Saturday, November 3, 2018

Luca Guadagnino's "Suspiria" at SIFF Cinema: Oct 26 - Nov 29

Following directly on the heels of the monthlong seasonal programming at The Grand Illusion Cinema and Northwest Film Forum, Luca Guadagnino's adaptation of Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi's "Suspiria" arrives in theaters. Partially inspired by Thomas De Quincey's psychological fantasy, "Sighs from the Depths", the Argento original is assertively of it's era, born from the period of Giallo Cinema spanning the mid-1960s to early 80s. Just last year, The Chicago Cinema Society and their discovery of a uncut 35mm print of Argento’s “Suspiria” that had sat in a storage room of a derelict theater since it was last screened in 1978, produced the material from which a new restoration was cut and released, thanks to Synapse Films. Concurrent with the screening of this new restoration, the Northwest Film Forum also programmed a finely-tuned monthlong series of "The Italian Masters of Shock and Gore", with a selection of Yellow Cinema gems, aptly titled, "Terrore Giallo!". An essential component to the genre are its soundtracks, and of these, few are as uniquely wed to their films as the work of Goblin and Dario Argento. A newfound fascination for the memorable scores created for much Giallo has been fueled by the burgeoning reissue revival. Mining decades of subterranean soundtracks, musique concrete, neofolk, jazz and experimental work that have adorned much of the 20th Century's cult cinema. These rich veins continue to be unearthed by reissue institutions like, Death Waltz, Mondo, and WaxWork, in new editions often corresponding with restorations of their source films issued on quality archival imprints like Arrow Films, Scream Factory, and Powerhouse Films Indicator series.

It is in it's fetishistic eye for texture, surfaces, sounds, form, bodies, buildings, and elemental forces that Luca Guadagnino's adaptation is most similar to the Giallo original. It is maybe more fair to not refer to it as a remake, as it commonly has been, as Guadagnino's film is more concretely set in the waking world, than in the oneric, phantasmagorical theater of the Argento. What little it shares with the original film is in themes assimilated from both "Suspiria", and it's follow-up, 1980's "Inferno", and an aesthete's obsessive fixation on the sensory. Anyone familiar with the director's breakout queer period romance of 2017, "Call Me By Your Name", can attest to his artistry and the sumptuous, corporeal, physical attributes of, "Luca Guadagnino's Cinema of Desire". Among the array of sensory craft on display in the film, it's soundtrack offers a almost baroque reinforcement of the Italian coastline's rapturous beauty. This same locus of attentions and resources are dedicated manifesting form and detail from the subconscious depths Argento and Nicolodi's macabre, psychedelic dream-world. This is both apparent in the film's sound design as well as the prominent role Radiohead's Thom Yorke is given in his score for the film. An audiovisual banquet, it also watches as a showcase for the cinematography of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, known for his award winning collaborations with Thai arthouse auteur, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Yet, like the mildly feverish fantasia of "A Boy’s Own Desire in ‘Call Me by Your Name’", passions of mind and heart bear influence over the following tumult, sorcery, and inner and outer conflicts of "Suspiria". By setting his adaptation in a concretely placed sociopolitical setting, and a witchily uncanny eye for references within modern dance, Guadagnino's film offers a very different, and deeply melancholic, point of entry into the nightmare of The Three Mothers.