The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Anthology Film Archives have teamed up to present a retrospective of Norman Mailer’s filmic works (he’ll also be present at select screenings). Included are the four features Mailer directed; Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 2 (loosely based on The Executioner’s Song and featuring Mailer as Harry Houdini); and no less than four documentaries on the man, which cover, among other things, his 1969 run for mayor of our city and a film by DA Pennebaker, Town Bloody Hall, which pits Mailer against a panel of feminists on the topic of women’s lib. Of special interest is a 100-minute video compilation of Mailer’s television appearances since 1967, put together for the series by his archivist and the Paley Center for Media.
While Mailer’s directorial efforts can at times feel unwatchabley amateurish, they deserve to be seen—if not for his accomplishments as a writer, then for their gargantuan displays of ego. His first film, Wild 90 (1967), put him on the fringes of both the New American and Direct cinema movements. Though it would soon become clear that he was not cut out to be a filmmaker, his sense of experimentation and interest in the medium is admirable. If you can sit through about 100 minutes of the self-indulgent mess of his third film, Maidstone (1970), you’ll be rewarded with a now legendary climax where Rip Torn attacks Mailer with a hammer. It’s worth the price of admission.
Through Aug. 2. Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave. (at 2nd St.), 212-501-5181; www.filmlinc.com, www.anthologyfilmarchives.org.