PLEASE SUPPORT THE NICHOLAS RAY FOUNDATION’S KICKSTARTER TO FUND A NEW DOCUMENTARY ON THE FILMMAKER!
A decade after quitting Hollywood, legendary director Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without a Cause, In a Lonely Place) accepted a teaching contract at Harpur College in Binghamton, NY. There, with the intensive collaboration of his students, he began work on a project unlike anything he had done before, the making of which would consume his creative energies for the remainder of his life. Entitled We Can’t Go Home Again, that film is Ray’s enormously ambitious, profoundly personal, wildly experimental magnum opus—a collection of notes on Vietnam-era America, the generation gap and the filmmaking process itself, conceived in a dizzying kaleidoscope of split screens, superimpositions and other radical image manipulations that anticipate later trends in video art and digital effects. After rushing to complete the film for its premiere at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, Ray continued to re-work We Can’t Go Home Again until his death from lung cancer in 1979. On the occasion of Ray’s centenary, we are proud to present the most complete version of this one-of-a-kind film in a stunning digital restoration undertaken by Ray’s widow, Susan Ray, President of The Nicholas Ray Foundation, in close collaboration with the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Academy Film Archive. –NYFF
Born in small-town Wisconsin in 1911, Nicholas Ray’s early experience with film came with some radio broadcasting in high school. He left the University of Chicago after a year, but made such an impression on his professor and writer Thorton Wilder that he was recommended for a scholarship with Frank Lloyd Wright, where he learned the importance of space and geography, not to mention his later love for CinemaScope. When political differences came between the seasoned architect and his young protégé, Ray left for New York and became immersed in the radical theater. He joined the Theater of Action and later the Group Theater, which is where he met his good friend Elia Kazan. Times were tough and money was tight, but Ray loved the bohemian lifestyle of the close-knit group and enjoyed one of the happiest times of his life. Anybody who met him always noted his intellect and amazing energy. During this period he, along with his fellow Theater Group members, was also active in Socialist/Communist… read more
Neither densely layered classical narrative nor non-narrative avant garde, neither a political film not pure autobiography, neither fish not fowl, this gnarly masterpiece hasnt found its ideal critic (even Rosenbaum usually perceptive about Ray's classic 50s films, only betrays his limitations when he talks about it). There's hardly any other film like it for its portrayal of the early 70s.
Of course, the film is also about Ray's recognition of his own belatedness and obsolescence; and about the ever-receding Home: the break away from pre-60s political certainties and romantic arrangements. It's untidy, disjointed, even ugly but incredibly fiery in its outbursting energy. To complain as Rosenbaum does, that it does "not offer any strategies for transcendence" is to ask for another type of film entirely, and to reveal one's cramped vision of what art can be about. Never mind of course that dark despairing cris de coeurs have always everywhere been modes of negative transcendence. Where would King Lear be if we insisted on uplifts of this sort?
Two Nicholas Ray films are now playing to support Susan Ray’s Kickstarter create a third. Read an interview with Susan and donate support!
New Senses of Cinema, a Nick Ray doc Kickstarter, Truffaut’s alternate titles for The 400 Blows, Stan Brakhage lectures & more.
Larry Clark’s new film wins in Rome & debuts online, Berlinale’s “Weimar Touch”, J. Hoberman’s 21 Films of the 21st Century & more.
Also: Tony Pipolo on Jean-Marie Straub and more best-of-2011 lists.
The Ray Centenary in Nashville, James Franco’s Van Sant primer and Morris talks with Stephen King and delivers a BAFTA lecture.
Nick Ray’s genre of everyday life.
A brief roundup, a supplement to two others.
The restoration of Ray’s experimental collaboration has premiered in Venice; meantime, a Nicholas Ray is off and running through Thursday.