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Joseph Losey: Pictures of Provocation

Friday, March 26, 2010
7:00 p.m. Eve
Joseph Losey (France/Italy, 1962)

Tyvian Jones (Stanley Baker) lives the life of a smug novelist, garnering the benefits of his success in a Venice of lush parties and canal-side villas. He’s got kudos for his new film, a fiancée in the form of Virna Lisi, and a well-lubricated sports car, but Tyvian’s a soulless imposter. Then one night iconically alluring Eve (Jeanne Moreau) breaks into his house. Eve is zero-degree woman, bearer of knowledge, and a pricey prostitute who is anything but garden variety. Perhaps Losey’s most baroque film, Eve projects Tyvian’s fixation with his unhinged love object upon an ornate setting of fetid canals and Roman alleyways, using Antonioni’s cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo to render the choking complexities of antique space. Tyvian and Eve taunt and tantalize each other in a free-spirited narrative that finds its passion in the agonized tableaux. For years this restive romance was known only through a highly truncated version disowned by Losey. What will screen tonight is an approximation of his original intent, discovered in Scandinavia.

—Steve Seid

• Written by Hugo Butler, Evan Jones, based on the novel by James Hadley Chase. Photographed by Gianni Di Venanzo. With Jeanne Moreau, Stanley Baker, Virna Lisi, Giorgio Albertazzi. (119 mins, In English and some Italian with Finnish and Swedish subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Kino International)