Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Billy Liar (John Schlesinger, 1963)

Sunday 12 February 2023, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: Billy Liar * 1963 * directed by John Schlesinger * 98 minutes * In English with English subtitles. Doors open at 20:00, intro & film start at 20:30.

Based on a novel by Keith Waterhouse, this dark comedy is fundamentally about a young bloke who doesn’t want to give up his dreams, causing mayhem in the Manchester community where he lives. The entire film is a breath of fresh air, since its concept hasn’t been repeated a thousand times in Hollywood. This film is too quirky, too satirical, and its message too relevant. It follows the path of a young desk clerk called Billy Fischer who lies endlessly, and therefore throws chaos into the real world. Billy has a wild imagination, and his fantasies blur his sense of reality. But that also makes sense…. it’s a natural defense against a world that is way too boring, and that tries to kill him spiritually.

This is an early work directed by John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy), made in England during the first half of the 60s. It stars an energetic Tom Courtenay and a very young Julie Christie. Its fluid style is influenced by the French New Wave, and it also taps into the rebellious spirit of that movement. It has a sense of irony and black humor that kicks back against the conservative landscape of post-war England, just on the edge of being transformed into the swinging sixties. In a world like today when everything is so heavily templated, it’s a wonder to see a movie like this unfold, where the sharpness of the dialogue matches perfectly the playful wit of the visuals. In a way it has a punky attitude that was picked up later in the 80s by the indie Manchester band The Smiths… who even lifted sentences from this film and turned them into song lyrics.

This will be a high-definition screening.

Film night at Joe’s Garage, cozy cinema! Free entrance. You want to screen a movie, let us know: joe [at] lists [dot] squat [dot] net