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On the occasion of his 79th year, Samuel R. Delany, multi-time Nebula and Hugo award-winning author and lauded literary critic, taps into a lifetime of cinematic obsessions for MoMA’s Carte Blanche series. Delany’s colorful picks—encompassing the classical avant-garde of Jean Cocteau’s The Blood of a Poet, Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon, and Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante; masterworks by Michael Powell and Luis Buñuel; and newer treasures like Peter Jackson’s King Kong and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo—honor the expressive power of the fantastic on film. Accompanying his selections are a rare screening of his own experimental science-fiction featurette The Orchid and Fred Barney Taylor’s effervescent portrait of the author, The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman.
Of his choices Delany writes, “Sometimes I feel like the character in Myra/Myron Breckenridge who announces something to the effect: Between 1938 and 1950, there were no bad films made in the United States of America. That’s kind of how I feel about all films. It’s like Andrew Saris said, ‘There are no amateur films. They’re too expensive to make. If you can afford to make a film, you’re making a film.’”
If you’d like to explore more Delany cinema favorites, he’s recommended some additional films to seek out: Abel Gance’s Napoléon (1927), Jean Delannoy’s The Eternal Return (1943), Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (1948), Ernest B. Schoedsack’s Mighty Joe Young (1949), Jacques Tourner’s The Flame and the Arrow (1950), Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (Orpheus) (1950), Stanley Donen’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), Mervyn LeRoy’s Rose Marie (1954), Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander (1982), and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002).
Organized by Ron Magliozzi, Curator, and Carson Parish, Theater Manager, Department of Film. Films selected by Samuel R. Delany.