Screen Slate SF Bay Presents: Anguish (35mm)

Sponsored by MUBI.

Fans of David Lynch will lose their minds (and eyeballs) over this undeservedly obscure, offbeat thriller by the late Bigas Luna. A Russian Doll narrative structure spirals around a serial killing ophthalmologist (Michael Lerner) who collects eyeballs under the hypnotic influence of his overbearing mother (Zelda Rubenstein of Poltergeist). Yet when the fourth wall suddenly ruptures, the setting shifts to a movie theater screening the apparent film-within-a-film, where a young patron is convinced that the man sitting near her may be a murderer—and then things get really weird. Rife with paranoia and hallucinatory narrative criss-crossing, the film suggests an unlikely mix of Buster Keaton, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dalí, and Lamberto Bava. Few, if any, films are so conceptually premised upon their being seen in an actual theater. The ability of Anguish to make its audience genuinely paranoid is unparalleled, giving each screening the feel of a one-of-a-kind additional layer to the film’s surreal structure. Any chance to catch it with an audience in 35mm is can’t-miss. Just make sure you know who’s sitting behind you.

Screen Slate previously included Anguish in its 2016 series “The Medium is the Massacre” at Anthology Film Archives.

The film will be preceded by a recorded introduction by Santiago Fouz Hernández, PhD, Professor of Iberian Studies and Film at Durham University, UK, and coordinator, with Betty Bigas, of The BIGAS LUNA TRIBUTE. Special thanks to Xavier Visa.

Screen Slate SF Bay is a guide to local moving image culture. It shares daily listings of arthouse/repertory cinema and publishes original cultural criticism, interviews, zines, and podcasts.

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1h 26m
Bigas Luna
First Showing
October 26, 2023