Is there really anything to say about this master filmmaker which could be more persuasive than Jean-Luc Godard's famous proclamation that "The cinema is Nicholas Ray?"
The retrospective at Film Forum, which began with a week-long engagement of In a Lonely Place, and which runs through August 6 with fourteen other films, is a gift to the residents of Manhattan and its outer-lying boroughs. Undoubtedly a peculiar type of gift, the kind that you might not seek out on your own, the type which can only come from your bohemian uncle, the family pariah you've admired since adolescence.
Surveying some of the titles in the series—Bitter Victory (1957), They Live by Night (1949), On Dangerous Ground (1951), Born to be Bad (1950), Bigger Than Life (1956)—it's easy to foresee the emotional turbulence that rules over Ray's universe. And that foresight is part of the rub. People who live by night (young thieves in love and on the lam), or endure a bitter victory (a no-nonsense soldier in love with his commander's wife), or exist on dangerous ground (a cop with no empathy forced to care about a killer), are not going to have stories of sunshine and roses. Ray's films are populated by autonomous men who are scarred and crippled; beautiful women who are neglected and beleaguered; and the circumstances that keep them ensnared to their fates.
Read the full report on Nicholas Ray at Interviewmagazine.com.
The Nick Ray Festival opens Friday, July 24 at Film Forum. In a Lonely Place screens through July 23.
Photo: James Dean and Nick Ray on the set of Rebel Without a Cause. Courtesy Photofest/Film Forum.