Movies for onesies are great for lots of reasons- the no compromising on shit like candy or what to see and when, the people watching. But sometimes you also want to be made deeply uncomfortable, and that often means tickets just for one. I recently asked myself out to BAMcinmatek’ s Hysterical Excess: Discovering Andrzej Zulawski. We saw Possession, an epic 1981 mindfuck about a very, very bad marriage. BAM is a fabulous solo afternoon, especially the $7 matinees- Red velvet curtains, decent popcorn and scruffy, sensitive boys locking up at the bike rack. $12 ain’t exactly Broke-Ass but the potential for conversation is invaluable.
But after a movie that unites this:
with the Berlin Wall in a claustrophobic 2 hours that makes Antichrist look like Follow That Bird, you make it a Broke-Ass evening by never wanting to talk, eat or see anyone ever again. And that, friends, saves money.
Walking into the theater, I assessed who shared my interest in what BAM described as “a terrifying, delirious exercise in exploitation, the avant-garde, and camp hysteria…In the ultimate in dysfunctional relationships”. Unnerving verdict: couples. Frequently, couples in hats. New money 30-something gays snickering at other couples’ hair and a girl wearing what can only be described as a tasseled tunic. The only stags were me, three men with ponytails and a nervous younger gentleman in a quarter length trench. At least I wore a hat. Oh, 20 minutes in, a Robert Davi lookalike smelling like he’d been steeping in Maker’s Mark and whose pockmarks gleamed in the celluloid light lurched into the empty seat next to me. I admired his involuntary attempt to stack the deck against Brooklyn’s artsy bourgeoisie, but his snoring was distracting. So goes the peril of solo movie going.
Anyway, it started, on time (which means your candy lasts longer, a logistical and economic Broke-Ass plus to BAM flicks) and I got down with myself to watch a marriage buckle under the weight of infidelity with a squid. Zulawski, who seems like to like his characters angsty and fucking very strange things while the camera whirls around them, conceals critique of his native Poland’s government through his films. But it’s easy to lose the political when gay detectives are sacrificed to a codependent calamari that’s been screwing the main character’s wife.
Anyway, it starts off as with some customary European psychosexual despair, with Adjani’s Anna dumping Sam Neill’s Mark for no real reason. After Mark finds a postcard from Anna’s lover, he goes through bed-rocking DTs rivaling Jeremy Irons’ obsessive sad guy shenanigans in Damages. There’s a HIIIIlarious fight scene between Mark and Anna’s George -Hamilton –by- way- of- Brüno paramour Heinrich, the double casting of Adjani as her son’s docile preschool teacher, and a domestic spat involving ground beef and self-mutilation. And then things get weird. Hold yourself, since no one else will.
Mark begs, Ann, um, oozes and Heinrich pirouettes. Mark finally gets Anna’s left him for a cephalopod that eventually morphs into Mark’s doppelganger. Oy. Women are so predictable! At its core, this is a break up story, just one whose thesis is that a squid is hotter than Sam Neill. This date wasn’t all that different from my regular solo outings to regular movies about regular heartbreak. Similar to Rachel Getting Married in that there’s a lot of pained close-ups of people in tough relationships; dissimilar in that Possession‘s characters express their feelings by jamming electrical meat carvers into their throats.
This film saves you date night dough in that there’s no post-movie drink because you didn’t bring anyone to talk to and really, you just want your couch afterward. I know that when it ended, instead of milling around the BAM lobby and heading up to hear whatever iteration of (free!) Afro Caribbean sounds at BAM Cafe, I darted out, huddling my coat around me, haunted by yes, the giant undulating mass of tentacles but more so, the insane abyss of desire and violent neediness of two people invariably destined for each other.
No it was mostly tentacles. Take me home, me.