Deadly / Repo Man


Kiss Me Deadly
Robert Aldrich
1955 | 105 min | B/W | Digital

"A beautiful woman materializes on a dark country road; a private investigator picks her up and conversation sparks; a freak ambush occurs; and the detective wakes to the woman’s larynx-shredding screams of agony. The pithy, visually withholding opening moments of Kiss Me Deadly establish the fury upon which revenge narratives run, but, for a director acutely attuned to the networks of power obfuscating individual action, promises of catharsis are just a mirage on the horizon. Aldrich’s unique perspective, the existential sophistication of screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, and the ambivalent persona of star Ralph Meeker thus converge, turning Kiss Me Deadly into one of the most modern and complex entries in the fifties noir canon – a jaundiced film that undoes the usual moral dichotomies of the genre, uncovering a more cosmic current of disorder and paranoia. As Meeker hobbles from one enigmatic false lead to the next, his director pinpoints an American wasteland driven to the brink of obsolescence by a desperate search for certainty amidst Cold War murk." – Harvard Film Archive

Repo Man
Alex Cox
1984 | 95 min | Colour | 35mm

The tale of a young man learning the tricks of the trade of repossessing cars from an old hand serves primarily as the MacGuffin for a manically satirical look at life in the US during the first Reagan administration. With a doomsday device in the trunk of a car giving off a menacing glow (lovingly lifted from Kiss Me Deadly), Cox light-heartedly makes some serious points about the all-pervasive menace of the military-industrial complex, and gives the staggeringly great cast of character actors brilliant material to resourcefully ply. Set in the wasteland that then was downtown Los Angeles in the age of punk, Repo Man is in many ways an outsider’s view – that of an Englishman suddenly landed in the urban sprawl of a most un-European city.