THE DRIVER
1978, 20th Century Fox, 90 min, USA, Dir: Walter Hill

Criminally underrated and overlooked upon its initial release Walter Hill’s auto-noir, THE DRIVER, has justifiably built a cult following over the past decade from filmmakers, cinephiles and academics alike. Created in homage to Jean-Pierre Melville and Euro crime cinema, Hill pits existential getaway driver Ryan O’Neal against pit-bull detective Bruce Dern for a cat-and-mouse pursuit across the wasted underbelly of ’70s Los Angeles.

THE DRIVER is lean, mean and underpinned by a masterful cast that delivers sardonic wit and bitter brilliance on par with the very best film noir. Making her Hollywood debut, Isabelle Adjani has never been cooler in this twilight world where names are eschewed for actions. Where Hill most notably deviates from his peers and predecessors are the truly electric chase sequences. Breathless even by today’s standards, Hill repeatedly throws the viewer against his bumpers as he perilously races across LA’s unforgiving asphalt – an astonishing accomplishment considering the now-antiquated state of cars in 1978.

An influence on almost every heist film that followed, THE DRIVER represents a highlight of Hill’s stellar career and a stone cold, tough-as-nails masterpiece.


SUBWAY
1985, Gaumont, 104 min, France, Dir: Luc Besson

Director Luc Besson’s second film and first bona fide hit is a delicious neo-noir, live-action comic book, a hymn to the new-wave rhythms of nocturnal street life and private romantic fantasies. Inhabitant of the Paris subway and wannabe rocker Fred (Christopher Lambert) falls for Helena (Isabelle Adjani) after first trying to blackmail her. A rogue’s gallery of colorful suburban dwellers comprises Fred’s neighbors. With Richard Bohringer, Jean-Hugues Anglade. In French with English subtitles.


POSSESSION
1981, Bleeding Light Film Group, 127 min, France/West Germany, Dir: Andrzej Zulawski

In this controversial, unclassifiable cult film, secret agent Mark (Sam Neill) reunites with Anna (Isabelle Adjani) and their young son only to be asked for a divorce. But it’s not because his wife has been seeing another man - when Mark hires a private investigator to follow her, he learns she’s been spending time with a strange, tentacled creature (designed by famed special effects artist Carlo Rambaldi). Director Andrzej Zulawski was in the midst of his own difficult divorce when he came up with this nightmarish mix of domestic distress, bloody violence and bio-horror. Adjani’s performance in dual roles (she also plays Anna’s doppelgänger, Helen) earned a César as well as a Best Actress award at Cannes. “POSSESSION starts on a hysterical note, stays there and surpasses it as the film progresses.” – Variety


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