Returning to the mode of intensely image-driven and enigmatically political filmmaking of his early works, Skolimowski’s latest film follows the fantastical and harrowing adventures of a man caught in the overzealous cross-hairs of the American “war against terrorism.” Skolimowski’s great talent with actors is showcased in Vincent Gallo’s unmannered, mature and almost wordless performance as either an Afghan fighter or an innocent man pulled into the silent, omnipresent and international apparatus of war – in any case, captured as a suspect and taken to Guantanamo and then to Eastern Europe. A study in sensorially electric “pure” cinema, Essential Killing begins like a conventional action film, only to radically dissolve the testosterone rhetoric of Hollywood blockbusters in a series of increasingly bizarre and bewitching turn of events. As the hero moves through eastern Poland’s dark snow the imagery and narrative becomes increasingly abstract, in a dizzying intertwining of Breughel and Brakhage. – HG
A free screening of Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski,1962, 35mm, b/w, 94 min.) will follow at 9pm.