Friday, February 10, 2012

Films of Nicholas Ray

In 1971, Hollywood director Nicholas Ray was broke and took a teaching job at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His last film, 55 Days at Peking, had been a multimillion-dollar production that nearly killed him, and he didn't attempt to make another film for more than 8 years. Ray's class filled up with ambitious film students thinking they were going to take a directing class from a master, and who instead found themselves enmeshed in a no-budget, high-energy, and extremely confusing wild goose chase titled "We Can't Go Home Again."

Ray's vision for the film involved using multiple images simultaneously as a way of telling complex stories. He called it a “journalistic film... that shares the anthropologist’s aim of recording the history, progress, manners, morals and mores of everyday life.” The film was never completed and never released - until now. The incomplete but fascinating film "We Can't Go Home Again" opens today at the Northwest Film Forum, along with a documentary about the making of the film, "Don't Expect Too Much" by Ray's widow Susan Ray. The documentary goes even deeper into the director's vision, and includes interviews with Ray's students at the time, including Jim Jarmusch.

Ray died in 1979. "We Can't Go Home Again" and "Don't Expect Too Much" screen all this week, Feb 10–16, at Northwest Film Forum. More info and tickets here.

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