If ... Only

Brit bad boy Malcolm McDowell didn't have his poster thumb-tacked to as many bedroom walls as James Dean or Marlon Brando did, but only because he hailed from a smaller country. As an exemplar of cinematic rebellion, though, no one was bigger. McDowell’s crackling portrayal of revolution-minded public schoolboy Mick Travis in If … is one of the key performances of 1960s cinema. A highlight of this month’s “Around ’68” series — and an essential film for any celebration of (or memorial to) that year’s worldwide student protests — Lindsay Anderson’s 1968 masterpiece demolishes the old world of class hierarchy and adolescent indoctrination. Less-known and decidedly less optimistic, Nagisa Oshima’s chilling The Man Who Left His Will on Film (screening with If … only on May 24) follows an avowedly political young filmmaker trying to get to the bottom of a fellow artist’s suicide. Just two years after McDowell blasted away at every target in sight from the roof of his school, Oshima was asking hard questions about art’s ability to effect change. From this vantage point, 40 years on, the ambivalence of the ’60s remains unresolved.

If … screens tonight at 6:30 (and Saturday at 1 p.m., followed at 3 by The Man Who Left His Will on Film)
Thu., May 22; Sat., May 24, 2008

 
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