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Monte Hellman

Monte Hellman is the best director that you’ve probably never heard of. Born in 1932, he studied under the tutelage of exploitation B-movie icon Roger Corman and is a graduate of the New American Cinema school that bred a generation of ’movie brats’. Unlike his peers, Hellman wasn’t integrated into the Hollywood studio system. His career may seem sparse at first glance, but in reality he never stopped working: aside from making his own films, he was also a dialogue coach, an assistant director, an editor (notably for Peckinpah), an executive producer (i.e. for "Reservoir Dogs") and a great many other things.

Hellman owes his "cult director" status to a handful of films: the acid westerns "Ride the Whirlwind" and "The Shooting" (1967) starring Jack Nicholson (who also co-produced the films and wrote the screenplay to the former), and what is probably considered the ultimate road movie: "Two-Lane Blacktop" (1971). The movies had a hard time reaching American audiences, but they certainly appealed to European ones, especially in France, where viewers were perhaps culturally attuned to the existential dimensions of travel and adventure films. "I believe the best movies are road movies. The road is very enigmatic. The road is life", says Hellman. And his characters always seem to be in search of something just beyond arm’s reach (their soul?).

We’ll spend this Sunday in February in the company of Monte Hellman, who will present his films and answer questions from the public. You can also discover a new print of "Two-Lane Blacktop" and Hellman’s brand new film "Road To Nowhere" at Bozar.



Monte Hellman, 1974, US, 35mm, ov st fr, 83'

Cockfighter" (or "Born to Kill") takes place in the Deep South of the USA, in the small, underground world of illegal cockfighting. Frank Mansfield is a lonely guy who lives for his passion. After losing his best cock in an impulsive bet, he takes a vow of silence until he has won the medal for Cockfighter of the Year. Frank travels to the lost corners of Georgia, working for his own personal redemption and increasingly trying to win over the girl of his dreams. Hellman and his cinematographer Nestor Almendros delve into the landscape of small towns, gas stations and the deserted ruins of Georgia. They paint a realistic portrait of a clandestine sub-culture. The film was released in drive-ins (amidst protests by animal welfare organizations) but never saw much success with US audiences. In Europe, however, "Cockfighter" has been shown in multiple festivals and was even named one of the best films of the year. An absolute must for fans of Warren Oates, who delivers an incredible performance.

20.02 > 18:00
5€ / 3,5€ Combi > 10€ / 7,5€


Monte Hellman, 1967, US, 35mm, ov st fr, 82'

In 1996, B-movie producer Roger Corman sent his two protégés Monte Hellman and Jack Nicholson to the Utah desert for them to direct two films for the price of one. After seven exhausting weeks, they returned with "The Shooting" and "Ride in the Whirlwind" – two of the most remarkable Westerns of the 1960s. In the first, a bounty hunter named Gashade and his underling Coley are hired by an unknown woman to escort her through the desert. She refuses to tell them the purpose of their journey. They are tracked from afar by a ghost-like character named Billy: a mysterious, black-clad gunslinger who joins the group. The air is thick with anxiety and danger and gets even thicker when Gashade and Coley discover that they’ve been dragged into some kind of manhunt... Gashade’s desire to get into the clear clashes with his survival instinct. Hellman refuses any idealism or sentimentalism while describing a barbaric and cynical world in which the only hope is to survive as long as possible.

20.02 > 20:00
5€ / 3,5€ Combi > 10€ / 7,5€


Monte Hellman, 1967, US, 35mm, ov st fr, 83'

Three unemployed cowboys, Wes, Vern and Otis, find refuge in the cabin of Blind Dick. They don’t know that Blind Dick and his men have attacked a coach and assassinated the driver. The sheriff arrives with his troops and surrounds the cabin. They lynch the bandits on the spot. The three cowboys, although innocent, decide to go on the run. The law enforcement, thinking they’re part of the gang, run after them. This elegiac film is especially powerful due to the small details that gnaw away at the lives of the people on the margins of society. It paints a picture of the anxiety and the merciless hand of the Law that dominates the country into submission.

20.02 > 22:00
5€ / 3,5€ Combi > 10€ / 7,5€


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lang: en
id_rubrique: 1482
prog: 1478
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