, 97min, OF
Kathy Acker’s screenplay for VARIETY and the cinematography by Tom DiCillo both share the same spare, dark, slyness that led this New Wave feature to become an enigmatic feminist classic. The film deals with fantasy, power, and gender relations in 1980s New York through the story of a young woman’s sexual awakening at the new job she lands close to Times Square. Christine is a transplant to the city so desperate for employment that she even takes work selling tickets at “Variety”, a dingy porno theater with a cagey clientele. Rather than recoil at her surroundings, she finds herself drawn to the films, to porn itself, and to the life of one particular filmgoer, while becoming increasingly alienating from her earnest and judgmental boyfriend. Christine’s newly-expanded sexual desires eventually merge with an increased sense of empowerment towards the men in her life, culminating over several intense final scenes. Depicting a New York City only vaguely traceable now, VARIETY is also a time capsule of the 1980s downtown arts scene, featuring contributions by John Lurie, Nan Goldin, Will Patton, Coco Fusco, and Spalding Gray. (Rachael A. Rakes)
In the presence of Bette Gordon.
Bette Gordon: MICHIGAN AVENUE (1974, K), THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (1975, K), EMPTY SUITCASES (1980), ANYBODY’S WOMAN (1981, K), SEVEN WOMEN, SEVEN SINS (1986, Episode), MONSTERS (TV-Serie, 1988-90), LUMINOUS MOTION (1998), LIFE ON THE LINE (2003), HANDSOME HARRY (2009), THE DROWNING (2016)